Cheapest Solar Panels

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Published on 3rd December 2023

Cheap Solar Panels

We're warming to the idea of cheap solar panels faster than a cuppa going cool on a rainy day. It's the frugal homeowner's best-kept secret to tapping into renewable energy without breaking the bank. Sure, they might not carry the premium price tag of their posher siblings, but there's no doubt they're lighting up the renewable energy scene in their own right. 

What's more, the average home with solar PV system could save around £155-£400 per year on electricity bills [1].

  • Cheap solar panels are a budget-friendly option for homeowners who want to switch to renewable energy and reduce their impact on the environment.
  • These panels make it possible for more people to use sustainable energy by providing an affordable way to get started with solar power.

They're a truly brilliant choice for anyone with a keen eye for both cutting their energy bills and caring for our planet.

Sources: [1]


comparing cheap solar panels in the UK

Compare the Cheapest Solar Panels

When it comes to affordable solar panels in the UK, there are several brands that offer competitive prices and reliable performance. Here's an in-depth comparison of some of the top affordable solar panel brands available in the UK market:

1. Trina Solar

If the idea of converting sunlight into savings tickles your fancy, Trina Solar ought to be top of your list. They've carved out quite the niche in the budget solar panel market, with prices floating around the enticingly economical £125 to £175 range.

Their panels commonly boast an efficiency rating of over 21.1%, which for the tech geeks among us is very impressive. There are whisperings about impressive longevity too, with reports of panels still going full tilt as long as 25 years down the line.

Popular Cheap Trina Solar Panels

Model Name      Price (£)Power Rating (Watts)Panel Efficiency (%)
Vertex S        £125      425W                21.1%                
Vertex S+      £150      425W                21.9%                
Vertex-S PERC  £175      505W                21.1%                

2. JA Solar

JA Solar has been big on solar power since 2005, going strong for 15+ years (impressive, right?). JA Solar is not some run-of-the-mill operation. From silicon wafers to cells and modules, they've got their fingers in lots of solar pies. Plus, they're not just a big deal in Beijing—they've spread their wings to over 100 countries, including our lovely, drizzly UK. 

The Most popular JA Solar panels will set you back between £120 to £150. Yes, you read it right! Best bit is they're handsome to look at and durable. So, if reliability and affordability tickle your fancy, then JA Solar are worthy of more than a glance.

Popular Cheap JA Solar Panels

Model Name      Price (£)Power Rating (Watts)Panel Efficiency (%)
MBB Mono PERC  £125      415W                21.3%                
MBB Mono PERC  £120      410W                21.0%                
MBB Mono PERC (All Black)  £150      405W                20.7%                

3. Jinko

Founded in 2006 and based in China (no, that's not a shipping nightmare), is a heavyweight in the worldwide solar market, boasting as the world’s largest solar module manufacturer in 2018. Now, doesn't that spark confidence? 

Honestly, you can't really fault their panels - they're priced quite comfortably within the 'cheap and cheerful' range, stretching from £125 to £145 a pop for their most popular panels. But hey, just because they're cheap, doesn't mean they're shoddy! Far from it, actually. Jinko panels are quite famous for their high efficiency and oustanding performance, all glossy and robust, making them an absolute catch for homeowners wanting to shave off those pesky energy bills without any sacrificing on the quality.

Popular Cheap Jinko Solar Panels

Model Name      Price (£)Power Rating (Watts)Panel Efficiency (%)
Tiger Neo N-type(All Black)  £125      420W                21.5%                
Tiger Neo N-type  £145      435W                21.8%                
Tiger Neo N-type (All Black)  £135      475W                22.0%                

4. Suntech

Suntech, who you might have heard of before (or maybe you haven't, I'm not judging your solar panel industry knowledge), is a solid option for bargain-hunting, sun-soaking Brits wanting to tap into the power of solar. They offer a range of affordable solar panels, with prices that vary from £195 to a slightly heftier £215 for their most efficient panels — not too shabby, right? 

Established back in 2001 (feeling old yet?), Suntech hails from China but don't let that put you off, they have indeed left a sunny imprint on the UK market. It's not just their reasonable prices that have raised a few eyebrows (in a good way, of course) — it's also their impressive durability and juicy efficiency. They're R&D is committed to ensuring your panels pump out as much energy as possible, meaning you get more bang for your hard-earned pound!

These guys have stood the test of time, demonstrating a strong presence and reliability in the solar industry. So if you fancy a bit of Eastern innovation and longevity in your backyard, Suntech might be up your alley.

