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Today marks the six year anniversary of my solar panel installation and also the day in which my system breaks even! This even includes the extra interest I have paid on my mortgage having not used the installation cost to pay a chunk off the mortgage.

I don’t want to turn this into a competition as to who has the shortest payback as others will have purchased later than me at a lower price, have a more efficient installation and be located in a sunnier part of Britain etc. but it would be interesting to get a feel for how well people are getting on.

During my six years, I haven’t had any issues and I have never paid for any ‘maintenance’ such as cleaning. Fingers crossed for the next 19 years of solar income.

My next challenge is to find another investment with such a good payback… I would love to have battery storage but the figures just don’t stack up for me (£215 per year electric bill (excludes standing charge)) makes every system currently available uneconomic, especially when most are only rated for 10 years. Any ideas?

URN143 - 4.00Kwp - 20x 200w Caymax panels - Aurora 3.6 Inverter located in loft - facing perfectly south on 35deg pitched roof - minor shading in winter when sun is low early morning/late afternoon – Location DE74
Congratulations! My payback period is currently 8 yrs on my tracking spreadsheet, with just 3 yrs left to go to break even, then 17yrs of pure profit. The system is performing on target to date which is great. My system is facing almost directly West and consists of 16x 250w panels so although its not as efficient as yours (facing direct south) its certainly worth it with FIT payments of around £700 per yr and around £240 saved on consumption bill with estimated 50% export rate.
As for your challenge of finding the next investment, we went for replacing the Gas Boiler with an Air Source Heat Pump. Gas boiler is 85% efficient, ASHP is 400% efficient when its 7 deg C or above, then efficiency drops a bit as it gets colder than that. I've tracked the actual costs over the 2 years or so we've had it installed and over the last full year it worked out £200 pa cheaper than mains gas! The RHI payments work out at about £650 per year and are paid quarterly for a total of 7 yrs. The RHI doesn't cover the full cost of the system which was £8500 but break even point with RHI and the cheaper energy bills is around Yr 10, then its pure profit from then on! In the calcs I assume the ASHP gets around 15% of its power from the Solar Panels, this is obviously more in summer and less in winter. The ASHP provides all heating and hot water for our 4 bed detached house. 6 of the 14 radiators we had to be replaced for larger ones but that was included in the costs. Now I dont have to pay a Gas meter standing charge either.
I'm looking at intelligent Solar Energy Management next. This is a system that will switch on my Washing machine, Tumble dryer and Dishwasher automatically (if selected) when the system detects that Im generating more than Im consuming and therefore exporting power. The FIT payments assumption of 50% export will still remain in force even though I plan to be using all my own solar generated power. This system will also switch on my electric car charger when solar is available. Loads more info on this if you want. Next project is Lithium Ion battery pack to run the house lights circuit at first, then maybe full house supply later if feasible. This will also be able to be charged via solar if available or cheaper night rate.
We went live on 1 February 2013, and achieved the break-even point on 7 July 2017 - just under 4.5 years. In summer we use the output from the PV to power a 12.5kW output air source heat pump swimming pool heater, so there is very little left over to feed in to the grid, even though we are deemed to at 50%. Since install we have generated a total of 19.4MWh, and have received £3594 in FIT payments as well as import savings of £4000.
Wow that is a short payback! Unfortunately I'm only able to use around 40% of my generation so can’t make such large savings on imported energy, although I would be interested how you save £4000 on imported energy. If you consumed everything you generated 19400kwh x £0.136 per kwh (my current day rate, has been cheaper during the past 6 years) this would only equate to £2638.
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