Q: How many solar panels do I need?
A: There are a few factors that need taken into account to properly size a solar array. It’s best to contact a professional who can run a simulation known as a helioscope. The average home in the United States consumes about 30kwh per day. This can usually be offset with a system between 5 and 6 kw. Depending on the panels, that’s around 16 to 20 panels on a fixed mount.
Q: What happens if the panels are covered with snow?
A: If the goal is to completely offset one’s energy costs, a system should be designed using historical weather data to ensure that a day or two covered by snow does not effect its overall annual performance. Obviously a solar panel covered with snow will not produce much electricity but oftentimes the location and angle of the solar array can play a large part in preventing issues associated with snow.
Q: Do I need batteries?
A: When it comes to whether or not batteries are needed, it depends on one’s goal. If power during a utility outage is important, then a system with batteries to store some energy is one option. Another option is an automatic backup generator. There are pros and cons to both options. Batteries can also be integrated into a system and charged during sunlight hours then discharged when the sun goes down. Basically extending the “solar day”. This is helpful when a property has limited space for solar panels. This is a subject that we would be happy to discuss at a free site visit.
Q: What if I don’t have a south facing roof?
A: Solar panel technology has improved so much that placing a matching number of panels facing east and west, harvesting energy earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, can produce the same amount of energy annually, if not more, than a southern facing array.
Q: What is net~metering work and how does it work?
A: Net-metering is the utility company’s practice of installing an electric meter that measures the amount of electricity that flows not only from the grid to your property but also from your property to the grid allowing you to “bank” energy. Basically using the power company as a battery. For example, if you produce 20kwh one month but only consume 10kwh, you would “bank” 10kwh. Another month, if you produce 10kwh but consume 20kwh, you would utilize the credit you had previously “banked”.