Turbines Tree

Are Solar Panels Right For You?

With solar panels popping up on rooftops everywhere it is no surprise that solar power is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy. Particularly, the Feed In Tariffs (FIT) has made solar panels more viable either through owning your own panels or through ‘rent your roof’ schemes.

Before looking at the FIT and its deeper complexities, it is advised to look at what sort of setup is required to make solar panels a practical option at your property. Below is the essential information and some resources to help you decide whether solar panels would be right for you.

There are two types of solar panel – solar water heating and photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Solar water heating uses energy from the sun to heat the water in a domestic hot water system. It costs between £3000 and £5000.

PV panels collect the sunlight and convert it into electricity that can be used in the home or sold back to the National Grid. An average PV system will cost around £7,700 and will usually last for around 25 years. Here the focus is on PV panels, as solar water heating is not included in FIT. Check our page to find out if a solar thermal system would suit you.

The effectiveness of PV panels relies on three things;

  • roof direction,
  • roof slope and
  • the quality of the system.

The ideal would be a south-facing roof with a 40˚ slope and using a large, high quality system (remember though the bigger the system the higher the cost). Essentially, it needs as much sunlight as possible. To help you get an idea of how effective a system would be on your property you can use the Energy Saving Trust’s Solar Energy Calculator.

It helps you work out the roof slope and direction so no need to climb on the roof or buy a compass! All you need to do is put in your postcode and state whether you have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

An EPC rates how energy efficient your property is on a scale from A-G, with A being the best. Houses with systems installed after 1st April 2012 need an EPC of band D or higher to qualify for FIT. They are easy to obtain through a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) and are not excessive in cost.


This brings us to FIT. The Feed In Tariff is a Government pledge to give money back to people that installs a renewable energy source. Energy companies will pay customers for all the electricity the panels generate (Generation Tariff), any electricity you export back to the grid (Export Tariff) and using the electricity in your home will provide a saving on energy bills.

If saving money is the main motivation for installing solar panels, FIT will be a key part of this decision.

If you install your own system you will receive all the money from FIT but you will have to pay all installation costs. On the other hand, if you take part in a ‘rent a roof’ scheme a provider will pay for the panels but will take all the money from the FIT and you will only save money on your bills. It may also cause problems if you decide to move from your property.

The Solar Energy Calculator will also give an estimate on whether buying your own system would make financial sense based on your current electricity bills and the output of your planned solar panels. The initial cost of the PV panels is compared to planned savings and earnings over 25 years – the life expectancy of PV systems.

To reiterate this will only be an estimate. For a fuller understanding of FITs and if you are eligible check out – Feed In Tariffs – Eligible and Economic?

If decide that your PV solar panels project is viable ensure to shop around for a good price and use a certified installer, otherwise you will may not be eligible for FIT. Also if you are using a ‘rent a roof’ scheme find out what impact it could have on your property and rights. For a comprehensive checklist of ‘To-Do’s’ you can use the one provided by Which?

Whether you install solar panels or not – may the sun shine brightly for you!

Written by Michael Hallam

  1. By Feed In Tariffs – Eligible and Economic?
    August 8, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    […] energy – to get help and resources to find out if they would suit you check out our blog “are solar panels right for you?” […]

Leave a Reply

Download Our Free E-book

Ebook - 50 Energy Efficiency Measures