Homeowners in the UK are understanding the potential of providing power for their properties using energy from the sun. However, there are still plenty of misconceptions surrounding the workings and potential of solar power, so it's worth considering all facts before you decide to invest (or not) in this form of energy.
Solar panels are a worthwhile but potentially costly investment for your home. It's important to understand all points about the process, both potentially positive and negative, in order to be able to make an informed decision.
We aren't going to be able to tell you categorically that you should choose solar power for your home, but hopefully we will answer some important questions you may have wanted to ask so you can make that decision for yourself:
- How does solar power work?
- What does it cost to switch?
- Will it save me money?
- What are the advantages?
- Are there many disadvantages?
If there are any points you're unsure of that this article doesn't address, remember that you can use Compare Companies to find the best quotes from our most trusted traders to bring solar power to your property.
How does it work?
Perhaps one reason why some homeowners are reluctant to switch to solar powers is a lack of understanding regarding how it works. Put simply, solar panels use energy from the sun to provide power for your property.
As nature's greatest resource, the sun is as good a source of power as you can hope to get for your home. With the current emphasis on environmental impact and respecting nature, don't be afraid to make use of solar power. By converting sunlight into electricity, you'll help the environment by reducing your carbon emissions.
Solar panels on your property contain photovoltaic (PV) cells that use semiconductor technology to transform energy from the sun into electricity. They generate an electric field when photons from sunlight hit PV cells within layers of semi-conducting materials in the panels, creating the current needed to produce electricity.
This direct current of electricity can then be used by your home or business, or even funnelled into the National Grid.
And yes, you'll still produce energy when it's cloudy, so don't let the thought of the unpredictable British weather put you off!
How much will switching to solar power cost me?
Before we talk about any potential savings your solar panels might afford you on your monthly electricity bills and the environmentally friendly impact of your reduced carbon footprint, we must consider the initial cost of the installation.
Over the last five years, solar power has become a lot more accessible. This is, in part, due to the significant decrease in cost that's arisen due to the increased emphasis on this type of energy. And when you search for an installer quote using our site, you know you'll be getting the best price.
However, solar panels are still a significant investment for homeowners, so it's important to consider if it's the right decision for you.
The solar panels installed on your property, most often on the roof, will cost you between £350 and £550 for each panel. The more electricity you need, the more panels you will need. This will of course mean higher initial installation costs.
You can find a detailed breakdown of the costs for the amount of power to be generated and the number of panels required on our Solar Panels Prices page.
Can solar power save me money?
After your initial investment, homeowners used to be able to enjoy monthly financial rewards from the UK government for the electricity your panels generate.
That's right - you could get paid for simply letting the sun shine!
For the 20 years following installation, the Government would give homeowners money in the form of subsidy payments. However, in 2019, this scheme closed to new applicants.
However, even without the pay-outs from this Government scheme, you will still be able to save money in the long run. Homeowners are becoming increasingly self-sufficient, as they rely less on the National Grid and use their own source of energy produced by solar panels.
How much do solar panels cost?
There's never a bad time to start improving your home and save money on your bills. But there might be better times than others.
All around the world, people are realising the potential of solar power, the efficiency and reliability of it, and the benefits – both financial and environmental. As interest increases, so too does the expertise behind the technology, bringing new advancements in the process and reductions in the cost.
The price of solar panel installation is now around half of what it was a decade ago.
While the cost will vary hugely, the average UK home can expect to pay somewhere between £5,000 and £6,000 for the solar power system needed to power it.
When is the right time to buy?
For something as reliable as the sun rising, there's an element of unpredictability when it comes to the right time to invest in solar power. As the cost of installation has fallen, the value of the Government's Feed In Tariff (FIT) that rewarded homeowners for their solar panel investment dropped with it. If you're waiting for what feels like the right time to switch to solar power, you will have found that the scheme is now over, and the financial inventive has therefore fallen to zero.
Of course, if you couldn't afford the initial costs to begin with, then you haven't missed out as you weren't necessarily waiting.
When the Government's FIT scheme was around, there was a lot of uncertainty for homeowners watching and holding out before they invested to receive the best possible incentive. With the scheme closed, the unpredictability has gone with it.