Popular Cheap Suntech Solar Panels

Model Name      Price (£)Power Rating (Watts)Panel Efficiency (%)
Ultra V Mini  £195      410W                21.0%                
Ultra V Mini        £205      415W                21.5%                
Ultra V Pro Mini      £215      415W                22.0%                

While affordability is a key factor, it's equally important to ensure that the panels meet your specific energy needs and offer long-term reliability.

By comparing these brands based on various factors, homeowners can make an informed decision and choose the best affordable solar panel option that suits their requirements and budget.


couple sat on sofa reading cheap solar panel brochure

Case Study: Cheapest Solar Panel Costs

When it comes to understanding the costs of solar panels in the UK, it's helpful to look at real-life examples. In this case study, we'll examine the installation of a typical residential solar PV system and see how it affects homeowners financially.

Cost Breakdown

Here's a breakdown of the costs involved in installing a 2.37 kWp (6x JA Solar Mono MBB 395W) solar PV system for an average three-bedroom house in the UK:

Initial cost: The total cost, including the inverter and installation expenses, is around £4,226.67

Cost Category                          Amount (£)
PV Equipment, Associated Materials and Delivery£2,281.68
Total equipment cost                  £2,281.68  
                            
Electrical and Roofing Work            £1,145.00  
Access Equipment                      £800.00    
Total services cost                    £1,945.00  
                            
Totals                                       
Total before tax                      £4,226.67  
VAT at 0.00%                          £0.00      
Total including tax                    £4,226.67  

Return on Investment

By investing in solar power systems, homeowners can benefit from:

  1. Payback Period: With the decreasing price of solar panels and potential reductions in electricity bills, they can recover their initial investment faster.
  2. Government support: Programs like the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) and zero VAT rates for solar panels help make solar installations financially viable by providing additional incentives.

Considerations

Here are some factors to consider when thinking about getting solar panels:

  1. Quality vs. affordability: While inexpensive solar panels may seem attractive due to immediate cost savings, it's important to think about their efficiency and how long they will last.
  2. Choosing reputable brands: Going with well-known manufacturers with good customer support becomes crucial when evaluating the long-term performance and value of affordable solar panels.
people in the kitchen thinking about the cost of solar panels

Are Cheap Solar Panels Worth It?

Considering diving into solar energy, but your wallet's telling you a Rolls-Royce model might be out of your league? No worries! Lower-cost solar panel kits might just be your ticket. Now, they may not come with all the bells and whistles of their pricier counterparts, but they could still tick most, if not all, of your boxes.

So, how do you decide if the affordable option is the way to go?

Here are a few nuggets to mull over:

Financial advantages of cheap solar panels:

  • You'll make your money back faster: One of the main advantages of cheap solar panels is that they usually pay for themselves faster. Because you didn't spend as much money upfront, you'll start saving on your energy bills sooner.

Considerations when buying cheap solar panels:

  • Make sure they're from a good brand: When you're looking at cheaper solar panel options, it's important to choose ones that are made by a reputable brand. That way, you can be more confident that they'll work as advertised and last a long time.
  • Read reviews from other customers: Reviews from people who have already bought and used solar panels can give you a better idea of how well they work in real life. Websites like Trustpilot have lots of reviews that can help you make up your mind.

Finding cheap solar panels that go the distance is a bit like trying to find a bargain bucket of caviar at Lidl - you've got to have your wits about you. But rest easy, because we've got you covered. 

Peruse some brand reviews, and really digest the crux of what makes cheaper solar panels tick. Read between those customer review lines - remember, one man's junk is another man's back-to-the-future, environment-saving, electrifying treasure! 

Keep in mind though, it's not a one-size-fits-all equation. For some, cheap can mean cheerful, for others, cheap might feel a bit weak at the knees. It boils down to your personal circumstances.


good and bad weather to depict the pros and cons of cheap solar panels

Pros and Cons of Cheap Solar Panels

Let's get into the nitty-gritty of the pros and cons of these budget panels.

Benefits of Cheap Solar Panels

  • Savings on Initial Investment: One of the main advantages of choosing cheaper solar panels is the lower upfront cost required. Affordable solar panels can be a more accessible option for homeowners who want to switch to clean energy without spending too much money.
  • Quicker Time to Recover Costs: Because of the lower initial expense, affordable solar panels often have shorter payback periods. This means that homeowners can start earning back their investment and enjoying reduced electricity bills sooner compared to pricier alternatives.
  • Suitable for Small-Scale Projects: Affordable solar panels can be a practical choice for small projects or homeowners on a tight budget who want to start with a smaller system and expand later on. They provide flexibility in terms of system size and allow for gradual expansion as finances allow.

