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How much do solar panels in the UK cost?

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The average home can save £1,190 every year with solar panels
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The cost of a solar panel system with a storage battery in the UK for a three-bedroom house is £9,000, breaking even in 12 years

Solar panels could save you up to £1,190 annually – nearly £30,000 over their lifespan

The addition of a solar battery can increase energy savings by up to 90 per cent

Switching to a cleaner energy option such as solar panels is rapidly becoming a reality for UK homeowners, with more families enjoying their own free electricity. 

Our experts help you start your solar journey, explaining solar panel costs, break-even points, and how much you can save, enabling you to harness the sun without casting a shadow on your finances.

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What is the cost of solar panels in 2024?

The average UK home requires a 4kW solar panel system, which typically consists of around 10 panels and costs £6,500. You can expect between £100 and £500 per panel, with factors such as increased solar power output and efficiency generally increasing the cost of solar panels, so your choice of panel type will affect the final price.

Other factors that can affect the cost of solar panels are solar inverters and solar batteries. While the inverter should be included in your solar quote because it is an integral part of a system, batteries are optional, so if you want to add one, your total cost – and therefore your break-even point – will increase. 

A solar inverter costs between £900 and £1,800. Your inverter converts solar electricity into usable electricity. Primarily, this will be included in your solar panel quote if this is your first set of solar panels. Solar inverters last between 10 to 12 years, which means you will need to replace them before your solar panels reach the end of life. 

A typical solar battery costs between £2,000 and £3,000. You might want to install a solar battery in addition to your solar panels. A solar battery allows you to store and use excess electricity generated from your panels.

Cost per house size infographic update
The average UK solar system costs £6,800, not including solar batteries (Independent Advisor)

This initial cost might be off-putting for some homeowners, however, the average cost of solar panels for homes in the UK is continuing to decrease due to higher demand and since the UK government introduced a zero rate VAT for energy-saving materials. 

The cost of solar panels in the UK will also vary depending on the number of panels needed and which brand you choose. It’s a good idea to know the average cost of a solar PV system before researching various solar brands. This way, you’ll know if the panels are good value for money. 

When assessing solar panel costs, homeowners should consider the specifications, such as power output, product warranty and efficiency rating. They should also take into account the amount of roof space they have to install solar PV panels, as a smaller roof might require more efficient – and more expensive – panels to provide the amount of electricity needed to power their house.

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How to work out your solar needs

Step 1: Although smart meters provide accurate figures, the average UK household uses between 8 and 10 kWh of energy per day. However, to calculate your typical daily electricity usage, divide the total kWh number shown on your energy bill by the number of days it covers. Repeat this across several bills to get an average estimate.  

 

Step 2: Decide how much of your electricity consumption you want your panels to produce. Generally, the more power your system generates, the higher the initial cost. However, with more energy generated by solar, your bills will be lower. 

 

Step 3: Determine the power output rating of your chosen solar panels. This will typically range from 200W to 450W for most residential panels.

 

Step 4: Multiply the panel’s output by 4.19 (the average hours of sun in the UK). Multiply this number by 0.75 to account for the fact solar panels won’t always work at 100 per cent of their efficiency rating. This gives you the amount of energy your panel will produce. 

 

Step 5: Finally, divide your daily energy use by the kWs your system can generate, and that’s how many panels you need.

What factors affect solar panel prices?

There are a few factors that will affect solar panel pricing, and homeowners should consider the following aspects before installation. 

1. System size

Your home’s size and your household’s electricity usage dictate the size of your solar system. Generally, larger homes need bigger systems, resulting in higher costs. Remember, the total UK solar panels cost includes an inverter, essential for converting the panels’ direct current (DC) into usable alternating current (AC) electricity.

2. Solar panel labour costs

Typically, labour costs are included in your solar panel quote, which means this isn’t something you’d need to worry about arranging separately. However, it is a good idea to know how much these solar panel installation costs are and what factors may lead to an increase before you commit to an installation date.

The cost of installation varies according to the number of engineers required (Independent Advisor)

Solar panel labour costs are between £300 and £500 per person per day, and it takes between one and two days to install an average system size of 4kW.   

To install a solar panel system usually requires two people, so you can expect your labour costs to fall between £600 and £1,200.

One thing to bear in mind is that you make sure your installer holds accreditation from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). The MCS is a quality assurance scheme supported by the UK government.

