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Last updated: 13th May, 2024


Are Solar Panels Suited to My Property?

Are Solar Panels Suited to My Property?

Key takeaways

  • Solar panels are an eco-friendly option that may result in savings, but have an initial high cost.
  • Gas boilers offer reliable heating and are well-suited to the UK climate.
  • A combination of both solar panels and a gas boiler can provide energy efficiency and heating reliability.

The focus is on specific types of properties that are ideal for solar panels and those that are not, assessing aspects such as roof compatibility, exposure to sunlight, and potential for energy savings.

Determining whether solar panels are a suitable investment for your property hinges on multiple factors such as location, roof orientation, and energy consumption habits. Solar power presents a renewable energy option that can lead to substantial savings on your electricity bills and a reduction in carbon footprint.

However, the initial cost of solar panel installation is significant and should be weighed against long-term benefits. While solar energy is environmentally friendlier, it may not be the most reliable source for every household, particularly in areas with less sunlight or on properties where installing a sufficient number of panels is not feasible.

Conversely, installing a new gas boiler may be more pragmatic for some homes, particularly if they require a consistent and reliable source of heating. Gas boilers are typically suited to the UK climate, providing an effective and immediate source of heat.

The decision to install a gas boiler might be influenced by the current infrastructure of the home and the need for a dependable heating solution that is less dependent on weather conditions.

In some cases, homeowners have the option to use a hybrid system, incorporating both a gas boiler and solar panels to maximise energy efficiency. This approach provides the flexibility of solar power when conditions permit and the reliability of gas heating when needed.

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What are Solar Panels?

Solar panels harness solar energy to produce electricity. They consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells for electricity generation and can also take the form of solar thermal panels for heating purposes.

How do Solar Panels Work?

Solar PV panels contain several cells made of silicon. These cells are semiconductors, which become energised when exposed to sunlight, creating an electric field. As photons – particles of light – strike silicon cells, electrons are knocked loose, and this movement generates an electric current. The panels are often paired with an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced to alternating current (AC), which can be used in the home or fed into the national grid.

  • Components of a Solar PV Panel:

    • Silicon Cells: The active element that converts light into electricity.

    • Inverter: It converts DC to AC electricity.

    • Wiring: Conducts the electricity.

    • Mounting: Secures the panels on the roof or ground.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Panels


  • Renewable: Solar panels capitalise on solar energy, an abundant and renewable source.

  • Cost-saving: They can lead to significant electricity bill reductions over time.

  • Low Maintenance: Solar panels require minimal maintenance once installed.

  • Sustainable: They provide a way to reduce one's carbon footprint by using clean energy.


  • Initial Investment: The upfront cost for installation can be high.

  • Weather Dependent: Their efficiency can be compromised on cloudy or rainy days.

  • Space Consumption: Adequate roof space is essential; not all roofs are suitable due to angle, orientation, or strength.

Solar thermal panels, unlike PV panels, contain a heat-absorbent material; these panels use sunlight to heat water or antifreeze in a closed-loop system. This system is particularly beneficial for heating water in residential or commercial properties. However, solar thermal panels are less prevalent than PV systems due to their more specific use-case.

Is My Home Suited to Solar Panels?

Determining whether a property is apt for solar panel installation pivots on several architectural and geographical nuances. In this section, the focus is on specific types of properties that are ideal for solar panels and those that are not, assessing aspects such as roof compatibility, exposure to sunlight, and potential for energy savings.

Which Properties Are Best Suited for Solar Panels?

Properties with unobstructed exposure to sunlight, especially those with south-facing roofs, are prime candidates for solar PV systems. This orientation maximises the capture of solar energy. Optimal roof conditions are as follows:

  • Inclination: A pitched roof with an angle of about 30 to 40 degrees to the horizontal.

  • Structure: The roof must be sturdy enough to support the weight of panels and associated equipment.

  • Material: Tiles or metals are typically conducive to installation.

  • Space: Adequate roof area without shade from trees or nearby buildings.

Such homes could witness a substantial reduction in electricity bills, as the solar panels provide free renewable energy during daylight hours. Moreover, excess renewable electricity can be sold back to the grid through Smart Export Guarantee schemes, bolstering financial returns. It's important to note that the solar PV system's efficiency is contingent on the inclusion of a proficient inverter and that running costs are generally low due to limited maintenance requirements.

Which Properties Are NOT Best Suited for Solar Panels?

Conversely, several factors may deem a property unsuitable for solar energy harnessing:

  • Orientation and Shading: North-facing roofs in the Northern Hemisphere receive less sunlight. Properties overwhelmed by shade from other buildings or dense foliage will also underperform.

