Back to Blog
Home > > How Many Solar Panels Do I Need? UK Guide to Accurate Calculation and Sizing

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need? UK Guide to Accurate Calculation and Sizing

As the popularity of renewable energy continues to grow in the UK, many homeowners are considering the benefits of installing solar panels on their property. One of the most common questions that arises during this process is determining the number of solar panels required for a specific household. This article aims to provide a concise guide on how to calculate the appropriate solar panel size for your UK home.

To determine the number of solar panels required, it is essential to understand the solar panel capacity that suits your energy consumption needs. The average UK home may require a solar PV system ranging from 3kW to 6kW. The size of your system depends on your energy usage, property size, and budget constraints. A 3kW system with 250W panels, for example, would need 12 panels, whereas a 6kW system would require 24 panels. However, this is just a rough estimation, as the number of panels can differ based on various factors.

When calculating the solar panel size for your home, it is also crucial to consider the efficiency of solar panels and the available roof space for installation. Monocrystalline solar modules are one type of solar panel commonly used in the UK due to their high efficiency rates. Nevertheless, the perfect solar panel size should provide an optimal balance between your energy requirements and your budget while being practical for your property.

Understanding Solar Panel Basics

Solar panels are essential components of a solar power system, allowing you to generate electricity for your home or business. To help you better understand solar panels and determine the appropriate number and size for your needs, we'll delve into the basics, covering different types of solar panels, their efficiency, and their key components.

Types of Solar Panels

There are three main types of solar panels available on the market:

  1. Monocrystalline solar panels: Known for their high efficiency, monocrystalline solar panels are created from a single crystal structure. They typically offer a sleek, black appearance and have a longer lifespan compared to other panel types.
  2. Polycrystalline solar panels: Made from multiple crystal structures, polycrystalline solar panels are more affordable than their monocrystalline counterparts but exhibit lower efficiency. They appear in a bluish hue due to the varying crystal structures.
  3. Thin-film solar panels: These panels consist of thin layers of photovoltaic material deposited onto a substrate. Thin-film panels are often lighter and more flexible, but they generally have the lowest efficiency of the three types.

Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar panel efficiency is a measure of how effectively a panel can convert sunlight into electricity. Higher efficiency panels can generate more power using a smaller surface area, and they require fewer panels to achieve the same output as lower efficiency options. Factors affecting solar panel efficiency include:

  • Material quality and composition
  • Cell arrangement and design
  • Reflection and shading losses
  • Temperature and age

According to Energy Saving Trust, solar panels in the UK should be tilted at an angle of 15 degrees or more to maximise efficiency. Additionally, keep an eye on nearby trees and buildings to ensure they don't block sunlight from reaching your panels.

Solar Panel Components

Solar panels consist of several key components that work together to generate electricity:

  • Solar cells: These cells are made from layers of semiconducting material, usually silicon, and are responsible for transforming sunlight into electric currents.
  • Frame: Solar cells are encapsulated in the panel's frame, which is typically made of aluminium, as it is lightweight and durable.
  • Glass: The surface of the solar panel is covered with glass or another transparent material, to protect the cells from external elements and ensure they receive adequate light.
  • Backsheet: The backsheet is located behind the solar cells and provides protective insulation.

By understanding these fundamentals of solar panels, you'll have a strong foundation for determining how many solar panels you may need for your specific situation in the UK.

Evaluating Your Solar Power Needs

Calculating Energy Consumption

In order to determine how many solar panels you need, it's important to first calculate your daily energy consumption. This can be done by making a list of all electrical appliances in your home and recording their power consumption in watts, as well as the average number of hours they are used each day. Don't forget devices like heating and cooling systems, as they are often significant energy consumers. Once you have this information, multiply the power consumption by the hours of use to obtain the daily energy consumption for each appliance. Add up the daily energy consumption of all appliances to get your total daily energy usage in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Solar Panel Installation – Get Your Free Quotes Today
Compare quotes from different installers to get the best pric.  We’re not here to sell you anything. We will give you unbiased advice and match you with suitable installers.

    Request Quotes

    What solar quotes do you need?

    Preferred time of installation?

    Which of these best describes your home?

    Property ownership?

    Which direction does your roof face?

    What is the pitch of your roof?

    What material is your roof?

    Is there any shading that impacts your roof?

    Are there any windows on your roof?

    We care about your privacy

    Privacy and Cookies Policy

    Thank you for using Solar Panel

    What happens now?

    • Our customers service team reviews your request.

    • We will contact you by phone to confirm your information.

    • Based on your information, we will match you with relevant suppliers who will contact you directly with their respective quotes.

    Identifying Target Energy Production

    Now that you have your daily energy consumption calculated, it's time to identify your target energy production from a solar panel system. Determine how much of your daily energy needs you'd like to cover with solar power – this will influence the size of the system you'll need. In the UK, a typical 350W solar panel produces around 265kWh per year.

