How to calculate how much PV you need to cover your electrical needs

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Steps[edit | edit source]

  1. Safety first.
  2. Determine your energy use - you can do this by collecting a year's worth of electric bills and adding up the energy (measured in kilo watt hours kW-hrs) used. Another way to do this is to do a plug load analysis of all of your electric devices.
  3. Determine the solar insolation in your region and more specifically location of the pv panel to determine kW-hrs/kW installed of PV. This is done with your latitude or distance from the equator.
  4. Divide your energy use by the available solar insolation found from step 3 to get your number of maximum installed Watts.
  5. Design a pv system that meets your electrical power needs given the parameters of the available insolation. Keep in mind that solar insolation varies seasonally and daily.

Example[edit | edit source]

  1. Lets say you are average. The average annual electricity use per household is 10,654 kW-hrs/year (Energy Information Administration, 2005).
  2. From the solar resource map go here or here. If we assume you live in Kingston you can expect at least 1200 kW-hrs/kW (more if you are using thin film PV).
  3. 10,654/1200 = 8.9 kW. This is actually a pretty big system -- which shows you just how wasteful most people are with energy.

Warnings[edit | edit source]

Before you consider installing any type of photovoltaic you should first work to optimize your home's energy efficiency.

Things You will Need[edit | edit source]

For a plug load analysis you will need a watt meter.

Related How-Tos[edit | edit source]

Sources and Citations[edit | edit source]

Energy Information Administration (EIA). 2005. U.S. Household Electricity Report. Release date: July 14, 2005 at [1]