A quick guide to solar panels and home batteries in the UK


With prices endlessly spiraling upwards and the majority of the UK’s energy still produced by burning fossil fuels, solar panels offer homeowners the chance to wriggle out of the grip of the big six energy firms and go it alone.

Given the UK’s variable weather, it’s unlikely that solar panels will generate enough energy to completely power a home, but they could make a significant dent in energy bills. And with the government paying households for generating energy in the first place, and the added option of selling excess energy back to the National Grid, having a solar panel and storage battery could add up to significant savings over a number of years.

Here is a selection of the best solar panel and storage batteries out there to get started on the road towards solar self-sufficiency.

IKEA

The Swedish manufacturer has branched out beyond flatpack furniture and now sells rooftop solar panels as well as battery packs that let you store any extra power you might generate. With a six-panel system starting at £3,535, getting set up with solar isn’t cheap, but as well as saving up to £380 on the average annual bill energy, homeowners can get paid for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity they generate through the government’s ‘feed-in tariff,’ and might be eligible to sell any excess power back to their energy supplier.

Any of IKEA’s three solar panel options can be paired with a battery that can be hidden in the garage and will stop any excess power generated by the solar panels going to waste, meaning that homes can run on solar energy even when it’s cloudy outside. According to Ikea, households without a battery system only use 40 per cent of the solar energy they generated, while adding a battery doubles this to 80 pc.

Price: From £3,535

Tesla

If you’re in no rush to switch over to solar, then Tesla’s Solar Roof might be worth waiting for. Unlike conventional solar panels which tend to stick out like a sore thumb, Tesla has cleverly hidden solar panels within roof tiles so from the roadside a house kitted out with Tesla’s Solar Roof is indistinguishable from its non-renewable neighbour.

To store all that renewable energy, Tesla has built a battery, the Powerwall, that attaches to the outside of a building and will work with Solar Roof or existing solar panels. It’s not cheap though. The Powerwall starts at £5,970 with typical installation costs running upwards of £950. The Solar Roof is currently being trialled in the US, but if people in the UK can’t wait, they can reserve their Solar Roof now for a deposit of £800.

Price: From £5,970

Powervault

UK-based PowerVault doesn’t sell solar panels, but if it’s just energy storage you’re after, it has a range of batteries to suit most needs. The smallest Powervault 3 can hold 4.1kWh of energy – about enough to keep a fridge-freezer on for half a day – while the largest stores a full 20.5kWh, but does cost a hefty £12,900. Powervault also sells a cheaper version of its storage batteries made from recycled electric vehicle batteries.

Price: From £4,500

Moixa

Moixa offers one of the cheapest combined solar panel and storage battery available in the UK, with a bundle including a 2kWh and six solar panels starting at £4,995 including installation. That battery is fairly trim compared to Powervault’s beefiest models, but with its solar panels producing an average of 4.7kWh per day (more in summer, less in winter), it’s very unlikely you would be producing bags of excess energy anyway. Its small size also means that it can fit away neatly under the stairs or in a garage. Moxia customers can also join a scheme that lets them sell back excess energy to the National Grid, earning them either a fixed income of £50 a year or a share of the profits generated by the energy sold.

Price: From £4,995

Nissan

Not satisfied with its range of electric vehicles, Nissan is also getting into the solar panel game. As with Moxia, Nissan lets customers pair together solar panels and batteries in bundles that start from £7,635. Measuring 120cm high and 89cm wide, Nissan’s batteries are fairly chunky and will need to be installed on an interior load bearing wall, but they will stop any excess energy generated from going to waste and let you track storage and consumption in real time.

As with Powervault, Nissan gives customers the option of buying storage batteries that use to be part of an electric vehicle – but keeping things within the brand, with the car manufacturer each of its pre-owned batteries started life within a Nissan Leaf.

Price: From £7,635

Want to know more about the future of energy?

This article is part of our WIRED on Energy series. From the Chinese car firms taking on Tesla to the untapped power of poop, we’re taking an in depth look at the technologies and ideas changing how we power our world.

Follow the hashtag #WIREDonEnergy on Twitter for all of our coverage.

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