Having this accreditation is essential to qualify for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme (which replaced the former Feed-in Tariff), with which you can sell unused electricity back to the National Grid and receive an export tariff from your energy supplier. This, in addition to lower electricity bills, will help pay off your initial investment.

3. Types of panels

Monocrystalline panels: Monocrystalline cells generate the most electricity per square metre, making them a good choice if you have limited roof space. However, they have the highest price point at around £1 per watt. 

Polycrystalline panels: Polycrystalline panels are a more affordable option, and although they’re not as efficient as monocrystalline panels, they can still achieve a good power output, and are the most commonly installed panels in the UK. Polycrystalline panels cost around £0.90 per watt. 

Thin-film panels: The least expensive option is thin-film panels. Homeowners should be wary, though, as they have an efficiency of between 7 and 18 per cent – ideally, a panel should have 20 per cent efficiency or higher to make the most use of the space available to install them.

Whichever type of panel you choose, its outlay should be balanced with the return on investment. 

4. Additional components 

Solar inverters, though usually included in your initial solar panel cost, will eventually need replacing. Unfortunately, the average lifespan of a solar inverter is 10 to 12 years. This means that at some point in your solar panels’ 20- to 30-year lifespan you’ll need to replace this. 

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How does a solar panel inverter work?

A solar panel inverter works by generating direct current (DC) electricity, which is generated by a solar panel, to alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type of electricity used for electrical currents and appliances.

On average a solar panel inverter costs between £900 and £1,800. 

In addition to installing solar panels, you may want to consider installing solar batteries. Solar batteries store excess energy from your solar panels, which can then be used to power your home at times of the day when your panels aren’t generating electricity – such as at night.

Solar batteries can be a costly investment. A solar battery can cost between £1,200 and £6,000. However, the average price you can expect to pay is £3,000 for a solar battery storage system. 

The cost is affected by the size of the storage system.

Average prices for a solar storage system based on solar panel system size and house size

House sizeNumber of panelsSolar battery sizeCost
2 bedrooms54kWh£2,500 – £3,000
3 bedrooms105kWh£3,000 – £4,000
4 bedrooms +1510kWh£6,000 – £8,000

Potential savings without a solar battery

Number of solar panelsApproximate annual bill savingSEG paymentApproximate total annual savings
5 – 6£325£220£545
10 – 11£415£435£850
15 –16£535£770£1,305

Potential savings for a typical three-bedroom property with a 5kWh solar battery

Number of solar panelsAnnual bill savingSEG paymentApproximate total annual savings
5 – 6£430£50£480
10 –11£755£205£960
15 – 16£960£480£1,440

Can I use my solar batteries in the event of a power cut?  

Your solar system is connected to the National Grid. For safety reasons, your solar system would need to be shut off from the grid so that it does not feed live electricity into the power lines while workers are fixing the issue. 

If your solar battery has a backup function you will be able to use it to power your home during a power cut. The backup function will automatically disconnect you from the grid when a power cut is detected, this is called islanding. 

Solar panel government schemes and grants

Although the benefits in the long run far outweigh the negatives of installing solar panels, the initial cost can be a tough hurdle to overcome. There are a few government solar panel grants on hand to help mitigate some of the associated costs. 

Through the UK government scheme Energy Company Obligation (ECO4), managed by Ofgem, homeowners receiving tested means benefits could be eligible to save money on the cost of solar panels. Those who are not receiving tested means benefits, but are still living in fuel poverty, might be eligible to save money through the LA Flex (Local Authority Flexible Eligibility), an extension of the ECO4.

These additional components can help save you money on your solar panels investments over time.

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An interview with a solar panel owner

How many panels did you install? What did you invest, and when will you break even? 

“The investment was £8,000 and I expect the return to be in the region of five to six years based on our energy consumption, as we use a lot of the electricity produced to charge our electric car. We’ve got 18 panels on the roof, one inverter and two batteries.”

 

Has the energy crisis affected you and how much of the energy you produce do you use? 

“The price cap has obviously had an impact, because we still use some from the grid, so that’s gone up. But, by the sheer fact that 65 per cent of what we use, we produce ourselves means that, as a result, it has not gone up anything like it has for everybody else and clearly increases the return on our investment.” 

 

What advice would you give to homeowners considering installing solar panels? 

“I would say go for the biggest system that you can get that will fit your roof because we’re only going to be using more and needing to produce more, not less.”  

