The rules for solar panel kits in France and potential savings

The kits are growing in popularity thanks to their low cost compared to traditional installation

The new plug-and-play panels are said to be easy enough for a non-professional to install
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As electricity prices continue to soar in France - up 60% in four years - more people are turning towards solar panel kits, which promise to help users save on energy costs and installation prices.

The estimated extra cost of electricity in 2024, compared to 2020, is €540 per household per year. Combined with rising inflation, and increased fuel and food costs, this has prompted some to make the switch to solar energy.

Put simply, this involves installing solar panels (panneaux photovoltaïques in French) onto the roof of your house, so you can produce and use your own electricity instead of buying it from the national grid suppliers.

However, these can be expensive to install (up to €4,000 or more), and it can take years for this investment to ‘pay off’ in comparison to energy costs. 

The cost burden has risen even more since 2021, when the financial aid le crédit d’impôt pour la transition énergétique (Cite) credit system was replaced by Ma Prime Rénov’, which does not help pay for solar panel installation.

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New ‘plug-and-play’ systems

As a result, over the past three years, a new type of panel kit has come onto the market. These so-called ‘plug-and-play’ systems - which mean they come pre-assembled and ready to install and plug in easily at home - cost around €600-800 each; significantly less than a typical installation. 

Manufacturers say that the panels can be easily fixed to a normal house roof in minutes, without the help of a professional, and that the panels can then simply be plugged into a standard outdoor socket. 

Instructions usually say that it is best to weigh the panels down to ensure they can withstand wind and inclement weather, and to tilt them at 15-20 degrees in summer, and at 35-45 in winter.

Popular ‘plug-and-play’ systems include: 

  • Beem Kit 420W. Peak power: 420 Wp. Average yearly production: 500 kWh. Price: €699.

  • Sunology PLAY. Peak power: 405 Wp. Average yearly production: 420-670 kWh. Price: €699.

  • Sunethic F400. Peak power: 400 Wp. Average yearly production: 420-650 kWh. Price: €750.

‘Watt-peak’ is the unit that corresponds to the maximum output that a solar panel can deliver in typical sunshine conditions.

Do you need Mairie permission to install these solar panels? 

Not normally. As long as your installation produces an output of less than 3 kWp (the typical output of up to seven plug-and-play panels), you do not need Mairie planning permission. Instead, you will need to submit a free connection request online to your grid operator, usually Enedis.

It is always best to check with the Mairie if you are making significant changes to the appearance of the outside of your property, but usually these kinds of solar panels do not need special permission.

Read also: What are the costs and rules for DIY home solar panel kits in France? 

How much can you save on electricity? 

Manufacturers claim that just one plug-and-play panel can save you €100 to €150 a year on electricity. On average, one panel can save homeowners around 17% a year on their bill (excluding heating). This means that the panels will pay for themselves in six years or less, and save you €2,000 to €4,000 on installation.

New-generation plug-and-play solar panels have an average power output of around 400 watt-peak* (Wp) each, which is close to a standard photovoltaic module with a power output of between 375 and 500 Wp.

Read also: MAP: How long before home solar panels cover costs in France? 

The amount saved does of course depend on how much you are paying for electricity now, and how much sunshine your solar panels are able to use. 

This depends significantly on location; for example, in one year, an average solar panel will produce more electricity in Marseille (620 kWh) than in Paris (430 kWh). 

This is not enough to - for example - power a fridge for 24 hours a day, but users can make the most of the power produced by using high-energy appliances at peak times. This might mean using the dishwasher and washing machine during the midday sunshine peak.

In contrast; amid the rising popularity, homeowners have been warned to be alert to increased scams and ‘too good to be true’ deals.