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Last updated: 18 June 2024

Integrated Solar Panels in the UK: Costs, Pros & Cons in 2024

integrated solar panels
  • Integrated solar panels are installed flush within the roof structure, replacing sections of the roofing material while regular panels are mounted on the rooftop.
  • For an average 2-3 bedroom household, a 4kW integrated solar panel system costs between £5,000 - £6,000.
  • They are aesthetically pleasing and seamlessly blend with the roofline. However, their efficiency is usually 5–10% lower than regular solar panels. 

Do traditional solar panels look bulky and less aesthetically pleasing to you? Consider installing integrated solar panels. They perfectly blend style and functionality as they create a seamless, modern look while capturing the sun's power.

Whether you're building a new home, replacing your ageing roof, or simply want a solution that complements your existing design, an integrated solar roof could be the answer.

In this article, we'll delve into the pros and cons, and everything else you need to know to decide if built-in solar panels are the right choice for your home.

When considering less traditional technologies, such as roof integrated solar panels, it's best to consult an experienced solar installer. However, the process of finding one can march on for days if not weeks!

GreenMatch can help you save your precious free time. Simply fill out our 30-second form and receive up to 4 free quotes from our network of thoroughly vetted installers. Compare the quotes to choose the one that suits you best. Click below to begin!

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Difference between integrated solar panels, solar roof tiles and regular solar panels

In-roof solar panels vs on-roof panels

Integrated solar panels, also called in-roof solar panels or built-in solar panels, are designed to integrate directly into the building roof structure. They replace a section of roofing material rather than being mounted on top of the existing roof. 

Consequently, such inset solar panels are beneficial for homes with limited roof space as they eliminate the need for additional mounting structures.

Technically, roof integrated solar panels function just like regular solar panels or solar roof tiles, using photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. However, instead of sitting on top of the roof, they become a part of the roof structure itself. 

Even though they are solar panels integrated into the roof structure, regular solar panels and solar roof tiles are all PV systems, they differ significantly in design, installation, and aesthetics. 

Differences between regular solar panels, solar roof tiles and in roof solar panels
FeatureRegular Solar PanelsSolar Roof TilesIn-Roof Solar Panels
AppearanceProjecting from the roofMimic traditional tilesEmbedded into the roof
MaterialPV cells (thin-film, monocrystalline or polycrystalline)Monocrystalline solar cells, thin-film PVMonocrystalline or thin-film solar cells
InstallationMounted on existing roofReplace entire roofIntegrated into the roof structure
Efficiency16–22%10–20%6–17%
ScalabilityFlexible – panels can be added or removedRequire replacing entire roof sectionsMay require replacing multiple panels
MaintenanceEasier to clean and maintainRequire specialised cleaningSimilar to regular solar panels
Lifespan25–30 years10–20 years30–40 years (monocrystalline), 10–20 years (thin-film)
Cost (for 2-3 bedroom house; 4kW system)£9,000–£10,000£10,600–£16,000£9,000–£10,000

Also, it's also important to understand that there are two main integrated solar panel types. Opting for one or another will influence the manufacturer you'll work with and the eventual roof integrated solar panels UK cost.

  • In-roof frames: These integrated solar panels replace sections of the roof tiles or slates, sitting flush with the roof structure. These frames work well with about 90% of solar panels in the UK and are commonly used in both home renovations and new builds.
  • Bespoke integrated panels: These are integrated solar panels specifically designed and manufactured for in-roof installation.

How much do roof integrated solar panels in the UK cost?

Integrated solar panels cost anywhere between £2,500 - £10,500 for a 2 - 6kW system. Here's a more detailed breakdown of in-roof solar panel costs for other household sizes.

In-roof solar panel cost
House sizeSolar system sizeSystem price
Small; 1-2 bedrooms2kW£5,000 - £6,000
Small; 1-2 bedrooms3kW£7,000 - £8,000
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms4kW£9,000 - £10,000
Medium; 2-3 bedrooms5kW£11,000 - £12,000
Large; 4-5 bedrooms6kW£12,000 - £13,000
Large; 6+ bedrooms10kW£13,000 - £15,000
Large; 6+ bedrooms12kW£15,000 - £17,000

However, there are some factors that can influence the total cost of your integrated solar panel system:

  • Number of panels: More panels translate to higher upfront costs and greater potential energy generation. The amount of electricity you aim to generate with your solar panels will influence the number of panels required and consequently, the overall system cost.
  • New build vs. retrofit: If you're integrating solar panels into a new roof construction, the process can be easier compared to retrofitting an existing roof. Retrofitting typically involves additional labour for removing and reinstalling your existing roof materials.
  • Manufacturer choice: Different manufacturers offer integrated solar panels with varying pricing structures based on materials, efficiency ratings, and brand reputation. Researching different options can help you find a solution that fits your budget and performance needs.

