Solar panels are a greener option for energy, and if you’re looking to reduce your personal carbon footprint, you might consider solar panels for your home.

For some people, the pull to become more environmentally-friendly is enough to make the decision to install solar panels. But it is quite expensive as an initial outlay. It’s worth looking at whether the sums add up for you, whether your home is suitable, and whether it’s going to suit your circumstances.

Let’s have a look at common questions around solar panels.

How much do solar panels cost upfront?

Solar panels vary in cost between £5,000 and £13,000 depending on how many panels you have, and which type of panels you go for.

You’re better off investing cash, if you already have it in savings. If you get a loan, or remortgage to pay for the solar panels, then the interest may outweigh the level of savings that you generate from your panels.

Will I save money on my energy bills with solar panels?

As you generate additional energy from solar panels, you’ll be using less energy from the National Grid, and so you save money on your energy bills.

The savings can be quite significant. You can typically expect to save between around £400 and £1,000 every year.

You also become part of the smart export guarantee (SEG) scheme which means that you get paid for the energy your solar panels generate and you don’t use. Your excess energy is sold back to the National Grid and you receive a payment for it.

Will I recoup the upfront fees?

We usually say that it takes around 10 years to recoup the upfront fees.

Of course, this depends on how much you spent installing the solar panels, how much energy your solar panels generate, and how much energy you use in the home.

Will solar panels increase the value of my home?

This is a tricky one, and it’s not really clear whether solar panels increase the value of your home. We’re not really seeing major price increases due to a home having solar panels. There’s perhaps a slight uplift of around £2,000.

But this might change in the future. More people are choosing homes based on their energy efficiency rating, and how sustainable they are. So we may see houses with solar panels becoming more valuable more quickly in the future.

Which homes are suitable for solar panels?

The best homes for solar panels are those with a south-facing roof. Solar panels on a south-facing roof will receive more sunlight, and generate more electricity than those on a north-facing roof.

You also need to think about how much space you have. Solar panels are surprisingly large and take up about 2m² space each. This can be a challenge for unusually-shaped roofs.

Do I need planning permission for solar panels?

No, you don’t need planning permission for solar panels, UNLESS your property is listed, or you live in a conservation area.

If that applies to you, then you’ll need to ask your local authority before you install solar panels. You might need their approval first.

Are there any legal hoops to jump through?

No, you don’t need to go through a legal process to install solar panels, and you don’t need to instruct a solicitor.

After the solar panels are installed though, you need to register them to start receiving the SEG payments. You can find out about registering your solar panels on the Government’s website.

How to decide if solar panels are a good investment for you

If you want to make your home greener, and you have the money to invest in it, then solar panels are probably a good option for you.

As a quick checklist, solar panels are great if:

  • You’re planning to stay in your home for at least 10 years
  • You have a south-facing roof
  • You can cover the cost of the panels and installation in cash

You might have more pause for thought if:

  • You’re thinking of moving house in the next 5-7 years
  • Your roof is north-facing
  • You need to take out a loan to cover the initial outlay