Buying Solar Panels

There are a number of questions you need to consider if you are planning to install solar panels on your house. Here, we take a look at some of the key issues you will need to think about.

Free Panels or Buy Outright

It is still possible to get hold of free solar panels. Under this system, a company fits the energy makers and maintains and insures them. However, nothing is a free breakfast, and the same applies here. One of the reasons people choose to invest in solar panels is for the money they can make from putting their own energy into the network. Where free panels are fitted, the company providing the surface make their money from taking these earnings.

However, if your desire for fitting the panels is simply to reduce your own energy costs or for the green advantages this kind of energy offers to the environment, then finding a source for free solar panels makes complete sense. On the other hand, if you are seeking to make some returns, then it is time to get the spreadsheet out. A number of factors influence the returns you can expect to get.

  • The amount of panels you can fit on your house
  • Your location (the further south you are, the better)
  • A south facing roof is vital

Then, it is time to get calculating. You can expect to pay around £6000 for your panels, a quote of more than £8000 or less than £5000 should set off the tinkling of alarm bells, and certainly ought to be investigated to ensure it is right. You can expect to save £260 annually on your energy bills, and on top of that will generate about £145 from your ‘Feed In’ tariff – energy you put back into the network . On this basis, and of course things could change in the future, you could expect to break even in around 14 years. After that, everything is profit.

Finance For Solar Panels

The usual form of finance is available, such as bank loans, and specialist companies exist which offer reduced rates. Of course, with the cost of panels coming down considerably over recent times, more and more people can afford them without resorting to finance. Do remember, if you are paying interest, this will put back your whole model break-even point, which is something also to consider when choosing whether a free option is right for you. A number of providers can be found on line.

Feed-in Tariff

This is the amount of money the Government pays (via the energy companies) for the energy your panels produce. It is fixed for twenty years, and counts whether you use the energy or not. Do bear in mind that the rate has been quite substantially reduced in the last couple of years, and the current rate could change again in the future. You can check current FIT tariff rates at ofgem.gov.uk.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and Solar

An EPC is a requirement if you wish to install solar panels. (It is also needed if you buy, sell or rent your home). A score of at least Band D is required if you wish to receive the full rate from your feed in tariff. It is still possible to get a tariff with a poor score on your EPC, but this will further impact your break-even point. USwitch.com offers bags of advice about an EPC.

So, there is the opportunity to make some money from solar panels. Their installation might also put up the value of your home (although, some people dislike the look, which could lower the desirability of your property to potential buyers. However, it is a decision on which you should spend some thinking time.

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