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  1. Blog
  2. Are solar panels worth it?
House selling tips
15 August 2022

Are solar panels worth it?

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
Are solar panels worth it?

Table of contents

  1. 1. Solar panels - are they worth it?
  2. 2. How much do solar panels cost in the UK?
  3. 3. How do you install a solar panel system?
  4. 4. How to make your solar panels increase their output
  5. 5. How much does solar power save you on electricity bills?
  6. 6. Energy Saving Trust - Solar panel data comparison - London, South East England
  7. 7. Do solar panels affect home insurance?
  8. 8. Do solar panels work in the winter?
  9. 9. How long do solar panels take to pay for themselves?
  10. 10. How many years do solar panels last?
  11. 11. Do solar panels add value to your house?
  12. 12. Summary: Be the change you want to see

A cost of living crisis is gaining momentum across the UK. The Bank of England has warned that we will enter recession by year’s end.

With money being tighter than ever, homeowners are looking for new ways to save on expenses. If you’re looking to make your money go further, you may have considered installing solar panels.

Solar panels are growing in popularity - and for more reasons than one. A reaction to climate change, as well as a desire to save on energy bills are just some of the motives behind the rising interest in solar energy.

But just how worthwhile are solar panels? What monetary value, if any, do they add to your property?

Solar panels - are they worth it?

Yes, solar panels are worth it - but you shouldn't purchase them if you're thinking in purely monetary terms.

The negatives of solar panels

  • It may take well over a decade to earn back your investment. Based on research into current energy prices by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), it will take the average household up 14 to 24 years to recoup on solar panel system costs.
  • They currently don’t add much to your property’s value. With a shortage of housing stock across key areas in the UK, homebuyers are less fussy about properties with clean energy systems.
  • Some people consider them an eyesore. As with offshore wind mills, panels aren't to everyone's tastes. Some people think that they take away from the aesthetic of houses.
  • Panels are only suitable for certain properties. As per standard with solar panel installations, a surveyor will visit your property to make sure your roof can withstand the weight of solar panels.
  • They aren't as efficient in areas with low levels of sunlight. The most optimal areas in England with intense solar radiation are Yorkshire and Humberside, the South West, the South East, and East.

But money isn’t everything and times are changing.

The benefits of solar panels

  • While you won’t recuperate the costs of panels quickly, you will immediately begin saving money with them. This is done by minimising the amount of energy you need to buy from the National Grid.
  • You can also earn money back by selling excess energy with the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme.
  • If you want to sell in the near future, investing in renewable energy could help your sale. More and more people are changing their attitudes towards climate change. A house with solar power might have more value in 2030.
  • Most importantly, when you install solar panels, you reduce your carbon footprint, which is something every individual should look to accomplish.

How much do solar panels cost in the UK?

Over the last ten years, solar panel costs have reduced massively - but prices are steadily climbing again. EST states that the average domestic solar PV system is 4.2kWp and costs around £6,500 to install.

A shortage of materials and increasing labour costs are playing a large role in their growing costs. The size and style of your property also has an impact on the cost of installation.

Is your house taking too long to sell?

Can I get help with the cost of solar panels?

No, unless you take out a personal loan or mortgage, you won't receive any financial help with the cost of solar panels.

There were government initiatives to help British homeowners move to clean energy, but these have since concluded. The government ended the latest scheme, the Green Homes Grant, after just six months.

The Green Homes Grant

Launched in September 2020, the £1.5 billion Green Homes Grant offered up to £10,000 in vouchers towards energy-saving home improvements such as:

  • Insulation
  • Low-carbon heating systems
  • Double glazing
  • Renewable energy generation like solar panels

The Grant ended after just six months in March 2021. It's unclear whether there will be future schemes to help homeowners fund clean energy-saving improvements.

Do you need planning permission for roof solar panels?

Solar panels don't require planning permission to install. They fall under permitted development - unless your property has a flat roof, in which case planning permission is needed.

Building Regulations are required as per standard to verify structural and electrical safety.

How do you install a solar panel system?

The energy company you hire will take care of the installation. Below, we detail the steps an energy company takes to install panels on your property.

  1. Surveyor checks condition of roof and rafters

Before you install solar panels, a qualified surveyor will visit your property to evaluate the integrity of your roof and rafters. Your property needs to be able to support the weight of your new solar panels. If your roof is found to be unviable, you won't be cleared to install them.

