Solars panels

I know I've asked about panels before but am wondering about the initial costs. To buy or lease ????

Has anyone got panels fitted and can give the pro's and cons ???



  • I don't have them but in these low-interest times they have featured substantially in the personal finance sections of the weekend papers. The yield is potentially very good, higher than any savings account currently and tax-free. In theory it pays for itself between 10 and 15 years dependent on performance.

    Issues are:
    setup costs
    potential withdrawal of feed-in tariff by governemnts
    if you plan on moving house it is an additional problem
    angle of roof and positioning, I believe over 35 degrees and south facing is best

    As far as I understand it buying is more secure for a variety of reasons.

    Needless to say there are a lot of cowboys about for installation, it's the new double glazing!
  • 10-15 years payback is a long time. The high cost (£14K was a quote a friend had) is an issue along with uncertainty about tariffs.

    Solar panels will undoubtedly get cheaper over the next couple of years.

    My advice would be to hang fire

    Recently started blog

    Latest post - 'Hadd' passes away 

  • I've got some - costs of good quality panels have already come down.  Payback 5-7 years for a 3MWH system.  Demand on installers is at an all time high - that speaks volumes.  Feed in tarriff is gauranteed, but will start to reduce from Oct this year so get in quick.  It's a no brainer in my mind.  Buy don't rent/lease.  Why allow someone else free access to your roof when they take the feed-in tarriff and you just benefit from the free power in the day time (when you are probably at work)!..  The pay nothing schemes are a scam IMHO.

    Link for info

  • I'm in the process of getting them fitted so have looked into it a lot.

    For my roof, I can get 10 panels for around £10,000.  You might be able to go for cheaper panels than mine as I have a strange shaped roof so was limited by the size of each panel.  Also be aware that some of the more expensive panels are more efficient so you need to balance that out.  When you get quotes the companies will give you numbers that you can use for a direct comparison between models, but check them carefully, as there are Government standard figures that they have to give you, and then some of them give you a second set of figures that they say are more typiccal of how the system will work in your specific installation (which might be true) and make their panels look better.  It's a bit like comparing MPG on cars - stardard figures for comparison, but the actual performance will be different.

    Buying outright is the better option than leasing, as long as you can afford the initial outlay.  As with everything, you more money you put in, the better the returns.  With leasing, someone else is taking the lion's share of the profit, but leasing is still better than not having panels at all.

    Payback on my system is likely to be 8-10 years according to the Government standard figures, but as I have an ideal roof (south coast, directly south facing, no shadow, perfect angle) I am likely to get my money back quicker than that.  That's a better return than you will get on the money in any savings scheme.

    I think the question is whether you can afford the initial outlay and whether you are likely to stay in the same house for more than 10 years.

    Something else to check for - some of the cheaper quotes for the same panels are cheaper because they use a cheaper inverter.  The inverter is the part of the system that is most likely to go wrong and is quite expensive to replace.  It is also the part of the system that has the most impact on efficency.  There is no point having wonderful efficient panels if a lot of the energy is lost in the inverter.

  • If you've got the right roof (orientation, pitch, and free of shade) and can afford the intital outlay it's a no brainer. Do it! We had panels fitted last year (3.96kWp PV) and they performing really well. We're on course to get more than 12% of the outlay back in FiT payments in the first year, and in addition to that we've made decent savings on our electricity bill. As others above had said, you're much better off paying for the install yourself if you can afford to. From what I've seen the rent-a-roof schemes are a lot more hassle, and someone else is taking the bulk of the benefit.

    Re Johnny-bike's advice to hold on for a while, I'd be cautious about doing that. You get the feed in tariff rate as it as when you sign up, guaranteed for 25 years. It's due for review in April next year, and is likely to go down by quite a bit. Panel prices have dropped over the last year (if we'd had our system installed now rather than last  year we'd likely have saved 2-3k), so might not come down too much more before April. Also bear in mind that if the FiT does drop as anticipated, there's likely to be a ruch of people trying to get their systems installed and signed up before the cut off date.

    It's also worth thinking about solar thermal panels. We had space on our roof for both those and PV, and they've made a serious dent in our gas bill over the year.

  • Also meant to say, the YouGen website is a good place to find details of local installers and reviews from people who've had panels fitted. If you happen to be in Devon, I can recommend a really good firm.

  • SuperCaz
    You live on the South Coast?  For some reason I thought you were in the Midlands!

    I live in Devon and we're looking into PV right now.  Please could you email me details of the firm you recommend via this site?  Thanks!

  • Def on the South Coast - within spitting distance of the sea but east of you.  I lived in the Midlands a long time ago, but that was before I was active on here, so I'm not sure how you would know about that.  Have you been stalking me?image
  • I was, but I lost track of you.  Thanks for the tip off, going to the seaside this afternoon & heading East...

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