When saving money and reducing carbon footprints, homeowners increasingly invest in renewable energy sources, such as solar panels. However, identifying the best solar panels in the UK for your home can feel overwhelming. 

The cost of solar panels has fluctuated in recent years, and currently, the average initial price for a typical three-bedroomed home is around £6,000, with annual savings of up to £1,190. 

With numerous solar panel manufacturers offering products that vary significantly in efficiency, durability and cost, our experts have analysed over 100 solar panels, comparing these factors. They found that Jinko Solar’s Tiger Neo 420W is the best for overall performance and cost effectiveness.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to solar panels. We examine the costs and savings, including solar panel grants, what factors to consider, and which solar panels are best for you, allowing you to invest in a better future for your wallet and the planet.

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What are solar panels?

Solar panels are made from photovoltaic cells that convert the sun’s energy into power. They work by collecting the sun’s energy and converting it into electricity that can be used to power homes.

Learn more about solar panels in our article: How solar panels work.

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Are solar panels the right choice for your home?

Solar panels for homes can cut energy bill costs and reduce your carbon footprint. They can also generate solar energy even on gloomy days, which is one concern that many UK homeowners have when considering installing a solar power system. 

Solar panel benefits:

  • Reduce your energy bills: Generating your own electricity through solar panels can reduce your energy bills by £610 or more
  • Constant supply of electricity: Solar panels generate clean electricity all year round, and they can last up to 25 years or more. If you install a solar battery, you’ll also still have an electricity supply in the event of a power cut
  • Increase the value of your home: By installing solar panels you could increase the value of your home by up to £1,800
  • Sell solar energy back to the National Grid: You could sell surplus energy generated from your system back to the grid through an SEG tariff
  • Reduce carbon footprint

Although a solar power system for your home comes with an exciting set of benefits, there’s a lot to consider before installation. The benefits will vary between different properties, but here’s what to consider before installation. 

To maximise what your solar panels can generate and save on your energy bills, your home should have the following:

  • Your roof should ideally be predominantly south-facing: If your roof is not south-facing you won’t generate the maximum amount of energy possible. If your roof is west or south-west facing you’ll still benefit from solar panels, just not as much
  • You need a good amount of roof space: The size of your roof will determine how big your solar power system for your home can be.
  • Your roof should be in good condition: Installing a solar panel system on your roof adds extra weight. You should have your roof assessed for broken tiles and any damage prior to installation.
  • Your roof should be unshaded between 10.00am and 4.00pm: There are the hours that you should expect your solar panels to generate the most amount of solar energy. If your roof is shaded during these hours you won’t reap the maximum benefits.
  • The angle of your roof matters: The optimal angle of roofs for solar panels is between 30 degrees and 45 degrees. If you have a flat roof, you can still install a system, but you will need to pay extra to install fixings to hold the solar panels at an optimal angle.

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Are the best solar panels expensive?

row of houses in the uk with solar panels on their roofs

The total cost of a solar panel system − and how much money you’ll save on your electric bill − will vary based on:

  • The size of your roof
  • Your home’s location in the UK
  • The number and power output of the panels you need to meet your energy needs

In the below table we’ll take a look at the potential cost and savings for a three-bedroom semi in the midlands. If your home is further south, then expect these savings to be slightly higher and further north, slightly lower. Installation costs and the cost of the system itself is unlikely to be affected by your region.

System sizeEst install costEnergy generated /yearFuel bill saving /yearSEG payment /yearCO2 saving /year
3kW£5,4002,119 kWh£520£81490 kg
4kW£6,8002,826 kWh£630£114654 kg
5kW£8,1603,532 kWh£750£147816 kg
6kW£9,5204,238 kWh£870£180980 kg
7kW£10,8004,945 kWh£990£2141,143 kg
Source: Energy Saving Trust. Data assumes cost of electricity and SEG rate of 5p/kWh remains level for the lifetime of solar panels (25 years).

