As household costs continue to rise and we face ever increasing hikes in our energy bills, we are all looking for ways to reduce our costs.

One route you might be considering, is whether to have solar panels installed on your roof? Not only could this save you money, but it’s a great way to help the environment.

The key benefits of Solar Energy4:
  • Combat rise in energy bills
  • Reduce your carbon footprint
  • Receive payments for extra energy you generate
  • Increase energy independence

But how do you decide whether solar is the right option for you? There are so many factors to consider, that you’re bound to have lots of questions before you decide whether to take the leap into green energy.

We’ve gathered the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions online.

1. Are solar panels covered by home insurance?

The good news is that many home insurance policies will cover solar panels as standard.

Specifically, they’ll be covered under your building insurance policy. Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home, which includes the roof, walls and windows.

Although you should be covered, it’s always a good idea to double check your policy wording or contact your insurer to double check that’s the case. You may also need to inform your insurance company once any work has been completed.

2. Do solar panels increase the value of your home?

Trade body Solar Energy UK has calculated that adding solar panels could increase a home's sale price by around £1,800[1].

This research was published back in October 2021, when energy prices were lower. So, solar panels could look even more appealing to home buyers now. 

But bear in mind that you’re likely to need to spend around £5,500 to have solar panels installed in the first place.

Always carry out thorough research before purchasing.

3. Can solar panels power a house on their own?

You could, in theory, power your entire home just using free sunlight. The most popular solar panel system size, of between 3.6kWp and 4kWp, generates 3,750kWh of electricity per year, according to Which?[2] However, the amount of energy that can be generated with solar panels will depend on the location, roof position (and which way it faces) etc – more on this below.

If you did have the conditions to generate that 3,750kWh then in theory you’d cover the 2,900kWh of electricity the average home using a 'medium' amount of electricity gets through each year.

In reality though, solar panels tend to work in tandem with power from the grid, meaning you would still pay for some electricity.

This is because solar panels alone don’t store the energy they generate. So, there’ll be surplus energy that you don’t use, which is ‘exported’ to the electricity grid, which you could get paid for under the Smart Export Guarantee, a government scheme which pays you for the electricity you generate.

And of course, solar panels can’t generate energy at night-time, when you’ll need to buy electricity from your supplier. That’s why, if you have solar, it’s best to run electrical appliances such as your washing machine, during the day.

There is a way to store energy from your solar panels if you needed to, by buying a battery. However, these are expensive as prices typically start at around £3,000 for a small battery. 

You’ve also got to bear in mind factors like how sunny it is where you live, the size and slope of your roof, which way it faces, where it is shaded. And so on. This all affects how much solar energy you can generate at home – and how much you’ll still need to pay for from the grid.

Energy Saving Trust has a simple and free calculator that estimates how much money you’d save each year on electricity by installing a solar system on your roof. 

4. How many solar panels are needed to power my home?

This depends on the size of your home and how much energy you consume. It also depends on the factors discussed above, such as which way your roof faces. 

To reach the UK’s average energy usage of 3,800 kWh, you’ll need ten 400W solar panels or 16 250W solar panels[3].

5. Will solar panels save me money?

Buying solar panels is about making that trade off between the high initial cost - 

the average domestic solar PV system is 3.5kWp and costs around £5,500 - and the savings you make on electricity over time. 

A lot depends on your individual circumstances. For example, based on stats from Energy Saving Trust[4], if you live in London and tend to be at home all day, you could save £610 a year through generating your own solar energy. That includes income from the Smart Export Guarantee. If you were typically out all day until 6pm, that saving would drop to £360. If you lived in Aberystwyth, Wales, the figures would look slightly different, with an annual saving ranging from £335 to £580, depending on how much you spent at home.

The panels should last 25 years or more, but one key piece of kit, the inverter, is likely to need replacing sometime during this period, at a cost of around £800[5].

So, you could make savings, but you would need to be in it for the long term.

To read more about how to care for and protect your home, go to Solved.