The Complete Guide to Solar Panels for Gardens Written by Tatiana Lebreton Updated on 11 August 2023 ✔ Ground-mounted solar panels cost 25%-35% more than roof-mounted ones✔ Portable solar panels can be set up in a garden to power small electric devices✔ Solar-powered garden lights usually cost between £30 and £200Large roof-mounted solar panels cost a lot of money, and not everyone has the finances or roof-space for them.Luckily, there are lots of different ways to use solar panels in your garden, and most aren’t that expensive.If the issue is that you don’t want solar panels on the roof, and you have a large garden, then a ground-mounted solar panel system could be a great alternative.Ready to get started with roof or ground-mounted solar panels? Just fill in our short form, and we’ll pass your details on to professional solar panel installers. They’ll contact you with their best prices. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started What's on this page? 01 Can you install solar panels in a garden? 02 Types of garden solar panels 03 How much do garden solar panels cost? 04 Is your garden suitable for solar panels? 05 Next steps 06 Garden solar panels: FAQs Can you install solar panels in a garden?Yes, you can install solar panels in your garden. Plus, as long as the system you install isn’t more than nine square metres (m²), it won’t require planning permission.Garden solar panels can refer to a variety of different solar panel setups, and not all of them require professional installation.If you have a garden with a lot of space, you can install ground-mounted solar panels (solar panels that are fixed into the ground).However, if space is limited, you can opt for smaller panels, such as portable solar panels, or even mini solar panels that power garden lights, all of which you can set up yourself.Solar panel pergolas are also something those with a modest amount of space should consider. Types of garden solar panelsGarden solar panels come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – from large ground-mounted systems, to small solar-powered garden installations. To give you a better idea of what might suit your setup, we've listed the different types of garden solar panels below.Ground-mounted solar panelsGround-mounted solar panels (also called standalone solar panels) are the same kind of panels you’d install on a roof. However, as the name suggests, ground-mounted solar panels are fixed into the ground using either a metal frame or a pole.One ground-mounted solar panel only takes up around 2 m². However, it needs to be installed at least 5 m away from your house to ensure it won’t fall under any shade cast by the house.A garden that’s around 15-20 m² should have enough space for around one to three ground-mounted panels. For context, to power a three-bedroom house, you’d need about 10 ground-mounted solar panels, which require a garden of at least 50 m².If you have a fence with nothing around it, you could also consider solar panel fences.Portable solar panelsPortable solar panels are small, plug-in solar panels that are designed to power small electric appliances, such as phones, laptops, or fans.These are often used for outdoor activities such as camping, but there’s nothing stopping you from setting some up in your garden. For this reason, they’re often smaller than standard solar panels and are 100 watts (W) to 200 W on average.Portable solar panels typically need to be used alongside a solar generator, which is a combination of a solar inverter, charge controller, and a solar battery. These are all things you need to safely run electric appliances from the panels.Solar generators are often sold as part of a solar panel kit, but they can also be bought separately.Solar-powered lightingUnlike regular garden lights, solar-powered lighting doesn’t require single-use batteries or an electric connection because it's powered by the sun. It’s available in all the designs regular garden lighting comes in, including string lights, lanterns, and spike lights.The lights come with rechargeable batteries, an on/off switch, and mini solar panels – usually placed on the top of the lamp or ornament, or onto the end of the string of lights.The solar panels generate electricity during daylight hours, and store it in the batteries. When it gets dark, the energy stored in the batteries can be used to power the LED light.Solar-powered water featuresSolar-powered water features are decorative garden ornaments that have a running water feature, such as small fountains or birdbaths.Like solar-powered lights, solar-powered water features come with mini solar panels and an on/off switch. However, most don’t have rechargeable batteries because they’re designed to operate during the day, when the sun is out.They will run as long as they are exposed to sunlight, and good quality ones will even run on cloudy days. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started How much do garden solar panels cost?The cost of garden solar panels will depend on the type of garden solar panels you choose.Ground-mounted solar panels are the most expensive option. A 10 panel system large enough to power an average three-bedroom house will cost around £7,860 to buy an install.Take a look at the table below to see how much ground-mounted solar panels cost depending on the size of the property.House sizeNumber of solar panels/p>Cost (including installation)System sizeTwo-bedroom6£4,71612-18 m²Three-bedroom10£7,86020-25 m²Four-bedroom14£11,00530-35 m²Five-bedroom16£12,57735-40 m²This table shows the average prices for domestic solar panel installations. However ground-mounted systems can cost by 25% to 35% more than roof-mounted systems, according to Solartherm UK.This is because ground-mounted solar panels tend to take more time to install, increasing the cost – the ground needs to be excavated for wires to be connected to your house, for example.Portable or miniature garden solar panels are much cheaper than mounted systems because they are smaller in scale and don’t require professional installation.Small portable solar panels cost anywhere from £100 to £500 per panel (depending on size), while solar-powered lighting cost anything from £30 for small fairy lights to £200 for bigger setups, such as lampposts.Solar-powered water features start from around £70 for small decorative ornaments, and can go up to £300 for large fountains or birdbaths. Is your garden suitable for solar panels?For a garden to be suitable for solar panels, it should ideally receive at least four hours of direct sunlight a day. This means that a garden covered by shade from trees or surrounding buildings won’t be the best option for solar panels.For large, ground-mounted solar panels, you also need to make sure you have enough space. As we’ve noted previously, a ground-mounted solar panel system large enough to power a three-bedroom house requires at least 50 m² of space.Ground-mounted solar panel setups larger than 9m² also require planning permission, and there are limits on what you can do if you live in a conservation area. Make sure to check all the regulations on the Planning Portal beforehand.Having enough space and getting planning permission isn’t an issue for smaller set ups involving portable solar panels or solar-powered lighting or water features.For these, you just need to make sure you have a spot in your garden that receives consistent sunlight, unobstructed by shade. Next stepsAs you can see, there are lots of ways to use solar panels in a garden. You can get anything from small, affordable solar lights, to large ground-mounted solar panel systems that can power a house.Either way, using solar panels is a great way to save on electricity bills, and lower your carbon footprint in the process.If you’re ready to take the leap and get a solar panel system large enough to meet your home’s energy needs, we can help. Just fill in our quick form with your details, and professional solar panel installers will be in touch with quotes. Garden solar panels: FAQs Can neighbours complain about solar panels? If your solar panel installation is legal and meets standard requirements, your neighbours cannot force you to remove them. They can certainly complain to you in private about them, but they can’t file a formal complaint. Can you put solar panels on an outbuilding? Yes, you can put solar panels on an outbuilding or shed that’s within your property. You just need to make sure that the structure is stable enough to hold the weight of several solar panels.You can find out more by visiting our page on solar panels for sheds. Does solar-powered lighting work in winter? Solar-powered lighting still works in winter, but the run-time might be shorter. This is because the solar panels that power the rechargeable batteries of the lights will be exposed to fewer hours of direct sunlight in winter than in summer.Shorter days, and more overcast weather means the panels won’t generate as much electricity. Written by: Tatiana Lebreton Tatiana has written about multiple environmental topics, including heat pumps, energy-efficient household products, and solar panels. She is dedicated to demystifying green tech to make eco-friendly living more accessible.