Welcome to this month’s last! This may be a slightly more technical blog than you are used to getting, however, the information in it will be infinitely useful for anyone interested in solar panel installation and solar energy. Today, we want to show you how to figure out just how much solar energy is enough. It generally is never going to be as simple as “let’s get a system bigger than my house usage size” and in our experience as one of the best solar panel companies in Orlando, the solar industry can become a little confusing for those who don’t deal with it on a day to day basis (as in solar panel companies like us).
How Much Solar Energy Do I Need?
A lot of online blogs will tell you that you need between 20 to 24 solar panels, or 11 to 18 panels, or some other completely arbitrary range. But we are here to help you get an accurate number for your needs (which will help with planning if you’re doing solar panel installation on a budget). Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, there is no one size fits all solution for solar panels. So, let’s talk about a simple method you can do at home to find out how many solar panels you need to properly meet your home’s energy needs. In an upcoming blog, we’ll be going into more complex detail and discussing the storage potential that comes along with residential solar panel installation that can further decrease your carbon footprint.
In a perfect world, a home would essentially get 24 hours a day of sunlight, all year long, which is (24 hours/day x 365 days = 8,760 hours). Sadly…. this would only be achievable if you lived on the sun. So instead of basing your calculations on desired or expected sunlight, you’re better off basing estimates on your current monthly consumption of energy.
The simplest method to estimate your solar panel installation cost is to use a solar panels kwh calculator in order to opt for just enough solar panels to generate your current monthly consumption of energy.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,649 kWh, which boils down to an average of about 877 kWh per month. While this is a good starting point, we’d recommend taking a closer look at a few of your recent electricity bills (ideally a whole year of them in order to cover all seasons) and average these out in order to get a more accurate number for your home. There are numerous factors that can affect your energy consumption such as your location, the weather/time of year, your home’s insulation, your lifestyle, and even the condition of your windows. So one home’s number may be vastly different from yours.
If you want to refine this calculation a little more, simply calculate your average hourly consumption, by dividing by 8,760 hours (number of hours in the year) instead of by 12 months. Now, you have your personal consumption rate. Next, take your consumption rate, divide this by the range of 250 to 400 watts and this will tell you how many solar panels you will need, as most residential solar panels on the market today produce between 250 and 400 watts per hour, and this can differ depending on the price and quality of panels you opt for.
Simple right? While this method requires only rudimentary math and an analysis of your current usage, it does leave room for error precisely because of its simplicity. This is why when looking at the average solar panel installation cost it’s best to ignore those numbers or at the very least compare them with your own estimates, as the usage of energy varies hugely among consumers. For this reason, we plan to discuss this topic further, as we want you to be as informed as possible. However, we’d recommend leaving the math to the pros, and contacting a solar panel company near you (hint: us!) for a quote.