Solar panel installation in Ireland

Discover how solar energy works, how much it costs, available grants in Ireland and whether solar panels can save you money on energy bills.

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels harness the sun’s power to create electricity or heat water.

To generate usable energy, sunlight is converted into electricity via photovoltaic (PV) glass.

Sunlight can also be used to create thermal energy to heat water using technology like reflectors and concentrators.

Types of solar panel installation

There are two types of solar panel systems available in Ireland, both of which will reduce or cover the cost of your energy bills.

  • Solar PV The photovoltaic method converts sunlight into electricity via rooftop solar PV panels. This creates free, useable electricity to power your home.
  • Solar Thermals This method heats water in a cylinder via solar collectors that absorb solar radiation. The system can meet around 60% of your annual hot water needs.

What can solar energy power in the home?

Renewable electricity harnessed via solar panels can meet various household energy needs, for example:

  • White goods, TVs, PCs, small appliances and lights
  • Electric heaters like radiators, panel or storage heaters
  • Hot water systems for bathing, laundry and dishwashing
  • Electric vehicles
  • Charging solar storage batteries

Solar Panel Installation

How much sunlight do solar panels need?

Solar panels work even in cloudy conditions, so as long as there are 4-5 hours of daylight each day, solar PV will harness enough energy to power your home.

The sunnier it is, the more energy your panels will produce, but solar power is absorbed even on the dullest mid-winter days.

So, despite Ireland’s rainy reputation and cool climate, the newest solar panels can harness enough solar radiation to meet an average household’s needs, whatever the weather.

How many kWh do solar panels produce per day?

It depends on several factors such as panel size, orientation and weather conditions, but on average a 3kW system will generate anything between 3kWh (kilowatt hours) on an overcast day and 10kWh of energy on a sunny day.

This equals around 2,600kWh per year - which is about 60% of an Irish household’s typical annual electricity consumption.

How much do solar panels cost in Ireland?

Although the price of installing solar panels has dropped over the years, it’s still quite a big financial commitment. The price of solar panel installation will vary depending on:

  • The size of your house
  • Your energy requirements
  • The location and orientation of your home
  • The type of solar panels and manufacturer
  • The installer and roof accessibility

Typically, a domestic solar PV system should cost around €1,500 - €2,000 per kW installed. So, a 4kW solar generation system could cost around €8,000.

A solar thermal system would cost between €2,000 and €7,500, depending on the type and number of collector panels installed.

How many solar panels do you need?

Most solar panels in Ireland are between 1.5 and 2 square metres (m2) with an output of between 250w and 400w per panel.

Here’s a rough idea of the system size and number of panels you’d need for the size of your household.

Household members PV system size Number of panels
1-2 3 kW 6-10
3-4 4 kW 10-14
5+ 6 kW 14-20

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How long do solar panels last?

Most solar panels come with performance warranties that guarantee their power output for a certain period, typically ranging from 20 to 25 years. However, research and industry data suggest that well-maintained solar panels can last for 25 to 30 years or even longer.

The lifespan of solar panels can vary depending on factors such as:

  • quality of the panels
  • the manufacturer
  • the installation conditions
  • maintenance practices

While the performance warranty indicates that the solar panels should still be operating at a certain level after the warranty period, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will stop working altogether, although there could be a gradual decrease in efficiency.

How much can solar panels save you?

This will depend on the size of the installation and your energy usage, but based on a 4 kW installation and average electricity usage for a three-bedroom house, the savings may look like this:

Energy costs
  • Annual electricity use: 4,200 kWh per year
  • Unit rate: 35.83c per kWh*
  • Annual cost: 4,200 x €0.3583 = €1504.86
Energy savings
  • 4kW Solar PV system: 3,400 kWh per year
  • Annual saving: 3,400 x €0.3583 = €1218.22
  • Remainder left to pay: €286.64

The bottom line: A 4Kw solar system on a three-bedroom house could potentially take around 80% off your annual electricity bill and save you over €1,000 every year.

*based on Electric Ireland rate 2/7/2024

What grants are available for energy upgrades?

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers two grant options for homeowners who want to install solar energy panels for their homes:

  • Solar PV Grant: A grant of up to €2,100 towards the cost of installing a solar PV system. Get eligibility and application details from SEAI.
  • Solar Water Heating Grant: A grant worth €1,200 for the installation of solar thermal systems. Find out more from SEAI.

In both cases, all homeowners and private landlords whose homes were built and occupied before 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply.