Your installer can give you a free quote for a system designed for your home and needs, but for a ballpark figure, a solar panel system to support the average family of three people would cost around £6,000.

The best solar panels UK products for your home

These are our top five solar panels for UK homes:

Best solar panel overall: Jinko Tiger Neo 420W N-Type 54 Cell

  • Power output: 420W
  • Efficiency: 21.51%
  • Warranty: 25-year product warranty, 30-year warranty for power output

Jinko Solar is headquartered in Shanghai, China and the company’s products can be found in more than 160 countries around the world. We’ve chosen the Jinko Tiger Neo 420W as our best overall panel. To decide this, we looked for a solar panel with over 21% efficiency and over 15 years of warranty, and the panel needed to be priced between £170 and £200. All of these specifications were what we found to be the averages whilst researching over 50 solar panels.

The Jinko Solar Tiger Neo 420W has a 21.51% efficiency, which is one of the main reasons why we have chosen this to be our best overall solar panel. Its high power output of 420W is also above the average output for most other products on the market. The Jinko Solar Tiger Neo panel can also withstand adverse environmental conditions thanks to its high salt mist and ammonia resistance. 

Choosing the Jinko Solar Tiger Neo 420W will also see homeowners benefit from a low degradation rate. Over a 30-year period, the solar panel only has an annual degradation of 0.44%, which is better than most panels that degrade up to 2% just in the first year alone. 

Solar panels have a relatively long lifespan, which is why Jinko Solar’s 25-year warranty is an attractive benefit. The panel also comes with a 30-year power output warranty, so by choosing this solar panel you can be sure you are very well protected.

Cost per panel: £177

According to our research, the average price of a solar panel is between £170 and £200, so Jinko Solar sits at the bottom end of that price range.

Most efficient: SunPower Maxeon 5 AC 415W

  • Power output: 415W
  • Efficiency: 22.60%
  • Warranty: 25-year warranty

SunPower is a UK-based solar panel company, manufactured by Maxeon Solar Technologies. The manufacturer sells Maxeon and SunPower products in more than 100 countries. Throughout our research, the SunPower Maxeon 5 AC 415W solar panel stood out amongst other panels for its high efficiency.

The panel boasts a spectacular 22.6% efficiency, which far surpassed its competitors – one of the reasons we would highly recommend this panel. The Maxeon 5’s high efficiency means you can enjoy more solar energy converted into electricity, allowing you to benefit from lower energy bills. 

As well as its high efficiency, the Maxeon 5 also has a low annual degradation rate of just 0.25%, which is one of the best that we’ve found on the market during our solar panel research. 

The positives for the Maxeon 5 415 just keep on increasing – the panel also comes with a 25-year warranty. This means it’s guaranteed to last the lifespan of the average solar panel, and SunPower has estimated it to have a 40-year useful life. 

Cost per panel: £514

The SunPower Maxeon 5 is one of the most expensive solar panels on the market. However, its high power output is what drives the cost, as well as its high efficiency compared to other products. Choosing this panel will save you a high amount of money on your energy bills since you will generate a good amount of solar energy.

Best output: JA Solar JAM72S30

  • Power output: 540W
  • Efficiency: 20.9%
  • Warranty: 12-year product warranty, 25-year linear power output warranty

JA Solar designs, develops and manufactures solar panels in Shanghai, China. Founded in 2005, the company has 12 manufacturing bases and its panels are available in over 135 countries and regions, including the UK. 

The JAM72S30 solar panel really stood out as the best output throughout our research. The panels boast an impressive 540W maximum power output, which is much higher than most domestic solar panels. 

Although the JAM72S30 does not have the highest efficiency on the market – at 20.7% there are certainly other solar panels on the market that have a higher efficiency – its degradation rate makes it a strong contender. The panel has a degradation of just 0.55% per year across its 25-year linear power output warranty, whereas some panels lose 2% in the first year alone. 