    To estimate the number of panels required, divide your annual energy consumption by the average annual output of a solar panel. For example, if your annual energy consumption is 2,650kWh and you want to cover 100% of your usage with solar power, you would need approximately 10 solar panels with a power rating of 350W each.

    To visualise the calculation process, consider this example:

    1. List all electrical appliances and their power consumption in watts.
      • Fridge: 150W
      • Oven: 2,000W
      • Lights: 800W
      • etc.
    2. Calculate the daily energy consumption for each appliance by multiplying power consumption by hours of use.
      • Fridge: 150W x 24h = 3,600Wh = 3.6kWh
      • Oven: 2,000W x 1h = 2,000Wh = 2kWh
      • Lights: 800W x 4h = 3,200Wh = 3.2kWh
      • etc.
    3. Add up the daily energy consumption of all appliances to find your total daily energy usage.
      • Fridge: 3.6kWh
      • Oven: 2kWh
      • Lights: 3.2kWh
      • etc.
      • Total: 8.8kWh
    4. Determine the percentage of daily energy needs to be covered by solar panels and calculate the annual target energy production.
      • 100% solar coverage target: 8.8kWh x 365 days = 3,212kWh per year
    5. Divide the annual target energy production by the average annual output of a solar panel to estimate the number of panels required.
      • Number of panels: 3,212kWh / 265kWh = 12.12 ≈ 12 panels

    By following this process, you can evaluate your solar power needs and estimate the appropriate number of solar panels to install for your UK home.

    Determining Solar Panel Size

    Factors Affecting Solar Panel Size

    There are several factors that can affect the size of solar panels needed for your home:

    • Energy consumption: The amount of energy you consume daily will directly impact the number of solar panels needed to meet your requirements.
    • Sunlight hours: The number of usable sunlight hours in your geographical location will determine the efficiency and sizing of your solar panel system.
    • Roof size: The available roof space will also influence the size of the solar panel system you can install.

    Sizing Calculations

    To determine the number of solar panels you need, follow these steps:

    1. Calculate your daily energy consumption in kWh by dividing your annual energy consumption by 365 days.
    2. Estimate the number of peak sunlight hours in your area. In the UK, it varies between 2.5 to 4.5 hours per day, depending on the region.
    3. Determine the system size needed by dividing your daily energy consumption by the peak sunlight hours. This will give you the required capacity of your solar panel system in kWp (kilowatts peak).
    4. Divide the required capacity (in kWp) by the average panel size (in kWp) to get the number of solar panels. In the UK, the average solar panel size ranges from 250W to 400W.

    For example, if your daily energy consumption is 10 kWh, you live in an area with 3 peak sunlight hours, and you plan to use 300W panels:

    1. System size needed: 10 kWh / 3 hours = 3.334 kWp
    2. Number of solar panels: 3.334 kWp / 0.3 kWp = 11.11

    In this case, you would need approximately 11 solar panels.

    Taking Roof Space into Consideration

    It is also essential to consider the available roof space when calculating the size of the solar panel system. Solar panels usually have an area of 1.3-1.7m², with 1.6m being the most common size. To calculate the required roof space:

    1. Multiply the number of solar panels by the average panel size in square meters.
    2. Compare the resulting area against your available roof space.

    For example, using the solar panels calculation from the previous section:

    1. Required roof space: 11 solar panels x 1.6m² = 17.6m²

    Ensure that you have enough roof space to accommodate the required number of solar panels.

    Please note: It is essential to consult with a professional solar installer to determine the most suitable solar panel system size for your specific needs and available space. This guide provides a simplified method for estimating solar panel size and should be used for reference purposes only.

    Estimating the Number of Solar Panels

    Customised System Design

    When estimating the number of solar panels you need for your home in the UK, a customised system design takes into account your annual electricity consumption, the wattage of the solar panels you are considering, and the estimated production ratio of your solar system1. To determine your annual electricity consumption, check your most recent energy bill or contact your energy provider.

    It is essential to consider the availability of sunlight in your area, as this directly affects the energy production of solar panels. In the UK, the sunlight hours differ across the country, with southern regions receiving more sunlight compared to northern regions.

    Here is a simple formula you can use to estimate the number of panels you might need:

    Number of panels = Annual electricity consumption (kWh) / (Average solar hours per day * 365 days * Solar panel efficiency)

    Using this formula, you can get an approximation of how many solar panels you will need for your home. Keep in mind that this is a rough estimate, and it is always best to consult with a solar installation professional to design a precise system tailored to your needs.

    Solar Panel Cost Considerations

    Solar panel costs are an important factor in determining the number of solar panels you need. The costs include not only the solar panels themselves but also the installation and maintenance fees. The overall cost will depend on the size, type and number of panels, the location of your home, and the installation company.

