What Affects Solar Panel Efficiency
The limitation in solar cell efficiency directly affects how efficiently a solar panel converts solar energy into electricity.
In physics, the ShockleyQueisser limit refers to the maximum theoretical efficiency of a solar cell using a single p-n junction to collect power from the cell where the only loss mechanism is radiative recombination in the solar cell. It was first calculated by William Shockley and Hans-Joachim Queisser at Shockley Semiconductor in 1961, giving a maximum efficiency of 30% at 1.1 eV. Wikipedia.
This boils down to the materials used, the reflective efficiency, and how well the solar panel handles heat.
Choose The Right Solar Panels
If you have a small or odd-shaped roof, solar panel size is an important consideration when deciding on the size of a solar system. Take these factors into account:
- With a large usable roof area, you can buy more larger panels to get to your target energy output.
- If your usable roof area is limited or partially shaded, using fewer smaller high efficiency panels will ultimately be the most cost-effective, long-term solution. You can add more panels later on to accommodate increased energy needs.
How Do I Calculate A Solar Panels Output
Because every solar panel system is different, its hard to say exactly how much electricity yours would generate. This useful calculator by the Centre for Alternative Technology can give you a rough idea, as well as the amount of money you could expect to save.
There are also a few general benchmarks you can use to estimate your systems potential output.
Recommended Reading: Is Leasing Solar Better Than Buying
Solar Panel Output Per Day
It is usually measured in kilowatt-hours . To estimate the potential electricity that your solar panels would generate per day, you can use the following formula:
- Size of one solar panel x 1,000
- That figure x Efficiency of one solar panel
- That figure x Number of sun hours in your area each day
- That figure was divide by 1,000
Plus, you can use this calculator to figure out the sun hours in your areas. And the efficiency of the solar panel is given by the product maker. But you should pay attention to that the sun hours per day could be largely variable in different seasons and locations.
Energy Saving Trust Website Tool
The Energy Saving Trust is an independent Government supported website that helps to educate and inform consumers about energy efficiency and renewable energy. It is a great resource of impartial and straightforward information. They have an online calculator tool uses a very similar methodology to the Standard Estimation Method detailed above. The Energy Saving Trust website states:
For the avoidance of doubt, the results in this calculator are not exactly the same as those estimated by the Standard Estimation Method which is used by MCS certified installers in solar PV quotations. The methodology used in this calculator is based on the Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure 2012 which uses different assumptions for the average level of solar radiation in an area.
The result will be very similar though and an easy tool to use if you want to work out your likely energy generation from a trusted, independent website.
Read Also: Is There A Solar Powered Car
What Are Standard Test Conditions
A good place to start is by understanding the parameters that earn a solar panel its wattage rating. How many watts your solar panel is able to produce might be anywhere between 250 watts and 370 watts.
Does this mean that your system will generate that exact amount all of the time? Not really. Thats where those variables come in. But a solar panel efficiency number is a gauge of how many watts your solar panel is capable of producing in ideal conditions.
These ideal conditions are simulated in a laboratory where solar panels are tested, known as Standard Test Conditions . Standard Test Conditions for solar panel wattage would mean your solar panel is operating at 77 degrees Fahrenheit while there are 1000 watts of sunlight per square meter hitting the panel.
So, under these ideal conditions, a 250-watt solar panel will produce 250 watts of electricity. This standard is a good way to ensure that all solar panels meet specific criteria when theyre manufactured. As for how well they perform in the wild, lets get into some of those variables.
Why Is Calculating The Annual Yield From Your Solar Panels Important
There are a number of reasons it is useful to have an idea of how much electrical energy will be generated by the solar panel system:
you can use this figure to work out how much money you may be able to earn through the feed-in tariffs
combined with information on your energy consumption you can use it to make an estimate of how much energy you might be able to save by installing solar panels
combined with the total cost of the solar pv system you can work out the likely return on investment and payback periods
you can compare the output from different systems, eg putting panels on different roof areas or using different sized solar panels
knowing how the annual energy estimate is calculated also means you can check solar panel installers quotations for accuracy
having an idea of how much energy your system generates will mean you will notice if the system starts to develop some sort of issue that impairs the system performance
Also Check: Can You Put Pine Sol Down The Drain
Roof Tilt And Orientation
The direction a solar panel array faces is important in calculating power output. In Australia, panels that face north perform best. However, the angle of the panels must also be considered along with the direction. To maximise year round solar production, panels should ideally be positioned at the latitude angle of the location. Any deviation from the optimal positioning of panels will result in lower output. Measurements for sunlight hitting panels at a specific tilt and orientation vary for different Australian cities.
