More and more people are interested in getting solar power for their homes. And it’s no wonder. The prices of solar panels have been going down for years, while the cost of electricity is not always stable.
In fact, in many regions, solar panel systems can pay for themselves in a matter of years, while they typically have over two decades of warranty. The calculation is pretty simple – if you can afford it, get solar.
The calculation that is not so simple, though, is how much solar you need. In order to learn that, we reached out to solar power professionals – Nu Look Home Design to explain.
In terms of solar panel systems, size is not actual physical size. Rather, it’s the capacity of your system. It is calculated in Watts, a standard measure of power (including electrical power). If you know anything about solar panels, you probably know that they don’t always work at full capacity. This can make it really difficult to determine the size of a solar system.
To this end, experts use a shorthand – output under standard conditions. These conditions are calculated in a lab, under regulated conditions, with 1000 Watts of sunlight per square meter (about 10.8 square feet) at the temperature of 77°F (25°C). As you may realize, these kinds of conditions will not occur too often, so your output may vary.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) created a very comprehensive and useful tool to calculate the right size of the system for your home. Fittingly named PVWatts, this tool is capable of calculating everything from average solar irradiance in your area, the weather conditions, how these conditions affect the effectiveness of photovoltaic solar panels, and much, much more. Oh, did we mention it’s free?
However, there is a downside. The tool is great at aggregating data, but it will not give you the actual result. Instead, you will have to extrapolate from the information and decide on your own. So, as an amateur in the solar energy field, chances are that you will not want to use the tool on your own – except for additional research.
So, if you’re not going to get a straight answer from a government-backed solar calculator, who can help you figure out what you need. Well, people who will be responsible for installation and setting up your solar system – your solar installation company. You may initially think that it’s not a great idea, but who knows more about such things than the professionals who work with these systems every day?
More importantly, though, there’s nobody stopping you from getting quotes and recommendations from multiple solar installers. In fact, most reliable solar companies will give you fairly similar information – that is best for your home.
When discussing your solar project with a solar installer or another expert, here’s what you need to pay attention to. The solar installer should mention the average insolation of your area, as well as the topography of your roof. These are perhaps the biggest issues you need to take into account when creating your solar project.
Another important thing you need to consider is what you want to use the solar system for. Depending on your intentions, the size of the solar system can vary drastically, and so can the price.
Choosing to create a solar system on your home is, in most regions, a great investment. Not only will it pay for itself, it will reduce your monthly expenses, and increase your home’s value.