How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Power A House

How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Power A House

If you are looking to get solar panels or have them installed on your house, it is important to know the number of solar panels needed for an average house. This will determine how much electricity can be generated and used. If you are wondering what size system you need, this blog post should help!

The amount of power that a home needs varies depending on the climate zone in which it resides and obviously on the number of electronics it is powering throughout the day. Areas with warmer climates have been shown to use more electricity than those in the Northern Hemispheres, in large part due to air conditioning units.

What To Consider Before You Install Solar Panels

For instance, if you have a large three-bedroom home in Florida with an electric air conditioner that almost constantly needs running, then you will likely need more solar panels on your roof than if you live in a small house in New York City. Although you would think heating would be astronomical up North, research shows that Florida is typically ranked in the top 15 in the country for electricity usage, while NY is usually in the low to mid 40’s. This usually leads to a higher electricity bill for Florida homeowners, especially in the summertime. The average cost for electricity alone ranges from $90 to $130, and of course the entire utility bill will be much higher when you add in water, cable, and so on.

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How Much Energy Consumption For A Home

The typical American household has an average energy usage of about 11,000 kilowatt-hours (kWH) per year. Florida has shown to be above that average and comes in at around 13,000 kWh per year for your median-sized home. How many solar panels you need to power your home will depend on how much electricity you use and where your home is located. To start, you can always find solar calculators online such as the one provided on National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) website. The calculators will give you a good estimate on the number of square feet you would need to cover your home with solar panels in order to generate enough electricity for your household per year.

High Energy Usage Increases The Number Of Solar Panels Needed

​However, it’s very important to keep in mind that more square footage does not automatically mean more solar panels. The most important factor is electricity usage. While larger homes do typically use more energy, it’s certainly possible for a smaller-sized home with multiple electronics running throughout the day to use more. As dads would say, a home where nobody messes with the thermostat will use less electricity!

How Many Hours Of Sunlight Do Solar Panels Need?

Another important determining factor is climate. In Florida, we are blessed with lots of sunshine and more peak sun hours than most states. This is technically not just between sunrise and set. More specifically peak sunlight hours are when the sun is giving off 1,000 W of photovoltaic power. In Florida, the average per day is about 5.5 hours. States out West see the highest peak sun hours and can creep up into the 6+ range. Still, Florida is great for solar because of our virtually year-round sunshine. (Don’t worry, we’ll talk about hurricane season later in this article!)

How Many Watts Will A Solar Panel Produce

​It is during these peak sun hours that a solar panel wattage will be at its highest and your solar panel system will produce electricity at the most efficient rate. Today’s solar panels for a residential home will produce anywhere from 200 to 400 watts per hour. Not all solar panels are made equal and you want to be sure to choose high-efficiency solar panels. This refers to the percentage of sunlight that will be converted into energy. In recent years, this number has climbed from 15% to 20% and up from top solar panel manufacturers.

What Are The Different Types Of Solar Panels

A few things determine the power rating including the material used to make up the solar cells. These materials include monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon, thin-film, amorphous silicon, and biohybrid.

Solar Panels Pensacola - solar energy company pensacola

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

​​These are a very popular option as they offer one of the highest efficiency rates at 20% and above. These also last the longest with very little maintenance and are durable with high temperatures than most solar panels. Due to their high power output, you may be able to reduce how many solar panels your home needs.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

​These solar systems produce a lower energy efficiency rate at about 15%. However, these are still a great option as they are cheaper than other materials. They have a shorter lifespan and require a larger solar system size, but the estimated energy output is not much lower than their monocrystalline counterpart. 

Thin Film Panels

​This solar panel gives you the lowest solar panel cost. They are also flexible and can be shaped to fit an unusually shaped roof. They do have the shortest life span and aren’t as efficient at generating electricity at around a 7% efficiency rate. Amorphous silicon is a type of thin-film solar panel which is extremely slim and lightweight.

Concentrated Photovoltaic Solar Cells

This solar panel has the greatest production ratio by far and converts 41% of the sun’s energy into power. The trick is positioning these solar panels so that they are catching the sun at just the right angle, as this is crucial to how much power these panels will produce. In order to do this, a solar tracker is put in by solar installers. There are more panels in the works being researched and hopefully brought to market soon such as biohybrid solar panels. That’s the beauty of the current solar industry. There is constant research and effort to continue pushing the boundaries of solar power, leading to less reliance on fossil fuels and lower utility bills across the world!

So as you can see, although a home in Florida may have greater energy consumption, they may require fewer solar panels installed due to the fact that they receive more sunlight than states up North. How many solar panels your home needs depends on more than just size and annual energy usage.

Solar Panels Produce More Power When Facing South

​The direction your roof is facing will also affect the efficiency of your system. Solar panels will produce the most energy on a roof that is facing the South. That doesn’t mean this is the only way for them to work efficiently, East and West facing solar panels are still very much suitable. It’s also important that there is not a lot of shade covering the part of the roof the solar energy system will be placed. It is not heat that helps produce the energy, but direct sunlight itself.

How Much Power Will a 6 kW Solar System Produce

If we want to look at some real numbers, let’s give you an example of an average home in Florida. The standard-sized solar system to power a home is usually a 6 kW system. In Florida, this will produce anywhere from about 21-27 kilowatts of energy per day. A good system should be at about 26 kilowatts per day, which totals out to be about 793 kilowatts per month and 9,516 kilowatts per year. This falls right into the statistical average that shows a 6kW system will produce anywhere from about 5,000 to 11,000 kW per year. As you can see when looking at the annual electricity usage for a typical American home, this is enough to power a home and significantly offset those high electric bills.


How Many Solar Panels Is a 6 kW System

When determining how many solar panels make up your system, you need to look at the panel wattage. For example, for a 6 kW solar system, this is equal to 6,000 watts. If the individual solar panels are 250 watts each, you will need 24 panels to make 500 watts. If the solar panel wattage is 400 W, then you will require 15. As you can see, higher wattage solar power systems will reduce how many panels you need. The actual system size will be smaller in size while still having the same power output, meaning the solar installer will need less space.

How Many Solar Panels Needed To Go Off Grid

If you want an off grid system, this is certainly possible, but it will require a slightly larger system along with a solar battery. Typically at least a 7kW system or more will be needed unless your energy usage is low. If your monthly electricity consumption is high, it could require a 10 kW solar installation or higher. Going off the utility grid entirely could require anywhere from 20-50+ solar panels depending on the wattage and energy consumption.

What Is A Solar Battery?

​​Solar batteries work by storing excess energy that is produced by your solar panels to be used in the dark hours of the night or during rainy days when the sun is not shining. These will provide backup power to your home when needed, but you will typically also need a critical load panel in order to provide power to your entire house. Going off the grid and eliminating your electricity bill entirely is certainly achievable with solar panels, it just requires some extra tools and steps!


Who Installs Solar Power Systems

As previously mentioned, the three key factors to determine how many solar panels you need are climate ( how much sunlight), energy usage, and the orientation of your roof. Other factors include the production ratio of your solar energy system based on the materials you select and the power rating based on the wattage of the solar panels. When you are searching for someone to install solar panels, we recommend consulting one of your local solar companies. Due to all the reasons we discussed above, installing solar panels requires extensive knowledge and understanding of how solar panels work in order to get the most out of your system. Our goal is to get your electricity bills as low as possible while lowering your carbon footprint.