Solar power systems are a good alternative to the national grid. They are not only designed for users looking to go off grid but also for individuals looking to supplement their power supply and save on power bills. Solar systems generate energy from sunlight which means power is accessible anywhere in the world. Nonetheless, it’s important to get the right sized solar power system in order to reap the benefits. How do you know what solar power system size is perfect for you?
Your Energy Requirements
How many solar panels you need boils down to how much energy your household consumes. Household energy consumption varies due to the different fittings installed at home. Some electrical appliances like the air conditioner and oven consume a lot of power. Using them less frequently does save power but not everyone can afford to reduce usage. To determine your household energy requirements, have a look at your electricity bill. Most bills give the total energy usage for the month or the year but you can calculate the consumption down to power usage per hour, kilowatt hours (kWh). Take the total usage for the month divide by 30 days then divide again by 24 to get the average hourly electricity usage.
Once you know the kilowatt hour, kWh, for your house, you can calculate the number of solar panels you will need to satisfy your power demand. Multiply your household hourly energy requirements by the peak sunlight hours and divide by the panel’s wattage. The figure you get is a good estimate of how many panels you will need. However, there are other factors you must take into account.
The Roof Size
There is no need to acquire many solar panels if you have nowhere to put them. Solar panels take up a lot of space. The more the surface area exposed to direct sunlight, the more power the panels generate. As a result, most panels are installed on roof tops to ensure maximum exposure. Therefore, your roof design will determine how many panels you can have. However, there is an option to mount the panels at ground level. This option only works well in extensive areas with minimal to no tree cover. The open space ensures shadows are not casted on the panels to limit energy production. Before buying solar panels, determine how many your residence can accommodate.
Peak Sunlight Hours
Different locations receive different peak sunlight hours and this has a direct impact on how much energy your solar system can generate. Information on the peak sunlight hours for a given location is available on local and international databases. You can access the information online and do some quick math to determine how many panels you will need for your location. Take the energy requirement for your household in kilowatt hours and multiply by 1000 to turn the units to watts. Afterwards, multiply the result by the peak sunlight hours to get the minimal energy requirement for your system. Depending on the type of solar panel you buy, you can calculate how many panels you will need to meet the demand. If your home uses 24kWh in a day this translates to 1 kWh. Multiplied by 1000 yields 1000watts which translates to 5000watt if the
The type of Solar Panel
Not all solar panels are the same. They vary in quality and design. Highly efficient solar panels generate maximum power from minimal sun exposure. Some panels compromise on the design and the energy yield suffers. The watt rating in most photovoltaic solar panels ranges from 150 watts to 370 watts. Therefore you can determine how many panels you will need by dividing your home’s hourly wattage requirement by the watt rating on the panel you are buying.
There are other auxiliary installations that come with a solar power system like batteries and inverters. All these can be modified to sustain the required output. Consult a profession to ensure your system serves your needs and you don’t go for an overkill.