How Many Solar Panels Would I Need to Power My Home?
If you’re thinking of going solar, you’re thinking right. A main consideration in this decision is the size of installation that’s appropriate for your home, in other words, how many solar panels would be required.
A starting point
Powering the average American home takes around 9,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Twenty-one 320-watt solar panels would supply that, making the total installation size just over 6.7 kilowatts. Several factors and variables come into play in determining the right system size for your specific needs.
Your current electricity usage
Even a few solar panels will bring you some electricity, but most homeowners want to get the majority if not all of their power from their solar system. For this reason, your solar installer during an initial site assessment will want to find out how much electricity you’re currently using.
The amount of sun your panels will receive
Most regions in the U.S. have sufficient sunlight during a year to make a solar system viable. However, homes in areas with extreme sun (Phoenix, San Diego) will require fewer solar panels to generate the amount of electricity than homes in less-sunny areas. This factor is important in calculating the optimal system size.
Home placement and amount of shade
Another factor that will dictate how much sunlight your solar panels can receive is the direction your home faces and the angle of its roof sections. Also, trees and taller homes in close proximity will block some amount of sunlight. You can trim back trees, but there’s not much you can do about the direction of your home or the height of neighbors’ homes. Your installer will take all this into account when suggesting the optimal system for your needs.
Is net metering available?
Net metering is a process offered by most U.S. utility companies whereby solar users can store excess energy their systems generate onto their utility’s power grid and then use it later at times of day or seasons of the year when their systems generate less electricity. By banking excess power, your system doesn’t have to be big enough to power your home around the clock every day of the year. Your installer will thoroughly explain all the details of net metering.
When you think of your roof, don’t think that every square inch can be covered by solar panels. Most states have setback rules that dictate how many feet of walking space on the roof’s perimeter must be available for firefighters and other emergency services personnel. A three-foot setback rule began in California and is being followed by many other states.
This is a general overview of what’s involved in deciding how many solar panels your home will need. When you work with an experienced solar provider, all the details will be factored in before any actual work begins.
Thinking of switching to solar? Burlington Fireplace & Solar of Burlington, WI, is your one-stop shop for the design and installation of top-performing solar systems. You can get your questions answered by visiting us at 857 Milwaukee Ave., or by calling us at (262) 763-3522.