When determining how many solar panels you need, there are three key factors to consider to get the most benefits of solar energy: your average daily consumption, the number of sun hours in your area and your roof size.
The average energy consumption – or planned usage – is the most important guideline in determining the number of solar panels that you need. Here, the consideration is the total Kilowatt-hours (kWh) you currently use or intend to use in your home.
|How many solar panels do I need? (by house size)|
|House size||Solar PV system size||Number of solar panels (250W)||Number of solar panels (400W)|
|Flat or 1-bedroom house||< 2000 kWh||2 – 4||2 – 6|
|3-bedroom house||2000 – 4000kWh||4 – 6||6 – 11|
|4 or 5-bedroom house||4000 – 6000kWh||7 – 9||11 – 16|
|5+ bedroom house||6000 – 8000kWh||10 – 15||16 – 21|
The amount of energy solar panels can generate is dependent on sun hours, and is therefore affected by your location. There are varying amounts of sun hours in the UK, which will affect the number of solar panels you will need.
Lastly, your roof size is also a key factor because it determines the number of panels that can fit on your roof, how much energy will be generated, and the cost. It is also important to consider your roof’s suitability: whether it can support the weight of the solar panels and how the panels will be angled.
Generally in the UK, 12 solar panels are needed for a 3kW solar installation, and 24 panels for a 6kW installation. Overall, the bigger the size of the panel, the more energy is generated per square metre.
The table below shows the approximate amounts of space you need in order to generate a specific amount of energy.
|Size of solar panels||Number of 250W panels||Estimated surface area|
* Table assuming 250Wp Solar Panel dimensions: 1.6 x 1 m = 1.6 m²
Would you like to know the specific number of panels you need? GreenMatch can help you by connecting you with up to 4 solar experts who can advise you and provide you with a tailored quote. Fill in the contact form by clicking the button below to start getting competitive quotes today. This service we offer is completely free and non-binding!
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One of the determining factors in figuring out how many solar panels you need is the number of people in a household. The average 2-3 person household uses approximately 2,900kWh of electricity annually
A 6kW solar panel system with battery in the UK is recommended for a home with over five people, while a 5kW solar system is typical for a home with four people. A 4kW solar system is one of the most common sizes for domestic solar systems, as it suits homes with 3 to 4 people. You can visit our ‘4kw solar system with battery cost in the UK‘ guide to see how much a system like this will cost.
The number of solar panels you need will vary depending on whether your installation is a 3kW or 6kW, and the size of solar panels you will use. For example, if you install a 3kW solar system using 250W panels, then you need 12 solar panels. A 6kW system would need 24 solar panels.
The average number of solar panels will also be determined by whether you would like your solar panels to generate all your electricity needs or only a percentage.
An average UK home consumes between 3kWh and 6kWh of energy daily, and some UK homeowners use solar energy to power only parts of their energy consumption, which would then reduce the number of solar panels installed.
To calculate what solar system size you need, you should first know the amount of energy that you need to generate from your solar system daily. The other important things are the sun hours in your area and your roof space.
Monthly energy bills can provide information on the amount of energy that you consume per day, and therefore how much energy you need to generate daily.
For example, if your monthly consumption is 124 kWh in January, then your daily consumption is 4 kWh. This means that the solar system should generate an average of 4 kWh daily. The 4 kWh can also be referred to as the expected daily solar system power output.
You can follow the same process to find the right commercial solar panel system size if you want to invest in solar PV for your business.
Some people may question if the UK is sunny enough for solar panels. The UK has an average of 4 sun hours daily which means you can certainly benefit from having a solar panel system installed.
It is important to be aware that different regions in the UK have different sun hours per day: England has 4.1, Scotland has 3.7, Northern Ireland 3.2 and Wales 3.3. This means that it could be more beneficial to install solar panels in Scotland, compared to solar panels in Northern Ireland. It is therefore important that you consult your local installer for guidance. This could result in bringing down the solar panel price in Wales, England, Scotland or Northern-Ireland
To determine the size of the panels that you need for your house, you need to know the following:
Solar panels generate different amounts of energy depending on their wattage size or rating. A 250 watt panel will generate up to 250 watts per sun hour while a 300 watt solar panel can generate up to 300 watts per sun hour. This is why it is important to know the amount of energy you need before determining solar panel sizes.
In the earlier example with a daily consumption of 4 kWh (4,000 W/hrs), if the homeowner used 250 W solar panels, then they would need to install 16 solar panels (4,000 Wh/250 W). If they used 350 W panels, then they would need 12 solar panels (4,000 Wh/350 W). Most residential solar panels on the market produce between 250 watts and 400 watts per hour
The capacity of your roof impacts the number of solar panels you can install and therefore how much energy you can generate. This is also because different solar panel sizes have different dimensions.
Continuing with the previous example, if you are installing 16 250W solar panels, you would require a surface area of 25.6 m².
If you are installing 12 350W solar panels would require a surface area of 22.8 m².
It is therefore important to know how much space you have. The table below outlines the average solar panel dimensions and weight per system size.
|Solar panel size (W)*||Solar panel dimensions*||Weight per panel|
|250||1.6 m x 1 m||18 kg|
|300||1.67 m x 1 m||18 kg|
|350||1.9 m x 1 m||21.6 kg|
*It is important to note that different brands may have different solar panel dimensions.
