More and more homeowners are opting to fix solar panels to the roofs of their homes, but is it worth it? Some may think that they’re a novelty gadget which will soon fall out of favour, but others believe there are many merits to owning a solar panel, so we thought we’d investigate to see whether they’re really a good investment or not.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are usually attached to a south-facing roof in order to get the most out of the sun. As it rises in the east and sets in the west, the fact the panels are facing the south means they’ll always have the sun hitting them if there are no clouds. The panels are made from a number of smaller units called ‘cells’ which are photovoltaic. This means that they can convert sunlight into electricity. Simply speaking, this is done by allowing tiny particles of light to bump into other particles in order to create energy.
This energy becomes electricity and is harvested and stored by the panels so that you can power whatever electrical item you have the energy for. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that an average three-bedroom family home will use around 3,000 kilowatt units each year. Where a larger roof area is available, a 5kW solar panel would generate around 4,500 kilowatt units per year – meaning that you could generate more than enough for your needs. When this is the case, and even when you use your own electricity, you can sell the energy back to the government via the Feed-in Tariff. More on this below.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
It all depends on how many solar panels you want and the quality you opt for, but you can usually expect to spend between £3,000 and £9,000. While this isn’t cheap, it’s likely that you’ll make your money back over time and make a profit if the panels are maintained correctly.
For those who do not have the savings or cannot raise enough credit, there are some schemes where you can have solar panels fitted for free. However, when something sounds too good to be true it usually is, and this is no exception. The company who will fit your free solar panels will then keep the Feed-in Tariff payments which are generated by selling the surplus electricity your panels create. This means you can only use them to get money off or stop paying your electricity bills – you cannot make extra money from them from the government.
How Much Money Can I Save With Solar Panels?
The amount you can save all depends on the size of the solar panel system you have. The Eco Experts estimate that, with a roof space of around 14 square meters and a solar panel system size of 2 kilowatts, you could see £390 profit in the first year and a £10,000 profit over 20 years. The initial cost of a system like this would be £4,000 to £5,000.
Of course, the amount of profit you could make (as long as you are able to use the Feed-in Tariff) can vary hugely depending on the amount of roof space and the system size that you have. With a larger solar panel system covering around 28 square meters, you can expect to see a return of around £22,000 over 20 years.
Of course, this kind of money is going to have an effect on the value of your house too, so you will also be adding value to your own asset should you ever wish to sell your home.
What Is The Feed In Tariff?
The Feed-in Tariff is run by the UK government. It’s a system which will pay you for generating your own electricity, even if you end up using it yourself within the household. The Feed-in Tariff is basically a grant which is paid to you in instalments depending on the energy you are able to create from your solar panels. The payments are made to you through your energy supplier. Most suppliers offer this service, and if you’re with one of the ‘Big 6’ energy companies then you’ll be pleased to know that they have to offer Feed-in Tariff payments by law.
This is a great incentive for homeowners to embrace green energy, and so it’s very important that both the solar panels themselves and the person who installs them are certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). If this is the case, it will be advertised clearly.
You can receive the Feed-in Tariff for 20 years from the time your solar panel system is registered. This can be done with your supplier, who will know the next steps and the information you need to provide in order to take full advantage. Remember that your home must be rated D or above on an energy performance certificate to qualify, so get this checked before signing on the dotted line.
Solar Panel Pros
Solar Panel Cons
If You’ve Decided To Get Solar Panels
It’s worth doing your research before committing to having solar panels installed to your home, as some areas of the UK will perform better than others when it comes to generating energy. This can be down to the weather, the landscape and the usual cloud-cover; even an island as small as the UK can have massive weather differences from one county to another.
If you have neighbours who have had solar panels installed, it may be useful to drop them a note or catch them at a good time to chat about what they think and who they had them installed by. Before dealing with a company you don’t know, you should always find reviews to get a feel for what they’re like.
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