Solar Panel Quotes

Are you wondering how to go about getting solar panel quotes for your home? The experts at NimbleFins have contacted nearly a dozen installers, from small, local companies to large, national solar panel specialists to big energy suppliers, to get quotes and learn all about the quote process from the consumer point of view. We'll tell you how the quote process works with different installers, what information is needed, how long the process takes, what to look for when comparing solar panel quotes, and where to get quotes to compare (including online quotes). By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of where to get solar PV panel quotes for your home.

How to get solar panel quotes

In our experience, the easiest way to get started with solar panel quotes is to contact a few of the large, national solar panel installers operating in your area. If you're not sure where to start, read our in-depth piece on comparing solar panels and our assessments of some popular solar panel installers. But first, below we explain what to expect from the quote process in general. If it seems a little confusing at first, never fear, we'll explain what happens during the quote process, what information you'll need, and what a quote proposal should include.

Solar Panel Quote Process

Firstly, you contact a solar installer, probably by requesting a callback or online quote. Now what? While it may vary by provider, here are the typical steps involved in getting solar panel quotes, which will help you decide if solar panels for your home will work well.

Step 1: Initial phone or video call (or in-person survey) with a solar expert

With the bigger installers, once you've requested a quote online, expect a call—the installers who seem really on top of the process will contact you within an hour or so (during normal business hours, of course). The call typically takes under 30 minutes.

You'll give them the basic information we mention below, and your 'solar expert' will use satellite images from Google and special design software to sketch out your potential solar panel layout on your roof. (Top tip: be sure they identify the right house during this process! We had an issue with this because Google maps thinks our house is in a different location than it is—very frustrating when we order pizza and it goes to the wrong house, as well!)

If your home doesn't appear on Google satellite images, and you're not able to direct the solar expert to a satellite image of your house, you may need property planning documents or title deeds (you can get these from the HM Land Registry Portal). Building plans or architect's drawings may theoretically be requested to determine the pitch of the roof, but we were never asked for these.

Alternatively, this first 'meeting' may take place in person, instead of over the phone or video call. It seems to us that you're more likely to get an in-person consult from a smaller, more local installer.

Regardless, the solar expert will also discuss obstacles that could shade the panels, like chimneys and Velux windows, to discuss what they think might be the best solar panel equipment for the job and to properly estimate the output of your system. As part of this process, the solar expert may discuss their different panel and battery product offerings with you, discussing the pros and cons of each option (e.g. if certain equipment is better for shaded roofs, what size battery might suit you, etc.).

Step 2: Getting your personalised proposal and quote

After your call, the solar expert will prepare and email to you a personalised proposal and quote showing you the purchase cost and also estimated figures for:

  • How much solar energy you could produce each year. This figure will reflect (no pun intended!) the sunniness of your area, any shade-producing obstacles (e.g. chimneys, trees, etc.), the max power & efficiency of your panels and the number of panels in your system.
  • Anticipated self sufficiency: That is, what proportion of your assumed energy consumption you will get from the grid vs from your solar PV panels (with and without a solar panel battery).
  • How much money you’ll save with solar panels. This includes how much you could save each year and over the solar panels’ lifetime, as well as how long it takes for you to payback the initial investment.

The proposal should also include an itemised list of the equipment in the system and photos of what the system could look like on your roof. It may include information about the environmental impact, such as kg of CO2 avoided each year or even a lifetime equivalent of the number of trees planted or long haul flights avoided (e.g. Egg includes this)!

MCS-certified firms (which your installer should be) should provide the following information about performance estimates in their quote:

Chart showing what's included in MCS solar performance estimates


One company set our shade factor at 0.91, implying there's some shade that reduces the power output of the panels. We think that was fair, because there's a chimney on the roof and a large tree nearby. But another company, knowing about the chimney and the tree, set the shade factor at 1, implying no shade on our roof. Why would they do this?

By assuming no shade, their software modeling assumes higher solar power output, which feeds into the performance financial model—resulting in a 'sunnier' outlook as to the money we could save each year, and the payback time. Be on the look out for tricks like this, especially when comparing proposals from multiple companies.

After you receive the quote, you're likely to receive some more calls to ask if you have any questions or if you'd like to go ahead.

Step 3: On-site survey

An on-site survey may be required to nail down the quote (if you didn't have someone on site for your initial quote). Many installers now do this remotely, over video. Some still do it in person. This often occurs 1-2 weeks after you decide to go ahead with the quote.

Photo of man surveying home for solar panels

The survey will help identify scaffolding needs, the roof layout, the location of the property, type of mountings, where equipment will be located (e.g. the inverter and battery, if used) and how may roof sections the panels are mounted over.

This is another chance to ask questions!

Step 4: Installation

Around 4-6 weeks after the survey (depending on the backlog of the installer and if your equipment is in stock), it's installation day!

In addition to physically installing your solar panel system, the installer should handle all the paperwork and speaking to your Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to let them know you’re installing solar panels. Read more about what's required here on our page on solar panel installation.