Limitations of Cheap Solar Panels

  • Lower Efficiency Levels: Inexpensive solar panels usually have lower efficiency levels compared to high-end options. This means they may generate less electricity from the same amount of sunlight, resulting in potentially lower overall energy savings.
  • Possibly Shorter Lifespans: Affordable solar panels may not have the same durability and lifespan as premium panels. The use of cheaper materials and manufacturing methods can result in shorter lifespans and potential maintenance issues in the future.
  • Balancing Upfront Savings with Long-Term Performance: While affordable solar panels offer initial cost savings, it's important to consider the long-term performance and reliability. Homeowners should carefully think about the trade-off between upfront savings and potential future expenses related to maintenance, repairs, or early replacement.

graph of imaginery cheap solar brands to compare in the UK

Choosing the Right Affordable Solar Panel Brand

You might want to consider this - snagging a bargain on those cheap and cheerful solar panels is worth squat if you're not choosing a brand that rings with quality and reputation. Picking the right manufacturer is the real priority here. Not only do they make sure their products will stand the test of time, but when you're stuck in a pickle, their customer support is bang on.

So, here are some things you need to think about as you jump into decision mode.

Let’s chew on the details:

1. Research the Reputation of Different Solar Panel Brands

Research the reputation of different solar panel brands in the market. Look for well-established companies with a proven track record of delivering high-quality products. A brand that has been in the industry for a long time and has positive customer feedback is more likely to provide reliable solar panels.

2. Read Customer Reviews

Platforms like Trustpilot can offer valuable insights into the real-world performance of solar panel brands. Read customer reviews to understand their experiences with specific brands and their satisfaction levels. Look for patterns in the reviews regarding panel performance, durability, and overall customer experience.

3. Pay Attention to Warranty Coverage

Pay attention to the warranty coverage offered by different brands. A longer warranty period can indicate that the manufacturer has confidence in their product's quality and durability. Consider both the product warranty (covering manufacturing defects) and the linear output warranty (guaranteeing the panel's performance over time).

4. Review Efficiency Ratings

While affordable solar panels may have lower efficiency levels compared to premium options, it's still important to review the efficiency ratings of different brands. Higher efficiency panels will generate more electricity from sunlight, maximising your energy production.

Remember, balancing upfront savings with long-term performance is crucial when choosing affordable solar panels. Choosing a reputable brand with positive customer reviews, you can increase your chances of finding affordable solar panels that meet your energy needs effectively.

Note: It's always recommended to consult with professionals and obtain multiple solar quotes before making any final decisions.


charts and graphs analysising various aspects of cheap solar panels

Quality Indicators for Solar Panels

If you're mulling over solar panels for your home, the quality standards are a big deal in figuring out their lasting effectiveness and trustworthiness.

Panel Efficiency

One of the most essential points to consider when choosing solar panels is their efficiency. Panel efficiency directly impacts their electricity generation capacity, which ultimately affects the overall energy output of the system. Higher efficiency panels can generate more electricity in limited space and under varying light conditions, making them a more attractive choice for many consumers.

Linear Output Warranty

The presence of a linear output warranty is vital for ensuring the long-term performance and reliability of solar panel kits. This type of warranty guarantees that the panels will maintain a certain level of power output over time, providing consumers with assurance regarding the expected energy production throughout the lifespan of the panels. A robust linear output warranty can offer peace of mind and financial security by safeguarding against potential declines in performance.

Comparison Across Panel Brands

When comparing cheap and premium panel brands, it's important to look at the efficiency and warranty offerings of each. While premium panels may boast higher efficiencies and longer warranties, advancements in technology have enabled some affordable panel options to provide decent efficiency levels and reasonable warranty coverage. By carefully weighing these factors against the cost differential, consumers can make informed decisions that align with their budget and performance expectations.


2 different solar panels side by side being compared

Types of Cheap Solar Panels

When it comes to choosing solar panels, there are different types available in the market. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a closer look at the three main types of solar panels:

1. Monocrystalline Silicon Panels

Monocrystalline panels are known for their high efficiency, making them one of the most popular options in the market. They are made from a single crystal structure, which allows them to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently compared to other types. These panels have a sleek black appearance and can generate more power even in low-light conditions.

Advantages:

  • Higher efficiency
  • Sleek black appearance
  • Better performance in low-light conditions

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than other types

2. Polycrystalline Panels

Polycrystalline panels are another common choice for homeowners. These panels are made from multiple silicon crystals, giving them a distinctive blue color.