JA Solar offers a standard 12-year product warranty on the JAM72S30 which is below the 15-year warranty found during our research. Also, considering the solar panel will last double the warranty years, this could be a riskier investment as opposed to panels with longer warranties. 

Cost per panel: £232.80

The JAM72S30 does not come cheap – it’s actually one of the priciest panels to choose. However, it does offer one of the highest power outputs for domestic solar panels, so you do certainly get what you pay for.

Best budget solar panel: Suntech Ultra V Mini Mono 405W

  • Power output: 405W
  • Efficiency: 20.7%
  • Warranty: 12-year product warranty

Founded in 2001, Suntech has over 20 years of experience in manufacturing solar panels, and its panels are in use in 100 countries and regions worldwide. The Suntech Ultra V Mini Mono 405W is one of the most efficient panels on the market, but it’s also budget-friendly. 

The Suntech Ultra V Mini has a 20.7% efficiency; to put that in context, solar panels with an  efficiency over 20% are considered good. The panel’s high module efficiency is achieved through its advanced cell technology. Its power output is also commendable at 405W – it surpasses the average solar panel’s output, which is between 200W and 400W. Its excellent weak light performance is also noteworthy, which means the panel has more power output in weak light conditions such as cloudy weather, early mornings and at sunset.   

When choosing a solar panel, its degradation is something to consider. Suntech’s Ultra V Mini has a 2% power degradation for the first year and 0.55% for every subsequent year – which is among the highest discovered in our research. 

However, Suntech’s Ultra V Mini only comes with a 12-year product warranty, which is by no means one of the longest warranties available for solar panels. According to our research, the average warranty is around 15 years. 

Cost per panel: £155.58

The Suntech Ultra V Mini is an affordable solar panel, being among the least expensive panels found throughout our research.

Best warranty: Project Solar Evolution Titan 445

  • Power output: 445W
  • Efficiency: 21.4%
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty

Award-winning Project Solar is the largest and most accredited solar panel installation company in the UK and has installed over 45,000 solar panels. What’s most outstanding about Project Solar, though, is its product warranties. 

Project Solar offers the longest warranties on the market, and its Evolution Titan 445 comes with a lifetime warranty. Most companies offer a 15-year warranty as standard, according to our research, even though solar panels have a lifespan of more than 25 years. Rest assured, by installing the Evolution Titan 445 you will be guaranteed that your panels will last a lifetime. 

The Evolution Titan 445 also comes with an above average efficiency of 21.4% which is achieved using an innovative structure and low-temperature bonding and a high-density layout. Project Solar also claims that the solar panel has optimal panel performance even in low light conditions, which is a concern for many UK homeowners. 

For homeowners concerned with the aesthetic of their solar panels, the Evolution Titan 445 has an ultra-black appearance and is sleek by design. 

Cost per panel: POA

Project Solar, unlike other manufacturers, offers a bespoke quote for a solar panel system as opposed to prices per panel. This means you would need to request free quotes from the company directly to determine the exact price of your system.

Are solar panels worth the investment?

The question that most homeowners have is whether solar panels are a worthy investment and when they will start to pay back. A good place to start answering those questions is by considering the initial solar panels for home cost. 

How much you spend on your system largely depends on how large of a system you install. The average recommended system size for a three-bedroom home is 4kW, which could cost you around £5,942 according to our research using Energy Saving Trust’s solar calculator. 

The savings on your energy bill will vary depending on your solar system size. You could save over £400 on your energy bills annually if you install a 6kW to 8kW system and opt into SEG payments. Installing a smaller 4kW system will still see you saving over £300 on your energy bills with SEG payments.

How quickly do solar panels pay for themselves?

The cost of solar panels is still relatively high, and although homeowners will start saving on their energy bills quickly, it’s important to know when you will break even. If you’re looking for a return on your investment in just a few short years, then solar power might not be for you. 

What makes solar panels such a good potential investment is that – not only do they save a significant amount of money on your electric bill – you can sell any unused electricity back to the National Grid. This means that, over time, solar panels will pay for themselves.

