Thousands of people like you are getting solar panels. But are solar panels worth it in Ireland? On the one hand, solar panels can give you big savings 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. So read on and 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. Better still, solar PV is now more cost-effective than solar thermal. Overall, solar PV is almost always the better option for new solar energy 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. Typically, you can reduce your electricity bill by around 40-50% with solar panels and a power diverter (for hot water). Add a battery to boost your savings to 70% or more. These numbers are year-round estimates 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.
The lower end of the price range would give you approximately 2kW of standard panels plus a power diverter. Meanwhile, the top end of the price range could get you 8kW of premium panels, a power diverter, and a large battery. Blackout protection is an optional extra that generally costs around €1,500.
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. Firstly, 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 and stable return on investment. Image Licence: 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 you continue to get all your electricity from the power company. Here’s an example:
Solar panels cost = €7,000 Solar panels electricity value per year = €875 Electricity bills difference = €875 X 35 = €30,625 Difference = €23,635
This result means you’ll be €23,635 better off overall by going solar. Taking increasing electricity prices into account, real-world savings are likely to be even higher.
Get Paid for Your Surplus Electricity
The Irish government is finalising the details of the “Smart Export Guarantee” scheme. This scheme will pay the owners of solar panels for their surplus electricity. Payments will be set at the relatively modest price of wholesale electricity. However, this will be enough to tip the economics in favour of solar for even more people, especially those with relatively low electricity use. With a large solar panel system, you could even be getting a cheque rather than a bill from your electricity supplier at the end of the month! The scheme rolls out at the end of 2021, but you will need your smart meter installed to avail of the payments.
Three More Reason Why Solar Panels Can be Worth it in Ireland
You now have the information to decide if solar panels are worth it financially. However, there are three other non-financial factors to consider before you make your mind up about solar panels in Ireland:
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 compromise our energy security; and they release harmful emissions when burned. Luckily, solar panels can help address these problems. With solar panels, you can produce clean indigenous electricity while supporting Irish jobs. In fact, CO2 savings from a single solar panel system are around 1 metric tonne per year:
Ready for Quotes from Ireland’s Best Solar Installers?
Ready to claim your €3,000 grant and start saving with solar today? With grants available now and export payments starting in July, there has never been a better time to go solar. Don’t miss your chance – Enter your Eircode below: