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Why get solar panels?

  • Generate free, green electricity
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The complete guide to solar panels for your home in 2024

Solar panels can massively cut your electricity bills, carbon footprint, and dependence on the National Grid. And to top it off, the cost of solar panels is continuing to decrease over time.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting solar panels for your home, including what they are, whether they’re a good idea for your property, the solar panel costs involved, and how much they can save you in different parts of the country.

We’ll show you why 17,000 solar panel installations are going up every month at the moment.

If you’re ready to compare solar panel prices, just provide a few quick details, and our expert installers will be in touch with free quotes for you to compare.

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an installer in a blue jumpsuit secures a solar panel with a tool

What are solar panels and how do they work?

Solar panels turn sunlight into electricity you can use to power your home.

They’re made up of cells created with semiconducting material – usually silicon, though sometimes combined with substances like perovskite – which absorb the electric charge in sunshine.

The electric charge will turn it into direct current (DC) electricity while interacting with these materials.

However, homes run on alternating current (AC), so solar panels are installed with an inverter that converts DC to AC.

This level of technology means solar panels cost a fair amount, but they’re worth it – after all, they still produce a substantial amount of electricity on cloudy or even snowy days, though they work best under direct sunlight.

On sunny days, they’ll often generate more electricity than you need. You can either store this energy in solar batteries or sell it to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

Solar panels typically last at least 25 years, and some models come with a lifetime guarantee.

For more information, read our guide: How Do Solar Panels Work?

Do solar panels work well in the UK?

Solar panels do work on cloudy days and work very well in the UK.

With 10 solar panels, the average three-bedroom household will produce enough energy to cut its electricity bills by 70% – and break even in just 14.55 years.

Rapidly increasing efficiency rates mean your panels don’t need as much sunlight to create the energy necessary to power a home, which is fortunate in the UK.

a map showing how solar panel output changes depending on where you live in the UK

And there’s much less chance of your panels overheating in this country, which is the main concern when it comes to keeping your array’s efficiency high.

Solar panels generate more electricity in the great majority of countries to the south of us – but it’s still extremely profitable to go solar here.

That’s a testament to how far solar technology has come over the past couple of decades.

How much power do solar panels produce in the UK?

The average 350-watt (W) solar panel produces 2,645 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year in the UK, on average.

So for every 1,000 W of solar panels on your roof, you can expect to generate 756 watt-hours (Wh) of electricity every year – but this will largely depend on your location.

South Wales and south west England are the best areas to go solar, with these regions producing 864 kWh for every 1,000 W of solar panels.

On the other end of the scale, North Scotland generates 635 kWh per 1,000 W – but this is still enough for the average three-bedroom home to break even on its solar panels in 17.7 years.

Where do you want to install solar panels?

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Are solar panels right for your home?

If your house’s roof has enough space and faces any compass direction but north, solar panels are likely to be a good investment for your home.

Make sure you get the right number of solar panels, and check whether your roof’s angle and direction is well-suited to panels.

A south-facing roof is best – though east or west are acceptable alternatives – while the ideal roof angle is generally between 35° and 45°.

The average household will break even on solar panels after 14.55 years, according to our latest calculations – so if you’re looking to get the most out of your investment, make sure you’re ready to stay in your home for the long term.

However, if you do sell up before then, our recent National Home Energy Survey found 69% of people would purchase a home with solar panels – and multiple studies have shown that solar panels increase a property’s value.

Interview with a solar panel owner

Solar panels on the roof of a house
Tilly Casson
Tilly lives in Farnham, Surrey, and has owned solar panels since November 2021

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

“We have an 18-panel system plus battery. The system is 6 kW and it cost us £8,453 including installation.”

Do your solar panels cover all of your electricity needs?

“When it’s sunny, we don’t need to use electricity from the grid at all. We only fall back on the grid when the weather is particularly bad and/or our solar battery doesn’t have enough power stored. This is rare, though.”

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

“I would say on a daily basis we are hardly using grid electricity. Every day it’s sunny, it’s basically free, but it’s hard to know exactly.”

How many solar panels do you need?

The average one or two-bedroom house needs six solar panels to create the most cost-effective system.

A typical three-bedroom house requires 10 panels, and a four or five-bedroom house will usually need 14 panels.

In all of these examples, the panels will produce enough electricity to cover 46% of an average household’s annual usage.

Households typically use half of the solar electricity that their panels generate – but if you’re often home during the day, you may require more panels to be more cost-effective.

Should you get a solar battery as well?

You should only get a solar battery if your electricity usage is well above average, meaning you’d save a significant amount by using a battery instead of selling your excess energy to the grid.