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How much do solar panels cost throughout the UK? Find out how much they would cost for your home by answering a few quick questions

Is the cost of solar panels increasing?

Although the average costs of an installation were falling prior to 2021, thanks to increased panel efficiency cutting the number needed to produce a household’s energy and high market competition, 2022 saw the price of solar panels climbing. Prices for 0-4kW systems reached around £2,570 per watt in March 2023 – a 26 per cent increase on the previous year’s prices – before starting to fall later in the year. 

Renewable energy experts, including Climate Energy Finance (CEF), predict that this downward trend will continue throughout 2024, dropping by 40 per cent by the end of the year.

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Is now a good time to buy solar panels?

Now is one of the best times to buy solar panels. Currently, the average cost of a solar panel system is around £7,000 and homeowners can benefit from the 0 per cent VAT rate on solar installations until 2027.

 

A typical three-bedroom house with a 4kW system could save up to £963 per year, based on current energy prices. With energy prices remaining high, on average homeowners can expect to break even in eight years.

Tom Armstrong, Project Solar

Is the cost of living influencing the solar market? – Tom Armstrong, Sales Director at Project Solar

The cost of living situation is a big incentive for homeowners to install a solar system. Three years ago, 1kW was worth between 11p and 14p. Now, it’s between 30p and 36p, and electricity suppliers are paying home generators that amount for surplus energy generated. Octopus is offering the best return at present. 

 

If you’ve decided against solar panels in the past, it is worth looking again, as technological advances have made panels more efficient with better returns. Using your own solar energy will always save money. 

How long do solar panels take to break even?

The break-even point refers to the time it takes for the savings from your reduced electricity bills, plus any SEG payments received, to surpass the initial investment cost of the solar panels. This critical figure indicates when you start seeing a tangible return on your investment.

Solar panels typically break even in between eight and 12 years, but this varies based on the system size, SEG payments, current electricity prices, and how you use your electricity, so our estimate should only be used as a rough guide.

According to our research, most homeowners include a solar storage battery with their system. This can reduce the break-even point as it allows you to store your free home-generated electricity to use whenever you need it – overnight, for example, lessening your reliance on grid-supplied energy and saving you money.

While this means you’ll have less to sell through the SEG scheme, due to the SEG payments being far smaller than you pay per kW for supplied energy, it makes more sense to replace the expensive grid electricity with your free supply. 

Property sizeSystem sizeNumber of panelsSystem cost (including installation and battery)Approximate savings (including SEG)Break-even point
Two bedrooms2kW5£7,000£48012 – 13 years
Three bedrooms4kW10£9,000£9609 – 10 years
Four or more bedrooms6kW15£10,000£1,4406 – 7 years

How much money can you save with solar panels?

Solar panels could save you hundreds of pounds annually, and you can also sell excess electricity generated from your solar panels back to the National Grid through the SEG.

Exactly how much your household could save with solar panels depends on: 

  • Size of your solar panel system
  • How much time you spend at home
  • Your SEG tariff rate

It’s estimated you’ll save more if you spend more time at home. You’re advised to use electrical appliances such as the dishwasher, washing machine and iron when your panels are generating electricity – this means you can avoid paying to use them when you’re using grid electricity.

Property sizeSystem sizeNumber of panelsEstimated costs, including installation and batteryApproximate annual savings on electricity bill, including SEG paymentsApproximate savings after 25 years
Two bedrooms2kW5£7,000£480£12,000
Three bedrooms4kW10£9,000£960£24,000
Four or more bedrooms6kW15£10,000£1,440£36,000
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Savings based on time spent at home

Based on a three-bedroom house with a 4kW solar system using a Lancashire postcode, we used the Energy Saving Trust’s calculator to find out how much you could save depending on how much time you spend at home.

 

Home all day: 

  • Save £545 annually 
    • £113 SEG earnings
    • £433 energy bill saving

 

Out all day until 6pm:

  • Save £288 annually 
    • £123 SEG earnings
    • £165 energy bill saving

 

Home in the mornings:

  • Save £413 annually 
    • £95 SEG earnings
    • £318 energy bill saving

 

Home in the afternoons: 

  • Save £388 annually 
    • £101 SEG earnings
    • £287 energy bill saving

Make solar panel savings with SEG Payments

The SEG scheme is designed to ensure homeowners are paid for surplus energy that their panels generate and export it to the National Grid. Energy suppliers with 150,000 or more customers must supply at least one SEG tariff to customers in England, Scotland and Wales – some tariffs are better priced per kW than others, so it’s advisable that you shop around before deciding on the best tariff.

