The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

Solar panels for your home in 2023

Get Free Solar Panels Quotes
The average home can save £1,190 every year with solar panels
Do you rent or own your home?
Own Rent

Solar panels are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. They generate clean, emission-free energy by converting sunlight into usable electricity to power your home. Photovoltaic systems are practically an infinite energy source and can produce free electricity for your home year-round. 

In our guide, we’ll help you figure out how many solar panels are required to power your home and discuss the different types of solar panels available. We’ve outlined all of the information you need to consider before deciding whether solar panels are right for your home.

Where do you want to install solar panels?
It takes just 60 seconds

Are solar panels a good choice for your home?

solar panels explainer graphic
[1] Solar panels are typically installed on the roof. [2] A solar inverter converts the power from the panels to electricity that’s useable by appliances. [3] An app can be used to monitor electricity usage. [4] A solar battery can protect you from power outages. [5] Electric cars can be charged by solar with the appropriate EV charger. [6] If you have an electric boiler, then even your hot water can be powered by solar (Independent Advisor)

Solar panels can be a valuable addition to homes, as they offer several benefits. They can help homeowners save on electricity bills, increase energy independence, and contribute to environmental sustainability. 

Solar PV systems are becoming an increasingly popular addition to homes thanks to their money-saving potential. On average, nearly 12,000 solar panels are installed in the UK each month, which is contributing to the healthy decline in the price of solar panels

The main benefits of installing solar panels for your home are:

  • Generate a constant supply of electricity: Solar panels generate renewable energy year-round without causing any harmful greenhouse gas emissions. They’re a near-infinite energy source, and their average 25-year lifespan means they’ll pay for themselves before they’re taken to a solar panel recycling centre. 
  • Save and earn money: With solar panels, you’ll be able to sell surplus electricity generated by your system via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). SEG payments can help reduce energy bills and even decrease the time it takes for you to break even from your initial cost. 
  • Reduce your carbon footprint:  Homes powered by solar panels reduce your carbon footprint and help to eliminate harmful greenhouse gas emissions. 

While solar panels for your home are beneficial, they may not be right for everyone. Here are some of the cons of solar panels: 

  • Initial investment cost: Though solar panels are continually becoming less expensive, the initial cost of installation is still high. On average, a solar system costs £5,500. 
  • Not right for every home: Not every home is suitable for solar panels. Factors such as house location and roof orientation can determine whether you will generate enough usable energy to make it a viable investment. 
  • Require a solar battery to make the most out of your solar panels: Solar panels generate electricity to power homes during daylight hours. At nighttime, most homes will use national grid energy. With solar battery storage, you would be able to rely solely on the electricity you generate, meaning you could potentially save more on energy bills, but this will make your installation even more expensive and extend the time it takes to recoup your investment.

How many solar panels does it take to power a house?

The number of solar panels needed to provide enough energy to power a home rests on several considerations, including the household’s energy needs, the efficiency and size of the panels, and the amount of sunlight received in the property’s location.

The average UK home requires between 12 and 16 panels to operate on solar power, taking up around 22 to 29㎡ of roof space. 

Is the solar panels’ investment worth it?

Most homeowners install solar panels for their potential energy bill-saving capabilities. Solar panels for your home can decrease bills by up to £610 annually when combined with SEG payments. 

By selling your surplus energy back to the National Grid, you could save hundreds of pounds, but that isn’t the only benefit of SEG payments. When your solar energy earns your money back, this can also help decrease the time it takes for you to break even from your initial cost. On average, homes with solar panels that benefit from SEG payments break even in just seven years. 

Solar panels can also potentially increase home value in the UK and are desired by potential home buyers. Solar panels could increase the value of your home by up to £1,800, which is great news if you’re considering selling your home. 

