With energy costs rising despite the cap placed on bills for the next two years, more homeowners are weighing up the option of solar panels to generate their own electricity and save money.
While, in the past, it could take up to 20 years to make back the initial investment, those timelines have been dramatically reduced as the cost of installation and increase in the price of electricity continue to drive down the repayment period.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at how long it might take you to get your money back on an average solar panel installation.
How Long Does it Take for Solar Panels to Pay for Themselves?
The answer will depend largely on your specific circumstances, including how many solar panels you can safely install, their power output, and their position in relation to the sun (south-facing installations perform best).
Then you have to factor in add-ons such as solar batteries, diverters (which can feed electricity to your immersion water heater), and whether you want to install an electric vehicle charge point at the same time.
Installation can cost as little as £4,500 and as much as £20,000 depending on your requirements, with the average system size coming in at 4kW.
A 4kW system, usually suitable for the average home, should generate about 3,500kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity annually across much of England. At the capped 34p unit price per kWh, a £6,000 installation would pay for itself in just five years.
However, there are plenty of aspects to consider when installing solar panels that might make you spend a little more time on the sums to make sure they’re the right investment for you.
Solar Panel Installation Considerations
Whether to Add a Solar Battery
One of the most significant elements to weigh up these days is whether to accompany your solar panel installation with a battery. While they can double the installation cost, they crucially allow you to store your excess energy for use at night.
Given that most homes will only get through a third of the energy produced by solar panels during the day, you can use the remaining two-thirds in the evening, potentially saving a significant amount on your electricity bills.
With Feed-in-Tariffs long gone and the Smart Export Guarantee not offering anywhere near as much for electricity sold back to the grid, batteries have become an attractive proposition for solar panel owners. Of course, if you’re planning to be at home during the day, there’s less need to install a battery as you can use the electricity as it’s being generated.
Solar Panel Lifespan
Next, you need to think about lifespan, as solar panels don’t last forever.
The average solar panel will last around 25 to 30 years with relatively little maintenance required. However, the most recent models available on the market have been designed to last up to 40 years, with some manufacturers offering a 25-year limited warranty on their panels.
They also lose performance as they age. Generally speaking, you can expect to lose 0.25-0.5% of performance each year, meaning that a brand-new solar panel will be 5-10% more effective than one ten years old.
Pairing Solar Panels with Other Systems and Infrastructure
Other aspects that will increase installation cost but increase usefulness include diverters, which can send excess power to water heaters rather than needing separate hot water solar panels.
Installing an electric vehicle charge point at the same time as solar panels can also make sense, particularly if you’re planning on getting an electric car in the next few years.
Should You Install Solar Panels?
The average person will usually find that solar panels make sense from both a financial and an environmental perspective. They’ll save you money on your electricity bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
And given the current price of electricity, they now pay for themselves faster than ever before. The initial investment might be high, but solar panels will last for decades, meaning they’re a sound long-term investment.
Contact Applegarth Electrical to Discuss Your Solar Panel Options
If you’re considering solar panels for your home or business, Applegarth Electrical can help. We’re experts in solar panel installation and can advise you on the best options for your needs.
Whether you merely want a Solar PV installation or you want to integrate batteries, an EV charger, and other smart technologies, we can help. To find out more about what we can do for you, contact us today. We’ll be happy to discuss your options and help you decide whether solar panels are the right choice for you.