How Many Solar Panels Will I Need?
Filed under: Alternative Energy Questions, Build Solar Panel Questions, DIY Solar Panels
One question that we are often asked is how many solar panels will I need to convert my entire home? Answering this question directly is actually quite difficult because there are too many factors involved.
First there are questions that need to be answered:
How much power do you use daily?
With a range in power consumption in North America between < 1KW hour per day and up to 40 or 50 KW hours per day – it’s impossible to answer the question without first looking at how much power you use.
Is there a difference in power consumption for your home between the seasons?
It isn’t enough to just average your power usage for a year. Do you use more energy in the summer months from an AC unit? Or do you live in a colder climate where the furnace motor runs a lot during the winter?
Do you plan to go off grid, or are you just trying to reduce your power bill?
Another important element to be considered is what your intention is when you convert to solar power. If you plan to go off grid you should allow for extra power production. That is, since solar power will be your only source of energy you should increase the amount of panels you use, and you should ensure your battery bank is large enough to store power to cover you energy needs for at least three days.
Can you reduce your energy consumption?
It’s also important to first look at how you can reduce your energy needs. Most North American homes use too much energy in the first place. An energy efficient home may use as little as 1-2 KW hours of energy per day. On the other end of the spectrum, a home that isn’t efficient may use 25 – 50 times that much.
To reduce the overall cost of your solar energy system, and to reduce the maintenance required to keep that system up, it’s important to look at ways to reduce your energy consumption before you calculate the number of solar panels you need. In many cases you may be able to reduce your power requirements by as much as 50%.
The Bottom Line:
If you’ve been asking the question yourself – how many solar panels will I need? You should start with the Green Power Easy guide. It covers many different ways to cheaply (and effectively) reduce the amount of power that you use. Once you’ve done that you should move onto the Green Power Easy implementation guide. It lays out the exact steps you should take to calculate the size of your solar energy system.
If you aren’t yet a Green Power Easy member, you can get your guides by clicking here.