The average household with solar panels can cut its annual electricity bills by an extra £100 (on average) if it adds a battery.

However, a solar battery usually costs between £2,500 and £8,000, which means you’re unlikely to break even unless you consume considerably more electricity than most homes.

How much do residential solar panels cost?

Residential solar panels cost £703 each, on average.

The average cost of a 3.5 kilowatt-peak (kWp*) solar panel system is £7,026. This size, which incorporates 10 panels, is usually the right choice for a three-bedroom household.

Households generally require between six and 14 panels, so it’ll usually cost you between £4,200 and £10,000.

In general, solar panels cost £2,007 per kWp, according to Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) data.

* kWp stands for ‘kilowatt peak’. It’s the amount of power that a solar panel or array will produce per hour in perfect conditions.

An infographic showing four houses of different sizes and their respective solar panel costs

Are there any grants for solar panels?

The government’s £630 million Home Upgrade Grant provides funding to local authorities all over the country – though it’s only open to homes that are off the gas grid.

From April 2023 to March 2025, the 45 local authorities listed below are able to hand grants of up to £10,000 to homeowners in their area for improvements including solar panels.

In fact, 27% of the grants handed out so far by the scheme – which also offers insulation, heat pumps, double glazing, solar thermal, and heating controls – were for solar panels.

On average, a local authority will cover 87% of the cost of your panels, though in many cases this rises to 100%.

To qualify, your household must have a total gross annual income under £30,000 and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E, F, or G.

The government also provides solar panels through the ECO4 scheme – though only to homes with electric heating, which again, is a small minority in the UK.

Local authorities offering grants April 2023-March 2025

Basildon Council

Blackpool Council

Bristol City Council

Broadland District Council

Calderdale Council

Cambridge City Council

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Cheshire East Council

City of York Council

Cornwall Council and Council of the Isles of Scilly

Darlington Borough Council

Dartford Borough Council

Devon County Council

Dorset Council

Durham County Council

Eden District Council

Greater London Authority

Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Leeds City Council

Leicester City Council

Lewes District Council

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Manchester City Council

Midlands Net Zero Hub

Newcastle City Council

North Tyneside Council

Northumberland County Council

North Yorkshire County Council

Oxfordshire County Council

Plymouth City Council

Portsmouth City Council

Rochdale Borough Council

Sedgemoor District Council

Sevenoaks District Council

Sheffield City Council

Shropshire County Council

Stroud District Council

Suffolk County Council

Surrey County Council

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Wakefield Council

Walsall Council

Wealden District Council

West Devon Borough Council

Wiltshire Council

How much can you save with solar panels?

A typical three-bedroom household can save £454 per year with solar panels.

A smaller house that contains one or two bedrooms will typically save £273 per year, while a larger home with four or five bedrooms can expect to save £636 per year.

These figures, which all represent a 70% reduction on average electricity costs, are based on the price of electricity (April 2024), the best Smart Export Guarantee rate, and data from the European Commission and Microgeneration Certification Scheme.

With these savings, the average home will break even in 15.66 years, then continue cutting their bills over the rest of the panels’ lifespan, which is usually at least another 10 years.

This will typically result in a total net saving of £6,405 – and that amount includes the cost of the solar panels.

Interview with a solar panel owner

shirley ward's solar panels on her house
Shirley Ward
Shirley lives in North Yorkshire and has owned solar panels since 2011

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

“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.”

Do your solar panels cover all of your electricity needs?

“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.”

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

“I am very pleased we bought solar panels because, particularly now, they have come into their own. My energy costs are very low.

“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.”

London and South England

In London, the average three-bedroom household can save £561 per year with solar panels.

A typical house with one or two bedrooms can expect to save £337 per year, while a bigger home with four or five bedrooms will make £785, on average.

And the further south you go, the more sunshine and solar savings you’ll enjoy.

A three-bedroom home in the south will typically save £504 per year.

A smaller house will cut its annual electricity bills by £302 on average, while a bigger home can look forward to annual savings of £705.

North England

A three-bedroom solar household in North England will save £450 per year, on average.

A smaller household with one or two bedrooms will typically save £270 per year, while a larger home with four or five bedrooms can expect to cut its annual electricity bills by £630.


In North Scotland, the average three-bedroom household will save £382 per year with solar panels.

A smaller home can expect to save £229 per year, while a larger household will typically save £534 per year.

These figures rise as you move southwards. In the rest of Scotland, a three-bedroom home with solar panels can expect to save £420 per year.

A one or two-bedroom household will typically save £250 per year, while a four or five-bedroom home will cut its electricity bills by £587 per year.

