If you’re thinking about going solar, you’re probably wondering how much energy your solar panels will produce. Especially if you’re aiming to lessen your monthly power bill, or you’re interested in going off-grid.
On average, most residential solar panels produce 100 – 400 watts of power. However, your solar energy output will vary upon several key factors, including:
- The number and type of solar panels installed
- How your solar panels are positioned
- Whether your inverter is properly sized
- Cleaning and maintenance factors
- The climate you live in
To help you design a solar system that meets all or even more of your energy needs, we’ll look at these factors in more detail below. This way, you understand the basics of how solar panels work and why certain scenarios can impact your solar power production.
Want a FREE estimate on the cost to install residential solar panels?
Contact Photon Brothers at (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California). Our solar engineers will conduct a thorough evaluation of your home’s energy usage, and then provide you with the best solar panel designs for your needs and budget.
The number and type of solar panels installed
In general, the more solar panels you install, the more energy you can generate. However, not all solar panels are created equal, so it’s important to understand how they function and why a larger array isn’t always better.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the typical American home uses about 29 kilowatt-hours of power per day. This comes out to about 2,400 watts per hour, per 12 hours of sunlight.
By comparison, most residential solar panels can produce anywhere from 100 to 400 watts of power per hour.
Through simple mathematics, it might seem like you could just divide 2,400 watts by 100 – 400 watt panels in order to see how much energy you could generate. But unfortunately, it isn’t this easy. At certain times of the day, you may only receive a fraction of sunlight, which means your solar panels’ efficiency will be significantly reduced. To make up the difference, you’ll need to add more solar panels to your system.
Additionally, certain types of solar panels have limited efficiency levels. For example, conventional solar panels average about 100 – 200 watts of power per panel, but only under optimal conditions (meaning full sunlight). On the other hand, premium (and more expensive) panels can average about 300 – 400 watts per panel, and with higher efficiency.
While it might be tempting to purchase less expensive panels and simply increase the quantity, lower quality solar panels can’t always perform in high heat, which is usually when sunlight is strongest.
To enjoy the highest amount of solar energy, it pays to invest in panels that work smarter, not harder.
For more information, check out our blog, “How to determine how many solar panels you need.”
How your solar panels are positioned
Your solar panels must be positioned properly to reap the maximum solar gain. Without quality sunlight, they won’t be able to produce energy, and then it won’t matter how many you have.
At Photon Brothers, our solar engineers will carefully evaluate your home’s location and roofline, including how the sun’s rays would hit your panels. Then, we’ll design a custom solar panel installation that provides the most solar power possible, but with the least financial investment.
Not every solar installer does this. In fact, many of the big solar companies offer “one-size-fits-all” solutions that don’t always end up serving the customer. To avoid paying for solar panels that aren’t positioned properly, hiring a solar installer who does custom installations is your best bet.
Whether your inverter is properly sized
To convert power from your solar panels to your home’s electrical system, you’ll need an inverter. Since some energy is lost in the conversion process, it’s important that your inverter must be properly sized.
But first, let’s take a look at how an inverter operates.
Your home’s electricity operates on AC (“alternating current”) power. AC power is a two-way electrical charging movement, and in American homes, it’s the standard electricity that comes out of your electrical outlets.
On the other hand, solar panels generate a form of DC (“direct current”) power. As a one-way flow of electrical current, DC power isn’t compatible with your home’s AC power system.
In order to convert DC power to AC power, an inverter is used to re-route DC input so that it mimics an AC power’s two-way connection. That way, you can actually use your solar power when you plug a device or appliance into an electrical outlet.
If your inverter isn’t sized to receive the amount of power that your solar panels can generate, you’ll lose out on a great deal of your solar energy output!
Cleaning and maintenance factors
Even if you expertly install the perfect number and type of solar panels, your energy output will decrease if you don’t clean or maintain your panels properly.
Similar to your car, your solar panels are exposed to the elements. Over time, they’ll get covered in dirt, dust, bird droppings, or snow and ice in certain climates. When this happens, your panels are essentially blocked from receiving their full capacity of sunlight. And without sunlight, your panels can’t produce energy.
To maximize power savings, it’s best to schedule routine solar panel cleanings from licensed and qualified solar experts.
The climate you live in
Climate will undoubtedly affect your solar power production. The more days of sunshine your area has per year, the more solar energy you’re going to produce.
However, even if you live in a harsh winter climate, you can still generate a fair amount of solar energy.
For example, homeowners in California’s Central Coast and parts of Colorado experience an average of 300+ days of sunshine per year. In comparison, a homeowner in Maine or New Hampshire will probably only get about 200. While that’s 100 fewer days of sunshine, a Northeast homeowner will still have the potential to produce 50 – 60% of their annual power supply through solar energy.
At the start, it may not seem like much. But over 30 years, the energy savings will add up fast. All the more so when you factor in net-metering programs, federal tax credits, and local and state solar rebates.
If you’re still on the fence about whether solar panels can produce enough energy for your needs and budget, contact a professional solar installer who will walk you through the entire process. At Photon Brothers, we offer free, no-obligation virtual or in-home solar estimates!
Get a FREE solar estimate!
At Photon Brothers, we’ve built a 5‑star reputation because we put customers first. If you’re interested in going solar, contact our team of solar experts, and we’ll schedule a FREE virtual or in-home solar estimate. We offer the industry’s best REC panels for maximum power output, including a 25-year panel warranty!