Probably the question we most often get is, “How much solar does it take to power my 2,000 sq ft home?”
The answer is always the same. “I don’t know. How much power do you use?” The power usage for different homes are going to be so wildly different, there is no way of knowing how much power someone uses based on their square footage.
Questions and scenarios to consider:
- Is the house located in the north with bad insulation and electric baseboard heaters?
- Is it a house with a tight building envelope and gas heat?
- Is it located in the south with the highest loads being air conditioning run 24/7 or is it in a mild environment with a couple of fans occasionally?
- Are you heating your water with an electric water heater or an oil furnace?
- Do you have family members who find it challenging to turn off a light when they leave the room?
- Are you lighting with incandescent or LED light bulbs?
Determine Solar Power Needs from Electricity Bill
The best way to determine how many solar panels you need is to look at your electric bill and see how many kWh a month you buy. You can then go to our grid-tie calculator to see how much solar power would be needed to offset a percentage of your bill. It is amazing what you can learn by studying your electric bill! Even in the same house, with the same people, behavior changes the electrical use dramatically, thus changing the answer to the original question, “how much solar do I need to power my house?” We recommend you look at your monthly usage and analyze it, what was your big energy user each month, and could a change in behavior reduce it? Once you understand your electric use, then you can start to figure out how much solar power you need.
With Net Metering, you can use any power you generate during the day, and sell the extra to the grid. Then at night, when your system isn’t generating any power, you can buy it back from the grid, spinning the meter back and forth. Any additional power you need gets bought from the grid, same as usual. Likewise, with months that you make more power than you use, like in the spring, you can bank the credits to use them in the summer and winter when you don’t make as much as you use. The nice thing about net metering, and staying connected to the grid, is you don’t have to make all of my power like if you were off-grid. Instead, you can decide to make half your power, or less, and buy the rest from the grid, resulting in a lower monthly electric bill.
So you can see why the most common question we get asked here is also the most complicated and personal question to answer. Grab your electric bill, go to our calculator, and find the answers for your home.