Should you get a solar panel subscription?

Sunsave-plus
Last updated on 23 July 20246 min read

Thinking of switching to solar but feeling daunted by the upfront cost? A solar subscription could be right for you.

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Written byJosh Jackman
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➕ Sunsave Plus is the UK’s first ever solar subscription

☀️ You can get a solar & battery system installed at no upfront cost

🔧 The Sunsave Guarantee provides 20 years of monitoring & maintenance

With high energy bills and an ongoing climate crisis, the appeal of solar is stronger than ever in the UK – but the high upfront cost is still a barrier for many.

Most people would like to generate their own electricity and be more independent from the grid, but with a typical solar & battery system for the average three-bedroom household costing more than £10,000, it’s easier said than done. 

This is where a solar subscription comes in. Households in countries like Germany, the US, and the Netherlands have been able to access the power of solar without needing to worry about the upfront cost – and now UK households can benefit too.

In this guide, we’ll run through exactly what a solar subscription is, how it works, the main benefits, and whether your home would be suitable.

What is a solar subscription and how does it work?

If you're looking to avoid the upfront cost of solar panels, a solar subscription is a great choice. It enables you to install a solar & battery system at no upfront cost, and instead spread the price across 20 years of fixed monthly payments.

The installation process works the same as if you were paying upfront: the system is designed and tailored to your property, it’s installed by accredited professionals, and it immediately starts saving you money on your electricity bills.

What are the benefits of a solar subscription?

Here are all the best reasons to get a solar subscription:

Benefits
No upfront cost – you don’t need to have thousands of pounds lying around in order to switch to clean energy
Total peace of mind – unlike some solar companies who don’t look after their customers once the installation is complete, Sunsave Plus comes with 20 years of monitoring & maintenance support
More money in your pocket – your monthly electricity bill savings (plus export income) could exceed your monthly Sunsave payments
Export tariff payments – send any excess electricity to the grid and get paid for it, potentially worth around £350 each year*
The monthly fee is fixed for the whole duration of the subscription, meaning you’re protected against energy bill inflation
It’s not a roof lease and you legally own your system from day one, so you can sign up for whatever export tariff you want
Increased property value – solar panels typically boost a home’s value by 3%
Reduced carbon footprint – you’ll slash your carbon emissions by around a tonne each year, which is the same as a flight from London to New York
After 20 years the payments stop, so the savings will increase even further
It’s a personal loan, not one taken against your property – so it wouldn’t affect any remortgaging
*This estimate is based on a household experiencing average UK irradiance with a 4.4kWp solar panel system and a 5.2kWh battery, using 3,500kWh of electricity each year and signed up to the Intelligent Octopus Flux export tariff

How is it different from a loan?

Sunsave Plus offers numerous additional services that make it much more attractive than a loan.

It comes with the Sunsave Guarantee, which provides 24/7 monitoring and maintenance services for all 20 years of the subscription.

If anything goes wrong, we’ll identify the issue, troubleshoot the problem remotely, and if your system is still malfunctioning, come fix it in person.

We’ll also provide a free battery and inverter replacement when they decline below a specific performance level, which they usually do after 10-12 years. This will usually save you thousands of pounds.

If your solar panels go through any extended periods of downtime, we’ll reimburse you – which also puts Sunsave Plus above home insurance in terms of covering your system.

It’s also better than most traditional loans (e.g. like a car loan) because it provides financial returns. Your solar & battery system will immediately start saving you money on your electricity bills, and with a solar export tariff, you can be paid for any excess electricity you send to the grid.

In many cases, you can enjoy net savings from day one.

A bird's eye view of a black solar panel array on a semi-detached property in England

What makes Sunsave’s solar subscription unique?

There are a few key factors that, when combined, make Sunsave Plus uniquely attractive: its affordability, its flexibility, the Sunsave Guarantee, and the fact that it’s not a solar lease.

Let’s run through all of them.

Affordability

By spreading our subscription across 20 years, we’ve made the monthly payments much more affordable.

And in many cases, it’s possible for your monthly savings to exceed your monthly loan repayments, meaning you can make a net gain.

That’s because all the electricity your panels generate will either go to your home or battery – and if you don’t use it, it’ll automatically be sold to the grid on one of the best export tariffs around, meaning you’ll save money either way.

This can mean hundreds of pounds more in your pocket per year, especially as we’ll design a bespoke Sunsave Plus system for your property that will maximise your monthly savings.

So you can get the best-in-class kit at no upfront cost, pay it off in affordable, fixed instalments, and save money as you go.

Flexibility

We’re aware that your circumstances may change, and we’ve built our subscription service to take that into account.

So if you ever decide to pay off part or all of your remaining credit amount, you can do this at any time without incurring any penalties.

If you pay some of the balance, this will reduce your subscription period and keep your fixed monthly payments the same, while settling the entire outstanding credit amount will end your subscription.

You won’t have to pay any future interest or monitoring and maintenance fees – though this does of course mean you won’t be covered by our monitoring and maintenance services.

And if you move house during your repayment period, you can pass on your subscription to the new owners, include the system in the house’s price and end your subscription early, or take the system with you – though taking it with you is usually quite expensive.

There are no hidden charges or clauses, meaning you’re free to sell your home whenever you want.

The Sunsave Guarantee

Every Sunsave Plus solar & battery system comes with the Sunsave Guarantee, which includes free replacement parts, insurance provided by Aviva, and 20 years of monitoring and maintenance support.

It’s very common for solar installers in the UK to not provide any aftercare, with only a two-year workmanship guarantee as the standard.

This means any issues with your solar & battery system can be frustrating and expensive – and industry experts generally estimate that each year over a 20-year span, a system has a 15% chance of requiring maintenance, with three call-outs required on average.

And every time, it’ll increase your costs and require you to find a reliable, affordable engineer.

55% of people in the UK who don’t want or are unsure about getting solar panels told a 2021 government survey that maintenance concerns were a key reason for their position.

40% said a guarantee scheme would allay these concerns – so we created the Sunsave Guarantee, which assures customers that their system will work as well as it can for at least 20 years.

The Sunsave Guarantee includes:

  • A free battery replacement once it performs at less than 70% of its original capacity – which typically happens after 10-12 years
  • A free inverter replacement whenever required (usually after 10-12 years)
  • Monitoring of the solar & battery system, including alerting you if something isn’t working
  • Troubleshooting of any issues
  • Support for processing any warranty claims
  • Insurance against fire, theft and damage (such as that caused by falling branches, birds, vandalism or hail)
  • Downtime cover, so we’ll credit your monthly payments if your system isn’t working for a prolonged period of time

What isn’t included is solar panel cleaning, but solar panels are ‘self-cleaning’ (i.e. washed by rain) so they should rarely need much attention.

It’s not a solar lease

Sunsave Plus isn’t a solar roof lease, which is a huge advantage.

Also known as rent-a-roof schemes, these arrangements allow a homeowner to get solar panels installed on their roof for free – with the catch that they don’t actually own the panels.

The household benefits from the electricity the panels produce, but the panels are still owned by the company, typically for 25 years. This may sound attractive, but in practice it can cause enormous issues for you.

You may have to get consent to make any significant changes to your property, such as an extension, new roof, or loft conversion – and the company can simply refuse.

Even if you gain their consent, some leases require you to compensate the company for missed export payments or lost electricity generation, and if the building work reduces the amount of electricity your panels generate, you may face penalties.

Also, it can make it harder to move home. Solar leases have a bad reputation, which makes finding a willing buyer even more difficult.

With Sunsave Plus, you’ll own the solar & battery system from day one, you can make whatever home improvements you like, and if you want to move somewhere new, you can pass on the subscription to your home’s buyer, subject to status.

Are solar subscriptions popular around the world?

