So you’ve just bought that shiny new solar panel system for your home, and you’re eager to start generating your own electricity and powering your devices with clean energy. As a newly minted solar owner, you might be wondering, how much solar energy do I have? What’s the best way to find out?
While there are a variety of ways to calculate the amount of solar energy you have available, most people use the solar panel capacity to estimate how much electricity you’ll be able to generate. The formula is pretty straightforward: multiply the voltage of your solar panel by the amperage of the system (in other words, the amount of current it can handle) to get the wattage. Then, to determine the kilowatt-hours of electricity that you’ll be able to generate, simply divide that wattage by hours in a day (assuming your panel is equipped with an inverter and is connected to a grid socket). Finally, to determine the amount of solar energy per square foot, divide the kilowatt-hours by the total square footage of your roof.
To provide some context as to how much solar energy you might realistically generate, consider the following:
- Your roof is 8 feet by 8 feet.
- The sun is shining brightly throughout the year, so you’ll receive 400 hours of sunlight per month (20 hours per day, on average).
- The voltage of your solar panel is usually between 14 and 22 volts, and it can range from 100 to 500 milli-Amperes (depending on the type of solar panel you have).
Based on the information provided, you’ll be able to calculate that your solar panel system is capable of generating 1.4 to 4.8 kilowatt-hours per day (kWh/day). Of course, this is a mere estimate, as there are a variety of factors that could affect the amount of electricity you’re capable of generating (such as the weather and how well your solar panel system is performing).
Consider Other Options
While the calculation above is a good starting point, it’s not the only one that you should consider. To put things into perspective, let’s look at a few more potential options:
- How much wattage does your power supply (battery) have? This is important because the more wattage you have, the more electricity you’ll be capable of generating. If your power supply has 400 watt hours, then you’ll be able to generate up to 4 kWh/day with a 14 volt system. (In case you’re wondering, a watt hour is equivalent to one watt x one hour; thus, 400 watt hours is equivalent to 4 kWh or 4,000 watt-hours.)
- How much power does your device (laptop, mobile phone, etc.) use? Some devices are more power-hungry than others, so consider how much power your laptop or mobile phone uses when it’s idling (not consuming any significant amounts of energy) and how much power it requires when you’re using it (e.g., surfing the web or sending emails). This will help you determine how much electricity you have available to feed into your grid socket.
- How much electricity do you need? Depending on the type of devices you have connected to your grid socket (e.g., laptops, mobile phones, etc.), you might require a different amount of electricity. For instance, if you have a 500 watt system and you need 2 kWh/day to power all your devices, then you’ll need to generate 500 watts x 2 = 1,000 watts for the 2 kWh you need. But if you only need 400 watts to power all your devices, then you’ll only need to generate 400 watts to fulfill your needs.
- How much does your energy bill typically go up each year? This is important because if your energy costs are going up, then you’ll need to generate more energy to cover your costs. Consider looking into all the available options before purchasing a solar panel system. Maybe there’s another way you can generate power without breaking the bank. You don’t want to buy anything that you can’t afford.
- Is buying expensive equipment and extra parts worth it? There’s a lot to consider here, so let’s take it one piece at a time. Consider buying extra parts such as a backup battery, inverter, or charge controller. These are all additional expenses that you’ll have to purchase. But if you decide that they’re worthwhile, then your devices will be able to power on when the electricity goes out, and you won’t have to worry about running out of juice during critical times. (This is particularly important if you use things like laptops or mobile phones, as they’re usually more power-hungry than other devices.)
- How much does it cost to purchase and install all the necessary equipment (inverter, battery, charge controller, etc.)? This is important because you’ll have to determine how much money you’re willing to spend on additional equipment before you make a purchase. Remember: you’re buying hardware that will eventually depreciate in value, so make sure you factor this into your budget.
- How much does it cost to maintain and operate your solar panel system? This is important because we want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth by considering not just how much energy you generate, but also how much it costs to maintain and operate your system. The price of solar energy is going down, so make sure you factor this into your budget.
- How much does the warranty cost? This is important because warranties protect you from electrical and mechanical failures. If you experience any issues with your equipment (battery, inverter, charge controller, etc.) within the first year of use, then the warranty will cover all parts and labor to fix it. Some companies offer warranties for several years, so make sure you factor this into your budget.
- How much does solar energy benefit the environment? This is important because it prevents energy from being wasted by using energy-efficient devices and/or power supplies. It also prevents the need to purchase electricity from traditional power plants, which release harmful toxins into the air we breathe. So make sure you consider where your energy comes from when making your purchase decision.
Hopefully, this info helps you get a good idea of how much solar energy you have available. Of course, the answer to how much solar energy you have will vary based on a number of factors, but this should get you started in the right direction. Just remember: buying equipment that generates electricity is a great way to save money and generate your own power. It’s also a great way to reduce your impact on the environment.