Thinking of going solar by adding photovoltaic (PV) solar panels to your home?

You’re in the right place!

This independent guide is jam-packed with all the best energy-saving advice and need-to-know information about rooftop solar panels for the home.

We cover everything, from how they work to what size system you need, the facts, economics, and everything in between.

Solar energy is one of the most effective ways to make your home or business more environmentally friendly.

Not only do solar panels reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, but they can also save you a lot of money per year on your electricity bill in the future. Plus, they do look great on your roof!

Table of Contents

How Do Solar Panels Work and What is Their Function?

Modern domestic solar panels that are used in houses today have photovoltaic cells that take in sunlight and turn it into electricity. The cells are made of silicon, a material that is positive on one side and negative on the other. They generate direct current (DC) that is then converted into alternating current (AC), which is the type of electricity that with the help of an inverter powers your home.

Solar cells make up solar panels and multiple solar panels make up a solar array. Depending on the size of your home, electricity usage, climate, and solar exposure, the number of integrated solar panels needed to power your home varies.

Most commonly we see solar panels installed on roofs, but they can also be installed on the ground, on carports, or even on top of poles.

This makes them the most functional type of renewable energy, as they can be placed in a variety of locations such as flats, apartments, houses, offices, and more.

Domestic solar panels are not really that different from commercial solar panels, the main difference being in the size of the individual solar cells and the number of solar cells within each panel.

Related: What Are Solar Cells Made Up Of?

The Different Types of Solar Panels

There are 4 different types of solar panels used for your home. They are:

Amorphous silicon (a-Si)

Amorphous silicon (a-Si) is a non-crystalline form of silicon. It is often used for solar cells and thin-film transistors in LCDs.

They are less efficient than other types of solar panels, but they can be made flexible, thus, making them ideal for use on curved surfaces like RVs or boats.

Out of the four different solar panels, the silicon atoms are arranged in a more random pattern than the geometric order that most other types of solar panels have.

Hydrogen is sometimes added to a-Si:H, which consists of dissatisfied silicon bonds as a means to prevent recombination.

Cadmium telluride (CdTe)

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) is one of the more stable crystalline compounds formed from cadmium and tellurium. Its main uses are as a semiconductor layer in solar panels and in Cadmium telluride photovoltaics (CPV) systems.

They are less expensive to produce than silicon solar panels and more efficient in converting sunlight into electricity.


A single crystal solid is a material in which the atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in a definite pattern that is repeated throughout the entire crystal. They are made of single silicon crystals and have rounded edges.

They are often described as a single grain or a continuous crystal. They are more expensive than other types of solar panels but have the highest efficiency, meaning they can convert more sunlight into electricity.

The atoms in a single crystalline material are arranged in a very specific and organized way, oftentimes, resulting in an almost perfect structure. Not only do single crystals exist naturally, but they can also be artificially made.

Related: Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels (WHICH ONE?)


Polycrystalline solar cells are composed of multiple small silicon crystals, also called crystallites, that have been fused together.

They have a more angular shape than monocrystalline solar cells and oftentimes have a blue hue. They are less expensive to produce but have slightly lower efficiency rates.

The term “polycrystalline” refers to solar cells that are composed of many small silicon crystals, and because of this, polycrystalline solar cells are also known as “multi-crystalline” or “semicrystalline” solar cells.

What are the Benefits of Solar Panels?

People often get solar power and domestic solar panels confused. Solar power is a renewable energy source that comes from the sun.

Integrated solar panels are what generate solar power, which can be used to either heat or cool your home, as well as provide electricity.

To understand the benefits of solar panels we have to think of the domestic solar panel system as a whole.

It starts with the solar panels on your roof that collect sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity.

The electricity is then passed through an inverter, which converts it to alternating current (AC) electricity, the form of energy that you use in your house.

There are many benefits of using solar panels in your home. Here are just a few:

  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Reduces your reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Cuts carbon emissions.
  • Saves you money on electricity.
  • Increase the value of your home.
  • Earns you money.
  • Low maintenance.
  • 24hr energy when used with battery storage.

Environmentally friendly

Rooftop solar panels are a much more environmentally friendly energy-creating solution than traditional means such as oil, gas, or coal.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if every household switched to solar energy, it would stop 7.7 tons of toxic greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere every year.

