Since 2010, the UK government has incentivised homeowners to install solar panels. There were several reasons behind the move to green energy initially, but today it has become apparent that rising energy costs are primarily due to a lack of investment in solar energy years earlier, leaving millions vulnerable to global market fluctuations.

In this article, I’ll highlight and explain all the pros and cons of solar installations so that you can decide, at the end of the article, whether it’s an investment for you.

Solar Energy Advantages

Could Increase Your Home’s Value

According to Zillow, a property website based in the US, homes with solar panels sold for 4.1% more than a similar property without solar panels. In addition, a Californian-based study over seven years found that a solar panel system added 3.5% to the value of a home.

I did, however, find several articles, including one by Solar Power Portal, referencing an average of £32,459 increase in the value of homes across the UK. Still, I couldn’t find the study to confirm it.

Nonetheless, the US and UK have similar property markets. The Office for National Statistics concluded that the average house price in the UK was £296,000 as of October 2022, so using the conservative 3.5% increase would mean a property with solar panels could be worth £306,360. That’s an increase of £10,360.

Considering the 71% growth in house prices over the last decade, a further 71% on £296,000 in 10 years would be £506,170, plus 3.5% added value from solar panels, making the average house £523,875. It’s evident that solar panels pay themselves off on the value of your home itself.

Very Likely to Reduce Your Electricity Bills

With rising electricity costs, installing solar panels has become an attractive solution for thousands of homeowners across the UK. The current price cap is £2,500 until April 2023 for typical usage, but that’s still 96% higher than the price cap for the winter of 2021/22. This cap is expected to rise to £3,000 post-April.

Unless the UK is the worst year in terms of very few hours of direct sunlight, it’s very likely solar panels produce sufficient electricity throughout the day to meet your household’s consumption. Some days, it’ll produce surplus energy and other days, it will not generate enough, but over the month and year, your bills are likely to be less.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, a home in London could save between £205 and £500 a year on electricity bills with solar panels and without participating in the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme.

Insurance Against Rising Energy Bills

We know the price cap on energy bills is due to increase from £2,500 to £3,000 post-April 2023, but we don’t know if the rate it’ll continue to rise beyond 2024. Producing your own energy by installing solar panels becomes insurance against further rising power prices.

Even if the price cap remains the same for several years, installing solar panels is not only likely to add value to your home, but reduce your bills, anyway.

Solar Power Can Generate an Income, Boosting Your Solar Savings

If you participate in the SEG scheme, you can be paid by your energy supplier for excess energy generated. While the payments to homeowners widely vary, the Energy Saving Trust believes you could gain up to £155 a year if you live in London and work all day and arrive back home at 6 pm.

Money Saving Expert rightly points out that the amount you’ll be paid varies by supplier. They’ve included a small table that highlights the rates some of the suppliers pay with Octopus Energy and Tesla (via Octopus Energy) paying the most. While we mention Tesla, we supply and install the Tesla Powerwall, one of the most popular solar batteries, to store solar energy produced by your system.

Excellent Return on Investment

As illustrated above, the increased value of your home, savings on energy bills and income from excess solar energy make installing a solar panel system an excellent return on investment.

In addition to these benefits, following the installation of a solar panel system, the cost of an average solar panel system is approximately £6000 to £7000 today, which is 60% cheaper than it was back in 2010, according to Solar Guide. There are other factors to consider as well, such as the 0% VAT, which is one of the government incentives to encourage homeowners to install solar panels.

Low Maintenance Costs

Solar panels require very little maintenance. Compared to a boiler, solar panels don’t need a yearly service to ensure they’re in top working order. And, due to the fact that London has around 164 rainy days a year, about 13 days a month of rainfall, that does most of the cleaning for you.

As London is adjacent to the North Sea, it can be very windy at times. The wind works in your favour by blowing fallen leaves from the autumn months off your solar panels. If some still remain, it’s safe to use a soft brush to remove any remaining leaves, especially before the summer. However, if the panels are damaged, you’ll need to call an expert.

Bird droppings are not uncommon on solar panels, and they can present quite a serious problem in terms of efficiency. It’s best to use a pressure washer or hire someone to climb up on your roof to clean it for you.

Aside from the above, there isn’t any maintenance associated with the panels themselves. It’s more or less environmental factors like leaves and bird droppings. Therefore, it’s incredibly cost-effective to maintain solar energy systems.

Less Reliance on the Traditional Electric Grid

The energy grid, otherwise known as the National Grid, is where we get our electricity from to use in our homes and commercial premises. If the National Grid goes down, your home goes down too. But, if you’re using solar power generated by yourself, you can still consume electricity depending on the weather and usage that day.

At EHGE Solar Solutions, we provide the Tesla Powerwall, which allows you to store several days of electricity. So, in an event like the above, you’re covered for a while.

More importantly, though, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to ban all petrol and diesel cars, apart from plug-in hybrids, in 2030. While this can be seen as a positive step in the right direction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the National Grid may not be able to cope with a huge surge in demand.

Solar Incentives

Due to the increasing uptake of solar power systems over the past 12 years, more manufacturers have entered the marketplace. This has led to a 60% reduction in the prices of solar panel systems to remain competitive in this relatively new market, which is positive news for homeowners investigating whether solar power is affordable for them.

