What Is My Home's Solar Potential?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: Solar energy is an interesting option to me, but I don’t know how much energy my home is able to produce. What is my home’s solar potential?

Answer:
Your home’s solar potential depends on a few factors. First, the geographic area you live in. Obviously, sunnier areas will have a higher solar potential, or insolation, which is the measurement of how much sunlight falls in one square meter per day. You can search the internet to easily find the insolation rating for your home. A typical value for a sunny area is 5 Kilowatt-hours per square meter per day.

Next you need to consider roof space, which can determine the size of your potential solar system. Solar panels are typically mounted on the roof, though ground stands are also available. The more space you have to mount solar panels, the more potential energy you can create.

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In addition to roof space, you should also factor in placement and tilt. Installing your solar panels where they will receive little or no shade is ideal, as well as avoid falling debris or other obstructions.

Solar panels should also be seasonally tilted to account for the sun’s different position in the sky, especially during the winter months when the sun is in the opposite hemisphere. If you live in the northern hemisphere your solar panels should always face south, and vice versa.

Finally you should consider the type of solar panels you install. Different panels have different voltages and different efficiencies. You would want to maximize your voltage, without exceeding your household’s needs.

Efficiencies vary according to what material the solar cells are made of, and how they are wired together. Silicon cells offer the best efficiency to date, but they are the most expensive.

Fortunately, solar energy kits are available as DIY projects for the savvy consumer, which help determine your home’s needs and also save on installation costs.

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