Not only would this have a massive impact on reducing your carbon footprint, but it also helps to improve air quality and fight climate change.

Reduces your reliance on fossil fuels

The energy source that comes from the sun is not only free, it is also limitless. This of course means that once you have installed your solar panel system, you won’t have to worry about running out of energy or having to pay for it.

This is in stark contrast to traditional energy sources such as coal, oil, and gas which are finite, and will one day run out. Solar power also offers the best energy security as it cannot be turned off like other electricity sources.

In addition to solar panels, you would need a battery storage system to keep the power you generate and use it as needed.

Cuts carbon emissions

Integrated solar panels don’t produce any emissions, meaning they are a completely green energy source.

In essence, they allow you to reduce your carbon footprint by not releasing harmful greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, or other pollutants into the atmosphere.

If you installed a solar PV system in your home, it could help save approximately 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. That’s the same amount of pollution that one car would create if it was driven for an entire year.

Saves you money on electric

Solar panels can save you a significant amount of money on your electric bills. In fact, in some cases, they could eliminate your electric bill entirely.

How much you save will depend on the size and dimension of your solar panel system, how much daylight your area gets, and how much electricity you use over the days/weeks/months.

Generally speaking, the more sun your area gets and the higher your electric bills are, the more money you’ll save. It is a true energy-saving solution and you could start seeing a return on your investment in as little as 3-5 years.

In addition, many utility companies offer solar rebates and incentives which can further offset the cost of going solar.

Increases the value of your home

Solar panels can increase the value of your home. In fact, research suggests that a fully installed solar array will add approximately 4.1% to your home’s value. In real terms, it adds thousands to the overall value of your house.

This is down to the fact that prospective purchasers will be calculating how much they could save on their electric bills, as well as the environmental benefits of owning a solar-powered home.

Earns you money

Depending on which country you live in, you may be able to make money from your solar panel system.

In some cases, governments’ solar panel schemes around the world offer programs that will pay you for the electricity your solar panels produce. This is known as a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) in the UK and is designed to encourage people to switch to renewable energy sources.

Feed-in Tariffs vary from country to country, however, in general, you will be paid a set amount for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity your solar panels generate.

In addition to this, you can also sell any surplus electricity your solar panels produce back to the grid at a profit. Otherwise known as the ‘Smart Export Guarantee’ in the UK.

In the vast majority of US states, utility companies are legally required to have net billing or net metering rules in place which means that you are able to sell your surplus electricity back to the grid at the same price per kWh that you pay for grid electricity.

However, it’s worth noting that not all utility companies offer net metering, which is why it’s always best to check with your provider before installing a solar panel system.

Net metering

Net metering is a system where you can sell your surplus electricity back to the grid at the same price per kWh that you pay for grid electricity.

In order for this to work, your solar panel system must be connected to the grid. In other words, when your solar panels produce more electricity than you currently need, the remainder of the power goes to the grid. Consequently, you get a credit towards future electric bills based on how much energy your solar panels have generated.

Consequently, you get a credit towards future electric bills based on how much energy your solar panels generate.

When your solar panels aren’t providing enough power, you can turn to the grid and use your credits to lower the cost.

Energy generation is not just limited to solar, it also works for all renewable energy sources including wind and hydro.

Low maintenance

Solar PV installations require little maintenance as there are no moving parts. In fact, the only maintenance they really need is an annual checkup to ensure that the panels are clean and free of debris.

Solar panels are also designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, so you don’t have to worry about them during extreme weather events.

Other than those annual checkups, it is recommended to have your solar panels cleaned at least once a year to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.

24hr around the clock energy when used with battery storage

Solar panels alone do not store the energy they generate, meaning they only produce electricity when the sun is shining.

Installing a battery storage system allows you to store solar-generated daytime electricity to use at night or during a power outage.

Battery storage systems are becoming increasingly popular as they allow homeowners to become completely self-sufficient in terms of their energy needs.

In the event of a power outage, you would still have access to electricity as long as your batteries are charged which would be invaluable in an emergency situation.

The Disadvantages of Solar Panels

  • Associated with pollution.
  • Difficult to move once installed.
  • Don’t generate enough energy.
  • Doesn’t work at night.
  • Initial cost.
  • Storage can be expensive.
  • Unattractive.
  • Uses a lot of roof space.

Associated with pollution

Even though solar panels don’t produce emissions themselves, the manufacturing process of solar panels is associated with pollution.

The majority of solar panels are made from silicon, which is a very energy-intensive process. In addition to this, the production of solar panels also results in hazardous waste that can be difficult to dispose of properly.

Difficult to move once installed

If you have installed solar panels on your roof, they are not easy to dismantle and move if you decide to sell your house or move to a new location.

This is because Solar panels are usually installed with special brackets and fixtures that need to be removed before the panels can be moved which also makes it a time-consuming and expensive process.

Don’t generate enough energy

You might think that a solar array of 10-20 solar panels would generate a lot of electricity, but in reality, it only generates enough to power a small home or business.

In order for solar panels to generate enough electricity to power a large home or business, you would need a larger and (much more) expensive solar array.

For this reason, solar panels are not always the best option for those who need a lot of electricity.

Doesn’t work at night

Solar panels rely on sunlight to generate electricity, so they don’t work when it’s dark outside.

If you want to utilize solar power at night, you’ll need a battery storage system to store the energy generated by your solar panels during the day.

Initial cost

Solar panels are not cheap to buy or install. In real terms, the initial cost of solar panels can be quite prohibitive for most people.

However, the initial cost of solar panels is offset by the long-term savings you will make on your electricity bills. Solar panels usually have a payback period of 5-10 years. In other words; if you’re looking for a short-term fix, solar panels are not for you…

Storage can be expensive

The most costly part of your solar generation system is the storage batteries, which are necessary to store the electricity your solar panels generate during daylight hours.

Batteries are not cheap, and they do need to be replaced every few years and can add up to a significant expense over time.


Solar panels can be seen as quite unsightly, especially if they are installed on your roof.

If you are worried about the aesthetic impact of solar panels, you could opt for ground-mounted solar arrays that are less obtrusive.

If you are worried about the aesthetic impact of solar panels, you can opt for ground-mounted solar arrays that are less obtrusive.

Uses a lot of roof space

Solar panels need a lot of space to generate enough electricity to power your home or business. This can be a problem if you have a small roof or if your roof is not suitable for solar panels.

If you are considering installing solar panels, it is important to make sure that you have enough space on your roof to accommodate them.

How Do I Know if Solar Panels Are Right For Me?

There are a few factors to consider when deciding if solar panels are right for you:

  • Do you have enough roof space?
  • Can you afford the upfront cost?
  • Are you eligible for any government incentives?
  • How much electricity do you use?
  • What is the price of grid electricity in your area?
  • Will you need planning permission?

Do you have enough roof space?

If you are considering installing solar panels on your home and using a professional solar installer, then you will need to have enough roof space.

The size of your solar panel system will determine how much roof space you’ll need.

A typical 4kW solar panel system requires around 20 square meters of roof space.

If you don’t have enough roof space, or if your roof is unsuitable for solar panels, then you could consider installing ground-mounted solar panels.

Whichever professional solar panel installation company you use should be able to advise you on the best option for your home. They normally draw a diagram of your roof to help you understand what is/isn’t possible.

They will conduct tests to check the suitability of your roof and give you an estimate of the amount of roof space required.

Can you afford the upfront cost?

As mentioned earlier, solar panels are not cheap, so you need to consider whether you can afford the upfront cost.

However, there are a number of government incentives available that can make solar panels more affordable.

Are you eligible for government incentives?

Most Western governments offer some form of incentive for installing solar panels.

These incentives can take the form of tax breaks, subsidies, or feed-in tariffs.

Feed-in tariffs are the most common type of incentive and work by giving you a fixed price per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity that your solar panels generate.

This price is usually higher than the price you would pay for grid electricity, so it acts as an incentive to encourage people to install solar panels.

The amount you are paid will depend on the country you live in and the policies of your local government.

How much electricity do you use?

The size and cost of your solar panel system are directly related to your electricity usage.

If you use a lot of electricity, then you will need a bigger system to offset your usage.

You can find out how much electricity you use by looking at your electricity bill. The average residential customer in the US, for example, uses around 10,715 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

What is the price of grid electricity in your area?

The price you pay for grid electricity will also have an impact on the feasibility of solar panels.

If the cost of grid electricity is high, solar panels are more likely to be a good investment because they may help you save money on your energy bills.

In general, solar panels are most effective in areas where the price of grid electricity is high and the amount of daylight is good.

