How much do solar panels cost?

Happy solar installers

Key points:

  • Solar panel systems range from £1,500 to £8,000.
  • A solar panel system for a four-person household costs between £6,000 and £8,000.
  • Solar panels save you money through Feed-in Tariff payments and savings on your electricity bills.
  • Solar panels aren’t expensive to install or maintain.

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How much does each solar panel cost?

The most popular solar panel system for households is 4kW, and costs between £5,000 and £8,000.

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:

  • the size of your roof
  • the number of panels
  • the type and quality of panel (some are made of more expensive materials than others)
  • the installation company you choose

the amount of electricity (in kilowatts, or kW) it can produce

Size of solar panel system

Number of panels (approx.)

Cost

1kW

4

£1,500–£3,000

2kW

8

£3,000–£4,000

3kW

12

£4,000–£5,000

4kW

16

£5,000–£8,000

Are solar panel systems getting cheaper?

Yes. A 4kW system selling for between £5,000 and £8,000 in 2018 cost nearly £15,000 in 2010. And that cost is predicted to fall further, for a number of reasons:

  • Falling production costs
  • Advancements in technology
  • Greater competition between manufacturers
  • Increased use across major green infrastructure projects
  • Higher demand thanks to government incentives such as the Feed-in-Tariff

How much money will solar panels save me?

This depends not only on the size of your solar panel system, but some other factors too.

Where in the UK you live

Solar panels only generate electricity when the sun’s out, and some areas of the UK receive more sunlight than others (southern England is sunnier than northern Scotland, for instance).

Your roof

It needs to be free from shadows and obstacles. South-facing roofs get the best results, although solar panels will still work on roofs facing east or west.

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) (no longer accepting applications)

The tariff you receive was determined by:

  • the energy efficiency rating given on your energy performance certificate (EPC)
  • the tariff rates set by the Government

A higher tariff means more money.

The Energy Saving Trust’s website shows you how much you can expect to save by installing solar panels on your home (scroll down for the ‘Costs and savings’ table).

Electricity prices

If these go up—as is often the case—having your own supply of electricity helps you stay on top of your bills and gives you a greater return on investment.

Example

You install a 4kW solar panel system on a home in Yorkshire with a south-facing roof, at a cost of between £5,000 and £8,000

Each year, you:

What does it cost to have solar panels installed?

The estimates given above would typically include the price of installation.

What does it cost to maintain solar panels?

Replacing parts

Solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years, but often last a lot longer. Fortunately, they have very few components that need replacing during that time.

One part you may have to change, however, is the inverter. A new inverter costs between £500 and £1,000. Most inverters come with a guarantee of around five years, but can last much longer.

The inverter:

  • converts the sun’s energy from a direct current (DC) to an alternating current (AC) so it can be used as household electricity
  • monitors how much electricity your panels are generating

Cleaning

Most manufacturers recommend that you clean your solar panels every six months. You can clean them yourself or use a specialist company that will charge around £40 for the work.

Read more in our guide to cleaning and maintaining solar panels.

Do I need to insure my solar panels?

Solar panels are an expensive purchase and a major change to your home. Out on the roof, they’re also exposed to weather damage, falling trees and even vandalism. So it’s prudent to have insurance in place.

Contact your buildings insurance company to check whether your solar panels are covered under your existing policy. If not, most companies will provide cover for no extra charge.

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