Solar Panel Costs 2021

cartoon solar panels near house

The average solar panel system for a family of three costs £5,940

Solar panels could reduce your monthly energy bill by 50%

Buy a solar battery and save all the energy you don't use in the day


The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) launched on 1st January 2020 to replace the old Feed-in Tariff. Check out our guide to the SEG here to find out how much you could earn.

Solar-powered homes are the future. With fossil fuels rapidly running out and greenhouse gases giving the Earth a hard time, it’s no surprise that so many people are turning to the sun.

Solar panels will completely transform your energy bills, and the new Smart Export Guarantee launched on 1st January 2020, meaning more money for households exporting renewable energy.

Now’s a great time to get solar panels – more than 970,000 UK homes have solar panels, and the cost of domestic solar panels has dropped by a whopping 50% since 2011 (source: Gov.uk, 2019). The state of UK renewables is excellent, meaning that switching to solar energy is a smart decision (and you don’t have to live in sunny California to use it).

Want to join the thousands of UK homeowners currently harnessing solar energy? You’re in luck. It’s never been easier to compare prices with our easy-to-navigate tool. All you have to do is provide a few quick details, and our expert installers will be in touch with free quotes for you to compare.

gif showing how solar panels can save you money on your energy bills

How much do solar panels cost?

Solar panels for the average household in the UK cost £5,940, according to the latest government data

A family of three typically needs a 3.6 to 4kW solar PV system, which usually consists of 12 or 13 panels, and requires around 20m² of roof space.

The higher the efficiency and power of your panels, the more electricity your home will generate – as long as you keep them clean.

The power of a photovoltaic (PV) cell is measured in kilowatt peak (kWp), which is how much energy it can generate at peak performance during the summer.

The good news is that solar panels just keep on getting cheaper. Back in 2014, the average price of a 3.8kW solar PV system was £7,900, which means the cost of solar power has fallen by 25% in just the past six years.

The majority of solar panels are around 250 watts, which means you’d need four panels to create a 1 kilowatt peak (1kWp) system, eight panels to create a 2kWp system, 12 panels to create a 3kWp system, and so on. A single solar panel costs around £400-£500.

Here’s a breakdown of residential solar panel costs in the UK, including required roof space and average annual electricity output.

The output potential of solar PV systems varies depending on location, for example a 4kWp system in the sunny south of England can generate about 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, but put it in Scotland and the figure is closer to 3,400 kilowatt hours.

Please use these cost estimates as an indication only. If you’d like to find affordable solar panels, check out our comparison tool to receive free tailored quotes.

Solar PV system sizeNumber of solar panelsAverage costRoof spaceAnnual electricity outputSuitable forAnnual CO2 savings
1kWp3£1,4405m²895kWh1 adult0.16 tonnes
2kWp6£2,8809.8m²1,790kWh2 adults0.32 tonnes
3kWp9£4,32014.7m²2,685kWhFamily of 30.49 tonnes
4kWp12£5,76019.6m²3,580kWhFamily of 4+0.65 tonnes

Information last updated in September 2021.

Just for some context, an economy class passenger on a return flight from London to New York will be responsible for approximately 1.2 tonnes of CO2. That's pretty much equivalent in size to a three-bedroom house (about 550 cubic metres).

Please note: these costs are estimated and based on industry averages. They are not an exact indication of how much you’ll be charged by a solar panel installer. Want a better idea of how much you’ll end up paying? Pop your details in this short form, and talk directly to qualified solar panel suppliers near you.

How many solar panels does my house need?

Cost of solar panels for a three-bedroom house

A family of three or more will need a 3-4kWp solar panel system, which will provide them with around 3,000 kWh of annual electricity. This system consists of approximately 10, and requires up to 16 square metres of roof space.

Cost of solar panels for a small household

If you’re in a one-bedroom or two-bedroom property, a 1-2kWp solar panel system will produce more than enough electricity (up to 1,800 kWh per year). This system consists of 4-8 panels, and needs around 10 square metres of roof space.

Want to find out what solar panels we recommend installing? Check out our guide to the best solar panels.

How much will solar panels cost me?

Solar panels should cost £1,562 per kW installed, according to government data.

But to find out exactly how much you’ll need to pay for your home’s solar panel system, it’s important that you make an appointment with a professional installer. They will come round to assess your property, work out what type of solar PV system you need, and advise you on all the costs.

