Solar panel systems have become an increasingly effective and savvy investment for homeowners, both new and old.
In 2023, it is common knowledge that you can make significant financial savings by installing solar panels into residential properties over several years. A large contributing factor to this is how much more affordable solar panels have become in recent years, with the costs for solar panels decreasing by over 88% since the year 2010.
On top of this, more advanced manufacturing techniques have also led to more compact and efficient panels. With these developments, it isn’t hard to see why more and more households are considering a solar installation.
However, whilst you can make significant savings with solar panels, it is important to know that installing more panels will not necessarily lead to greater savings.
At Solar Together, we believe in providing you with enough information to make an informed decision when looking towards renewable energy and solar panel installation.
As such, we will address eight of the most common myths surrounding solar panels:
Myth 1: The more solar panels you install, the faster you will earn back your investment
This myth is incredibly common with solar panels. Two of the main points of attraction are recouping your initial investment in an environmentally sustainable way and then having noticeably reduced energy overheads.
What is important to remember is that to maximise your financial return, without suffering from diminishing returns, you want to calculate how many solar panels you need to break even on your energy consumption - not exceeding this number.
Doing this will help you save the most on your energy bill in conjunction with a cost-effective solar panel installation.
You should take this approach because any unused energy, above and beyond your own energy consumption, will be exported back into the national grid. However, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) rates whereby you sell electricity are relatively low compared to the rates at which you buy electricity.
The payback you receive for having additional solar panels above and beyond covering your own energy consumption would not outweigh the initial investment costs (even over a two-decade period).
They would serve to extend the length of time it would take to recoup your initial investment – unless, of course, you decide to increase your average energy consumption, e.g. by installing a heated pool or charging point for an electric car.
Myth 2: Solar panels are space inefficient
In the past ten years, the panels' efficiency has significantly increased, improving the Watt peak (Wp), meaning that you may not need as many panels as before to meet your high consumption rates.
Watt peak is also known as peak power and shows the maximum output power that a Solar module can produce when exposed to full solar radiation (under set Standard Test Conditions).
If you wonder how many panels your home's roof can hold – keep in mind that the average solar panel is 1m x 1.6m.
For standard installations, using the average size of 1m x 1.6 square metres, it would be possible to install around 12 solar panels on a roof with a surface area of 20 square metres. Find out more about a solar PV installation.
Whenever feasible, it is better to estimate lower than higher when your calculations do not result in a perfect whole number.
If you want to increase the efficiency of the space available even further to match a higher energy usage rate, you can instead pick a panel type with a higher Wp.
Myth 3: Without subsidies, solar panels are not financially beneficial
Solar panels are a smart long-term financial investment – with or without subsidies. They enable you to reduce your imported energy bills significantly and may even produce additional income by exporting unused, clean electricity.
The system installed and where in the UK you are situated will reflect how fast you can make a return.
A good point of reference is a typical-sized home with a 4kW solar panel system will cost around £6,000 - £8,000 for a 4kW system.
Every year, you may expect to save approximately £270 on energy bills. When combined with the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), you could expect to achieve the break-even point in approximately 15 years.
Keeping in mind that the average lifespan of a solar panel is between 25 and 30 years, you are very likely to be paid a noticeable amount more than your initial investment.
For additional context, as interest rates are at an all-time low, putting your savings into solar panels can yield a much higher return than simply putting money into the bank.
They also add to a home’s resale value, an attractive feature to include when putting your property onto the market, according to a UK government press release stating that making energy-saving improvements could increase the value of a property by 14% on average, up to 38% in some parts of England. According to Solar Energy UK, a typical home could increase the sale price by at least £1,800 with a solar PV system.
Building on your options even further, rather than buying a solar panel system individually, you can receive the most competitive prices possible through the Solar Togethers group-buying scheme. This would drop the break-even length to 12 years!
After this, any power generated after that is pure profit – a welcome offer indeed!
Myth 4: You generate more energy on a hot summer day
Heat has little impact on the amount of green energy your solar panels generate.
Solar panels create electricity from light rather than heat, and whilst hot summer days will also offer more hours in the sunshine, typically, solar panels don’t reach optimal efficiency during these hot days.
In fact, excessive heat levels can actually result in a decrease in efficiency due to the photovoltaic cells not functioning as efficiently. Solar panels can get as hot as 65°C, at which point solar cell efficiency and overall output will be significantly reduced.
The days in which solar panels produce the most amount of revenue are summer days which are crisp, sunny, and free of clouds.
On top of this, you will likely consume less energy in the summer than your solar panels generate. During the winter, on the other hand, you will require more energy for heating.
The great thing about Solar panels is that rain or shine, winter or summer, will continue to generate clean electricity.
To keep track of this, you can refer to your electric meter (including the smart meter) on how much electricity you consume. You can use a monitoring system to access your meter through a phone or tablet through this modern app.
Myth 5: You have to clean solar panels regularly for high efficiency
Whilst it is true that a dirty solar panel will generate less energy than a clean solar panel – because we live in the UK and experience regular rainfall, there will be little to no need to clean your solar panels.
In general, the maintenance required by a solar panel system is very minimal, and normally it will suffice to wipe your system down with a sponge or soft brush once a year.
Do remember that you should only use water to clean your panels because soap products can cause damage to them. Alongside this, avoid the usage of high-pressure cleaners at all costs.
Luckily, you can always reach out to window washers or other companies that offer solar panel cleaning services.
Myth 6: Solar panels don’t work on cloudy days
While more exposure to sunlight for a solar panel will result in more electricity generated, a common myth is that solar panels do not function in cloudy weather.
Even on gloomy and windy days, they are capable of producing a significant amount of electrical energy!
Myth 7: You need planning permission to install solar panels
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels are referred to as "permitted development." As a result, planning permission is not required for the vast majority of residential properties.
However, planning permission may be required if you live in a designated historic site, a conservation area, or if your home has a flat roof.
If you believe you require planning permission, it is advisable to make arrangements with your local authority as soon as possible, as it may take several weeks for the approval to be granted and implemented. Please see this link for additional information about obtaining planning permission.
Myth 8: Quality Or Junk? You Don't Know What You Are Buying
Through the Solar Together group-buying scheme, you will be gaining several benefits.
Firstly, all materials and products offered through Solar Together must comply with the fixed conditions defined by iChoosr in partnership with industry experts to ensure product quality. Part of this is that all components must be rated as per the requirements in the MIS3002 industry standard.
Customers will be aware of what brands are being offered before they choose to go ahead with the installation and can access downloadable product spec documentation.
Secondly, you are provided with a vetted and certified installer to safeguard quality further; independent inspectors will assess a sample of installations in every region.
Finally, if you have purchased a solar panel installation through Solar Together, then you can also enjoy an insurance-backed guarantee for workmanship as well as the product warranties to give you peace of mind.