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Blog Post 28 July 2023 Updated 23 February 2024

Debunking solar myths

There are some common myths when it comes to solar. Do you know your solar energy facts from fiction?

We’ve debunked four solar energy myths to help you better understand this renewable energy source.

Read on to find out the truth behind solar panels. There’s even an opportunity to test what you’ve learned at the end.

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

Although solar panels work best in direct sunlight, they still work on cloudier days with less sunlight. Even on duller days, solar panels can still convert sunlight into electricity.  

That’s because solar panels absorb energy from the light spectrum visible to us and 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 sunlight.

You can also use a solar battery to store the extra energy created when the sun is out. You can then use this stored energy at times where you generate less energy (like at night). Our guide to storing energy has more information about solar batteries.

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

The cost of installing solar panels varies depending on:

  • where in the UK you live
  • the installer you choose
  • the panels you want

A typical solar system can cost around £7,000 to install. 

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.

Solar panel systems typically generate direct current (DC) electricity. The electricity used for household appliances is alternating current (AC), so an inverter is installed along with the system to convert DC electricity to AC. 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. 

To get an idea of how much a solar panel system could cost – and how much you could save by installing one – visit our solar panel calculator.

Smart Export Guarantee

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 depends on:

  • the direction of your roof
  • where you live
  • 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 to solar panels.

*SEG is only available in England, Scotland and Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland, it’s worth exploring what export tariffs energy suppliers offer.

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 don’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 such as the building management company. 

If you get the go ahead to install a solar system in your home, you’ll 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.

Take our solar myth quiz

So, do you feel more confident about solar energy? Test your knowledge with our quick solar quiz.

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Last updated: 23 February 2024