However, the extent to which they impact a property’s value hinges on several points:

  • Age and condition of the panels: Newer or well-maintained solar panels are more likely to impact a home’s value positively. As panels age, their efficiency can decrease, and this may affect the value they add to a property
  • Energy savings and system size: A solar panel system that covers a significant portion of a household’s electricity needs can be more appealing to potential buyers, as it translates to larger energy bill savings
  • Warranty type: Some solar panel manufacturers and installers offer transferable warranties, meaning the warranty remains valid even if ownership of the property changes. This can be an attractive feature for buyers 
  • Local market factors: In some areas, there might be greater demand for energy-efficient homes or homes with solar panels, resulting in a higher perceived value for homes already equipped with a system
David H icon

Green home upgrades that can increase a home’s value – David Hilton, Owner, Heat and Energy Ltd

Apart from the obvious home value criteria of your location, there are a number of things that can also now affect the value of the home and may also put your home ahead in a congested market. With energy prices steadily increasing the latest focus for home buyers is energy efficiency. This can mean two things: generate your own energy, or use less energy.

 

Installing high levels of insulation, better quality windows and doors, eliminating air gaps around windows, doors, under floors and around pipework will significantly improve the energy performance of the home. 

 

Taking advantage of the current available government incentive to fit an air source heat pump to the home could also add value, as the prospective disruption of changing the heating system and potentially re-piping sections of the existing plumbing system may put many prospective buyers off. 

 

If you are doing any electrical upgrades to your home, consider the addition of ethernet cables to plugs and sockets, especially near the internet router, any smart TV or any areas where computer equipment, games consoles or media boxes are used. 

 

Heating controls in every room is also a popular upgrade. If you cannot install new wiring around the home then companies such as Honeywell, Drayton, Hive, Nest, as well as many others, have wireless motorised valves that can be fitted as replacement radiator valves and offer accurate thermostatic control in each room. Many of these systems can also control lighting and appliances as well. 

Is my house suitable for solar panels?

Most residential solar panels are installed on a home’s roof. They work by absorbing sunlight through photovoltaic (PV) cells. The sunlight is converted into direct current (DC) electricity, which then travels into the house via an inverter, which turns the DC power into alternating current (AC) – the type found in power lines that is used to power household items such as appliances.

If you’ve also installed a solar battery, you can store any surplus energy to use during times of the day when your panels are not generating any electricity, such as at night. Alternatively, you may sell this surplus electricity back to the grid via the SEG scheme.

Whether you can fit your house with solar panels is dependent on several factors. 

It’s essential to assess the suitability of your home’s location, roof condition, and orientation to ensure the best performance. Generally speaking, a south-facing roof with direct sunlight is the optimal situation to be in. Additionally, you’ll need to determine the appropriate size of the system based on your household’s energy consumption and budget. It’s also a good idea to determine the best location for additional equipment, such as your inverter and any storage batteries – this is usually somewhere out of direct sunlight and with good ventilation, such as a garage or larger loft.

The good news is that in most cases, you will not require planning permission to install solar panels because they have been designated a “Permitted Development” by the government. There are some exceptions – for instance, if your house is a listed building or situated in a conservation area, or if you want to install them on a flat roof – but in general you can expect a smooth process when applying for planning permission, particularly given the UK’s drive to become net zero.

It’s recommended to consult with a professional solar installer, who can evaluate your home’s specific needs and help you make an informed decision.

Home solar panels: How to choose

When shopping for solar panels for your home, there are several factors to consider to ensure you choose the right product for your needs.

Determine your energy needs

To determine your energy needs for a solar panel system, you’ll need to estimate your household’s electricity consumption and other factors to size the system correctly. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you determine your solar power needs:

solar panels icon

How to work out your solar needs

Step 1: Collect your electricity bills from the past 12 months. These bills should indicate your monthly energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Energy suppliers can provide this data if you do not have a bill to hand. To calculate your daily usage, divide your average monthly bill by 30.

 

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 of your energy generated by solar, your bills will be lower. 

 

Step 3: Determine the average daily sunlight hours in your area. This number varies throughout the UK, with Southern England receiving the most sun and Northern Scotland experiencing fewer sun-hours. However, solar panels still generate an amount of electricity on cloudy days. According to the Met Office, the average daily sunshine hours in the UK in 2022 was 4.19 hours. 

 

Step 4: Determine the power output rating of your chosen solar panels. This will typically range from 200W to 450W for most residential panels.

 

Step 5: Work out how much energy each panel will produce. Multiply the panel’s power output by the number of sunshine hours in your area, and then multiply that number by 0.75 to account for the fact solar panels won’t always work at 100 per cent of their efficiency rating.

 

Step 6: Finally, determine how many panels you’ll need to cover your daily energy usage. Divide the energy you use per day by the kWs your system can generate to give you the required number of panels.

The average UK home requires a 4kW system, which equates to 16 panels, but the above calculation will provide a more accurate estimate for your particular circumstances. It’s important to remember that a system requires multiple components in addition to the panels, including an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) power from the panels into usable electricity in the form of alternating current (AC) and an optional solar battery storage system if you want to store excess energy for night time use.

David H icon

How to best utilise solar energy generated – David Hilton, Owner, Heat and Energy Ltd

Fitting solar PV panels to your roof is the low hanging fruit and the addition of a battery could mean that you could store any energy generated during the day and use it at night. You could also charge the battery during off-peak tariff times and use it when the energy is more expensive during peak times. Having the ability to set your appliances, such as washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher via wifi and smart app devices, to run during the daylight hours means that you can better optimise the use of solar generation.

Home solar panel types explained

Research types of solar panels

Solar panel technology has evolved significantly over the years, and various types of solar PV panels are available on the market today. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Monocrystalline solar panels: 
    • Made from a single crystal structure of silicon
    • High efficiency rates (15–27 per cent)
    • More expensive than other types
    • Longer lifespan
    • Excellent performance in low-light conditions
  • Polycrystalline solar panels:
    • Composed of multiple crystal structures of silicon
    • Lower efficiency rates than monocrystalline panels (15–19 per cent)
    • Less expensive than monocrystalline panels
    • Shorter lifespan
    • Slightly lower performance in low-light conditions
  • Bifacial solar panels:
    • Can absorb sunlight from both sides of the panel
    • Typically made from monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells
    • Increased efficiency and power output
    • Requires specific installation conditions (e.g., reflective surfaces, raised mounting)
  • Building-integrated photovoltaics:
    • Integrated into building materials, such as windows, facades, or roof tiles
    • Offer aesthetic appeal and multi-functionality
    • Typically lower efficiency rates than traditional solar panels
    • Can be more expensive due to custom design and integration

Assess your roof and panel location

Inspect your roof for any damage or wear. Solar panels have a 25- to 30-year lifespan, so your roof should be in good condition and not require replacement soon. The roof material needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the solar panels.

The optimal orientation for panels in the UK is facing south, which receives the most sunlight throughout the day. East and west-facing roofs will also work, but may be less efficient.

The angle of your roof can also make a difference in how much electrify the solar panels will produce. Most residential roofs have a pitch between 15 and 45 degrees, which is suitable for solar panel installation. However, if your roof angle differs from this, mounting frames are available to create the optimal pitch. 

Shading will reduce the efficiency and power output of solar panels. Inspect your roof for any potential sources of shading, such as trees, chimneys, or neighbouring buildings. It’s important to consider shading patterns throughout the year, as the sun’s position changes with the seasons.

Ensure you have enough roof space to accommodate the desired solar PV system size. The average home solar panels have surface areas measuring around 1.4m² so, for example, if you need 12 panels, you’ll require about 22m² of roof space. 

Investigate solar panel warranties

Solar panel warranties play a crucial role in protecting your investment. Warranties can provide peace of mind and ensure you receive the expected performance from your panels over their lifespan. Typically, two types of warranties are associated with panels:

  • Performance Warranty (or Power Output Warranty): This type of warranty guarantees your panels will produce a certain percentage of their rated power output over a specific period. Most manufacturers offer a 25-year performance warranty, which usually includes:
    • A guarantee the panels will produce at least 90 per cent of their rated power output for the first 10 years
    • A guarantee the panels will produce at least 80 per cent of their rated power output for the remaining 15 years
  • Product Warranty (or Materials and Workmanship Warranty): This type of warranty covers defects in materials or quality that can cause the solar panels to malfunction or underperform. Product warranties typically range from 10 to 25 years, depending on the manufacturer, with some premium manufacturers offering more extended warranties.

