Estimating how many kilowatts you will need in a house for solar power involves understanding the basic production rates of solar panels, the number of appliances in your home, and how frequently and heavily you use these appliances. Although some solar panel systems can completely provide for your electricity needs, many systems aim to reduce usage by forty to fifty percent.
Calculating Your Average Kilowatt Usage
Electricity is measured by kilowatt use per hour. One kilowatt hour is equivalent to 1,000 watts. To determine how many watts you use on a daily basis, you can consult your electrical bills or perform a few simple calculations. Each appliance you own should have a tag that lists its wattage. For example, a 120-watt appliance will, in the period of one hour, use 120 watts of energy. If you only use the appliance for half an hour, you will have used 60 watts of energy. Certain items, such as water heaters, only use energy when they are actively working. Calculating their total energy usage involves figuring out roughly how often they are used. Each time you take a shower or run the dishwasher or use other water-related appliances, the hot water heater will be in use. Calculate how many hours these activities take and multiply the wattage of your water heater by this hourly figure to determine your total appliance energy usage.
Solar Panel Kilowatt Energy Generation
Residential solar panel systems are sold by total kilowatts produced per day. Although solar panels generate on average 10.6 watts per square foot hourly, a typical residential solar panel system generates 5 kilowatt hours per day. Therefore, if you tally your average daily energy usage and find it to be between 12 and 30 KW per day, a 5 KW system would help you to cut down on your electricity bills, but you would need four or five such systems to completely cover all of your electricity needs.
There are other ways to reduce the amount of kilowatt hours you use per day. Installing energy efficient appliances that automatically shut off when not in use, remembering to turn off lights when not needed, and keeping your refrigerator setting at 7 instead of 9 are all excellent ways to reduce your household’s overall consumption of daily energy.
- Got Sun? Go Solar: Get Free Renewable Energy to Power Your Grid-Tied Home: Doug Pratt, Rex. A Ewing; 2005
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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