Solar panels: FAQs

If you’re looking at ways to reduce your energy bills and lower your carbon footprint, solar panels can be a great way to solve two problems at once! However, as a newer technology, it’s understandable that there are still a lot of question marks around solar power.

To help you to make an informed decision, we’ve covered some FAQs below…


Can installing solar panels impact the value of your home?

Research shows that solar panels can add around 4.1% to a home's value - and even up to 38% in some parts of England. Improving your property's overall energy efficiency could help you add up to £60,000 to your home's value, and lower your household bills by up to £2,000 every year.

With energy bills on the rise and the need to act against the climate crisis bigger than ever, who wouldn't want to buy a home with better energy efficiency than the average property, that can save you money on your energy bills every month? 

Do solar panels take years to pay for themselves?

Like any home investment, solar panels won’t pay for themselves straight away - but with energy costs rising and installation costs falling, the payback period is getting shorter every year. 

Modern financing options and incentives make it much easier to afford the upfront costs of installation. Plus, solar pays for itself over time, returning on average two to four times their cost in saved electricity bills. Whatever the initial purchase cost, you’ll be repaid in energy savings over time.

Check out our guide on how the average home can go green and the associated costs, courtesy of The Eco Experts.

Can’t we use clean coal instead of solar?

Coal (even ‘clean’ coal) is one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, and is responsible for many health and environmental problems. The more coal we burn, the more damage we do, as it increases the levels of mercury, smog and carbon pollution. 

On the other hand, solar energy is clean and renewable, generating energy and creating zero emissions - no smoke, no smells and no air pollution. We don’t have to mine it from our natural resources, and as long as the sun’s around, we’ve got free power for ever.

What happens to solar panels once their lifespan is up?

Modern solar panels are built to last for 25 years or more - and the good news is, when your panels eventually stop working they can be recycled with around 80-100% efficiency, since the silicon, metal and glass can be processed and re-purposed.

There are already dozens of solar panel recycling facilities out there, and some manufacturers will even recycle them for you free of charge.

Can solar panels really make a difference to the environment?

The more people who have solar panels on their homes, the bigger the difference we can make to the UK’s overall carbon emissions. In fact, installing solar panels and a battery could save 1.59 tonnes of C02 per year!

Using solar means you rely less on fossil fuels, and with solar panels on your home or business you can generate renewable power for yourself, as well as to feed back into the grid.

Does solar energy affect the cost of electricity for others?

Fossil fuels will skyrocket in price no matter what, because they are becoming scarce and are non-renewable.

Using renewable sources like solar energy are the only way to keep our power affordable in the future, as well as keeping the lights turned on when old fossil fuel energy starts to disappear completely - so it's not a question of if to move to renewables, but when.

By joining the solar revolution early on, not only are you cutting your potential future energy bills, but you can also feed your excess energy back to the grid, helping everyone to benefit from renewable energy. 

Can solar panels release toxic emissions?

Unlike that fossil fuel energy you’ve been using, solar panels will not leak and they will not do damage to you or your home.

They don’t emit any radiation harmful to humans or the environment. 

Do solar panels require maintenance?

Solar panels are fairly low maintenance.

Occasionally, some homeowners like to hose them down or squeegee them - but because solar panels are installed at an angle, when the rain falls on your panels they will naturally get a good wash.

The warmth they give off also melts snow and ice, so there's no need to clear your panels on chillier days.

Can solar panels harm your roof?

As long as you choose a professional installer, solar panels will not damage your roof. The first thing to look at when choosing an installer is to check out reviews of the installation process - websites like Checkatrade can make this process easier.

When solar panels are fitted to your roof, they are mounted on a frame which is attached to the rafters, so the array doesn’t weigh on the roof surface. In fact, solar panels can actually act as a protective layer above the roof, sheltering it from the weather and prolonging its lifespan. 

In the unlikely event that the area of the roof under the panels needs to be repaired, panels can easily be removed for access.

Is it worth waiting to invest in solar panels?

Solar panel technology is so much more advanced than it used to be, and it will continue to improve.

It's important to make the right decision for you financially, so for some it's not feasible to invest in panels right now. In this case, you could explore credit options or a home improvement loan to spread the cost. However, new technology is entering the market all the time, so relative costs of solar panels are coming down.

If you do hold off, you may be subject to rising energy bills as fossil fuels become more scarce. 

Do solar panels work when it’s cold or cloudy, or at night?

Solar panels convert the sun’s rays into energy, and this has nothing to do with the temperature outside. In fact, like most electronics, solar panels thrive in colder weather. If you get less sun, the panels will work more efficiently to make up for the lost rays.

The UK doesn’t have the best weather. But solar panels need light to work, not sunshine. In fact, the world’s leading solar power producer is in Germany, a country with a fairly comparable climate to the UK.

Solar PV systems only generate electricity during daylight. However, storage technology like batteries allow you to store spare power generated during the day to use at night. You can even use it to power your EV!

Do solar panels have to be south-facing to be worthwhile?

In the UK, south facing panels will generate more than other orientations - but solar panels will still generate savings and income for you even if your roof faces slightly off south; even a straight east or west-facing roof can generate around 80% of the electricity that a south-facing install would.

When solar panels are installed, they are positioned to maximize sun exposure, meaning sun-tracking systems are not required. Some newer solar panels do integrate tracking systems to change the panel’s positioning throughout the day, but the additional expense may not be worth the limited efficiency gains.