    Here are some points to consider when evaluating solar panel costs in the UK:

    • Solar panels are priced per watt, meaning the overall cost will depend on the cumulative wattage of your solar array.
    • The average cost for a typical home solar system ranges between £5,000 and £9,0002.
    • High-quality solar panels and professional installation might come at a higher initial cost but can lead to long-term savings on energy bills and maintenance.
    • Solar panels are eligible for government incentives and grants, which can help offset the installation costs.

    In conclusion, estimating the number of solar panels you need for your UK home requires a customised system design that takes into account your energy consumption, location, and budget. A professional solar installation company can help you create the most efficient system tailored to your needs. Keep in mind that the initial costs of solar panels can be offset by long-term energy savings and government grants.

    Understanding Solar Incentives and Regulations in the UK

    Feed-in Tariff

    The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was a UK government scheme that provided solar panel owners with a fixed income for the electricity they generated and exported to the grid. However, the FiT scheme closed to new applicants on 31st March 2019.

    Smart Export Guarantee

    The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), launched in January 2020, replaced the FiT. Under this scheme, energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers must offer tariffs to pay small-scale, low-carbon generators for the electricity they export to the grid. The SEG payments vary based on the supplier and the market, so it's worth shopping around for the best tariffs.

    Planning Permission for Solar Panel Installation

    In general, solar panels can be installed in the UK without planning permission, as they are considered 'permitted development'. However, there are some exceptions:

    • Panels should not be installed above the ridge line, and should project no more than 200mm from the roof.
    • If your property is within a designated area (e.g. conservation area or World Heritage Site), or a listed building, you may require planning permission.
    • Larger ground-mounted solar systems may also need planning permission.

    To calculate the number of solar panels needed for a home in the UK, consider that a 350W solar panel generates approximately 265kWh per year. For example, if you consume 2,650kWh of electricity annually, you would require around 10 solar panels (2,650 ÷ 265 = 10 panels).

    In conclusion, understanding solar incentives and regulations in the UK can help you make an informed decision when installing solar panels on your property. Be aware of the SEG and any planning permissions required for your specific situation, and consider the number of solar panels needed based on your yearly energy consumption.


    In determining the number of solar panels needed for a household in the UK, it is essential to consider the overall energy consumption and the capacity of the solar panels. Firstly, one should calculate the average annual energy usage in kilowatt-hours (kWh). For instance, the average energy usage in the UK stands at 3,800 kWh per year 1.

    With the annual energy consumption in mind, the next step involves selecting the appropriate solar panel capacity. Solar panels come in different wattages and efficiencies. As an example, for a 3,800 kWh yearly energy demand, one would require ten 400W solar panels or sixteen 250W solar panels .

    Other factors that influence the number of solar panels needed include the location and orientation of the panels, as well as potential obstructions such as trees and tall buildings. In the UK, it is ideal to have panels tilted at 15 degrees or higher for optimum sun exposure. Additionally, monitoring the growth of nearby trees ensures they do not overshadow the solar panels over time.

    In conclusion, calculating the number of solar panels for a household in the UK requires a clear understanding of the average energy consumption, the capacities of different solar panels, and optimal installation conditions. By considering these crucial factors, homeowners can make informed decisions when investing in solar energy and enjoy the environmental and financial benefits that accompany it.

    hello world!
    Share this
    Mark McShane
    Content Writer
    Mark McShane is a seasoned professional in the solar industry and the owner of Skills Training Group, a leading provider of solar training and education. With years of experience in the field, Mark has developed a deep understanding of the latest trends, technologies and best practices in the industry. His expertise and passion for solar energy have helped countless professionals develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the fast-growing field of solar energy. Whether you’re an aspiring solar professional or an experienced industry veteran, Mark is an excellent resource for anyone looking to enhance their skills and knowledge of the solar industry.
    Related Articles
    Your Guide to the Different Types of Solar Panels
    The last decade has seen a steady rise and the popularity of rooftop solar panels! The push for renewable energy sources has increased solar energy utilisation. These types of solar panels and solar tiles are much different than you think, having different manufacturing process, uses, and other factors! Solar energy is reliable, long-lasting, save money […]
    Mark McShane
    Content Writer
    May 15, 2023
    What Is Solar Panel Installation? All You Need to Remember
    A solar panel installation is an effort toward energy conservation and carbon footprint reduction that involves putting together a solar power system with all its components.   Here’s in-depth information about it.  Things to Do Before Solar Panel Installation Before we get into how to install a solar panel, you should first be ready with what […]
    Mark McShane
    Content Writer
    May 15, 2023
    How to Start Solar Panel Installation Business: A Step-by-Step Guide
    How to Start Solar Panel Installation Business: Everything You Need to Know The solar industry has been thriving in recent years. This is thanks to people turning to renewable energy solutions to power their homes. On top of that, solar installations have increasingly become more attractive thanks to more efficient but less expensive solar panels. […]
    Mark McShane
    Content Writer
    May 14, 2023
    Popular Articles
    © Solar Panel Installation Limited - SC751192 - 2023 All rights reserved. 94 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 6PH