If you want to find out more about solar panels in Scotland, just read our guide.


In North Wales, a typical three-bedroom household can expect to save £450 per year with solar panels.

A smaller home will save £270 per year, on average, while a larger North Wales household will cut its annual electricity bills by £630.

As with all other parts of the UK, going further south will increase your savings.

A three-bedroom household in South Wales will save £519 per year, on average, with a smaller household typically saving £312 per year, and a larger solar home saving £727 per year.

Northern Ireland

The average three-bedroom household in Northern Ireland will save £514 per year with solar panels.

A household with one or two bedrooms can expect to cut its electricity bills by £308 per year, while a larger, four or five-bedroom home will £719 per year, on average.

Find out more on our helpful page: Should you get solar panels in Northern Ireland?

How are solar panels installed?

There are seven steps to installing solar panels: first, your installer will set up some scaffolding, then attach the roof anchors and secure the solar panel mounts, at which point the actual solar panels will be ready to be fixed in place.

Your installer will then connect the inverter to your solar panels and consumer unit (also known as a fuse board), and test the whole system to make sure everything works.

Let’s go through all of these steps in more detail.

1. Set up scaffolding

Your installer will need to put scaffolding next to the building to ensure safe and secure access to the roof. This usually takes about a day.

2. Attach roof anchors

The installer will use roof anchors to make sure the solar panels stay still on your roof, ensuring they don’t shift or get damaged in extreme weather. They’ll lift some roof tiles and fix the anchors to the rafters in your loft.

3. Secure solar panel mounts

Next, they’ll attach a solar panel mounting system to the roof anchors. The framework will run both vertically and horizontally across the roof, and will support the base of the solar panels – as well as allowing your array to sit at an optimal angle for sunlight.

Expert view

A straightforward solar PV installation on a typical residential roof would take no longer than two days but can often be completed in a single day. Slate roofs require more care to be taken so can take a little longer if done properly.

Chris Roberts
Chris Roberts Expert contributor

Chris co-founded the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), and has a thorough technical understanding of renewable energy technologies.

4. Install solar panels

Your installer will place the solar panels onto the mounting system, get the angle right, then tighten all the bolts and nuts across the system to secure them in place.

5. Connect the inverter to your solar panels

Most panels come pre-wired, so your installer can connect them to the inverter. This device converts the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the panels into alternating current (AC), which your home can use.

This process usually takes 4-6 hours, and is the step that’s most likely to cause the system to fail – and, potentially, a house fire – if not carried out by a professional.

6. Connect the inverter to your consumer unit

Your installer will then connect the inverter to a circuit-breaker in your consumer unit (also known as a fuse board), so your home can be powered by solar electricity.

If the inverter doesn’t come with a built-in generation meter – which tracks how much electricity the panels produce – your installer may install one at this point.

7. Test the solar panel system

They’ll then make sure the system is working, by switching the power back on and monitoring every part of the network until they’re satisfied it’s functioning properly.

For more information, read our Step by Step Guide to Solar Panel Installation.

Do solar panels increase the value of your home?

Solar panels typically add 4.1% to a home’s value, according to the latest research.

That means you could make thousands of pounds in profit when you come to sell your property, with the average seller making £12,000 extra if they have solar panels.

Study after study has shown that solar panels have a positive effect on your property’s value, from the likes of Solar Energy UK, Cambridge University, and the European Economic Review.

And our latest National Home Energy Survey showed that 69% of people would now buy a home with solar panels on its roof.

The pros and cons of solar panels for your home



Save money on energy bills

Expensive up-front cost

Cash in on the electricity you don’t use

Performance is affected by weather

Shrink your carbon footprint

Not all roof types are suitable

No noise pollution

They take up space

Reduced dependence on the grid

Difficult and expensive to move

Easy to scale up

Won’t break even for years

Low maintenance

Financial support available

Pros of buying solar panels

Here are all the pros of buying solar panels for your home – and you’ll notice there are more pros than cons, which is no coincidence. If you can afford it, solar panels are a great investment.

Save money on energy bills

A typical household will cut its electricity bills by 70% per year with solar panels.

At current prices, this means the average three-bedroom home can expect to save £483 per year with a 3.5 kWp solar panel system.

This solar array costs £7,026 on average at the moment, so this household would break even after 14.55 years – leaving at least 10 more years to rack up those solar savings.

Cash in on the electricity you don’t use

A typical household will consume half of the electricity that its solar panels generate – but never fear, you can sell all the energy you don’t use through the SEG.

This government-backed scheme compels large energy suppliers to offer tariffs to homes with solar panels.

