No matter where you live, it is possible to run your home with solar power. Many homeowners in states that have a lot of cloud cover, like Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, think that the overall lack of sunlight deters them from being able to utilize solar panels, but that’s not true.
Living in places like Phoenix, Arizona where the sun shines brightly almost the entire year helps, but it’s still possible to go solar without that natural boost. In fact, solar panels are being used around the world to power homes and businesses, even in countries like Germany and England where the climate is often cloudy and rainy.
How much solar power you need depends on what your consumption is. If you are looking to go 100% solar powered, you will most likely have a trial and error period while you work your way to that number, but it is an excellent goal to set. Meanwhile, complete newbies to solar power will need to understand how it works and what exactly their consumption is.
What is Consumption in Solar Power?
When you are trying to determine exactly what you need in your solar energy system, you will have to consider what your consumption needs are. Consumption is how many kilowatt hours of power that you use to power your house, and this answer will help you decide how many solar panels you need to power it and the size of your system.
The term “solar panel wattage” refers to the theoretical power of production that a solar panel can make under the right sunlight and temperature conditions. Every day will not be perfect, but the calculations for determining your necessary solar panel wattage are based on these ideal conditions, which are common in Phoenix but not everywhere.
Don’t worry if your climate is not conducive to producing the “ideal” conditions for your solar panel’s full theoretical power. As long as you have a mostly unshaded roof and some period of sunlight during the day where you live, solar panels will work for you.
To calculate the wattage, your installers will multiply volts x amps. Using this information, you and your solar panel installation company will determine which solar system is right for your consumption needs.
What Happens to the Produced Solar Power?
Your solar panels produce energy when the sunlight and temperatures combine to create enough solar panel wattage. That energy goes into your home and powers your running devices, like your refrigerator and air conditioning unit. This power is primary and as long as enough energy is being produced, you don’t have to rely on power purchased from your utility company.
Sometimes your solar system will even produce more energy than you need for your home’s consumption. When this happens, the extra solar energy is returned to the grid to be used in net metering if you are connected for this option.
However, to meet your 100% goal, you want to keep as much solar power as you possible can in your home to power your appliances and devices. To do this, you will need to work with an expert solar roof installer like those of us at Phoenix Solar Pro to be sure you get the right-sized system for your home. You will also want to be sure to run your solar-powered devices as much as you can while the sun is shining so that you are consuming the energy as it is produced. For your nighttime power use, your solar panels are connected to a utility grid or a battery bank. These will store excess solar energy and allow you access to it when the sun is hidden behind clouds or has set for the day.
How Do You Know What Your Estimated Production Is?
The easy part of the answer to this question comes from your utility bills. Instead of trying to guestimate how much energy you will consume to power your cell phones, your computer, your microwave, and all of your other appliances, you can simply look at your last few utility bills to get a general reading of your normal use.
From there, the rest of the question is answered by analyzing your roof and the sun’s projection on it. Using detailed information garnered from sources like Google Maps and other forms of satellite imagery, your solar installers will perform an analysis of your home. They will see which way your roof faces, determine the pitch (angle) of your roof, check for trees or other obstacles that may block certain areas from direct sunlight, and generate a suggestion of your best solar system.
Just because you may have your favorite tree blocking part of your roof doesn’t mean you are kicked out of the solar power option. Instead, your installation company will analyze your energy consumption and come up with a way to install your solar panels that avoids this naturally shaded area or includes it in their calculations with a lesser predicted production.
In an example situation, a customer wants to go 100% solar powered in their home. The house they live in has a medium pitch incline that faces northeast and northwest.
The customer uses over 7,000 kWh each year, or almost 600 kWh per month, according to the utility bills provided. This customer has worked with Phoenix Solar Pro to install enough solar panels to offset the pitch of the roof angle the panels to produce optimal solar energy.
Because of the strategic angling and number of panels, the customer now produces over 8,000 kWh per year of solar energy, which means they have reached their goal of 100% solar powered living in their home.
Is It Necessary to Go 100% Solar?
While 100% is an excellent goal to be striving towards, every bit of solar energy created and consumed helps. Solar power has limitless pros, including financial savings that compound over time and environmental benefits that will be felt for generations, so even if you only go partly solar you are still making a good choice.
The more solar power you are able to produce, the less you have to rely on your utility company. Since the cost of electricity has gradually and steadily risen annually, the savings you will be able to capitalize on will also rise exponentially.
Sometimes the cost for a system large enough to produce your home’s entire energy consumption needs can be a deterrent to going 100% solar powered. If this is your concern, take some time to do a little research on the rebates, tax credits, and other incentives offered to homeowners who choose to use solar panels in their houses.
For many people these financial aids make enough of an impact on their overall cost that they are able to push to the next sized solar system and increase their solar energy production.
However, if you are not going 100% solar or if you are continuing to participate in net metering or the use of utility grids, you will still have to have some sort of connection with your utility company. It is important to talk to them to find out what your minimum charge will be to have them available as a backup.
You may benefit from their net metering options if they have any. If you are looking into joining a net metering network, pay attention to the fine print. Many of these companies only offer you a level of return in the form of a credit towards your monthly power bill and most of these credits do not roll over into the next year.
If your goal is to go 100% solar powered with no connection to the utility company, speak to the expert installers who are helping you with your solar panels. They can help you to understand the implications involved in this type of energy power usage and also give you guidance on how to get to that level.
Ready to Go Solar?
For people looking to make a home improvement or renovation in their property that will bring a solid return on their investment, solar power is the way they are going. For others, they simply want to save money on their monthly utility bill that continues to climb with no end in sight.
Yet others are ready to make a big environmental impact by creating clean energy through solar power, thus reducing their carbon footprint enormously and doing their part to help conserve resources and animal habitats.
Whatever your reason may be, switching to solar power is a wise investment. When it is done correctly, the benefits will outweigh any concerns that you may have had about transitioning from relying on fossil fuels to creating your own energy through solar panels.
When you are ready to go solar, or if you are on the fence and have questions that our experts can help clarify for you, give us a call at Phoenix Solar Pros. We want to help you make a difference in your pocket and the world.