How do you apply for a Solar PV grant?

The SEAI advises that you only start installation once you’ve received grant confirmation. Grant offers are valid for eight months and only payable for the size of installation and grant amount referenced in the original grant offer.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find a registered SEAI solar energy installer
  2. Apply for your SEAI grant
  3. Wait for grant confirmation before work starts
  4. The installer must apply to ESB Networks
  5. The installer fits the system
  6. Arrange a post works Building Energy rating (BER)
  7. The installer must submit evidence of works to SEAI
  8. The SEAI process the claim

You should receive your grant payment around six weeks after the installer has submitted evidence they’ve fitted your solar PV system.

How long does it take to recoup the cost of solar panels?

The time it takes to pay back solar panel installation is determined by many factors, such as:

  • the capacity of your solar PV system
  • orientation of your solar panels
  • household energy consumption
  • cost of your system

To get a rough idea of the time it would take to recoup your costs, estimate your annual savings and use that figure to calculate how many years it would take to cover the installation costs. Alternatively, use this handy solar payback calculator from SEAI.

Are solar panels worth it?

Solar panel installation in Ireland is becoming increasingly popular as homeowners and businesses look for ways to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint.

There are many benefits to installing solar panels in Ireland, including:

  • Reduced energy bills: Solar panels can generate electricity to power your home or business, significantly reducing your energy bills.
  • Environmental benefits: Solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source, which can help reduce your carbon emissions and improve air quality.
  • Energy independence: good solar energy system means you’re less vulnerable to price hikes and power outages. You may even benefit from a feed-in tariff and energy exporting.

There are also some drawbacks to consider, including:

  • Upfront costs: The price of installation is considerable, so you’ll only start to see a return on your investment after you’ve covered the initial costs, which could be at least five years.
  • Roof space and design: Solar panels require a fair amount of roof space to provide adequate energy, and some people may find them unsightly and obtrusive.
  • Long-term value: Although solar panels last up to 30 years and are low maintenance, if you decide to move house, you may not get to reap the rewards.

To counter the high cost to householders, the Irish government offers several grants to help homeowners install solar panels, which goes some way to alleviating upfront costs.

As the technology evolves, solar panel systems will get smaller and more efficient, taking up less roof space and providing even more cost-saving benefits to households.

How to find a solar panel installer in Ireland

When choosing a solar panel installer in Ireland, it is essential to do your research and get quotes from multiple companies.

Ensure the installer is registered with the SEAI and has a good reputation. Although solar panel installers don’t need a formal qualification, installation must be carried out by a Registered Electrical Contractor.

The SEAI advises you to use a contractor from the Renewable Installers Register which provides contact details of installers who have undergone accredited training.

Can you fit solar panels yourself?

Legally, there is nothing to stop you from fitting your own solar panels, but safety rules require a certified electrician to make the final connections. A DIY installation would also affect your eligibility for SEAI grants and warranties, which require work to be done professionally.

Do you need planning permission for solar panels?

Planning permission isn’t required if your solar PV system is under 12 square metres and less than 50% of the total roof area of your home. There are different rules for businesses.

Speak to a local installer or planning authority if you’re unsure about your PV system needs and the required permissions.

Solar panel installation FAQs

What is battery storage?

Battery storage systems are devices that store renewable energy for use when extra power is needed.

Battery storage for home use, also known as home battery systems or residential energy storage, is a technology that allows homeowners to store excess electricity generated from their solar panels. They can also use it to store electricity from the grid during off-peak hours.

This stored energy can be used later when the demand for electricity is high, during power outages, or when the cost of electricity is more expensive.

What is a feed-in tariff?

In Ireland, the feed-in tariff (FIT) is a government support scheme designed to encourage renewable energy generation, particularly from homes, farms and businesses.

The FIT provides a guaranteed payment for electricity that’s generated from renewable sources and fed into the grid. Householders can receive a fixed payment for each unit of excess electricity they generate and export to the grid. The payment rate is predetermined and guaranteed for a specific period by your supplier.

Do I have to get my solar panels serviced?

Generally, solar panel installations are quite durable and require minimal maintenance. However, periodic inspections and maintenance can help ensure the best performance and longevity. It’s a good idea to:

  • Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Visually inspect your panels regularly for debris, loose connections or cracks
  • Clean your panels when required, this will depend on rainfall and location
  • Check your inverter, which may require occasional repair or replacement
  • Consider a professional service periodically

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