Some tariffs offer better rates than others and you’ll also need to decide between fixed and variable tariffs: 

  • A fixed-rate pays per kWh of electricity exported to the grid regardless of time
  • Variable tariffs pay varied amounts depending on how valuable the electricity at that time. Some variable tariffs will offer different rates for peak and off-peak hours like the new Intelligent Octopus Flux 

To sign up for any of the energy tariffs in the table below you don’t need to be an existing customer and you also do not need to make the switch in order to opt into their SEG tariff. However, existing customers tend to get offered better rates, so bear this in mind. 

Here are all the best and worst SEG tariff rates, with updated prices for March 2024.

SupplierSEG tariffRate (p/kWh)Variable/fixed
Octopus Energy (own customers)Intelligent Octopus FluxAverage 27.1 to 36.1Variable
Octopus Energy (own customers)Octopus FluxAverage 24Variable
OVO Energy (own customers with battery)OVO SEG tariff20Fixed for 12 months
So Energy (panels and battery installed by company)So Export Flex20Variable
E.on Next (own customersNext Export Exclusive16.5Fixed for 12 months
OVO Energy (own customers with solar panels only)OVO SEG tariff15Fixed for 12 months
British Gas (own customers)Export & Earn Plus15Variable
Octopus (own customers)Outgoing fixed15Fixed for 12 months
Scottish Power (customers whose panels were installed by the company)Smart Gen+15Variable
Scottish Power (customers whose panels were installed by another company)Smart Gen12Variable
So EnergySo Export Flex7.5Variable
British Gas (non-customers)Export & Earn Flex6.4Variable
EDF (own customers)Export Variable Value5.6Variable
Utility Warehouse (own customers)UW SEG tariff5.6Variable
Pozitive EnergySEG tariff5Variable
Octopus (non-customers)Outgoing Go4.1Fixed for 12 months
OVO Energy (non-customers)OVO SEG tariff4Fixed for 12 months
EDF (non-customers)Export Variable3Variable
E.on Next (non-customers)Next Export3Fixed for 12 months
SSE (existing customer)Smart Export tariff3.5Variable
Shell EnergySEG V1.1 tariff3.5Variable
UtilitaSEG tariff3Variable
Utility Warehouse (non-customers)UW SEG tariff2Variable
ESEG January2020v.11Variable

Solar panel cost payment plan options

Transitioning to solar energy has become more accessible thanks to various payment options catering to different financial situations. Gone are the days when the only route to solar installation was through a significant upfront payment. 

Spreading the cost over time

Many solar providers offer specific financing options that enable you to spread the cost of solar panels over several years. This can significantly reduce the immediate financial burden, making solar energy accessible to a wider audience. These plans may come with fixed or variable interest rates, depending on the provider and the terms of the agreement.

Loans 

A loan is a popular option if you want to spread the cost of solar panels over time. Various financial institutions offer green loans designed for eco-friendly investments like solar panels. These loans typically come with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms, allowing you to manage payments according to your budget.

Subscription plans

A solar panel subscription plan is a relatively new concept that offers a flexible approach to solar energy. The provider installs solar panels on your property for a monthly subscription fee, and you benefit from the electricity they generate. This model often includes maintenance and repairs as part of the subscription, removing the worry about additional costs. 

Green mortgages

A green mortgage might be an option if you plan on making substantial eco-friendly home improvements, including solar panel installations. These mortgages often provide additional borrowing capacity for energy efficient investments, recognising the value they add to a property.

Tom Armstrong, Project Solar

Do people generally want to cover their energy usage or pay back to the grid? – Tom Armstrong, Sales Director at Project Solar

They’re using solar for both – the lower energy bills and additional income from selling back to the National Grid mean that solar panels make a difference to households’ financial status. 

 

Also, with the government pushing electric vehicles, more people will invest in home charging ports, which can use solar-generated energy. This eliminates vehicle fuel bills.

Additional costs to consider

Solar panel cost maintenance, brush cleaning solar panels
To keep your solar panels operating efficiently, it is recommended you get them cleaned regularly to prevent a build-up of dust and debris (Adobe)

The upfront costs of solar panels are something that’s widely available with a small amount of research – it’s the hidden costs beyond the solar installation that are rarely spoken of. 

