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Solar panels aren’t really sold individually – you buy several panels as one connected system, known as an array.
How much your system costs will depend on a number of things, such as:
The cost of a solar PV system is also dictated by how much electricity it can produce.
The energy generated is measured in kilowatts (or kW). The kW rating represents the maximum amount of electricity the system could produce in one hour, depending on weather conditions.
Residential systems are usually between 1kW and 4kW. The most popular system is 4kW, and costs between £5,000 and £8,000.
Yes, for a number of reasons. Falling production costs, advancements in technology and greater competition between manufacturers have caused the price of solar panels to drop significantly in recent years. Government incentives such as the Feed-in-Tariff have also helped lower costs by increasing demand.
A 4kW system selling for between £5,000 and £8,000 in 2017 cost nearly £15,000 in 2010. And prices are predicted to fall further, with a 40% drop forecast by the end of 2017.
Most homes in the UK have roofs that can accommodate solar panels. Roof space is measured in square metres (or square feet).
A 1kW system will typically take up around 8 square metres (90 square feet) of space. A 4kW system would need roughly 28 square metres (300 square feet).
Larger systems always deliver better results, so you should get the biggest system you can for your property. The greater the output the more money you’ll make via the Feed-in-Tariff and the more you’ll save on your electricity bills.
This depends not only on the size of your solar PV system, but some other factors too.
For example, let’s assume you installed a 4kW solar PV system on a home in Yorkshire with a south-facing roof, at a cost of between £5,000 and £8,000. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you’d be looking at a yearly saving of £70 on your electricity bill, on top of the money you’re paid for both generating and exporting electricity from the Feed-in-Tariff (currently around £200 to £220 a year).
Solar panels have a lifespan of at least 25 years (but often last a lot longer), and have very few components that need replacing during that time.
One part you might need to change, however, is the inverter. Solar panels turn the sun’s energy into a direct current (DC), which needs to be converted to an alternating current (AC) to be used as household electricity. The inverter does this job, as well as monitoring how much electricity the panels are generating.
Most inverters come with a guarantee of around 5 years, but can last a lot longer.
A new inverter will cost between £500 and £1,000.
Solar panels can accumulate dirt, dust and debris over time and become less efficient. Because of this, most manufacturers recommend that you clean your panels every 6 months. If you choose not to clean them yourself, there are specialist companies that will do the work for a charge of around £40.
Solar panels are an expensive purchase and a major change to your home. Out on the roof, they are also exposed to weather damage, falling trees and even vandalism. So it’s always prudent to make sure you have insurance in place.
Contact your buildings insurance company to check whether your solar panel system is covered under your existing policy. If it isn’t, most companies will provide cover for no extra charge.
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