Heat Pump vs Solar Panels: Which is Better for Your Home?

Choosing what is better for our homes can pose a lot of questions. When it comes to a heat pump versus solar panels, there’s a lot that we have to consider. 

A heat pump is a sustainable heating system that extracts heat from the air or the ground to warm indoor spaces. Air source heat pumps draw outside air using a fan and a heat exchanger, providing heating for indoor spaces, and ground source heat pumps extract heat from the ground, offering reliable heating due to consistent ground temperatures throughout the year.

A solar panel is a very common sight on many roofs, and solar panels generate electricity by harnessing sunlight and either converting it into electricity through what is known as “the photovoltaic effect” or storing it in batteries.

Both systems offer many benefits, but which one is actually better for your home?

Choosing Between a Heat Pump and Solar Panels 

When deciding between a heat pump and a solar panel, there are a few key points to consider.

Heat Pump Considerations 

  • Heat pumps are very efficient and can produce more heat than the electricity they use, making them a far more sustainable heating option in the long run. 
  • Heat pumps have a very long lifespan and on average can last around 20 years and also require minimal maintenance, making for a reliable heating solution. 
  • Heat pumps have a positive environmental impact as they emit no particulates, nitrogen dioxide, and zero carbon dioxide, resulting in improved air quality. 
  • The initial cost for a heat pump installation can vary, but the average consumer can expect to pay between £7,000 and £13,000. While this may seem like a major cost upfront, there are government grants available which can offset some of the expense. 
  • Air-source heat pumps are also significantly more efficient than traditional gas boilers and can produce three to four times more energy than they consume.

Solar Panel Considerations 

  • Solar panels reduce your energy bills and lead to long-term savings because of a reduced reliance on the grid. 
  • Solar panels have seen major improvements in efficiency over the years and are now reaching approximately 20% ability to convert sunlight into usable energy
  • They produce zero emissions and they can reduce reliance on traditional energy sources while also providing electricity for the home, this encourages self-sufficiency and reduces overall environmental impact. 
  • The cost of installing solar panels can vary but the price of a typical 3.5kW solar panel system is about £7,000, but additional upgrades may be necessary depending on the overall home’s energy efficiency. This price is coming down by the month at present to.

Air Source Heat Pump vs Solar Panels 

The major factors to consider in terms of which is better for your home is all down to personal preferences. Most people would suggest they go hand in hand to help reduce your energy costs overall. 

Air source heat pumps are highly efficient, making them a very sustainable heating option while also providing long-term benefits, and solar panels can reduce energy bills by approximately 70% annually, providing significant savings over time with the cost of solar panels decreasing by over 60% since 2010, offering a cost-effective solution. 

If you’re deciding between the two, you need to consider whether you want to generate thermal energy or electricity for the home. The time for an air source heat pump to work to generate energy can vary depending on different factors including:

  • Ambient temperature.
  • System efficiency.
  • Usage patterns.

Air source heat pumps are typically 200% to 400% efficient, which means that they produce between 2 and 4kWh of heat for every 1kWh of electricity consumed, however, they do not generate electricity. 

Suppose you are looking to save money overall. In that case, solar panels are more effective in comparison to air source heat pumps because of their ability to generate electricity for various home systems. 

You should also consider the installation methods for both. An air source heat pump will typically be installed outside a property with the unit placed in an area where it can extract heat efficiently from the air, meaning adequate outdoor space is necessary for the installation and to guarantee proper airflow. 

Additionally, heat pumps can produce noise because of the fans; manufacturers are currently working on reducing the noise level. This noise is negligible though and not something we think should put you off. On the other hand, a solar panel is typically installed on rooftops and generates no noise, but may be considered an eyesore depending on your location.

Ground Source Heat Pump vs Solar Panels 

A ground source heat pump draws heat from under the ground, meaning pipes need to be installed, which is one of the key considerations when deciding if this is a better option for your home because the pipes will either need to be buried horizontally or vertically underground, potentially impacting the overall complexity of the installation and provide potential disruption to the property. 

Installing a ground source heat pump varies in cost, depending on the system type and the complexity; however, ground source heat pumps can have an efficiency rating of approximately 300% as they generate between 3 and 4kW of energy for every kW of electricity used. 

Solar panels can be more versatile than heat pumps as they generate electricity that powers various electrical items around the home with the cost of installing solar panels varying based on the number of panels you choose and the installation type such as ground-mounted or roof-mounted

This can mean a relatively cheaper option in comparison to heat pumps, but solar panels may require more maintenance in comparison to heat pumps, especially in areas with a higher chance of debris. 

While ground source heat pumps offer higher efficiency and durability, making them a long-term investment despite the higher initial costs at the outset determining the best option based on your specific circumstances now can have an impact on the long-term benefits.

Solar Thermal vs Heat Pump: Which is Better? 

Determining which is better will completely depend on your circumstances. 

The benefits of solar thermal panels are:

  • Robust and easy to install in domestic and commercial spaces.
  • Can have lower running costs while also offering reduced energy bills upfront.
  • Provide versatile installation options and are relatively low maintenance.
  • Can contribute to reducing energy consumption and bills with the potential return on investment over time.

While all of these benefits are worth noting you are ultimately relying on the sunlight to provide your electricity which means that potentially you will benefit more from it during the summer months.

The benefits of having a heat pump: 

  • High-efficiency levels with minimal maintenance required. 
  • Provides reliable heating, even in the colder months. 
  • Contributes to reduced bills despite the higher initial upfront costs. 
  • Incredibly suitable for colder areas that require consistent heating. 

One of the big drawbacks of heat pumps is the initial upfront cost, but if you are living in an area that places greater demand on your heating with very little sunlight availability, heat pumps can be a better choice.

Comparing Solar Heating and Heat Pump Systems 

The systems for both differ. Solar panels are made up of cells constructed from layers of semiconducting material so when sunlight hits the cells a flow of electricity is created which is converted into AC (alternating current) using an inverter changing it to DC for household appliances. 

Solar panels generate electricity for various systems around the home. This can be very useful, whether it’s watching television, powering the kettle, and so on. 

Heat pumps extract heat from the ground or the air, with air-source heat pumps using a heat exchanger to provide warmth to heat the radiators in your home. 

Ground source heat pumps utilise the stable temperature of the Earth.

When it comes to choosing which one is better, you have to decide what your ultimate goal is. If you require more electricity in the home a solar panel would be a better use of your finances however if you are looking for energy-efficient methods of heating a home or looking to the long-term where your electricity use would not benefit from a solar panel, a heat pump would be a more cost-effective solution over time.


When choosing between one or the other, determining the best option is purely dependent on your specific requirements. Both are incredibly beneficial to your home but in completely different ways. Therefore understanding what you require will ensure you make the most effective purchase.

The best implementation of these technologies is together. Imagine heating your home heat pump but powering the heat pump by the sun! 

About the author 

Matt Tomkin

Matt, founder of Eco Affect, is a passionate and experienced writer in the eco-friendly, sustainability sector and has worked on various projects to support individuals and businesses looking to reduce costs, carbon footprint and ecological impacts.

His main goal with Eco Affect is to create a space whereby any individual or organisation can learn about their environmental impact and make positive changes to support the environment. This passion is driven by his fear for the future his young children will grow up in, and a first-hand understanding of running a business in a sustainable manner in 2024.

Matt has:
- Years of supporting and writing in the environmental sector
- Close contact with important players in the eco-sphere, including working relationships with green-tech manufacturers and eco-educators from the top Universities in the UK
- First-hand experience of implementing green-tech into his home and working environments

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