Pick the best SEG rate, and you could boost your savings.

The average three-bedroom home can make £159 per year simply by selling its excess solar energy – which adds up to £4,000 over solar panels’ 25-year lifespan.

Shrink your carbon footprint

You can cut your carbon footprint by 11% by getting solar panels on your home.

The average three-bedroom household will save 0.7 tonnes of CO2 per year, which adds up to at least 17.5 tonnes over the panels’ lifespan.

That’s the same as 15 return flights from London to New Delhi.

No noise pollution

Solar panels have no moving parts, so they just sit silently on your roof, producing enormous amounts of electricity without making a fuss.

Chances are, you’ll stop noticing their existence, except when you occasionally glance at them with pride.

Reduced dependence on the grid

The more electricity you produce yourself, the less you need to buy from the grid.

That means energy price rises won’t hit you nearly as hard, which is a relief whether you’re in a cost of living crisis or not.

Easy to scale up

Solar arrays are scalable, meaning you can easily add panels to your system after a year or 10, instead of having to replace it completely.

This also applies to solar batteries. Many models are basically stackable bricks, so they can be added to existing networks with little trouble.

They’re low maintenance

You should keep your solar panels clean and unobstructed to ensure they work as well as possible – but fortunately, most dirt and debris will just slide right off. Want to learn more? Check out our helpful page on the Top 7 Ways to Protect Your Solar Panels.

Regular rainfall also helps to keep things squeaky clean, meaning you can mostly ignore your panels.

Financial support is available

Make sure you look into the Home Upgrade Grant to see if you can get support with buying solar panels – but if that doesn’t help, you can lower the costs in other ways.

Joining a group-buying scheme like Solar Together could be a good move, and if you’re in Scotland, you can apply for a Home Energy Scotland loan.

This government scheme offers a maximum of £6,000 to fund a homeowner’s solar installation – and you can repay it, interest-free, over five years (if you borrow less than £5,000) or 10 years (if you borrow more than £5,000).

two people installing solar panels on a roof with trees and sunshine in the background

Cons of buying solar panels

There are drawbacks to buying solar panels, even if the positives outweigh the negatives overall. Here are the potential hurdles you should keep in mind.

Expensive up-front cost

The average 3.5 kWp solar panel system costs £7,026, which isn’t a small investment, even if prices are coming down.

The cost of solar panels has fallen by 82% since 2010, and this trend will only accelerate as an increasing number of homes choose to go solar.

Performance is affected by weather

Your solar panels will produce more energy in sunny summer months, as they function better under direct sunlight.

However, panels still generate electricity when it’s cloudy – or even when it’s snowing – so don’t worry too much about the unpredictable British weather.

Not all roof types are suitable

If your roof faces north and you’re reading this in the northern hemisphere, your home may not be suitable for solar panels

You also ideally want to have a roof angled between 35° and 45° – but this isn’t a dealbreaker, as you can use a tilted rack to position your panels perfectly.

They take up space

One of the problems with solar panels is that they usually take up two square metres of space each, so you’ll need to make sure you have a big enough roof.

However, if you’re running out of room, you can always buy fewer panels with higher efficiencies, so you can generate more electricity in less space.

Difficult and expensive to move

Moving solar panels is expensive and complicated, meaning it’s much more cost-effective to buy a new set of panels at your new home instead.

So make sure you’re ready to stay in your current home for many years to come to make the best use of your new investment.

Won’t break even for years

Like most pieces of green technology, solar panels will only return your investment to you after a while.

However, a 15.66-year break-even point is still excellent, and leaves you with at least 10 years to save even more money (as solar panels usually last around 25-30 years).

How to look after your solar panels

To look after your solar panels properly, you’ll need to take a few steps every so often, including getting them serviced, cleaning them, checking their functions, and clearing any obstacles from the area.

Generally though, solar panels require gloriously little maintenance.

1. Get your panels serviced

We recommend you hire a professional to service your panels at least once every five years.

Some companies offer regular services when you buy your panels for no extra cost, which is a welcome bonus.

2. Keep an eye on them

Keep track of your solar panels, and you’ll be able to sort out any issues as soon as they happen.

This is easy with modern solar panel systems, which usually come with an app that shows you the day-to-day performance of your panels.

Also, make sure your inverter is flashing green, as this means there are no faults.

And at least twice per year, use a pair of binoculars to see if there’s any build-up of dirt or loose bolts in your solar panel system – just in case.

3. Clean your solar panels

You only need to clean your solar panels once every 5-10 years, unless there’s an unusually large build-up of dirt and debris for some reason, like heavy snowfall.

