By 2019, there were solar power systems installed on homes across America. Though the number of installs has slowed after 2016, thousands of systems are installed in the US every year.
But how many solar panels will guarantee you’re going green? The short answer is that it’s not enough just to install a single panel. You’ll need an entire system on your roof to reap the rewards of your investment.
The longer answer is more complicated. Read on to find out the ins and outs of installing residential solar.
How Big Is Your Home?
If you want to go green efficiently, most sources put the number of solar panels a typical American house needs at 20 to 25.
Of course, this is just a rough estimate. Variables including household energy consumption, panel quality, location, and rated power will also influence how many panels you need to install.
You also need to consider the size of your roof area. Not every roof is pitched correctly to maximize the sunlight hours for renewable energy. Some parts of the roof may be unusable due to gables, venting, structural integrity, or construction features like sunlight windows and chimneys.
A general rule is that for every 5 kW of power generated, you need 250 feet of open roof space.
Your Current and Future Energy Use
You need to think carefully about what kind of lifestyle you want to live once your solar panels are installed.
For example, are you hoping to replace your current on-grid energy usage completely? Or are you hoping to move toward sustainable living, which would include energy reductions? Just like any energy option, there are pros and cons of solar.
Take a close look at your utility bills from the past 12 months. You can use this figure to work out your energy consumption needs.
And if you’re hoping to consume less electricity once you’re on solar panels (or want to buy fewer panels to save money), you’ll need to incorporate some into your daily life.
How Sun Does Your Home Get?
When working out how many panels you need to run a sustainable energy system, a lot will depend on where you live. This is because how much energy you can make from what number of panels depends on how much sunlight your roof is exposed to.
On a micro level, you’ll need to consider how your house is positioned on your land. For example, does the flat side of the roof face south? And also what kind of tree cover you have around your home.
And the macro level, you need to look at your local climate and average sunlight hours.
If you live somewhere sunny like California or Arizona, you’ll get a lot more energy from fewer panels. On the other hand, if you live somewhere like Minnesota, with icy cold winters and energy-eating heating needs, you’ll need more panels to produce enough power.
Research Going Green Before You Invest
Because there are so many variables to consider when going green, you need to do your homework. Compare the specifications and pricing on the different solar energy systems available in your area. And check out the warranties and guarantees on each system, too.
You don’t have to get a top-of-the-line energy source to get a return on investment. Instead, try to find that middle ground between quality, pricing, and ongoing installation support.
For more articles on taking care of the planet, head back to our blog.