How To Calculate How Many Solar Panels Your House Needs

Charlotte Miller

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More and more home and business owners continue to think of changing to solar power to dramatically decrease their electric bills and to contribute to energy conservation. Considering the question of “how much does solar cost?,” and knowing that the amount is substantial, it is necessary to thoroughly explore what is involved in order to make an informed and helpful decision.

What is a Kilowatt-Hour?

The size of the system dictates the energy usage needed in kilowatt-hours. Solar panels have a broad range of wattages. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a measurement used by the energy company to determine what you are billed each month. An appliance that is rated for one kilowatt (1000W) to run for one hour means that one kWh of energy will be used.

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How Many Panels Are Needed for a Grid-tied System?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has stated that American households use an average of approximately 30 kWh per day. That “average” is important to be measured including the times of extra use. The grading of solar panels is how much power is used. A typical residence uses panels that rate between 275 to 360 watts each.

Every structure is different in its size, needs, and requirements. The answer really is complex. However, there are many calculators by various companies where you can input your specific information and it will answer approximately the quantity needed and perhaps also recommend specific types of panels that will best meet the needs.

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A normal answer for a ballpark figure may be the following:

** Start by adding up at least six months of the last electric bills. Or, if each bill gives you information on a whole year, you have even better information right there. That will also figure in the times of the year when there are spikes because of very hot summers and/or snowy winters.

* See how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity were used for the year.

* Divide that number by 365 to get your daily energy usage in kWh. Solar panels are graded by how much power they use. The panels for a residence are typically from 275 to 350 watts each.

* The system has to have the ability to produce and store enough energy to enable things to run smoothly.

Additional Panels May Be Needed

* Add to the required energy if you plan on buying some larger major appliances. If you’re not sure how much power is needed, you can follow the electrical consumption table of the appliance or check the EnergyGuide sticker.

* Extra panels may be called for depending on the sun exposure, the mount orientation, if shade covers the system, the roof does not directly face the sun, or for other structure, climate, or lifestyle reasons.

If you’re interested in going solar and realize how many complex issues are included, the best thing to do is to consult with a solar design technician who can guide you to the ideal system for your unique situation. Bring your above facts and figures as a starting point so that the design can be tweaked to that particular location and its requirements.