Luckily, we can help put you in touch with the right people. All you have to do is pop some information into our quick quote tool and let us do the hard work. Once you’ve provided a few details, we’ll get you in touch with our qualified installers. You’ll then be able to make an appointment, get a proper understanding of the costs, and kickstart the process of switching to solar power.

To find out why it's sensible to buy reliable, premium solar panels, check out our guide to cheap solar panels (and why they aren't worth the risk)!

Did You Know?

You can save more than £400 each year, just by switching your home’s energy supplier. If you’re looking to cut down your bills, this one’s a bit of a no-brainer.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Switchd. With four different price plans (including a free option), Switchd will find you cheaper, greener energy suppliers in no time.

What’s more, we recently conducted some research and made a rather exciting discovery. Based on our findings, if you purchased a 3.5kW solar PV system today, you'd break even in 14.2 years, then earn a profit of £3,700 in energy bill savings and SEG revenues. Check out the graph below for a better idea of what we’re talking about.

We used a lot of information to put this study together. To learn more, check out our full methodology.

If you're interested, we also have a complete guide to renewable energy vs fossil fuels.

How has COVID-19 affected solar panel costs?

It seems COVID-19 has not significantly affected the cost of solar panels – except perhaps to slow down the continual drop in prices.

There has been no discernible shift in the amounts customers have paid for solar installations since the pandemic hit the UK.

This may mean there has almost certainly been a brief halt in the steady drop of solar prices that has occurred every year for decades.

Installing 4kW of solar panels in the first three months of 2020 was already £288 cheaper, on average, than it was in 2019, according to government data.

But while this welcome drop in costs may have temporarily stopped, it will continue when normality returns. The solar industry is ready to flourish again after COVID-19.

This is proved by the fact that there were 4,073 solar installations in September 2020, according to the latest government statistics – the highest number since the Feed-in Tariff ended in March 2019.

The Energy Department reported that installation numbers “dropped sharply” in April after COVID-19 lockdown measures were put in place – and they weren’t wrong.

There were 387 residential installations in April 2020, compared to more than 1,800 in April 2019.

But as you can see below, residential installations have shot back up since the first lockdown ended – and there’s every reason to think this will continue.

The solar industry looks to be in great shape moving forward.

How are solar panel prices calculated?

There are three key factors that influence the price of solar panels. The cost estimates above can be used as a rough guide, but you'll also want to think about the type of panels you want, how efficient they are, and how many you need.

Panel type

Most solar panels are made from silicon, which comes in two different forms; monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Monocrystalline cells are smaller, more durable, and more efficient than polycrystalline cells, so they come at a higher price.

Panel efficiency

The ‘efficiency’ of a solar panel refers to how much sunlight it can convert into electricity, represented as a percentage. For example, if a solar panel has 19% efficiency, this means it can convert 19% of its received sunlight into energy for your home. Currently, the best solar panels on the market are nearly 24% efficient, but the average is between 15% and 18%.

Number of panels

This one’s quite self-explanatory: the larger your solar PV system, the more panels you’ll be buying, and the more you’ll pay. As indicated in the table above, a 1kWp system usually consists of three panels, while a 4kWp system consists of around 12 panels.

You can reduce the number of panels you need by opting for high-efficiency models, but if you have the roof space, it’s generally more cost effective to buy a larger number of cheaper, less efficient panels.

Now read: Solar Panel Statistics

Do you really save money with solar panels?

Solar panels are a great way to reduce your energy bills, because they allow you to create your own power instead of just buying it from the National Grid. Once you’ve got your shiny new solar panels installed on your roof, you’ll be fuelling up on good, clean, complimentary sunlight.

According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), a standard 4kWp system in Southern England can save you up to £330 per year, providing you're at home during the day. If you're out all day until 6pm, annual savings are closer to the £225 mark. This is also factoring in earnings from the Smart Export Guarantee.

Take a look at how much money solar panels could save you, depending on where you’re located in the UK and how much time you spend at home, according to the EST. You can also find out more on our page about whether you should invest in solar panels (you should).

LocationOut all day (until 6pm)At home all day
London£225£330
Manchester£200£305
Aberystwyth£205£310
Belfast£105£255
Stirling£185£290

Information last updated in September 2021.

Energy bill savings from solar panels ultimately depend on two things: how much electricity your solar panels produce, and how much of this electricity you use. The more you can get out of your solar power, the less you’ll rely on the National Grid.

