23 Aug 2023
In this post, we'll look at some of the reasons why solar panels might be one of your best investments
The cost of living and global warming crises are on the rise, creating financial and environmental worries. People are looking for solutions. One of those solutions is investing in solar panels for their home. In fact 1.2 million households have them. But with a large initial financial outlay, are solar panels worth the investment?
A photovoltaic cell in the solar panel turns light into direct current electricity (DC). This is then converted by an inverter into alternating current (AC). AC is what we use to power our devices in our homes.
It is worth noting that solar panels convert light, so whilst a bright sunny day will produce more light, solar panels still do their thing on a gloomy day.
You will still need to pay for energy you use that is not generated by the solar panels, for example at night time.
You can also get solar thermal panels that heat your hot water, although these are less common in the UK and are not eligible for buyback schemes.
With energy costs up and solar panel costs down, if you plan to invest now is the time to do so. You need to ensure your home is suitable, for example that your roof is in good contrition, it’s slanted, and it is not shaded from light.
The Energy Saving Trust has an online calculator you can use to give you an idea of how much money you could save from installing solar panels, and how long it will take you to break even. It is important to note that it can take on average 10 years to break even.
On average solar panels cost around £7,800 to buy and install.
Using a renewable and natural source of energy reduces carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. Solar energy can improve air quality and reduce the amount of water used for energy production. Solar panels are a sustainable solution to the environmental crisis and can have a carbon neutral footprint in as little as a year.
For an average 3 bedroom house, installing solar panels could save you 62% off your energy bills. According to the Climate Change Committee, the cost of energy will rise by 24% by 2030. Investing now will only save you more money in the future.
It is worth noting the more time you spend at home during the day, the more electricity you use and the quicker you will see your return on investment through savings you make. It’s about balancing the energy you use, and trying to use the most energy during daylight hours.
As well as saving money with solar panels, you can make money too. The energy your solar panels create that you don’t use can be sold back to the grid. This is known as Smart Export. Rates are variable depending on what company you use, but you could earn back £130 per year.
If you are out all day you are more likely to have more energy left to sell back to the grid, and therefore make more money by using less.
An alternative to Smart Export is buying a solar battery. This stores excess power and enables you to run your home off the battery at night time, and reduce your energy bills further. However the batteries are expensive and require regular maintenance to ensure their safety.
Solar panels are not necessarily an investment to make if you are planning on moving as you won't reap the financial savings. However, if circumstances change and you find yourself listing your property, it is reassuring to know that solar panels add value to your home. An average 3 bedroom house can see a 14% increase in value if it has solar panels. That equates to around £40,000.
Solar panels are quick and easy to install. You will not be embarking on a big renovation project. The job can normally be completed in 2 days, and there are no requirements for planning permission.
Ensure you get three quotes and check the quotes include scaffolding hire. The installer should be a member of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code and the system and the installer should meet the standards of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).
Use the Consumer Protection Association to protect your deposit and insure the work being done. You may also want to check that your home insurance policy covers solar panels.
Solar panels are warrantied for 25 years. In that time you are likely to need to replace the inverter for around £800. Although the warranty runs out after 25 years, solar panels can go on working for much longer after this.
If you have some savings, solar panels are a great investment for your home and will save you money as well as making you money. There is no doubt as to the positive impact they have both financially and environmentally.