How Do Solar Panels Work
When photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they generate electricity. Multiple cells make up a solar panel, and multiple panels can be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels you can deploy, the more energy you can expect to generate.
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.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For My Home
Its no use installing just one solar panelyoull need more than that to reap the financial benefits of a solar panel system. While the answer isnt always so simple, weve put together some example cases to help you understand, at a high level, how many solar panels you need to install an effective solar array.
You May Like: How To Add Solar Panels To Your House
How Many Kwh Can Your Solar Panels Produce The Complexities Of Production Ratios
The amount of power your solar energy system can produce depends on how much sunlight exposure your roof receives, which in turn creates your production ratio. The amount of sunlight you get in a year depends on both where you are in the country, and what time of year it is. For instance, California has more sunny days annually than New England. But in either location, youll be able to produce enough power to cover your energy needs and say goodbye to your utility billsif you live in an area that gets less peak sunlight hours, youll just need to have a larger solar array system installed at your home. Thus, production ratios differ according to geographic location and a lower production ratio means youll need more solar panels to get the amount of energy production you need.
Will A 5kw Solar System Run A House
You need to know how many kilowatt hours of energy your house uses per day/month or year.
Using the American home average of 30kWh/day and system loss factor of 1.44, we can work out how much energy a 5kW solar system could generate.
Applying the PV system loss adjustment factor of 1.44, you would need to generate:
30kWh x 1.44 = 43.2 kWh of solar energy
With an average of 4 peak-sun-hours 1 solar watt can generate 4 watt-hours/day. Therefore, the solar power needed to supply this home is:
43200/4 = 10.8kW
A 5kWh solar system would not run the average US home with energy consumption of 30kWh/day. More than double this amount would be needed at 10.8kWh if the total energy requirements were to be generated from solar.
Recommended Reading: How Much Does An 8kw Solar System Cost
Sunshine At Your Home
Your physical location is a key factor that impacts the efficiency of your home solar panels. As you might expect, solar systems are best suited for sunny areas — which is why solar is incredibly popular in states like California and Arizona. With more sunshine, each of your individual solar panels will generate more power. For our calculations, we’ll assume that you get four hours of sunshine per day.
The location of your home isn’t something that you can change, but it’s still important to recognize that your region plays a role in how well solar will work for you. In short, your panels will operate at maximum capacity when they can absorb the most possible sunlight.
Factors That Determine How Many Solar Panels You Need
You may think that the size of your house determines how many solar panels you need, but it doesnt! To really understand how many solar panels your solar energy system needs, you need to determine the following:
- Your energy usage: The more electricity you use, the more solar panels you need to cover your electricity costs
- Sunlight in your area: Homes in areas that receive less sunlight will need more solar panels to eliminate their electricity bills than those in sunnier states. As a rule of thumb, the southwestern United States gets the most sun in the country, while the northeast gets the least
- Panel wattage: The wattage of the solar panels you choose, also called the power rating, determines how much energy the panels will produce and most solar panels installed today have a power rating of about 320 watts per panel fewer panels are needed when you install panels with high wattage ratings
Below, solar expert Will White breaks down everything you need to know to figure out how many solar panels you need to power your home.
Also Check: How Much Does It Cost For Solar Panels
How To Calculate Solar Panel Battery And Inverter Specifications Choosing The Right Solar Equipment For Your Solar Power System
Calculating your solar power needs and sizing the necessary solar equipment is one of the most important steps you will need to take when building any type of solar power system.
While some people assume that the only calculation you need to make is buying solar panels with power ratings that add up to your desired amount of electricity, there are other important calculations you must make. For starters, it is just as important that your batteries, power inverter, and charge controller also work together. Unless everything matches up and is compatible, your freshly assembled solar power system will not work efficiently, or at all.
That is why we are here to help you choose the right solar equipment for your specific power needs. We will explain how you can quickly calculate how many solar panels you will need and what type of solar panels they will need to be. From there, we will explain how you calculate solar battery amp-hours and choose an appropriate charge controller and power inverter.