For example, solar power only works during the daytime, which means you won’t get much use out of your solar panels if you’re never at home during the day.

As you can see, someone who barely leaves the house in London will generate and use much more electricity than someone in Stirling who’s only at home during the evenings – meaning more savings for the Londoner.

This is where a solar battery comes in useful.

Should I get a solar battery?

UK homes with solar panels typically use 50% of the electricity they create – that’s a lot of free solar energy going to waste.

The peak times in the day for people using electricity in their homes are the mornings and evenings, which is when the sun is either rising, setting, or gone completely.

Meanwhile, solar panels produce the most electricity in the middle hours of the day, when you’re likely to be out and about. This all seems very silly and out of sync, but there’s a clever bit of technology that can fix the problem.

If you add a solar battery into the mix, it will store the extra electricity produced by your panels that you aren’t at home to use. Then, during those mornings and evenings when you need power, your solar battery will keep you going until the sun comes back.

That’s right; your solar panels, your solar battery, and the sun all working together to keep your home powered for free.

A solar battery will work wonders for your energy bills. According to E.ON, with a 9.6 kWh solar battery storage system (and 12 x 315W panels) in central England, you could use up to 30% more of the energy your solar panels generate, and reduce your annual energy bills by up to £560.

People are getting smarter and catching on to the importance of solar batteries. For example, EnergySage’s Marketplace Intel Report in 2017 showed that 74% of people in the US who install solar panels are also interested in adding a home energy storage system. Meanwhile, in the UK, there are now almost 10,000 homes with solar batteries.

The cost of a solar battery generally ranges between £1,200 and £6,000, depending on the quality, capacity, and lifespan of the battery. Of course, the larger your solar battery, the more electricity you’ll be able to store, and the more money you’ll be able to save.

Can you still earn money with solar panels?

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) launched on 1st January 2020 to replace the old Feed-in Tariff. Check out our guide to the SEG here to find out how much you could earn.

The Feed-in Tariff ran from April 2010 to April 2019, and it was hugely successful. The scheme paid households for each kWh of electricity that they generated from solar panels, while also allowing homeowners to sell any of their unused electricity to the National Grid (known as the Export Tariff).

During the Feed-in Tariff’s nine-year existence, renewable energy capacity in the UK skyrocketed from 9.3 gigawatts to a mighty 38.9 gigawatts. Fortunately, anybody who signed up to the Feed-in Tariff before its conclusion will still receive payments for the full 20 years of their contract.

The Smart Export Guarantee

The Smart Export Guarantee launched on 1st January 2020, which requires all large energy providers (with at least 150,000 customers) to pay households for the renewable electricity they export back to the grid.

The tariffs being offered by most suppliers are very reasonable and similar to the export tariff rates previously being offered by the government. To find out more, check out our detailed guide to the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

Additional solar panel costs

After you’ve thought about the solar panels and the solar battery, there are three additional costs you should consider.

Solar power inverter

The solar power inverter is a key part of any solar panel system, converting electricity from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) before it can be used in your home.

While solar panels can last up to 25 or 30 years, unfortunately, the inverter isn’t quite so hardy – it will generally need replacing after 10 or 15 years, the cost of which will set you back between £800 and £1,000.

Cleaning

The rainy weather in the UK isn’t always a bad thing. In drier countries, dust and dirt builds up on solar panels and needs washing off regularly, but frequent rainfall keeps the UK’s solar panels looking fresh.

You can also buy self-cleaning solar panels (covered with a hydrophobic coating) which stops water droplets from sticking to the surface.

However, bird droppings are a bigger problem, as they can significantly reduce a solar panel’s efficiency, and rainfall barely budges them. If you have a TV aerial located directly above your solar panels, this will inevitably become a perch for birds and invite a whole load of trouble.

It’s important that you have your solar panels cleaned fairly regularly (about once a year), and you can either pay the service or attempt it yourself. In the UK, the cost of having a 3-4kWp solar PV system properly cleaned is typically around £100.

Take a look at: How to pigeon-proof your solar panels

Repair

Solar panels are reliable pieces of technology that aren’t prone to breaking, so finding the money to pay for repairs isn’t something you need to worry about too much. They don’t have any moving parts, and their surfaces are generally built to withstand hailstones the size of golf balls.

However, nothing’s invincible, and on rare occasions some solar panels fall prey to misfortunes like falling trees, stray cricket balls, micro cracks caused by extreme weather, or perhaps your neighbourhood’s local family of squirrels suddenly develop an appetite for solar panel wires.

