Green Arrow Green Arrow

Are solar panels worth it for me?

For anyone looking to join the green energy club, it’s important to first consider whether solar panels are the best way forward. In this guide, we aim to help you figure out whether solar panels make sense for you economically. If you’re more interested in whether solar panels are suitable for your property, have a look at another one of our guides: How do I know solar panels are right for me?

How much do solar panels cost in the UK?

The cost of solar panels has now stabilised after having decreased in recent years, but the exact price will depend on several key factors. As a tech company, we do a lot of maths behind the scenes to make sure that you get an accurate quote.

For this reason, our free and impartial MakeMyHouseGreen tool will ask you to first provide information about your geographic location. We will also ask you a few questions about your roof, such as its size, slope and which way it’s facing, and ask about electricity usage. Our advanced system will then do the complicated calculations for you and in just a few seconds it will provide you with a rough estimate of the number of panels that are possible to fit on your roof.

To make the process hassle-free, you will see the quote straight away, on your screen. No need to wait for an email! If you decide to go ahead with the install or have questions about the quote, one of our friendly Green Home Gurus will happily give you a free call to discuss.

Could you get a grant for solar panels?

Because the price of solar panels has come down, there are currently no national government grants available in the UK, but VAT is charged at just 5%! There could also be a council level grant available to you, but you’d have to contact your local council to find out.

You can also get paid to export energy to the grid by applying for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. When booking a (free!) consultation call with one of our Green Homes Gurus, they’ll be happy to walk you through the eligibility criteria and other details you might be interested in.

Do Smart Meters work with solar panels?

Yes! In fact, if you want to sell money back to the grid you’ll need a Smart Meter in order to get paid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. The reason for this is that it’s able to measure the exact amount of energy that you’re exporting to the grid.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?

For a lot of people, one of the first things that comes to mind when considering whether to invest in solar panels is how long it’ll take for the investment to pay off. In general, it takes our customers between 8 to 15 years to see a return of investment. But we’ve seen investment pay back in as little as 4 years! So if you’re wondering if solar panels are worth it in the UK, those are the numbers to keep in mind. However, with electricity prices on the rise, the time it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves is likely to come down.

If you would like a more personalised estimate on how quickly you can get a ROI, give our data-based tool a try! It’ll show you your estimated savings and cost of investment based on a ten year average, so that you can see for yourself how long it would take for you to break even.

What is the total cost of solar panel ownership?

In order to find out what it would cost you to own solar panels, you’d have to start by adding up the cost of your solar panels and inverter. You may also want to add a battery to your system, and features such as pigeon protection. Additionally, you’ll have to account for the cost of installation and the scaffolding that is necessary to see it through. If you’re eligible for a grant, you’ll want to subtract its value from the total cost.

We’ll summarise most of these costs for you when you use our free, handy, and impartial tool, and we’ll be able to give you even more personalised quotes if you book a (free!) consultation call with one of our friendly Green Home Gurus. You’ll get the option to book a call when using our tool.

How to estimate your electricity usage?

The same way you can measure ingredients in grams when baking, electricity usage can be measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). You can estimate your monthly energy needs by following the step below:

1.    Find the wattage usage for your appliance

Firstly, look at the information in our helpful table below or at the wattage labels on the appliances you commonly use. For example, a dishwasher is likely to have a wattage between 1,200-2,400W (watts). Let’s say we want to know how much it costs to run the dishwasher every month if you use it for 2 hours every day.

2.    Calculate kWh per month

The next step is to multiply the dishwasher’s wattage (1,200) by the hours of use (2). We get that the dishwasher is using 2,400 watt-hours per day.  

Electricity bills are calculated using kWh so next we need to convert watt-hours per day to kilowatt-hours per day. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. We can therefore divide the 2,400 watt-hours per day by 1,000, in which case we’ll find that the dishwasher uses a total of 2.4 kWh per day.

To find out how much this will be per month, simply multiply 2.4 kWh by the amount of days in the month (for example, 30). The answer we get is 72 kWh per month.

3.    Calculate the monthly cost

To calculate the final figure, we need to know how much the electricity supplier is charging for one kWh. This information will be available on the supplier’s website, your welcome documents, online account, or recent bill. 

Let’s say the cost is 28p per kWh. To figure out how much the dishwasher costs each month, we multiply 0.28 by the 72 kWh and get a total of £20.16.

Below, we’ve included a helpful table showing the wattage levels of the most common household appliances. The exact number will depend on the appliance’s model and energy efficiency.