The answer to the question of how long it take solar panels to pay for themselves, we need to take into account a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of sunshine you get in your area
  • The size and position of your roof and number of solar panels installed
  • The price of electricity and the FIT (Feed In Tariff) – the amount of money you will be paid for the electricity you sell back to the National Grid
  • The amount of electricity your solar system generates

As the price of electricity has risen, the less time it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves. Before the current energy crisis, it took around 14 years for solar panels to pay for themselves. In April, with the price increase to 28p per kWh, this dropped to around 11 years, and in August 2022, with the increase to 52p per kWh, this time was cut to seven years in some cases.

The below table shows what you might expect to pay for a solar system, the potential savings through electricity generation and selling power back to the Grid, and then how long it will take for the system to pay for itself.

Solar panel system sizeTotal cost of solar panel systemAnnual savings (including SEG payments)When you will break even
2kW£4,080£4609 years
4kW£6,800£9607 years
6kW£9,520£1,0509 years
8kW£12,240£1,3509 years

Source: Energy Saving Trust

How much will they increase the value of your home by?

As well as benefiting from lower energy bills, should you decide to sell your home, your solar panels may also add value to your house. According to a report conducted by Solar Energy UK, installing a solar panel system could add up to £1,800 to the value of your home. 

Based on the average house size in the UK and the average energy consumption of that house size, we’ve worked out which size solar panel is needed, how much roof space and the savings that you could expect to benefit from.

Size of homeSize of solar panel systemRoof spaceCost of systemPower usage (UK average)Saving per year (based on current electricity price)SEG paymentsBreak even year
Three-bedroom semi-detached house4kW15 m²£6,8003,000kW£630£1147 years

Types of solar panels

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems comprise silicon panels in a protective casing. These individual panels are then connected to form a solar array. By adding an inverter and brackets, the end product is a solar panel system. 

However, there are several different types of panels, which we’ve outlined below.

Monocrystalline solar panels

These panels are made from a single silicon crystal and are the most common type used in residential systems. They are known for their high efficiency and are suitable for roofs with limited space.

Monocrystalline panels also have two variations: 

  • PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) panels, which have a conductive layer added to increase energy absorption.
  • Bifacial panels, which can absorb light on both sides.

Polycrystalline solar panels

These panels are made from multiple silicon crystals and are more affordable than monocrystalline panels. However, they are less efficient and have a blue, marbled appearance. Their square shape results from the silicon fragments being melted and poured into a mould​.

Thin-film solar panels

These panels are known for their sleek appearance and flexibility. They can be made from various materials, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicon (a-Si), or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS). While they are less efficient than crystalline solar panels, they can be a good option for large industrial installations where space isn’t a constraint or for small solar projects like powering a boat or a motorhome.

Types of solar systems

There are also several types of solar systems, which include:

Solar thermal collectors

Solar thermal technology, as its name implies, harnesses sunlight to generate heat, which is then stored and converted into hot water or heating for a home. Conversely, solar panels use photovoltaic (PV) technology to directly transform sunlight into electrical energy. There are some hybrid systems called solar PVT that can generate both heat and electricity at the same time.

Solar battery storage system

Solar batteries store electricity generated by solar panel systems. This stored electricity can then be used during the evenings when your panels are not generating any power. Solar batteries can be used for both grid-connected and stand-alone systems. The idea of these batteries is great, but the average solar battery will cost around £4,000 on top of your solar panel system cost.

Grid-connected vs stand-alone PV systems

A grid-connected system is a solar panel system connected to the National Grid, ensuring that you’ll never be without electricity. During sunlight hours, the system will generate electricity that can be used for home appliances. Any generated surplus electricity can be exported back to the grid for a profit. If, on the other hand, your home needs more electricity than you make, you have instant access to power from the grid. 

