How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel in a Desert Produce?

In the middle of the Mojave Desert in Southern California, there stands a magnificent sight. A large, transparent dome covers the whole sky, and the dazzling light reflects off its surfaces – like a giant solar mirror.

You may have seen pictures like this before, but now you can really appreciate the grandeur of a sunset blooming over the Great American Desert.

The sun is low in the sky, it’s heating up the air around us, and it’s shining brightly in a cobalt blue sky – but what is this spectacular light source doing out here in the middle of the desert?

The simple answer is that we are surrounded by sun. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Before heading into how much energy the sun in the desert actually produces, let’s take a step back and define a solar panel, which is the device that converts sunlight into usable electrical energy.

A solar panel is actually a collection of semiconductors, which are materials that become conductive when heated. These materials are typically coated with an anti-reflective layer to prevent light from being reflected back to the source. The result is that more light is captured, which in turn generates more energy.

All Day, Every Day

It’s always great to be able to produce your own energy, and what could be more practical or self-sufficient than a solar panel in the desert?

While you would generally only use solar energy when the sun is shining, not every day is a sunny day. Especially in the desert, the air is often thick and hot, causing the solar panel to work harder. This is especially the case when you have no other choice but solar power since the grid is often down due to droughts and other environmental catastrophes that cause blackouts.

But even when the sun is shining brightly, there is still a question of how much energy the desert sun actually produces. How does one calculate the energy that a desert solar panel can generate?

Peak Vs. Continuous Solar Power

Just because the sun is always shining in the desert doesn’t mean that it’s easy or even possible to obtain solar power. It’s one thing to have a solar panel that harnesses the power of the sun when it’s shining (aka the peak power mode), but quite another to have continuous solar power. The ability to produce energy at any time is known as continuous solar power.

Peak power is what you need when you need it – like when you are cooking dinner or performing other day-to-day tasks that don’t entail a lot of electricity. However, if you are in need of continuous solar power, there are certain things you need to consider – mainly the efficiency of your solar panel (the amount of energy produced per unit of sunlight). Inefficient solar panels waste a lot of energy, so you want to avoid purchasing one of these unless you’re certain that you’ll need continuous power.

Net Metering

Continuous solar power is great when you’re using battery storage, also known as net metering. This allows you to connect your solar panel to the grid, and any energy that is generated is put back onto the electricity grid. This enables you to make free power trades with neighbors and other power companies.

Since most places don’t allow you to run power companies off-grid, the only option available is to draw on the electricity grid. But what happens when the sun isn’t shining or there are no clouds in the sky?

In these cases, you won’t be able to net meter, as there is no where for your excess energy to go. This poses a problem as there is no one to give you credit for any energy that is generated when the sun is not shining – the electricity company will not give you credit for energy that is not used, and neither will your neighbors. You can’t have free power without a place to store it, which is why many people choose not to go this route in the desert. This is where battery storage comes in very handy. Having a solar-powered battery bank allows you to store energy when the sun is shining and release it when you need it. It also means you can continue to produce power even when the sun isn’t shining – like when you are out hiking in the desert.

More Than Meets The Eye

There is a reason why so many people choose to live in the Mojave Desert: it has an abundance of sunshine. This allows for lots of opportunities to generate power through solar energy. But it also means that if you want to purchase a solar panel, you will need to do some research. Knowing how much energy the desert sun produces determines how much power you will need. For example, if you are living in a standard home with the usual appliances, you will probably only need a small solar panel. If you are in a more advanced home that’s equipped with appliances like a dishwasher and microwave, you will most likely need a bigger solar panel. The rule of thumb is: the more appliances you have that use electricity, the bigger the solar panel.

Knowing how much energy the desert sun provides is important for a variety of reasons. It helps you plan out how much time you will need to run appliances like a fridge and freezer (freezer energy use increases with the temperature, so it gets more expensive to run as you get closer to freezing), and it also helps you determine how many kWh you will need to purchase from the electricity company. The majority of homes in the desert are connected to solar power now, so this calculation will not be difficult. Just make sure that you factor in how much energy your appliances use when calculating how much power you need – not just how much energy the sun provides.


The cost of electricity has been increasing year after year, which is why more and more people are looking to save money wherever they can. In a lot of places, including California, the cost of electricity is higher than the national average. Even in places where the cost of electricity is not especially high, like Phoenix, the cost has increased by at least 10% within the last year. This has made more people turn to solar power, which is why there is a large market for DIY solar kits out there. These kits make it easy for anyone to set up a solar panel, and since there is no professional installation involved, this can save you a lot of money.

But just because something is cost-effective doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial or good for the environment. The upfront cost of setting up a solar panel system is quite cheap (in some cases it can be even free), but the cost of energy that you will save in the long run is definitely not. Even when the sun is shining, it’s still usually quite costly to use electricity because of the high cost of producing it. This is why it’s usually better to wait for an electric storm to hit so that you can take advantage of those spare kWh. Doing some research beforehand will help you determine whether or not solar power is the right choice for you and your home – not to mention the environment.

Types Of Power

While most homes in the US get their electricity from oil or coal-fired plants (the most common sources of power in the country), a growing number of people are investing in solar power. This is mainly because it’s much better for the environment and cost-effective. It also makes a lot of sense for people who are trying to get off-grid.

Whether or not you decide to go solar, it’s important to consider the type of power you will need – what devices do you have at home that consume electricity, and how much are they using? The number of hours you will need to run your appliances each day will dictate how much power you need – what time of day is the least expensive for you to run your appliances? Once you have that information, you can determine how much solar power you will need to avoid these charges.

Going Green

Generation of power from renewable energy sources is one way to go green, and solar power is a great option because it is environmentally friendly and cost-effective. Most large companies that produce solar panels are also involved in green energy purchases, so make sure you get a quality product from a company that cares about the environment too.

Once you start producing your own power, it’s quite easy to go green and implement more sustainable energy practices. You can start by switching your appliances to energy-saving modes when you aren’t using them (like setting your fridge to cool only when needed), then you can look into purchasing energy-saving appliances and equipment (like energy efficient fridge freezers and air conditioners). Not only is this green energy purchase beneficial because it reduces your carbon footprint (one of the major reasons for the increasing popularity of solar power), but it also reduces your electricity bills – not to mention the increased lifespan of the equipment because of lower energy use.

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