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Last updated: 24 April 2024

Can You Get Solar Panels for Apartments in the UK?

Solar panels for apartment blocks

Going solar has increasingly become popular in the UK. It is not only a matter of people being more conscious about the environment but also because solar PV technologies have become more efficient and affordable over time.

Many would say that solar energy is a viable option only for detached houses and people who own their roofs. And, yes, getting photovoltaic panels for an apartment implies extra difficulties, but there certainly are some ways you can power your flat with solar energy.

In this article, we will cover different alternatives that both apartment homeowners and renters can apply to benefit from solar panel technology and even reduce to some extent their electricity bills and carbon footprint.

Are you curious about getting solar panels for your apartment? If so, we can help you. Our team at GreenMatch can quickly connect you with up to 3 qualified and vetted solar panel installers in your area.

You’ll receive a free quote from each of the installers, which you can then easily compare to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Our service is completely free and non-binding, and will help save you both time and money. Click the button below to get started.

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Can You Put Solar Panels on Apartment Blocks?

The short answer is: yes. You can put solar panels on apartment buildings in the UK; however, it is not as straightforward as for detached houses

If you are a tenant, you will need to ask your landlord to install solar panels on flat roofs, balconies, or other suitable spots. This is a major property upgrade for landlords, so you will need to make a case and convince them. 

You could, for instance, focus on the increase in property value, energy bill reduction or attracting (future) tenants already interested in solar energy. 

Furthermore, even if both you and your landlord are willing to install solar panels for the apartment, you will need permission from relevant institutions. Since landlords own only the flat and not the entire apartment block, they need approval from bodies such as neighbour councils or building management boards.

Moreover, you must comply with all rules related to altering the style or structure of buildings in the area you live in.

In any case, using solar panels to meet at least part of your flat’s energy needs can make a difference for the environment. Let’s bring some data in and put it into context:

According to Ofgem, the average household in the UK (2-3 people) uses approximately 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas each year. On the other hand, the UK government points out that carbon emissions for homes on the average energy fuel mix are currently 0.193 kg of CO2e per kWh of electricity and 0.183 kg of CO2e per kWh of gas.

Let’s say that you cover just 10% of your flat’s electricity and gas consumption with solar panels; then, you would save around 275 kg of CO2e per year. That is the amount of CO2 that 13 fully grown trees would take 1 year to absorb. In other words, you can make a difference by going solar!

If you’ve decided to go for a solar panel system for an apartment building, you will need to spend several hours researching technical specifications and local regulations. You will also need to contact several installers in your area to compare their offers and get competitive prices.

Fortunately, we can help you reduce that time to just 5 minutes or even less. Click on the button below, fill in the form, and our experts will send you up to 3 quotes tailored to your needs. We work with a nationwide network of certified professionals, so we’ve got you covered. Our service is free, and you are not obliged to accept any quote you receive.

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Where Can You Place Solar Panels on Apartment Buildings?

In theory, you can place solar panels on apartment buildings in any suitable, allowed spot. These could be the roof, balcony floor, balcony railings, window sills, and bannisters.

If using the building’s roof is an option, you can opt for traditional bolt-on solar panels. You can check our article What Is the Cost of Solar Panels in the UK? for detailed information on prices and how much you can save on energy bills.

In case the roof is not available for you to use, then you could mount plug-in or portable solar panels anywhere in your apartment that gets enough sunlight. It could be, for instance, on a balcony or a railing. 

Is it possible to get solar panels for your apartment balcony?

Getting solar panels for an apartment balcony is totally possible. Probably the best option is buying a plug-in or plug-and-play solar panels. They work pretty much as their name suggests: you just need to mount them on a spot that gets a lot of sunlight, plug them into any standard wall outlet, and the energy they produce will flow into your apartment.

Solar panels for apartment balcony

These kits normally need some outdoor space where you can safely secure panels. It could be a sunny balcony but also a patio, yard or rooftop. Some of them are more complex, and you will need a certified installer to fit and set them up.

Also, be aware that they might not account for your home’s whole energy demand. However, even if you cover just a fraction of your apartment’s energy needs with solar energy, you would be already reducing the total amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere and, therefore, helping the environment.

In any case, plug-in solar panels are a suitable solution for renters as they can take the panels with them if they move to a different place. Of course, you will have to research what size the solar panel kit should be to meet your requirements and check if your city has any regulations in place on the use of these types of panels.

