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Blog Post 28 July 2023 Updated 20 October 2023

Myths about solar

There are some common myths about solar panels and solar energy. Do you know your solar facts from fiction?   

Keep reading to get our expert advice on the most common solar misconceptions. 

Myth 1: Solar panels only work when it’s sunny outside

Although solar panels work best in direct sunlight, they will still work on cloudier days with less hours of sunlight. Even on duller days, there is still sunlight that can be converted into energy.  

That’s because solar panels absorb energy from the light spectrum visible to us and also wavelengths that can pass through clouds.  

In fact, a little rain can help your solar panels to work better by washing away dirt and debris that might otherwise block light. You could also consider a solar battery, which allows you to store extra energy created when it’s sunnier to use in times where you generate less energy, like at night. Our handy guide to storing energy has more information about solar batteries.  

Myth 2: Solar energy is too costly to be worth it

Investing in solar energy can be expensive. The cost varies depending on where in the UK you live, the installer you choose, and the panels you want. Most people should expect to pay around £7,000 for a typical solar system.  

However, after the initial installation you can expect your solar system to last for 25 years. In this time, it’s unlikely your system would need much maintenance. Usually, the manufacturer’s warranty will cover any faults with your solar panels (but always check this is in place before going ahead with your installation). The inverter in your solar system will likely need to be replaced after around 10 or 12 years. You can expect to pay around £800 to replace your inverter depending on the size and manufacturer of your system. 

During the times when your solar panels generate more electricity than you can use, you can sell your surplus back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). This will help you reduce your energy bills further and speed up the payback time for your installation costs.  

Neal McCay installed solar panels on his home and began to see financial savings, saying: “My earnings from generation are now around £1,800 per annum tax free and I also benefit from free electricity during the day.  So, my electricity bills are now only a small fraction of the above earnings.”  

The amount of money you’ll save on your energy bills, and how quickly you can expect to earn back the cost of installing solar panels can often depend on several factors, including the direction of your roof, where in the country you live and how much time you typically spend at home during the day. 

To find out how much money you could typically save from installing a solar system at home, read our in-depth guide.

Myth 3: Solar installation is a lot of hassle

Standard solar installations are normally completed within a day or two. Some larger more complex jobs could take a little longer, but your installer will be able to account for this during your evaluation.  

Your installer should be certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), which provides a full list of installers online. MCS certification demonstrates that your installer provides a high standard of installation, adhering to all the latest industry standards. 

We recommend getting quotes from at least three certified installers before committing to your installation. 

Myth 4: It’s difficult to get permission to install a solar system

A solar panel system is considered ‘permitted development’. This means you usually won’t need planning permission to install your own. However, exceptions can apply (for example, listed buildings), so it’s always best to check with your local planning office first.  

If you live in a rented home, you’ll need to speak to your landlord for permission before installing solar panels. If you own a flat within a building, you’ll need to get permission from the relevant authority, this could be the building management company. 

If you get the go ahead to install a solar system in your home, you need to register it with your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). The DNO will connect your system to the grid. Your installer will usually register your system for you. 

Last updated: 20 October 2023