Performance Monitoring And Tracking Systems
One of the best reasons to go solar is the experience of watching your electric bills diminish over time. Having a good performance monitoring system is a key interest for solar homeowners. This nifty piece of solar energy equipment reports the hourly electricity production of your solar system.
In addition to being a fun way to watch your panels power your home, monitoring systems allow you to recognize potential performance issues and ensure maximum electricity production. There are two forms of monitoring system: on-site monitors, where the system is installed with your panels, and remote monitors, where your system is tracked through the cloud and can be monitored online.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of And How Do They Work
Solar cells are made primarily from silicon, a chemical element with conductive properties. Exposure to light changes silicons electrical characteristics, which generates an electric current.
A cell is a small square of silicon with electrical contact plates on the face. Solar panels are made by laying out a grid of these cells on a protective backsheet and covering them with glass on the front.
It takes multiple panels to provide power to a typical home or office. A collection of panels in your system is called an array. Panels wired into the same inverter are known collectively as a string of panels.
For example, you may have a system with two inverters supporting two strings of 10 panels each, which comes together to make a 20-panel array.
How Many Watts Do You Currently Use
Look at your electricity bill for average usage. Look for Kilowatt Hours Used or something similar, and then note the length of time represented . If your bill doesnt show kilowatt hours used, look for beginning and ending meter readings and subtract the previous reading from the most recent one.
You want daily and hourly usage for our calculations, so if your bill doesnt show a daily average, just divide the monthly or annual average by 30 or 365 days, respectively, and then divide again by 24 to determine your hourly average electricity usage. Your answer will be in kW.
A small home in a temperate climate might use something like 200 kWh per month, and a larger home in the south where air conditioners account for the largest portion of home energy usage might use 2,000 kWh or more. The average U.S. home uses about 900 kWh per month. So thats 30 kWh per day or 1.25 kWh per hour.
Your average daily energy usage is your target daily average to calculate your solar needs. Thats the number of kilowatt-hours you need your solar system to produce if you want to cover most if not all of your electricity needs.
Its important to note that solar panels dont operate at maximum efficiency 24 hours a day. . Weather conditions, for example, can temporarily reduce your systems efficiency. Therefore, experts recommend adding a 25 percent cushion to your target daily average to ensure you can generate all the clean energy you need.
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Ground Mount Or Roof Mount
So where should you mount your panels?
Our default choice is to put them on your roof if you have room. Rooftop solar is less expensive to install because the support beams act as a foundation for the mounting hardware. You save on materials and labor because you dont need to build a substructure to hold the weight of the array.
The alternative is a ground mounta standalone metal or aluminum framework built somewhere on your property to mount the solar array. Ground mounts cost more because you have to buy the pipe for the frame, but they are easier to access for maintenance and repairs .
For help making the right choice, read our comparison of the pros and cons of ground mount vs. roof mount racking.
How To Use A Calculator To Calculate How Many Solar Panels You Need
Our solar calculator can estimate the number of panels needed for your home. The tool works by taking your average monthly energy usage in kilowatt hours .
- Calculators that use kilowatt hours are more accurate because they consider your exact energy needs
- Those that ask for home area must assume the electricity consumption
Each electric company has a different power bill format, but they all display your electricity consumption for the billing period. The exact description will vary, but you should look for a term such as kWh used or kWh consumed.
Solar calculators also ask for your home location to determine how much sunshine is available. Based on those two values, they can estimate the system size in kilowatts. Some solar calculators assume a wattage for panels, while others ask you directly. Based on the total kilowatts and the rated watts per panel, the calculator can determine how many are needed.
It is important to understand the difference between kWh savings and dollar savings. kWh savings refer to the amount of energy that your panels produce. On the other hand, dollar savings are obtained when the solar electricity production is multiplied by the kWh price.
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Calculation Of The Payback Period
A 300-watt solar module has an area of around 1.6m². If we take the 20kWh / m² per month , our 300-watt module will generate 32kWh per month and 384 kWh per year.
Deduct 25% from the yield, as no solar tracking is used. This leaves 288 kWh / year.
We could now use this to calculate the electricity price that we would save compared to the grid electricity provider. However, if we do not use the electricity directly but instead store it in batteries, losses must be taken into account.
Part of the electricity generated is also lost through long cables and the inverter. So if we calculate with a 30% loss, 202 kWh remain, which was generated by a 300-watt solar module in one year.
Now we could save around 60 dollars per year with this one module if the network provider estimates 30 cents per kWh. After 3 years at the latest, the costs of the module would be cleared.
If we include the other required equipment, the entire system would have amortized itself within 10 years and generate a positive return.
So that the system pays for itself even faster, several modules should, of course, be used as required. Since solar modules are cheap and battery storage is expensive, we should use electricity during the day if possible.
The calculation above shows very well how much a single module can do. In addition to the correct alignment, we are, of course, also dependent on the weather, and the modules must also be kept clean.
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.
