Are Solar Panels Worth The Investment
Thanks to the lower-than-ever cost of solar panels and various solar incentives, solar panels are a cost-effective investment for the majority of homeowners that will provide an excellent return on investment.
Not only do they lower your energy bills, but you also get to power your home with clean renewable energy and reduce your dependence on your local utility company.
Even though spending up to $20,000 is daunting, federal incentives eliminate 30% of solar system costs after 1 year. There are also various ways to finance a solar system – from solar loans and leases to PPAs – so you can pick whichever option that works best for you.
Plus, solar panels provide significant utility bill savings in most areas. An average home solar panel system can save between $1,000 and $1,600 per year on electricity bills depending on the states net metering policy and the homes energy consumption.
Actual solar savings will depend on the system size, the cost of electricity, home energy usage, and what net metering policies are in place, but the average solar homeowner can expect their solar payback period to be between 8 and 11 years. After that, theyll be enjoying completely free solar electricity for at least 15 more years!
If youre still not convinced, you can use our solar panel calculator to find out how much solar costs and can save you for your specific home based on your average electric usage and prices in your area.
What Solar Panel Size Should I Choose Calculate Your Solar Panel Needs
Solar panel dimensions are critical if your roof is small or of an unusual shape. Why? These factors affect the usable area, so whatever you sacrifice in size, you’ll need to make up for in efficiency. It may seem confusing, so let’s go through the whole decision-making process step by step:
solar array output = electricity consumption / ,
where the electricity consumption is yearly and expressed in kWh . Solar hours in a day depend strongly on your location.
solar array size = solar array output * ,
where both bill offset and environmental factor are expressed as percentages.
The environmental factor represents the percentage of energy produced by the solar array and stored without any loss due to humidity, pollution, snow or other environmental conditions.
The tricky part begins now. You need to estimate your roof area . Exclude the bits you cannot place anything on or are normally in the shade since they won’t generate any power. This will give you an idea of the maximum solar panel dimensions.
To see if any of the panels available will fit your roof, you will first need to compute the number of solar panels needed:
Solar System Size Needs
Solar panel systems are priced per kilowatt, so the bigger your system, the more its going to cost upfront. However, a larger system is also going to produce more solar kilowatt-hours, which will offset more of your energy costs and could save you more money in the long run.
The only way to definitively know the number of solar panels youll need is to get a professional assessment. However, you can get a rough solar panel estimate by following these five steps:
To prepare for your professional assessment, use our solar calculator at the top of the page. The information you get from simply inputting your address can help you better understand your quotes.
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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need
Before you install your photovoltaic modules, youll want to know how many solar panels youll need to offset your utility bills. You will need to determine how much energy you use each month to accurately use this savings calculator.
A kilowatt-hour refers to energy consumption of 1,000 watts in one hour, and this is how your electricity company summarizes your monthly energy use. You will use this number to ultimately calculate the number of solar panels you need to cover your electric bill.
What Is The Effect Of Solar Panel Size
If you have a small or unusually shaped roof, solar panel size and numbers are important considerations. With a large usable roof area, perhaps you can sacrifice some efficiency and buy larger panels to get to your target energy output. But if your usable roof area is limited, or if its partially shaded, being able to use fewer smaller high-efficiency panels may be the best way to make the most possible power over the long term, ultimately saving you more money.
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Factors That Contribute To The Cost Of Solar Panels
There are many factors that contribute to the cost of solar panels. Understanding the how and why of any cost variance will help you plan your solar installation accordingly. Lets review the elements that impact the overall cost of your solar system and how you can use them to your advantage.
The cost of solar panels has become more and more affordable as the industry grows. In fact, government incentive programs have allowed homeowners to install solar panels at a reduced cost. However, the type of solar panel system, property location, and the size of the system are variables that greatly impact the overall solar panel cost. When you are considering going solar, you should also consider these factors to determine the right system and method of installation for you.
Why Solar Panels Make Sense For A Home
Check out our 10 Reasons to Go Solar guide for a deep dive into the biggest benefits of going solar in Northern New England.
Though it’s still only an estimate, our Solar Calculator calculates the number panels you’ll need and the associated costs. Our team regularly monitors and updates the calculations used behind the scenes, and makes sure all the variables going into the calculator are up to date. We use the following to create your custom estimate:
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How Can You Find The Right Solar Installation Company
At SolarReviews, we recommend going with a reputable local solar installer. Generally, youll want the installer to meet these requirements:
- Been in business for over 5 years
- Hires their own installation crew
- Has between 15 and 20 employees
- At least one NABCEP-certified installer
But remember, you also want to make sure the company is charging a fair price for their services. If its too cheap, you might have to worry about a shoddy installation or low-quality equipment. If its too expensive, you might be paying an extra premium for no added benefits.
You need to find a happy medium of a solid price from a trusted company that uses high-quality materials. The best way to connect with companies in your area is by using our state-of-the-art solar calculator, which will not only give you a detailed cost and savings estimate catered to your specific home, but will also put you in contact with our vetted solar installers.
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How To Use The Ecowatch Solar Panel Calculator
EcoWatchs solar calculator is one of the best tools to help you determine your potential solar energy savings. This calculator not only estimates how much money you can save in your lifetime if you go solar, but it lays out a recommended size of your solar system, financing options and estimated payback period.
To take the first step towards your solar savings and connect with a preferred installer, follow these easy steps:
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Summary: How Many Panels Do You Need
Knowing the answers to the above questions will give you an idea of the ideal number of panels for your electricity generation needs or at least a realistic range. Next, a professional installer needs to assess your roof architecture, angle to the sun, and other factors to see if and how youd be able to physically arrange the right number of panels on your roof to achieve your daily energy production goals.