Information needed to get a solar panel quote

We've gotten quotes from many installers and found that most require some basic information to get started. You'll typically need to provide:

  • Your name
  • Your address—needed to determine how 'sunny' your home location is, and therefore your home's potential solar power production
  • An estimate of your annual electricity consumption—needed to determine the ideal number of panels in your system to cover your use and whether a battery would be useful or not
  • An indication of whether or not your future electricity needs many change (e.g. if you plan to buy an EV in the near future)
  • How much you're home during the day (e.g. whether or not someone home during sunlight hours to use solar energy as it's produced can impact the potential grid electricity savings and if a home battery would be suitable
  • Your insight into nearby tall trees or roof elements like chimneys—these can reduce the power output due to shading and also narrow down the list of suitable equipment (because some panels are better suited for shade than others)

The reason you need to provide these bits of data for a solar panel quote is ultimately determine the size and economics of a solar panel system for your home. When going through the quote process, you're ultimately trying to figure out two things:

  • How much energy you WANT TO produce: You'll need to know roughly how much electricity your home consumes in a year. This bit of information will determine how much solar energy you'd like to produce.
  • How much solar energy you CAN produce: The size, layout and direction of your roof, as well as obstacles like chimneys and Velux windows, will determine how many panels you can fit on your roof and how much solar energy these panels can potentially produce in a year. Your postcode and nearby shade factors like trees and chimneys will affect the output as well—because they impact how 'sunny' your roof is.

More about why this information is needed...

In fact, the first question you'll probably be asked by a solar expert (after your name and postcode!) is your annual electricity consumption. If you're not sure, you can find an estimate on a recent electricity bill. For example, if you only consume 3,000kWh per year, there's not much sense in buying a system that produces 6,000kWh per year! You need enough power to cover your anticipated needs, but not more.

Your postcode is needed not just for the solar panel design software to access a satellite photo of your roof—your postcode also determines which Irradiance Dataset the installer will use to calculate your solar PV system performance. That's basically a government standard that measures your postcode's 'sun performance'. Using data collected by the UK's MET Office and collected over decades, that helps an installer make an educated guess about how well your new solar panels are going to do in terms of real energy production.

Also, the roof direction will affect the real energy production; e.g. a south facing roof with have the highest irradiation level.

Obstacles like chimneys and Velux windows are important to know about, too. Chimneys will cast shadows on the roof, and these shadows will move throughout the day, potentially affecting multiple solar PV panels. The presence of chimneys can also affect the equipment used in a solar panel installation—for instance, many installers recommend SolarEdge batteries and inverters for shaded areas, as the DC optimizer for each panel ensures maximum energy output across the entire system even when some cells are shaded.

And Velux windows are critical because, obviously, solar panels cannot be placed on top of Velux windows, so the more Velux windows, the less roof space is available for solar panels.

Note: some installers ask for more extensive, detailed information right off the bat at the beginning of the quote process, before you've even spoken to someone. And it's not good for most people, in our opinion. Some questions we simply didn't know the answers to, so we found the quote process very tedious and ultimately didn't get anywhere with it. We found that energy suppliers who also do solar panel installation are the worst for this. For example, ScottishPower texted us with an online survey to fill in to start the quote process, in which we were asked for lots of photos (of the front and back of the house, the electricity meter, the main switch room, distribution boards, electricity cut off devices, the main fuse, etc.) and questions we couldn't answer easily on our own without some help, like the location of the electricity meter, distance between the consumer unit and the desired battery location, if there is space for a battery, etc. In our experience, unless you are pretty savvy when it comes to the electrics of your home and knowing what you want when it comes to solar, it probably makes a lot more sense to get quotes from specialist installers who have teams of solar experts on hand to hold your hand through the process.

Components of a solar panel quote

As we mentioned above, a solar panel proposal should include lots of projections and financial information. But it will obviously also include the list of tech to be installed. In fact, a solar panel system includes much more than the solar panels themselves—a lot more. Here's what you might pay for with a solar panel system installation, and a rough idea of the average costs of a solar panel system:

Estimated costs in a solar panel systemNoteRough quote
Solar panelsThe heart of the system!£200 - £400 per panel
InverterTo convert the DC solar power into AC power for the home£900 - £1,200
Power optimizerTo help a system under partial shade work better£60 per panel
ScaffoldingA good quote will include scaffolding, so technicians can safely work on the roof£300 - £1,000
Labour costsInstallation can take 2-3 days10-20% of the total costs
Official requirementsAn electrical installation test certificate (EIC) and full registration, certification, and notification (MCS/DNO/Building Control)embedded
Batteryoptional: Including one can enable the system to store solar energy for use later in the day£2,500 - £10,000
ProfitThe installer will add some profit margin

But note that many installers will not break out these costs in a detailed fashion. They might break out items like scaffolding and electricians and roofer labour but they'll likely lump all of the equipment together under one price. You can often easily tease out the cost of the battery because they'll probably provide a quote with a battery and a quote without a battery.