There are many countries around the world where solar subscriptions have seriously taken off.

In the US, Sunrun has more than 800,000 subscribers, while in Germany, Enpal more than doubled its revenues to around £770 million in 2023.

New Zealand subscription service solarZero has installed around half of the solar panel systems in the country, and Leonardo DiCaprio-backed Spanish company SolarMente is gaining about 100 subscribers per week and aiming for 90% coverage in Spain.

These offerings have proven so popular that solar companies all over the world have launched subscription services, from Nigeria and South Africa to Malaysia.

Next steps

Solar is a powerful way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint, and there’s no reason people should be excluded due to high upfront costs.

Many countries around the world have benefited from solar subscriptions, and now every household in the UK has the opportunity to follow suit.

To sign up for Sunsave Plus, answer a few quick questions below and we'll be in touch.

FAQs

What are the eligibility requirements?

Your Sunsave Plus application can have up to two applicants.

  • The lead applicant must be an owner of the property
  • At least one applicant must be between 18 and 60 years old
  • Both applicants must be UK residents
Who is Sunsave Plus for?

Sunsave Plus is a great choice for any homeowners in England or Wales who want to use solar to save money on their electricity bills, at no upfront cost.

If you also appreciate the security and peace of mind a 24/7 monitoring and maintenance service brings, you’ll enjoy the Sunsave Guarantee, which comes with Sunsave Plus.

This service provides subscribers with a free replacement battery and inverter, insurance provided by Aviva, and total peace of mind.

What’s the Sunsave Guarantee?

The Sunsave Guarantee will cover you for the duration of your subscription. You’ll receive full system insurance – provided by Aviva – as well as 24/7 remote monitoring, a free battery replacement, and any parts and repairs that are out of warranty.

What’s included:

  • 25-year manufacturer’s warranty on panels
  • 10-year manufacturer’s warranty on battery and inverter
  • one free out-of-warranty battery & inverter replacement
  • 24/7 system monitoring so we can see if something’s not working as expected
  • troubleshooting and support with any warranty claims
  • insurance for damage, fire, theft, and any financial losses if the system isn’t working for a prolonged period of time
Do I own my system?

With Sunsave Plus, you’ll own your system from day one.

Our subscription service isn’t a lease or rental, with none of the awkward implications and difficult legal wranglings that can result from those schemes.

You’ll own your system outright, but you won’t be alone. The Sunsave Guarantee will provide you with 20 years of 24/7 monitoring and maintenance, full insurance cover, and a free replacement battery and inverter.

How does Sunsave Plus work?

Sunsave will install a solar & battery system at your home, and provide you with low cost, long-term financing that spreads the cost of that system over 20 years.

Instead of paying for your solar installation upfront, you’ll make a monthly fixed payment that allows you to save money on your electricity bills from day one.

After 20 years, when your subscription ends, you’ll keep your system and continue to save money with it.

Our best-in-class kit works perfectly with the best export tariffs around, like Intelligent Octopus Flux, so you can sell your excess energy to the grid and maximise your savings.

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Written byJosh Jackman

Josh has written about the rapid rise of home solar for the past five years. His data-driven work has been featured in United Nations and World Health Organisation documents, as well as publications including The Eco Experts, Financial Times, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, and The Sun. Josh has also been interviewed as a renewables expert on BBC One’s Rip-Off Britain, ITV1’s Tonight show, and BBC Radio 4 and 5.

Copyright © 2024 Sunsave

Sunsave Group Limited (company number: 13741813) and its affiliates, Sunsave UK Limited (company number: 13941186) and Sunsave Energy Limited (company number: 13952135), together trading as “Sunsave”, provide renewable energy systems and finance and are registered at 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JQ. Sunsave UK Limited (FRN: 1008450) is a credit broker and can introduce you to a panel of lenders for the purpose of arranging finance. Sunsave Energy Limited (FRN: 979494) is a lender. Both Sunsave UK Limited and Sunsave Energy Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.