Solar Energy FAQs
How much do solar panels cost?
Over the last decade, solar panels have become significantly more affordable due to increased production and government incentives. The cost of installing solar panels varies based on the capacity of the system and the needs of your property.
Small solar systems are available from as little as £4,000. Larger properties that use more electricity may need larger, and most costly, solar panel systems to become energy independent.
Because of the Feed-in Tariff scheme, it’s possible to offset the cost of installing solar panels by generating and exporting the electricity you generate.
Learn more about the cost of solar energy in our How Much Does Solar Energy Cost? guide.
Can I earn money from solar energy?
The Feed-in Tariff, a government scheme designed to reduce the cost of switching to solar power, allows residential and commercial properties in the UK to earn a tariff for the energy they generate and export.
The generation tariff allows you to earn a specific amount based on the energy your renewable energy system generates. With the export tariff, you can earn money by exporting excess electricity back onto the national grid.
This means that you can earn money from solar energy, offsetting the cost of your solar panel system or providing a source of eco-friendly income.
Learn more about the Feed-in Tariff and other government incentives in our guides to green energy incentives for UK residential properties and businesses.
How does solar energy work?
Solar panels work by converting sunshine into usable electricity. This happens due to the silicon material used in solar panels allowing solar energy to be converted to an electrical current, which can then be used by a home or commercial building.
When sunlight comes into contact with a solar panel, the electrons in the panel are moved between one field and another. Each solar cell produces a small current – in large solar panel systems, this current is large enough to power a home.
Learn more about how solar panels work in our How Solar Energy Works guide.
Can I power my entire property using solar energy?
If your property receives sufficient sunlight and has enough open space – either on its roof or in a field or other open area – you may be able to generate enough solar energy to power your entire property.
Many homes and commercial buildings with large solar panel installations produce enough electricity to power all of their electrical utilities and appliances, as well as exporting excess electricity back onto the national grid.
You can also use storage batteries alongside your solar panel system to store extra power for use during the evening and night, when sunshine isn’t available and your electrical supply requirements are greater.
How many solar panels will I need?
The amount of solar panels your property needs depends on its electrical supply requirements and energy goals. If you’d like to power your entire building using solar energy, you may need a relatively large capacity solar panel system.
If you’re simply interested in reducing the amount of non-renewable energy your home uses and reducing your energy bill – as opposed to becoming 100% energy self-sufficient – your property may only require a small solar panel system.
Can I use solar energy to heat water?
Many residential and commercial buildings in the UK use solar water heating – a renewable heating system that uses solar energy to heat your home’s water tanks and provide eco-friendly hot water.
Solar water heating systems convert heat energy from the sun into hot water using a solar thermal collector. Like solar energy, solar water heating is an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to provide energy (in this case, heat energy) for your property.
Learn more about the difference between solar energy and solar water heating in our PV Solar Panels vs. Solar Water Heating guide.
Will solar energy increase my property’s value?
Yes. Installing solar panels is a simple, cost-effective way to increase your home or commercial property’s value. Studies show that homes with solar panels achieve a 3-4% higher sale price than homes without renewable energy systems.
Commercial buildings also benefit from solar energy. A study by Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated – a leading real estate company – found that solar panels, by creating an additional income stream, have a positive effect on commercial property values.
Do solar panels produce any carbon emissions?
Unlike non-renewable energy sources such as coal and natural gas, which produce carbon emissions while generating electricity, solar power does not produce any carbon dioxide as part of the process of creating electricity.
Despite this, there are some carbon emissions associated with the production of solar panels. On average, solar panels emit 7.7% as much carbon dioxide as coal power and 13.1% as much as natural gas over their usable lifespan.
Learn more about solar energy’s environmental impact in our Solar Energy and the Environment guide.
Do solar panels require any maintenance?
Because solar panels don’t contain any moving parts, they require significantly less maintenance than other renewable energy systems. Many solar panels can operate for more than two decades with minimal, if any, ongoing maintenance.
Solar panels installed in dusty or windy areas should be cleaned two to three times per year to remove dust, dirt and debris. Many solar panels can be maintained using automated cleaning systems, removing any human involvement.
If your solar energy system uses batteries to store excess electricity, it may require more ongoing maintenance.
Learn more about maintaining your solar panels in our Solar Energy Care and Maintenance guide.
Will solar energy work for my property?
Although most properties can benefit from solar energy, you’ll need to live in an area that receives a reasonable amount of daytime sunlight in order to experience the biggest benefits of solar panels.
Homes with southern-facing roofs are generally viewed as the most effective for solar panels. However, in Germany and other European countries, buildings that have east-west facing roofs have also benefited immensely from solar power.
Your property’s roof will also need to be able to support the additional weight of solar panels without causing structural issues.
Learn more about your property’s suitability for solar energy in our Is Solar Energy Right For Your Property guide?