If you are considering getting a solar photovoltaic system installed in the UK then this guide will give you an idea of the cost involved. Just like buying a car there are going to be different specification that will affect the final price. There are some factors you need to take into consideration even though you may not be that interested in the finer details it can make all the difference to the performance and the return you get from your system.
We are looking at the cost of some typical solar photovoltaic systems, these are the panels that generate electricity. To benefit from the governments feed-in tariff payments both your installer and panels used need to be MCS certified. The microgeneration certification scheme maintains a database of installers and certified equipment. You can search this database to check the installer is certified and the PV panels they are using are also certified. Without proper certification you cannot apply to your electricity supplier for the FIT payments.
The bulk of the cost for a system are made up of the panels themselves, the inverter and the cost of installing the system which includes labour and scaffolding. Generally it will be more cost effective to have a larger system installed because there are many fixed costs that will be the same no matter what the size of the installation.
A small system can start from about £4,500 for a 1.1kWp and the price increases for a larger 9.1kWp installation costing around £49,000. Typically for a small 1.1kWp installation you could expect to see a tax free profit of £11,500 to £13,500. For the larger 9.1kWp system your profit will range from £87,500 to £101,000. This is the profit you will make after deducting the initial cost of the installation and is made up of feed-in tariff payments, savings on electricity you didn't have to buy and any electricity you sold back to the grid.
The above examples are based on a SE to SW orientation, no shading and a 35 to 40 degree roof angle. Solar insolation is assumed to be fairly good, these calculations are based on homes in the south of England. I have used basically good assumptions as most people will only be considering installing solar panels if they have good to optimal conditions.
The payback period is the amount of time that you can expect to have earned back enough money from installing solar panels to pay for your initial costs. You can expect to break even between 7 to 11 years depending on several factors. The more kilowatt hours your system generates the quicker the payback period will be. Houses located in the sunnier parts of the UK will have shorter payback periods. Also the initial cost of your system and how efficient it is will also play a part.
You may have installed panels that are more efficient and so more of the sunlight reaching your roof will be turned into electricity. There will also be a small loss of electricity before it is metered as the electricity travels through the cables and your grid tied inverter. You can get more efficient inverters and you should ask your installer about the one they will be installing.
The efficiency of the panels themselves typically range from 12 to 17 percent for those supplied by installers in the UK. You can buy higher efficiency panels but they will usually cost more. The higher the panel efficiency the shorter the payback period.
I have put together a list of prices below after obtaining quotes from various installers around the UK. There are a few strange anomalies in price but these are all genuine quotes I have obtained. The quotes cover the solar panel cost, installation, inverter, roof fixings, labour and other equipment needed for installing a solar PV system.
When obtaining quotes please be aware that the lower the quote you obtain does not necessarily mean they will be using inferior or poorer performing panels. This is also true for the pricier quotes obtained, it does not mean you are getting better quality panels.
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For every kWp of solar panels you install you could be earning up to £500 a year. That means a 3kWp system could earn you up to £1,500 a year for 25 years.
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