Should You Get Solar Panels in Northern Ireland? Written by Josh Jackman Reviewed by Charlie Clissitt Updated on 31 July 2023 ✔ Solar panels will typically save you £568 per year✔ The average home will make £8,753 of profit over 25 years✔ You can cut your carbon footprint by 13%The cost of solar panels is falling, showing the way to a bright, sunny future for Northern Ireland.The average household will save £568 per year with solar panels, meaning you’ll take a little over years to break even – leaving you with 15 years or more of pure profit.And if you're worried about the sunshine here, don't be: Northern Ireland receives just 5% less than the UK average, so you're still well-positioned to cut your bills.We’ve gone into more detail below – and if you want to go solar at any point, you can compare solar panel prices with our help. 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. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started Advantages of solar panels in Northern Ireland: OverviewBreak-even pointNet profit after 25 yearsAnnual electricity bill savingsCO2 saved per year9.6 years£8,753£5680.45 tonnesFigures for the average three-bedroom houseWhat’s on this page? 01 How much do solar panels cost? 02 Do solar panels work in Northern Irish weather? 03 Are solar panels worth getting in Northern Ireland? 04 Government grants for solar panels 05 Next steps 06 FAQs How much do solar panels cost in Northern Ireland?Solar panels in Northern Ireland cost £545 per 350-watt solar panel, on average.That means a system with 10 of these panels – which adds up to the 3.5 kWp (kilowatt peak) the average three-bedroom house needs – will cost £5,453.This solar panel system will cut your energy bills by £568 per year, according to our calculations, allowing you to break even after 9.6 years – and solar panels usually last for at least 15 more years after that point.You'll save money by using less electricity from the grid, and by selling any solar power you don't use to Action Renewables.House sizeNo. of panels neededCostTonnes of CO2 saved / yearSavings / yearYears to break even1-2 bedrooms6£3,2720.27£3409.63 bedrooms10£5,4530.45£5689.64+ bedrooms14£7,6350.64£7959.6 Do solar panels work in Northern Irish weather?Yes, solar panels absolutely work in Northern Irish weather. In fact, the country has good conditions for solar panels.The main danger to panels’ efficiency is overheating, which is unlikely in Northern Ireland.And they work best in cooler climates, which is perfect.Don’t worry if it’s cloudy, either. Solar panels will still convert light into energy on overcast days; they’ll just absorb more when it’s sunny.In the UK, only Scotland gets less annual sunshine than Northern Ireland – and yet, due to the high price of electricity, a solar array is still more than worth the investment. Loading Are solar panels worth getting in Northern Ireland?Solar panels are definitely worth getting in Northern Ireland.Going solar allows you to cut your bills by £568 per year, typically – meaning the average home will break even in just 9.6 years.Overall, a three-bedroom household with typical energy usage will make a total profit of £8,753 on solar panels after 25 years – all while fighting climate change.You'll shrink your total carbon footprint by 13% with solar panels, on average, and also help prevent power cuts. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started How many people have solar panels in Northern Ireland?There are 27,676 homes with solar panels in Northern Ireland, according to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).And solar power is only getting more popular.The Northern Irish government’s Energy in Northern Ireland 2020 report shows that the country’s solar capacity has significantly increased every year since 2008.In 2008, there were just seven solar panel sites in the country, so the rise of solar power has clearly been rapid. Government grants for solar panels in Northern IrelandUnfortunately, there are currently no government grants in Northern Ireland for solar panels.However, make sure to contact NI Energy Advice to see if there are any grants in your area for communities that want to go solar.There may be grants available in your area for communities wanting to installIn the past, the government forced suppliers to buy green energy from domestic solar panel owners, because the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation legally compelled them to supply a certain amount of renewable energy alongside the rest of their energy production.However, though the law still exists, the scheme stopped accepting new applicants on 31st March 2017.Does the Smart Export Guarantee apply to Northern Ireland?The Smart Export Guarantee doesn’t exist in Northern Ireland.Since 2020, this government initiative has forced large energy suppliers to pay households for any renewable energy they export to the National Grid, with companies paying as much as 