However, the price of solar panel installation continues to decrease, so it continues to become more affordable and an increasingly sensible home improvement decision, regardless of any Government pay-outs.
With the emphasis off the FIT scheme, it puts the decision-making behind your investment of solar panels firmly back in your hands. The right time to buy becomes the moment you decide they're the correct choice for your home, and when you can afford them. You could still save money on your electricity bills, after all.
Whenever you invest, solar panels will start working for you right away, and generating electricity all year round.
If part of the appeal of solar power is becoming self-sufficient and simply producing your own electricity, regardless of any pay-out incentives or not, then you can invest in the installation as soon as you can and start saving money, even if you're unsure how much you would be making.
Advantages of solar power
Each morning, the sun will rise. With the certainty of that, know that the solar panels installed nearly and discreetly on the roof of your property will set to work and harness its power.
Homeowners all over the world have discovered the freedom and financial incentives afforded to them as a result of becoming self-sufficient with solar panels. As the emphasis on becoming environmentally friendly continues to grow, you can enjoy the peace of mind and satisfaction of knowing you have greatly reduced your carbon footprint after switching to a reliable and high-performing form of energy.
The advantages of solar power are straightforward but significant:
- Low maintenance design for peace of mind
- The surplus energy produced can be sold to the National Grid
- Avoid inflation with self-sufficient energy production
While you're at home or out of the house, your solar panels will be working for you all day every day. Let your property produce electricity during the day while it's unoccupied and under the sun, meaning you can then choose how to channel that power when you and your family need it at peak times when you're at home.
Disadvantages of solar power
The sun is a reliable source of light and energy all year round. The solar panels to harness that power, however, can be more susceptible to malfunctions. As with any form of technology in or around your home, they may stop working. Your manufacturer's warranty should cover this, as should your installer guarantee.
But with your solar panels not working, you would be forced to go back to the National Grid. It is worth remembering, though, that solar panels are low maintenance by design. They're capable of producing power for 25 years or more following installation.
- Reliance on the National Grid in the event of solar panel malfunctions
- High initial installation cost
- No current financial incentives following the close of the Government's FIT scheme
While your solar panels will still produce energy when it's cloudy, it may not be enough to power your whole home. In that case, you won't have to sit in the dark. You can continue to use electricity from the National Grid as before. However, that might somewhat defeat the object of installing solar panels, since you've already invested in solar power. You won't want to spend out twice.
Can I use the extra power myself?
Solar battery technology is a reliable, temporary storage of electricity. This development has grown and expanded hugely in the last decade. You will have noticed the increased awareness of, and commitment to, environmentally friendly energy with the surge in production and popularity of hybrid and electric cars. The need to charge this quickly has driven the expansion of the solar battery.
If you're not looking to make money by selling excess energy back to the National Grid, you can choose to store this solar-sourced power in a battery for later use. You'll be able to save your stored solar energy for (literally) rainy days when your panel can absorb less solar energy to produce your electricity.
Rely less on the National Grid as a backup and become truly self-sufficient with the further investment of a solar battery.
With the price of selling back electricity to the Grid not particularly generous, you will save yourself far more money if you reserve your excess electricity in a solar battery. In the absence of the FIT scheme, it will be up to you to work out how make back your investment as quickly and efficiently as possible. Your solar battery will achieve this.
Is solar power the right choice for me?
By 2025, there are predicted to be over 10 million homes in the UK that are fitted with solar panels. Will you be joining the ranks of homeowners responsible for generating two-fifths of the country's electricity during the summer months, or will you maintain your traditional electricity supply moving forward?
Without the backing of the UK Government's FIT scheme as an incentive to drive homeowners to embrace solar power, it's becoming increasingly important for you to consider how (or if) solar panels are the right choice for your home.
It's easy to say that, with the existence and now the absence of the FIT scheme, there have been better times to choose solar power – but those times may not come around again. However, solar panels are more affordable than ever, and there are more ways to stay in control of the electricity you bring into your home.
With solar batteries, you can remain in complete control of the electricity generated in, and used by, your home. Save yourself money with efficient use, distribution and even selling off the power you produce.