The Demand For Solar Energy Is Increasing
The need for solar energy increases as new technologies demands higher production of clean and reliable electricity for consumption.
As the effects of greenhouse gasses worsen and as our planet becomes more polluted, the demand for a sustainable, eco-friendly, economical and renewable source of energy such as solar energy, increases globally.
But who cares if the demand for solar energy increases?
Well, you should.
Think about it:
You can use this fact to gain extra profit from utilizing solar energy.
As the demand for renewable energy increases, there are more potential sectors, facilities, and businesses who would want to avail solar power for electricity, in which you can sell to.
Can Solar Panels Power My Home During Winter
A short answer to this question is yes! Solar panels can power your home during winter. Solar cells work more efficiently in cold weather because solar glass doesnt collect unnecessary heat. A key point to understand is that solar panels dont convert heat. They convert sunlight into electricity. So as long as your house receives four to five hours of sunlight, your solar panel system should power your house.
If you dont get enough sunlight, dont worry. Solar panels will power your house, but they might be a bit inefficient. An interesting fact about solar panels is that their average sunlight consumption varies based on several factors. Solar panels convert photons into electricity. So, they will work efficiently, even if they get less sunlight but better photons.
Determining Individual Solar Panel Sizes
To determine the size of the panels that you need for your house, you need to know the following:
Solar panels generate different amounts of energy depending on their wattage size or rating. A 250 watt panel will generate up to 250 watts per sun hour while a 300 watt solar panel can generate up to 300 watts per sun hour. This is why it is important to know the amount of energy you need before determining solar panel sizes.
In the earlier example with a daily consumption of 4 kWh , if the homeowner used 250 W solar panels, then they would need to install 16 solar panels . If they used 350 W panel, then they would need 12 solar panels .
The capacity of your roof impacts the number of solar panels you can install and therefore how much energy you can generate. This is also because different solar panel sizes have different dimensions.
Continuing with the previous example, if you are installing 16 250W solar panels, you would require a surface area of 25.6 m².
If you are installing 12 350W solar panels would require a surface area of 22.8 m².
It is therefore important to know how much space you have. The table below outlines the average solar panel dimensions and weight per system size.Required Solar Panel Surface Area
|Solar panel size *|
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How To Calculate How Many Solar Panels You Need
The formula we used to estimate the number of solar panels you need to power your home depends on three key factors: annual energy usage, panel wattage, and production ratios. What does that mean exactly? Here are the assumptions we made, and how we did our math:
Annual electricity usage: Your annual electricity usage is the amount of energy and electricity you use in your home over a full year. Measured in kilowatt-hours , this number is influenced by the appliances in your home that use electricity and how often you use them. Refrigerators, air conditioning units, small kitchen appliances, lights, chargers, and more all use electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration , the average American household uses 10,649 kWh of electricity per year, so well use that number as the ideal solar panel system or solar array size, which would mean you could offset 100 percent of your electricity usage and utility bill with solar panels . If youre interested in getting a more exact number based on your personal energy usage, check last years utility bills to find out how much electricity you used. Once you have that number, feel free to plug it into the equations below.
How Many Kwh Can Solar Panels Produce And How Many Panels You Need On Your Roof
The amount of power your solar energy system can produce depends on the number of solar panels that can absorb solar energy and convert it into electricity.
Assuming you are going to choose standard-efficiency solar panels, here are the most common sizes for residential solar systems and their kWh production potential to give you an idea of how many panels you would need to run a house.
- A 3kW solar system which consists of 12 panels can produce an average of 4,200 kWh per year. You will need a roof space of about 194 sq ft for a 3kW system.
- A 5kW solar system which consists of 20 panels can produce an average of 7,000 kWh per year. You will need a roof space of about 340 sq ft for a 5kW system.
- A 10kW solar system which consists of 40 panels can produce an average of 14,000 kWh per year. You will need a roof space of about 680 sq ft for a 10kW system.
Keep in mind that the amount of power your solar system can produce depends on how much sunlight your roof receives and your location.
For example, California has more sunny days annually than Washington. In this case if you live in Washington you would need a bigger solar system to get the same power as you would get with a smaller system in California.
The Renewable Resource Data Center provides average daily total solar resource information on grid cells by state and its free to use so check it out.
