Solar power is more affordable today than ever, opening the doors for any homeowner considering installing a system.
The homeowners who save the most on their photovoltaic systems, however, are the ones who most accurately determine their energy needs and goals before installation.
Begin by establishing exactly how much power your home or business uses each month.
Check your electrical bills from the past year to find out your typical annual kilowatt energy consumption, then divide by 365 to determine your daily usage. Divide again by the average number of daily peak sun hours in your location ― you can find this figure on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website’s solar maps page.
Though other factors are involved, this will give you a rough idea of what size PV system you need to meet your current energy consumption.
Simply put, the more energy your household uses on a regular basis, the larger the photovoltaic array you must install.
Your Energy Goals Down the Road
Before you commit to a photovoltaic panel array size, consider the future.
Do you anticipate expanding your family? Perhaps you plan to have more children, or you expect an aging parent may come to live with you? Each extra person in the household increases your power requirements.
Do you have plans to add on to your home, or convert your storage shed to a workshop, or add a window air conditioner to the garage? Any of these could increase your demand for power.
If you find yourself with higher electrical demands in the future, you have a couple of choices. One is to become more energy efficient.
Strategies for Conserving Energy
Investing in new appliances that use less energy is one often-recommended option, but replacing every appliance may not be realistic.
Less expensive options may be more achievable, and they can add up to significant savings.
For example, switching out your incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or, better yet, light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, can result in measurable savings. Using power strips and turning them off when you’re not using the items is another great way to save energy.
Small projects like these are easy and can help make a smaller solar power system workable for you.
Solar System Expansion
Another way to meet higher energy demands is to expand your PV panel array.
Many solar power systems can be expanded after installation is completed, but experts warn that it may cost more to add on later than to purchase a larger system at the outset.
Depending on the age and configuration of your photovoltaic system, it may be difficult or impossible to expand. Some older inverters were limited in capacity. The only way to know for sure if you can expand your system is to talk to an experienced solar contractor in your area.
In the Intermountain West, Intermountain Wind and Solar is your locally owned and operated expert. Contact us today to learn more about how to properly size your system, so that you always have plenty of solar power to meet your needs.