  • Roof Condition: Weak or damaged roofs that cannot withstand the weight of solar panels without significant repair.

  • Planning Restrictions: Listed buildings or homes in conservation areas may face constraints on alterations.

  • Temporary Residency: For those not planning long-term residence in their current home, the initial investment might not yield a timely return.

If these conditions are present, homeowners may find their property ill-suited for a solar panel installation. In such scenarios, investing in alternative energy efficiency measures or heating systems, such as a new gas boiler, might offer a more viable solution for reducing energy bills. It's essential for property owners to carefully evaluate these considerations before proceeding with a solar panel installation.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Solar panel investment is an initial expenditure that should be weighed against long-term potential savings. It's not merely a purchase; it's an investment in a greener future and potentially lower energy expenses.

Initial Cost-

The initial cost of a solar PV (photovoltaic) system primarily consists of the price of the panels themselves and the inverter, which is critical for converting solar power into usable electricity. The average cost of a 3.5kWp solar PV system hovers around £7,000. Factors influencing this cost include the quality of the panels, the complexity of the installation, and additional components, such as the efficiency of the inverter. Most installations will also require the services of a certified electrician, which adds to the overall cost.

A detailed breakdown might look something like this:

  • Solar PV Panels: £4,500 - £6,000

  • Inverter: £1,000 - £1,500

  • Installation: £500 - £700

  • Miscellaneous (Scaffolding, etc.): £100 - £300

These prices can be even higher if the property requires structural reinforcement or if specialized products, such as panels designed for roofs with weight restrictions, are chosen.

Long-Term Savings

The long-term savings from solar panels come from the efficiency gains in energy production, allowing homeowners to potentially save on their energy bills. Additionally, excess electricity can sometimes be sold back to their energy company through schemes like the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Over their lifetime, solar panels are expected to significantly offset the initial outlay.

Factors influencing long-term savings:

  • Boiler Efficiency: Solar panels may reduce the need for a gas boiler, particularly if the property's radiators are already efficient.

  • Electricity Prices: As energy prices rise, savings are likely to increase.

  • System's Lifespan: Solar PV systems typically last around 25 years.

  • Maintenance: Low ongoing costs, though occasionally cleaning or an inverter replacement may be required.

It's important to understand that these savings are projections and actual figures will vary based on individual circumstances. A well-maintained system in an optimal location can maximise savings, while poorly sited installations might see less financial benefit.

Which Properties Are More Suited to a New Gas Boiler?

Properties best suited to new gas boilers often have characteristics demanding higher heating capacities, typically found in multi-bathroom houses. In such residences, the demand for simultaneous hot water use is higher, making gas boilers preferred due to their ability to deliver more power efficiently.

Several factors influence the suitability of a new gas boiler:

  • Space Availability: Gas boilers require venting and access to a gas line. Properties with these pre-existing features can integrate a new gas boiler without major structural changes.

  • Energy Efficiency Concerns: While energy-efficient electric boilers exist, they might not always be the optimal choice. Gas boilers may offer better efficiency for larger homes and can be more cost-effective in areas with lower gas prices.

  • Existing Heating Systems: Homes with traditional radiator systems may find it more straightforward to replace an old gas boiler with a new one, rather than retrofitting for electric heating solutions.

Furthermore, the following table summarises these considerations:


Suitability for Gas Boiler

Number of Bathrooms


Existing Infrastructure

Gas connection and venting

Property Size

Larger homes

Heating Demands


It's noteworthy that while solar panels remain a greener alternative, they might not sufficiently meet the heating requirements of larger households when compared with a new gas boiler. Additionally, a property's location also plays a role; remote areas without a stable power grid could benefit from the reliability of a gas boiler.

When to Choose a New Gas Boiler

Selecting a new gas boiler becomes an optimal choice when the property owner seeks efficient space heating and a reliable supply of hot water. Modern boilers offer increased efficiency and control, suiting properties not fully compatible with solar panel systems.

Benefits of Modern Gas Boilers (in depth)

Gas boilers have undergone significant improvements in recent years. Most notably:

  • Efficiency: The latest models benefit from condensing technology, capturing heat that would escape through the flue in older boilers.

  • Control: Many are compatible with smart thermostats, enhancing user control over temperature and scheduling.

  • Space-saving: Combi boilers serve as both a high-efficiency water heater and a central heating boiler, eliminating the need for a separate hot water cylinder.

Features such as modulating burners adjust the burner's output to match the heat demand closely, further enhancing efficiency.

Long-term Savings

Initial Investment: Although the cost of a new boiler and installation can be substantial, long-term energy savings can justify the expenditure. Gas boilers typically have a lower running cost compared to electric combi boilers.