When evaluating solar panel warranties, read the documents carefully to understand the terms and conditions, including any exclusions or limitations and the process for making a warranty claim. You should also check if the warranty is transferable to a new owner if you sell your property. This can add value to your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers.

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. 

Get a good price for your solar system

Choose a solar panel fitter

Choosing the right solar panel installation company is crucial for a successful solar energy system, and there are several points to consider. 

In the UK, solar suppliers and installers should hold accreditation from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). The MCS is a nationally recognised quality assurance scheme supported by the UK government. MCS-certified professionals are required to meet strict standards for the installation of renewable energy technologies, and having this accreditation is essential to qualify for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme, which means you’ll get paid an export tariff by your energy company for any excess electricity your system can feed back into the National Grid.

A less common certification is the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC). This voluntary consumer code ensures high consumer protection standards for those investing in renewable energy systems, including solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. RECC membership demonstrates that an installer is committed to providing high-quality service and following consumer protection best practices.

Look for an installer with a proven track record in the solar industry. They should have experience installing home solar panel systems similar to the one you’re interested in, and be able to handle any potential challenges, ensuring a smooth process.

A good installer will take the time to understand your specific energy needs and budget. They should provide a custom solar panel system design and a detailed proposal that outlines the installation process, including costs, installation time, expected performance, and payback period. There also needs to be after-sales support, including system monitoring, maintenance, and repair services. 

Get multiple quotes

The average cost of solar panel installation can vary significantly from one provider to another. By obtaining multiple free quotes, you can compare prices and secure the best deal possible. It also allows you to evaluate the available product options and choose the best solar panels that suit your requirements. Finally, research if you are also eligible for any solar panels grants

Get home solar panel quotes in your area

Discover how much solar panels would cost for your home by answering a few quick questions

Tom Armstrong, Project Solar

Do you think the solar market will continue to grow? – Tom Armstrong, Sales Director at Project Solar

Yes, the market will continue to grow. People see solar as a long-term investment, especially with unstable and uncertain energy prices. More are buying electric vehicles, which, with solar charging points, can cost nothing to run.

Solar panels for home Q&A

All solar panels are designed with the same purpose in mind – to convert sunlight into usable electricity to power homes or buildings. Though factors such as power wattage, panel efficiency and the type of solar panel may differ; regardless of where they are installed they have the same purpose.

When choosing solar panels you should carry out extensive research. Some of the best solar brands with the most efficient panels include Project Solar, Jinko Solar and JA Solar. You should check various solar panel installer websites and compare different panels’ efficiency as well as price. A general rule of thumb is that the best solar panels have an efficiency of 20 per cent or more.

Solar panels have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years. Solar panels last a very long time and require little maintenance. Your solar panels will also come with a warranty – the best ones will be as long as their average lifespan.

Solar panels can be installed at any time of year, and there’s not necessarily the best time of year to buy them. However, you should look out for offers and sales on installer websites that happen throughout the year. This way you can take advantage of any discounts on offer and cut the cost of your solar panel system.

Yes, you can run your entire house from the electricity that your solar panels generate. However, to do this you would need to work out what your annual energy consumption is, and establish how large a solar panel system you require in order to power your entire home. You could also install a solar battery, as this allows you to store energy to use during nighttime hours or cloudy days.

A portable solar panel can be used to power individual appliances in the home, such as laptops, phones, or microwaves, but isn’t suitable for powering a household, which typically requires much more power than a portable panel can generate.

Yes, if you can afford the high initial cost of a solar battery on top of your solar panel system. Solar battery storage allows you to store excess energy to use when your panels are not generating any electricity or enough to power your home. You will also not need to rely on grid energy, which will cut your electricity bill even further.

Get free solar panels quotes
Discover how much solar panels would cost for your home by answering a few questions.
Solar panels calculator

See how much it would cost to get solar panels installed on your home.

How many bedrooms does your home have?
Where do you live?
Number of panels needed
0
Cost of system
£0
Annual savings
£0
Weekly savings
£0
Daily savings
£0
You'll break even after
0 years

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. If you’d like to get an accurate quote for solar panels, then you can use this form to get an estimate from one of our trusted partners.

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.

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.