Case study: Sarah, UK

Sarah has a 2kW solar panel system and a 48-volt lead-acid battery

She broke even on the system after three years

The setup saves her roughly 30% on energy bills


 

Three years ago, UK homeowner Sarah decided she wanted to be greener and rely less on the grid – so she invested in solar panels.

Starting with a small system of only a 250-watt (W) solar panel and a 12-volt (V) lead-acid battery, Sarah originally only used the solar panels to power the lights outside of her home.

However, after upgrading to an eight-panel 2kW system and a 48 V battery, her solar panels are now able to power the TV and other appliances around the house.

Here’s what she told us about her experience.

Q. How long have you had your solar panels?

A: “I started using solar panels back in December 2019 when I bought my first components for an off-grid system.”

Note: Sarah bought her panels after the UK government's Feed-in Tariff payment system concluded

Q: Are you pleased you bought solar panels?

A: “Definitely!”

Q: How big is your solar panel system, and how roughly much did it cost?

A: “My first solar panel was 250 watts, which I bought for around £150. However, I have since upgraded my system from 250 W to 2 kW by adding seven solar panels to supplement our average consumption of around 8 kWh a day.

“I also switched to a 48 V battery system from the 12 V. This way, the current flowing will be easier to regulate by the charge controller, and it reduces the cost for wires since it needs thinner wire compared to the 12 V system.”

Q: What was the experience like buying the panels?

A: “The actual buying process doesn't take up too much time. What made buying a solar panel time-consuming was that I had to thoroughly research which wattage I should get.”

Learn more: What size solar PV system do you need for your home?

Q: Do you have a solar battery?

A: “Yes, I upgraded my original 12 V lead-acid battery to a 48 V battery.”

Q: Do your solar panels generate enough power to cover all your electricity needs? 

A: “At first, the one solar panel could only accommodate our overnight lights – then I slowly upgraded my system. But it’s still not to the point where it can satisfy our electricity needs.”

Q: How much money do your solar panels save you on your electricity bills?

A: “Compared to before, our average savings from using solar panels has risen to around 30% – or £55 off our energy bills.

“This is great considering our increase in energy consumption as we’re less worried about bloating our electric bill, and I also have another person living with me now.”

Q: Are you receiving money via the Smart Export Guarantee?

A: “Yes. There are times when there are no people in the house since we are working in a different location.

“This means there are times when the electricity generated by my solar panel system is excessive compared to our monthly consumption. That's why we get paid for the amount of energy we supply to the grid.”

Learn more: The Smart Export Guarantee 2022

Q: Have you managed to break even on your solar panels?

A: “Yes, I broke even on my panels earlier this year in February.”

Q: How has your opinion of solar panels changed over time?

A: “I really love green energy. It’s clean and can be harnessed in nature easily – even by a normal citizen.

“A few years back, I thought solar panels were a bit pricey for a normal household. But now, prices are considerably lower than before.”

Q: Can you describe your experience maintaining your solar panels? 

A: “It was a bit tricky at first because I wasn’t aware that the debris can potentially damage the panel.

“I have to clean it regularly because dust and dirt can hinder energy generation. I tend to clean up weekly or every two weeks.”

Learn more: Solar Panel Cleaning

Q: Do you feel likely to buy other types of renewable technology? 

A: “It is a part of my plan, but not anytime soon.”

Q: Would you recommend solar panels to other homeowners in the UK? 

A: “Yes, of course. It’s a clean source of energy, compared to conventional powerplants, and it can give you huge savings on electricity bills in the long run.

“It’s also kind of therapeutic to have a solar panel – it has become my free-time hobby.”

Q: Is there anything you wish you'd known before you bought solar panels?

A: “I wish I had known about the different types of solar panels, the optimum angle of inclination depending on the location, and the average sun hours in our area.”

Learn more: Types of Solar Panels

Check out some of our other interviews with UK homeowners about their solar panel systems:

Beth Howell Writer

Beth has a real passion for green living. She’s been absorbed in eco research for over three years, and has become quite the expert. Whether you’re after a new set of solar panels, a home energy improvement, or you want to catch the latest eco news, she’s got your back.

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