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Get Free Quotes On Solar Power
We are here to help you and best match your needs! Whether youre interested in solar energy or solar thermal or simply not sure which option is the best for you. Let us know your needs and preferences on the top of this page. We will then contact you to ask some further questions and connect you with our professional suppliers. You will get up to 4 non-binding quotes for free!
How Much Power Do You Need
Today it is no longer worthwhile to feed as much electricity into the grid as possible. The system should therefore be dimensioned as required.
As a simple rule of thumb, the following can apply here: For every 1,000-kilowatt-hours of annual consumption, the photovoltaic system should have a nominal output of one kilowatt.
The rule of thumb for the design of the electricity storage system is similarly simple: the storage system should have a capacity of one-kilowatt hour per kilowatt of the nominal power of the PV system.
The figures are clear: the feed-in tariff for solar power from private roof systems is usually around 10 to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour. In contrast, the price of electricity for private households is around 10 to 30 cents in the US. In Germany, UK, and Australia, the rate is 37, 26, and 23 cents per kilowatt-hour.
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How Does Local Climate Impact System Sizing
It shouldnt come as a surprise that solar performs better in sunny climates. Some regions get more sun hours per day, which gives your system a bigger window each day to hit peak production.
Most regions in the US get 3-6 sun hours a day, which is quite a bit of variation. A system built in Seattle, WA needs to be nearly twice as large as a system built in Arizona to produce the same amount of power!
That said, solar is still quite effective in less than ideal climates. Take a look at this case study submitted by our customer Dave, who shares observations and production data 5 years after going solar in the Frozen Tundra of Wisconsin.
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
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How To Connect Batteries In Series And Parallel
To connect the batteries in series and parallel, we first create a series of batteries connected in series.
Then you connect each series. Always pay attention to first connecting the negative pole of the series and only then the positive poles. As for the parallel connection, here too, it would be a good rule to connect a fuse between the various series of batteries to prevent any short-circuits of some batteries.
How to Connect the Batteries in Series?
To connect the batteries in series, connect the positive pole of each battery with the negative pole of the next.
Connect in series 2 batteries from 12V to 100Ah. At the output, we will have a voltage of 24V equal to the sum of all the individual batteries voltages and a total capacity identical to that of a single battery .
How to Connect the Batteries in Parallel?
To connect the batteries in parallel, the same positive poles must be connected with positive and negative with negative through cables of identical length.
Warning!! We do not take any responsibility for damage caused to people or things resulting from the unproper application of this guide, nor of the related links in it.
Small Solar Power Systems Can Charge Your Gadgets While Traveling
Are you drawn to the convenience of solar panels? Does the idea of taking a solar panel with you when you go camping, tailgating, or traveling to charge up all your gadgetry whenever you want appeal to you? If youve thought about buying a small solar power system but dont know exactly where to start, weve got you covered!
This article isnt about solar designed to power a house or cabin. Were also not talking about tiny solar panels that can only charge your phone when the sun is out. You know the ones those little solar panels you can clip to your backpack.
No, were talking about a solar system right in between those two. Systems that are small and portable, but have a battery and can charge your phone, run your lights, and charge your laptop indefinitely. Maybe you want to connect it to your RV or have an easy setup for your power supply while youre out tailgating.
Whatever youre going to do with your solar system, youve got a myriad of options available. You can buy premade kits that are convenient but expensive. There are semi-kits that youll need to add on to. Lastly, theres full-on DIY for the handy ones out there. We look at them all below. Take your pick!
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Variables Affecting Power Consumption
We know that it takes a lot of energy to run a fridge, but if you install a solar power system in your home, you can easily see where all the power goes.
An average refrigerator needs about three or four ordinary solar panels to run, but that number could be only one or slightly higher.
Different lifestyle habits determine how much energy a family needs to function without problems.
For instance, if one takes two households with identical appliances, one can see that two households can use energy differently.
Also, those who go to work early and return home late or those who spend weekends traveling will need less power than people who are at home all the time.
When it comes to your fridge, power consumption depends on how much food you store in it, how old or new your machine is, and for how long you keep it open.
These variables have a significant impact on the energy needed to run a fridge without issues.
You should also know more about your environmental conditions and how much solar power you can gather.
This also affects the number of solar panels you need to run your appliances.
Depending on where you will install the solar panel, it can produce much more or less power.
This should come as no surprise.
A solar power system generates electricity at different levels during the day.
However, as a vast average, a highly efficient solar panel produces about 265 watts.
Now an average refrigerator uses about 57 kWh per month.
Step : Sunlight Activates The Panels
Each individual panel is constructed of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing surrounded by a special film, and wiring. For maximum effect, the panels are grouped together into arrays and placed on rooftops or in large outdoor spaces. The solar cells, which are also referred to as , absorb sunlight during daylight hours.
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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.
Can I Run My Residential Fridge Off Solar Power
You can run a residential fridge off solar power. These types of fridges run off of 110 volt electricity, meaning you will need an inverter in order to invert your battery power into more standard shore power.
Your residential fridge will also use more watts than a smaller 12 volt fridge. You should keep this in mind, especially if you have only a limited amount of solar panels and wattage. The average small residential fridge needs at least 200 watts, most likely.
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