How Much Electricity Does the Average Solar Panel System Generate?

A typical residential solar panel installation working at peak efficiency will provide up to 3, 400kWh of clean electricity per year.

Solar panels will help reduce your electricity bills by around 50%. You will also earn money through the government’s feed-in tariff.

To start generating your own power join the thousands of homeowners who have used The Eco Experts; simply fill out the form at the top of the page to compare prices from trusted installers operating in your area.



What is the typical output of a solar panel?

Each solar panel system is different, so to give you the best idea of just how much electricity can be generated, let’s take a look at the facts for average domestic solar panel systems:

  • Domestic systems tend to range from 1 kilowatt (kW) to 5kW in size.
  • A typical 1 kW system can produce roughly 850kW units per year, a 2kW system would create around 1,700kW units and a 5kW system would create 4,500kW units.
  • The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical 3-bedroom house in the UK would use just over 3,000kW units in a year. So, in theory a 4kW or 5kW system would cover your entire electricity requirement.
  • However, the Feed-in Tariff pays the highest rates for systems smaller than 4kW.

Typical System Size

Typical Annual Output
Estimated Cost
Est. First Year Return

Profit Over 20 Years

1kW
850 kWh
£3k-£4k
£184
£650
2kW
1,700 kWh
£4k-£5k
£368
£3,800
3kW
2,550 kWh
£5k-£6k
£534
£5,635
4kW
3,400 kWh
£6k-£8k
£700
£6,750


What is the feed-in tariff?

The government’s feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme pays you for producing renewable energy. This is what encourages many homeowners to install panels as the feed-in tariff guarantees lucrative cash payments over 20 years delivering a healthy return on investment.

LATEST FIT NEWS:

In July 2015 the government announced that they were considering the future of the FiT scheme due to the costs of solar panels falling dramatically over the last few years. They are expected to significantly reduce or even abolish the FiT in 2016. However, they have confirmed that anyone who installs in 2015 will be guaranteed the FiT payments for the full 20 year period.

So, if you are thinking about installing solar panels, you will want to install in 2015 to qualify for the lucrative FiT payments, which are tax free and indexed linked.

Learn more about the FiT and government grants



IMPORTANT SOLAR NEWS

The government plan to cut the amount the Feed-in Tariff pays out by an eye-watering 87% in January 2016. This equates to a cut of £8,000 over 20 years.

If you install in 2015 you lock yourself in at the current high Feed-in Tariff rate for the entire 20 year lifespan of the payments.

This means you will be around £8,000 better off by installing in 2015 compared to installing in 2016.



How much energy is this? What would this power?

Typically, a 3 to 4 kW solar panel system will produce enough energy for a family sized home, while a 2 to 3 kW will typically be the right size for a smaller household. An average 4 kW solar panel system will generate around 3,400kWh of free electricity a year. That’s enough electricity to individually power:

  • 4,857 hours of the washing machine
  • 97,143 hours of the fridge
  • 1,880 hours of boiling the kettle
  • 1,417 hours of the oven


What factors determine the amount of electricity that I can produce?

The amount of electricity your solar panels produce depends on four key factors. Dan Tobin, founder of The Eco Experts, explains these four key factors in the video below:



Click here to read the video transcript

Video Transcript

Rising energy bills are causing more and more homeowners to install solar panels. This is hardly surprising as they allow the average household to reduce their energy bills by around 50%, and receive tax free cash payments over 20 years through the Government’s Feed-in Tariff.

Just how much electricity you will generate through solar panels depends on four key factors: the size of the solar panel system, the direction and angle of your roof, the level of shading your roof has and the time of year.

Size of Solar Panel System
Typical domestic solar panel systems range from 2kw to 4kw. The size that would be best for you depends on your household’s energy requirement; the bigger the system the more energy it will produce. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical three bedroom house in the UK would use around 3,000 kW units a year, so a 3 to 4kW system would be the right size in this scenario.

Direction and Angle of your Roof
The direction and angle of your roof will also impact the amount of electricity your solar panels generate. Your roof should ideally be facing South, South-West or South-East, but West or East roof’s are feasible. Ideally, the angle of your roof should be between 10 degrees and 60 degrees too.