Calculate Your Kwh Usage
To determine your homes energy usage more accurately, use our home appliances power consumption table to find out how many kWh your appliances would use per month.
If your utility provides a favorable net metering policy, the energy your system generates can be banked with the utility as a credit that can be used later. Not all utility companies give you credit check with your local provider.
Read Also: How To Calculate Solar Needs
How Orientation And Location Affect Solar Output
Your location determines the amount of electricity the solar panels can harness. Historically, solar was first adopted in sunny states in the southwest.
As solar panels get exposure to more sunlight, their production increase the more the sun, the better. However, even the northern parts can still benefit from solar power.
The direction that your solar panels face also affects the output. If your panels face the direction that receives more sunlight, they can capitalize on this and give out more energy. The recommended orientation for solar installation can be south or west, depending on your location. Differences in your available physical space and surrounding conditions can also affect this decision.
Solar Panel Size Chart
One of the biggest concerns customers have is the size of solar panels. However, contrary to popular belief solar panels come in tons of different sizes. The different size variants make it easier to buy a solar panel that is perfect for your property.
The two most common configurations for solar panels are 60 cells and 72 cells. The average size for one cell is 6 inches. A 60 cells solar panel is laid out as a 6 x 10 cells grid. Meanwhile, the 72 cells solar panels are laid out in a 6 x 12 grid.
Following are the dimensions for each of these solar panel configurations choose the one which suits your needs the most.
60-cell solar panel size: 39 x 66 inches
72-cell solar panel size: 39 x 77 inches
Moreover, 60-cells and 72-cells are the most common solar panel configurations, but some manufacturers also sell 96-cells solar panels. The size of 96-cells solar panels is below:
96-cells solar panel size: 41.5 x 62.6 inches
Note: Even though these are the standard sizes of commercial and industrial solar panels, the size may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
You May Like: Does My House Qualify For Solar Panels
How Much Do I Save
Finally, lets find out how much you can save per month on average from your monthly electric bill!
Lets plug it all in:
On average, your solar system is going to lose some energy due to wiring, power, inverter efficiency, so you actually end up using 80% of your solar systems capacity.
To figure out how many kilowatt-hours your solar panel system puts out per year, you need to multiply the size of your system in kW DC times the .8 derate factor times the number of hours of sun. So if you have a 7.5 kW DC system working an average of 5 hours per day, 365 days a year, itll result in 10,950 kWh in a year.
If you divide your expected 10,950 kWh of annual production by 12, youll see that your system will offset about 912 kWh per month from your monthly electric bill, which can translate to $100 or more per month depending on how much you pay per kWh!
So to break this down into simple math that you can do:
AC rating = Average kWh per month / 30 days / average sun hours per day
example: 903 kWh per month / 30 days / 5 hours = 6.02 kW AC
DC rating = AC rating / derate factor
example: 6.02 kW AC / .8 = 7.53 kW DC
Number of panels = DC rating / Panel Rating *note this is important b/c panels are rated in watts, and the systems are rated in kilowatts . So a 7.53 kW system = 7530 Watts and a 250 watt panel = .250 kW
example: 7.53 kW x 1000 / 250 watt = 30.12 panels, so roughly 30 250 panels
Have you calculated how much your solar system will produce? Tell us in the comments!
How To Calculate Solar Panel Efficiency
Most solar panels have an efficiency rating of between 10% and 15%, which will usually be indicated by the manufacturer.
Efficiency also depends on the type of panel youre using , where your panel is facing, and much heat it is generating
The efficiency rating of a solar panel refers to its ability to convert sunlight into usable energy. So, if a panel has an efficiency rating of 15%, it will be able to harness 15% of the photons that hit it. Due to real-world conditions of weather and placement, a solar panel rarely produces its full wattage output rating.
To calculate the efficiency of your panel, youll need to look up the amount of sunlight that hits the earth in your particular area. Multiply this amount by the surface area of your panel, divide the maximum kWp of your panel by this number, and then multiply it by 100% to get an accurate efficiency rating.
Lets say 1,000-watts per square meter of sunlight is hitting your area, and you have a 1 square meter panel, youll end up with 1,000-watts exactly. If you have a 200 kWp panel, the efficiency will be roughly 20%
Read Also: How To Make Your Own Solar Cells
What Is The Standard Power Output Rating Of Residential Solar Panels In 2021
Solar panels used on homes in 2021 generally have power output ratings between 275 and 400 watts of DC power per module.
