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Are Solar Panels worth it for retirees?

  • 01-11-2022 11:19am
    Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭

    We are a couple in our 70s and are considering solar panels.

    We are a family of 3 adults and live in a 4 bed detached 185sqm house. The house was built in 1985, has an east-facing front gable shape and we have a long south-facing roof on one side. We are having the walls and attic fully insulated this month and we are debating whether solar panels would be worth adding. We have oil heating and electricity consumption as around average.

    The general consensus seems to be that payback is 8 - 10 years, and while we hope to still be here in 8 - 10 years, who knows? There is the point that it would probably increase the value of the house but is that something worth considering?

    At the moment we are swaying towards no but would appreciate any input from those of you in the know.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,551 ✭✭✭Yellow_Fern

    One of the problems with solar is you are getting the return in the middle of the day when houses are at often empty as people are working. I know this does not apply to many retired people so that is one possible advantage in your case.

    BTW if you want to make your house more efficient, there are often a lot else you can do, like insulating the hot supply pipe to hot taps and sealing where pipes penetrate the ceiling in the hot press and sealing gaps in timber flooring. Also check for draughts under timber window boards.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,992 ✭✭✭✭ELM327

    You can get payback in 1-2 years or 10-20+ years depending on what you put in and how much you pay etc.

    A simple 3-4kW south facing system with a 5kWh battery would probably pay back in much less than the 8-10 years mentioned.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,378 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    One thing I'd consider is how you define "worth it"

    Having Solar will give you some security of supply against future electricity price increases. Prices can go up or down but unfortunately pensions don't go up (and can go down). So if you can't increase your income then having some price security could be worth a lot

    Having a backup power supply also gives you peace of mind in the event of a power cut, and means you can still operate your heating and keep the lights on

    A lot of those reasons are pretty subjective though, so it's up to you how important they are to you

    If you get enough panels installed you can also export to the grid. It's not gonna make you a fortune but at the moment if you go to the 6kWp limit it looks to make around €350 before paying tax. The first €200 of that are tax free. So it can take a lot of the pain out of the annual electricity bill

    If you're already getting work done then I'd definitely look into it. Try to get some reputable quotes and if you have a South facing roof then it's often worth it to cover the roof in panels

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,160 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    They are worth it for just about everyone now with the way prices have gone.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,765 ✭✭✭ds20prefecture

    For about €8000 you can assume you save 50% of your electricity bill and shift another 25% into the night rate (if you have a night meter). That should help you with working out the return on investment. I reckon it's about 4-5 years payback assuming energy prices stay the same. If you have an electric car you can offset about another €1000 onto solar/night rate which should further help.

    Another way of looking at it is that you're adding about 5-10% to your house price with a solar conversion, but I don't know whether investing from your pension income is worth that. If you had unused lump sum in your pension then almost definitely worth it...

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,368 ✭✭✭DC999

    Yes they are worth it, but for you I’m torn. I think you’ll get more gain elsewhere. You’re already spending on the getting walls and attic fully insulated – that will reduce heating costs for you and make it more comfortable temperature wise. There’re other ways that could be better though for ye.

    1) Change your car to electric: If you do average mileage of 15k a year, you’ll save 1k a year on petrol by going to a fully electric car (and that includes the cost of charging from electricity). And insurance is €120 or €180 (can’t recall which). If you get solar, you can charge the car for free many months per year (needs to be in the driveway when it’s sunny). But need a more expensive charger that costs about 1.5k supply and fit (called a Zappi).

    2) Shop around: And move energy providers and get a lower rate ( Potentially run appliances at night (if you get a lower rate then).

    3) Micro changes: Look at other energy savings as @ Yellow_Fern says. Insulation your hot water pipes yourself for really low cost.

    4) If you do consider solar, don’t get a battery, or a hot water divertor. And you get paid ~15c per kWh you don’t use (called FIT) so those aren’t needed and make the payback longer. Just get panels (on East and South to give that spread over the day). You’ve an East roof so get good sun up to midday, and South for the afternoon. West will give you evening sun (I’ve all 3 directions luckily). Having those directions gives lower output than a South setup but you get power for more of the day. Solar will increase the value of a home (as will any work that reduces energy usage from now onwards IMO)

    4a) Look at solar as a service. Google who provides that service. Pay a fixed amount each month for 10 years and you own the kit (so it’s a solar loan really). No upfront cost. They are hard to get a quote for at the moment it seems. But could be a better option than a large upfront cost. My folks are same age and trying that approach. 

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,054 ✭✭✭silver_sky

    Small system with no battery is probably your best bet for a shorter payback.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭Wyldwood

    Thank you all for the input. Plenty of food for thought there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 724 ✭✭✭cobham

    I think it is incorrect to say you can benefit from your solar in a power cut.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,992 ✭✭✭✭ELM327

    Certainly is incorrect, unless you have a battery and change over switch!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,378 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    This can be done but it needs to be designed into the system at an early stage. You definitely need a battery in this case

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost