Solar panels continue to attract more and more customers as people try to go green. It offers an alternative to the fuel generator in providing emergency power during an outage. Some tap it to the mains to reduce the power bills, while others use it as their primary power source. However, many people getting into solar power get stuck with the question, can solar panels power a whole house?
Yes. You can solar panels can power a whole house, but they must be powerful enough to deliver enough power to run your home, and they also must be receiving enough sunlight during the day. You must also decide if you want to use them as Off-Grid or Grid-Tied.
There is a lot involved when wanting to run your whole house with solar panels. So, the best place to start is to sit down and evaluate the conditions I’ve listed here.
What to Consider Before Using Solar Panels to Power Your Whole House
Solar panels have continued to gain popularity since people are turning to renewable energy sources to go green. It can be used as an alternative source of emergency power during a blackout and is tapped into the primary grid, so it reduces your electricity bills. In contrast, some use them as their primary source of power. However, if you’re new when it comes to solar panel systems, then make sure that you check out these considerations before powering up your house with solar panels:
1. Your House’s Power Requirement
Your solar panels will only work if your house can draw that much power from them. That means checking how much energy you use and knowing what a solar panel system would provide it at the end of the day. If you plan to use solar panels to run your whole house, it’d be best to consider your appliances’ wattage.
How do you estimate your house’s power consumption?
For you to come up with a more accurate estimate, it’s best to check out your local power bill. It would display how much energy you’ve used for the past 12 months in terms of kilowatt-hours (kWh), which measures your household’s monthly electrical consumption. Converting kWh into Kilowatts will give you an idea of what size solar panel system you should have so that when all appliances are turned on simultaneously, they can still draw enough electricity from the sun.
A typical American home uses about 920-kilowatt hours per month, while big houses may require around four times this amount at 3840-kilowatt hours per month or higher. Be sure to consider other factors, including geographical location and weather conditions.
You can also do some calculations to get a closer estimate. Start by getting the wattage rating of all the items you will be running with solar power in your house. The details are available in their user manuals, manufacturer website, or tag, sticker, or print on its back or bottom cover. What you’re checking for is the rated and peak watts.
If the information isn’t available, you will have to apply the simple multiplication, division, and addition tricks you learned in high school. Take the amps and rated voltage of each appliance, multiply the two to get the rated wattage.
Those appliances that take a minute to power on need higher power to get started customarily called the starting watts. It’s mostly around three times the rated watts. So, once you multiply the amps and voltage, multiply the value to get the starting wattage.
Take the wattages and divide them by 1000 to convert them to kilowatt. Multiply it with the average hours you use each appliance per day to get the kilowatts-hour/day. Multiply it with 30 days and 12 months to get kilowatts-hour/year.
Appliance Wattage/1000 = appliance wattage in kilowatt (kW)
Appliance wattage x hours used per day = kWh/day
kWh/day x 30 x 12 = kWh per Year
Of course, you can avoid all the hassle by consulting an expert who knows about all these matters so you won’t have any problem powering up your household later on down the road. If you’re unsure about everything, do not hesitate to consult experts. They’d know exactly what’s best for your household needs.
Pro Tip: if calculations show that one needs more power than what is being produced by the current or proposed solar panels, you can always opt for micro-inverters. They are devices attached to each photovoltaic cell to maximize its output, but this will be covered later on down the road.
2. How Many Solar Panels Do You Need?
One would need to determine how many solar panels are required by considering the power requirement of his home. Most experts recommend that a typical household have at least four to six square meters for every one hundred watts per hour (100w/h).
However, this could depend on geographical location, how many hours of peak sunlight you get in a day, and other factors.
Averagely, a solar panel for a household produces 250-watts. Assuming you have an average home consuming 10,400kWh of electricity annually, you need around 28-34 such solar panels to give you enough power to run your whole house.
How to estimate the number of solar panels you need for your Whole house
Take the power consumption of your house (the number you got in factor #1 above) and divide it with the solar panel production estimate.
Solar panel production varies depending on the location and the amount of sunlight they receive during the day.
With the US’s highest and lowest production ratios stands at 1.31 (Arizona) and 1.61 (Maine), you can use them to get a reasonable range.
The number you get, divide it with the solar panel wattage to get a range of the number of solar panels you need to provide 100% of your home’s power consumption needs.
Example: Suppose you live in Texas and your home power consumption is 10,500 kWh per annum. You will need:
10,500/1.31 = 8,015.27
8,015.27/250=32.06, which is approximate +/- 33 solar panels
Remember: the estimate is just an approximation and shouldn’t replace professional evaluation. However, it can give you a rough idea of how many panels your need to run your whole house.
3. Where You Live
The solar resource of your location is the most crucial factor to consider since solar panels depend on sunlight. If you live in a region without much sun, solar energy might not be for you as this renewable source is highly affected by weather and latitude.
Some states, such as Alaska, Hawaii, or North Dakota, do not have sufficient solar resources, which means they’re less likely to benefit from solar panel systems than those near the equator line. The amount of hours with direct sunlight also matters. Make sure that it’s more than 300 per year if possible before buying solar panels. Otherwise, your system will produce fewer kilowatt-hours than those living in areas with higher levels throughout the day.
That does not mean solar panels are not for you if your location is terrible. It just means that solar energy may be less effective than what’s expected. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of using solar power. Still, one should consider this when planning the subsequent steps taken regarding solar panel systems so things won’t get complicated later on down the road.
There are still benefits to installing solar panels in places with poor sunlight conditions. They can provide electricity through storage batteries that store excess capacity from solar cells during sunny days and release them once there’s no more sun shining throughout the day.
If done correctly, even those living in North Polar Regions will benefit significantly from having a system fitted onto their homes by considering these considerations first before making any decisions about powering up your household with solar panels.
4. Available Space for Installing the Solar Panels
Once you’ve checked your solar resource and determined that solar panels are perfect for you, then it’s time to check the amount of space available in your home. That is an essential consideration since solar panel systems usually take up a huge chunk of one’s roof. It may not be ideal if there isn’t enough space or if he already uses his rooftop for something else, such as putting up antennas or satellite dishes.
If this applies to you, then make sure that those who install solar panels know about this to design the system. So it’ll fit even with other equipment mounted without compromising too much regarding its performance later down the line. After all, nobody wants to have solar cells held onto their homes only for them to be rendered useless due to a lack of space.
The solar resource and available area are the most important things you need to know before going solar. These considerations must not be overlooked if one expects his solar panel system to perform as expected later on down the road without any problems whatsoever.
5. How You Want to Use the Solar Power: Off-Grid or Grid-Tied
Another essential factor to consider is whether you’ll be using solar panels for an off-grid or grid-tied solar system. Solar cells are perfect if your electricity comes from a power company. They can store energy when there’s plenty of sunlight available in the area and release it once the sun isn’t shining anymore. That will reduce one’s reliance on fossil fuels later on, which makes solar systems eco-friendly too!
Some solar companies might offer hybrid solutions to install batteries that store excess solar capacity during sunny days while also having a direct electrical connection with their customer’s homes. Still, these programs depend significantly on each region where they’re implemented, how much space is available at home, etc. So make sure this aspect before buying solar panels as it’ll be a considerable expense otherwise.
Do solar panels work in the North Pole?
Yes. However, solar energy is ineffective in places with low sunlight intensity due to latitude and weather conditions. But, you can still get some solar power if you use high-quality solar panel systems that are fitted correctly. It would be best to consult an expert before purchasing or installing solar cells if you live in those cold areas that receive minimal sunlight.