Thousands of people like you are getting solar panels. But are solar panels worth it in Ireland? On one hand, solar panels can give you big saving on your electricity bills. On the other hand, solar panels come with a significant up-front cost. There are also some surprising benefits of solar panels that you might not have known about. Read on or watch the video to learn all you need to know!
The Two Types of Solar Panels
Did you know there are two different types of solar panels on the market? The first type is solar thermal. Thermal means heat and that’s exactly what solar thermal panels provide – hot water. Solar thermal panels can be worth it if you use a lot of hot water and you don’t have enough roof space for the second type of solar panel: Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Solar PV panels produce electricity directly from daylight. This is a great advantage because electricity is such a versatile form of energy. You can use electricity from solar PV panels to give you hot water and power everything else in your home too. Moreover, solar PV is now cost competitive with solar thermal, too. Overall, solar PV is almost always the better option for new solar systems in Ireland. So let’s focus on solar PV from here on.
Do Solar Panels Give a Decent Output in Ireland?
Solar panels can produce power from either daylight or sunlight. But do we get enough light to make solar panels worth it in Ireland? The answer is that Ireland’s climate is much more favourable to PV solar than many people realise. Specifically, a medium-sized solar panel system generates around 3,000 units of electricity per year in Irish conditions. That’s enough to cover around 70% of the electricity use for an average Irish household. So yes, a modern solar panel system can give a very decent output in Ireland.
How Much Will You Save With Solar Panels?
In general, the more electricity you use, the more you can save by getting solar panels. Generally speaking, you can save around 40-50% on your electricity bill with solar panels and a power diverter (for hot water). Add a battery and you can reduce your electricity consumption from the grid by 70% or more. These numbers are year-round averages and will be higher in the summer and lower in the winter. This image shows what that could mean in euro terms:
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Ireland?
As a rough guide, the all-in price for home solar panels is from €6,000 – €17,000. This includes installation and all other charges. When you add in the SEAI grant the cost comes down to €4,500 – €14,000.
At the lower end of the price range would be approximately 2kW of standard panels plus a power diverter. At the top end of the price range would be around 6kW of premium panels, a power diverter, and a large battery. Blackout protection is an optional extra that generally costs around €1,500.
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Solar Panels as a Financial Decision
Once you know the costs and the savings, you’ll be able to determine if buying solar panels will be a good financial decision. There are a couple of ways to weigh up solar panel finance. First of all, you can compare the return on your solar panels to other investment options like bank deposits or stocks and shares:
What are Solar Panels Worth as an Investment?
The year one return on investment for solar panels is generally somewhere in the range of 8-15%. After that, returns are likely to improve as inflation leads to higher electricity prices over time. For perceptive, savings accounts only pay around 2%, while you can make around 9% on the stock market. Solar panels compare even better as an investment when you take taxes into account.
Solar panels provide a high stable return on investment in Ireland. Image License: CC-BY. Credit: energyd.ie
Solar Panels Vs Electricity Bills
Another way to look at solar panel finance is to compare going solar versus continuing to pay bills on 100% of the power you use. Depending on the brand, solar panels can last 35 years or more. Multiply the annual savings from your solar panels by 35 and subtract the cost of the solar panels. This tells you how much extra you’ll spend over 35 years if continue to get all your electricity from the power company. Here’s and example:
Solar panels cost = €7,000 Solar panels electricity value per year = €875 Electricity bills difference = €875 X 35 = €30,625 Difference = €23,635
The result is that it would be €23,653 cheaper install solar panels than to continue getting all your electricity from the power company. This example doesn’t take account of increasing electricity prices so savings are likely to be even higher in practice.
Three More Reason Why Solar Panels Can be Worth it in Ireland
You can now decide if solar panels are worth it based on the electricity they produce. However, there are three more factors to take into account when you’re deciding if solar panels are worth it in Ireland. Only you can decide what each of these benefits is worth to you:
Solar Panels for Blackout Protection
Solar panels alone can’t power your house during a blackout, but by adding a smart battery you can keep the lights on even when the power goes out. Blackout protection generally won’t be enough to cover very heavy loads like electric showers. However, it can keep your fridge cool and let you use small appliances like lights, microwaves, and televisions. If you live in a part of Ireland that’s prone to power outages then it could be worth getting solar panels with blackout protection especially in mind.
Solar Panels and Energy Monitoring
Most solar panels systems today have an integrated sensor for monitoring your household power use. This lets you view your real-time and historical electricity usage from an app on your phone. With real-time energy monitoring, you’ll quickly learn which devices in your house are “energy hogs”. You could be surprised how easy it is to make even more electricity savings using this information.
The Social Benefits of Solar Panels
Today, Ireland is dependent on fossil fuel imports for electricity production. This is triply problematic: Fossil fuel imports are a drain on our economy, they comprise our energy security, and they release harmful emissions when burned. Luckily, solar panels can help reduce these problems. With solar panels, you can produce clean indigenous electricity all while supporting Irish jobs. And CO2 savings from a single solar panel system are around 1 metric tonne per year. And if you’re wondering how much that is – just have a look at the image below:
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