If the thought "Is my house suitable for solar panels?" (let alone in-roof solar panels) is still swirling in your head, consult a solar expert first. This way, you'll get an idea of the best solar panels and their prices, allowing you to make an informed decision.

Yet how time-consuming could all the googling and calling up installers be? A busy homeowner like you doesn't have time for this!

Instead, you could save precious days by filling out a 30-second form below. We will provide up to 4 solar panel quotes from the best installers near you. Our service is completely free and non-binding. Click the button below to begin.

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How much can you save by installing in-roof solar panels?

Roof integrated solar panels in the UK cost quite a bit in terms of initial investment, yet they can lead to substantial savings in the long run. Based on your property size and the solar panel size, in roof solar panels in the UK can save you between £440 and £1,005 a year

For example, the average household in the UK  has 2-3 bedrooms and can be well-served by a 4kW solar system or even a 5kW solar system which translates to savings of £660 per year.

Solar panel savings overview
Property size 1–2 bedroom house 3-bedroom house 4-bedroom house
Annual electricity usage (kWh) 1,800 2,700 4,100
Number of solar panels (350W) 5-8 10-13 16
Break-even point (years) 7 - 9 8 - 10 10
Annual savings £440 £660 £1,005
Savings after 25 years £11,000 £16,500 £27,500

Additionally, you can save even more on solar installation by applying for solar panel grants and schemes. 

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) allows you to receive payments for selling surplus solar energy back to the grid. With this scheme, you can bring your total savings to £480 and £1,060 a year based on the size of your home and solar system, as well as the SEG rates offered by energy suppliers. 

For example, those rates stretch between 0.001p/kWh and 20p/kWh. Therefore, higher SEG rates speed up the break-up point and improve the overall returns on your solar investment.

Alternatively, there's the 0% VAT scheme, which helps homeowners save on solar panel installations. With this incentive, one can save around £1,850 on a 4kW system and battery by eliminating the 20% VAT homeowners would normally be charged on both the equipment and labour.

Pros and cons of in-roof solar panels

pros and cons of integrated solar panels

Integrated solar panels have advantages and disadvantages compared to regular solar panels. Let's take a look at them in more detail.

Advantages of built-in solar panels

  • Aesthetically pleasing: Integrated solar panels become an integral part of the roof itself, creating a sleek, modern look. It's a perfect choice for homeowners who value seamless design.
  • Lightweight: Compared to traditional panels typically weighing 18–24kg per panel, integrated solar panels are lighter, weighing on average 10–20 kg per piece. This translates to less stress on your roof structure, which is especially beneficial for older roofs or regions prone to high winds or snow loads.
  • Cheaper for new roofs: Covering the roof of a new 2-3 bedroom house with tiles on average costs £15,400, while installing in-roof solar panels for the same house costs between £9,000 and £12,000.
  • Bird-proof: Birds can be a nuisance for traditional solar panels, nesting underneath or causing damage. Since integrated solar panels are a part of the roof's structure, they offer a smooth, bird-deterring surface.
  • Fewer planning restrictions: Conservation areas often have strict regulations regarding the visual impact of modifications on buildings. Solar panels integrated into roofs, with their seamless design, are often viewed more favourably by planning authorities compared to traditional solar panel installations.
  • Increased home value: Installing solar panels may elevate your home's worth by 4.1%, which translates into £9,500 on average UK home values. 

Disadvantages of built-in solar panels

  • Lower efficiency: Integrated solar panels may convert slightly less sunlight into electricity than traditional panels (around a 5-10% decrease). This happens mainly due to the limited airflow and limited positioning flexibility.
  • Expensive installation on an existing roof: Installing integrated solar panels is typically more complex and expensive when retrofitting to an existing property. The exact price depends heavily on your housing situation and solar project. Therefore, consulting a local solar expert is crucial for tailored estimates.
  • Overheating: Because they sit flush with the roof, the airflow around the panels is limited, which reduces the efficiency of solar panels. And without air circulation integrated panels reach higher operating temperatures, which reduces their efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity.

