How Big Are Solar Panels?
The average solar panel is approximately 18 square feet, so about 3 ½’ x 5 ½’ feet. A single solar panel will typically have a wattage of 185-240 watts and these panels are then combined to form solar arrays capable of the wattage necessary to make a significant contribution to your energy needs. But then you ask, how big are solar panels, anyway?
Factors to consider in determining the size of solar panels:
- Roof space
- Energy need
Beyond mere size, the type of solar panel is going to affect the efficiency of your system. Solar panels exist in two basic types: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are generally more efficient because all the silicon crystals are angled the same way, meaning more wattage for the same space, though they do tend to come with an increased price tag over polycrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are produced in such a way that the silicon crystals do not all face the same direction, which is typically less efficient than the monocrystalline counterparts, though with recent production advances this has changed somewhat, but because of the production methods polycrystalline panels tend to cost less because of the lower refinement of the silicon used but again production advances have narrowed the difference gap between the two types.
If you’re going to buy solar panels for your home, you’re very likely going to want to put them somewhere. Roof size is a significant factor in choosing how many solar panels and how big. Are solar panels going to fit on the roof once they arrive? A solar contractor will be able to help you calculate what size system you’ll need based on your energy usage from previous months and will then be able to determine how many panels will fit on your roof and if it will be feasible to power your house with solar at all. And then they can make suggestions on the solar panel sizes and types and the one that fits you best.
The kWh usage of your home will affect the size and type of solar panel as well. If you have a high energy usage it may be worthwhile investing in the monocrystalline, higher-efficiency solar panels to get the most out of your surface area. If you live in a sunny area, then it may not prove necessary to invest in the higher efficiency models and the size of solar panels will not make as significant a difference. In this case it will be feasible to save money and get less efficient models of the same size, as the sun’s availability will increase the return on the investment, even without the top efficiency in the solar panels.
If you live in an area comprised of mostly sunny weather, then smaller panels may prove just fine, tucked snuggly on the roof and out of the way. If cloudy is the usual forecast, then the size of solar panel desired may change based on how much energy you need.
Finally, the important consideration in choosing the size of a solar panel is the cost effectiveness. Solar is an investment, with a potential return if the system lowers your power bill and protecting and maximizing this return is a key factor to consider, alongside considerations of the type and how big. Are solar panels going to save you enough money to justify the cost of purchase and installation? Ideally, they will, but make sure before stepping into this exciting field of solar energy.