Efficiency Gains: Newer models operate with an efficiency rating of over 90%, whereas older boilers may only be 60-70% efficient.

Best Gas Boilers 2024

The top-rated gas boilers of 2024 include models renowned for their reliability, efficiency, and features that provide value for money. Here are a few selected models based on their performance:





Worcester Bosch

Greenstar 30i


Quiet operation, easy controls


ecoTEC Plus


User-friendly, durable


800 Series


Compact size, stainless steel

Most of these models are combi boilers, a popular type in the UK for their combined heating and hot water production without the need for a separate cylinder.

Can you have both a boiler and solar panels? - Yes, you can

In properties across the UK, homeowners can indeed pair a traditional gas boiler with solar panels. This combination promotes energy efficiency and cost savings.

How does this work and is it efficient?

Integrating solar panels with a gas boiler operates on a premise of energy diversification. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity that can be used to power the boiler, reducing reliance on the grid. This is especially effective during sunny periods when excess energy is produced. Conversely, when solar output is low, the gas boiler can act as a reliable backup.

Solar thermal panels differ as they directly heat water. These can be connected to a boiler's hot water system, ensuring that water temperature is maintained without excessive gas usage. Efficiency lies in this dual approach; it harnesses renewable solar energy when available, supplementing with gas when necessary. Maintenance for such systems is routine, with an annual service recommended to ensure optimal performance and prevent issues such as a carbon monoxide leak.


Investment in solar panels and a new boiler system is not insignificant, yet the long-term savings on energy bills can be substantial. Initial costs are context-specific, affected by property size, the complexity of installation, and chosen systems' capacities. A new gas boiler can range between £1,500 and £4,764 to install. Solar panel costs vary, and homeowners must also consider the warranty and potential maintenance costs.


Average Cost (GBP)

Additional Considerations

New Gas Boiler

£1,500 - £4,764

Annual service required

Solar Panel System


Maintenance, warranty

It must be noted that these figures do not account for possible government incentives or the potential increase in property value due to such eco-friendly upgrades. Over time, reduced utility bills and the use of excess energy to potentially generate income contribute to offsetting the initial expenses.

iHeat New Boiler Costs-

Boilers can be a daunting purchase for many people as they’re an appliance with a lot of responsibility, providing heat for you and your family is something you want to get right. Boilers aren’t exactly a quickly disposable item either, potentially lasting you a decade.

Effectively, new boiler cost can be split into two segments: the first is the actual boiler itself (unit price), and the second is the cost of the boiler being installed (set up) in your property by an expert engineer. 

Here at iHeat, we want to remove all of this undue stress and make the decision making process of upgrading to a new central heating system, as easy as possible.

Boiler costs can vary depending on a number of factors including their brand, model, fuel, output, warranty, labour and installation type. Typically a new boiler will cost between £1,845 and £3,500, below is a list of average boiler installations offered by iHeat (guide only).

Installation Type

Price (inc VAT)

Combi to combi swap


Get a quote

System to combi conversion


Get a quote

New boiler install


Get a quote

Back boiler to a combi


Get a quote

System to system


Get a quote

Get a quote

Frequently Asked Questions

How many solar panels does it take to run a house?

The number of solar panels required to power a home depends on the household's energy consumption and the panels' efficiency. A typical home might require between 12-16 panels.

Is it harder to sell a house with solar panels in the UK?

The impact of solar panels on the ease of sale varies. Some buyers view them as a benefit due to lower energy costs, while others may be concerned about lease agreements if the panels are not owned outright.

How much are solar panels for a 3 bedroom house?

The cost for a 3 bedroom house can range between £5,000 and £8,000 for a 4kWp system, factoring in the size and quality of the panels.

Can I get free solar panels in the UK?

Free solar panel schemes, often termed 'rent-a-roof', are less common now. However, some companies still offer such schemes, where they retain ownership of the panels and benefit from the Feed-in Tariff.

How can I qualify for free solar panels?

Qualification for free solar panel schemes may depend on the solar potential of the property, the integrity of the roof, and the orientation and pitch of the house. Higher electricity rate areas might be preferred by providers.

How much does it cost to install solar panels in the UK?

As of recent data, the installation cost for a 4kWp solar panel system in the UK averages between £5,000 and £8,000, with variations based on the system size, the panels' quality, and the installer's rates.

How many solar panels do I need for a 3 bedroom house in the UK?

Typically, a 3-bedroom house in the UK may require a 3-4 kWp solar panel system, equating to about 10-16 panels, depending on individual energy requirements and the efficiency of the chosen panels.

Stephen Day profile photo
Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.