October 14, 2020

Are Solar Panels Right for You?

If you’re thinking about installing solar panels on your home the 2 questions you're probably looking for an answer to are: ‘Will they really save me money?’ and 'How long will it take for the savings to cover their cost?'. While the answer to the first question is almost certainly 'Yes' , how long you'll be waiting to get your money back may really surprise you.

Many UK homes now have solar panels - but do they pay for themselves?

The impact solar panels can have on your energy bill depends on 3 factors:

1.      How much sunlight your roof gets.

Ideally, solar panels should be installed on an unshaded south-facing roof. An east-facing or west-facing roof can be used, but north-facing roofs are not recommended for solar panels. Also, if there are any nearby buildings or trees that shade the roof between 10am and 4pm these will impact how much energy is produced.


2.      The size and angle of your roof.

A roof area of 10m2 should deliver around 20% (one fifth) of the electricity used by a typical household, with every additional 10m2 delivering a further 20%. This is based on the pitch angle of the roof being between 30 and 40 degrees as panels tilted at this angle are cleaned by rainfall ensuring optimal long term performance.


3.       How much energy you use and the rate of your current electricity tariff.

A typical household on a Standard Variable Tariff pays around £600/year for their electricity (2,900 kWh at a unit cost of £0.18/kWh, plus the standing charge). So if solar panels deliver 20% - 40% of the annual usage, this will save £100 - £200/yr.

A large, south facing roof angled at 30-40 degrees is the best place for solar panels

In addition to a saving on your bill, solar panels can also earn you money for any energy you put back into the grid. However, the value of this is much less than you may expect. Ofgem, the energy regulator, require all energy companies with more than 150,000 customers to offer a ‘Smart Export Guarantee’ (SEG) tariff which pays customers for any energy they provide to the grid, but these SEG tariffs are only required to pay you ‘more than £0.00/kWh’! Currently, the SEG tariffs available offer a measly £0.01 - £0.05 per kWh of electricity.

Which means, with the average cost of installing a solar system being around £6,000, it will take between 25 and 70 years for an average household to recover this through the savings on their energy bill. The exact time frame depends on where in the UK you live, how much energy your solar panels generate and how much electricity you use and when. You can get a more accurate estimate using the following link: https://www.pvfitcalculator.energysavingtrust.org.uk/

If, after you've checked the numbers, you decide that installing solar panels is right for you, we would also advise making sure you are clear on the 3 points below before you speaking to a potential provider:

1.      The type of panels you want. (There are a number of options).

2.      Your budget. This needs to cover the cost of all the kit, it’s installation and support.

3.      The length of the warranty you expect - this should be 25-30 yrs for the panels and 5-10 yrs for the inverter - and any other ongoing support.


And finally, remember that whatever you decide, Flipper will make sure you stay on the best value energy tariff, month after month, year after year as you can still switch your energy provider if you have solar panels.

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