How Do I Calculate My Daily Power Consumption?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: I want to install solar panels, but I’m not sure how much energy I currently use, and thus how many solar panels I will need. How do I calculate my daily power consumption?

Answer: Your daily power consumption is easy to discern from your monthly electric bill. Your electric bill tells you how many Kilowatt-hours (KWH) you use per month. One KWH is the amount of energy it takes to consume 1000 Watts of electricity in one hour. The average US household uses roughly 900 KHW per month, so that’s around 30 KWH per day. This figure will vary from household to household, so be sure and look at your monthly electric bill and run through the calculation for yourself.

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In an area with average amounts of rainfall and sunlight, 3 KWH of solar energy may fall in a square meter each day. So roughly 10 one-meter solar panels would generate enough electricity to power the average US household, (3 x 10 = 30) right? It’s not quite that simple. Solar systems also have to factor in efficiency.

Efficiency measures how much of the captured solar energy can be converted back into usable electricity. Solar panel efficiency is its most critical component. We have come a long way, but solar panel systems are still only around 50% efficient (this varies from system to system). So if you installed 10 one-meter panels, they might only be able to produce 15 KWH of energy, and thus power half of your household.

It’s still a fantastic accomplishment, considering energy from the sun is free. The world has already seen a dramatic turn towards solar energy, and as efficiency improves, solar energy will become even more widespread.

Solar panel installation kits are available today as DIY projects, making solar energy even more accessible.

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