Five things to check before investing in Solar Panels
Solar panels enable you to power your home using more renewable energy. This reduces your reliance on energy suppliers and lowers your energy bills. However, there are five things to check before investing in solar panels:
1) Your house is well- insulated
It’s essential that you make sure your house is well-insulated. A badly insulated house means your heating system won’t be effective as heat will be lost. Hire a professional to conduct an energy audit. This will help locate the areas in your house that could waste energy e.g. your attic, loft, flat roof, windows and walls, and provide recommendations on how to improve insulation.
2) Your roof faces south
Solar panels are most effective when they’re installed on a south facing roof at a 30 degree angle. This will help to maximise the energy from the sun and produce the most electricity from your solar panels. If your solar panels face east or west, they will likely produce about 20% less electricity than south facing. However if your roof faces north, it probably isn’t worth the investment. In this instance consider mounting on your garage or ground mounted solar. For flat roofs, you can use brackets added onto the roof to create the required angle.
3) You live in the right area to make it worth your while
Your location will affect how much electricity you can generate. For example in the South of England, a 4kWp system can generate around 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity a year and save approx. 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Whereas in Scotland, the same 4kWp system can generate around 3,400 kilowatt hours of electricity a year and will save approx. 1.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
4) Your roof is strong enough
Solar panels can be installed on almost every form of roof, but many roofs need to be strengthened first. Installers will carry out a structural report to assess whether your roof needs strengthening. This could add an extra £200 to £500 to the overall cost of installing solar panels which is typically around £6,200 for the average domestic solar power system of 4kWp.
5) You might need to invest in solar battery storage
Solar battery storage enables you to make the most of your renewable energy by using it when you need it. This makes you less reliant on the power grid, which is helpful if you live in an area prone to power cuts. Batteries can also reduce your energy bill by 35%, and in some cases up to 60%. However, this will depend on the number of solar panels you have installed, your location, the size of your home and your power usage.
Battery storage units can also cost between £2000 and £4000. While the initial outlay is quite expensive, it’s important to consider the return on investment. The battery units are expected to last 15 years, although the internal rechargeable batteries need to be replaced every five years at a current cost of around £500. Although the cost of solar batteries has fallen approx. 40% in the last year and rechargeable batteries will probably drop in price too.
Are solar panels a good investment?
The number of solar panels you install, as well as your location, will dictate how much of your home can be powered from solar and battery storage. The more electricity your system can generate, the higher the savings on your energy bill will be. So, as solar panels will be on your roof for 20 years or more, combined with the government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariff, which enables you to sell your surplus energy back to your energy company, solar panels have the potential of being quite a good investment.