Stand-alone PV systems are not connected to the grid, and are typically used in remote locations where access to the grid is impossible. Just like grid-connected systems, solar panels will generate electricity during daylight hours and can be used to power homes. This electricity is also stored in batteries for hours when the panels are not generating solar energy. Stand-alone systems are more expensive than grid-connected systems due to the cost of solar batteries.

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Things to take into account about solar panels

As well as solar panel cost, there are other important factors to consider before choosing the right solar system for your home. Here’s a breakdown of solar power jargon and what it means.

Efficiency

You’ll notice that every solar panel has an efficiency percentage, and most brands will use this as a selling point. Simply put, solar panel efficiency means the percentage of energy collected from the sun’s rays that can be converted into usable electricity by the panels. The higher your panel’s efficiency, the more usable electricity you’ll have to power your home or sell back to the grid. In turn, higher efficiency can also mean lower energy bills.

Size

When it comes to the size of solar panels, our researchers found that there was not one size fits all, although that would be useful. In order to figure out how many panels you can fit on your roof, it’s best to know your roof’s size or to have an installer measure it for you. 

Power degradation and lifespan

Just like the efficiency of your solar panels, their power degradation is just as important, if not more so. Power degradation refers to the gradual loss of usable energy your panels can generate. Usually, this happens year after year as they gradually become less effective over time. All solar brands disclose this information within their product datasheets, so be sure to check before you choose. 

Warranty

As previously mentioned, solar panels have an average lifespan of 25 years. With that being said, your panels’ warranty may not cover you for all of that time. Throughout our research, we found the average warranty provided by solar brands was 15 years, with the highest being a lifetime guarantee. 

Maintenance

In order to maximise your solar panels lifespan, it’s essential to carry out maintenance. Generally, solar panels do not require much maintenance, but you should get them checked regularly by a certified service provider throughout their 25 to 30-year lifespan.

There are a few things you can do yourself – remove old leaves and tree branches from your panels and hose them down (do not use a sponge, this will damage them).   

Brands to consider 

You’ll notice that there are a lot of different solar brands on the market, but knowing which ones to trust is important. 

Project Solar is an award-winning company. It’s also the largest and most accredited solar panel installation company in the UK and has installed over 45,000 panels. What’s most outstanding about Project Solar though, is its product warranties. The company offers lifetime guarantees for its products. 

JA Solar has 12 manufacturing bases and its panels are available in over 135 countries and regions, including the UK. The company designs, develops and manufactures solar panels in Shanghai, China. Its prices are always competitive when compared to the rest of the market, but the products are still innovative and the company always makes use of the latest solar technology.

SunPower’s high-efficiency panels come with long warranties. Compared to the average solar panel lifespan of 25 years, its 40-year product warranties make the brand a trustworthy choice. The efficiency of its panels is also some of the highest on the market. 

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Are solar panels efficient in the UK?

Solar panels can typically convert between 10% and 20% of solar energy into usable energy in the UK. They will convert more solar energy when they’re absorbing direct sunlight, but they can still produce electricity even with indirect light. For this reason, solar panels have proven to be efficient in the UK, even on cloudy days and throughout the winter. 

Solar panel efficiency by UK region

Solar panels’ efficiency varies depending on which region in the UK you live, as each area gets varying degrees of sunlight. Our researchers have used the daily sunlight hours recorded in each UK region in 2022 by the Met Office to calculate the monthly energy output you can expect to see from a typical 4kW solar panel system. 

The charts below outline the average monthly energy output of a 4kW system in all of the different UK regions (data source: Met Office).  

North of England

North of England solar output chart

South of England

South of England solar panel output chart

Midlands

Midlands solar panel output chart

East Anglia

East Anglia solar panel output chart

England East and NE

England East and North East solar panel output chart

England SW and Wales S

England South West and South Wales solar panel output chart

England SE and Central South

England South East and Central South solar panel output chart

Scotland North

Scotland North solar panel output chart

Scotland East

Scotland East solar panel output chart

Scotland West

Scotland West solar panel output chart

England NW and N Wales

England North West and North Wales solar panel output chart

Factors affecting efficiency

To get the most out of your solar panels, you’ll want to maximise their efficiency. Things to consider before installing your solar panel system are roof angle, location, size of the system and roof suitability. 

