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What's In This Guide

Your guide to solar panels in the UK


Save money on the cost of solar panels for home in the UK with SpotDif. As your go-to comparison tool, we’re here to take the stress out of gathering quotes for solar panels and much more.


Read our ultimate guide below to understand the key benefits, differences in technology, and prices for solar panels in 2024.


You’re not alone if you’re thinking about investing in solar panels for your home. They’ve become a popular addition to properties across the UK in recent years owing to their many energy and cost-saving benefits. Even in the UK where it doesn’t feel particularly warm and sunny all the time, solar panels can be an excellent investment. 


At SpotDif, we want to help you get even more from your installation. We compare solar panel quotes from trusted companies across the UK so you can make an informed decision every time. All you need to do is share a few simple details and we’ll help you find the best deals in your local area for solar panel installations and batteries.


If you’re not quite ready to start gathering quotes for solar panels, it pays to do your research. Are solar panels the right choice for your UK property? Do you have enough space to install them? Are they worth the investment for you? These are all topics we’ll discuss so that you can compare solar panel quotes confidently with SpotDif.


If you live in Ireland, we have a separate page for solar panels in Ireland.

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What are solar panels?

Before we do this, let’s dig deeper into solar panels — sometimes called photovoltaics — and what they actually are.  Put simply, solar panels allow you to convert the energy from the sun into electricity. You can use this electricity to power your home or, if you generate a surplus, you can sell it to a company. Another option is to store it in solar panel batteries and use these to provide an extra boost of electricity during periods of low light.


Solar energy is also renewable, which makes it a green source of power for your home. And with well-made solar panels working for more than 25 years, they can be highly cost-efficient too. Your solar panels likely won’t operate at full capacity the whole time, but you can still see a reduction in your energy bills decades after installation.

Solar panel comparison

Find your perfect solar panel supplier, exclusive discounts, deals and the largest range of UK providers. 

What types of solar panels are available?

With solar panels being a relatively new concept for many homeowners, choosing the right type can feel a little challenging. But it doesn’t have to be.


  • There’s monocrystalline, which can convert more solar energy with fewer panels and less space. This means they’re generally the most efficient type of solar panel, but this depends on their environment. They’re also the most expensive. 


  • Next up is polycrystalline panels. These still convert solar energy efficiently, but you might need more to generate the same amount of electricity as with monocrystalline. This is changing, however, with polycrystalline technology coming a long way. These panels are now among the most popular for homes and are also becoming cheaper.  


  • The third type is thin-film panels. These are often the most affordable option but they require more space to generate a reasonable amount of electricity. It’s not a hard and fast rule but they also tend to have shorter lifespans than monocrystalline and polycrystalline alternatives.


Unless you have a strong preference for the type of solar panels you want for your home, it’s worth asking your chosen installer for advice for which solar panels are best for your requirements. They’ll be able to suggest the most suitable solar panels based on your specific needs, such as your budget and your roof space.


When you compare quotes for solar panels for home in the UK with SpotDif, connecting with top installers in your local area is easier than ever.

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Find great solar panels quotes in the UK

If you’re new to solar panels, knowing where to look can be difficult. They’re a sizeable investment, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible from an installer you can trust. 


That’s where SpotDif comes in. We take the hassle out of comparing the cost of solar panels across the UK. Plus, it only takes a minute.


Once we know what you’re looking for, we’ll show you solar panels quotes from reliable installation companies that operate in your local area. All that’s left is for you to choose the right one for you.

How do solar panels work?

Without getting too technical, solar panels work because of photovoltaic cells. These are responsible for absorbing and converting energy from the sun into an electric current. 


This process varies slightly across monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film panels, which is why their efficiency ratings differ. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are both made with silicone, whereas thin-film panels are made from thin photovoltaic sheets. 


Once your solar panels are fitted on your roof they’ll be connected to an inverter, which is usually kept inside the house. This is what allows you to use the electricity generated throughout your property.


Your solar panels might be out of sight but they won’t be out of mind. You’ll be able to see how much energy they’re creating by checking a display on your inverter or by connecting them to a smart meter.

The benefits of solar panel installation in the UK

The major benefit of installing solar panels on your home in the UK is that you can generate your own energy. As the sun shines above your property, your solar panels will get to work to convert light into electricity for your home. 


What’s more, your initial solar panel installation costs will be the largest fee you pay. Following this, you may choose to pay for maintenance and cleaning services when they’re needed, but this shouldn’t set you back too much. 


Alongside them being a low-maintenance addition to your home, solar panels could also help you save money on your monthly electricity bills. The rising cost of energy is a huge conversation in the UK currently, so it’s no surprise that generating your own electricity (and paying a company less each month) is appealing to many. 


You might also decide to sell your surplus electricity back to the National Grid. To do this, you can apply for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Once you’re set up, you can start making back some of the money you spent on your initial investment. Don’t forget to explore the suppliers and tariffs available to get the best financial benefits possible, though if you're looking for what is the current feed-in tariff for solar panels in the UK, we unfortunately must tell you that applications closed back in 2019. 


Another advantage of solar panels is that they’re considered to be a relatively eco-friendly way of generating energy. This is largely down to the fact that solar energy is renewable – we’re not going to run out of it any time soon! Generating electricity from solar power is also much less harmful than using fossil fuels.

Solar panel prices

Find your perfect solar panel supplier, exclusive discounts, deals and the largest range of UK providers. 

What are the disadvantages of solar panels?

Although investing in solar panels for the home has many great benefits, it’s also worth getting to grips with some of the potential drawbacks. This is all part of making an informed purchase.

 

Perhaps the most obvious one is the current cost of solar panels in the UK. The technology is becoming less expensive as it develops, but installing a whole solar panel system is still a big investment. It could cost you thousands and you might not see the return on it for a few years. However, there are now many flexible finance options available to help speed up the return on investment.


Another limitation is that they need light to create electricity, which means they’re not in use 24/7. There are ways to mitigate the impact of this, such as by looking into solar panel batteries or using electricity more during daylight hours. However, some conditions don’t have a workaround. For instance, if it’s a particularly cloudy day, your solar panels just won’t produce as much electricity. 


Of course, this isn’t to say that they aren’t worth it. You can also use SpotDif to compare quotes for solar panels, fittings and batteries to help you find a service that meets your budget. We’re here to help you take advantage of great deals in your local area, and it only takes a minute.

What are solar panel batteries?

Solar panel batteries are a handy addition to solar panel systems. They allow you to store electricity for later, rather than wasting any that you don’t use straight away. With a battery, you can store the electricity your panels generate in the day to use during the evening and throughout the night. 


Solar panel batteries are another big investment, so you’ll need to do some research to find an option that suits your budget. 


Did you know that you can also compare the cost of solar panel batteries in the UK with SpotDif? Whether you’re looking for a solar panel fitting or a battery, you’ll find great deals with our helpful comparison tool.

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Do you need permission to install solar panels in the UK?

In a lot of cases, you won’t need to gain planning permission to get solar panels for your home. However, you might if it’s going to change the appearance of your property significantly or if you live in a listed building. There are also restrictions on how far your solar panels can protrude from the roof, which tends to affect flat roofs the most. 


The rules regarding solar panels and planning permission in the UK vary, so it’s always a good idea to check with your local council for the most accurate and up-to-date advice. There's been a recent government update to planning permission rules to make solar energy more accessible. You can also ask your chosen solar panel installers to help you navigate this area, as they’ll be well-versed in the rules and regulations you need to follow. 


Remember that you’ll also need to seek your landlord’s permission to install solar panels if you rent your home.

On-roof vs. integrated solar panels

When it comes to choosing between on-roof or integrated solar panels, it depends on how much work you want to do to your home. You can fit on-roof solar panels by mounting them to your existing roof, while integrated solar panels will require your current tiles to be lifted and replaced altogether. 


Integrated panels are seen as more visually appealing because they sit flush against the roof. Typically, they’re also more likely to get the green light when it comes to planning permission. Retrofitting them can be costly and time-consuming, but they’re a great choice for brand-new properties.

Can you install solar panels yourself?

While you can install your own solar panels, the real question is: do you want to? The process can be long-winded and complicated, and there’s a chance that you’ll need to hire someone to help you out anyway. You’ll also need to work at height and with electricity, both of which have their own safety concerns.


The safest option is to hire professionals to take care of your solar panels and fitting. This way, you can also trust that your solar panels will be installed properly. Poorly fitted solar panels are more likely to need repairs frequently, so it may be more cost-effective to have them handled by a professional in the first place. Check your solar panel installer is MSC certified to ensure the quality of your installation.

Compare solar panel providers

Find your perfect solar panel supplier, exclusive discounts, deals and the largest range of UK providers. 

Are solar panels worth it in the UK?

It’s generally agreed that installing solar panels in the UK is worth it. Although they’re a sizeable investment, they could help you reduce your electricity bills for 20 years or more. This depends on how long they last (you can read our guide on how long do solar panels last for an idea), but you can gauge the lifespan of your specific system by asking your installers about their warranty policies.  


It doesn’t always feel as if the sunlight is particularly strong in the UK, but your solar panels will still generate electricity. However, be aware that cloudy weather will mean they operate less efficiently. You can also expect them to generate less in the winter where we have fewer daylight hours. 


