What number of photo voltaic panels do it is advisable energy your own home?

How many solar panels do you need to power your house?

Stephen Shankland/CNET

At an common value of $20,000 per system, residential photo voltaic panels are a large funding for most owners. When you’re desirous about going photo voltaic, you may in all probability have fairly a couple of questions, together with what number of photo voltaic panels you may must energy your property. 

Usually, the common photo voltaic system for a house consists of 20 to 25 panels, however the precise quantity you may want will depend upon quite a few elements, together with the place you reside, how a lot power you sometimes use, and the way a lot energy your panels can generate. 

It would look like lots to think about, nevertheless it’s fairly easy whenever you break it down. Let’s take a look at three key elements that decide what number of photo voltaic panels it is advisable energy your own home, in addition to an instance of the way to calculate the dimensions of your system. 

Learn extra: 5 issues to think about before you purchase photo voltaic panels

Common power utilization

Understanding how a lot electrical energy you utilize in a mean yr, month and day is vital to estimating the variety of photo voltaic panels you want. Vitality utilization can differ fairly a bit, relying on the variety of folks in your family, in addition to what number of home equipment you might have and the way usually you utilize them. 

Examine final yr’s power payments to learn the way a lot electrical energy you utilize over the course of all 4 seasons (trace: it is measured in kilowatt-hours or kWh). After you have that quantity, you may understand how a lot solar energy it is advisable generate to cowl your wants. For reference, the common American house makes use of 10,649 kWh per yr. That is simply over 29 kWh per day.

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Solar panel output

Individual solar panels are capable of producing a certain amount of energy, depending on the conditions at your home (including how much sunlight you receive and how much shade covers your roof). This number is called a power rating and is measured in watts, with a typical panel generating between 250 and 400 watts of power. For example, you might buy a solar panel with a listed output of 325 watts. You’ll need to multiply the panel’s wattage by how many hours of sun you get every day to understand how much energy it will produce (more on that in the next section).

If you don’t have much space, you might want to invest in solar panels with higher power ratings since they’re equipped to generate more energy per panel. But they’re also more expensive, so bear that in mind if the solar budget for your home is tight.

Sunshine at your home

Your physical location is a key factor that impacts the efficiency of your home solar panels. As you might expect, solar systems are best suited for sunny areas — which is why solar is incredibly popular in states like California and Arizona. With more sunshine, each of your individual solar panels will generate more power. For our calculations, we’ll assume that you get four hours of sunshine per day.

The location of your home isn’t something that you can change, but it’s still important to recognize that your region plays a role in how well solar will work for you. In short, your panels will operate at maximum capacity when they can absorb the most possible sunlight.

But this isn’t just about where you live — it’s also about how your particular property is laid out and how much sunlight reaches your roof. For instance, if you have tall trees that create shade over your roof, your solar panels won’t produce as much power as if they were under clear skies.

Putting it all together

With those variables in mind, we can roughly estimate the number of solar panels for home that you’ll need. In this example, we’ll use the average annual energy consumption, solar panel wattage and hours of sunlight that we mentioned earlier.

Let’s say that your property receives four hours of sunshine each day, and you’re purchasing 325-watt solar panels. In that case, each panel can generate 1,300 watt-hours per day (or 1.3 kWh). Assuming that your energy usage is in line with the average of 29 kWh per day, you’d need 23 325-watt panels to create enough electricity for your home.

Key points to keep in mind

Although the upfront costs of a residential solar system might seem high, there are a few ways to save money on your investment. For instance, the federal government provides a tax credit on new solar installations, and many state and local governments offer rebates or incentive programs. Alternatively, if you can’t afford to purchase your panels, you can choose to rent them (but you won’t qualify for tax credits and incentives).

Figuring out the number of solar panels you need is only part of the equation. Learn more about the benefits and costs of home solar from CNET: 

More on solar power

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