Furthermore, the government is incentivising homeowners to invest in solar power by offering 0% VAT on every solar panel and solar panel installation. That’s a saving of 20%, as previously mentioned. In addition, the SEG scheme, the new version of the Feed-in-Tariff, aims to make a solar power system more attractive to homeowners.

I published an article towards the end of last year highlighting all the current incentives and grants available to install solar panels and improve your home’s insulation. But, in a nutshell, low-income households, typically under £30,000, receive the majority of the freebies.

Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

According to the Energy Renewable Hub, it saves approximately 900 kg of carbon emissions per year, which results in a payback of just 1.6 years compared to alternative methods to produce electricity like coal, for instance. In other words, solar panels in use for 30 years save 27,000kg of carbon dioxide, less the initial emissions from manufacturing, which is covered in a year and a half.

Summary of Solar Energy Pros

In this article, we’ve highlighted and briefly explained nine solar energy pros. These include adding value to your home, reducing your energy bills, becoming insurance against further rate hikes, generating a small income, providing a healthy investment, low maintenance, available incentives like 0% VAT, less reliance on National Grid plc, and a significant reduction in carbon emissions. But, now it’s time to consider solar energy cons.

Solar Energy Disadvantages

High Initial Cost

One of the most significant cons of solar energy is the initial cost of a solar energy system. With the typical cost between £3,500 and £7,300, it can be quite a large outlay for thousands of homeowners.

However, back in 2010, the cost of solar panel systems were 60% more expensive as they were just being introduced to the market. So, while it seems expensive today, it’s less than it used to be, plus the rising power prices bring the payback period sooner.

Weather Dependent

A solar power system requires direct sunlight to perform at maximum efficiency; there are approximately 1526 hours of sunlight in Greenwich, London. So, 3.5kw/h solar power systems could produce 5,341k kW a year. That sounds good for the average home that uses 2,900 kW a year, according to Ofgem.

However, on a cold and wet, windy and dark day, you’re more likely to stay at home. Thus, use a relatively large amount of electricity to entertain yourself and your family. On a day like this, your solar panels are very unlikely to function at maximum efficiency, so you’ll rely on your supplier.

On the other hand, on a warm sunny day, you’re likely to spend it out and about, whether at the park or somewhere else enjoying the great outdoors. So, energy production by your solar energy system will likely be functioning at maximum efficiency, but you won’t be using it. You’ll most likely be selling the sun’s energy to your energy supplier under the SEG scheme.

Installing battery storage to work in conjunction with your solar panels is a way to hold onto the solar energy you produce on an efficient day to use on an inefficient day. These can even hold a few days’ worth of electricity, depending on your consumption. But, of course, there’s a cost associated with these too. The question is: is storing energy more cost-effective than selling it under SEG and then relying on your energy supplier?

Solar Energy Storage Is Expensive

After you install solar panels, you’ll likely want to store as much of your renewable energy as possible. Whether it’s to achieve some form of energy independence or reduce the need to pay your utility company. You can do this with battery storage, and the Tesla Powerwall appears to be the most popular product on the market.

According to GreenMatch, the cost of a Tesla Powerwall is between £10,290 and £12,190 in total. That can be a huge pain! But, over a 15-year period, it’ll significantly improve your energy independence. You won’t need to pay your utility company when your solar panels don’t produce clean energy. Instead, you’ll draw from your battery storage. This can further reduce your electricity bill.

South-Facing Roof is the Best

Wherever your home is in the UK, it’s above the equator, which means it’s in the northern hemisphere. Therefore, a roof facing the south receives the most sunlight hours, apart from a flat roof without any shaded areas.

In order to maximise the efficiency of your solar system, it should be installed on either a south-facing roof or a flat roof. If your property doesn’t have a usable or large enough south-facing roof, solar panels may not be the best option for you. Therefore, you may need to consider an alternative renewable energy source.

Requires a Large Roof Space

Unfortunately, one of the most significant cons of solar energy is the requirement of a large roof space to install solar panels. While we could install solar energy systems on north and south-facing roofs, it’ll not generate electricity efficiently, which reduces the return on your investment. The space solar panels need greatly on your energy consumption, but the typical household will need space for around 16 panels.

Carbon Footprint Associated with Manufacturing

I mentioned earlier in this article that the typical payoff in terms of carbon dioxide is 1.6 years after solar installation. While it still produces carbon dioxide initially, the amount solar panels prevent over its lifetime is colossal.

Cannot Be 100% Independent of National Grid plc

While home solar panels can lead to some form of energy independence, to truly become independent, you’d need a huge amount of battery storage. The cost of all the batteries, plus their replacement in 15 years, makes it a highly costly process.

Summary of Solar Energy Cons

I’ve shared a number of the cons of solar energy, including the high initial cost, weather dependent, expensive battery storage, requirements for south-facing roofs and a large roof area, the pollution in the manufacturing phase and the fact homeowners cannot be 100% independent of National Grid plc.

Final Thoughts

I may be biased, but installing solar panels is the way to go for all the solar energy pros I’ve shared with you. Having said that, if a number of the cons of solar energy apply to you, like limited roof space and a north-facing roof, then it’s not worth pursuing solar energy.

Want Solar Energy?

If you’d like to take advantage of solar energy, get in touch with us, EHGE Solar Solutions, for a free survey and quote by an engineer, not a salesperson.