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Solar Industry

How Much Power Does a Solar Panel Produce?

August 11, 2019

Solar panels are excellent sustainable sources of power for many people around the globe. Adding solar panels to your home or business can help lower your energy costs while helping the environment.

The amount of power that a solar panel can produce is dependent on several factors. Roughly, solar panels produce 1,000 watts of usable power daily. This adds up to approximately 30 kWh a month. So how many solar panels would you need to power your home? Most homes in the United States use approximately 1,000 kWh per month. That means you would need close to 33 or 34 solar panels to power your entire home.

However, you don’t need to power your entire home for solar panels to be a worthy investment. Across the U.S., most people pay between $0.10 and $0.25 per kWh. Even if you could power 500 kWh per month, you would have an estimated savings of $50 to $125 per month and that’s $600 to $1,500 per year!

As you prepare to purchase your own solar panels for your home or business, it can help to understand the mechanics behind why solar panels work as well as what can zap your solar power potential. Taking the necessary precautions and asking the right questions can set you up for success.

Effects of Solar Panel Temperature

An interesting part of the way solar panel power works is the way that temperature affects the ability of the panels to produce energy. You might think that direct sunlight is the best place for your solar panels, but this depends on the temperatures that you see year-round. When solar panels get too hot, they won’t work as well. In fact, if solar panels get too hot, the reduced efficiency is anywhere from 10-25%.

Battling Temperature Through Effective Planning

What can you do about this problem? There are a few troubleshooting options that you can use as a solution to the overheating solar panel problem. First, ask your solar panel installer to install the panels 1-3 inches above the roof. This will allow airflow to help keep the panels cool when the temperature rises. Second, choose panels that are lighter colored. When you use panels that are made with white, tan, or even light gray materials, you increase your efficiency compared to using solar panels with brown or black materials. Another option, if your area has particularly high temperatures year-round, is to choose solar panels that are less efficient overall but more efficient in higher temperatures. Make sure to discuss this option with your solar panel provider before purchasing.

What is a Solar Panel Spectrum?

A solar panel spectrum refers to the sunlight spectrum. There are different spectrums of energy that comes through sunlight. This is the visible light spectrum: gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, infrared waves, microwaves, and radio waves. A solar panel spectrum means that the panel has different areas that work to capture different kinds of light. This allows the solar panel to capture as much light as possible.

Optimized Solar Panel Angle

To make the most of your solar panel installation and increase your power output, you want to make sure that your solar panels are installed at an angle. The optimal solar panel angle is calculated by your latitude. First, find your latitude. Then, if it is summer, subtract 15 degrees. This is the optimal solar panel angle tilt for the summer. For winter, add 15 degrees to your latitude. This is the optimal solar panel angle tilt for the winter. If you can adjust your solar panels for each winter/summer (twice a year!) then you will get the most energy from your solar panels.

Solar Panels Optimal Angle
Demo of solar panels positioning – provided by https://www.spaceacademy.net.au/spacelab/notes/solpanel.htm

What is the Amount of Light Required for Solar Panels?

Solar panels obtain their energy from daylight rather than sunlight. Daylight contains photons (smallest unit of electromagnetic radiation or light particles). These photons power the solar panels and let them create energy. Direct sunlight will give solar panels the most energy but is not necessary.

Solar panels can still work in cloudy conditions or when they are not placed in direct sunlight. They simply need to be installed in an area that receives some sun. If the solar panel is placed in a basement without windows, for example, no energy will be able to be generated.

How Much Power Can Solar Panels Produce on a Cloudy Day?

The amount of power that a solar panel can produce on a cloudy day depends on the number of solar panels used as well as the percentage of cloud cover. One of the best ways to calculate the amount of power solar panels can produce is to first look at the weather conditions where you live. Typically, solar panels produce 10-30% of the power they would usually produce when it is cloudy outside.

Most places in the United States will see approximately four hours of sunlight every day that will be “full power.” This full power period occurs when the sun is lowest in the sky and closet to your roof (some states that are particularly sunny may get closer to five). Most solar panels can produce 250 watts of power every hour. For four hours, this means 1,000 watts per solar panel. If the day is cloudy, this means the 10-30% will translate to 100 to 300 watts of power. Even on a cloudy day, solar panels help meet energy needs and contribute to the overall energy costs.

Additional questions about solar panels? Contact us today for more information on getting started.  We would love to help you power your home or business with energy-efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly solar panels.

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