What is the best angle for solar panels in UK?

To maximise your solar panel system effectiveness in the UK, you need it to be exposed to the sun between the hours of 10.00am and 4.00pm. Not only do you need your roof to receive a good amount of sunlight, but its angle is also important. 

The orientation and angle of your roof can affect how much sunlight your panels will get. The optimal angle is between 30 degrees and 40 degrees and it’s also ideal if it is south-facing. 

The below table shows solar panels’ efficiency according to their angle and tilt.

Direction panels face from due northWSE
Tilt270°240°210°180°150°120°90°
84%84%84%84%84%84%84%
10°84%87%90%91%90%87%84%
20°82%89%94%96%94%89%82%
30°81%90%97%100%97%90%81%
30°78%89%97%100%97%89%78%
50°74%87%95%98%97%87%74%
60°69%82%92%95%92%82%69%
70°64%77%86%89%86%77%64%
80°57%69%78%81%78%69%57%
90°50%61%68%71%68%61%50%

Roof suitability

Installing a solar panel system for your home adds a considerable amount of weight to your roof, so it’s important to know if it can withstand this. The average system size is 4kW, which is usually made up of 10 solar panels that could weigh around 190kg.

Most roofs are suitable to withstand this weight as it’s spread evenly across the area.  

The size of your roof also matters. You’ll need to consider if it is big enough for the size of the solar panel system you wish to install. For a 4kW system, you’ll need 15m² of available roof space.

Size of solar panel system

The main reason for installing a solar panel system is to power your home using solar energy and save money on your energy bills. With that being said, you’ll want to calculate your electricity consumption in order to determine the best system size for your home.

Pros and cons of having solar panels in the UK

Installing solar panels comes with many advantages, and as the UK works towards its net zero emissions target by 2050, solar power will become more prevalent in UK homes. 

Pros

  • Reduce energy bills
  • Earn money from excess energy
  • Can be independent from the grid
  • Reduce carbon footprint 
  • Year-round efficiency 

Although solar panels for the most part bring a lot of advantages to UK homes, there are also some downsides, the biggest being the initial cost of a system. 

Cons

  • High initial investment costs
  • House location affects sunlight hours
  • Roof angle needs to be between 30 degrees and 40 degrees 

Read our article Are solar panels worth it – how solar panels pay back to find out more.

How to find the best UK solar panels for your home

uk house with solar panels on it

Finding the best solar panels to suit your needs can be daunting. There’s an overwhelming amount of technical information to sort through, plus a variety of solar panel options available. Below are the key factors to understand and consider when choosing solar panels for your home.

There are three main things to consider when choosing the right solar panels for your home:

  1. Your household’s energy consumption
  2. How much electricity you need to generate 
  3. How much sunlight your home gets

Power output and power consumption

All solar panels quote a maximum power output figure, measured in watts (W). This figure is recorded under ‘Standard Test Conditions’ (STC). As an example, a 400W panel in three hours of testing should produce 1200 Watt hours, or 1.2 kWh, of electricity.

The power output of the solar panels used will determine how many panels you need to support the energy used in your home. If you choose panels with lower output, you’ll need to install more panels. If cost is an important factor, make sure you consider how this will affect installation costs since more panels may mean more mountings and wiring.

To get an idea of what your power usage might be, you can use the below table to see what the average annual UK household usage per kWh is.

Average UK annual power consumption by property type

Average UK annual power consumption by property type

Performance warranty

The peak output figure, as quoted under STC, gives a guide for how much power that solar panel can produce when new; however, output will decrease over time. The ‘Performance Warranty’ (also referred to as the ‘Linear Output Warranty’) guarantees a solar panel’s power output after a certain number of years.