Fortunately, solar panels have few hidden costs outside the initial investment. 

Maintenance 

When installed correctly, solar panels are made to last 25 years or more. Thanks to their simple construction and the fact they have no moving parts, for the most part, they are relatively low maintenance. 

However, throughout your panels’ lifespan, you should carry out annual maintenances. By doing so, you’ll maximise their lifespan and ensure you’re getting the most power out of them. 

Essential maintenance: 

  • Remove any debris from your panels, including leaves and tree branches
  • For debris that can’t be picked off, hose the panels down from the ground (never use a sponge, as this will cause scratches and damage the panels’ surface)
  • Have your panels checked regularly by a certified service provider

Repairs and replacements 

It’s highly unlikely you’ll require repairs or replacements, although there are a few reasons why this could happen. 

The main reason is extreme weather such as hailstones or fallen trees. Another reason could be that the panel was defective at the time of installation. 

No matter the reason for repairs or replacements, most solar panels come with a product warranty, and some even offer lifetime guarantees. You would need to check with your solar manufacturer or provider for the terms and conditions of replacement in the event of accidental damage or defective goods.

FAQs about solar panels UK costs

Solar panels can be a costly investment, so it’s always good to look for affordable options and compare prices. There are also different types of solar panels – monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film solar panels – with the latter being the most affordable but least efficient type of panel. It’s best not to look for the cheapest panels, but ones that still retain good power output for a cost-effective price – you should compare products and request free quotes from three or more providers to compare installation costs.

From April 2022 until March 2027, homeowners will pay 0 per cent VAT on solar panels, as part of the government’s Spring Statement 2022.

According to Admiral Money, solar panels can increase the value of your home by up to 25 per cent, and many homeowners looking to buy a new property consider them a worthwhile investment. Considering that installing solar panels will cost thousands of pounds if you decide to sell your property, a solar array would be an attractive benefit for the potential buyer.

Solar panels have an average lifespan of 25 years. Although the initial cost of solar panels can seem expensive, you’ll reap the benefits for more than two decades. As well as this, solar panels have an average payback time of seven years. Once you break even, your solar panels can earn you money if you sell your surplus energy back to the National Grid through SEG payments.

A 5kW solar panel system can contribute significantly to the energy needs of a typical three to four-bedroom home in the UK.

The average household in the UK uses about 3,800 kWh of electricity per year. A 5kW solar system, under ideal conditions, can generate approximately 4,500 kWh per year. However, the actual energy generation can be lower due to various factors, such as location, panel orientation, and weather conditions.

There are several incentives available for installing solar panels, part of the UK’s efforts to encourage the adoption of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency in homes. They help in reducing the initial cost of solar panel installation and make solar power a more viable option for a broader range of households. Incentives include Ofgem’s ECO4 scheme, providing free solar panels to eligible homes.

Solar panels cost calculator

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The data used to power this calculator is sourced from various solar companies and industry bodies, including the UK government, the Energy Saving Trust and Ofgem. Please note that costs are estimated and based on a UK average, and should not be taken as the exact price you would pay. It takes just one minute to fill in a few details via this form to get an estimate from one of our trusted partners.

rachel

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.

Katharine Allison

Energy Saving Writer

As Independent Advisor’s energy saving expert, Katharine, a keen advocate for sustainability, is an authority on solar panels, double glazing, and cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Her dedication merges with a commitment to enlighten and steer readers toward embracing eco-friendly solutions and the latest trends in sustainability.

With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.

david hilton

David Hilton

Energy and Renewables Expert

David Hilton is a Director at Heat and Energy Ltd, and an expert in conventional and sustainable building, energy efficiency services, and healthy homes. In his role at Heat and Energy, David supports projects from design brief to completion with technical, sustainability and strategic advice. He also advises on building fabric and heating, including conventional, modern and alternative systems.

As an expert in energy efficiency and sustainable building, David has a masters degree in sustainable architecture and is a regular contributor to Homebuilding & Renovating, Selfbuild and Design, Grand Designs, and Build It magazines, The Metro and The Independent newspapers as well as various trade magazines.

David is also a member of professional bodies and organisations including Gassafe and the Gloucester Design Review Panel.

David is a frequent speaker on heating, renewables and modern building methods at the Homebuilding and Renovating shows as well as training installers of heat pumps, photovoltaics, and solar thermal systems. In addition, he delivers courses and seminars at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre.