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January 1, 2024

What Are The Best Solar Panels In The UK?

solar panels uk home

Are you interested in purchasing a solar panel system, but you don’t know where to start? Then look no further than Effective Home’s expert guide on the best solar panels available in the UK. As the world continues to find ways to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable as our fight against climate change goes on, everyone wants to do their bit. One key way to get involved is by adopting more sustainable power generation methods like solar panels. But with so many suppliers and models on the market, how do you know which solar panels are the perfect fit for your household?

 

In our guide to the best solar panels available in the UK, we will educate you on what solar panels are, the pros and cons related to installing panels on your property, how long they will last, how much they can cost you, how much money solar panels can save you, and what they can do to your property’s value. In addition, we will also provide you with our top five best picks depending on what you want your solar panel system to offer you.

 

What Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels are flat, often rectangular, panels that can create usable electricity. The panels are able to do this by absorbing as much sunlight as possible and then utilising this solar energy and converting it into electricity. Once this is completed, you can use this electricity to power your household appliances and devices. 

Solar panels are more often than not found on the roofs of buildings, however, they can also be found in solar farms and can be installed on the ground. The most important factor you have to take into account when placing your solar panels, is to ensure that they are installed in a location that will maximise their sun exposure. As this will result in the highest amount of produced power.

 

What Are The Different Types Of Solar Panels?

There are three main types of solar panels that are used in residential solar panel systems, including: monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin-film solar panels.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are a rigid structure and don’t offer a great amount of flexibility. However, monocrystalline panels offer some of the highest efficiency levels on the market, often hovering between 16% and 23%. Additionally, they also have a long predicted lifespan, with panels expected to last up to 40 years. Both of these benefits come at a price, as monocrystalline panels are known as being the most expensive residential solar panels on the market.

 

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are very similar to monocrystalline panels, but differ in the way that they are manufactured. Polycrystalline panels are cheaper than their monocrystalline counterparts, however, they also have a lower efficiency level (ranging between 13% and 20%) and lifespan (predicted to be between 25 and 35 years). A key way to distinguish between the two is by colour. Monocrystalline solar panels are black in colour, whereas polycrystalline panels are blue.

 

Thin-Film Solar Panel

Thin-Film solar panels differ substantially compared to the two we have previously mentioned. Thin-film panels can vary in the materials used to make them and in construction. Due to the fact they are relatively new additions to the market, thin-film panels are priced similarly to monocrystalline panels but have a lower predicted lifespan (10 to 20 years) and efficiency rating (10% to 18%). But as solar manufacturers continue to gain a greater understanding of the technology, these stats are expected to improve.

 

Our Top Five Picks For Best Solar Panels

If you are ready to take the plunge and invest in a solar panel system then it is of the utmost importance that you purchase a system that is right for you and fulfils your needs. With such a wide variety of solar panels available on the market, it can be rather daunting if you don’t know where to start. Below, we have included our top five solar panel picks depending on: overall performance, household size, sun exposure levels, price and warranty length.

If you’re still unsure after reading, then contact one of our solar experts at Effective Home who can talk you through the options we have available and the best fit for your home. 

 

Best Overall: Longi Hi-MO 6 Series

The Longi Hi-MO 6 Series features Hybrid Passivated Back Contact (HPBC) technology, meaning there are no busbars on the front side of the solar panels which maximises their efficiency levels. These panels are also more durable than other models as it uses rear-sided passivation and back-contact soldering. By opting for the Longi Hi-MO 6 Series you will receive more durable solar panels that will not degrade as much, and they are also available with a variety of different power ratings.

 

Longi Hi-MO 6 Series Key Specs:

 

Longi Hi-MO 6 Series
Categories Specs
Power output: 410W to 600W
Efficiency rating: 23%
Warranty: 15 year product warranty, 25 year performance warranty

 

Best For Large Households: 555W JA Solar Mono PERC Half-Cell GR MC4

One of the most powerful options on our list is the 555W JA Solar Mono PERC Half-Cell GR MC4 solar panel. The panel’s slim frame provides enhanced durability, with boasted performance and efficiency coming from the split standard cells. This configuration also works to minimise the negative impact of shade or poor weather days. If you have either a large household, or your family has an unusually high power need, then this solar panel may be the perfect option for you and your family.

