Keeping Track Of Your Electricity Usage
Regardless of whether your utility company offers net metering or a different scheme , if you have grid-connected solar, you will need a new electricity meter from your utility company. Itâs this utility meter that will let them know how much solar electricity you generate and how much grid electricity you use so that you can be billed for the difference.
You might get a bidirectional meter installed, which will track in real time whether you are using electricity from the grid or sending excess solar power into the grid.
Or you might have a dual metering setup, in which one meter tracks power drawn from the grid and a separate meter that tracks the solar electricity generated.
Which type of setup you end up with will depend on your utility company.
And Finally Lets Do Out The Math
We have our three main assumptions now how do those numbers translate to an estimated number of solar panels for your home? The formula looks like this:
Number of panels = system size / production ratio / panel wattage
Plugging our numbers in from above, we get:
Number of panels = 10,649 kW / 1.3 or 1.6 / 320 W
which gives us between 20 and 25 panels in a solar array, depending on which production ratio we use . 25 panels each at 320 W results in a total system size of 8 kW, which is right around the average for EnergySage shoppers looking for a solar installer. Tada!
Reduce Your Electricity Use
During daylight hours, youll be generating electricity even on cloudy days, but if youre using more power around your home than your panels are generating, or during the evening when your panels are not generating any electricity, youll be supplementing this by importing electricity from the grid.
Reducing your electricity use can help lower your bills and reduce your carbon footprint. If youre claiming a Smart Export Guarantee tariff, youll receive a payment for every unit of electricity you export. Remember to turn devices off and avoid standby.
See our energy saving quick wins for more tips to reduce your energy use.
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Net Metering And Grid
On a sunny day, itâs common for solar homes to send excess electricity into the grid in the middle of the day when power generation is at its peak. How you receive credit from your utility company is dependent on a policy called net metering.
Adequately describing net metering requires an article by itself – which you can read here – but the graphs below give you a quick idea of what it looks like over the course of a day.
In the first graph, you can see that when the sun isnât shining, a solar home will pull power from the grid, and tend to generate excess electricity in the middle of the day.
With net metering, you get full credit for the extra electricity sent into the grid, which is used to offset any power that you need to draw from the grid at night or when solar power generation is low.
Impact On Electricity Network
With the increasing levels of rooftop photovoltaic systems, the energy flow becomes 2-way. When there is more local generation than consumption, electricity is exported to the grid. However, an electricity network traditionally is not designed to deal with the 2- way energy transfer. Therefore, some technical issues may occur. For example, in Queensland Australia, more than 30% of households used rooftop PV by the end of 2017. The famous Californian 2020 duck curve appeared often for a lot of communities from 2015 onwards. An over-voltage issue may result as the electricity flows from PV households back to the network. There are solutions to manage the over voltage issue, such as regulating PV inverter power factor, new voltage and energy control equipment at the electricity distributor level, re-conducting the electricity wires, demand side management, etc. There are often limitations and costs related to these solutions.
When electric networks are down, such as during the October 2019 California power shutoff, solar panels are often insufficient to fully provide power to a house or other structure, because they are designed to supply power to the grid, not directly to homes.
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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Power My House
We estimate that a typical home needs between 20 and 25 solar panels to cover 100 percent of its electricity usage. The actual number youll need to install depends on factors including geographic location, panel efficiency, panel rated power, and your personal energy consumption habits. Importantly, the number of solar panels you need for your home directly impacts the price you pay for solar.
Batteries Do You Need Them
Solar batteries are great for energy security. The peace of mind from knowing that you will still have lights, refrigeration and other essential circuits no matter what happens to the grid can be priceless.
Batteries are also great fun. Seriously! There is something extraordinary about seeing your house run off nothing but battery power.
Batteries also provide a form of insurance against the risk of electricity prices going up and feed-in-tariffs going down.
A properly sized, correctly installed and configured solar battery can reduce your grid use by up to 95%, making you almost immune to electricity and feed-in tariff changes. To be clear no-one knows which way electricity prices and feed-in-tariffs will go. But if you have a battery, you wont care!
But these benefits come at a cost.
For example without a battery rebate it will cost around $10,000 to add a decent amount of quality energy storage to a solar power system in Australia. Take 30-50% off this price if you live in VIC, ACT or SA and are eligible for your states battery rebate.
The typical payback period of an unsubsidised battery of that size is at least 15 years. Most batteries have a 10-year warranty, and its anyones guess how long theyll last past that.
Compare this with a solar energy installation without batteries. A regular non-battery solar power system has a typical payback of around 3-6 years and will last about 25 years.
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Solar Panel Installation Process
The most common location for the installation of solar PV panels is the roof. Most roofs typically have the desired specifications for the installation, so that panels get the maximum sunlight.
Nevertheless, if installation on the roof is not applicable or desired, the solar panels could also be mounted on the ground. You just need to make sure that there are no objects blocking access to the sun.
The following steps explain solar panel installation on a roof:
Assess Your Solar Potential
Before deciding on the best way to use solar electricity at home, assess the potential solar energy that can be produced at your address. Because PV technologies use both direct and scattered sunlight to create electricity, the solar resource across the United States is ample for home solar electric systems.
However, the amount of power generated by a solar energy system at a particular site depends on how much of the sun’s energy reaches it, and the size of the system itself.
Several mapping services and tools are available to help you determine your homes solar energy potential. Some of the services also offer information on the estimated system size, potential costs and savings, and local contractors.