The choice of solar panel type can be based on efficiency, cost, and available space. Some types of solar panels are more efficient than others, and this would affect the number of panels you need to install.
For example, you need less space to install monocrystalline panels compared to thin film and polycrystalline solar panels.
There are different types of solar panels that can be installed on your roof, but the most commonly installed panels are monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels. Although now the solar panel market is being dominated by monocrystalline panels due to their higher efficiency.
Most customers do not need to worry too much about efficiency of a solar panel because you buy solar panels per unit power measured in Watts. When you know your energy use per year an installer can help you calculate how many solar panels and their power to provide that electricity. Efficiency only becomes a concern when your roof is small and you have a large electricity need.
Luckily, the efficiency of solar panels are increasing across the entire PV industry as they switch to black silicon (solar cells that look like Darth Vaders eyes) that suck up almost all the sunlight. In general, the industry is moving to black silicon not only because it can push efficiency over 20% but also because black silicon is more economic than traditional panels.
Joshua M. Pearce is the John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation. He holds appointments at Ivey Business Schooland the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Western University. He runs the Free Appropriate Sustainability Technology research group.
Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rate of 15 – 20%. This means that they can convert between 15% and 20% of sun energy into usable energy.
This type of solar panel is growing more popular also because of black silicon panels which are monocrystalline panels made from silicon with a high purity level. It is also space efficient because they generate more energy per area compared to other types. One square metre of a monocrystalline panel will generate 10W more than the same size as a polycrystalline solar panel.
On the other hand, monocrystalline panels are the most expensive solar panel type due to their high efficiency and the quality of silicon used.
Due to their high-temperature tolerance, polycrystalline solar panels generate more electricity over the year compared to monocrystalline panels.
Polycrystalline panels are a cheaper alternative to its monocrystalline variant. Although both types are made from silicon, in polycrystalline, many fragments of silicon are melted to form the wafers for the panel, while in monocrystalline silicon is formed into bars and cut into wafers.
A downside of polycrystalline panels is that they are less efficient because their silicon material is less pure. You can expect an average efficiency rate between 13-17%.
Naturally, cost is an important determining factor for how many solar panels you need. Cost of solar panel in the UK depend on several factors that include the size and type of solar panels. The cost ranges from £5,000 to £13,000 for solar panel system sizes ranging from 3 kW to 12 kW solar systems in the UK.
You can find an estimation of prices per solar panel system size in the table below:
|Solar Panel Size||Number of Panels||Price|
|3 kW||12||£5,000 – £6,000|
|4 kW||16||£6,000 – £8,000|
|5 kW||20||£7,000 – £9,000|
|6 kW||24||£8,000 – £10,000|
|12 kW||48||£11,000 – £13,000|
*These prices are estimates based on a system using 250W panels. These figures are intended as guidance and not as an exact price. We always recommend getting a tailored quote for your property.
Other factors that may affect the cost of solar panels include:
There is also an advantage of getting paid for the energy you generate under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), and therefore can result in savings in the long run. Unlike the former Feed-in Tariff scheme, the SEG is a type of solar panel funding that requires that all exported energy is paid by your supplier.
All of the cost figures we provide in this article are estimates based on real installations. However, that doesn’t mean your costs will be the same. Your final cost will vary depending on your unique situation. If you’d like quotes tailored to your situation before investing in a solar system, then GreenMatch can help you.
Simply fill in our 1-minute form and we’ll connect you with up to 4 different vetted installers near you who will each offer you their most competitive quote tailored to your energy demands. Say goodbye to the hours spent looking for the best deal.
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Deciding whether to install solar battery storage with your solar panels depends on your interests. If you would like to avoid energy bills and reduce reliance on grid power, then installing your solar panels with solar battery storage is the most appropriate option. However, if your goal is to reduce your energy bills, then installing solar panels without solar battery storage can be an option.
A solar battery storage has several benefits;
Households that install solar panels with battery storage use about 80% of the energy they generate while households without battery storage use only 40% of the energy they generate.
The amount of money you can save by installing your solar panels with solar battery storage depends on the number of solar panels installed, the size of the solar battery installation, and how much the batteries can discharge. With grants you can also cut down on the solar battery storage price.
If you would like to save more energy, then you would have to install more panels and more batteries. A solar professional can advise you on different options and costs.
Installing solar panels is a relatively expensive, long-term decision, but when done right, it’s a home improvement project that can pay off in the long run.
It’s important to find the right installer that can advise you on the most suitable system, and that can execute the project smoothly.
When looking for a solar panel installer, you should always get multiple quotes to ensure you are being given a fair price.
It is also a great idea to run a background check on the installer to ensure they have the right qualifications and a good track record of happy customers.
It’s a great idea to be prepared for your conversation with an installer and to help you in your research, you can follow our 6-step guide to finding the best solar panels in the UK in the video below:
If you are ready to speak to a professional installer about how many panels you need, fill in the contact form and get up to 4 tailored quotes from suppliers in your area. The service is free and non-binding!
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