Solar panel technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the last decade, due to advances in the mass-production of technical semiconductor components, and this has equated to much cheaper options for people wishing to buy solar panels today. They will no doubt become an increasingly important component for people in the future wishing to be more economical, self sustainable, and environmentally friendly.
Solar photovoltaic cells (PV) work by converting sunlight (or just daylight) into the electricity that powers the appliances in your home. This does not presently remove the dependence on the national grid, but depending on the size of the investment you are willing, can provide up to 40% of your home's electricity needs.
The prices of solar panels vary, depending on the type of cell (certain non-PV cells simply generate heat for water) you want, and the number of panels, prices vary from £3,000 to £15,000. New government tariffs also pay you money depending on the amount of electricity you produce, and this can greatly increase the return on your investment. Find out more about the cost of solar panels here.
There are online tools which allow you to calculate the payback time on your investment, and also the profit you can generate from the feed-in-tariffs now available. You may be surprised how quickly your return will be.
The amount of electricity you can produce always depends on the amount of sunlight and daylight your part of the country experiences. Also important to consider is the size, situation, angle and orientation of your roof.