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Type Of Solar Panel And Efficiency Rating
High-efficiency panels can deliver more watts per square foot, which means you need to purchase fewer of them to reach your electricity generation target. There are three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. In general, monocrystalline panels are the most efficient solar panels, followed closely by polycrystalline panels. Thin-film panels are the least efficient.
Calculate Area Needed To Install Solar Panels:
To calculate your total rooftop area requirement to install solar panels use the following equation.
Area required for solar panels = Total number of solar panels x area of one panel
In our above example for a 7.8 kW system we needed 24 solar panels which will need an area of,
Area for 7.8 kW of solar panels = 24 x 21.50 = 516 sq.ft
Mind you this is just the area required to mount all the solar panels back to back and side to side to each other. In real life you need to leave spaces between rows and columns of solar panels so that you can easily clean your solar panels every now and then, and also have safe access to perform any trouble shooting and maintenance.
Considering cleaning space and access for troubleshooting and maintenance of solar panels we can assume to install 1 kW of solar system on a metal roof you will need 85 sq.ft of shadow free areaand to install 1 kW of solar system on a RCC terrace you will need 100 sq.ft of shadow free area.
The following table summarizes the area needed to install solar system.
|Solar System Size|
|30||750 sq.ft 900 sq.ft|
The values on the left in the area column indicates the bare minimum area required to install solar panels and the values on the right indicates the minimum area required to install solar panels .
Cost of solar panels:
Cost Of Solar On Grid System:
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Target A Solar Power Production Goal
Now that you have calculated how many kWhs are currently being usedfactor in any adjustments based on foreseen changes to your electricity consumption. You can either have this as an annual breakdown of kilowatt-hours, monthly or daily usage.
Based on your recent utility bill, it may show that you are currently using 6,000 kWh annually. This number can then calculate a monthly average of 500 kWh. Or a daily average of 16.5 kWh . This quick calculation will tell you how much energy your solar energy system should offset to determine how many solar panels you will need to offset that solar power production goal.
Additional Considerations For Off
Calculating power consumption needs for an off-grid system is a tad more complicated. People who live off-grid need to focus on daily power usage rather than monthly or annual consumption.
Youre not staring down a power bill each month youre independent and responsible for covering your own day-to-day power needs. The system needs to be able to produce enough to keep things running smoothly.
Without power bills as a starting point, its best to start by listing out your major appliances and estimating how much you use them on a daily basis. Input this list into our Load Evaluation Calculator.
If youre not sure how much power an appliance uses, follow the appliance electrical consumption table as a guide. You can also check for the EnergyGuide sticker, or use a meter to measure energy consumption if possible.
This form will give an estimated daily usage.
Pay close attention to December and January when you estimate your energy needs. Those months tend to have the highest power usage and the lowest output by your system.
When you live off-grid, you will need a battery system thats large enough to store enough power for the day and then use solar power to recharge them in a timely manner. Its common to lean on a backup generator during the winter, when there wont be enough sunlight to fully power your solar system.
Here are the basic formulas we use to size off-grid systems:
Minimum Battery capacity :
Minimum Solar Array Size
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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need
Emissions from fossil fuels used to produce electricity are a major contributor to global warming. You can do your bit to save the planet by going solar and reduce your dependency on the grid.
How many solar panels their home requires is one of the first questions that comes to a homeowners mind when they think of going solar. This is an important question to understand because if you use fewer solar panels than required, your solar system will fail to meet your energy needs. On the other hand, a larger-than-required solar system will cost you more and will also take up unnecessary space on your roof.
The average US home will need between 21 and 34 solar panels at a minimum of 369 sq. ft. of roof space. The calculation is based on the following assumptions:
The homeowner uses the solar system to meet all of their household energy needs
The system consists of 280-watt solar panels
Amount of energy used = average monthly electricity consumption
When determining the number of solar panels you need, consider important factors such as your monthly and yearly power usage, local climate, and solar panel quality.
Calculating Solar Power Costs
Once the above costs and benefits are determined, a solar system can theoretically be evaluated using the discounted cash flow method. Outflows at the beginning of the project would consist of installation costs , and inflows would arrive later in the form of offset electricity costs .