Still not sure whether your property will benefit from built-in roof solar panels? Ask a professional installer! 

Answer a few short questions and we will connect you with up to 4 solar panel experts near you. Our offer is free and non-binding – compare the quotes without committing to any offers. Just click below to begin; it takes less than a minute.

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Best integrated solar panels in the UK

The best integrated solar panels in the UK combine high performance, durability, and aesthetics for residential and commercial solar panel use. Our top 3 integrated solar roof manufacturers are:

best integrated panel brands in the UK

Viridian Solar

viridian integrated solar panels
  • Product: Clearline Fusion integrates solar panels
  • Price range: £1,400 per kWp
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Features: Sleek, low-profile design that integrates flush into the roof, certified for wind and fire resistance, easy installation

Based in the UK, Viridian Solar Panels is famous for its ClearLine Fusion System with a module efficiency of between 16.6% (260W) and 19.2% (300W). 

Viridian Solar's Clearline Fusion boasts exceptional fire performance, wind resistance (over four times higher than some competitors at 5,300Pa), and weather tightness, all without requiring extra roof battens or adhesive flashing rolls. 

This compact system offers industry-leading panel spacing (5mm between rows and 30mm between columns) for improved aesthetics. Available in a range of sizes from 1.5m² to 3.0m², Clearline Fusion panels can be joined or spaced apart on the roof for maximum flexibility. 

They are also compatible with a wide range of commonly used slates and tiles and can be fitted during the normal roofing program, ensuring clarity of responsibility and safe working practices.

GSE Integration

GSE integrated panels
  • Product: GSE In-Roof System
  • Price range: £1,200 per kWp
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Features: Lightweight, watertight, cost-effective integrated solar solution, compatible with a wide range of roof configurations

GSE Integration, a leading French solar company, holds over 60% of the residential solar installation market in France. Their GSE In-Roof System is a lightweight and watertight integrated solar panel solution that's cost-effective and comes with a 10-year guarantee. Moreover, it's worth noting that GSE Integration uses 100% recyclable materials.

GB-Sol

GB SOL integrated panels
  • Product: Complete solar roof systems and partial roof systems
  • Price range: £3,000 per kWp
  • Warranty: 10–15 years of waterproofing warranty
  • Features: Flexibility in panel sizing and shape, known for high-quality materials and advanced design

GB-Sol is a Wales-based solar manufacturer with 20 years of experience in the market. It offers both complete and partial solar roof systems, providing flexibility in panel size and shape. Their integrated solar systems stand out for their high-quality materials and innovative design.

Their RIS system allows for complete customisation. They create both full and particle roof systems, and can even work with triangular and rhomboid-shaped panels.

Also, GB-Sol PV Slates have been BRE (Building Research Establishment)-tested and are ideal for both full and partial roof systems. They can even be used on building facades, maximising your solar potential.

Are integrated solar panels worth it?

So, are solar panels worth it? It depends on multiple factors. While costing the same as roof-mounted regular solar panels (£5,000 - £6,000 for an average home), integrated solar panels blend into your roofline, giving it a sleek and modern look. 

Integrated solar panels are ideal for new builds, roof replacements, or prioritising aesthetics, especially in conservation areas, due to their seamless look. 

By installing solar panels, you can also achieve significant annual savings on energy bills, ranging from £440 to £1,005. This speeds up the return on investment for your solar system. A typical 4-5kW solar system can break even in 8 - 10 years.

However, they come with slightly lower efficiency ratings (6-17%) and can be more expensive to install, especially on existing roofs. So, if you're looking for cheap solar panels, traditional options remain the better choice unless aesthetics are a top priority.  

Additionally, apart from beauty and sustainability, built-in solar panels boost the value of your home, strengthening its appeal.

All in all, if you're looking for a solar panel system tailored to your home, consider getting quotes from several installers to evaluate your choices. This ensures you get competitive prices and work with reliable engineers nearby without having to worry about getting ripped off. 

Finding trustworthy installers can be a challenge, taking hours and even days of tedious research.

Thankfully, GreenMatch can do the heavy lifting for you. Complete our short form and we'll connect you with top-rated solar installers in your area. Click the button below to get up to 4 free, no-obligation quotes.

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