Additionally, as they will take some space, ask yourself if your balcony is large enough to accommodate them and if you want to use the balcony for other purposes. Also, consider if they will affect your neighbours somehow (e.g. ruin their view).

Smaller portable solar panel systems can also be of some help. Typically, portable solar panels can produce between 0.3 and 1.5 kWh per day. They are mostly used for outdoor activities or for recreational vehicles such as campervans, but they can also help you charge your phone or laptop and even run small electric appliances in your apartment.

As they normally are very lightweight, you can set them up on window sills, railings, and bannisters or anywhere with sun exposure. Many of them also include battery storage, so you can use the generated solar energy at any time of the day.

Solar panels for apartment windows

Solar window technologies are still in development. At the moment, they lack adequate efficiency for converting sunlight into energy. However, it is improving, making energy-generating windows a promising space-saving alternative to portable solar panels for apartments.

There are also mini solar chargers you can hang on the window’s pane as decor, such as the bamboo-framed mini panel by Grouphug. These small solar chargers can only produce enough energy for a smartphone or similar electronic devices.

Other solar alternatives for apartments

Besides the abovementioned options, there are other solar alternatives for apartments you can consider even if your flat does not get sufficient sunlight. In this regard, joining a community solar project is a great option for people who can’t put solar panels on their roofs.

Community solar projects are medium-to-large-scale solar farms built locally —and sometimes collectively owned— that power multiple homes in a community. However, they are not that extended across the UK, and you may not find any in your area.

Another alternative is building your own portable solar panel system. For this, you need to buy all the necessary components and equipment and connect everything yourself. You also need to have all the required knowledge on electric systems to build it and make it work.

Pros and Cons of Solar Panels for Apartments

Pros & cons of solar panels for apartment

Solar panels for apartment buildings have many advantages in general.

Pros of solar panels for apartments
  1. Reduce your energy bills. Since you are generating (part of) the electricity you consume using free solar energy, your electricity bill will be lower. The more independent from the national grid you become, the lower your monthly bill.
  2. Reduce your carbon footprint. Similarly, the less fossil-fuel-generated electricity you consume, the lower your CO2 emissions.
  3. Increase your property value and attract new tenants. If you own your apartment, powering it with renewable energy will increase its value. This could benefit you if you ever decide to sell. It can also attract renters who are looking for environmentally friendly options.
  4. Reduce reliance on the electrical grid. Using battery storage systems and solar panels for your apartment will reduce your dependence on the grid. If the grid is down for any reason (e.g. power outage during planned disruptions, maintenance or emergencies), you would still be covered, at least for using the essential appliances.

However, there are also relevant disadvantages you must consider.

Cons of solar panels for apartments
  1. Installing solar panels for your apartment may simply not be allowed by your building’s owner or local authorities, even if you own the flat.
  2. Solar panel installation can be expensive. To give you an idea, a standard 250W solar panel in 2022 costs £400-£500; however, it is not enough to power an entire home. A 3kW solar panel system —which is ideal for homes of 2-3 people— usually costs around £5,000 – £6,000 and will cover around 22 square metres.
  3. Potential issues with your neighbours. Although you may own your apartment, the building as a whole is not yours, so you will need to discuss the solar panel installation with your neighbours and have their approval before going any further.
  4. Portable and plug-in solar panels are not powerful enough. Even if they can help you cover part of your home’s energy needs, you’ll need to continue using grid power to meet the majority of it.

Disadvantages and limitations notwithstanding, using solar panels to meet at least part of your flat’s energy needs can make a difference for the environment.

If you’re ready to switch to solar and enjoy all of its advantages, we can help you.

As mentioned, solar panels can be expensive; however, comparing quotes can help you save on the upfront costs. Finding quotes can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but our team at GreenMatch can help make it easy for you.

We can provide you with up to 3 free non-binding quotes from qualified installers in your area. This way, you can quickly compare them and choose the best one.

Click the button below to receive your free quotes and get the most value for your money.

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  • Save up to £1005 per year
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FAQ

Luis Antonio Gómez Pérez

Luis Antonio is a seasoned Content Writer with international journalism experience. His writing style, enriched by a Master’s in Journalism, contributes informative content to GreenMatch on topics including low-carbon heating systems.

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