Can Solar Panels Power an Entire House?


Rising 2,717 feet, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. Fitted with 378 solar panels, solar power saves the building up to 1,168 gigawatts of energy every year. To give you an idea of how much energy that is, it’s enough electricity to power your home for 160 years!

A common question people have when they first learn about solar is how much electricity can solar panels produce? Can solar power an entire house for example?

In this article, we will examine the question and show how solar can indeed power your entire home. We will explore how many solar panels it would take and if you can run solar during the day and at night when the sun goes down.

Fact or myth: Can solar power your entire house?

Solar can power your entire house. Solar can be used to power anything in the household from small loads like laptop chargers to heavy loads like washing machines, water heaters, and air conditioners. It all depends on the size of the solar system in place.


On a side note! If you’re in need of a reliable and high-performance portable solar panel, We strongly recommend the Jackery SolarSaga 100W  Portable Solar Panel  (Amazon Link).

With a high conversion efficiency and foldable design, this solar panel is easy to transport and set up, making it perfect for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and RV trips.

The US solar cell technology used in this panel ensures that you get the most efficient and reliable solar charging possible.

There is also a 60W option that is more affordable (Amazon Link)


On a side note, check out our post “Can Solar Panels Run an Air Conditioner? All You Need To Know!

Sunlight carries a massive potential of energy in the form of photons. Solar panels have two layers. One layer has more electrons than the other. When a solar panel absorbs sunlight, the photons energize the electrons in the layer. These electrons move to the layer with fewer electrons creating an electric current. (Source)

Which Solar System Produces More Energy?

Solar panels are the main component of a solar system. The other key components of a system include an inverter, a charge controller, and a battery. Charge controllers and batteries are only necessary as part of an off-grid solar system.

The type of solar system plays a big part in determining how much energy the solar system will produce and whether that will be enough to power the entire house. There are two types of solar system configurations, namely grid-tied and off-grid.

Grid-tied solar systems produce less solar energy as they typically don’t incorporate batteries into their design. Part if not most of the energy needs are supplied by the power utility. Some grid-tied systems do use batteries but most choose not to include them as they are the most expensive single component of a solar system.

Off-grid solar systems produce the most energy as they allow you to not only use solar energy but store it in batteries as well. Unlike grid-tied solar systems that only provide you with energy during the day while the solar panels are working, off-grid configurations work at night through the energy stored during the day.

How Many Solar Panels Would It Take to Power a House?

The average home requires between 15 and 20 solar panels. The exact number of solar panels you would need can be worked out by looking at the size of the home, the amount of sunlight it receives, energy consumption, and the choice of solar panels.

Energy consumption

This is the most critical factor for working out how many solar panels it would take to power a home.

In 2019, the average consumption for residential utility customers was about 877 kWh per month. To make things simpler we can round that up to 900 kWh. Divide that by 30 days and we get daily use of 30 kWh. Alternatively, you can simply check your utility bill to see if it shows your usage. (Source)

How much energy you use will determine how much energy your solar panels would have to produce to cover your needs. From there you can work out how many solar panels you would need to provide that amount.

Consumption will vary depending mostly on the seasons and the size of the home and household. Typically, energy use increases in winter as the demand for hot water and heat rises.

A larger home with a larger household will likely have higher energy consumption. For example, a couple living in a one-bedroom apartment will use less electricity than a family of five living in a suburban home.

How much sunshine do the solar panels receive?

The more sun solar panels receive, the more energy they will produce. While the hours of peak sunlight vary from day to day some areas are generally sunnier than others. Phoenix, for example, is sunny 85% of the year while Washington only receives sun 12% of the year. (Source)

Peak sun hours are an important indicator of the output of solar panels

Peak sun hours are different from hours of daylight. They are the hours in which sunlight reaches an average of 1,000 watts of power per square meter. Solar panels get an average of 7 hours of daylight but peak sun hours are generally 4 or 5 depending on location.

If for instance, your solar panels were only getting five peak sunlight hours, they would need to produce 6,000 watts to meet your 30 kWh requirement.

StatePeak sun hours
Alaska2-3
Ohio2.5-3.5
Pennsylvania3
New Jersey3.5-4
Nebraska4.5-5
Colorado5-6.5
Arizona7-8
Highest and lowest peak sun hours in the US

(Source)

What type of solar panels you should use ?

The solar panels you decide to use will also influence how much energy they will produce. Panels differ in technology and rated watt capacity.

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient and produce more energy per square meter than any other solar panel. At between 18 to 24% efficiency they will yield the most energy. Polycrystalline solar panels are a close second at between 18 to 21% efficiency.

In terms of range, solar panels are rated from 250 to 400 watts per panel. They can go lower than 250 watts but the lower you go, the more solar panels you need which is not efficient in terms of space required.

Can Solar Panels Power a House 24/7?

Solar can power a home all day and every day. You can power your home completely using just solar power without the need to connect to or use electricity supplied by a power utility. This is how an off-grid solar system is designed to work.

Solar panels will produce energy during the day even on days when it is cloudy, raining, or snowing. At night when there is no sun, your solar system will start drawing energy from the solar batteries. For more on this, check out our post : Do Solar Panels Work on Rainy Days? How To Protect Them!

sherifjallad

I am a very well-experienced techie civil engineer who’s extensively interested in solar panel technology and even more captivated by the potential of solar panels in supporting individual residential units.

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