If you’ve been thinking about going solar, you’ve probably been wondering just how many solar panels you would need for your home. Unfortunately, there’s no cut-and-dry answer that we can give you. The number of solar panels you need and the size of your system really depend on many different factors. Your location of solar panels, roof construction, type of panels, and energy needs all need to be considered to create the right solar system for you.
Best Location For Solar Panels
While there are no bad places for solar, there definitely are areas that get more sun than others. A solar panel installation in Pueblo, Colorado, and a solar power system in New York, for example, would need to be completely different sizes to produce the same amount of energy. Because Colorado receives a lot of sunshine over the course of a year, it can be smaller. In New York there are fewer annual sunny days, so the system would need to be larger to compensate.
Luckily, here in Southern Colorado, we have more sunny days than the national average. That means the solar systems don’t need to be extra large to compensate for gray skies.
Roof Construction For Solar
The size, direction, and surrounding foliage of a roof all play into a solar system’s size.
Size: Depending on the size and layout of your roof, you may find that certain types of solar panels work better for the amount of space. High-efficiency panels take up less space, so it may be a better choice for a smaller roof. If the roof size is no issue, then using more medium or low-efficiency panels could also work.
Direction: A southern-facing roof will get the greatest amount of sun exposure, so it will require fewer panels. You can still install panels on east or west-facing roofs but will need to have more panels.
Surrounding foliage: If there are tall trees on your property that will shade the area of your roof throughout the day, you would need to have a larger or more efficient system to make up for the loss of sunshine.
Types of Solar Panels
There are lots of different types of solar panels, and they’re not all created equally. They have different wattages (how much they produce), physical sizes, quality (how well they’re built), and efficiency (how well they produce). They all have different price tags, too. The type of panel you choose will have a huge effect on the number of panels you’ll need for your system.
Calculating Your Energy Need When Going Solar
Here’s where the math comes in. Most homeowners want to completely offset their electricity bill, so you need to determine how many watts of power your household uses. Take a look at your recent electricity bill. Most bills will show how much energy you have used (measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh) over the last year. To calculate the number of panels you would need, you determine your hourly energy usage, multiply by 1000 to convert it to watts, divide it by the hours of peak sunlight in your area, add a 25% cushion, and divide that by the wattage of your preferred solar panel. Whew!
On average, the US Energy Information Administration says, US households use about 900 kWh a month. So, calculating with 5 peak hours of sunlight a day, the average home would need 6,250 watts, or 25 conventional (250W) solar panels or 17 high efficiency (370W) panels.
Working With An Expert Solar Company
As you can see, figuring out how many solar panels you need is a complex and varying question. While it’s good for you to do some estimation on your own to get a ballpark idea of your needs, a solar energy expert’s help is invaluable.
At Steel City Solar, we have the expertise you need to help design the perfect solar power system for you. As you call tell, every home and its needs are totally unique. We have the experience, training, and premium products to help you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Not only are we expert designers, but we’re also Southern Colorado’s top solar installer, so we can take you through consultation, system design, permitting, and installation.
If you’re interested in going solar, we’d love to come give you a free, in-home consultation where we can walk through these four determining factors for your solar power system, and answer any other questions that you may have.