Calculating Number of Solar Panels Needed for a Home, Part 1

If you’re a homeowner venturing into the solar power world for the first time, you may have a variety of questions. One of the single most common for those in this position: How many solar panels do I need for my home?

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re proud to offer comprehensive residential solar panel installation services for all our clients, from consultation and design of your system to full installation of all components, including the Tesla Powerwall system. We work with clients during the consultation and design phases to help them understand all the basics of our services plus their own solar needs, including how many panels their setup will require and the best ways to optimize the system to meet your goals. This two-part blog series will go over the basic steps we’ll take you through to calculate the power amount you need and the number of solar panels required to provide it, plus some other basics that help you attain a strong return on your solar investment.

General Home Averages

Firstly, it’s good for homeowners to have a general idea of the typical solar power needs of standard homes, just as a baseline moving forward. Average homes tend to require between 28 and 34 solar panels, if they’re looking to utilize solar for all of their power needs – the number might be lower if you’re only using solar for certain power areas, however. And of course, these numbers can vary significantly if your home has special power needs or considerations, or is much larger or smaller than the average residence.

Our next several sections will detail exactly how we’ll help you calculate your needs.

Current Home Energy Use

For starters, you must identify your home’s current level of power usage, measured in Kilowatt Hours Used – abbreviated kWhs, which is the primary metric utility companies use (you’ll also see kWh used). The best way to do this is to obtain your electricity bill over the last six to 12 months, then break it down into hourly, daily and yearly energy usage.

As an example, a homeowner in a relatively average-sized home may see that they’re consuming 5,000 kWh per year. They can divide this by 12 to see that they’re using roughly 417 kWh per month, or by 365 to see that they’re using about 13.7 kWh per day. They can even go deeper and calculate the hourly usage based on these figures.

Powering Needs

Once you have a firm grasp on your home’s power usage, determining how much power you need is simpler. The next step: Figuring out how many hours of direct sun exposure will be present for the panels to be installed on your home. Homes that face the sun and have few or no obstructions can expect high energy production on a per-panel basis, while those that are partially blocked at times will produce less.

Using our above example, let’s say your home receives six hours of direct sunlight per day. You’ll need to divide your average hourly energy use by this number, which will tell you the total hourly needs you have – and from here, will allow you to calculate panel numbers in coordination with our team, who will inform you of the basic capacity of any of the panels you’re considering.

For more on determining how many solar panels your home needs for a new solar installation, or to learn about any of our services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.

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