These tools are an excellent starting point and can help you determine whether your home is suitable for solar, and if not, the best path forward for still benefiting from solar. While these tools are helpful, they don’t account for all of the variables that need to be considered for your particular system. For that, you will need to work directly with a solar installer who can provide an accurate assessment of your solar potential as well as detailed recommendations, estimates, and equipment expertise.
Consider the following:
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What You Should Know About Off
- Off-grid systems are more expensive due to the added costs of the battery banks and charge controllers.
- Battery banks are one of the highest lifecycle costs of an off-grid solar PV system as they require regular maintenance and/or replacement to ensure optimum system performance and longevity.
- Depending on the type used, batteries have a life span of anywhere from 5 to 10 years. Speak with a professional to understand your battery options for your specific application.
- Off-grid systems need to be sized appropriately to ensure that the battery banks are being used at its maximum capacity throughout the year.
- Consider hybrid solar PV/diesel generator systems for remote locations to ensure an adequately sized solar PV system and reliable power even during long periods of cloudy weather conditions.
Install A Pv Diverter
PV diverters are a low-cost and low maintenance option for increasing your own consumption of solar electricity .
Most of the time your solar PV system either:
Instead of sending surplus electricity to the grid, a PV diverter switch can power the immersion heater in your hot water tank, storing hot water for you to use later. On its own, excess solar energy is unlikely to meet all your hot water needs, but it can help reduce your bills.
A PV diverter switch installation could add around £500 to your installation costs.
If youre interested in using PV diverter, speak with your installer. They might also suggest increasing the number of panels on your roof to provide more electricity for your hot water needs.
You could also export the excess electricity to the grid and consider applying for export payments via a Smart Export Guarantee.
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Should You Lease Solar Panels
There are several payment options that bundle solar installation costs into a consumers electric bill, either as a solar panel leasing option or as a power purchase agreement . Solar leases allow the homeowner to install solar panels without paying anything up front reducing the overall solar panel cost. After the panels are installed, the homeowner pays only a flat monthly fee. The fee includes the installation costs, which are spread out over time, and the cost of electricity supply.
Frequently Asked Questions About Diy Solar Panels
If youre considering a DIY solar panel kit, but still have concerns about the best options, process, and general cost, check out a few of the most common questions we encounter when talking to solar shoppers:
Are DIY solar panels worth it?
DIY solar panels may be tempting to install, but their long-term worth may be up for debate due to quality alone. Typically, a solar panel system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years, so its important to invest in quality equipment and a reputable installer. If you purchase a home solar panel kit from a retailer, you may be paying less per watt, but youre not going to get the same efficiency or quality that professional installers usually offer with their products. Youll also likely forgo any warranties that come with your solar panel system, as warranties often only apply when the system is installed by a certified installer. Its also important to mention that if you still need to rely on some utility power and need to remain connected to the grid, DIY solar panels are not worth itthey are best used for small off-grid projects.
Do you need to be an electrician to install solar panels?How much do DIY solar panels cost?
You can find reliable DIY solar panels at retailers like Home Depot, manufactured by Grape Solar, for anywhere between $6,000 to $11,000, depending on your system size needs. For lower cost options, some manufacturers sell DIY solar panels on Amazon for anywhere between $1,600 to $2,500.
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.
A Beginners Guide To Solar Panels For Home: Are They Worth It Where You Live
Installing solar panels on your home promises the rarest of opportunities: to profit while doing good. This powerful motivation has already seen more than 2 million homeowners install solar panels. In August 2021, SolarReviews.com saw more than 60,000 homeowners request quotes for residential solar systems, the highest amount ever.
However, the economics of solar can be vastly different depending on where you live, what your utility company charges for electricity and how much power your specific home uses.
This is why we start our Solar Panels for Home Beginners Guide with our solar payback estimator that calculates the economics of solar based on your zipcode and the amount of your current electric bill.
Find out how much a solar system would cost for your specific home
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Types Of Systems And Prices
According to the specialists, there are, broadly speaking, three types of systems to install solar panels in homes. The simplest, and the most economical, is the On Grid, which is the one connected to the network. What it allows is reduce energy costs from the use of solar panels, connected to the network, obtaining discounts. And, in addition, you can sell energy to the grid thus generating a loan , explained Matías Grosso, co-founder of Nodek, a firm dedicated to the installation of solar panels, and added: Today in Argentina there are more than 600 generating users. The fundamental thing is to know the consumptions and have available surface to be able to install panels and that they give to the sun. The system consists of solar panels, an inverter, which is the heart of the installation: it transforms energy .
As detailed, one of the main requirements is to have the surface available to place the panels, which occupy the size of a door, approximately : two meters long by one meter wide. In general, a small installation requires between four and six panels. With that it will serve to supply a house. This works to use during the day: the solar peak time, when the sun generates more energy, is between 10 am and 4 pm , he remarked.
There are different types of systems, according to the users needs
If you have more panels, you generate more than you consume and you sell it, you can have a greater saving, of up to 70%, he said.
Set Up The Conduit And Platform
First, you will need to pick a suitable platform for your solar panels, these can be anything flat or tilted towards the sun. The most ideal location is the roof of your house, however, this can pose some installation problems you need to consider:
- Not all roofs are built the same way.
- Some do not have the most optimal exposure to the sun.
- Some roofs need to be serviced periodically meaning dismantling your panel set up to do this.
- You have less freedom how to install your panels.
However, a good roof should save you the trouble of having to build a custom platform for your solar panels. If your roof is not the best though, you will need at least four concrete pillars and at least a lot of 4×4 wood or steel tube for the panels, the amount and width depend on how many panels you have.
As for the conduit, it needs to have a secure connection from the platform to your house, its easier if the platform is your roof because that generally means a shorter conduit.
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