Your Energy Usage
The first step in determining the size of your solar installation is to figure out how much energy you would normally consume. The last thing you want is to invest in a solar power system that doesn’t produce enough energy or even worse produces more than you need. Bigger is not always better unless there is a significant change in your foreseeable energy usage. Most systems can be added on to if done properly, so design for what you need.
Average Household Energy Data
Average household data can be found on the internet or the best way is your utility company. For example, a family of seven in a 5000-square-foot home in the Pleasanton with a heated pool and two electric vehicles is going to use a lot more energy than a couple living in a 2,200-square-foot home in Concord who don’t drive electric cars or have a swimming pool.
Finding Typical Energy Usage
You can find your typical energy usage by looking up your energy bills for the past year. These should be available by logging into your electric company’s customer portal. Each bill should include your total energy usage in kilowatt hours for that month and can provide you with you Therm usage as well. (Therms usage is important for solar assisted HVAC) Add up the amount for the past twelve months and then divide by 12.
Average Monthly Electric Usage
There you have it, your average monthly energy usage. The average monthly residential electricity consumption in California is 903kWh to 1,097kWh. Now if you want your solar panel system to cover all of your electricity needs (Highly recommended), you’ll need to install a system that can produce this amount each month.
Where You Live
This directly affects how many solar panels you need for your home. Americans who live in states like Washington go through longer winters and many overcast days. Their solar system gets less sunlight. That means they have to install more solar panels on the roof to produce the same amount of power as someone living in the great sun-rich state of California.
Are Your Panels Producing What You Need?
Of course, just because the sun is in the sky doesn’t mean your solar panels are producing at max capacity. For example, sunrise and sunset won’t help your panels generate much solar energy, because when the sun sits at such a low angle, the atmosphere filters a lot of the light. Also, rates of sun can even vary from home to home depending on external features (tall trees, a big hill behind your home or even a chimney) that affect how much sun you get. Shading is a very important part of the design.
Calculating Production Levels
When calculating how much electricity your solar panels can produce, it’s more important to figure out how many peak sun hours your location receives on an average day rather than just the amount of time the sun is in the sky. Without getting too technical, you can think of a peak sun hour as an hour when your panels are receiving strong, direct sunlight. (If you do want to get technical, a peek sun hour is when the intensity of sun is 1,000 watts per square meter.) In the U.S., most areas receive an average of three to five peak sun hours per day.
Schedule With Us Today!
When you schedule your evaluation with a solar installation company, an energy expert will help you determine the average daily usable hours of sunlight your home receives. This is different for every home and information is compiled from many sources to insure full coverage