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How Much Energy do Solar Panels Produce

How much energy do solar panels produce? Find out what to expect in solar panel output by turning to our team at SmartSolar.org
Solar Panels
6 minutes
Written by:
Joey Cheek
Updated on:
January 13, 2023

How much energy do solar panels produce? That's a question that many people want to know the answer to because it determines if they should invest in solar power and, if so, how many solar panels they will need. The issue with this question is that solar panel output is a variety of numbers. The output will vary based on location and the solar panels themselves. If you're wondering how much energy a solar panel can produce, you might want to check out SmartSolar. Contact us today to learn more about how you can get the solar power you need to power your home.

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The Bottom Line:

  • How much energy can solar panels generate? - If you opt to install a solar system in your home, in most cases, this system can provide for all of your energy needs.
  • What factors impact how much solar energy you can generate? - Direct sunlight and the type of solar panels you install will impact how much solar energy your systems generates.
  • What to expect from most solar panels - Most solar panels today will produce between 250 and 400 watts of power. Most of the time, residential solar panel systems require 30 panels.

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How much energy can solar panels generate?

Can solar panels provide for all of your energy needs? The answer to that question is usually yes. Suppose you are considering the most residential solar panels you will need for that to happen. In that case, you have to know a bit about how solar panels work, the type of energy a solar panel produces, and how this energy source can work to meet your specific needs. Here's the insight you need to get started.

How solar panels produce energy

You may be wondering, what type of energy does a solar panel produce? Solar panels work to produce energy through the sun's rays, called solar radiation. When direct sunlight strikes the surface of the solar panel, called a solar cell, this knocks the electrons present from their atomic orbitals. This means that the electrons begin to move. The conductors capture them as they move around. This is where the electric current comes from. This happens in a photovoltaic cell or a solar cell. The electric current will then go through a converter to turn it into a usable form of electricity for your home.

Residential solar panel production options

The amount of energy a solar panel can produce depends on many factors. The two primary components that determine how much energy solar panels produce include:

  • The solar output, which is often measured in watts and differs from one solar panel to the next
  • The number of peak sun hours the solar panels get each day, generally calculated in hours

Most of the time, solar panel output will range from 250 to 450 watts. That is the number of watts each solar panel can produce when conditions are optimal and standardized. Keep in mind that there is a lot of fluctuation in this figure. The brand, model, and range of the solar panel will impact the amount of solar output the panel will create.

The “peak sun hours” figure represents the time the solar panels have sun exposure. In the ideal situation, this is direct sunlight, which means the sun's rays hit the solar panels. Solar panels can still produce solar power with indirect sunlight, but it may be less. Most of the time, it is necessary for solar panels to have 5.75 hours per day to operate in the Southwest area of the US and as little as 4 hours per day in the northern parts of the country.

To determine how much solar power the solar panels will generate, multiply the solar output by the number of peak hours. That will tell you how many watts per day the solar panels can provide. Then, convert that to kilowatts by dividing it by 1,000.

How much solar power can you generate?

The amount of power a solar panel produces depends on the panels and your location. When designing a solar system for your home, solar companies will work with you to determine how much power you need and which types of solar panel system features are most important to you.

Residential solar panels are typically designed to produce enough power output to meet most of the home's needs, if not all of them. However, there are some things to keep in mind here.

How much electricity do you need?

To determine how much electricity your home needs and the electricity generated from your solar panel system, look at your electric bill. Most of the time, your utility company will list the kilowatt hours of energy you used in the last year. Be sure that you have enough electricity generated to meet your needs.

Solar panel efficiency matters

Another factor to consider is the panel's efficiency. This is dependent, in part, on the type of solar panel it is. For instance, monocrystalline solar panels are some of the most efficient ones on the market right now. They tend to cost more and can be harder to obtain in some areas. But because they are the most efficient, you need fewer of them to power your house. These are premium solar panels.

Polycrystalline solar panels are a step down in terms of quality. The solar panel's wattage here is less efficient. These tend to cost less to install. They are also some of yourtheir needs.

Direct sunlight plays a role

Whether you have monocrystalline panels or other forms, one of the most important factors is the number of hours of direct sunlight. If you live in an area where there is more cloud cover most days of the year, that could impact how much power the solar panels can generate compared to someone who lives in an area with more direct sunlight. Also, any obstruction can be a concern. For example, your kWh per hour could be lower if even a little bit of shade is cast on your solar panels, like when trees are in the way.

What to Expect from Most Solar Panels

What kind of energy does a solar panel typically offer? As noted, this depends on the solar system and the overall design of your home's entire solar panel system. However, most solar panels today will produce between 250 and 400 watts of power. Most of the time, residential solar panel systems require 30 panels. This amount will produce enough electricity per year to meet your energy needs in most situations.

Want More Specific Information About Solar Panel Energy Production?

With so many variables influencing how much solar electricity your solar panel models will generate, it is often best to work with a team that can help you determine your electricity costs and how much you can save with a solar panel system. SmartSolar can do that for you. Contact us today to learn more about using solar panels to meet your home's needs.

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Joey Cheek

Meet the author:

Joey Cheek

Joey Cheek spent 10 years on the US National Speedskating Team where he competed in two Olympic Games, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. He attended Princeton before diving into the startup and tech world. In 2011 he launched a livestreaming platform for sports before leading a team of engineers building next-gen news and content apps for Fortune 100 companies. He is the CEO and co-founder of SmartSolar.org, whose mission is to move the earth to cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy.

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