Related: Why Are Solar Panels Good For The Environment?

solar panels on a hose with sunflowers in front
A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Panels for the Home (2023) 1

Will you need planning permission?

You may need to get planning permission before you can install solar panels on your home.

This again will depend on the laws of your country and the rules of your local authority.

If you want to install solar panels on a listed building or in a conservation area, you will need planning permission.

In most countries, building regulations will also need to be complied with.

Your solar panel installation company should also be able to advise you on whether you need planning permission and help you with the application process, if necessary.

You may also need permission if your home is in a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or a World Heritage Site.

If you are unsure whether you need planning permission, then you should check with your local government.

Grants for Solar Panels

Solar panel grants (UK)

In the UK there are grants available for solar panels via the ECO4 (Energy Company Obligation Scheme) scheme. The scheme is designed to help low-income households reduce their energy bills.

The main goal of the scheme is to improve the energy efficiency of low-income or vulnerable households.

To qualify for a grant, you must be receiving certain benefits such as Pension Credit, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, or Universal Credit.

You can find out more about the ECO4 scheme and whether you are eligible for a grant on the GOV.UK website.

In April 2022, Europe saw energy prices surge to levels not seen in the last 40 years, driving inflation to levels that haven’t been unheard of in almost 50 years! Furthermore, the increase in the overall cost of living is due, largely to increased energy costs.

The UK government has announced a reduction of the present 5% VAT exemption on energy-saving measures (such as solar panels and heat pumps) to 0%, in order to help households save money on their energy bills whilst also improving energy efficiency.

As a result, adding rooftop solar panels to your home could save you more than £1,000 in total installation costs, plus £300 per year in utility expenses.

There is also the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) which pays owners of renewable energy generation (such as solar PV) for the electricity they export to the grid.

The payments are made by energy suppliers for every unit of electricity exported, and the amount paid will depend on the tariff you are on.

The SEG is open to all eligible renewable energy generators, including solar PV, and is expected to pay around 5.5p/kWh for exported electricity.

The UK government has also introduced a new ‘Solar Homes’ scheme which will provide £12,000 million worth of subsidies for solar PV installations on homes across England, Scotland, and Wales.

This scheme will be open to homeowners, housing associations, and local authorities.

Each subsidy will cover up to two-thirds of the cost of installing solar PV modules, with the average household saving around £860 per year on their energy bills as a result.

Solar panel grants (US)

American homeowners can take out loans of up to $25,000 from the government to cover energy improvements lasting as long as 20 years, provided that the improvements are approved by FHA and HUD.

Some of the solar systems that qualify for these incentives are PV (photovoltaic) systems and thermal systems.

The FHA guarantees a certain percentage of this loan amount (up to 90 percent) which will then be provided through a private lender such as a bank.

In the US there is also the Residential Clean Energy Tax Credit which is a 30% federal tax credit for solar PV systems, fuel cells, small wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps.

This tax credit can be claimed for both new and existing homes, and there is no limit on the size of the system or the amount of the credit that can be claimed.

Some utilities offer performance-based incentives (PBIs), where the customer is paid a set amount for all kilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar generation their panels produce.

This is similar to net metering, as it is a legal way to give value to solar production. Sometimes, PBIs and net metering exist simultaneously.

Solar Panel Installation

There are two ways in which you can have your solar panels installed. You can either do it yourself (DIY), which can be cheaper but a more difficult process, or you can have them installed by a professional.

If you opt to install your solar panels yourself then, you will need to purchase the panels, an inverter, batteries (if you want to store solar energy), and all the necessary equipment and materials.

This can still be a significant upfront cost, but it will be cheaper in the long run as you will make some savings by not having to pay for installation.

If you opt to have your solar panels installed by a professional then, they will usually handle all of the necessary design, paperwork, and arrangements of permits, and then install the system for you.

This is often the preferred option as it is less hassle, but it does bump the price significantly.

Once your solar panels are installed, you will need to maintain them to ensure they continue to work efficiently.

This includes cleaning the panels regularly and checking the inverter and batteries (if you have them) periodically.

Using accredited installers

It is recommended that you use an accredited installer to have your solar PV system installed.

This is in part, down to their ability to provide you with a guarantee for the workmanship and materials used, and they will also be registered with a Competent Person’s Scheme.

In the UK, this is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) in the US it is the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC).

In order for an installer to be accredited, they must meet certain standards and requirements.

This includes having the necessary insurance and qualifications, as well as being a member of a professional body such as the Renewable Energy Association (REA) in the UK or the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in the US.

The Solar Installation Steps

Step 1 – First Contact

The first contact is normally done via a third-party review website, solar estimator, or the installer’s website.

The customer will provide their address and some basic information about their electricity consumption and current supplier.

Step 2 – Site Survey

A site survey is then carried out in order to assess the suitability of the property for solar PV.

This usually involves the installer attending the property to take measurements, as well as checking the roof for any shading issues.

The installer will also assess the customer’s electricity consumption in order to determine the size of the system is required.

Step 3 – Solar PV System Design

Once the site survey has been completed, the installer will design a solar PV system that is tailored to the customer’s needs.

This will involve choosing the appropriate solar panels and inverter, as well as deciding on the best location for the panels on the roof.

Again, the installer will also take into account any shading issues that were identified during the site survey.

Step 4 – Quotation

At this point, the installer will be able to provide the customer with a quotation for the solar PV system.

This should cover the cost of the equipment and installation, as well as any associated fees such as planning permission and building regulations approval.

Step 5 – Solar PV System Installation

Once the customer has accepted the quotation, the installer will schedule a date for the installation of the system. They will also book to have scaffolding erected if necessary.

Depending on the size of the system, the actual installation process takes 1-2 days.

Step 6 – Commissioning

Once the installation is complete, the system will need to be commissioned in order for it to start generating electricity.

This involves the installer connecting the solar PV system to the customer’s electricity supply and carrying out some final checks.

Step 7 – Operation and Maintenance

Once the system is up and running, the customer will need to carry out some basic maintenance tasks in order to keep it running efficiently.

This includes cleaning the panels regularly and checking the inverter and batteries (if they have them) periodically.

The customer will also need to monitor their electricity consumption and ensure that they are using as much of the generated electricity as possible.

Depending on who installed your solar panels, they will complete an annual check which consists of:

  • A visual check of the system to ensure that all components are securely mounted and there is no damage to the wiring.
  • A check of the earthing and bonding to ensure that it meets current standards.
  • Performance checks to ensure that the system is generating electricity as expected.

Note: There are new smart solar energy management systems on the market from companies like Tesla that will monitor and optimize your solar PV system for you. You can also monitor your system via a mobile phone app.

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Before most people look to buy solar panels they want to know, are solar panels worth it? Are they worth the investment?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, such as the cost of electricity in your area, the amount of sunlight that your property receives, and the incentives that are available.

Solar PV systems have an average payback period of around 3-10 years in the UK, and 5-20 years in the US.

This means that it will take 3-10 years for the system to generate enough electricity to cover its own costs, and any savings after that are pure profit.

With incentives like the Smart Export Scheme in the UK and the Solar Renewable Energy Credit in the US, the payback period can be reduced significantly.

Solar Panel Costs And Savings (For 2022)

Export payments

Luckily, not only can you enjoy the energy your PV solar panels produce for your own home, but you can also be paid for the spare and surplus electricity you generate and export to the grid.

In the UK, they had a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, but it has now been replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

The SEG was set up to provide a guaranteed payment for every unit of electricity that you export to the grid.

Under the SEG, you will be paid a fixed rate for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity that you export to the grid. The rate and duration of the payments will be determined by your energy supplier.

You may be paid for the power you generate in Great Britain with the Smart Export Guarantee. In Northern Ireland, any excess you export is usually compensated – typically estimated based on how much electricity you produce.

In the US, there is no nationwide program like the SEG, but there are a number of state-level programs that offer financial incentives for solar PV systems.

These programs vary from state to state, so it’s worth doing some research to see what’s available in your area.

UK Costs

In the United Kingdom, the typical domestic solar PV system is 4.2 kW and costs approximately £6,500 to £8,000 to install.

The cost of solar PV has fallen by around 70% since 2010, and it is continuing to fall.

System costs are made up of the following:

PV panels – 35-40%.

Inverters – 15-20%.

Mounting systems – 10-15%.

Balance of system (cabling, fusing, etc. ) – 5-10%.

Permits, fees, and other miscellaneous costs – 5-10%.

Labour – 20-30%.

The costs will vary from household to household and also by the size of solar array that you require.

