When it comes to solar panels, there are a lot of options. But the most identifiable panels to date are the blue or black colored panels that are roughly half the size of a closet door. They can mount in a variety of places but they do tend to take up space. For this reason, people want to know just exactly how many they’ll need.
For the record, the number of panels you will need depends on the capacity of the panel, the sunlight available in your area and your individual power requirements.
- Capacity of the panel – The thing to understand about solar panels is that they’re a lot like cars… you’ve got options. Finding the right fit for you will probably be more of a balance between space and budget constraints, than actual technology issues.
Currently, most panels meant for household use range anywhere from 260 to 365 watts per panel. This wide range in power production generally goes along with the physical size of the panel itself as more power producing cells can be included in bigger panels. This will directly affect the number of panels that you will need.
For example, if it was determined that your household needs required 5kW (5000 watts) of energy production then you would need an array of 14 panels rated at 365 watts each for a total of 5.1kW (14 * 365 = 5110 watts)
By way of comparison, should you choose the smaller panels, you would need an array of 20 panels rated at 260 watts each for a total of 5.2kW (20 * 260 = 5200 watts)
In this example, we can see that by going with the bigger and more capable panels, 6 less panels were required.
- Sunlight available – When contemplating about sunlight and how it affects your panels, it helps to think line of sight.
Panels need an unobstructed view of the sun as it crosses the sky. In the northern hemisphere, this means with the power producing cells facing directly south. This is not to say that panels oriented in a different direction will not generate power, only that they will not generate all that they could if direct line of sight was allowed.
However, even if your panels are oriented for optimum access to the sun there are other factors that can lessen performance. For example, clouds are notoriously bad at interfering with line of sight. One dark cloud can easily drop your energy production by 80 percent as it lingers between your panels and the sun.
Another issue to remember is the length of sunlight hours for your area; specifically during the winter season. If you live close to the equator, then sunlight hours should be fairly consistent all year long. But in the same token, the farther you live away from the equator, then the shorter your wintertime daylight hours can become. And shorter days means less time to generate power.
If you have any concerns about power generation for your area check out: https://www.google.com/get/sunroof This free tool can give you guesstimated range of what you might be able to expect.
- Individual power requirements – Obviously, power needs are going to vary from house to house. A large family’s demand for hot water alone can require a significant amount of electricity. By comparison, a single residence may use only the slightest amount of energy (especially if the occupant travels a lot).
Understanding the specifics of your individual situation is crucial in calculating how many solar panels you will need. A good way to get a grasp on this is by carefully reading your electric bill. Locate how many kWh (kilowatt hours) you use every month. Look specifically for the months with the largest demands, these generally being in the summer and this will go a long ways towards defining your particular needs.
FYI, this may be fairly shocking to those who are not inclined to conserve energy.
Fortunately, energy consumption is something that individuals have some degree of control over. And advances in energy efficient appliances have dramatically reduced crucial demands such as that made by the refrigerator.
Conscientious individuals can accomplish a lot in lowering their power requirements. And this translates into less solar panels required.
The initial out of pocket cost of a solar home power system can be off-putting. And the fact that solar panels are constantly improving in capability while lowering in purchase cost can make an individual hesitate to ‘take the plunge’. But I would offer a few different questions to balance your concerns.
1) How long do you want to continue to pay full price for your electricity?
2) How long do you want to wait for someone else, (government entity, utility company, ect) to do the right thing and switch to renewables?
3) How much heartache and bloodshed has occurred and IS OCCURRING because of our consumption of fossil fuels?
Today, we as individuals, have the ability to act independently. Technology has empowered us in ways that were inconceivable even a decade ago. Where, in the past, we were completely reliant on someone else, now we have options.
I would implore you, as someone with a family who is currently living on solar power, to take a moment and with your electric bill in hand, do a search for ‘home solar system’. There is a wealth of information readily available for you to consume.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert and ask questions. A simple email inquiry can be very helpful and it has been my personal experience that these companies are generally quite happy to engage.
Solar power is here to stay… and I am very happy to make that claim. Advances in energy storage are occurring so quickly that even the most ardent of fans are finding it difficult to keep up.
If you desire something better, then I can tell you, something better is out there. And your achieving of this lasting reward, all starts with a simple inquiry.
Good luck and sunny skies!