Will Solar Panels Heat A Whole House?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: I don’t live in a climate that is sunny most of the year, but during those few colder months my energy bills are high as my house is large. Will solar panels heat a whole house?

Answer: Yes, if you install enough solar panels you can heat an entire house. The trick is figuring out how much energy is required to heat your house, then determining how much average sunlight falls in the area where you live, and finally putting together a solar system that produces the right amount of energy and meets your individual needs.

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Since the sun’s energy is unlimited, there is technically no limit to how much of the sun’s available energy can be converted to power your home. The only limitations are space (typically solar panels are installed on the roof of your house) and efficiency (some of the sun’s energy is lost during the photovoltaic reaction that occurs when sunlight interacts with a solar cell).

If you study your monthly electricity bill, you might find out that heating your home requires 200 Kilowatt-hours (KWH) of electricity per month. 1 KWH is the amount of energy required to generate 1000 Watts of electricity steadily for 1 hour. This can be calculated by comparing your bill during warm months when you are not heating your home to your bill during cold months when you are heating your home, and noting the difference in KWH consumption.

So how many solar panels would it take to produce 200 KWH of energy a month? This will of course vary from household to household, but let’s take a conservative approach and assume in your geographic region 5 KWH of sunlight fall in one square meter per day (the actual value for your region can be found easily by searching the internet).

Let’s also assume that a one square meter solar panel can capture 1 KWH of the 5 KWH the sun produces (a typical solar cell has an efficiency rating of around 20%). If we run through the math (200 KWH / month = 6.67 KWH / day) you’ll see it would require 6 or 7 solar panels, that are each one square meter, to heat your entire house during those cold months.

Fortunately, today’s home solar systems are readily available as DIY projects that make designing and installing your system easy and affordable.

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