Once you know what sort of equipment you will need, you can assemble an efficient solar power system that will actually meet your power requirements.
What Number Of Watts Do You Right Now Use
Take a gander at your power bill for normal use. Search for Kilowatt Hours Used or something almost identical, and afterward note the time allotment addressed . If your bill doesnt show kilowatt hours utilized, search for starting and finishing meter readings and deduct the past perusing from the latest one.
You need day by day and hourly use for our computations, so if your bill doesnt show an every day normal, simply partition the month to month or yearly average by 30 or 365 days, separately, and afterward partition again by 24 to decide your hourly average power utilization. Your answer will be in kW.
A little home in a calm environment may utilize something like 200 kWh each month, and a bigger home in the south where climate control systems represent the biggest piece of home energy utilization may utilize 2,000 kWh or more. The normal U.S. home use around 900 kWh each month. So that is 30 kWh each day or 1.25 kWh each hour.
Your normal every day energy use is your objective day by day normal to compute your sunlight based requirements. That is the quantity of kilowatt-hours you want your planetary group to deliver assuming you need to cover most on the off chance that not all of your power needs.
Recommended Reading: How To Start A Sole Proprietorship In Kentucky
Work Out The Average Daily Sunlight Hours
Next youll need to work out the average number of sunlight hours per day where you live.
A quick internet search should help with this one! But as an example, here are the average sunlight hours for Belfast, Northern Ireland:
As the number varies from month to month, it is best to take an average for the year.
Based on the above figures, the home we are using as an example will get 3.5 hours of sunshine per day throughout the year.
What Solar Incentives Or Solar Rebates Are Available
There are many different tax incentives, subsidies and financing and billing solutions at the state and local levels that can make going solar more affordable. To see if you might be eligible for renewable energy incentive programs, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency .
If you purchase your solar system, you may qualify for the 26% federal tax credit .* The full solar ITC is available to home solar owners through 2022. It drops to a 22% credit in 2023 and is scheduled to go away completely in 2024, so dont put off buying solar for too long.
Recommended Reading: How Much Will It Cost To Install Solar Panels
How Much Sunlight Do You Receive
Generally speaking, the peak hours of sunlight are between 9am and 3pm each day, although there can be variations depending on your location. Some areas will have more light than others, and there can be a bit of a difference between the north and south of the United Kingdom.
However, this does not mean that you wont have less energy production if you live in a shadier area, it just means that you might need more panels in order to fully benefit. What you can do for a rough estimate is divide you daily kWh usage by the number of peak sunlight hours in a day. This will leave you with the amount of energy you need to produce in kWh. You can multiply this number by 1000 for the watt usage. Of course, you should also consult your installer about this.
Actual Energy Use Quote
Use this solar calculator to determine a precise system size for your actual energy use.
The NEXT STEP, now that you have an estimate for the desired kW, VIEW SOLAR KIT SIZES to compare prices, brands and, options.
Remember, you decide how much solar to get based on the need, available space, and budget. There is no rule that you have to offset 100% of current energy use. Utilities will generally allow grid-connected systems up to 120% of the previous 12 months consumption. They will also allow for consumption increases from an electric vehicle, home expansion or other needs.
You May Like: How Good Is Solar Power
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need For 1000 Kwh Per Month
A family with several siblings can easily reach a monthly consumption of 1,000 kWh. In places with expensive electricity, this results in monthly electric bills of over $200. However, solar power is an effective solution to reduce energy expenses.
As explained above, the number of panels needed to reach 1,000 kWh per month changes depending on local sunshine and panel wattage. To simplify calculations, solar radiation is specified in peak sun-hours per day. Weather scientists calculate this value by measuring the total sunshine in a location and converting it to equivalent hours of peak sunshine.
- Peak sun hours should not be confused with daylight hours
- Since sunlight is moderate in the early morning and late afternoon, these hours do not count as complete peak sun hours
- You may find a site that gets 12 hours of average daylight, and 6 peak sun hours per day
There are many online databases that provide peak sun hours based on site coordinates, including the Atmospheric Science Data Center from NASA. Once you know the peak sun hours, estimating the number of solar panels needed for 1,000 kWh is simple.
