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Solar Panels

How much do solar panels cost?

By Sarah Ingrams

Article 2 of 8

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Solar panel costs

Find out how much solar PV panels cost, whether prices are coming down and what financial help is available to buy solar panels. 

Wondering whether solar panels will pay for themselves? We've crunched the numbers for you.

Solar panels aren't cheap. But if they can help you cut your energy bills, plus earn you money by generating electricity that you can sell back to your energy company, does this mean you'll end up quids in? 

Keep reading to learn more about solar panel costs versus how much money they can earn and save you. 

Solar panel prices

Prices for solar PV systems vary depending on the size and type of the system, as well as the structure of the building on which the panels will be installed. 

An average PV system of 4kWp (kilowatt peak) costs around £5,000 to £8,000. Solar tiles are more expensive than conventional solar panels.

The more electricity the system can generate, the higher the savings on your energy bill will be – but the bigger the initial cost is. 

Members we spoke with who had solar panels installed in 2017 and 2018 said they’d paid as little as £3,000 and as much as £13,000 for their solar panel systems. But the majority paid between £6,000 and £7,000. Costs vary by system size – read on to see the average.

In addition to the savings on your electricity bill, those who installed solar panels before March 2019 could get paid under the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme for generating their own electricity.

Solar panel cost is coming down

The idea behind the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) was that, as solar PV takes off, the cost will drop. This is why the rate of the FIT decreased over time, to compensate for the falling cost of solar systems. In March 2019 the scheme closed to new applicants. By the end of the year big energy companies will have to offer a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariff instead.

Statistics published by the government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in May 2018 show the cost per kilowatt of solar PV installed stayed fairly consistent between April 2017 and March 2018. In previous years it fell by more than £100 on average.

When we surveyed 2,163 Which? members who have solar panels, we found that, on average, they paid the following for an installed 3.6-4kWp solar PV system:

As you can see, prices paid for solar panels have come down in recent years.

Want to know which manufacturers make the highest quality solar panels? See our best solar panel reviews.

Solar panel grants

Solar electricity has attracted much interest since the government introduced the FIT scheme in April 2010. The scheme paid owners for every unit of electricity their solar system generated. 

However the feed-in tariff closed to new applicants at the end of March 2019. A new scheme, called the Smart Export Guarantee, will require all energy firms with more than 150,000 customers to offer a tariff which pays homeowners for renewable electricity they export to the grid by the end of 2019.

So far, very few suppliers are selling one.

To find out more about what the FIT was, including how much money you can make if you're already signed up, read our guide to the Feed-in Tariff. Or find out about the new Smart Export Guarantee.


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