It seems you can’t go down a street nowadays without seeing at least one rooftop with a set of solar panels boldly attached. More and more of us are embracing the ideal of making our own energy, saving money in the long term, and contributing to the green agenda in the process.
The good news is that, in recent times, the cost of installing solar PV has come down dramatically.
Whereas just a decade or so a 4KW array may have cost you in the region of £10,000 to £14,000, the latest installations, if you shop around, may only set you back some £4,000 to £6,000. That’s a major change in price and something which has been bought about by cheaper manufacturing processes as well as greater competition in the market.
It could get even better in the future. The BBC reported last year on newly developed solar panels that could greatly increase the efficiency of electricity production:
“Researchers in Switzerland are looking to develop a solar panel that can push out twice the energy of existing standard roof panels. The increase in efficiency could mean a rooftop system paying for itself in five years and turn solar energy into a major player.”
And, with new storage batteries coming onto the market and that side of the technology improving, the possibility of becoming self-sustaining and actually producing all our own home electricity is no longer a pipe dream.
The Benefits of Solar PV
When we talk of renewable energy, one of the first things we normally think about is solar. You take the heat from the sun, turn it into energy and produce electricity. It’s almost as simple as that.
Solar has had its detractors in the last decade or two but it is now one of the big players in the energy market. Solar panels last, on average, for twenty to twenty five years and require little or no maintenance during that time. Probably the only piece that will definitely have to be changed is the inverter (the device that feeds the current into the grid and your home) but even that can last between 5 and 10 years and only costs between £400 and £600 to replace.
Despite the reduction of feed in tariffs (the price the Government says you can be paid for the energy you produce), you can still get some decent money back for every kWh that you produce. Add in the savings on your electricity bill because you’re making your own power and there are plenty of cost savings involved in just a small solar array on your home.
The Cost of Solar
It’s not just the cost in the UK that has dropped dramatically. It’s happening all over the world including in the United States and across Europe. Most online sites are currently stating that the installation of a standard solar panel array is going to cost you, on average, around £6,000 which is some 70% cheaper than it was just seven years ago in 2010.
Solar Panel Kits: Are They Worth It?
One option that is beginning to get some coverage at the moment is the DIY installation kit which can be bought online. What it does is provide electricity direct to your home and the manufacturers say that it can save you about £1,500 on your electricity bills a year. With a purchase cost of just around £4,000 that means you could get a return on investment in a little over 3 years. If the figures add up, of course.
The kit contains the 4 kW solar panels, a micro-inverter, roof mount unit and the all-important plug in solar connection unit. According to one UK supplier, Plug In Solar, the accumulative savings over the expected 20 year life of the array is over £30,0000.
Yes, this is fairly cheap and the figures are impressive but there are also some potential disadvantages to consider. For a start, because you’re doing a DIY installation, you can’t get the Feed in Tariff – to have this it must be installed by a MCS certified technician.
While this isn’t a particularly new concept, the sector has been plagued a little by substandard systems and even some actual cons which might give you pause for thought if you are thinking of going down this route. If you are intending to invest a good amount of money, the truth is that just a few extra thousand pounds will get you a MCS certified system that will also provide extra payments through the Feed in Tariff. Potentially this should also deliver a return on investment in a relatively short space of time.
Where to Find a Solar PV Installer
Despite the recent knock to the industry in recent years because of the reduction in subsidies, solar is actually still going strong. If you want to find a reputable supplier or installer in your area, then search our dedicated database here.