The number one reason to install solar panels is to help save on your energy bill in a sustainable way.
While they may be costly to set up in the first place, you’ll eventually break even thanks to reduced energy bills - and you’ll make money on all the solar energy you don’t use, by selling it back to the grid.
But if you have solar panels, do you still have to buy energy? You will, for the simple reason that it isn’t sunny every day of the year. You’ll also need to buy energy when using electricity at night when your solar panels aren’t generating energy. While you can install batteries to store power for later, these don’t store enough to power your home during periods of low generation. There’s also the fact that PV systems are connected to the grid by default, so if the grid is down, you can’t power your home solely from solar anyway.
The good news is that solar panels are still worth it in the long run. In this blog, we’ll look at how much it costs to get solar panels installed, and how they can help you increase your energy independence. We’ll also discuss why you still need to buy energy if you have solar panels and share some top tips for increasing energy independence.
Is the benefit of solar panels worth the cost?
Generating your own clean electricity through solar power is a great way to save you money on your household electricity bill. You can use the energy that you create to power appliances around your home.
After the initial investment of installing your solar panels, they are expected to function for over 25 years. Since solar panels do not have any moving parts, very little maintenance is required and thus it is easy to recover the initial cost. For almost all installations, the panels are expected to earn themselves back well before 25 years have passed.
Not only will solar panels allow you to sell your unused energy and earn money, but they will also make you significantly more independent from your energy supplier. You will no longer need to buy as much electricity, but rather use what you generate yourself.
What is the cost of solar panels?
There’s no easy answer to this question, as there isn’t one flat rate for every household. Solar panel costs vary depending on several factors:
- How large your home is
- Suitable roof space and its orientation and inclination
- Your household’s average energy usage
- Where you live, and how much sunshine your house receives
- The number of solar panels you’ll need (which depends on the above factors, as well as your roof space)
According to the latest government data, it costs the average household in the UK £5,940 to set up their solar PV system.
This might seem a lot, but there are options to bring the cost down. You’ll be able to get a better solar panel price by registering with Solar Together, a group-buying scheme that helps homeowners bring down the cost of solar panel installation.
5 top tips for increasing energy independence with solar panels
Unfortunately, we’re still a little way off-grid independence being easily attainable with a solar system. That’s because most households use more energy throughout the day or night than they can generate through solar panels alone. Plus, even if you do generate more than you need, you can’t store enough to power your house during periods of low generation.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t maximise how much energy your panels generate, and how self-sufficient you are, with the following tips...
1. Make use of your available roof space
The more panels you have, the more energy your system will generate. Depending on your situation—your available space, the direction your roof faces, and the funds you have available—you could double the output by installing new panels alongside your existing system. That being said, solar power cost/benefit analysis may not be in your favour, particularly if you don’t get much sun.
2. Invest in a battery storage system
A battery storage system helps you lower your grid dependence by preventing energy wastage and offering a limited backup in the event of grid failure. If you have a battery, you’ll be able to store any excess solar power that you generate, but don’t need to use right away. Then, on days when you don’t generate enough—or through the long winter nights—you can use your stored energy.
Battery storage is not always included with solar systems, so can represent an additional cost.
3. Changing your household energy usage
Besides increasing the amount of energy your panels generate, you should also consider making lifestyle adjustments such as using electricity at certain times of the day. In some cases, this could also mean replacing an appliance with a more energy-efficient alternative. In others, it might mean simply trying to lower the amount you consume.
4. Supplement with other forms of green energy
On top of solar power, you can also generate wind power to meet your energy needs. You can get a small wind turbine that sits on your roof, that works in much the same way as a solar panel. An added benefit is that you’ll get energy when it’s overcast and windy, as well as when it’s sunny!
5. Have a backup generator
Although not the greenest choice, a backup diesel-powered generator can be useful in an emergency. If grid independence is what draws you towards solar, rather than its environmental credentials, then having both could work for you.
Save money on solar panel installation with Solar Together
One of the simplest ways you can make the most out of your solar PV system is to have as many panels installed as possible, as well as a large storage battery. The more solar panels you have, the more energy you’ll create, reducing your dependence on the grid. Even a small battery can increase your solar energy consumption dramatically.
But installing your own solar PV system can be expensive if you’re an independent buyer. That's why we created Solar Together: an innovative group-buying scheme that aims to help homeowners across the UK access affordable solar panel installation.
Solar Together works with your local authority to group residents who are interested in solar energy together. By being part of a group, you’ll have exclusive access to discounts on solar panel installation prices, helping you save money.
We’re completely independent of solar panel suppliers, and we vet everyone that we work with to ensure they’ll provide outstanding service to all of our customers.
To find out more about Solar Together, why not read about us on our Blog?