How many solar panels do I need to power my home or business?

Once you’ve decided to install a solar panel system for your home, you’re probably wondering how many panels you need to power your entire household. That’s a great question, and the answer will depend on a number of factors.

To help you decide how many panels you need for your house or place of work, here are some of the factors that you need to look into:

Energy requirement

One of the first questions to ask yourself is, “How much energy do I use in one year?” You can come up with an estimate by reviewing your electricity bills for the past 12 months. On the bill, look for your electricity consumption in terms of kilowatt-hours (kWh). Cross-reference this with the kWh generated by the solar panel per square meter of surface.

If you’re a moderate power user, your figure should be close to the national average household electricity consumption of 8,900 kWh in a year.

You may choose to use solar energy for only a portion of your power requirement, so check how much energy you need from solar panels, and calculate how many panels you need from the assessment.

Amount of sunlight available

The effectiveness of solar panels is largely influenced by the amount of solar power available. Unfortunately, you don’t have control over the amount of sunlight on a given day. That’s why it’s important to determine the optimum orientation of the solar panels. There are many varying recommendations as to the proper position and angle of the panels, but one important point to consider is that the panels should not be blocked by any shade.

Efficiency of solar panels

Various types of solar panels are now available in the market, differing mostly in the material used for the cells. Thin-film panels have low efficiency, while crystalline panels are better at converting the sun’s energy into useful electricity. Aside from the cost of the solar panels, you should also take into account how much roof space you have to accommodate the panels. If your roof area is small, you’ll have to shell out more for crystalline panels.

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In order to get a more accurate figure on the number of required solar panels for your home or business, it might be best to consult a professional solar panel system provider. They can conduct an inspection of your electricity requirements, from which they will base their recommendations on.

 

[Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee on Flickr]