 

555W JA Solar Mono PERC Half-Cell GR MC4 Key Specs:

 

555W JA Solar Mono PERC Half-Cell GR MC4
Categories Specs
Power output: 550W
Efficiency rating: 21.5%
Warranty: 12 year warranty

 

Best For Low-Lit Areas: Suntech Ultra V Mini 405Wp

Although all solar panels work on cloudy and overcast days, some work better than others. If your house is located in a shaded area, or if you don’t receive the ideal weather conditions for solar panels, Suntech’s Ultra V Mini 405Wp panels may be the perfect fit for you. The panels consist of 182 mm silicon wafers, weighs 21 kg, and has a predicted degradation rate of 0.55 each year (with a 2% rate in the first year).

These Suntech panels are known for being good value for money and working well in shaded locations, but the degradation rate of the panels is a significant drawback.

 

Suntech Ultra V Mini 405Wp Key Specs

 

Suntech Ultra V Mini 405Wp
Categories Specs
Power output: 405W
Efficiency rating: 20.7%
Warranty: 12 year product warranty, 25 year linear warranty

 

Best For Price: Canadian Solar HiHero Series

If the price of your potential solar panels is your greatest concern, then look no further than Canadian Solar’s HiHero Series. While these good value for money solar panels may be cheaper than its competitors, they don’t compromise on quality. Out of the five picks in our article, the HiHero series does not have the lowest power output or efficiency rating. However, it does have one of the lower warranty offerings of all the solar panel manufacturers on this list. This could be a cause for concern if you were to suffer any issues with your solar panels further down the road.

 

Canadian Solar HiHero Series Key Specs

 

Canadian Solar HiHero Series
Categories Specs
Power output: 410W
Efficiency rating: 22.8%
Warranty: 15 years product warranty, 30 years performance warranty

 

Best For Warranty: Project Solar Evolution Titan 445

In complete contrast to the previously mentioned Canadian Solar panels, Project Solar UK offers a lifetime warranty on their Evolution Titan 445 panels. They also boast a 10% advantage on power production compared to other solar panel models. This will result in more electricity being available for your household. However, with this greater power advantage comes an increased price point. Additionally, these solar panels are also heavier than similar models and weigh around 28.6kg.

 

Project Solar Evolution Titan 445 Key Specs

 

Project Solar Evolution Titan 445
Categories Specs
Power output: 445W
Efficiency rating: 21.4%
Warranty: Lifetime

 

What Factors Should You Consider Before Purchasing Solar Panels?

If you are considering purchasing a solar panel system, then you should be aware of the variety of factors that could impact your purchase. Changing your power supply method is a significant and costly change to make. In order to ensure you make the most out of your purchase, you should consider:

 

  • Solar panel warranty: Most reputable solar panel manufacturers will offer you a 25 year warranty on your solar panels, which will cover you for the majority of their predicted lifespan. This somewhat aims to offset the initial cost of the panels, as you will have cover for if there are any issues further down the line, and will provide you with greater peace of mind.
  • Efficiency rating: The efficiency rating, which is often presented as a percentage, will tell you how efficient a set of solar panels are when it comes to converting sunlight into electricity. While efficiency ratings can go higher than 40%, above 20% is considered a good efficiency rating.
  • Cost of the solar panels: The initial costs of solar panels, which we will discuss further below, is a significant drawback of solar panels. It is best to consult with industry professionals, like Effective Home, to ensure that the solar panel system you can afford will fulfil your requirements. Additionally, there are also government solar grants available that can help you offset the price of solar panels, and we have solar finance options available which could help you. 
  • Available roof space: Factors like the angle of your roof, the direction your roof is facing, and your roof’s available space will all have an impact on how much useful roof space is available to install solar panels. There is no use installing panels where they will not be effective, so these three key elements need to be taken into account.
  • Obstacles that could impact your panels: As well as available roof space, obstacles like surrounding buildings, trees, and other tall objects that could put your property’s roof in the shade will negatively impact the amount of solar power your solar panels could produce.
  • Your household’s power needs: How much power your solar panels can produce, and whether it will fulfil your household’s electricity requirements is an important question to answer before purchasing solar panels. One of the biggest benefits of solar panels is that they can reduce your energy bills. This advantage will be significantly reduced if your panels cannot fill your household’s needs.
  • Additional system purchases: In order to optimise your solar panel system, you will also need to purchase a solar inverter and solar battery. An inverter works by converting direct current (DC) that is produced by your solar panels into alternating current (AC) which is compatible with household appliances and devices. Whereas a solar battery can store power generated by your solar panels, which can be used at a later date.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost In The UK?

As we have previously mentioned, the initial costs of solar panels can be quite expensive. Typically, the larger your household is, both in terms of the amount of people living in your property and the size of your house, the more solar panels you may need

Factors including the amount of people that live in your home, the size of your home, the amount of electricity you use, how much sun exposure your household receives, and your budget will all impact the final cost of your solar panel system. Due to this extensive amount of variables, there is no quick or easy answer to how much solar panels may cost you. 

However, below we have included a table displaying the average costs of solar panels in the UK, depending on the size of your property:

 

Average cost of solar panels in the UK
Property size Recommended system size Recommended number of solar panels Estimated average cost of the solar panel system
1 to 2 bedroom house 4 kW system 16 £6,000 to £8,000
3 bedroom house 5 kW system 20 £8,000 to £9,000
4 to 5 bedroom house 6 kW system 24 £9,000 to £11,000

 

The figures listed in the table above are simply for guidance. If you are looking for specific figures relating to you and your household, why not get in touch with Effective Home.

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Taking into consideration the high initial costs of solar panels, as well as the considerable changes that will be made to your household’s power supply, you may be wondering whether installing a solar panel system is actually worth it. Below, we have outlined the key benefits and drawbacks related to purchasing solar panels.

 

Benefits Of Solar Panels

 

Pros of solar panels
Pro Explanation
Reduce your energy bills. By installing a solar panel system on your property, you will be able to utilise the solar energy generated by the panels to power your home. This will have a knock-on effect regarding your energy bills, as you will not be using as much power from the National Grid.
Become more environmentally friendly. Taking into consideration the fact that most of the power used by the National Grid is generated through the burning of fossil fuels, using power generated via your solar panels is substantially more environmentally friendly.
Low maintenance costs. Once you have installed your solar panels they won’t require as much maintenance in order to keep them in top working condition. You will only need to schedule annual inspections with an industry professional, and ensure they are cleaned once or twice a year.
Minimise noise pollution. Solar panels are renowned for making a minimal amount of noise whilst they are in operation. This is a substantial difference to other power supply technologies including fuel-powered generators which are known for being quite loud.
Freedom from the National Grid. Changing from the National Grid to solar energy as your primary energy source will limit the reliance you have on the grid. This means you won’t be as vulnerable to power outages, energy price increases, and power supply issues.
Easy to install. Solar PV systems are very easy and quick to install. Typically, the process will take one or two days, depending on the size of the system or the amount of panels you are having installed.
Earn extra money. If your solar panel system is generating more electricity than your household requires, then you can sell it back to the grid. You can do this through the Smart Export Guarantee scheme, and earn extra money.

 

Drawbacks Of Solar Panels

 

