Quick – what is your solar output?
If you are not familiar with this term, you probably understand solar panel efficiency. In general, an increase in efficiency means that the same amount of UV exposure will generate more solar electricity.
It goes without saying that if you can produce more solar power with fewer solar panels, you can save money.
Solar output depends on the following:
1. How much UV light can reach your solar panels. Ensuring that your solar array is not obstructed by vegetation, surrounding buildings, or dust and debris will increase your solar output.
2. The size of the solar panel – or the overall array - itself. A larger area of photovoltaic cells can absorb and convert more UV light into electricity than a smaller panel.
3. The solar cells inside the solar panel(s) themselves.
Here are some terms you should know when it comes to solar output and solar efficiency:
1. Max Power Rating
On the back of a commercial solar panel is a number that represents the max power rating. This figure indicates the amount of power you can expect the panel to generate during “peak sun,” which is the power of sunlight at noon on a clear day at the equator. This is 1000 watts of sunlight per square meter.
2. Solar Output per Location
Because most of us do not live at the equator, you will need to convert the max solar output to a figure that will represent what you can expect from your location. This will depend on the amount and quality of sunlight, which also varies depending on the season and weather. One handy tool is this solar calculator. Simply enter your address and after you enter your address and the tool will estimate the average amount of sunlight that hits your rooftop.
3. How Much Power from an Average Solar Panel?
Depending on size, manufacturer and solar cell technology, most standard solar panels can produce about 200 watts of energy. With this in mind, you can work with a professional solar installer to estimate your monthly power usage and how many solar panels you should install to off-set the desired amount of electricity. Just for reference, the average American home solar panel installation is about 25 panels, which can generate 5 kWh (kilowatt-hours) of solar electricity.
Are you considering solar panels? Or, do you have a solar array and are wondering how to get the most out of your installation?