Case study: Shirley Ward, North Yorkshire Written by Josh Jackman Updated on 26 January 2023 ✔ Shirley has a 2.4 kW solar array and a Solax battery✔ She broke even on her solar panels in 10 years✔ Five solar thermal panels provide her with hot waterWe spoke with Shirley Ward, a 73-year-old retired office worker, about her decision to take advantage of the falling cost of solar panels.Shirley and her late husband Bryan installed solar panels and a solar thermal system on their home in North Yorkshire.Here's what she had to say. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other/not sure Get started Q: How long have you had your solar panels?A: “We purchased five thermal solar panels in March 1993 at a cost of £5,250, and they are still working well today. They mean that I very rarely need to heat the water in the summer, which keeps gas costs down.“The photovoltaic system was installed in November 2011 and it has a 2.4 kW capacity at a cost of £10,000. We then had an upgrade to the system (Solar Edge Solar PV system with power optimisers) in May 2017 at a cost of £3,945.“In December 2021 we had a Solax battery and EV charger fitted at a cost of £6,199.”Want to learn more about the price of solar panels? Head to our solar panel cost page.Q: Why did you decide to get solar panels?A: “We used to keep Koi carp and because we had pumps and filters running 24/7, our electricity costs were quite high, so Bryan decided to invest in solar power as a means of offsetting those costs.”Q: Are you pleased you bought solar panels?A: “I am very pleased we bought both types of solar panels because, particularly now, they have come into their own. My energy costs are very low.”Learn more: Solar Panel CostsQ: Do your solar panels generate enough power to cover all your electricity needs?A: “With the use of the battery, I’m finding I don’t need to use the grid at all at present, but obviously when the winter comes and there is less sun, I might need to.”Learn more: A Beginner's Guide to Solar BatteriesQ: How much money do your solar panels save you on your electricity bills?A: “At the present time, with the battery as well – and taking into account that since Bryan died I had to find another home for 25 very large Koi – my electricity costs have gone down.“I would estimate that instead of £50 per month in summer and more in winter, I am paying £15 per month, which I think is mainly the standing charge.”Q: Have you managed to break even on your solar panels?A: “We were told initially that we would break even in 10 years, and we did.“However, as above, we have spent additional money which we haven’t yet recouped, but I think it will happen sometime.” Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other/not sure Get started Q: How has your opinion of solar panels changed over time?A: “I think we were always in favour of them, and our experience has not changed that.”Learn more: National Home Energy Survey – Over two thirds of Brits would buy a house with solar panelsQ: Please can you describe your experience maintaining your solar panels?A: “Our electric solar panels are monitored online, and up to now we haven’t had any problems.”Q: Would you recommend solar panels to other homeowners in the UK? Why/why not?A: “I think solar panels are the way to go, and I would recommend them to anyone who’s going to stay in their home for a long time.”Learn more: Are Solar Panels Worth It?Q: Is there anything you wish you'd known before you bought solar panels?A: “No. Bryan did all the hard work researching everything before we went ahead with the purchases, and we never regretted it.”Check out some of our other interviews with UK homeowners about their solar panel systems: Case study: Tilly Casson, Farnham, Surrey Case study: Sarah, UK Case study: Andrew, Harrogate, North Yorkshire Written by: Josh Jackman Lead Writer Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.