The performance is expressed as a percentage – either for annual degradation (for example, 0.55% per year), or as a percentage of the STC power output at a certain time (for example, 85% after 25 years). Solar panels with a better performance warranty will continue to deliver nearer to the maximum amounts for longer and, as a result, offer a greater return on investment long term.

Product warranty

Since installing solar panels is a big investment, you want to choose ones that will last. A lengthy product warranty ensures that the solar panels will continue to work for many years (typically several decades) or that the cost of repair or replacement will be covered.

The best solar panels come with a product warranty that matches the performance warranty, typically 25 years. Some solar panel companies offer a longer product warranty – Project Solar offers a lifetime warranty on its solar panels – while some less-expensive options have shorter warranty periods. The shortest warranty on our list of which are the best solar panels is 12 years.

Efficiency

A higher efficiency rating means the solar panel can convert more of the sunlight it captures into electricity. Some of the best solar panels have efficiency ratings of over 22%, but anything above or around 20% is considered very good.

The more efficient a solar panel is, the fewer panels you’ll need to generate your required power output. If you have limited roof space, you’ll need to consider panels with higher efficiency ratings to ensure enough power can be generated by your solar panel system.

Type

There are two main types of solar panels. Cheaper options are often made from polycrystalline (poly) silicone cells, whereas the best solar panels are typically made using the more efficient and sleeker-looking monocrystalline (mono) silicone cells.

The main difference between the two is that poly solar panels are made by melting multiple silicone crystals together and mono panels are made from a single silicon crystal. An easy way to identify them is that poly panels tend to appear blue, whereas mono panels have a more modern black finish.

Price

Installing solar panels is always going to require a substantial cost. While there are plenty of relatively cheap solar panels available, you should balance initial costs against the initial performance, expected annual degradation and guarantees to decide which are the best solar panels for value.

However, don’t assume more expensive means better. Some of the solar panels in our guide are inexpensive but offer fantastic outputs and excellent efficiency. Consider the factors as they apply to your home to make your decision.

How to calculate your solar panel needs

Step 1: How much electricity do you use?

First up: work out how much electricity you use.

Your electricity bill (or online account) will tell you how much electricity you use per month or per year. Use either the annual number or work out how much you use by simply taking your monthly consumption figure and multiplying by 12. The power you use is measured in kWh. Now divide this number by 365 to get you daily usage.

Example: Annual usage = 3,000 kWh

3000 ÷ 365 = 8.2 kWh per day usage (or 8200 Wh)

Step 2: How much electricity do you want your solar system to generate?

Next, decide how much of your annual electricity consumption you want your solar system to generate. The more power you want to generate, the more your system will cost. For our example, we’ll assume that we want all our power generated by solar.

3000 ÷ 365 = 8.2 kWh per day usage (or 8200 Wh)

Power generated by solar = 100%

Step 3: How much sunlight do you get?

Now you need to know how many sunlight hours your home receives per day. This varies from day to day, month to month, region by region, but as a guide, the Met Office says the average sunlight hours in the UK in 2021 was 4.1.

3000 ÷ 365 = 8.2 kWh per day usage (or 8200 Wh)

Power generated by solar = 100%

Sunlight hours = 4.1 per day

map of uk showing average sunlight in 2021

This map shows the total number of sunshine hours in the UK in 2021. You can use this to get a more accurate estimation of sunshine hours where you live.

Step 4: Solar panel power

Next, estimate the power from each solar panel in the system. Panels range from 200W-450W for UK households, so we’ll use 300W panels in our example.

3000 ÷ 365 = 8.2 kWh per day usage (or 8200 Wh)

Power generated by solar = 100%

Sunlight hours = 4.1 per day

Panel power rating = 300W

Step 5: How much you’ll generate

Using these figures, we can work out our potential power generation per day. We’ll use this formula:

Solar panel watts x average hours of sunlight × 0.75 = daily Wh

We use the 0.75 modifier to take into account any variables such as solar panels not in a perfect south-facing location or under shade for some of the day.