In the event of panel-busting mishaps, it’s good to know you can get things fixed. However, you should always hire a professional solar panel repair company to do it for you, as messing with electrical equipment is dangerous.

Depending on the extent of the damage to your solar panel, you should find that small breakages can be fixed from as little as £80, while large repairs will cost you up to £1,500.

How eco-friendly is solar power?

The future of solar power looks very bright. It’s a clean, renewable energy that doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases, and relies solely on the sun. While fossil fuels are putting terrible strain on Mother Nature, solar energy is the green comfort blanket that’ll bring her back to full health.

What’s more, coal and gas are finite resources, which means their prices will continue to rise as they become increasingly scarce, while the cost of solar energy continues to fall.

According to Ethex, 3,000kWh of solar-generated electricity will save about 0.9 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year. Based on this calculation, that means:

• 1,000kWh will save 0.3 tonnes of CO2 annually

• 2,000kWh will save 0.6 tonnes of CO2 annually

• 4,000kWh will save 1.2 tonnes of CO2 annually

We all have a duty to reduce our impact on the Earth, and by installing solar panels you can turn your home into a sustainable beacon of eco-responsibility.

Other benefits of solar power

Solar panels can be very liberating. The more you’re able to power your home entirely with solar energy, the less you have to rely on energy suppliers. If you can capture (and store) all the power you need from the sun, you’ll be living a life of electricity independence.

Most importantly, you’ll avoid the price hikes that suppliers often impose on their customers.

In late 2021, around 15 million UK households were told their annual energy bills would increase by £139 to £1,277 per year, as a result of Ofgem lifting its price cap.

These caps are revised every six months, which means that another increase might not be far away. Remember: the sun never increases its rates.

Additionally, a self-sufficient, solar-powered household will avoid any power cuts that hit the National Grid. Since Brexit took effect in 2020, the UK has narrowly avoided blackouts on multiple occasions, as Bloomberg has reported.

60% of the UK's imported gas comes from the EU and Norway, and 91% of our imported electricity comes from the EU. Brexit has made the nation more vulnerable to supply shortages.

For more information, check out our page on the pros and cons of solar panels.

Six things to consider before buying solar panels

Before buying solar panels, make sure:

  1. Your roof is suitable for solar panels. Solar panels should be installed on a south-facing roof (although an east-facing or west-facing roof is still sufficient), at an angle between 10 and 60 degrees. Your roof shouldn't be covered in shade from trees or buildings.
  2. You have carried out a structural inspection of your roof. Have your roof surveyed to make sure there is no damage that could compromise your solar panel installation, such as water damage. Any problems should be fixed before you buy solar panels.
  3. Your roof tiles are in good condition. Solar panels last for around 25 to 30 years, so if your roof tiles are already over 15 years old, it might be worth getting them replaced before you buy solar panels. It will be harder to repair/replace roof tiles once solar panels have been installed.
  4. You've considered what size solar panel system is right for you. Make sure you buy solar panels that cover your household's energy needs. After all, you don't want to install solar panels that produce far too much electricity, or worse still, not enough. Check how much electricity you use by looking at your energy bills.
  5. You've thought about whether to install a solar battery at the same time. Solar batteries enable you to become more self-sufficient by storing the electricity your solar panels generate. It's much more difficult to retrofit a solar battery to solar panels which have already been installed.
  6. You've compared solar panels. Don't just buy the first solar panels you find. Get like-for-like quotes from at least three installers to make sure you get the best deal on your solar panels.

Finding an installer

To summarise, if you live in a three-bedroom house, then a sufficient (i.e. 3-4kWp) solar panel system will typically cost £4,800. It’s a sizeable investment, but once it’s on your roof, you should see your energy bills drop by up to 50%, and the Smart Export Guarantee income will start coming in.

Now that you’ve figured out the ins and the outs of solar panels – and the costs that come with them – it’s time to get a set of panels for your home. 

To speed up the process, try using our custom-built tool. All you have to do is provide a few quick details about your property, and we’ll get you in touch with our expert solar suppliers, who will get your free quotes to compare.

Charlie Clissitt Editor

Charlie has been researching and writing about solar power for four years, which makes him great fun at parties. Ever since he can remember, Charlie has worried about the planet, and he one day dreams of owning his own solar power farm.

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