Systems with higher capacity solar panels will generally cost more, but they will also generate more electricity and save you more money in the long run.

Oftentimes people choose to install solar if they are already having repairs or renovations done to their homes, as it can be more cost-effective to have the work done at the same time.

Especially if your contractor has to install scaffolding anyway. In essence, you are distributing the cost of labour and materials over several different projects, which can save you money.

The cost of solar panels varies based on the type of tiles you select and whether you want integrated or stand-alone solar panels.

The panels that rest on top of your roof are significantly less expensive, yet some individuals like the look of integrated solar panels.

If you live in a designated historic building or conservation area, you may not be able to install solar panels on your roof, and you may need planning permission.

In this case, you may want to consider having them installed on the ground instead. Ground-mounted solar PV systems usually cost more than roof-mounted ones, as you have to factor in the cost of the land and the foundations.

You also want to get around 3 solar panel quotes before you make your decision, as the cost varies significantly from company to company.

The brand of the solar panel also makes a difference – with some brands being more expensive than others.

US Costs

There are many things that affect the final cost of a PV system, such as the size and type of components, installation fees, regional permits and licenses, available discounts, and tax credits.

A solar electric system’s price is in dollars per watt. The average cost of a household system is $3-5 per watt at the moment. So, the regular 5-kW residential system will be priced at $15,000-$25,000 before tax breaks or incentives are accounted for.

What incentives and tax credits are available?

The Residential Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a one-time federal tax credit available to homeowners who install solar PV systems.

The credit is calculated based on a percentage of the overall cost of the system. If the system is commissioned before December 31, 2019, a 30% federal tax credit applies. The tax credit will start to decline starting January 1, 2020.

Solar Panel Efficiency

There is a phenomenon known as the ‘albedo effect’ which is the reflectance of the earth’s surface. The average albedo for the planet Earth is around 30%. This means that 30% of the sun’s light is reflected back into space and does not reach the earth’s surface.

The reflectance of a solar panel will depend on its surface material. For instance, monocrystalline silicon solar cells have an average reflectance of 4.4%.

The lower the reflectance, the more sunlight that is absorbed, and the higher the efficiency of the solar panel. Solar panels are usually made from silicon, which is a very good material for absorbing sunlight.

However, there are other materials that can be used, such as gallium arsenide, which has an even lower reflectance of 2.4%.

The efficiency of a solar panel is the amount of sunlight that is converted into electricity. The average efficiency of a solar panel is between 10-15%.

However, there are some panels that have been designed with an efficiency of up to 40%.

The most efficient solar panels are usually the most expensive, so it is important to weigh up the costs and benefits before you make your decision.

There is a common misconception that solar panels are only effective in hot countries. However, this is not the case.

Solar panels actually work better in cold weather as the sun’s rays are more direct. In hot weather, the sun’s rays are diffused by the atmosphere, which means that they are not as strong.

This means that solar panels will actually generate more electricity in cold weather than they will in hot weather.

The Efficiency of Solar Panels Is Affected by 4 Factors

  • Location, Angle, and Direction.
  • How suitable your roof is.
  • The Solar Panel System’s Size.
  • Maintenance.

Location, Angle, and Direction

The location, angle, and direction of your solar panels will have an effect on their efficiency.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, then your solar panels should be facing south. This is because the sun is always in the southern sky.

You also want to make sure that your panels are at the correct angle. The ideal angle for solar panels is around 30 degrees (according to Stanford University).

If your panels are not at the correct angle, then they will not be able to absorb as much sunlight, and their efficiency will suffer.

The direction of your solar panels is also important. Solar panels should always be pointing directly at the sun. If they are not, then they will not be able to absorb as much sunlight.

You can adjust the direction of your solar panels by moving them around on your roof. This is known as ‘tracking’.

Tracking is a very effective way to increase the efficiency of your solar panels, but it does come at a cost.

Tracking systems are usually more expensive than fixed systems, and they require more maintenance.

How suitable your roof is

The type of roof you have will also affect the efficiency of your solar panels. If your roof is covered in shading, then your panels will not be able to absorb as much sunlight, and their efficiency will suffer.

It is also important to make sure that your panels are not covered in dust or bird droppings, as this will also reduce their efficiency.

The best way to ensure that your panels are working at their optimum level is to have them cleaned on a regular basis.