Advantages:

  • Cheaper price
  • Suitable for diverse climates

Disadvantages:

  • Lower efficiency compared to monocrystalline panels

3. Thin-Film Panels

Thin-film panels are made by depositing photovoltaic material onto a substrate such as glass or metal. They have a flexible design, allowing for easier installation on curved surfaces or irregular shapes.

Advantages:

  • Flexible installation options
  • Lower cost compared to crystalline silicon panels

Disadvantages:

  • Lower efficiency levels
  • Require more space for desired power output

Let's get something straight, matching your personal requirements and available financial assets to a suitable solar panel type is no small matter:

  1. If you prioritise high efficiency and can afford a higher upfront cost, monocrystalline panels may be the best choice for you.
  2. If you're on a tight budget but still want decent performance, polycrystalline panels offer a cost-effective solution.
  3. If you have unique installation requirements or limited space, thin-film panels might be the most suitable option.

When it comes down to it, your choice hinges on your personal needs and how much room you've got for installation. 

Don't forget, it's a smart move to seek advice from a reputable solar panel installer or manufacturer to figure out which type of panel fits your brief like a glove.


UK government showing public support for solar panels

Government Support and Incentives for Solar Panels in the UK

Let's take a peek at the hefty handouts the UK government's dishing out to make it a smidgen easier on your purse strings, and encourage us all to embrace a bit of that delightful renewable energy.

Here's what's up:

UK government grants for homeowners

Did you know that the UK government is throwing cash your way to make going solar a smoother ride?

By offering several grants and financial incentives, they're helping reduce those hefty initial costs that come with solar panel installation.

Crack open that piggy bank and count off a hefty chunk less in solar panel costs, thanks to these bountiful grants.

It's like Christmas for energy efficiency!

Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) scheme

This clever initiative known as ECO4 does seek to support those struggling with fuel poverty and outdated insulation.

Neat, huh? 

So, who’s this scheme got its beady eye on, you ask?

Predominantly, we’re talking about folks on low incomes, living in properties that are about as energy-efficient as a sieve.

If that has a familiar ring to it, well, you might just be in with a shot at catching a break with this support scheme.

Swing by the government's 'Eligibility Checker' for all the details

So, you're ready to hop on this solar-paneled gravy train - what next?

Start by giving your energy provider a bell; they will hold your hand and guide you through the application process.

It's all very official – you might end up having to fill in forms or make earnest, phone calls.

Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) 

Now, let's have a natter about the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). You might be thinking, "Alright, what’s this all about then?" Well, prepare to have your solar-powered socks knocked off, friends! 

Launched by the UK Government in 2020, the SEG is a scheme that makes energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers (the big guns, essentially) pay households for the surplus renewable electricity they export back to the grid.

So with SEG, essentially you'll have the power companies footing your bill. No, you're not dreaming! These big energy companies must offer an export tariff to small-scale low-carbon generators.

  • Economy Alert: While the tariff rates are not fixed, they have to be more than a big fat zero (Ofgem's playful, not-so-beneficial way of saying they can't stiff you worse than a rotten cuppa).
  • Freedom to Switch: You're not stuck with a supplier if they try playing silly buggers either. You can switch, keeping those providers on their toes!

Now, while this all sounds like rainbows and unicorns, there are a few catches.

Firstly, your system size must be less than 5MW: if you're thinking of decking out the entire neighbourhood in solar panels, you're out of luck.

And secondly, your system must be MCS-certified. This ensures that the installation meets the agreed industry standards.


framed illustration of solar panel FAQs

Cheap Solar Panels FAQ


Are cheap solar panels a good choice?

Absolutely, my budget-conscious amigo. Even budget-friendly options can be quite efficient these days. Just remember to take everything into account—not just the initial price, but also things like lifetime cost, efficiency, and warranty length.


What's the lifespan of cheap solar panels?

Generally, solar panels—no matter their price range—should last around 25 to 30 years. However, that doesn't mean they stop working after this period, they just lose a bit of their efficiency.


Can I benefit from government incentives with cheap solar panels?

The UK government does indeed offer a few schemes to encourage solar energy use, and these usually apply to all solar panels, regardless of cost. So yes, get ready to enjoy perks like the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) scheme.


Are all solar panels created the same?

There are different types like monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film panels—each with their own pros and cons. Plus, different brands might also vary in quality and efficiency. Do your research, or better yet, let a professional guide you!


Is it even worth it going for cheap solar panels?

It's true that more expensive panels are usually more efficient, but that doesn't mean cheap ones can't meet your needs. It all boils down to how much energy you need to generate and your local climate. Besides, technology is always improving, so even budget panels are getting more efficient by the day.