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Last updated: 2 July 2024

Solar Arrays in The UK: Are They Worth it in 2024?

Solar array in the UK
  • A solar array refers to the solar panel system as the two terms are often synonymous.
  • Solar arrays cost between £5,000 - £6,000 for the average 3-bedroom home.
  • Installations can break even in 7 to 10 years and earn £440 to £1,005 annually.

A solar array holds solar panels together as they collect energy. When installers refer to solar arrays, they often mean the entire solar panel system. These systems can come in various sizes, measured in kilowatts (kW), which produce energy by converting sunlight into electricity.

This page will review the costs, pros, cons, and value of solar arrays and how they can help you cut down on your energy bills.

If you’re interested in purchasing solar panels, you’ll need a reliable installer who will give you the best prices. Finding one can be tricky, requiring days of research and calling up companies to compare their offers. If that sounds like too much work, our service can be a great solution that cuts time down to a 30-second form and provides you with multiple quotes.

All you have to do is fill out a 30-second form and you can receive up to 4 free, non-binding quotes from reputable companies in your area. Click the button below to get started.

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What is a solar array?

Solar Array System

A solar or photovoltaic array is a collection of multiple solar panels put together in one system. These systems absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity. Each solar panel contains numerous solar cells composed of silicon semiconductors. As photons hit the cells, the electrons within them get knocked loose by the semiconductor material.

Each layer of the semiconductor material has either a positive or negative charge, allowing it to attract the electrons and let them pass through the areas with a positive charge. This makes them flow to the metal conductive plates, which pass the electric charge through wires producing DC electricity. The DC electricity is then converted to AC using an inverter.

The energy generated can either be used to power a home or business or be fed back into the grid. Arrays are usually attached to a roof or on ballasts that can be placed on the ground or flat roofs. Alternative types of solar arrays include panel systems, solar roof tiles, and integrated solar panels. The principle behind them is largely the same even if the design may differ.

Types of solar panels include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels. Monocrystalline panels have the highest output while thin-film solar panels tend to be the weakest.

How many solar panels do you need in your solar array?

Most solar arrays tend to have 6 to 10 solar panels for 3kW to 4kW systems, with individual panel sizes varying from 350W to 500W. This can effectively match the energy consumption of the average UK home (2 to 3 bedrooms).

Solar Array Houses

Smaller systems with a 2kW capacity (4 to 6 panels) can suffice for 1 to 2 bedroom houses, while larger homes may need 5kW or 6kW arrays (10 to 16 panels). Even larger systems are also available for commercial solar panel installations.

Number of solar panels in an array
Household size System size Energy generated Number of panels
Small; 1-2 bedrooms 2kW 1,700kWh 4 to 6
Small; 1-2 bedrooms 3kW 2,550kWh 6 to 8
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms 4kW 3,400kWh 8 to 12
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms 5kW 4,250kWh 10 to 15
Large; 4-5 bedrooms 6kW 5,100kWh 12 to 18

The table above outlines the size of solar panels in typical domestic arrays. How many solar panels you need will depend on your home's energy consumption.

How much does a solar array cost in the UK

A solar array in the UK will cost between £4,500 to £6,000 for a 3kW to 4kW system. 2kW systems can cost £2,500 - £3,500, while 5kW systems are priced at £7,500 - £8,500.

Solar array costs in the UK
Household size System size Purchase cost Labour costs
Small; 1-2 bedrooms 2kW £2,500 - £3,500 £400
Small; 1-2 bedrooms 3kW £4,500 - £5,500 £600
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms 4kW £5,000 - £6,000 £800
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms 5kW £7,500 - £8,500 £1,200

Currently, the government applies a 0% VAT rate on solar panels and batteries. This can allow you to save up to £2,850 on a 4kW solar panel system and battery, as one example. This makes it a particularly good time to buy them.

The cost of solar panels can vary based on the size of the system along with what your installer charges. Solar panels have virtually no maintenance costs, as most cleaning can be done with a light brush and standard materials you would find at home.