Not only do you need to factor in the price of solar panels, but you must also ensure that your roof can support its weight.

If your roof is not strong enough, then you will need to have it strengthened before you can install your panels. Hence, why people have multiple different roofing jobs running in parallel so they can distribute the cost.

The Solar Panel System’s Size

Domestic solar panel systems come in a variety of different sizes. The size of your system will depend on the amount of electricity you want to generate, and the size of your roof.

The larger the solar array, the more energy will be generated. However, you need to make sure that your roof can support the weight of the larger array.

The most efficient solar panels sold for domestic houses today are Monocrystalline panels.

Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient type of panel you can buy because they’re made from a single crystal of silicon.

They are also the most expensive type of panel, so you need to weigh up the costs and benefits before you make your decision.


Solar panels require very little maintenance, but it is still important to keep an eye on them.

You should check your panels on a regular basis to make sure that they are clean and free from debris.

You should also check the electrical connections to make sure that they are tight and secure.

If you live in an area with a lot of snow, then you should also check your panels after a heavy snowfall to make sure that they are not covered in snow.

If you find that your panels are not working as efficiently as they should be, then you may need to have them cleaned or serviced.

Solar panels are a long-term investment, and they will last for many years if they are well maintained.

The average lifespan of a solar panel is 25 years, but some have been known to last much longer.

How Much You Could Save Annually By Using The Electricity You Generate?

The average home will use 15-25% of the energy generated, though this can differ based on:

  • How large your home is.
  • The number of people living in your home.
  • How energy-efficient your appliances are.
  • Your lifestyle and habits (e.g., whether you work from home or not).
  • If you have an electric car.
  • Whether you use a heat pump or other electrical heating to heat your home or hot water.
  • Where you cook using electricity.

Solar energy, when properly utilized, can assist reduce your power bills by utilizing a PV diverter switch to store the surplus electricity in an immersion heater.

Key Takeaways

  • Installing solar panels on your house can help you save money on your power bills while also lowering your carbon footprint.
  • Solar PV systems have an average payback period of around 3-10 years in the UK, and 5-20 years in the US.
  • Solar PV systems can save you money on your electricity bills and have a payback period of 3-10 years in the UK. Incentives like the Smart Export Scheme can reduce the payback period significantly.
  • Solar panels are versatile and can be mounted on a wall or roof. The maximum number of solar panels that you are allowed to install will depend on local planning regulations.
  • Portable solar panels are effective and a great way to get started with solar power.
  • Transparent solar panels are also possible but not yet widely available.


What is PR in solar?

The performance ratio (PR) is a metric that assesses the quality of a solar PV plant, regardless of location, and is often referred to as a quality index. The PR is calculated as a percentage and depicts the link between real and theoretical energy outputs of the PV plant.

Can solar panels be mounted on a wall?

Solar panels are versatile and can be mounted on a wall, provided that the wall is structurally sound and there is enough space. Wall-mounted solar panels are sometimes used in situations where there is limited space, such as on a terraced house.

How many solar panels are you allowed on your house?

The maximum number of solar panels that you are allowed to install on your property will depend on local planning regulations. You don’t need special permission from the DNO to have an inverter up to 3.68kW on a single-phase supply, but that’s not enough for most homes. The average domestic solar system is 4kWp—which needs 10-13 solar panels installed.

Can you get solar panels for free?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. When the feed-in tariff ended in April 2019, the government also cut all other financial incentives for solar PV. This means that you will have to pay the full cost of the system upfront.

Is the energy-saving trust solar calculator accurate?

The energy-saving trust (EST) solar calculator is accurate and is based on real-world data. If you use it, you will get a better idea of how much you could save by installing solar panels.

Are portable solar panels effective?

Portable solar panels are extremely effective and are a great way to get started with solar power. They are also very useful for people who want to use solar power but don’t have the space for a traditional solar PV system or want to go camping or use on an RV/Caravan.

Is a transparent solar panel possible?

The Heliatek GmbH developed solar cells have partially translucent solar panels that absorb 60% of the light they receive. The efficiency of these panels is 7.2%, as opposed to 12% for manufacturers’ traditional solar photovoltaic panels.

Can you use solar panels with a combi boiler?

Yes, you can use solar panels with a combi boiler, as long as the boiler is compatible. Solar PV panels work by generating electricity, which can be used to power appliances and lighting or be stored in batteries for later use.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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