You can pay a professional cleaner, but it’s not usually necessary. Just use a hose from ground level, and avoid detergent and high-pressure water sprayers, as using these can invalidate your warranty.

4. Remove any obstacles

Prune any nearby trees to ensure they don’t block sunlight from reaching your panels, and don’t let ivy anyway near your system.

What are the best solar panels for your home?

The SunPower Maxeon 6 AC is the best solar panel for your home.

This is mainly because of the Maxeon 6 AC’s market-leading 22.8% efficiency – which means it’ll make more electricity than other panels from the same amount of sunlight.

It’s also world-class across the board, with a peak power of 440 W, a 40-year product warranty, and a guarantee that it’ll function at 92% of its original level after 25 years.

Check out our best solar panels page to see our full rankings.

What are the best solar panel installers?

The best solar panel installer is Project Solar, which topped our rankings in the nationwide coverage category – meaning it’s ready to help you wherever you are in the country.

This centrally located company is certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers, TrustMark, and the Home Insulation and Energy Systems Quality Assured Contractors Scheme.

It’s carried out 35,000 solar installations, saving a total of 3,750 tonnes of greenhouse gases – and customers on Review Centre have given it 4.7 out of five, on average.

Check out our best solar panel installers page to see our full rankings.

Do solar panels work with heat pumps and EV chargers?

Yes, solar panels work with heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers.

You can easily combine your ground or air source heat pump with solar panels to cut your costs and make your home more eco-friendly.

You could even run your entire heating system on solar electricity, as long as you have enough solar panels, and a storage battery for after the sun goes down.

You can power electric vehicle chargers with solar panels, but most will supply your house first – meaning there’s often nothing left for your car.

However, there are solar-compatible chargers that can power your electric vehicle before your home. You can choose on an app where to send your solar electricity.

These models are currently supplied by MyEnergi and Hypervolt – which both feature on our list of the best electric vehicle chargers – and Indra.


There you have it – all the explanations, advice, and data you need to know about buying and owning solar panels for your home.

The next step is to get quotes for your own panels – and to speed up the process, you can use our free, custom-built tool.

Just provide a few quick details about your property, and we’ll put you in touch with our expert solar suppliers, who will provide you with quotes to compare.


You can calculate how many solar panels you’ll need by finding out how much electricity you use each year, then dividing that amount by the 265 kWh that a 350-watt panel in the UK produces per year.

Make sure your roof’s large enough to fit this many solar panels, and check it’s not north-facing, as this will make going solar much less profitable.

For more exact information, use our solar panel cost calculator.

10 solar panels are typically needed to power the typical three-bedroom house.

A house with one or two bedrooms requires six panels on average, while a larger home with four or five bedrooms will usually need 14 panels.

The exact number your house will need depends on your electricity consumption and location, as well as your roof’s size, angle, and direction.

You’ll typically need 14 solar panels to create a 5,000-watt solar setup – also known as a 5 kWp system.

But in the UK, that system will produce 3,700 kWh on average, and 4,200 kWh at most.

If you consume 5,000 kWh of electricity per year, you’ll need 19 solar panels, on average – and fewer if you live in East Anglia, south England, or south Wales.

You can have too many solar panels for it to be cost-effective for your home.

At that point, your extra solar panels will be generating electricity that goes straight to the grid instead of your home.

This will earn you some money off your bills through a Smart Export Guarantee tariff, but that usually won’t be nearly enough for you to break even on the extra panels.

You need to tell your electricity supplier if you have solar panels, so they can put you on the right tariffs.

With some energy companies, this will just involve putting you on a Smart Export Guarantee tariff – which you can reject for a different supplier’s rate, if you prefer.

With other companies, you’ll be able to access special smart tariffs that’ll earn you special rates for your solar energy.

You also need to tell your Distribution Network Operator (DNO) – the company controlling the hardware that brings you electricity – about your solar panels, so find out your DNO.

No, you can’t get free solar panels in the UK.

You can buy solar panels at a reduced rate through the Solar Together scheme, and if you live in Scotland, you can access an interest-free loan of up to £6,000, repayable over five or 10 years.

But the only way to get free solar panels is to buy a home that already has them on the roof – and even then, you’ll likely pay a premium for the property because of the solar panels.

Written by:
josh jackman
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.
Reviewed by:
Charlie has been researching and writing about the home energy market for over five years, and he has been the editor of The Eco Experts since 2021. Charlie's thoughts on solar panels have seen him featured in various publications, including The Times, Ideal Home, and Grand Designs Magazine. Ever since he can remember, Charlie has worried about the planet, and he one day dreams of owning a solar power farm.
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