Rooftop, Solar

Listen Up: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

For a homeowner, it’s a simple question. But in order to answer the question accurately, solar installers need to make a number of assumptions — as well as gather some pretty detailed information from a homeowner. Often, by the time these data gathering questions are answered, the homeowner is even more confused.

The ideal system size that a homeowner really needs is bounded by two parameters. First, the number of panels that will physically fit on the roof — taking into account applicable setbacks, wiring issues, shading, structural requirements and aesthetics.  And second, the size of the current (or projected) electric bill (only the utility will benefit if the resulting electric bill is negative). Naturally, a third parameter — the homeowner’s budget — is almost always a factor.

Of course, a lot of number crunching goes on behind the scenes as a good installer determines the energy output, annual savings, and financing options for the customer. And tradeoffs are usually offered between higher efficiency/more expensive panels and inverters, and lower efficiency more affordable equipment. Please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as we go through a simple three step process to determine how many solar panels a homeowner needs: first, determine how many panels fit on the roof; second, determine how many panels it will take to zero out the electric bill; and third, find a trustworthy solar contractor with fair pricing.

About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices. 

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock