How to Determine the Size of Your Solar Panel System

How big should your solar panel system be? Figuring out what size photovoltaic array to install isn’t easy.

On the one hand, you want your PV system to produce enough energy to meet your household needs and eliminate your monthly electricity bills. But on the other hand, you’re concerned about costs – and though prices for solar panels have dramatically dropped in recent years, you don’t want to pay for more than you need.

As you make plans to install a new solar panel system, you’ll need to consider the following to determine the right size for your photovoltaic array.

Examine Your Electricity Bills

Pull out your electricity bills from the past year or take a look at them online. The amount you’re paying now helps to establish the basis of your energy production goal. After all, if your monthly costs average $100, for example, you don’t need to install a photovoltaic array that produces $200 worth of power.

Look at Your Household Energy Use

While you’re checking out your electricity bills, find your energy usage, which is listed in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This is a separate consideration because life circumstances – such as having kids, building a home addition or investing in energy-efficiency upgrades -- could cause this figure to increase or decrease. Factoring in your future energy needs is crucial to correctly sizing your PV system.

Account for the Weather Conditions

How much direct sunlight does your part of the Intermountain West receive per day? Do you have a lot of cloudy days? Weather plays a large role in determining PV system size, as the conditions affect energy production. As an example, a photovoltaic array in sunny Salt Lake City, Utah, will create more electricity than one of the identical size in cloudier Portland, Oregon.

Evaluate Your Available Rooftop Space

For maximum sun exposure, a PV system in the Intermountain West should face south. Rooftops that face east or west can work, but more solar panels may be necessary. Along with angle, you also need to consider the amount of space you have available and whether shade from obstructions like trees, skylights, chimneys or vents may interfere with energy production.

Request Bids from Local Solar Contractors

Putting all of this information together and determining how many solar panels you need requires careful consideration. And, size isn’t the only decision you have to make when designing a PV system. So, experts recommend requesting site evaluations and project bids from at least a few local solar contractors. Comparing several options is the best way to get a photovoltaic array of the right size without overpaying.

If you live in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming or Oregon, schedule a site evaluation and solar panel system installation estimate with the professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar.

A trusted Intermountain West industry leader for over a decade, Intermountain Wind & Solar has extensive experience designing efficient, cost-effective photovoltaic arrays that offer optimal energy production. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss solar panel system installation today.


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