Wondering whether it's worth forking out for solar panels? We've crunched the numbers to help you estimate how much solar panels will cost for your home.
Solar panels aren't cheap.The Energy Savings Trust estimates that installation will set you back £6,500 for a three-bed semi-detached house with four occupants, according to figures it released in March 2022. But the figures will vary depending on the size of your home and how much energy you want to produce. Below, Which? members can access data showing exactly what you can expect to pay for a range of different homes.
Solar panels can help reduce your electricity bills, and you can also earn money by generating electricity that you can sell back to your energy company. So you will eventually make that initial investment back in smaller energy bills.
The most popular solar panel system size is between 3.6kWp and 4kWp, according to our survey of more than 1,000 solar panel owners.* This size of system generated 3,750kWh of electricity per year, on average for owners.
For comparison, a home using a 'medium' amount of electricity gets through 2,900kWh per year on average, according to energy regulator Ofgem. A 'high' user takes 4,300kWh per year.
The cost of a solar PV system varies depending on:
We’ve worked with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to find out the average prices for various sizes of solar PV systems. The tables below reveal how much you should expect to pay for a solar PV system, including the inverter, controls and installation.
|Solar panel cost by system size|
|System size||Average cost|
The more electricity the system can generate, the greater the savings on your electricity bill can be – but the bigger the initial cost.
It’s important that your system is sized correctly for your household’s electricity use, so that you don’t overpay.
If you're not sure what size solar panel system is appropriate for your home, we’ve also listed prices you should expect to pay based on your annual electricity usage. You can find this on your annual energy statement or in your online account.
|Solar panel cost by electricity use|
|Annual electricity use||Average cost|
But keep in mind that solar panels generate most of their electricity during the day, so you may not be around to use it (unless you fit a home storage battery too). In fact, our survey of solar panel owners* found that:
So you'll still need to buy electricity from the grid, especially on dark winter evenings.
Battery storage lets you bank electricity generated by your solar panels until you need it, but buying a battery will mean it takes longer for your system to pay for itself. Find out more about . The cost of a battery is not included in the prices above.
Another way to get a rough estimate of solar panel costs is by looking at the most common sizes of system on different types of home.
The costs below show the median average amounts that solar panel owners in our survey paid for their systems.
|Property type||Solar panel system size||Average cost (median)|
All of the prices above are averages, so you should get quotes from solar panel companies for your specific needs. Three quotes will allow you to compare prices for your specific system and home.
Solar panel prices have dropped dramatically since 2011, and fallen again over the past couple of years.
The average cost for a kilowatt of solar panels fell by around £250 between 2018/19 and 2020/21, according to statistics published by the government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in May 2021.
It said that the median average cost per kilowatt of a small solar PV installation (0-4kW) was £1,429.
Back in 2013-14, the average cost was around £480 more per kW.
Prices vary during the year. For example, between May 2020 and April 2021, prices per kW were highest in April, May and February and lowest between August and October, according to BEIS.
This doesn't mean that solar panels are always cheaper in the summer though. Spring 2020 prices would have been impacted by Covid-19. In the previous year (2019-20), the cheapest month was November.
We recommend you get three quotes before you buy, so you have a good idea of the going rate for your installation.
Some energy companies will pay you for electricity generated by your solar panels that you don't use but put into the grid instead. This is called the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
You won't get it automatically when you export electricity you're not using. You'll need to sign up with an energy company.
To calculate average purchase and installation costs by system size and electricity needs, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) analyses costs from a variety of sources, including surveys, online quotes and retailer pricing information. It combines these with quotes from specialist subcontractors to give the most accurate average prices.
The prices include everything necessary to carry out the installation. This includes materials, labour, preliminary work, contractor costs, VAT and profit.
Materials costs are based on national average best trade prices and represent typical prices in autumn 2021. Labour rates are based on current industry wage agreements and allowances. Both are affected by the current economic climate and industry pressures.
Data copyright RICS 2021 and reproduced with permission. Prices were correct in October 2021.
*Which? conducted an online survey in June 2021 with 1,116 Which? Connect members who have solar panels.