DeviceWattage (W)
Tumble dryer1,800 – 5,000W
Electric oven2,000 - 2,200W
Electric shower7,500 - 10,000W
Hair dryer2,200W
TV125 - 450W
Microwave600 - 1,500W
Kettle2,200 - 3,000W
Vacuum cleaner500 - 1,200W
Fridge40 - 120W

Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, has compiled data on electricity usage across the nation in order to provide an estimate of typical low, medium, and high consumption. We’ve included their Typical Domestic Consumption Values (TDCV) in the below table as another way to estimate your monthly energy usage:

Electricity: Regular meter (kWh)Electricity: Economy 7 meter (kWh)
Low usage - 1,800Low usage - 2,400
Medium usage - 2,900Medium usage 4,200
High usage - 4,300High usage - 7,100

Or, if you have a Switchd account, simply log in to your dashboard and select ‘Tariff pricing’ from the sidebar on the left. Your estimated annual electricity usage will be displayed towards the bottom of the page. 

How long do solar panels last?

Since there aren't many moving parts, there isn’t much that can go wrong with solar panels! However, like most electronic goods, the system is guaranteed to function for a minimum amount of time. A 25-year performance guarantee is common, which means that you will be compensated if your solar panels do not perform at at least 85% of their original output in the first 25 years. For more information on warranty, read our guide on the upkeep and maintenance of solar panels. If you’re interested to learn more about the efficiency of solar panels and what impacts performance we’ve got an article on that too!

Do you have a well insulated house?

Another aspect to consider when trying to decide whether solar panels would be a sound investment for you is whether your house is well insulated. It doesn’t make much sense to spend money improving the way that you heat your home if the heat won’t actually stay within your home. Fortunately, our free and impartial tool can give you an indication of costs and savings on both wall insulation and window insulation - so a poorly insulated house doesn’t mean that you can’t get panels!

One way to check if your house is well insulated is by placing a hand on your home’s outward walls or floors. Do they feel warm or cold? The latter will indicate an insulation problem.

Damp and moisture often accompany the cold walls. Some other signs of poor insulation include drafts and fluctuating temperatures – no matter how much you heat up your house, the warmth disappears quickly and you find yourself spending a lot of money on heating.

Are solar panels worth it if you have an EV?

Using solar energy to fuel an electric vehicle sounds like a no-brainer. The energy produced by solar panels can indeed help charge an EV. In theory, your EV could even act as a battery for your system!

On the downside, pulling back electricity from the vehicle to use in the house has an impact on the degradation of the EV’s battery and it’s not yet clear whether it offsets the benefit from the improved solar. In our view, solar panels are great to fuel your EV, but probably won't be something you can pull from to power your home.

Our Green Homes Gurus are happy to discuss this in greater detail! You’ll be presented the option to book a (free!) call when using our platform.

What are the benefits of having solar panels?

Undoubtedly, there are way more than one! If we had to pick our favourite benefit of having solar panels, it would be that they provide clean, renewable energy. Our homes make up one fourth of our individual carbon footprints, so getting solar panels is a sure way to reduce your overall environmental footprint!

And solar panels are good for the wallet too – generating your own electricity will reduce your reliance on utility companies and make you less affected by unexpected increases to your monthly electricity bill.

Keep in mind that solar energy is a long-term solution too, that can provide efficient results even after 25 or 30 years! Even if you decide to move away one day, it is possible to earn back on the investment as multiple studies have suggested that solar panels can increase the resale value of a property.

What is the actual impact of solar panels on my carbon footprint?

The fact that “getting solar panels is a sure way to reduce your overall environmental footprint” sounds great, doesn’t it? But how much carbon will you actually save by having solar panels installed? It’s really easy to find out - when using our free tool, you’re able to see a 96% accurate estimate of your annual carbon (and money) saving!

Won’t solar panel technology increase in the coming years? Why should I get solar panels now?

The cost of solar systems is near all-time lows despite supply chain issues. However, as solar panels have now been around for a long time, their price has stabilised and is unlikely to fall further.

Solar battery technology continues to evolve with the rise of EV’s and the technology is getting cheaper too, which is likely to have a ripple effect on the cost of solar batteries. Simply let one of our Green Home Gurus know if you prefer to get the solar system ready now and invest in a battery at a later date.

What is your predicted increased electricity usage?

Your electricity usage is likely to change throughout the span of your life. You might for example get an electric vehicle, change from gas to electric heating, or welcome a new family member! If you are expecting that your energy needs will change in the future it is possible to play around with the model and check how that would affect the pricing of the solar panels.

Now that you've considered if solar panels are worth it for you, feel free to give our exciting tool a try. If you’re interested in learning more about green home solutions, check out our Green Guides or drop us an email via team@makemyhousegreen.com.

Related Articles