How Many Solar Panels Will You Need?

Jessica PirroJanuary 10, 2020 2689 1

How Many Solar Panels Will You Need?

When you determine how many solar panels that you’re going to need for your home means first knowing what your goals are. Do you want to minimize your carbon footprint? Maximize your return on your investment? Save as much money as possible? Most people want to save money while minimizing their environmental impact.

To calculate how many solar panels you will need to know the following: how much energy your household uses; your roof’s usable surface area; the climate and peak sunlight in your area; the wattage and relative efficiency of a solar panel for the solar panels you’re considering and whether net metering is available.

The easiest way of answering the “How many solar panels will I need?” question is going to be by contacting a solar installer, who will be able to come out and give you a free home solar panel installation evaluation.

How Much Solar Power Are You Going to Need?

To determine your home’s average energy requirements, you will need to look at your old utility bills. You can calculate how many solar panels that you will need by multiplying your household’s hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours for the area you live in, and then dividing it by the wattage of the solar panels. By using a low-wattage (150W) and high-wattage (370W) example you are going to establish a range. Keep in mind that how much sunlight your roof gets and factors such as roof size and the solar battery storage options are going to figure in as well.

How Many Watts Are You Currently Using?

Take a look at your electricity bill to get an average usage. Look for Kilowatt-Hours (kWh) used, or something close, and note the period that is represented (most often 30 days). If your bill doesn’t show kWh used, look for the begging and ending meter readings and subtract the previous reading from the most recent one.

If you want daily and hourly and usage calculations, but if your bill doesn’t show a daily average, just divide your monthly or annual average by 30 or 365, and then divide it again by 24 to help determine your hourly average electricity usage. Your answer will be in kWh.

A small home in a temperate climate might use something like 200 kWh a month, and a larger home in the south where air conditioners account for the largest portion of home energy maybe around 2,000 kWh or longer. The average U.S. home is going to use around 900 kWh a month, which would be around 30 kWh per day or 1.25 kWh an hour.

Your average daily energy usage is your target daily average to calculate your solar energy needs. That’s the number of kilowatt-hours you need your solar power system to produce if you want to cover 100 percent of your solar needs.

It’s going to be important to note that solar panels don’t operate at the maximum efficiency of a solar panel at all times. Regardless of the weather conditions, it can temporarily reduce your entire solar panel installations efficiency. Solar power experts recommend adding a 25 percent “cushion” to your daily average to ensure that you can generate all the clean energy you need.

What Affects the Efficiency of a Solar Panel?

When it comes to the efficiency of a solar panel, the quality of the solar panels is going to make a difference. Not all solar panels are alike. Solar panels come in wattage’s ranging from 150 watts to 370 watts per solar panel, depending on the solar panels size as well as the efficiency of a solar panel.

Because of the wide variations in quality and the efficiency of a solar panel, it’s pretty difficult to generalize which solar panels are right for you or how many you are going to need for your home. The main takeaway is that the higher the efficiency of a solar panel, the more wattage they can produce, and the fewer you are going to need on your rooftop to get the solar energy output. The more conventional solar panels usually are going to produce about 250 watts per solar panel, with varying levels of the efficiency of a solar panel.

If you want to figure out how many solar panels your house needs, divide your home’s hourly wattage requirement by the wattage of the solar panel to calculate the total number of solar panels you need.

What is the Effect of the Size of Solar Panels?

If your roof is small or oddly shaped, the size and how many solar panels are going to be an important consideration. With a large usable roof area, maybe you can sacrifice some efficiency of a solar panel and buy larger solar panels to hit your target energy output. If your usable roof area is limited, or if it’s partially shaded, being able to use fewer smaller solar panes that have a higher efficiency of a solar panel may be the best way yo make the most solar power over the long term, ultimately resulting in more savings.

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