Solar panel wattages have steadily increased over time. The first 400 watt residential solar panel was released by SunPower in March 2019, but you can now find several panels from different manufacturers that are around this wattage.
As recently as 2016-17, solar panels with output ratings of 250 watts were common. But it is now rare to find home solar installations using a model of this wattage.
The reason for the growing power wattages of solar panels is due to improvements in solar panel efficiency. Higher efficiency means that you can produce more power in the same amount of space.
Higher efficiency solar panels are especially important when you are looking to install a residential solar power system on your home, but you have limited roof space. You can use fewer high efficiency panels to produce the same amount of energy as you could if you had used more lower efficiency panels.
Solar Panel Output Per Square Meter
The most common domestic solar panel system is 4 kW. And it has 16 panels, each of which is about 1.6 square meters in size. They are rated to generate approximately 265 watts of power .
To calculate the output per square meter, you can use the following formula:
- Number of panels x Capacity of the solar panel system
- Capacity ÷ Total size of a system
Also, you have about two different ways to calculate the power production that you might get from your solar panels at home. They are mainly related to how much power you need and how many square meters of roof space they will account for.
You have two options: easy and rough way accurate and complex way.
Read Also: How Do You Use Solar Panels
Calculate The Size Of Your Solar System
To figure out how to size your solar system, take your daily kWh energy requirement and divide it by your peak sun hours to get the kW output. Then divide the kW output by your panels efficiency to get the estimated number of solar panels youll need for your system.
x 1.15 efficiency factor = DC solar system size
For example, if you live in New Mexico, you average six peak sunlight hours per day. Youll need 6.2 kW DC according to the formula:
x 1.15 efficiency factor = 6.2 kW DC solar system size required
Using the example above with a 6.2 kW DC system, you can multiply this number by 1,000 to confirm that you need 6,200 watts of solar panels.
6.2 kW x 1000 = 6200 watts solar panel required
Calculate Solar System Output
Once you know how much area you have for solar panels, and what angles and direction you will be working with, use a PV watts calculator to figure out how much power your system will put out on a monthly basis:
You May Like: How To File Taxes As A Sole Proprietor
What Is The Power Output Rating Of A Solar Panel
The power rating tells you how much power a solar panel was designed to produce. It measures the wattage of a panel when it is operating at standard test conditions.
Standard test conditions is when there is a cell temperature of 77F° , and 1 kilowatt per square meter of solar energy shining on the panel.
In other words, a solar panels power rating measures how much electricity an individual solar panel will produce under ideal operating conditions.
What Affects Solar Panel Output Efficiency
Heres where solar panel quality makes a difference. Not all solar panels are alike. Photovoltaic solar panels come in wattages ranging from about 150 watts to 370 watts per panel, depending on the panel size and efficiency , and on the cell technology.
For example, solar cells with no grid lines on the front absorb more sunlight than conventional cells and do not suffer from issues such as delamination . The construction of our cells makes them stronger and more resistant to cracking or corrosion. And a microinverter on each panel can optimize power conversion at the source, in contrast to one large inverter mounted on the side of the house.
Because of these wide variations in quality and efficiency, its difficult to generalize about which solar panels are right for you or how many youll need for your home. The main takeaway is that the more efficient the panels are, the more wattage they can produce, and the fewer you will need on your roof to get the same energy output. Conventional solar panels usually produce about 250 watts per panel, with varying levels of efficiency. In contrast, SunPower panels are known to be the most efficient solar panels on the market.*
To figure out how many solar panels you need, divide your homes hourly wattage requirement by the solar panels wattage to calculate the total number of panels you need.
So that average U.S. home in Dallas, Texas, would need about 25 conventional solar panels or 17 SunPower panels.
Recommended Reading: Can Solar Panels Damage My Roof
Is 1 Kw Enough To Run A House
Considering the average household in the United States uses roughly 29kWh per day, and 1kW of solar will give you 4-5kW of power with 5 hours of sunlight, this will not be enough for most homes.
That being said, it can certainly help lower your dependence on mains power and save you money on electricity bills.
It also helps to look at your energy requirements and usage, and see where you can save on power. For example, using a solar geyser to heat water, a gas fridge, and a stove, and heating your home with a fireplace or gas heater will save a ton of power overall.
In my home, a have a 1kW solar system that provides me with more power than I need, since I save on energy usage by using gas appliances and a solar geyser. This is more than enough to run lights, computers, a TV, and other small appliances.