Solar Panels – Is it really worth installing them?

In February 2012, we had solar panels installed. We signed up for the government Feed-in-Tariff and have benefited from it for 11 years.

We recovered our investment within four years, but with the energy cost so expensive, everyone is concerned about the cost of living. So, it’s unsurprising that I am regularly asked if installing solar panels is worth it. So, to answer that question, I will help you evaluate the evidence I have accumulated to help you make that decision.

In the past 11 years, I have generated 36084 KWh of electricity.

That averages 3280 Kwhs per annum.

Our array on our roof comprises 16 panels, which theoretically could generate 4Kw of power, but in reality, the maximum would be around 3.2Kw. Remember that this is in the middle of a very sunny day.

My home’s power varies, but I will always use the power generated where I can. However, there are times when the power generated from the sun is more than what we are using, so we had a device added to the solar panels such that the excess of 1Kw not being used by the house is diverted to a 1Kw immersion heater in our hot water tank. But even then, there are times when not all the energy generated is being used. Using this device, of course, saves us gas because less is required to heat the hot water.

So, are they worth it?

Currently, if you are on a variable rate in 2023, the cost of electricity will be approximately 34p per Kwh.

So if you use 3280 Kw without solar panels, the cost will be 3280 x 34p = £1115.20

With solar panels, assuming you are using, say, just 60% of what you generate, then your cost would be 40% of £1115.20 i.e. £1115.20 x 40% = £446.08 saving you £669.12 per annum.

So, looking at the reality of solar panels, if an installation costs you £6000, it will take you 7-10 years to cover the cost, assuming the electricity rate remains the same. If it goes up, then you recover your costs sooner.

But if you can use more generated power, your recovery time will be faster.

So, what could you do to use more of the power generated?

If you have solar panels and an electric or plugin hybrid car, you could get an EV charger to charge the vehicle only when excess energy is generated. This potentially will get you using 100% of the power generated.

But there is another side of this that saves you money.

Without solar panels, you will still use the dishwasher, the washing machine and the dryer. You could wash by hand and save energy by hanging up the washing to dry, but with solar panels, we often use energy-hungry devices when the sun is generating excess energy. So, in real terms, we can use these devices for way less than the typical cost and often for free.

One final thing you should note is that you could sell some unused power back to the grid, depending on your supplier.

And if you go to work and the house is empty during the day, you could install battery storage to save energy and use it during the evenings.

I’m a fan of solar panels, but you need to do your sums to fully evaluate your lifestyle and get professional advice rather than basing a decision on this review.

Good luck!