Rather than using DCF, the viability of solar power is usually evaluated by calculating the levelized cost of electricity , then comparing it to the cost of electricity charged by the local utility. The LCOE for household solar will typically be calculated as cost/kilowatt-hour – the same format commonly used on electricity bills. To approximate the LCOE, one can use the following equation:
LCOE = Net Present Value of the Lifetime Cost of Ownership / Lifetime Energy Output
The useful life of a PV solar module is generally assumed to be 25-40 years. The cost of ownership includes the maintenance costs, which must be discounted to find the NPV. The LCOE can then be compared to the cost of electricity from a utility remember, the relevant price is that which occurs during times at or near peak PV solar production.
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Assessing Your Solar Power Needs
Now that you have read about solar energy, you now have a background on how this energy is utilized and what ways will it benefit not only you but the environment.
This brings us now to the central question of our article, How much Solar Power do I need?
I know this is not what you signed up for, but I hope youre prepared to do some necessary calculations, so prepare your calculator, a pen and something to write on, because, in this section, we will discuss how to compute the amount of solar power you need, for your home, business or property.
But before we dive deeper into computation, I would like to warn you that the amount of solar power you need depends not only on your daily power consumption, which we will compute today .
Other factors, such as the amount of energy you wish to store, and energy allocation, are also essential factors that you need to consider.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need For Common Household Items
If you are considering solar energy for your home, you may also be asking how many panels are needed to power specific appliances. However, it is important to understand how solar generation works:
- Solar systems deliver most of their energy production in the hours around noon
- During the early morning and late in the afternoon, solar generation is much lower. This is because there is less sunlight reaching the panels
- Households have the highest energy consumption in the evening and early morning
Since solar panels depend on sunlight, you cannot control their electricity production. Powering home appliances directly with panels is impractical and potentially dangerous, unless you use a solar battery to store energy. If you connect home appliances directly to the panels and inverter, a dark cloud passing over your home will shut off the power. At night, you would have to switch to the local power supply anyway.
The most practical solution is synchronizing solar systems with the local power supply, which lets them operate as a single power source. When solar generation cannot power your home appliances by itself, the rest of the energy comes from the grid. If your panels have surplus production, you can send it to grid to get a credit on the next electricity bill.
This table considers the most power-hungry appliances found in homes. Most small appliances and electronic devices have a very low consumption, which does not even match the production of one panel.
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Calculate Peak Sun Hours
To get the maximum output from your solar panels, you need to measure the peak sun hours. The formula to calculate peak sun hours: 1 peak sun hour = 1000 W/m² of sunlight per hour. You need to check when your roof is hot during summer and winter. The hours of the day when your house is warm are peak sun hours. This is the time your solar panels would effectively charge their solar cells.
According to historical data, Jacksonville, Florida, has 221 sunny days, and a solar panel system would work well for you if you live here. You can find the average sunny days in different states of the USA by searching online. However, for an accurate measure, you should calculate daily sunlight hours for 2 months, which will give you a good place to start.
Factor In Solar Panel Degradation
All solar panels, regardless of the manufacturer, will depreciate. When the solar panels silicon cells get hit with the suns radiation, they will slightly shiftlosing a bit of their performance. This degradation happens the most in the first three years and levels off substantially afterward. The average degradation rate for solar panels is between .5% to .8% per year. A solar panel with a degradation rate of 1% a year will operate at 90% efficiency or better after ten years. It is also fair to assume that your solar panels will still produce energy efficiently even after 30 years.
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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Power A 3000 Square Foot House
We know the average sized home requires 7924 solar watts with the average US irradiance of 5.3 peak sun hours/day, which equates to 3.17 watts per square foot.
Multiplying this number by 3000 square foot, we get 9510 watts of solar required.
9510 watts / 300 watts = 32 solar panels of 300 watts rating each
Roof Orientation Obstructions And Shading
Your solar system is designed for maximum production. As such, we avoid placing panels near obstructions such as trees or other structures that may block the path of the sun. Each solar panel should be exposed to sunlight to produce the most electricity.
In the northern hemisphere, its best to have your panels on a south mounting plane. If a south mounting plane is not available, east and west are also good. Roof planes must be able to accommodate a minimum of two panels to be considered in your final design.
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