While it’d be great if you could just pick up a few panels and reliably generate your power output, it’s unfortunately, a bit more complicated than that. Here are the main thing you need to know before you can figure out exactly how many panels you’ll need for your energy needs.
How Much Power Do You Need?
You’ve obviously already established you need 1000 kwh per month. For reference, in case you didn’t know, the average American household uses around 10,649 kWh of electricity per year.
How Much Sunlight Does Your Area Get?
It’s not enough to just buy some panels, you also need to make sure that you are in a position to efficiently harvest sunlight for them. This means if you live in an area where sunlight is not so great, or if your panels are partially obscured by shade at certain parts of the day.. your panels will produce a lot less electricity to use/store.
In general, South West gets the most sun and the North East gets the least. So, if you live in a North Eastern state, or even someplace in the middle.. you’ll want to add more panels in order to accommodate for these differences and be sure that you are generating enough power for your needs.
How Powerful Are Your Panels?
If you’ve already picked out some panels, then you should also make sure you know how powerful they are. The wattage of the panel will be a big factor in how much power it can generate, and while it’s tempting to go with some cheaper, lower wattage ones – make sure you aren’t cheating yourself first!
In addition, you’ll need fewer panels if they are higher wattage, so be sure to take that into account when you’re price shopping. It’s possible that getting lower wattage ones may not be such a great deal after all!
Solar Panel Estimates For Different Areas
The below table should help you to determine where you’ll sit on the “area chart”. Use the closest state to you to help figure out how many panels you need. This data is based on generating 1000kwh in the typical amount of solar hours per day in the state listed. This estimate assumes you are using 400watt panels.
How Can You Increase Solar Panel Efficiency?
While nothing you do will make up for having an under-powered system, there ARE still a few things you can do to make sure your panels are taking in as much energy as they possible can.
- Keep The Panels Clean
Dust, dirt, leaves, and other debris block your panels from absorbing as much energy as they could. Keep them clean and be sure they are unobstructed.
- Leave Airflow For Cooling
While direct access to sun is, of course, necessary to produce energy, solar panels CAN get too hot. Just like a computer, this negatively impacts their performance and lowers the energy you take in. By mounting your panels with an air gap behind them, you can help to keep them cool.
Bob learned about farming from his grand dad. So, the decision to leave the city and start homesteading was not a difficult transition. He now lives with his wife and two kids on their 30 acre property in Ohio.