Category - Solar
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Will Scholfield, Engineer

22 Feb : Updated 4 Apr ● 6 min read

Can solar panels power a house without a back-up?

Installing solar panels is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint and energy costs, but it's essential you do your due diligence before committing to solar electricity.

One of your main queries will likely be about how much solar energy your home will be able to generate. After all, you want to ensure your renewable energy investment will pay dividends.

Here, we explore the electricity generation properties of solar panels to help you understand whether you can power your home without using battery storage to save more energy. And, if you don't intend to invest in a solar battery, we explain how you can sell excess electricity back to the national grid.

How much power do solar panels generate?

According to Ofgem, the average 3-bedroom British home uses 2,900 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually or around 242 kWh per month.

If you had 10 3.5kW solar panels, these would typically create around 2,645kWh of electricity or around 90% of the electricity you use yearly. However, this does not mean your monthly energy bills will reduce by 90% because we don't get consistent sunlight all day, every day in the UK. It's also why so many people invest in solar batteries, to maximise the use of their solar panel systems and conserve solar power to use later.

What factors affect how much power your panels produce?

The amount of electricity solar panels produce is largely dependent on several factors, including:

1. Shading

If trees or other buildings partially or fully shade your solar panels, their performance and how much solar power they can generate will be affected.

2. Sunlight intensity

As well as having a good amount of sunlight, the sun's intensity will impact energy consumption too. Panels that receive a higher intensity of sunlight will generate more solar power.

3. Panel orientation and tilt

During the day, the sun goes from east to west, meaning south-facing solar panels are exposed to the most sunlight. If you install solar panels facing the north, they will be exposed to less sunlight and produce less solar power.

4. Temperature

While good levels of sunlight intensity are beneficial to solar panels, higher temperatures can actually decrease the efficiency of solar panels.

5. Cleanliness of solar panels

Keeping your solar panel system clean and free of dirt and debris is crucial to ensuring an efficient system. Allowing dirt, such as bird droppings, to collect on your solar panels will block sunlight and reduce energy production.

6. The quality of your solar system

While opting for a cheaper solar PV system might save you money on your initial investment, a lower-quality system could cost you more in the long run. The overall quality of your solar panel system and its components, like inverters and mounting systems, can impact energy production and the system's longevity.

Can solar panels power a house without battery storage?

In short, without a battery, you could generate 100% of your home’s electricity as long as the weather is in your favour; however, if conditions are not ideal and you cannot store energy, you may be forced to use and pay for electricity from the national grid. 
Whether or not solar panels can power your home without battery storage will depend on several factors, including the number of solar panels you have installed and your home’s demand for energy.

Solar panels could power your home on a good day with 100% electricity. However, due to the varying weather conditions in the UK and the inability to store solar power, you may have to rely on your electricity provider the next day. 

How to get the most out of your solar panels

To maximise your solar power costs and the energy efficiency of your system, you should take the following steps.

1. Ensure optimal placement and tilt

Even if you don't have a south-facing roof, you can still have solar panels installed in your home. Solar installers will consider how to maximise sun exposure within the manufacturer’s recommended limits. Some solar panel frames even have hinges so you can tilt them towards the sun.

Alternatively, solar panels could be installed in your garden too, so there are plenty of ways to optimise the placement of your system.

2. Minimise shading

If you notice trees or hedges overshadowing your solar panels, you must cut them back to maximise the performance of your panels.

3. Undertake regular maintenance

Keeping your solar panels clean from dirt and debris and regularly inspecting them will maintain their efficiency and longevity.

4. Invest in a solar battery

Solar battery storage is essential to maximise the electricity your solar panels generate. Naturally, your solar panels won't create as much energy at night as they do during the day, so if you store extra power, you can reduce your dependency on the national grid. 

Read everything you need to know about solar batteries in our complete guide to solar battery storage.

5. Monitor performance

Once you have installed solar panels at your home, monitor their performance regularly and keep an eye on the amount of energy they are generating. This will help you identify any problems with your solar panel system before they get too serious.

6. Analyse your energy consumption

As well as monitoring the performance of your solar panels, you should also look at how much energy your household currently uses. By doing this, you can identify power-hungry appliances and change how you use them, to save money and live more efficiently.

7. Research Government incentives

To stick to low-emissions targets, the Government offers a series of grants to encourage people to switch to solar energy. These financial incentives include money to help you buy solar panel systems and more. 

Want to learn more about UK solar panel grants?



Explore the full range of Government grants available to you in our Solar panel grants in the UK blog.

Solar panel grants guide

Selling excess solar energy to the national grid

Under the Smart Export Guarantee, you can sell excess units of electricity back to the national grid. To start selling electricity back to the grid, you'll have to register with one of the utility companies that offer this service, but once you're signed up, you can earn around 10p per kWh generated. The amount you can earn will depend on several factors, including:

  • The amount and size of the solar panels you have
  • Your current household energy usage
  • The amount of power you generate
  • The energy supplier you register with

More solar suggestions from BOXT

In summary, although you can generate a large portion of your home's electricity usage with solar panels, without a battery, it may not be possible to power 100% of your home. Despite this, solar is an excellent investment and renewable energy source that will reduce your energy bills in a big way, and you can even make money by selling excess energy back to the national grid.

Check out our dedicated solar guides for more advice and tips on all things solar power, from having panels installed to maximising their use. Here, you'll find information on everything from how to pigeon-proof your panels to how long solar panels last and more.

If you're ready to install solar panels in your home, look no further than BOXT. Find the perfect solar system package now - all you need to do is answer a few short questions, and we'll recommend a system for you.

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