The Complete Guide to Solar Panel Pergolas Written by Tatiana Lebreton Published on 24 October 2023 ✔ The average pergola can fit three to five solar panels✔ Adding solar panels to a pergola typically costs between £2,358 and £3,930✔ Solar panel pergolas can save you up to £260 a year on electricity billsDo solar panels cost less to install on pergolas than on a roof, and how well do solar pergolas work?We’ll answer these questions in this article. We’ll also explain what exactly solar panel pergolas are, how they work, and how they’re installed.If you want to skip ahead and speak to a solar panel installer, we can help. Just fill in our short form, and we’ll pass your contact information on to our network of installers, who’ll be in touch with quotes. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started What's on this page? 01 What is a solar panel pergola? 02 The pros and cons of solar panel pergolas 03 How are solar panel pergolas installed? 04 How much do solar panel pergolas cost? 05 How much money will solar panel pergolas save you? 06 Is your property suitable for a solar panel pergola? 07 Next steps 08 Solar panel pergolas: FAQs What is a solar panel pergola?A solar panel pergola is a pergola that features a roof with solar panels. The solar panels can either be used as a roof for the pergola, or can be placed on top of the pergola’s existing roof.As a reminder, a pergola is a garden structure built from posts and beams to create a shaded area in a garden. It can either be freestanding or partially attached to the house, which is known as a lean-to pergola.Solar panel pergolas can be made from scratch. Alternatively, solar panels can be added to an existing pergola, as long as the structure is strong enough to hold their weight.Do solar panels on pergolas still work well?Solar panels on pergolas can still work well, however it all depends on the angle and direction of the solar panels.In the UK, solar panels should ideally be south-facing, and tilted at an angle between 20° and 50°. This exposes them to the most amount of sunlight throughout the day, which allows them to produce more electricity.The angle of the roof can be an issue with pergolas. A lot of pergolas have a flat roof, or a slightly tilted roof, which means the roof angle is either 180° (a flat angle), or 20° (a slight tilt) at most.If this is the case with your existing pergola, the solar panels can be put on mounts to get them to the optimal angle.If you’re installing a completely new pergola, make sure the roof is constructed at the right angle.It’s particularly important not to lay solar panels flat, as this exposes them to less sunlight, and increases the risk of dirt or debris building up on the panels – all things that reduce efficiency. The pros and cons of solar panel pergolas Pros Alternative option for those with unsuitable roofs Efficient use of garden space Can be more aesthetically pleasing than solar panels on a roof Can be used as a supplement for the solar panels already on the roof of the home Cons Solar panel pergolas are more expensive than regular pergolas The existing pergola might not be very large, or not have the optimal angle or direction Pergolas might be more at risk of shading from nearby trees or buildings Advantages of solar panel pergolasOne advantage of solar panel pergolas is that they give homeowners who don’t have a suitable roof for solar panels the opportunity to still benefit from solar energy.Solar pergolas are also an efficient use of garden space. If the roof is unsuitable, you have the option of installing ground-mounted solar panels, but these take up space in your garden. With a solar panel pergola, the space underneath can still be used for leisure activities.For some, solar panel pergolas might also be a more aesthetically pleasing way to harness solar power than putting solar panels on the roof of the house.For those who already have solar panels on their roof, but want to generate even more electricity, solar panel pergolas are a great way to do this while preserving the space you have to walk around in the garden.Read more about garden solar panels on our page.Disadvantages of solar panel pergolasThe main disadvantage of a solar panel pergola is the price. If you’re looking to install a brand new pergola, getting one with solar panels will be more expensive than getting a regular pergola.For those looking to add solar panels to an existing pergola, you might find you don’t have enough space for your desired amount of solar panels – most pergolas have a smaller surface area than domestic roofs.Plus, if the pergola has a flat roof, it will also cost more to install the panels at the right angle.Lastly, because pergola roofs aren’t typically as high up as house roofs, the solar panels on a pergola are more at risk of falling under the shade of nearby trees or buildings. Solar panels on lean-to pergolas – the kind that are attached on one side to the house – are particularly at risk of falling under the shade of the house at certain times of day. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started How are solar panel pergolas installed?Solar panel installation for pergolas is similar to rooftop solar panel installation.If the solar panels are being installed on an existing pergola, the installers will first inspect the structure to make sure it’s stable enough to hold solar panels.The installers will then attach anchors and a mounting system to the roof of the pergola, onto which they’ll securely fix the solar panels.The next step is to connect the solar panels to the home’s electrical system, so the panels can feed the electricity they generate into your home. Depending on how far away the pergola is from the house, your installers might have to excavate some ground in the property, to bury the connecting cables.The wires running from the solar panels to the house need to run through a solar inverter, which converts the direct current (DC) electricity panels generate to the alternating current (AC) electricity your home uses.This inverter will usually be installed near your home’s electrical consumer unit, as they need to be connected to each other.If you’re installing a new solar panel pergola, contractors will need to construct it before installing the solar panels. The construction process will vary depending on the type of pergola. How much do solar panel pergolas cost?Solar panel pergolas cost between £2,358 and 11,930, depending on if you already have a pergola.A new pergola costs between £3,000 and £8,000 to buy and construct.But how much do solar panels add to the cost? Well, the average 6 square metre pergola can fit around three to five solar panels, costing between £2,358 or £3,930, including installation.How much solar panel pergolas cost varies depending on if the solar panels are being added to an existing pergola, or if an entirely new solar pergola is being constructed.Find out more about solar panel costs by going to our full breakdown.Are there any grants for solar panel pergolas?There are no grants for solar panel pergolas specifically, however there are several grants for solar panels in general.These include the ECO4 Scheme and the Home Upgrade Grant, both of which are available to low-income households or those on certain benefits.These grants won’t pay for the construction of a new pergola. But if you have an existing pergola, and you meet the eligibility criteria, the grants might be able to fund the installation of solar panels. How much money will solar panel pergolas save you?A solar panel pergola could save you between £156 and £260 a year on your electricity bills, assuming the pergola can fit between three to five solar panels.How much you save will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your solar panel system, how much direct sunlight it receives, and whether you receive payments from a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariff.The more solar panels you can fit on the pergola, the more money you’ll save.However, if the solar panels regularly fall under shade from nearby trees or buildings, this could affect how much electricity they generate, and lower your savings. Is your property suitable for a solar panel pergola?To determine whether your property is suitable for a solar panel pergola, you need to consider a few things.Firstly, are you able to put solar panels on your roof? The reason most residential solar panels are installed on the roof is because it’s an unused area of the house with a lot of free space. Roofs are also high up, so the solar panels are less likely to fall under shade from other houses.If you can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on your roof – or if you already have some and want more – a solar panel pergola might be the right option.However, you need to make sure that your existing pergola, or the pergola you plan to build, is suitable for solar panels.This means the pergola needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of the solar panels. Additionally, the top of the pergola – where the solar panels will be installed – should not be shaded by nearby trees or buildings.Lastly, the solar panels should ideally be installed facing south, and between a 20° to 50° angle. Next stepsSolar panel pergolas can be a great alternative, or addition, to traditional roof-mounted systems.They’re an efficient use of garden space, and they lower your electricity bills and carbon footprint.If you’re ready to get solar panels installed, just fill in our quotes form. We’ll pass your details onto trusted solar panel installers, who’ll be in touch and offer you their best prices. Solar panel pergolas: FAQs Do you need planning permission for solar panels on a shed? You don’t typically need planning permission to install solar panels on a shed, if it’s within the boundaries of your property.However, it’s always best to check what regulations apply to you, by contacting your local council, or other local authority. Are solar pergolas waterproof? Yes, solar pergolas are waterproof. Solar panels themselves are waterproof by design, and pergolas are outdoor structures, which are intended to withstand all sorts of weather. Why not put solar panels on the roof? There are many reasons why people choose not to put solar panels on the roof of their property. One reason could be that the roof doesn’t get enough direct sunlight, either because it’s heavily shaded, or because it faces north.Some people also simply don’t like the look of solar panels on a roof. 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.