Something else to think about is whether you’ll be moving house in the future. Moving solar panels from property to property is complicated and expensive, so you’ll probably want to avoid this if you can. Your solar panels may also increase the value of your home, but this depends on factors like the local area and which style you opt for.

How many solar panels do I need for a UK home?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because it depends on how much space you have, how much daylight your property receives and how much electricity you typically consume. It also depends on the type and size of solar panel you choose. As the most efficient choice, you can usually generate more electricity with fewer panels when you opt for monocrystalline.


However, a rough estimate could be between 10-20 solar panels. 

How much does a solar panel installation cost?

The cost of installing solar panels depends on a variety of factors, including:


  •  The type of panel you choose


  • Whether you opt for on-roof or integrated panels


  • How many panels you need


The average cost for a solar panel system in the UK is around £6,500. For the most accurate estimation, compare quotes for solar panels using SpotDif. It’s quick and easy to gather solar panels quotes from reliable companies, so you’re fully prepared to make the right decision for you.


What’s more, it’s fair to say that they’re an investment. Although the upfront cost of solar panels may be high in the UK, the long-term payoffs can be impressive.

How efficient are solar panels?

The efficiency of your solar panels will also depend on multiple factors, such as the type of panel you have (monocrystalline is generally the most efficient type). It’s also conditional on the time of day, where you’re based in the UK and also which angle your panels are fixed at.


You can decide whether you think installing solar panels is going to be a cost and energy-efficient investment for you by using the Solar Energy Calculator from the Energy Saving Trust. This calculator can help you get a general idea of how much you might save on your energy bills and how much you might make by selling surplus energy, although it might not be 100% accurate.

Do solar panels damage your roof?

Your solar panels shouldn’t damage your roof, especially if they’re installed properly by a trusted company. However, no adaptation to your home is without risks. If your roof is already damaged, then you should have this taken care of before booking a solar panel fitting.


To avoid any damage to your roof, look for a company that complies with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). They’ll need to abide by specific regulations when they fit your panels, so you can trust that they’re taking the necessary precautions to protect your property.


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The SpotDif solar panels DIY guide

We recommend hiring a professional to install your solar panels. However, if you’re taking the DIY approach to maintaining your solar panels, here’s what you need to know.

How to clean your solar panels in the UK

It’s a good idea to clean your solar panels at least once a year to ensure there’s no dirt or debris stopping them from working properly. You can also hire someone to take care of this for you, which is much easier and safer.


However, you can also clean your solar panels yourself. You’ll need a soft cloth or a non-abrasive sponge with an extended handle that allows you to wipe the panels without climbing a ladder. Don’t scrub too hard or use chemicals, as you could damage the glass. You also need to turn off the whole system before you begin. 


The benefit of having solar panels in the UK is that heavy rainfall means you won’t need to clean them all that often! Once or twice a year should be fine, but you might need to book a clean more regularly if you spot build-ups of dirt, leaves or vehicle fumes.

How to stop pigeons nesting under solar panels

As much as we love nature, pigeons nesting beneath your solar panels can cause issues over time. Dirt and debris will collect and could damage the panes or stop them from functioning optimally, so it’s best to deter animals from the get-go. 


Birds nesting beneath your solar panels is only really an issue if they’re fixed to the roof, rather than integrated. So, if you live near woodlands and suspect that birds might want to use your roof as a nesting ground, it’s worth thinking about the different installation types available to you before you begin.


You can also fit bird-proof mesh around your solar panels. This will stop pigeons from getting underneath them and shouldn’t affect the visual appeal of your panels, as long as you choose a discreet option.


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How to increase solar panel efficiency

There are some simple ways to get the most from your solar panels, such as cleaning them regularly. By removing dirt and debris, you can make sure there’s nothing blocking the cells in the panel from absorbing the light. Another option is to purchase a solar panel battery, which allows you to store and use surplus energy outside of daylight hours (such as at night).


If you don’t want to invest in a solar panel battery, you might consider using your electricity strategically. For instance, you could use your washing machine or electric shower during the day, as this is when your solar panels are busy converting energy.

Compare quotes for solar panels with SpotDif

Now you know a little more about solar panels (and if you're still not sure, you can always check out our guide to switching to solar power and saving money, or read about 8 outrageous solar panel myths that have been debunked) it’s time to find the best deal.


Getting started with SpotDif couldn’t be simpler. We’ll ask you a few simple questions to get to know your needs better, including your desired price range and whether you’d like to explore financing options. Next, we’ll match you to suppliers that meet your specifications for you to peruse. It’s that simple.

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Tansy Dando
Senior Content Manager
I'm always curious to understand and unpick the latest trends for all things wealth and business.
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