- The first step is calculating the kilowatts needed. You must simply divide the average daily kWh by the peak sun hours
- Assuming a 30-day month, an electricity generation of 1,000 kWh is equivalent to 33.33 kWh per day
- If the site gets 6 peak sun hours per day, you need 5.56 kilowatts
How To Calculate Solar Panel Needs
If you are considering having a solar system installed in your home there are some things that you will need to know about how to calculate solar panel needs.
Solar power is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy. It is clean, efficient, and environmentally friendly. However, solar panels are expensive. It is estimated that the average customer pays $5,000-$10,000 for a solar system.
Thats why we need to calculate the needs of our solar system, to make sure were not overpaying.
Also Check: Is Solar Tax Credit Refundable
What Does A Solar Inverter Do
A solar inverter takes the DC electricity from the solar array and uses that to create AC electricity. Inverters are like the brains of the system. Along with inverting DC to AC power, they also provide ground fault protection and system stats, including voltage and current on AC and DC circuits, energy production and maximum power point tracking.
Central inverters have dominated the solar industry since the beginning. The introduction of micro-inverters is one of the biggest technology shifts in the PV industry. Micro-inverters optimize for each individual solar panel, not for an entire solar system, as central inverters do.
This enables every solar panel to perform at maximum potential. When a central inverter is used, having a problem on one solar panel can drag down the performance of the entire solar array. Micro-inverters, such as the ones in SunPower’s Equinox home solar system, make this a non-issue. If one solar panel has an issue, the rest of the solar array still performs efficiently.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Power A 4 Bed House
The average size of a US home with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms is 1700 square feet. In the last section I worked out that solar output needed with average irradiance of 5.3 peak sun hours per day is 3.17 watts per square foot.
Solar calculation for 4 bed home:
1700 square foot x 3.17 = 5389 solar output in watts
If 300 watt solar panels are used, then the number of panels needed is found by:
5389 watts / 300 watts = 18 solar panels
Read Also: How Expensive Is It To Install Solar Panels
Is Your Roof Suitable For Solar Panels
It’s one thing to know how many solar panels you might need to power your home with free renewable solar energy but your roof will need to be suitable for solar panels.
On the plus side, most UK homes are perfectly suitable for solar panels but there are a few considerations to make in order to get the most out of them:
- A south facing roof will deliver optimal generation
- Free from shading
- Roof pitch of 30-40 degrees
- Whether there’s enough space
Find out more in Is My Roof Suitable for Solar Panels?
Divide The Solar Panels Max Capacity To Its Area
The next step is to find out the efficiency per unit area of the panel. This will allow you to calculate the efficiency of every solar cell, after which you can also calculate the total output of a whole bank of solar panels.
To do that, simply divide the maximum power capacity with the surface area. The result will be in Watts per square meter, or W/m2.
Read Also: Is My Property Suitable For Solar Panels
Types Of Solar Batteries
There a few types of Batteries used in Solar Systems but the main 2 are Lead-Acid and Lithium-Ion. A typical rule of thumb that needs to be taken into consideration Lead Acid Batteries is 50% DOD which is the depth of discharge and that only means the manufacturers recommend that you should not train more than 50% of the batterys capacity. Lithium-Ion Batteries can use for whatever they are rated for so a Lithium-on 1000 wh Battery can be used up to 80-100% and a Lead Acid Battery rated 1000 watt-hours should only be used down to 50% of its charge, which takes it down to 500-watt hours.
Lithium Batteries are more expensive but they are lighter they have a longer charge cycle than Lead Acid Batteries and as your need for Solar Panels and more power will be created, youll be able to complement them using these smaller more powerful type the Lithium-Ion in your Battery Bank.
A Lithium Battery is most recommended but the price is higher than the rest, so the next one that a little cheaper is the AGM Battery that is enclosed so you wont have to maintenance it adding distilled water and they will charge 5x faster and higher Amp reading than the cheapest Lead Acid model. The Battery Bank is the Solar System Foundation so start with the most and best type of Battery that your budget can allow.