You should also consider net metering as youre considering how much money youll save and make from your solar system. Net metering is how your utility company credits you for producing excess solar energy when the sun is shining and then lets you draw from those credits when youre using a conventional power grid at night if you dont store your excess solar energy in a battery storage system.
To get started, check out our solar power calculator, which can help you figure out how much you might save going solar.
How Much Do Solar Panels Weigh
If youre planning on installing a rooftop solar system, understanding the weight of your solar panels is another key factor to consider. Knowing a solar panels weight is the best way to be certain that your roof can support a full installation.
While panel weights vary from brand to brand, most panels weigh about 40 pounds.
SunPower panels are the lightest of all major brands*, with some of our panels weighing as little as 33 pounds. For comparison, at the top end of the range, some conventional panels weigh as much as 50 pounds.
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Kw Solar System Costs
A 4kW solar system is one of the most common solar PV arrays installed onto UK domestic properties since it will typically meet the energy demands of a household consisting of 3 to 4 people.
So how much would it cost on average?
A 4kW solar panel system would typically require around 16 solar panels and cost between £5,000 and £8,000.
Calculating How Much Solar Panels Will Cost For Your Specific Home Given Its Location And Electricity Use
Our solar panel calculator is the easiest way to determine the costs and savings of a solar panel installation for your specific home.
All you need is your address and the value of your monthly electric bill, and our solar calculator will determine your local utility companys electricity rates and how much power you use in order to tell you:
- How many solar panels you need to power your home
- How much your solar panels will cost
- How much your solar panels will save you
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Solar Panel Costs Uk Conclusion
As you can appreciate there are many factors that come into the final costs of a solar PV installation including the type and size of the system you install.
Although we have provided some rough estimations on the costs of various scenarios, the only real way to get a quote is after a survey from a solar installation company.
We always recommend you get several quotes before making a final decision, at least three is often recommended.
Calculating Your Daily Energy Production Needs
Once you have determined your peak sun hours, the first thing youll want to do is convert your hourly energy usage from kilowatts to watts by multiplying the value by 1000. So if your hourly energy use is 1.25kW, that would convert to 1250 watts.
Next, divide this value by your peak sun hours. For example, your home receives 4 peak sun hours, so 1250 / 4 = 312.5.
Finally, multiply this value by 24 . So using the values above, this would be 312.5 x 24 = 7500 watts or 7.5kW. In most cases, this means you would want to install an 8kW solar panel system.
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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 the average U.S. home in Dallas, Texas, would need about 25 conventional solar panels or 17 SunPower panels.
What Size Solar System Are You Installing
Below you can select the size of the solar PV array you plan on installing.
Our default system size is a medium system as this is the UK average for domestic properties.
The average solar electricity systems usually require 10-20m2 of unshaded space. Smaller systems are possible too, but could potentially be less financially rewarding.
kg / year
Potential fuel bill saving
£ / year
Potential payments from SEG
Potential lifetime benefit
Potential lifetime fuel bill saving
Potential lifetime payments from SEG
Estimated installation costs
Size of the system
Energy generated by the panels
kWh / year
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How Our Solar Panel Pricing Calculator Works
Our solar panel pricing calculator utilizes data provided by Googles Project Sunroof, nationwide solar industry averages, as well as information supplied by you, the user.
In simplest terms, what we are doing is breaking down your daily power requirements, how many peak sun hours your home receives every day, and how much of your electricity bill you are trying to offset in order to determine your daily power generation requirements.
We then find the most appropriate solar panel system for your daily requirements and multiply the daily wattage by the average cost per watt in your state.
So for example, if your daily electricity usage is 7700 watts or 7.7 kilowatts, the best system for you is an 8 kW system. You can then multiply the average cost per watt in your state by 8000.
Efficiency Of The Solar Panels
Efficiency is another important factor that can impact the price of solar panels.
The efficiency of a solar panel refers to its ability to convert sunlight to electricity. For example, a solar panel with 20% efficiency is able to convert 20% of the sunlight that hits it into energy for your property.
The best solar panels right now are able to 22.6% efficient, which does have an impact on their final price.
Additionally, the performance warranty the solar panel brand offers is important e.g. the solar panels will remain 85% efficient for 25 years or your money back.
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What Is Googles Project Sunroof
Google has dabbled in the solar market with Project Sunroof since August 2015. Project Sunroof uses Google Earths high-resolution imagery to help calculate a roofs solar energy potential.
Upon entering an address, the tool analyzes factors such as shade, roof orientation, and local weather patterns to calculate how many hours of sunlight hit that roof in a typical year.
The findings are analyzed to estimate how much power a user could produce and how much cost savings are associated with going solar.
You Can Calculate How Much Power A Home Solar System Would Produce Without Spending A Dime All You Need Is An Internet Connection Your Home Address And A Few Simple Measurements
Photo © Heshphoto, inc., excerpted from Install Your Own Solar Panels
If you have a couple of minutes literally two minutes you can get a rough estimate of how much solar power you can produce at your house. If you have 10 minutes , you can get a much more accurate estimate of your propertys power potential. What magical source can tell me this? you may wonder. Its called PVWatts. And its not magic. Its weather data.
PVWatts is a free online calculator tool created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL . The tool uses historical weather data for your area to estimate how much power solar panels would produce for you on an average annual basis. And theres more to it than just weather. PVWatts also takes into consideration multiple site factors, such as the slope of your roof and its position in relation to the path of the sun.
In all, there are nine factors you can enter to fine-tune your PVWatts calculation, but for first-timers, all you need is your homes address and a few simple measurements to get a pretty darned good estimate of your homes solar potential.
Try the two-minute estimate just to get started:
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