24p per kWh.Unfortunately though, the scheme only applies to England, Scotland, and Wales – not Northern Ireland. Is there any way to get paid for your surplus solar energy?Yes, you can get paid for your excess solar power.However, as suppliers in Northern Ireland aren’t legally compelled to do this under the Smart Export Guarantee, most have chosen not to.But there is still one. You can sell your surplus solar energy to Power NI, which pays 17.66p per kWh.You can also use Action Renewables, a registered charity that acts as an agent by taking your excess energy and selling it to suppliers looking to fulfil their renewable energy quotas.The charity's head of projects Mark Compston told The Eco Experts: “This year we will be paying our clients at least 18p [per kWh].”This price level is significantly higher than Smart Export Guarantee payments to the rest of the UK, which usually hover around 5p per kWh.Budget Energy, Click Energy, and Electric Ireland have all confirmed to The Eco Experts that they do not currently pay for domestic customers’ solar energy, and we’re not aware of any other Northern Irish energy company that does. Next stepsAssess your home and your energy usage, and consider how much energy and money you’d save with solar panels.If you can afford the outlay, it will almost certainly be worth it – and it could make your home more saleable, considering 65% of people told our National Home Energy Survey that they were likely to buy a house with solar panels.If you decide that you do indeed want to buy solar panels, you can find the best deal for your home by using our free comparison tool. FAQs Do you need planning permission for solar panels in Northern Ireland? You may need planning permission for solar panels in Northern Ireland if your home is a listed building.Otherwise, it should fall under the legal category of ‘permitted development.'This means your installer just needs to make sure your panels don't protrude out from your roof too much – a requirement they're well-qualified to fulfil. How many solar panels do I need to power a house? The average three-bedroom house in Northern Ireland will need 10 solar panels to provide the most cost-effective amount of solar electricity.This will allow you to generate enough energy to power half of your household's electricity usage. You can sell the rest to Action Renewables or store it in a solar battery.A house with one or two bedrooms will typically need six solar panels to reach this level, while a home with four bedrooms will usually require 14 solar panels. Do you get free electricity with solar panels? Yes, you get free electricity with solar panels.Once your panels are installed on your roof, they'll convert all sunlight that hits them into free energy to power your lights and appliances.It doesn't even need to be a sunny day – as long as there's natural light, your panels will produce free electricity. Is my house suitable for solar panels? Your house is probably suitable for solar panels.First, make sure your roof receives enough sunlight. This means it can't be completely in shade or face north. Roofs that face south, east, and west are all acceptable.Secondly, your roof must be able to withstand between 120 kg and 280 kg. The great majority of roofs will pass this requirement.For more information, check out What’s The Best Angle and Direction for Solar Panels? Is there a grant for solar panels in Northern Ireland? There are no government grants for solar panels in Northern Ireland.However, there may be regional grants you can access.Contact NI Energy Advice to see if communities in your area can benefit from solar grants from authorities. How much do solar panels cost in Northern Ireland? Solar panels in Northern Ireland cost £545 per 350-watt panel, on average.That means a household with one or two bedrooms will typically need to pay £3,272 for a solar panel system, while a three-bedroom home will shell out £5,453.A larger house with four or five bedrooms should expect to pay around £7,635 for a solar array – but these homes will usually make a large profit on their investment. How much will you save with solar panels in Northern Ireland? The average three-bedroom home in Northern Ireland will save £568 per year with solar panels, on average.A smaller household with one or two bedrooms will typically save £341 per year.And a larger home that has four or five bedrooms can expect to save £795 per year, on average. Why choose solar panels in Northern Ireland? Choose solar panels if you want to slash your electricity bills by 70%, break even after 9.6 years on average, and reduce your overall carbon footprint by 13%.If you can afford the typical £5,453 upfront cost, you should absolutely choose solar panels – not least because you'll make a £8,753 net profit, on average. 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. Reviewed by: Charlie Clissitt Editor 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.