• Solar
  • Feb 20, 2024

If you’ve got an EV and you’re charging it at home, it might not be long before you think about adding solar to lower your energy bill and make your household greener.

But with a typical solar & battery system for the average three-bedroom household costing £10,270, it’s easier said than done.

So the idea of a solar subscription could be handy. In the US, there are nearly a million homes subscribing to solar. There are also solar subscription companies in Germany, New Zealand and Spain, and now the idea is coming to the UK.

What is a solar subscription?

A solar subscription is a way to install a solar & battery system without having to pay the upfront cost. Instead, you can spread the payments across multiple years.

The 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.

How much is a solar subscription?

In the UK, two companies, Sunsave and Unbound, are both offering solar subscriptions at £69/month. This is for a system of up to 14 panels plus a battery. We take a look at how they compare:

Sunsave Plus v.s Unbound Energy solar subscriptions


Sunsave Plus Unbound Energy
Cost £69/month £69/month
Time until fully paid 20 years 30 years
Includes replacement parts? Yes Yes – though if you replace battery/inverter out-of-warranty you will have to pay more at the end*
Are payments fixed? Yes Payments will be linked to inflation (follow Consumer Price Index (CPI))
Total due £16,555

For an initial solar and battery install estimated to cost £9,806

From £24,840

For an initial solar and battery install estimated to cost £9,806

Website sign-up Sunsave Plus Unbound website


*Unbound say they expect the cost of the inverter and battery to be less than £4,000 at the point it needs to be replaced. The cost is added to the purchase price in the year the parts were replaced and would reduce as these costs were paid off, typically over less than 9 years.

Our verdict:

Whilst the subscriptions start at the same price, for us there is no doubt which is the better deal – Sunsave Plus. Sunsave’s period is a full 10 years shorter than Unbound – meaning you’ll stop paying for the panels a decade sooner. There is also the reassurance that your monthly cost won’t go up with Sunsave, and may come down in real terms, while Unbound will keep their monthly cost in line with inflation.

Is subscription different from a roof lease?

A solar roof lease (or ‘rent-a-roof’ scheme) is an agreement between a company and a household, whereby the homeowner has solar panels installed on their roof for free but doesn’t actually own the panels. The household benefits from all the electricity that the panels produce, but the panels are still owned by the company. These arrangements typically last for a 25-year period.

In practice there have been issues when someone with a solar lease tries to move home. Mortgage companies normally don’t lend against the property because the solar lease would make it harder for the lender to repossess and resell the house in the event of a mortgage default.

With a solar subscription, you actually own the solar & battery system. And if you want to move home, it’s easy to pass on your monthly payments to whoever is buying your property from you.

Is solar subscription better than getting a loan?

Yes. You could go out and secure a loan to pay for your panels. But loans with 0% APR are often only two or three years long, so your repayments are bigger each month. Loans from solar companies like Boxt currently have an eye watering 11.9% APR over 10 years.

A subscription spread over 20 or 30 years means your monthly savings can exceed your monthly loan repayments, meaning more money in your pocket each month. And, if you want to pay the remainder of the loan in full, you can do this at any time without incurring any penalties.

Subscriptions from Sunsave and Unbound both include monitoring and maintenance support, insurance and replacement parts. This compares to a typical two-year workmanship guarantee for a standard solar install. There’s not a lot to go wrong in two years – but over 20 years there’s a good chance you’ll have to call on this support.

The Sunsave Guarantee includes an out-of-warranty battery replacement, once the original battery reaches the end of its useful life (which usually happens after 10-15 years and an out-of-warranty inverter replacement. There’s also monitoring and insurance cover.

Unbound also include out-of-warranty replacements, although if you do call on these your purchase price will go up by approximately £4000.

There’s no other maintenance, other than solar panel cleaning (which you’ll have to take car of), but solar panels are quite well washed by rain in the UK, so they should rarely need much attention.

What happens if you want to move home?

If you decide to move home, it doesn’t make sense to move any solar system. And the same is true for a subscription system, as it’s tailored to your home.

Subscription gives you two options:

  • 1. Repay the loan in full

The first option is to pay back the remainder of the loan before upping sticks. Your solar & battery system will most likely add value to your property (more on this below), which will make it easier to finance a full loan repayment.

Unbound have published the purchase price for each year (assuming no parts have been replaced out of warranty):

Year 1 – £12,596

Year 5 – £10,124

Year 10 – £7,422

Year 15 – £2,850

Year 20 – £2,600

Year 25 – £2,300

Year 30 – £1,879

  • 2. Pass on the contract to your property’s new occupants

The second option is to pass on the subscription to the people who are buying your property off you. As energy bills in the UK continue to grow, a property with a solar & battery system will be in increasingly high demand.

In contrast to a solar lease, passing on monthly solar payments to new owners has been smooth-sailing in countries that have offered subscriptions in the past.

What are the advantages of a solar subscription?

Here are the key advantages of getting a solar subscription:

  • No upfront cost – you don’t need to raid your savings in order to switch to clean energy
  • Total peace of mind with 20 years of monitoring & maintenance support
  • More money in your pocket – your monthly electricity bill savings (plus export income) could exceed your monthly subscription payments
  • Export tariff payments – send any excess electricity to the grid and get paid for it, potentially worth around £400 each year*
  • Increased property value – solar panels can boost your home’s value by an average £11,157
  • Reduced carbon footprint – you’ll slash your carbon footprint by around 950kg each year, which is the same as a flight from London to New York

*This estimate is based on an average system (430W solar panels and a 5.2kWh battery), and uses the Intelligent Octopus Flux export tariff.

How much can you save with a solar subscription?

It’s very tricky to estimate average savings from solar, because every household is different, and each solar & battery system is unique. It depends on a wide range of factors, including the suitability of your roof, the location of your property, your annual electricity consumption, what export tariff you’re on, and the size of your system.

However, especially for EV drivers where the car is sometimes at home ready to charge during the day, it’s possible to see more money in your pocket each month, despite the monthly payments.

So how does it work, exactly?

  • Your chosen supplier will install your top-of-the-range solar panels and battery at no upfront cost, and you’ll pay them a fixed monthly fee.
  • Your solar panels generate electricity throughout the day, even in winter. If you’re not at home to use it, it goes into your battery.
  • All the solar-generated electricity you don’t use will automatically be sold to the grid, so nothing goes to waste. You either use the electricity or get paid for it.

By purchasing less electricity from the grid and receiving export payments, you will see your electricity bill fall. And for many properties the electricity bill saving is bigger than the monthly solar payment.

For example, a typical four-bedroom property in Essex using 4,000kWh of electricity each year installs a 6kWp system (14 panels) and a 5.2kWh battery will save around £45 per month – although in the summer the savings will be higher than in the winter.

Who can get a solar subscription?

There are a few core eligibility requirements to be aware of if you’re considering a solar subscription.

  • You need to be a UK resident between 18 and 55 years old, an owner of the property, and in full-time employment
  • If it’s a joint application, at least one applicant must be in full-time employment and the lead applicant must be an owner of the property
  • You won’t be eligible if you’ve been declared bankrupt or received a county court judgement

How quickly can I get a solar subscription installed?

There is currently a waitlist for Sunsave Plus – find out more from the Sunsave website. Unbound are also waiting until they have enough sign-ups, and plan to start installing in Summer 2024.