It’s worth noting that the prices above are estimates, especially when it comes to labour costs, which can vary based on the amount of time, the complexity of the installation, and how much your installer charges for their work. That’s why it’s important to find a reliable installer and look for multiple offers to get a good idea of how much prices can vary.

Finding the right installer can often take days of research, involving calling up companies and assessing their prices. Even then, you may not find the best one. If that sounds like too much of a hassle for you, our service has got you covered.

Just fill out one, simple 30-second form and we’ll handle the rest. Click the button below and you can receive up to 4 free, non-binding solar panel quotes.

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How much can you save by installing a solar PV array?

A solar array can save between £440 to £660 in annual energy bills for the average home with a 3kW to 4kW system. Larger systems can save up to £1,005.

Savings from solar array installation
Household size System size Savings Break-even years Return on investment
Small; 1-2 bedrooms 2kW £2,500 - £3,500 £440 £7,500 - £8,500
Small; 1-2 bedrooms 3kW £4,500 - £5,500 £440 £5,500 - £6,500
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms 4kW £5,000 - £6,000 £660 £10,500 - £11,500
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms 5kW £7,500 - £8,500 £660 £8,000 - £9,000

Savings numbers can vary based on regional sunlight hours, how obstructed your panels are from sunlight, and your energy company’s tariffs (which may allow you to earn money back).

Pros and cons of solar arrays

Pros and cons of solar arrays

Pros:

  • Save on energy costs: Solar array savings can range between £440 and £660 for the average system size but can be as high as £1,005 for larger ones.
  • Decrease carbon footprint: A single solar array can mitigate environmental damage by nearly a ton of emissions per year.
  • Earn back money: Earning from the Smart Export Guarantee can net you between 5p and 24p per kilowatt hour depending on your energy provider’s rates.
  • Low maintenance: Solar panels require little to no maintenance. The occasional brushing off of dust and debris may be required. In some situations (such as rain) they tend to clean themselves off rather nicely.
  • Long-lasting system: Most solar panel arrays last upwards of 25 years before noticeable degradation kicks in. They also break even in 7 to 10 years, which means they will be profitable for well over more than twice their expected peak performance period.
  • Independent energy source: Independence from the grid can be a great thing. Electricity prices can fluctuate a lot, with the price cap in the UK changing roughly every 3 months. Having a stable source of electricity independent from the grid can be a good safety net.
  • Government incentives: Now is a perfect time to invest in solar PV arrays, since the government has placed a 0% VAT on them, along with solar batteries. Similarly, solar panel grants like the ECO4 or the Home Upgrade Grant can net you up to £10,000.

Cons:

  • High initial cost: Solar panel arrays can be a hefty investment. While government programs are available, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to get one.
  • Require adequate sunlight: Some regions will benefit less from solar panels due to low sunlight. While most regions of the UK are perfectly fine (providing 4 to 5 hours of peak sunlight), places in the far North can be less ideal and may require more expensive solar panel systems.
  • Not all homes are suitable: Although most homes in the UK can use solar panels, some may have roofs with too much shading or other obstructions from the sun. Similarly, homes with thatched roofs or materials that are too reflective may not be the best choice.

Is a solar panel array worth it?

Yes. Installing the right solar array for your home can save you £440 to £660 on average. Larger systems can allow you to save up to £1,005 or more while also making money back in the form of SEG earnings.

The average solar panel system can cost between £5,000 - £6,000 but this investment can be recouped in 8 to 10 years. Moreover, grants for solar arrays can decrease the payback even further, allowing for up to £10,000 in grants or loans.

If you need help working out whether a solar panel system will be for you, you should contact some reliable installers. Getting multiple prices will give you an adequate view of whether the costs are worth it. However, finding a reliable installer (let alone several) can be difficult, taking days of research and calling up companies. Luckily, that’s where our service can save you a lot of trouble.

Fill out a simple 30-second form and we’ll provide you with up to 4 free quotes with no payment obligations from thoroughly vetted installers in your area. Click the button below to get started.

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