  1. Scaffolding is set up

To install the solar panels safely, the company will construct scaffolding around your property. As the longest step in your solar panel installation, this usually takes the full length of a day.

  1. Roof anchors are attached

To keep your solar panels in a safe position, the installers attach roof anchors to your property. After removing a couple of tiles around each entry point, the installer will fix the anchors to the rafters of your loft.

  1. Solar panel mounts are fixed to anchors

The installers attach the solar panel mounts to the anchors. The mounts hold the panels in place, while the anchors fix the mounts securely to the roof.

The mounts run both vertically and horizontally, supporting the panels at an optimal angle for maximum solar absorption.

  1. Solar panels are installed and wired to the inverter

If satisfied with the angle of the solar panels, the installers will lock the solar panels in place with the mounts.

Solar panels installed by the manufacturers are often pre-wired, which means they just need to be linked to the inverter. Inverters are the key ingredients in solar thermal panels - they convert the direct current (DC) energy that the solar panels produce, into alternating current (AC) energy.

Depending on the system's size, an inverter should take around five hours to install.

Remember: Always rely on a trained professional to install an inverter.

  1. Inverter is connected to consumer unit

Once the inverter is set up, the installers will connect it to the consumer unit to begin generating electricity.

  1. The solar panel system is switched on

Before the solar system is switched on, the team will connect the system to a generation meter to monitor the output of electricity. You can use your phone or computer to check on the performance of your solar panels.

To check your panels are working properly, the team will switch your panels on for the first time. Checking each section of the system, the installers will verify that every section is working properly.

Can I move my solar panels to a new house?

If you're thinking of moving in the near future, solar panels are probably not worth the money.

Solar panels are individually tailored to fit your property's roof and rafters. Moving your panels to a new home could be extremely dangerous.

What's more, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme won’t certify panels that have been moved, meaning you won't receive SEG payments.

How to make your solar panels increase their output

If you want to save money, it's in your interest to make your solar panels generate electricity at an optimal level. For your panels to perform at this standard, you'll need:

  • A southward-facing roof. West and south-west work too, but they are less effective.
  • An unshaded roof between ten o'clock in the morning, and four o'clock in the afternoon.
  • A diagonal roof space to catch the best of the sun's rays.

How much solar panels produce is also affected by location - but this isn't a factor homeowners can change easily, let alone for the sake of having solar panels.

Upgrading your solar panels

Solar panels can also be upgraded. If your system is old or not functioning as well as it used to, there are three ways you can update it:

  • Add more solar panels - Simply adding more panels to your setup could increase your system's output. However, your roof will need to be able to withstand the extra weight.
  • Upgrade your inverter - String inverters are the most common type of inverter, lasting up to ten years. Micro-inverters are more expensive but they have a longer lifespan and are much more efficient.
  • Add batteries - Solar batteries store excess energy and allow you to use it when there isn't any sunlight. If electricity rates increase in a particular period, your solar battery will come in useful by providing extra energy in non-daylight hours.

How much does solar power save you on electricity bills?

According to the EST, solar panels can take up to 20% off your yearly electricity bill. But how does this work?

You can use the energy you generate from solar panels to power your appliances. The amount you save depends on the type of panels you use (quality of system affects how much energy you generate), whether you're at home during the day to use the extra energy, and your property's location.

To power appliances with free solar power, you need a PV diverter. Diverters convert electricity that is not being used into an electrical appliance, like an immersion heater.

You can sell extra energy you generate back to the National Grid. The Smart Export Guarantee scheme allows homeowners with solar panels to sell excess power for money, increasing overall savings.

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What is the Smart Export Guarantee scheme?

Launched in January 2020, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme is a government backed initiative that requires some electricity suppliers to pay small-scale generators for their green energy.

Licensees (energy suppliers) decide the rate at which they pay those generating energy, but the rate must be over zero. If you're generating solar power, you can shop around SEG licensed suppliers to find the best one to export clean energy to.

With regular Smart Export Guarantee payments, you can offset the cost of your electric bills and boost your overall savings.

To get the best bang for buck, use electricity as you generate it

While fixed tariffs for electricity are high, you won’t get paid as much for energy you export. So to get the best bang for your buck, use the electricity you make as you generate it in daylight hours.

