Whether you’re a homeowner looking to save a few dollars on your electric bill or merely want to do your part to protect the environment, you can’t go wrong with having solar panels on your home’s roof. That’s because they deliver on both fronts. Along with wind energy, biomass from plants, and hydropower from flowing rivers, solar is among the top five renewable energy sources in the U.S., and they all contribute to helping to protect the environment. According to a study published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science-based nonprofit organization that takes pride in helping to create a healthier environment and a safer world, renewable energy benefits the environment by contributing to the following:
- Creates jobs and spurs economic growth
- Improves public health
- Lessens the damaging effects of global warming
- Provides a reliable and resilient energy supply
- Provides inexhaustible energy
- Stabilizes energy prices
Getting back to what solar energy has to offer homeowners, a recent study published by MarketWatch revealed solar panels help reduce the average homeowner’s annual energy bill by nearly $1,350. Whether they are just getting by or doing well financially, this is a welcomed saving for most homeowners. According to an article published by USAFacts, since Congress passed the tax credit for solar generation in 2005, the country has seen a considerable uptick in homeowners installing solar panels on their roofs, which, by the way, is in addition to adopting other energy-saving and environment-saving measures, such as using smart light bulbs in place of traditional ones, switching to tankless electric water heaters, and more. The article notes the number of residential solar panel installations increased by more than 32% annually after Congress passed the solar generation tax credit.
Are Solar Generation Tax Credits Still Available?
Solar generation tax credits are still available, and homeowners are taking advantage of them today as they were in the early 2000s. And this is likely because of the Inflation Reduction Act passed and signed into law on August 16, 2022. But it goes by a different name these days; instead of the solar generation tax credit, the credit homeowners are eligible to receive if they choose to invest in solar panels is called the residential solar energy credit. The newly renamed credit is worth 30% of the installed system cost and is good through 2032. It will fall to 26% and 22% in 2033 and 2034, respectively. The credit is due to expire altogether by the end of 2034. That said, homeowners in the following types of homes can receive the credit:
- Certain manufactured homes
- Cooperative apartments
- Mobile homes
- Traditional homes
In addition to being required to own a particular type of home, homeowners must meet the following to qualify for a residential solar energy credit:
- The home must be in the U.S.
- The solar equipment meets the installation requirements necessary to qualify for the credit.
- The solar equipment must be purchased and installed between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2034.
What Solar Panels Are Homeowners Buying in 2023?
When it comes to residential homes, there are only, despite there being several manufacturers and brands, three types of solar panels used on residential homes, and they include
Monocrystalline (mono) panels – Although they’re the most expensive, these solar panels are the most popular among American homeowners. And there are several reasons why that’s the case, the first being they can convert 20% to 22% of the sun’s energy into electricity. And since they’re black, monocrystalline panels can blend seamlessly with most roofs. They also tend to last up to 40 years.
Polycrystalline panels – These panels are slightly less expensive than monocrystalline panels. Polycrystalline panels are blue, and therefore, they don’t blend in as seamlessly with most roofs as their monocrystalline counterpart. Also, polycrystalline panels can only convert 15% to 17% of the sun’s energy into usable electricity. And they can last anywhere from 25 to 35 years.
Thin-film panels: Like polycrystalline panels, thin-film panels are a good choice for homeowners on a budget who want to lower their energy bill and maybe help save the environment at the same time. That said, these panels only convert 7% to 11% of the sun’s energy into usable electricity, and they have the shortest lifespan compared to other panels, typically lasting only 10 to 20 years. As far as colors go, they come in both blue and black.
The Science Behind Using Solar Energy to Power a Home
In addition to choosing between monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film panels, homeowners must also decide how many to buy based on their home’s roof size. And contrary to popular belief, a large roof doesn’t always mean more panels. In reality, panel size dictates how many a roof will need, and solar panels come in several sizes. The shape of a home’s roof and panel wattage also factor into the equation. That said, most solar panels for residential homes typically measure 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet or roughly 65 inches by 39 inches. Solar panels produce between 250 and 400 watts per panel per hour, based on cell technology, efficiency, and size. Most solar panel systems, based on sunlight exposure and whether they comprise monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin-film panels, have a 1 to 4-kilowatt capacity.
How Sunlight Impacts Kilowatt Capacity
The total kilowatts a solar panel produces and the amount of those kilowatts that get converted to electricity depends on what part of the country the home is in. Some states receive more peak sunlight hours than others. Peak sunlight hours are the hours of the day when the sun can deliver an estimated 1000 watts or 1 kWh of power per square meter, approximately 10.5 feet. Essentially, every 1000 watts or 1 kWh per square meter of sunlight drawn from the sun is equivalent to one peak solar hour. Available data shows the average American home uses about 10,715 kWh of electricity annually. Since we are on the topic, the states that receive the most peak sunlight hours include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, and Texas.
How Many Solar Panels Does a 2,000-Square-foot Home Need?
The average single-family home in the U.S. is about 2,000 square feet. Bearing that in mind, let’s discuss how many solar panels a homeowner might need to buy for a home that size. To get an accurate number, we have to go through four steps. These steps include
Calculating Your Monthly Energy Consumption
Identifying how many solar panels your home needs starts with figuring out how much energy you and your family consume each month. If we go based on the kilowatts used in the average American home, which is 10,715 kWh for one year, and divide that by 365, that’s a 30 kWh daily consumption. And again, this is based on a 2000-square-foot home with a family of four likely living in it.
Calculating How Many Hours of Peak Sunlight Your Home Receives Each Day
Since sunlight plays a critical role in determining the kilowatt capacity of solar panels, homeowners have to calculate how many hours of peak sunlight shines each day in their home’s location. And that’s no easy task for the average homeowner. The best way to come up with a somewhat accurate number is to google the average peak sun hours based on your city or state. The home in this article is a 2,000-square-foot home in a Florida city, which receives roughly four peak sunlight hours.
Calculating Your Solar Panel System Size
Figuring out your solar panel system size requires doing a bit more math. First, you need to divide your average daily energy consumption by the average number of daily peak sun hours in your city or state. Next, you need to divide that sum by 1,000, which gives you the total kilowatt hours or daily energy consumption for your home. In our example, the size of our solar panel system came in at roughly 8.7 kW.
Putting It All Together
Factoring in peak sun hours, monthly energy consumption, panel size, and so on, a 2,000-square-foot home with an 8.7kW solar panel system needs 22 panels. These numbers can be drastically different for smaller or larger homes. The same applies if those homes receive fewer peak sun hours or use lower-watt solar panels.
In summary, multiple things go into determining how many solar panels a 2000-square-foot home needs. That said, switching over to solar energy is hardly a do-it-yourself project. It is best to enlist the expertise of a trained and experienced solar panel installer Like Impact Energy in Colorado who can help you choose the right solar panel system based on your home and budget.