Updated: Apr 12
If you’re considering switching to solar, congratulations! Solar energy is the wave of the future, and installing solar for your home is an excellent step toward a more sustainable tomorrow. One of your first questions will be, “How much solar energy does my home need?” Scheduling a free home solar evaluation will give you the most accurate answer to this question. There are, however, formulas, questions, and solar power averages that can give you an idea of what to expect.
What Are Your Goals?
Identifying your solar power goals is a great place to begin. The amount of solar energy your home will need can vary greatly depending on your specific goals. Supplementing traditional electricity with solar power, for example, is a very different goal than going completely off the utility grid. Powering your home with 100 percent solar energy is a great goal, but it might not be in your price range. Think about what your main goal is for investing in solar, and then consider the system size needed to achieve these goals. Most people want to save money on their monthly utility bills and minimize their impact on the environment.
How Much Energy Does Your Household Use?
The next question to ask is how much energy your household currently uses every month. Your household will be completely unique in its energy usage. You may not consume as much as your neighbor despite having homes that are the same size. Look at your utility bill history for the last few years to do this calculation. Find where it states how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power your house used in a year.
One kWh is 1,000 watts of power per hour. For perspective, having 20 50-watt light bulbs on in your home for one hour would expend on kWh of energy. On average, a typical household consumes 10,766 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. You will also need your hourly and daily power usage to calculate how many solar panels you will need. You may need to do a bit of math to come up with these figures or have a professional solar installer do the calculations for you.
How Much Solar Power Do You Need?
To cover 100 percent of your household’s energy needs, you will need to have a target daily solar power average that equals your current daily energy usage. You will use this number to figure out how much solar energy you will need to generate to meet your goals. For example, if you’d like to cover 50 percent of your electric consumption using solar, use 50 percent of your daily kWh as your target daily solar power average.
Keep in mind that solar panels will not operate at 100 percent output at all times. Cloudy weather, dirty panels, and nighttime hours can temporarily reduce efficiency. For this reason, solar experts suggest adding 25 percent to your target daily average to make sure you install a large enough configuration.
How Many kWh Can Your Panels Produce?
Many factors can affect how much electricity a solar panel can produce, but the main factor is how much sunlight exposure the panels receive. Most homeowners want to install solar panels on their roofs. Texas gets enough sunny days that this typically isn’t a problem. You can also consider mounting panels on the ground if your roof is in the shade, facing the wrong direction, or is otherwise not optimal for solar panel installation.
To figure out how much energy your panels will produce, you need to know the peak sunlight hours for your location. The Renewable Resource Data Center offers a map that can help you figure out the peak sunlight hours for your region of Texas. A solar expert can figure out your peak sunlight hours according to your exact location.
Solar panel quality makes a difference in how much kWh your panels will produce. Photovoltaic panels, the most common in residential installations, can produce 150 to 370 watts depending on the quality of materials and installation. Go with a company you can trust to give you the best possible outputs through high-quality panels and a successful configuration.
How Many Panels Do You Need?
The final calculation to estimate how many solar panels your home will need is to multiply your hourly energy usage by 1,000 to convert it into watts instead kilowatts. Then, divide your hourly energy usage watts by the solar panel’s wattage. You will now have the amount of solar power your panels will need to produce every hour to give you 100 percent solar power. Keep in mind that most households do not strive for 100 percent solar but rather use a net-metering system that combines solar with traditional electricity.
Based on average residential solar panel dimensions of 65 by 39 inches and average kWh usage and solar power requirements, a home with an average annual kWh production of 9,909 would need 28 solar panels, based on estimates by Energy Sage. It can help to break down solar panels in terms of how many you would need to power common household appliances. To power a hot tub, for example, it would take 11 panels on average. To power a refrigerator, it would take just two panels.
The easiest way to figure out how many solar panels you need to achieve your specific goals for your home is to call (281) 506-0815 and request a professional quote.