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Solar panel prices: Compare prices from local installers

Solar panel prices dropped by two-thirds since early 2011 according to the CompareMySolar price index. A 4kWp system (16 solar panels) that used to cost £15.000 is currently available for just above £5.000. Prices of solar panels are influenced by system size, components used, panel brand used and installer. This page provides an overview of solar panel price information, while CompareMySolar compares prices from local installers.

Price index - Price comparison - China minimum price News - Warnings 
By system size - By cost component - By panel brand - By installer 

Solar panel price index:

  • Solar panel price index for 4kWp (16 solar panels) in Q3 2104 stands at £5.200, based on the top ten quotes on CompareMySolar. Best prices have been stable around £5.000 - £5.500 (incl. VAT and installation) since 2013.
  • Price index is based on the top ten quotes for a 4kWp system every month from all installers on CompareMySolar
  • Solar panel prices dropped by two-thirds from about £15.000 in 2011, towards £8.500 in 2012, towards £5.000 in 2013. This price drop has been caused by a large overcapacity at panel manufacturers and a strong increase in the number of installers in the UK.
  • Our expectation is that solar panel prices will remain stable till the end of 2015 due to Chinese minimum prices.

 

Solar panel price comparison:

  • Strong price variation exists in solar panel prices by system size, panel brand, and installer. This is caused by differences in cost of materials (cheaper vs premium), overhead costs of installers (one man band working from home vs large offices and workforce), installer expenditure on marketing and installer margins.
  • CompareMySolar is the only online price comparison website for solar panels for your home. We recommend consumers to compare solar panel prices using our website, either by selecting their roof, their region or getting a quick quote by phone. 
  • All prices are estimates and still subject to site survey, and common exeptions can increase the cost of a system. We recommend to compare prices from at least three installers and let them do a free and non-obligatory site survey to get unique quotes for your roof.

Solar panel China minimum prices:

  • Chinese panels have a minimum price of 43 pence per watt (53 Eurocent). This is a protective measure from the EU, to help European panel manufacturers. The minimum price measure is in in place till December 2015 with nearly all Chinese solar panel manufacturers, and possibly continues in 2016.
  • Solar panels are about 40% of the total system cost for 4kWp systems. This means a system price of minimum 0.43 * 2.5 = 1.08 pounds. So £4.300 is the lowest price that would meet the minimum price, which is a bit below the current best prices.
  • EU manufacturers tend not to sell their panels below the Chinese minimum price, since their cost base is higher. Other countries could sell panels below this minimum price, but this has not been happening in the last year. Therefore we expect stable pricing going forward, with future price drops only in 2016.

 

 
 

Solar panel price by system size:

  • Prices for solar panels differ clearly by system size (see graph - average prices for 2014):
    • 2kWp (8 panels) of solar costs between £3.800 - £4.700 - price per watt-peak of £1.90 - £2.00
    • 3kWp (12 panels) of solar costs between £4.500 - £5.300 - price per watt-peak of £1.50 - £1.75
    • 4kWp (16 panels) of solar costs between £5.000 - £6.000 - price per watt-peak of £1.25 - £1.50
  • The best deal per unit of electricity produced (price per watt-peak) is with a large system around 4kWp (16 panels). Medium systems of 3kWp (12 panels) cost about 20% more and small systems of 2kWp (8 panels) cost about 50% more. Very large systems around  10kWp (40 panels) can cost 10% less but also have a 10% lower FiT subsidy rate.
  • Higher relative costs of smaller systems are caused by fixed price components of solar panel installations: e.g. scaffolding, wiring, putting the inverter in, doing the paperwork, site survey and travel costs, installer margin per job completed. So the key thing that increases the prices is the variable panel cost and the labour time of putting in the extra panels in, which is about £600 for 4 panels (one kWp).

 

Solar panel price by cost component:

  • The cost components of a 4kWp system price are about 40% for the panels, 10% for the inverter and around 50% for the installation (labour costs, mounting system, wiring, paperwork, site survey, installer margin). For smaller systems fixed costs increase so a 3kWp will have only 30% of costs for the panels, and for a 2kWp system has only about 25% of costs for the panels. All price estimates on CompareMySolar are including VAT and are for fully installed system on a standard tiled roof.
  • Common cost exceptions that can increase prices following a site survey are:
  • A slated roof - higher labour costs due to cutting of slates and adding lead cladding, rather than lifting up tiles.
  • Difficult roof access - requires more scaffolding which takes more time to setup.
  • A split system - installation on multiple roof parts (e.g. east-west) takes more time, more scaffolding and requires possibly a more expensive inverter.  
  • The use of micro-inverters - more costly than normal string inverters, although lifetime is longer.
  • Premium panels - e.g. premium brand, high efficiency, all black version.
  • Non-basic additions like: Battery back-up, immersun, or advanced monitoring systems - costs vary by solution.

 

Solar panel price by panel brand:

  • Most solar installers offer three types of solar panels: value, mainstream and high efficiency.
  • Value solar panels offer the best prices (around  £5.500 for 4kWp), whereas ‘mainstream’ panels cost about 10% more (around  £6,000), and ‘high efficiency’ panels cost around 25% more (from £7,000). The table on the right shows common brands in each category.
  • Mainstream panels advantage over value panels is that they tend to be from larger manufacters, which are more likely to be around in 10 or 20 years time. This is important since most solar panels have a manufacturer output warranty of 80% after 25 years.
  • High efficiency (20%+) panels advantage over mainstream panels is that they take less roofspace. But due to the higher costs we only recommend them for very small roofs where you want to maximize the system size. Besides, many mainstream manufacturers like Yingli, JA Solar and LG are moving efficiencies up from 15% towards 18%.

 

Solar panel price by installer:

  • Solar installers charge different prices for a similar system size, with 4kwp of solar panels costing between £5.000 and £7.000. From all installers on CompareMySolar, the lowest 10 installers have an average best price for a 4kWp system of £5.300 while the highest 10 have an average best price of £6.900
  • The main reasons for price differences are panel brand and materials used, installer overhead costs (mostly related to size), installer marketing spend and their margin expectations.
  • Besides price, the soft measure of ‘peace of mind’ is equally important. This is partially a gut feeling based on installer warranty, customer ratings / recommendations, and general impressions during the site survey. Always get quotes from at least 3 installers and keep in mind that panels are installed in just one day but need to earn their financial return during the 25 years after that.

 

 
 
 

Solar panel price news and links:

Solar panel price warnings: 

  • Very high quotes: against the REA consumer code, some installers are still quoting high prices above £9,000 for 16 panels, especially after door-to-door selling. Often this is combined with ‘sign now to get a big discount’ offers and pushy sales tactics. Please always get quotes from at least three installers, and take your time to compare quotes.
  • Very low quotes: we are hearing consumer stories of quotes that are much below £5.000 for 16 panels. None of our 70+ installers can currently offer prices like that, so please proceed with caution regarding deposit payments, since solar installers can cease trading or go bankrupt.