It's estimated that by 2030, more than 1 in 7 American homeowners will have solar panels installed. Unsurprisingly, this number increases every year.
Solar panels can be a worthwhile investment for a homeowner. Not only does it help save on your electricity bill, but it also helps the environment. Choosing the right solar panel size for your home means doing some research. You don't want to buy panels that are too small, or you run the risk of it not powering what you need it to.
So, if you're interested in investing in solar energy, keep reading. Learn everything you need to know about choosing the right solar panel size for your home.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is energy that comes from the sun. Solar power takes this sun-generated energy and converts it into two forms of energy: heat and electricity. Solar energy is a clean and renewable power source. This also means that they emit no harmful greenhouse gasses.
Solar panel systems can last over 25 years and make an excellent investment for many homeowners. Solar panels are made from a semi-conductive material, such as silicon, and are secured within a frame and glass casing. Because this solar panel material is made with a semi-conductive material, they release electrons and produce an electric charge when exposed to the sun.
Types of Solar Energy Systems
When shopping for solar panels, you want to know all your options. This way, you can make the right purchase and avoid wasting money. There are three primary types of solar power systems that we will review individually: grid-tie, off-grid, and hybrid solar power systems.
1. Grid-Tie Solar Power Systems
Grid-tie solar power systems mean you're only partially off the grid with electricity access—quite the opposite. You're still connected to your local utility company's power grid with grid-tie solar power. This means that when solar energy production is low, you can switch to the municipal grid until enough solar energy is charged again.
For example, this can be useful if you live in a climate that only sometimes has sunny seasons. Connecting to the grid can be helpful in winter when sunlight is limited.
- Pros: Smaller solar power systems, additional power on poor weather days, saves money
- Cons: vulnerable to outages, requires utility workers to troubleshoot grid problems
2. Off-Grid Solar Power Systems
Off-grid solar power systems work entirely independently of your local municipal power grid. This means generating power for your home is your responsibility because, for example, you can't tap into the grid on bad weather days.
In the case of an off-grid solar power system, it will require one or more batteries to store power for use at night. The more batteries you have, the more energy you can keep, but you must replace these batteries every few years, which is costly.
- Pros: Ability to live anywhere, lower costs when buying property, can store up energy
- Cons: No backup power from the grid, can be expensive to set up, requires periodic battery replacements
3. Hybrid or Backup Solar Systems
Finally, a hybrid system mixes the two systems mentioned above. With a hybrid solar system, you're still connected to the grid but protected if the power suddenly drops.
When this happens, your backup system will kick in and keep your essential appliances running without interruption. This system will require an inverter and backup batteries to function.
- Pros: Uninterrupted power during blackouts, automatic switchover, can store up energy
- Cons: They can cost more to install, the batteries can be expensive, requires more space to install
How to Size Your Solar Panels
Now that you know more about each system you can install, you need to know how many solar panels you'll need to generate the power you need. There are five simple steps to take to uncover the information you need. Let's review the following:
Step 1. Calculate Watt Usage
Calculate how many kilowatt-hours you used over the past year using your electricity bill. Here you can see usage patterns, which could be more in the peak seasons due to running air conditioners or heaters.
Step 2. Average Monthly kWh Usage
Next, you want to use your gathered information to determine your average monthly usage. To get this number, calculate the total kWh usage over the past year, divide it by twelve, and you will have your average monthly use.
Step 3. Daily Usage
Now you want to calculate how much energy you use in a day, so to find this figure divide your monthly usage by 30. This result will be your daily usage.
Step 4. Daily Hours of Sunlight
Once you've done the calculations necessary to determine your daily kWh usage, you want to note the sun's peak hours in your area. Make a note of the number of hours of peak sunlight per day.
Step 5. Choose Your Solar Panel Size
Finally, you can determine your desired solar panel size with this information. Divide your daily kWh results by your peak sun hours to calculate this. This will give you the kW output. Finally, divide this figure by the panel's efficiency, and you will arrive at an estimated number of solar panels you'll need.
If you need help calculating the number of solar panels you'll need, contact a reliable solar energy contractor to assist. They will have the skills and knowledge to accurately calculate the data and determine how to proceed so you can wisely invest your solar panel budget.
Invest In Solar Energy Today and Save
Investing in solar power is a great way to reduce your utility bill and carbon footprint. Taking time to research the different types of solar energy systems means you can decide which is best for your needs.
Then calculate what solar panel size you need and how many your home will require by reviewing the past twelve months of electric usage. Now you can contact a solar panel installer to confirm your calculations.
If you need fully licensed and insured electricians, contact us today. We offer several services, such as solar installation, electrical repairs, troubleshooting, etc.