How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel Produce?
In order to understand if solar really is the right choice for you and your energy needs, it’s important to understand how much energy solar panels actually produce. This way, you can more easily see how solar stacks up against alternative energy sources and how it will help meet your current and future energy needs.
To understand how much energy solar panels produce, we need to look at a number of factors. Remember that different types of panels and systems can vary quite a lot in terms of their output and efficiency, so you’ll need to perform your own calculations for whatever system you opt for.
How Much Energy Does a Typical Solar Panel System Produce?
Most solar panels can produce somewhere between 250 and 500 Watts of energy each hour, and systems of panels can usually give out somewhere between 1kW (that’s 1000 Watts) and 4kW.
To calculate the output over time, we need to multiply the figure in Watts by the number of hours your panels are actually producing energy during that time. This depends on a number of factors, such as:
- The amount of sunlight your panels receive around the year
- The size of your solar panel system
- The type and efficiency of your panels
To get a realistic figure for the amount of energy your solar system will produce, we need to dive into each of these factors.
What Factors Affect Solar Energy Production?
Your Peak Sun Hours
Peak sun hours are an interesting concept, and one you might not have come across before. The official definition of a ‘peak sun hour’ is when the sun’s intensity reaches an average of 1,000 watts of photovoltaic power for each square meter.
So peak sun hours might not be consecutive throughout the day, and can vary quite a bit from day to day and especially from season to season. Peak sun hours can also vary a lot by region. Mackay, Queensland, for example, receives an average of 5.5 peak sun hours per day. In other parts of the world, like Northern Europe, this number will be far lower.
The Power Output of Your Solar Panels
As we mentioned, solar panels usually range from about 250 to 400 Watts in terms of energy output. This is a big range, however, especially when extrapolated over the course of a year. A system using more powerful panels, or a greater number of panels, will produce a significantly higher amount of energy over time.
The Type of Panels You Use
There are many different types of solar panels out there, and they all differ in terms of the energy they’re able to produce. The two main types of solar panels on the market today are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Let’s take a look at the main differences here.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar cells are cut from a single piece of silicon, which makes them more efficient than their polycrystalline cousins. It also makes them more expensive — monocrystalline solar panels tend to cost about 50% more than their polycrystalline counterparts, which can add up over the course of a full solar panel system.
The extra cost comes with benefits, though. Monocrystalline solar panels tend to perform better in both higher temperatures and shadier conditions, so depending on your location it might make sense to pay a little more.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycyrstalline solar panels are cheaper than monocrystalline, but they’re also less efficient and don’t work quite as well at higher temperatures. This means that the overall power output of your solar panels will be less if you opt for a polycrystalline system instead of a monocrystalilne one.
How to Calculate the Output of Your Solar Panels
The unit we use to express power output is daily kiloWatt hours (kWH). To calculate this, you need to know the size of your solar panel system in Watts and the average number of hours of direct sunlight your receive per day.
Here’s the formula:
Size in Watts x average hours of direct sunlight/1000 = output in daily kiloWatt hours
So for a 2kW solar system in Mackay: 2000 x 5.5 / 1000 = 11 kWh per day
This gives you a great starting point to estimate your energy production for the week, month, and year. Of course, this system relies on averages — your solar panel will always produce more energy at certain times of the year than others, and this can vary considerably.
In Mackay, sunlight levels throughout the year are more constant compared to places like Scandinavia, but your hours of direct sunlight and therefore your solar output will still vary somewhat between seasons.
Work With Those in the Know
Solar can be tricky to understand at first, but it won’t take too long to master the basics and get to grips with how your system works around the year. At SnapSolar we can help guide you through the first stages of the learning process, helping you decide on the right size of solar system for your needs and location. We’ve done this for countless businesses and households throughout Mackay and the surrounding Queensland area. Get in touch to learn more and get started.
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