Cons of solar panels
Con Explanation
High initial costs. As we have previously discussed, the initial costs related to installing a solar panel system are quite substantial. However, as the technology continues to be developed, and demand rises, these costs are expected to drop further. We can also support with our Effective Home finance options.
Solar panels lock you into staying in your current property. Of course, you can only benefit from installing a solar panel system if you reside in the property. According to the Money Saving Expert, it takes around 14 years to breakeven on your solar panel investment. So you will be stuck living in the house where you have installed solar panels until then, unless you wish to make a loss on the investment.
The amount of power solar panels generate varies due to weather. As solar panels rely on sun exposure to generate electricity, the amount of power produced can vary. Factors like cloudy days, evenings, and the time of year can significantly impact the amount of electricity your household receives. However, it is important to note that solar panels will still generate electricity even on the dullest of days.
Uses a lot of space. This drawback heavily depends on your household’s power requirements. The more electricity your home uses, the more solar panels you will need in order to fulfil your requirements. Which will mean that your solar panels will take up more space.
You must purchase a solar battery to maximise usage. Solar panels will generate the most power during the day time, which may also be the time period when you are away from home, potentially at work. In order to utilise this power, and not lose it, you will need to install a solar battery that will store the power generated for later usage. Thankfully, at Effective Home we offer solar panel and solar battery bundles that are competitively priced.
Produces pollution during the manufacturing stage. Although solar panels are a significantly more environmentally friendly method of generating power, that doesn’t mean they are 100% green. Solar panels create pollution during the manufacturing, transportation, and installation stages. In addition, some toxic materials are used in the manufacturing of solar PV systems.
Solar panels can be aesthetically displeasing depending on your taste. This may be one of the more insignificant drawbacks, but many people believe that solar panels aren’t very aesthetically pleasing. However, as the technology surrounding solar panels continues to develop, panels are becoming sleeker and less bulky.

 

How Much Money Can I Save By Installing A Solar Panel System?

There are multiple factors that will influence just how much money you can save by installing solar panels on your property. These factors include:

 

  • How much energy you use.
  • The size of your solar panel system.
  • How long you have had your solar panels for.
  • The time of year or how much sunshine you have received, as solar panels tend to produce more electricity during the summer months.
  • How efficient your usage of your solar energy has been.

 

However, the Money Saving Expert has reported that households with solar panel systems can save up to £400 a year on their energy bills. This number doesn’t include how much you could also make by selling any excess electricity back to the National Grid through the Smart Expert Guarantee scheme.

 

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

One key element that can further impact how much money your solar panels can save you is how long they last. According to Forbes, the typical lifespan of solar panel systems is between 25 to 30 years. Although some solar panel systems have been predicted to last over 40 years.

The longer your solar PV system lasts, the more electricity it can produce. This will either result in an increased saving when it comes to your energy bills, or more money in your back pocket if you sell that electricity back to the National Grid. Of course, the older your solar panels get, the greater chance that degradation will set in. 

When it comes to solar panels, degradation will result in less electricity being produced. However, most well-maintained solar panels can operate for 25 years before they start to show signs of degradation.

 

How Will Solar Panels Affect My Property’s Value?

Taking into account the cost of living crisis and how that is impacting current house prices, now more than ever homeowners will not want to make risky investments when it comes to their properties. Looking at energy efficiency methods on the whole, taking measures to improve your household’s efficiency rating can improve your property’s value by up to 14%.

However, when looking at solar panel systems specifically, there is no concrete evidence that the installation of panels will boost your property’s value 100% of the time. On average, solar panels could increase your home’s value by between 4% and 14%. But some potential buyers could be put off by your property’s solar panels, if they think they look aesthetically displeasing. However, this is personal preference, and there is no way to account for that.

 

Best Solar Panels Summary

Having completed our guide to the best solar panels available in the UK, have you decided whether it is time for you and your household to take the plunge and change to solar power reliance? If you are still on the fence, remember to take these following considerations into account:

 

  • What is your budget for a new solar panel system?
  • Taking your budget into account, can you afford a solar panel system that will fulfil your household’s requirements?
  • Don’t forget to take into consideration the location of your house. Will your solar panels receive the necessary amount of sunlight? Are there any obstructions that cast shade on your roof? And how much available roof space do you have?
  • Would you sign up for the Smart Expert Guarantee scheme, which can earn you extra money?
  • Will you also invest in a solar battery to further optimise your solar panel system?

 

And don’t forget our top five solar panel picks, depending on your requirements:

 

  • Best Overall: Longi Hi-MO 6 series.
  • Best For Large Households: 555W JA Solar Mono PERC Half-Cell GR MC4.
  • Best For Low-Lit Areas: Suntech Ultra V Mini 405Wp.
  • Best For Price: Canadian Solar HiHero Series.
  • Best For Warranty: Project Solar Evolution Titan 445.

 

If you are ready to make the change to solar power generation, then why not get in touch with Effective Home today! Our solar experts can answer any questions that you may have about the solar panels we have available, and provide you with specific information related to your household.

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Justine Effective
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