300W × 4.1 sunshine hours × 0.75 = 922.5 Wh per day

Step 6: How many panels you’ll need

Now we need to work out how many panels we’ll need to cover our daily usage. To do this simply divide the amount of energy we use per day (calculated at the beginning of this process) by the amount of energy our system can generate from the previous step.

8200 ÷ 922.5 = 8.88

So, in our example, we would need nine solar panels to generate enough power to cover our electricity needs. And remember, you can always sell any unused electricity back to the Grid, so we would consider fitting 10 panels, so we could pay off our investment quicker.

How many solar panels can you fit on your roof?

To calculate the number of panels you can fit on your roof you can use our table below. As a rule of thumb, the average household solar panel has a surface area of 1.4m².

Number of panelsRoof space
1216 m²
1622 m²
2028 m²
2433 m²

Are there grants or schemes for solar panels in the UK?

There are lots of options for getting financial help to install solar panels in the UK.

Zero VAT on solar panels

In the Government’s Spring Statement 2022, it announced a drop from 5% to 0% VAT for new solar panels until March 2027 – a saving of £340 on an average system.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) scheme

The ECO4 scheme is the latest phase of an ongoing government scheme to support low-income households by creating more energy-efficient homes. You can apply for solar panels grants over the next four years, which could, depending on your circumstances, give you access to fully-funded solar panels for home installation.

The LA Flex scheme

LA Flex is short for Local Authority Flexible Eligibility – it’s an extension of ECO4. With LA Flex, you can qualify for free funding that covers the costs of energy-saving measures like solar panels for homes running on electric heating systems.

Find out more in our article Solar panel grants in the UK.

Conclusion

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that works when it comes to choosing the best solar panels in the UK. It all depends on the key factors listed above and how you prioritise them. Those working on a tighter budget will appreciate the JA Solar JAM60S20, while the Panasonic HIT N 245W might mean you can install solar panels where you thought not possible on complex roofs – and the sleek and powerful REC Alpha Pure Series 410W All Black will ensure the installation doesn’t ruin the aesthetics of your home.

Depending on your budget, the Longi HiMo4 and SunPower Maxeon 3 are great all-rounders – the more expensive Maxeon 3 offers a slightly better return on investment thanks to its performance warranty. But we think the best solar panel overall, for the typical home, is the Jinko Tiger Neo 420w N-Type 54 cell.

Before you choose, we recommend getting several quotes from different suppliers to compare customised quotes.

To create this and our other solar panels guides, we’ve conducted hundreds of hours of in-depth research into the best solar companies, spoken with solar experts and consumers alike, analysed hundreds of third-party customer reviews and gathered nearly 1,000 data points to identify the best solar panels in the industry, so you can be sure that the advice you find in this guide is accurate and up to date.

Best solar panels FAQs

Our methodology

To choose the best solar panels in the UK, we researched numerous products available, including the big-name manufacturers and the up-and-coming brands. We looked for the best balance of performance, longevity, return on investment, aesthetics and price. How much power is produced and for how long it could produce that power were among our top priorities, but overall appearance and budget also featured heavily.

Below are our key considerations and how we weighted them:

  • Output (20%)
  • Efficiency (20%)
  • Performance degradation (20%)
  • Product warranty (15%)
  • Price (15%)
  • Style (10%)

References

[1] SunPower: https://sunpower.maxeon.com/uk/sites/default/files/2020-09/sp_mst_MAX3_370_ds_en_a4_MC4_1mcable_536424.pdf; [2] SunPower: https://sunpower.maxeon.com/int/sites/default/files/2021-09/SP_Maxeon_line_Leaflet_EN_21-09.pdf; [3] SolarQuotes: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/panels/sunpower-review.html [4] OVO Energy: https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/how-much-electricity-does-a-home-use; [5] SolarQuotes: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/panels/lg-review.html; [6]