Shading Roof
The level of shading your roof has is another factor to consider. Shading has a detrimental affect on the electricity your system generates so if your roof is permanently in the shade then roof mounted solar panels probably won’t be for you. If your roof is partially shaded in the early morning or late evening, solar panels will still generate acceptable yields.

Time of Year
The time of year will also impact the amount of electricity your panels generate. Solar panels produce energy all year round, even in winter as solar panels work on light not heat making the UK climate ideal.

However, as you can see, the shorter daylight hours during winter months mean the solar panels will produce proportionately less energy than summer months.

If you are not sure whether your property is suitable for solar panels, you can use our unique solar panel calculator to work out how much your property would generate by installing solar panels.

Join the thousands of UK homeowners who have used The Eco Experts to compare prices from trusted local installers. Simply fill out the form at the top of this page or click the link at the end of this video.



There are 4 key factors that will determine just how much electricity you can create with solar panels for your property:

  • The size of the system is the most important factor of all. The typical domestic installation is a 3.5kW system, which is normally around 12 panels. A smaller 1kW domestic system is likely to be only 2 panels.
  • The direction that your roof faces and the angle of the roof comes next. For optimum performance, your panels will need to be on a 35-degree angle, facing south.
  • Having a roof that is not in the shade will increase the amount of electricity you are able to produce. Take a look at the handy table above, which shows you what output volume can be expected from a domestic solar installation.
  • The time of year will also have an impact. During longer daylight hours in the summer you will be able to produce proportionally more power. That said, it’s important to remember solar panels work from light not heat so will still produce energy all year round.


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How will I know how much electricity my solar panels generate?

Your solar panels will come with a meter that will be placed in an accessible location within your home. This meter will record the amount of electricity being produced by the solar panels as well as how much electricity is exported back to the grid. This will allow you to work out how much you will be paid through the Government’s Feed-in Tariff.

Increasingly, solar manufacturers are also developing online monitoring tools allowing you to access your solar panel’s performance online via your computer or smartphone app.

As solar panels require virtually no maintenance and automatically power your home with free electricity, it can sometimes be easy to forget about them. However, we recommend checking your meter monthly to ensure all is working as intended.

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Using your free electricity

To get the most out of the free electricity your solar panels produce, you will want to ensure that you use appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners during the day when the panels will be producing free energy.

You will also want to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible to get the most out of your free energy. Steps, such as using energy saving bulbs, only boiling the amount of water you need, ensuring devices are turned off and not on standby, and only using the washing machine for a full load, will make a big difference.

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Efficiency of the Solar Panels

There are a few factors that can affect the efficiency of a solar installation on your property. No doubt your installer will be more than happy to give you an idea of the output that you, personally, can expect. But for now, here are some general key factors that you should be considering:

Direction and the angle of the roof
The positioning is crucial for successful solar panel installations in the UK. Those that are south facing are considered best, although they can still be very effective facing south-west or south-east.

Temperature
It is a common misconception that solar panels work from the sun’s heat. In truth it’s actually sunlight that is most important. Solar panels can even overheat if it is too hot, causing them to work less effectively. Most solar panel systems need to be installed a few inches above the roof, allowing enough air flow to cool them down. This is where the cool UK climate actually works to our advantage.

Shade
In essence the less shade the better. If it is possible to install your panels where there is no shade, then you will certainly make the most out of going solar. You can always ask your installer to give you an assessment of how shade will affect your properties solar performance, if you are unsure.

Maintenance
Your panels will need to be cleaned and maintained. This is neither a frequent nor complicated process and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either! Chat to your installer about a complete service package and you’ll get a good idea of price.

Click here to learn more about efficiency of solar panels



What else should I consider?

Solar Panels
  • No doubt installation costs are a worry to you, as is the way for many people. Although the cost has fallen substantially, it is still around £6500 for the average 3 Kw domestic installation. But bear in mind that this will repay itself over a period of time. There are schemes that offer free solar panels, but consider that the installer will keep the Feed-In Tariff.
  • Consider the period of time you intend on staying at your property. It’s important to get the most out of the Feed-In Tariff, so you will want to be sure that you intend to stay in your property for several years at least. Although you will benefit from lower energy bills from the beginning, which is an added bonus, as you can imagine the advantages of lower energy bills for the future.
  • Ensure that you are realistic about what you can earn from your property. The only way to truly understand your home's potential is to have an installer survey your home properly. Remember, that this can be done for free by completing the form at the top of this page.

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