The Truth Behind the Equation
Are you an aspiring solar homeowner trying to determine how many solar panels your home may need? Confused about what solar panels may look like and how many are required to provide energy based on your home’s square footage? At NC Solar Now, we know that most people want to save money while reducing their environmental impact, but they might not know where to start to understand a solar panel system and their needs.
How Much Solar Will You Need?
“How many solar panels will I need?” is a loaded question and demands some mathematical knowledge of both your utility bills and peak sunlight hours. The size of your roof and how much sunlight you get on your roof are factors to consider when installing solar. If you work with an experienced and knowledgeable solar installer, they will do all of these calculations for you and take out any of the guesswork. However, think about these three areas if you want to do a ballpark estimate.
Annual Electricity Usage
The first area to consider when determining the number of solar panels you will need for your home is to calculate how much electricity you use over the course of the four seasons? To do this, look at the kilowatt hours used each month for one year. Once you have the range/number, you can better understand the amount of solar power needed to meet your monthly energy usage. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average household uses about 10,649 kWh of electricity in a year. However, if you want a more exact number, you will have to dive deeper into your energy usage to understand your daily average.
Think About Your Roof
The next question you need to think about when installing solar is your geographical location and the amount of sunlight that actually reaches your home’s roof. Think about the following questions:
- How much sunlight does your roof realistically get? How many hours of sunshine does your roof get per day?
- Are there any shaded areas that need to be addressed (trees, obstructions)?
- How much solar energy hits your area? According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), North Carolina averages around 4-5 kilowatt hours of solar energy per square meter.
- What is your roof space, and how much of that space gets sun? For example, an average 5-6kW system consisting of 16-24 panels will need 200-400 square feet of space. Would you consider a ground-mounted solar panel system if your roof has limited space?
Research Solar Panel Systems
The next step is to familiarize yourself with the different solar panel systems and their wattages and production ratios.
- A solar panel wattage is the electricity output of a specific solar panel under specific conditions. Wattage is measured by watts, and most panels fall into the 250-400 range.
- A solar panel system’s production ratio is the ratio of the energy output of a system over time in regards to the actual size of the system. The amount of power (kWh) your solar system produces is linked to the sunlight exposure of your roof and the efficiency of the solar panels.
Solar panel quality makes a huge difference when it comes to the production ratio and size of the unit. Due to the wide variety of solar panels and the differing efficiency rates, it is important to remember that the more efficient the panels, the more wattage they can produce and the fewer you will need on your roof.
Solar Panel Estimates
So, where does that leave us? To determine how many solar panels you need (without the help of a professional) is a somewhat ambiguous question. It is determined by the amount of energy you use and how much energy your solar panel system will produce. Once you figure out the system size you need, the panel wattage and the individual wattage of each solar panel, you can begin to understand the size of your system and the number of panels.
While our experts at NC Solar Now could tell you that the average home needs between 20-25 solar panels to fully offset utility bills… the actual number is based on so many factors that it would be remiss to simply provide you with a general answer. The only way to truly understand how many solar panels you need for your home is to contact a leader in the solar installation industry to walk you through the process. A partner in the solar journey that will help you better understand the feasibility, expectations of generated electricity and the overall size/cost/panels needed to support your home and personal electricity usage.
Need help finding a reputable solar company? Take a look at the following blog.
Interested in Solar for Your Property?
NC Solar Now is North Carolina’s Most Trusted solar panel installer and embraces the philosophy that solar is for everyone! We’ll be by your side from your first free consultation through our warranty period and beyond. Visit us online at NC SOLAR NOW or contact us for more information. Check us out on Facebook or Instagram. Want to chat with someone? Give us a call at 919-833-9096.
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