If you’ve been wondering “how much energy does a solar panel produce?”, then keep reading as we help you find out how many panels you might need in your home to give you energy independence once and for all. The number of panels you will need for your home will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of energy you use, the amount of sunlight you receive, and the solar efficiency of the panels you choose to invest in. Keep reading to find out, are solar panels worth it?

how do solar panels work

How Much Power Does One Solar Panel Generate?

Knowing how much power is generated by one solar panel can help you determine how many panels you’ll need to power your home but unfortunately there isn’t one straightforward answer to this question. The amount of power generated by a solar panel will depend on many factors including the size of the panel, the amount of direct sunlight that panel receives on average per day, as well as the efficiency of the solar cells that make up the panel in question.

Solar Power Efficiency: What You Need to Know

The average efficiency of solar panels is around 15 to 20% with the most efficient solar panels reaching around 22%. This means that a solar panel will convert between 15 and 22% of the sun’s energy into usable electricity for your home. Efficiency is important when calculating how much power a solar panel can generate as a panel operating at 21% will produce 50% more electricity than a panel of the same size with just 14% efficiency.

how do solar panels work

Solar Panel Types

The two most commonly used panels for residential systems are monocrystalline and polycrystalline and each type has its pros and cons. As you learn more about them, you may find that one will stand out as being the most suitable for your home and situation. The main difference between these two panels relates to the purity level of the silicon that makes up the solar cells within each panel. The purer the silicon, the more efficient the panel will be in converting the sun’s energy into usable power for your home.

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient, relative to panel size, making them a good choice if you have limited space on your rooftop. They also tend to perform better in lower light conditions but don’t respond well at all to being partially covered by shade or snow. A high purity silicon is used in their manufacturing which gives these types of panels a long lifespan of around 25 years and, as you might have expected, mono panels carry the highest upfront costs.

Polycrystalline panels are manufactured using several different silicon crystals. The lower silicon purity means that poly panels generally carry a lower efficiency rating of 13 to 17%, so you will need more of these panels to generate the same power than when using mono panels. Poly panels don’t generally perform as well as mono panels in high heat conditions but, due to the simpler and less wasteful manufacturing process, these panels have a much lower upfront cost and they too enjoy a good lifespan of around 25 years.

how do solar panels work

How Many Panels Do You Need?

The amount of panels you will need depends on the panels in question and how much energy your household uses in a year. To give you an example of how you can work out how many panels you’ll need, let’s say you have a poly solar panel which can produce an average of 265 watts under direct sunlight (some mono panels can produce up to 360), and let’s also assume you have an average roof in California that generally receives five hours of full sun per day.

You need to take the watts (265) and multiply it by the hours per day (5), and then multiply it again by 30 days in the month to find out the panel’s kWh potential in an average month. In this case, we would reach 40kWh per month. Ntext, you need to find out your average monthly electric usage by looking at your annual usage and dividing it by 12. For the sake of our example, we’ll go with the national average of 900kWh of electricity used per month. Dividing the months usage (900) by your panel’s production (40), will equal the number of panels you will need to cover your electricity bills. In this case the answer is 22.5 meaning you will need 23 panels to eliminate your electricity bills completely, assuming your usage doesn’t increase over time.

Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment?

Ultimately, you want to know whether or not solar panels are worth the investment, right? The short answer is yes, and if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with higher levels of full sunlight, then the return on investment can be very good indeed, depending of course on how your panels are financed. Buying up front will offer the best ROI with an estimated $21,000 saving for California residents over a period of 20 years. Investing with a $0-down solar loan comes in second (with an average of $10,000 savings), and solar leases and purchase agreements will offer the lowest savings, but they’re savings all the same, right?

At Material Solar we believe in Energy Independence For All and would be happy to help you decide which system will be best for your home, and even help you take advantage of local incentives to make it more affordable. If you’re interested in reducing your energy bills, and investing in the future of your home and family, give us a call without delay.