Note: This article contains out-of-date information about the Feed-in Tariff scheme (FITs) which closed to new applications on 31st March 2019. Find out more about the closure on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.
If you’ve done a bit of research into solar panel systems, you’ve probably seen 4kWp is a popular size for domestic properties.
But should you automatically choose a 4kWp system? The short answer is no, not always…
The Feed-in Tariff banding has changed
Before the beginning of the year, customers with solar panels on their roofs were paid a generation tariff for systems between 0-4kWp, then for systems over 4kWp and up to 10kWp.
That meant that a lot of people were put off by having a bigger system because their Feed-in Tariff (FITs) payments would go down. But now, the banding has changed to systems up to 10kWp.
For every unit of electricity you generate, the government’s Feed-in Tariff pays you 4.18p. And you’ll get another 4.91p for every unit that you export back to the grid.
So now, it’s worth investigating whether you can have a system bigger than 4kWp.
Check whether you have enough space
You will need a big enough roof to get a larger solar panel system. You’ll also need to make a G83 application, as systems above 3.86kW need approval from the electrical network operator.
The costs aren’t proportional to system size
If you’re worried that larger solar panel systems will cost much more to install, think again. You won’t necessarily have to spend more on an inverter that is capable of handling a bigger system.
You’ll also find that labour costs won’t differ much, and scaffolding costs could be the same or only slightly more expensive.
So it’s probably worth investigating if you can generate much more electricity and earn more money for only a slightly bigger outlay.
Case study: 4kWp system vs 5 kWp system in Kent
Take a look at these figures to see why you shouldn’t discount larger solar panel systems:
- A 4kWp system in Kent will earn £208 in the first year of FITs*
- A 5kWp system in Kent will earn £263 in the first year of FITs
- Over 20 years, the 5kWp system will earn you £1100 more
*We calculated these figures by assuming that you will export 50% of your electricity back to the grid, earning the 4.91p/kWh export tariff. It’s currently set at this as standard, but when smart meters roll out FITs will pay you for the exact amount of electricity you export.
Back in the good old days, you might grumble at these figures. But now, it makes more sense to get a larger system. If you get a bigger system than 5kWp the numbers will only go up.
If you’ve got a big family, larger solar panel systems are even better
If you use a lot of electricity, you’ll get even more out of a larger solar panel system.
Your payback time could be reduced. A 4kWp system could take 18 years to pay back, including the FITs payments and electricity bill savings, whereas you could break even in slightly less than that with a 5kWp system. Go bigger than that, and it could be even quicker.
So, is it time to stop automatically thinking that 4kWp is the biggest you can go with solar panel systems? We think so.
To see whether it’s possible for you to get a larger solar panel system, speak to the experts. Fill out our form below to get up to 4 free quotes from MCS-registered solar panel installers.