The Cost to Install Solar Panels

All you need to know about installing solar panels on your roof including costs of materials, labour and time frames.

cost to install solar panels

What the job entails

Solar PV panels use the energy from the sun to produce clean electricity which can be used in the home and/or exported to the national grid for a payment. Solar PV is an expensive technology, but financial support in the form of cash payments is available under the government's Feed-in Tariff scheme. Most people fit solar power mainly for the reduction in energy costs, but many are also attracted to the smaller carbon footprint and powering their home using renewable energy. Solar technology has really advanced just in the last few years with many new products available including solar tiles and thin film solar panels. The costs have greatly reduced recently too, though still far from cheap!

If you hire a specialist to install solar panels on a typical 3-bed semi-detached home in the UK. Then the first step would normally be to erect the scaffold for safe work access (check this is included in any quotes). The next step is to screw the roof anchors into place then attaching a mounting frame. The panels are then clamped to the frame by row or by column. The panels are already wired by the manufacturer so the installer will then connect them by attaching the cables to the rails and running the DC wiring from the panels into your home, hiding as much of the wiring as possible by using the loft space under the panels as much as possible. The inverter will then be set up inside the home in a pre-agreed location which is connected to the main electricity supply. A small modern consumer unit and generation meter will also be installed, usually, this will be next to your existing fuse box/consumer unit. Mains power only nee to be switched off for around an hour or so. Once all the wiring’s complete, the system will be powered up and checked, then your MCS certificate will be issued.

Remember that solar panels can only be fitted to a roof that is in good condition and is able to support them. Older roofs may need to be replaced or extra support may be required, so you may need to get in touch with a roofer too.

Since 2008, the installation of solar panels has been deemed to be part of the permitted development rights and therefore planning permission is not required, unless the building is listed, or in a conservation area. But being in a conservation area does not in itself stop you from having a solar panel installation, it just means that you will need to notify you council and the conservation team of plans and get permission. Most building works you wish to have done to your house are subject to a building regulations application except where you use a contractor that is a member of an approved competent persons scheme. Competent persons can simply self-certify their work whereas other tradesmen will need to have the work inspected and approved. There are now competent persons schemes eligible for Microgeneration technologies such as solar panels so you should ensure your installer is a member of one of the listed schemes: CORGI, HETAS, NAPIT, NICEIC, APHC, BESCA, BSI, ELECSA, OFTEC, or STROMA.

As long as you use a reputable installer that is a member of a competent persons scheme then there is very little to go seriously wrong with solar panel installations. However, using a local unqualified trades-person could end up costing a lot more in the long run, we have heard all sorts of horror stories including badly damaged roofs, blown diodes in solar panels and even fires due to faulty wiring! You can get up to 3 free quotes from qualified local tradespeople by clicking "Get a Quote" in the top right corner

The Cost to Install Solar Panels

To provide accurate pricing information we have contacted local and national companies, plus have used various online quotation tools. The figures provided should give a good rough idea of the costs involved if you are considering having solar panels installed on your roof, but of course you will need to gather detailed quotes from tradespeople to get an exact price for your requirements.

The average material cost to install solar panels will depend on the system size and approximate roof space required. Over the last few years 4 kW solar panels prices have been dropping considerably, around 2010 solar panels average cost was around £15,000, whereas now in late 2017 the average cost is £6,000 to £7,000.

The average solar panel specialist will usually charge around £150-£200 per day in labour. Typically the job will not take more than a couple of days, although may take slightly longer if there is any damage to your roof or if access to the roof is a problem.

Below are some estimated costs of hiring a specialist to install solar panels:

Roof Size System Size Avg. Cost Duration
8 sq m 1kW £2500-£3500 2-3 days
14 sq m 2kW £3000-£4500 2-3 days
20 sq m 3kW £5000-£6500 2-4 days
28 sq m 4kW £6000-£7500 2-4 days


Cost Breakdown

Individual costs to install a 2 kW, 14 sq m solar panel system - Total Cost: £3000

80%

Materials
£2400

20%

Tradesmen
£600

0%

Waste Removal
£0

FAQ's

Solar PV panels are definitely worth considering if you have a mainly south-facing roof with no shade and you're not thinking of moving in the next few years. If you do not have a south facing roof, or you have some shading from trees or other buildings, then you will get less power out of the system and will, therefore, save less on your electricity bill.
The right size will really depend on the size of your roof and how much electricity you currently use. You will need an experienced surveyor that understands your electricity requirement to design the right-sized system for your needs.
Not usually, however, you should always contact your council to see whether you need to apply for planning permission or buildings approval for any works you intend to carry out. You won’t need planning permission in the vast majority of cases for solar panels unless you are in a listed building or are a conservation area.
Solar panels are almost self-cleaning when installed at an ideal angle, so they rarely need any cleaning. But over time there may be an accumulation of bird droppings or other debris, so they may need occasional cleaning. Modern solar panels are also pretty much maintenance-free and should last for 25 years or more. The systems are relatively straightforward and have no moving parts to wear out, so there is little in the way of maintenance required. But you may need to replace the inverter at some point.
No, modern solar panel systems work in all daylight conditions and actually are less efficient when it gets too hot! So solar panels using the latest technology produce power continuously during daylight hours, even when cloudy and overcast.
Most domestic installations will take no more than one day, not including the scaffolding which will normally be erected a few days before the installation then be dismantled a few days later. But the actual installation itself and all the wiring will be done in a single day.