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Are solar panels worth it in 2024?

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Written by  Joe Minihane
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Reviewed by  Kim Staples
5 min read
Updated: 03 Nov 2023

They’re increasingly common, but are solar panels worth the outlay? Will they save money on bills and do they offer good value with other low carbon energy options available? Read on and we’ll explain everything you need to know about buying solar panels.

How much do solar panels cost to install?

The cost of solar panels varies depending on the size of your home and the size of the system you want to install.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average solar panel system in the UK is 3.5kWp, with an overall cost of £7,000. That can rise to as much as £9,000 for a 5kWp system if you have a larger home.

You will need to consider the cost of specialist labour, as well as the need for decent roof access, such as scaffolding too.

Are solar panels worth buying for the long-term savings?

Solar panels can provide all of your energy. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the initial outlay is expensive, with average homes breaking even in around 15 years.

That might seem like a long time, but it’s worth remembering that all of your energy will be renewable and that you can take advantage of the government’s smart export guarantee (SEG). This allows you to sell back energy you don’t use to the National Grid. The SEG replaced the more generous feed-in tariff, which paid solar panel owners a price for all the energy they generated, whether it was used by them or returned to the grid.

Suppliers offer different prices for SEG deals, so it pays to shop around.

If you plan to stay in your home for the long term, then solar panels are definitely worth considering if you have the money. Paired with solar batteries, they can offer major long term savings.

Are solar panels getting better in terms of value for money?

Yes. The cost of solar power has fallen by 50% over the last decade, as the technology becomes both better and more affordable.

In 2020, the International Energy Agency said that solar power offered what it called the cheapest energy in history. With volatile gas prices and the urgent need to decarbonise the economy due to climate change, solar panels are only likely to become more affordable and offer greater value for money.

Read our energy saving tips

Will solar panels help me save money on my bills?

In short, yes. Solar panels may cost a lot to install, but you will see an instant drop in your energy bills. Estimates on how much you’ll save vary, but if you have a standard 3.5kWp solar panel system, you can expect savings in the range of £150 to £565. It also depends on whether your system can offer all of your power, or whether you will need to pay for some from the National Grid.

If you are generating enough energy, you can sign up for a SEG tariff, which will see your supplier pay you for the energy that you generate. You can sign up via the government website and then decide on a supplier.

What are solar batteries and should I get one?

Solar batteries offer the chance to store any excess energy that you get from your solar panels. That way, you can store and access more energy when you need it or sell more back to the National Grid.

Solar batteries can cost upwards of £4,000, however, meaning breaking even on the entire outlay, along with solar panels, will take much longer. That said, if you want to be fully self sufficient when it comes to energy, they are a great way to keep the energy you generate and slash bills in the process.

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