You'll be exporting less (and getting paid less) but you won't have to pay as much for electricity bills.

On their website, EST exemplifies how much you can save by using your own energy. In the datasets below, you can clearly see the difference between using SEG and not using SEG, as well as using your energy in the daytime versus the nighttime.

Energy Saving Trust - Solar panel data comparison - London, South East England

Annual savings without using electricity you generate (With SEG)

How often user is homeSavings
Home all day£505
Home in mornings£435
Home in afternoons£410
Out all day until 4pm£330
Out all day until 6pm£295

Annual savings without using electricity you generate (Without SEG)

How often user is homeSavings
Home all day£415
Home in mornings£330
Home in afternoons£300
Out all day until 4pm£210
Out all day until 6pm£170

Annual savings when using PV diverter (With SEG)

How often user is homeSavings
Home all day£580
Home in mornings£500
Home in afternoons£485
Out all day until 4pm£410
Out all day until 6pm£400

Annual savings when using PV diverter (Without SEG)

How often user is homeSavings
Home all day£610
Home in mornings£550
Home in afternoons£530
Out all day until 4pm£465
Out all day until 6pm£400
  • The datasets above are based on solar panel systems in London. London is situated in the South of England, where there is considerable sunlight.
  • The savings made in London are higher than other areas in the UK. Properties in the North of England receive slightly less sunlight, and so generate less solar electricity.
  • If you work from home, solar panels with a PV diverter and no SEG scheme provide the best return on investment.
  • If you’re out all day until 6pm, and do not use a PV diverter or SEG, you get the least return on investment.

Do solar panels affect home insurance?

Luckily, most insurance providers cover solar panels without change to premiums or costs. However, it's worth informing your provider before installing them, and getting their word in writing.

Some unfortunate homeowners have been refused insurance after installing solar panels.

Do solar panels work in the winter?

Yes, solar panels work in the winter, but they don’t produce as much energy because the days are shorter. As a result, monthly electricity bill savings are less.

How long do solar panels take to pay for themselves?

For the average 'middle England' user, solar panels can take 14 - 24 years to pay for themselves. This depends ultimately on whether the homeowner is using their home's electricity during the day, and whether they are making SEG payments.

How many years do solar panels last?

Solar panels are made of multiple components, all of which have a limited lifespan. However, the industry standard lifespan for a system is generally around 20 to 25 years.

You can increase the longevity and efficiency of your system by upgrading it. You can either buy solar panels to replace existing panels, upgrade the battery storage, or replace the inverter.

Do solar panels add value to your house?

Yes, solar panels do add value to your property - but they probably won't recuperate the initial £6500 installation cost. With a housing shortage in major cities of the UK, homebuyers aren't currently differentiating between green homes and standard homes.

As a result, we wouldn't recommend adding solar panels if you're only thinking to boost your home's value.

Don't take our word for it though. Your best bet at finding out the value of solar panels is by booking an in-person valuation with an estate agent.

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What affects the value of your house?

If you're thinking of selling in the near future, it's probably best to keep away from major renovations or additions. Unless some rooms are in dire need of repairs, your best bet is to maximise your home’s potential in its current state.

So where can you start? Begin by reading our in-depth guide to the things that don't add value to your home and the things that do.

If you're in a rush, remember: A deep clean and a splash of paint will go a long way in readying your home for sale and boosting its value for less cash.

Summary: Be the change you want to see

At the moment, panels do not add a sizable chunk to your property's value, but that won’t last forever. As the UK moves towards its goal of reaching net zero in 2030, we may well see the value of solar powered properties climb.

Nevertheless, while recuperating the total cost of the initial outlay is important, a move to renewable electricity shouldn’t always warrant a return on value. As fossil fuels deplete and the threat of climate change grows, it's up to homeowners to be the change they want to see in the world.

How much
is your home worth?

It’s always worth knowing the value of your home. Discover the price of your property with an instant valuation. GetAgent tracks the figures, so you don’t have to.

How much
is your home worth?

It’s always worth knowing the value of your home. Discover the price of your property with an instant valuation. GetAgent tracks the figures, so you don’t have to.

Want to find out the true value of your home?

Compare estate agents. Request a free valuation. Job done.

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