Buying Solar Panels
Most of us have been given cause for great reflection over the last few months. What things have we taken for granted, and what things do we need to learn to appreciate more? We know that good health is not a guarantee and that we need to make a stand for things that we believe in. Well to go along with this, many now feel that we need to have a greater respect and
appreciation for the natural world. The climates that we have all come to know and enjoy may not be guaranteed, and understanding this makes many want to branch out to see what they can do to change their lifestyle accordingly. Amongst the biggest concerns people often have is the sourcing of our energy. The methods we have for extracting energy currently we know will not last forever, and that substitutes will need to be sought in the long-term. We turn to the things we can rely on. Energy like that provided by the Sun are just one of the options becoming increasingly available. But how much does the average person know about solar power? Throughout this article, we’ll look to make sure that you can make an informed decision on if it’s a viable solutions, and if it’s one you may want to invest in.
What are the core facts?
- You have a tendency to make a bigger saving if you live further south in the UK with more sunshine. Scotland’s average is 3,400kWh, compared to about 4,200kWh in the south of England.
- Until fairly recently, solar panels were subsidised by the government, with any additional energy that was sent back to the power grids being compensated for. This is sadly no longer the case as of 31st March 2019, but it doesn’t mean that solar panels are no longer viable.
- Ideally, you want a south-facing roof. You may still be able to make money if this isn’t the case, but it’ll be far more difficult.
- Solar panels can either increase or decrease the value of your home, there’s no universal impact on property value.
- Solar panels do require constant attention to make sure you get the best out of them, but they are generally pretty low-maintenance.
What kind of solar panels are available?
This is likely to be one of the first questions people have. You’re probably aware that it isn’t a one-size fits all technology, but what can you actually get with your money? Let’s see what’s available:
- 1st generation solar panels: Monocrystalline, polycrystalline
- 2nd generation solar panels: Thin-film solar cells (TFSC), Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell (A-Si)
- 3rd generation solar panels: Biohybrid Solar Cell, Cadmium Telluride Solar Cell (CdTe), Concentrated PV Cell (CVP and HCVP)
Which solar panels are right for you will depend on your budget, how long you can commit to wait for a return on your money, the specifications of your property, where in the country you live, your
current energy bills, plenty of details. But to get a better handle on that, you’ll need to know the difference when it comes to costs.
How much do they cost?
There is good news and bad news when it comes to this point. Firstly, the government subsidy that operated until recently recently ended. It allowed any excess energy that was
generated to be sent back to the grid and you would be paid for that. On the plus side, it costs approximately 70% less than it did a decade ago to actually buy the panels and have them installed. But does this mean that solar panels are still a viable investment?
According to Which?, from 2015 – 2018, the average cost for a fully-equipped solar panel system is around £6,600. For the average family of three, you may expect to pay between
£4 – 7,000. The average panel is 250 watts and costs £4 – 500, and about 12 are required so £6,000 is what you can expect to pay ordinarily. This occupies somewhere generally between 24 and 28 square metres. Now the estimated annual savings fall between 80 to a few hundred pounds, so once again, whether or not it will recoup the cost depends on your situation. Let’s envisage a couple of scenarios:
1) Your system costs £5,000 and you make back £285 annually. At this rate it will take about 17 and a half years to recoup the value. This is probably worthwhile.
2) Your system cost £6,500 and you recoup £195 annually. It will take over 30 years to recoup value. Now as a financial investment, it may no longer be worth it as the average panel life expecancy is 25 years. It is only worth considering if you’re thinking of it from an environmental perspective.
How can I get solar panels installed?
The first thing to know would be that there are installation fees, and they will vary depending upon the installer. There is a wide range of installers that likely differ in what kinds of panels and prices they provide. There are many different companies that actually produce panels, many being established technology companies like Hitachi as well as more specialised engineers such as JS Solar or Jinko Solar. There are plenty of do’s and dont’s you need to consider from actual installers too.
- Request a technical survey, not a sales visit, and make sure to get a quote.
- Go with an installer that has accreditations and is certified.
- Ask the installer for their blueprints or plans prior to installation if you’re not comfortable and you want to check their ideas.
- Just go with the first installer that you get a survey from. Make sure to shopv around until you’ve considered your options.
- Go with an installer for which you can’t find any valuable accreditation or evidence of past work.
- Over-commit when it comes to a solar panel plan. Getting an entire installation of solar panels can be expensive, and there have been at times of panels being wrongfully or unethically sold.
Frankly, whether or not gettin solar panels installed is personal. Are you doing it to save money? Crunch the numbers first to see when that’ll actually take place. It could be 15 years, it could be 50. By the time the panels make their money back, they may be out of warrantee or no longer functional. If you are doing it for ethical reasons to reduce the amount of non-renewable energy you are responsible for, you still need to consider how much you want to invest, as you can’t get away from how expensive the process CAN be.
Make sure you shop around and look for the best and more respected installers. You’re dealing with large sums so it’s easy to get overwhelmed and ripped off. You can ask friends for recommendations or check out the British Renewable Energy Awards. Make sure you get every part of the process in a price evaluation, and consider the length of time and disruption
that installation can take. The process of getting panels put only normally only takes a few days once begun.
If you have any questions, there’s more than enough information out there, now more than ever, on what to do. Look into as much information as you can to make an informed decision and decide what’s best for you and your family, and you can’t go wrong.