Solar is booming across the UK, with households and businesses looking to cut their energy bills and get better cost certainty for the long term.

However, there are lots of myths about solar panels that are still holding people back from investing. In this article, we take a look at some of the most common myths and share the facts instead.

Myth – The UK isn’t sunny enough for solar panels.
Truth – Solar panels generate power in sunny and cloudy weather

Many people think that solar panels need direct sunlight in order to generate electricity, meaning that they aren’t worth getting in the UK.

While they do work best in direct light, solar panels react to the visible light spectrum and will continue to generate power on cloudy days. Basically, if it is light enough to see, it’s light enough to generate a small amount of power.

What’s more, the UK is sunnier than many of us give it credit for. According to statistics, we tend to get more than five ‘sun hours’ each day between April and September– leading to plenty of clean, green solar power.

Myth – Solar panels must face South to be effective
Truth – East and West facing solar panels are effective too  

It’s a common misconception that solar panels are only effective if they face directly South. You will see the biggest savings on your bills if you install panels on a south facing roof. However, East and West facing roofs are also viable options, producing around 85% of the power you would get from a South facing solar array.

The more degrees your rooftop faces to the South, the more power your solar panels will generate over a year (discounting other variables like shading).

It might even be an option to have smaller arrays across two rooftops to make the most of the sun as it changes position throughout the day.   

Do solar panels have to face south to be effective? No!

Find out if we’re installing solar panels in your area

Myth – Solar panels can’t power your home during a power cut
Truth – A Tesla Powerwall 3 will power your home with solar electricity during a power cut  

For most households, solar panels are designed to stop generating or exporting power during a power cut. This is for safety reasons, to eliminate the risk of electrocuting engineers working to get the power supply live again.

However, you can install technology that will temporarily take your home off-grid in the event of a power cut, meaning you can continue to use your home-generated electricity.

The Tesla Powerwall 3 is a battery storage solution that will continue to provide your home with power in the event of a power cut. You will be able to use up to 5kW of power at any one time, and a fully charged 13.5kWh Powerwall could last you for three or more days off-grid.  

Good Energy Solar is a premium Tesla installer, providing the Tesla Powerwall 3 across the South of England. Find out more.  

Myth – Solar panels aren’t a worthwhile investment
Truth – Solar panels can offer a return on investment better than most savings accounts  

Solar panels do require an upfront expense. However, with the average payback period being 14 years, they can offer a great return on investment (around 5% – 6% each year) that you’d be unlikely to get from a savings account. You can use the Energy Savings Trust calculator to estimate your return on investment.

This is because you can make money from solar panels in two ways. Firstly through savings in your energy bills – currently 24.5p for each unit of electricity you save (April 2024 price cap). Depending on the size of your solar array, and whether or not you have a battery, this could lead to savings of £400 or more every year.

Secondly, you can sell your excess power through a Smart Export Guarantee tariff. Our export tariff, Solar Savings, currently pays customers 15p per unit of electricity they export to the grid.

Solar panels can be a great investment, with a return of 5% - 6% each year.

With systems guaranteed for around 25 years, and lasting much longer than that, we think that solar panels can be a great investment.

Get a no obligation quote from Good Energy Solar today to see how much difference solar could make to your bills.

Myth – There’s no point getting solar panels without a battery
Truth – Solar panels work well without a battery if you’re using energy during the day  

If you’re using the majority of your energy during the day, then getting solar panels on their own might be a great option for you. It removes the expense of a battery and encourages more off-peak energy usage – a good thing for our energy grid.

Schedule your applicances to run during the day to make the most of solar power.

This might mean batch cooking and scheduling your washing machine, dishwasher and tumble dryer to all run during day light hours to make the biggest savings.

And anything you don’t use, you can get paid for via an export tariff (ours currently pays 15p per unit).

However, if you’re a more typical energy user – with your energy use peaking between 5pm and 7pm just as the sun is going down, then getting a battery might make financial sense in the long term.

Batteries enable you to store any electricity you’ve generated for later use, meaning that even once the sun has gone down, you can continue using solar power from your battery.

Myth – Getting a solar export tariff is more effort than it is worth 

Truth – A small upfront effort could leave you £200 better off every year  

From a recent customer survey, 15% of our supply customers with solar panels told us that they weren’t being paid for the energy they are exporting to the grid. They gave many reasons, including ‘not realising there was a viable alternative to the Feed in Tariff’ and ‘being too busy to sort it out’.

It can feel complicated signing up to an export tariff, but it is worth the initial effort to be paid for the power you export to the grid. And once you’ve signed up, you’ll get paid for your power going forwards with no additional effort (if you have a smart meter).  

What do you need to sign up to an export tariff?

Myth – You can’t join an export tariff if you get FIT payments 

Truth – A small upfront effort could leave you £200 better off every year  

There are thousands of households that receive the Feed in Tariff who could increase their payments by joining an export tariff.

The FIT scheme is made up of two payments: the larger generation payment, and a smaller export payment. By joining an export tariff, you would continue to receive your FIT generation payment, and would receive an export tariff payment in place of your FIT export payment.

On the FIT scheme, the maximum export payment is 6.79p per unit. Export tariffs can pay double this – making the average household an additional £100 each year. And if the rate drops again, you can switch back to your FIT export payment the next year. Find out more here.