To learn about the individual costs of other items of equipment like the panels themselves and the inverter, you may need to specifically ask. For example, it can help to ask, if I could add one more solar panel, how much would that add to the overall cost?

Why it's important to get multiple quotes

In our experience, if you contact three different installers you'll get three very different solar panel quotes. Not only will the price vary, but so will what you get for that price.

In particular, you may be presented with different equipment and even varying numbers of panels, which impact output of the system. These are critical components of any quote, to ensure you get the most for your money. Here's why quotes can vary from one installer to the next. You can also read more about this in our article on solar panel comparison.

The software

Many large solar installers use software that draws on satellite imagery of homes across the UK (e.g. what you see in the satellite view of Google Maps). There are a few of these software systems in the market, and some installers use the same software. For example, OpenSolar is a very popular digital design software for solar panel systems.

You might think that using the same software would result in quite similar quotes, but in our personal experience, competing companies using the same software can create very different systems.

Why? A few reasons.

The 'solar expert' who designs your system

The 'solar expert' designing your solar panel system uses the software to visually 'place' panels on your roof. When doing so, they need to leave gaps between panels and also gaps between panels and the ridges or edges of the roof, as well as obstacles like chimneys. This involves a bit of guesswork. In our experience of getting quotes, we found that different 'designers' come up with different panel layouts, and some seem confident of fitting more panels on a roof space than others. This may be particularly relevant to you if you have a roof with lots of elevations and ridges and obstacles (in contrast to one large, wide expanse of open, unobstructed roof space).

Some companies have access to more than one software system—when we got quotes, one designer used two different systems to see if he was able to fit more panels in one system than another. It was the same roof, but the two different systems produced different systems, even when in the hands of the same designer.

For example, here are four very different proposals for the same home. We asked each to maximise our energy production. Notice the different placements, as well as the varying number of panels—some proposals only included 5 panels while another included 12 panels! Only one of the installers would install on the flat roof.

Images comparing four different solar panel proposals

An installer's unique rules and relationships

Also, companies will have distinct sets of installation rules that may impact the system they propose, for instance:

  • Minimum panel requirements: Companies may have minimum systems requirements or even requirements per roof section (e.g. Octopus and Effective Home informed us they require a minimum of 3 panels per elevation/face, whereas Glow Green and Egg were happy to put only 2 panels on a face).
  • Roof pitch: Most large companies will not install on flat roofs.
  • Gaps: Installers will require a minimum gap between panels and the ridges, hips and gable ends of your roof, as well as between panels and obstacles like Velux windows, chimneys, vent pipes and flues.
  • Equipment: Installers may work with a limited set of manufacturers; this can affect the solar production of the system (e.g. those with a shaded roof will get different output depending on whether the installer has efficient shaded-optimised equipment in their repertoire, and those with not enough roof space for their usage may prefer panels with maximum output).

The software used, the individual designer and a company's unique installation rules will all certainly impact the size and output of the system that is proposed for your home, and ultimately the quote. Because the quote is not simply the cost—it's what you get for the money. So comparing multiple quote proposals is pretty important when it comes to solar panels.

Solar panel quotes online

GlowGreen offers instant online solar panel quotes. These quotes will be a rough guideline only, and you'll still need to speak with a solar expert to firm up the quote. But it can be quite interesting to see these indicative quotes. Also, you can get preliminary online quotes from Esolar, Fusion8 and Heatable.

Octopus allows you to fill in a form online, then says you'll receive a quote in your inbox within 24 hours (we received a call within 1 hour, then after speaking with a solar expert received our quote).

You can also get on online guide quote from Scottish Power. But to move beyond this initial quote, you need to proceed through an online form they'll text to you. We found this form to be a burden, as it required the upload of photos of the front and back of your home, your MPAN, your fuse box/distribution boards, electricity meter and the main fuse. You also have to disclose where your electricity meter is, and indicate where you want your home battery installed. We found the questions would not suite someone who is new to the process.

Most other installers we dealt with required a phone call or Zoom or Teams call to discuss our system requirements and our home before we could get a quote. The process took around a half hour.

To get the most accurate online quote, you will need to indicate the size of the solar panel system you want, in kW (e.g. 2 kW, 3kW, 4 kW, etc.). If you're not sure about that, you can start by looking up your estimated annual electricity usage from a recent electric bill. Those figures will be in kWh (e.g. 4,000 kWh).

Quick tip: To estimate the required size of the solar panel system from your annual electricity usage, a quick back of the envelope calculation is to divide your annual electricity usage (kWh) by 800. That will roughly approximate the size of the solar panel system needed to produce this much energy. For example, 3,200 kWh of annual electricity consumption divided by 800 indicated that a 4 kW solar panel system would be required.

Free solar panel quotes

All initial solar panel quotes from large, national installers should be free to obtain.

After the initial quote, you may need to pay a deposit to proceed through the process. For example, the next step after our free initial quote from Effective Home would be a virtual tech survey that takes around 30 minutes and requires a £500 deposit (that then goes towards the cost of the solar panel system).