he basic concept of solar is well-known to many: solar cells, which are the main structural units of a solar panel, absorb sunlight and convert it into electrical energy. But when it comes to installing solar panels at home, there’s a more practical question you may be wondering: what size are they? Let's be honest, determining the exact panel dimensions just by taking a look is next to impossible. In this article, we will give answers to all the questions concerning the average size of solar panels.
How big is a standard solar panel?
Let’s start with some numbers. Generally speaking, the length of residential solar panels is between 65 inches (1.65 meters) and 79 inches (2 meters). Their width is between 39 and 41 inches (around 1 meter). The area of the panels is between 18 and 22 square feet (from 1,7 to 2 square meters). As for the size of a commercial solar panel, it is typically larger considering that it produces more power than a residential one.
Do solar panels vary in size?
Some solar panels perform better than others due to numerous factors, such as manufacturing methods and the quality of the material from which they are made. However, the sizes and the areas of solar panels are pretty much the same. They can vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most of them come in standard sizes.
How much do solar panels weigh?
Normally, full sized residential solar panels weigh somewhere around 40 pounds (18 kilograms). Commercial PV panels tend to be heavier because of their extra length, bringing the weight up to 50 pounds and even more. For those who are concerned about whether solar panels are too heavy for their roof: no, they are not. In terms of weight, panels have little impact on your roof, as it is usually designed and built to support much heavier infrastructure.
What number of solar cells make up a solar panel?
Solar panels are typically built with either 60 or 72 solar cells, these are the two most common configurations. Photovoltaic cells always come in the same standard size: 156 mm by 156 mm, which is approximately 6 inches long and 6 inches wide. The solar panel’s configuration can also contain 32, 36, 48, or 96 cells. And as you may guess, the more solar cells a panel has, the larger it is.
How many solar panels do I need to power my home?
Answering this question isn’t exactly a piece of cake: purchasing too many panels is an unnecessary expense, and too few could make your investment unprofitable. Thankfully, you can always hire a professional from a solar power installation company who will help you make the right choice.
It is estimated that a typical American home requires between 16 and 20 solar panels to cover 100 percent of its needs based on the average electricity usage of 893 kilowatt-hours per month.
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Factors that determine how many panels are required
You may think that the size of your house predestines the size of your solar power system and the number of panels. But, in fact, it doesn’t. In order to calculate how many panels your solar energy system needs, you have to clarify and take into account the following:
- Your energy usage: The more electricity you use, the more solar panels you need to cover your electricity costs. This is a key factor in determining the number of panels you should install.
- Sunlight in your area: Homes in areas that receive less sunlight will need more solar panels to lower electricity bills than those in sunnier states. The southwestern United States gets the most sun in the country and the northeast gets the least.
- Power rating: The power rating of the solar panels you choose, also called the wattage, determines how much energy the panels will generate. Most solar panels installed today have a power rating of about 370 watts per panel; if you install panels with high power ratings, fewer of them will be needed.
- Your roof size: It is worth noting that some parts of your roof may not be suitable for solar panels. What you need is a big rectangular area without any shade. A south or west-facing roof is usually best, and an east-facing roof can also be suitable in some cases.
The size and the price of your solar power system
To figure out how to size your solar power system, take your daily kWh energy requirement and divide it by your average sun hours to get the kW output. Then multiply the kW output by your panel’s efficiency factor to get the estimated number of panels you need for your system:
(Daily kWh ÷ average sun hours) x 1.15 efficiency factor = your system size (measured in kW)
The most popular domestic solar panel system is 4 kW, it normally suits homes with 3 and 4 people. This system has 16 panels, with each one about 1.6 square meters in size, which means that you need approximately 25.6 square meters of space on your roof. The total cost for a 4 kW solar power system would be $8,200 on average.
The 5 kW solar power system is recommended for a home with 5 people. A modern-day 5 kW solar power system will usually comprise 20 panels and will require around 32 square meters of roof space. An average 5 kW solar power system will cost you around $13,850 to install.
Additionally, there are some other options to take into consideration, such as 6 kW solar power systems (24 panels), which are ideal for big houses with over 5 people, and 3 kW solar power systems (12 panels) for householders whose daily energy consumption is quite low. A 6kW system in the US will cost about $18,000, and the price for a small 3 kW solar panel system may be just $5,905.