To evaluate how many panels work for you, you should consider a few points. Note, since we are specialized in plug&play solar solutions, you can start with one panel and buy more later on, without any extra costs. This is especially beneficial for those of us living in cities, apartments and/or renters. If you have a large roof available, then maybe a solar installation company might be best for you, if your utility supports net metering. The steps for evaluating how many panels you can or want to install are very similar, though.
- Do you own your home or do you rent? If you rent, check with your landlord or landlady, whether she will allow a fixed installation. Our panels are designed to be mounted in non-fixed locations, so that can make things a lot easier.
- Do you need to get permission from the Home Owners Association (non-US residents, feel blessed this doesn’t concern you) or a building owner/management company?
- Where would you like to install the solar panels? Do you have South facing surfaces, or some aligned East-West?
- Do those surfaces receive any shading? Can you do something about that shading (please don’t cut down any trees for this)?
- How much energy does your household use each month and when are your peak usage times? If they are in the mornings and evenings, an East-West alignment might be perfect. No worries, though, because our battery system will calculate your anticipated power production and learn from your data, to ensure you charge optimally and have power available for when you need it.
- Net metering might be an option, if you can install a large roof-mounted system with an installer and your utility supports it. The CraftStrom product suite will avoid net metering, by keeping all your power behind the meter, i.e. you don’t feed power back into the utility grid.
- How much power do you use on average? Your utility bill will feature that information in “kilo-Watt-hours (kWh) Used”. Usually, you will see a monthly value, though for the calculation we will need hourly use. If your bill doesn’t give you that value, simple take a monthly value and divide it by 30 days to get the monthly value, and then again by 24 hours, if you want the hourly use.
On a side note, kilo-Watt-hours are used, because it is a unit of Energy. Watts or kilo-Watts are the unit for Power. You use Power to perform work in an instance. If you want to know how much energy you have used to keep that power up, simply multiply that value by the hours used. Hence, kilo-Watt-hour.
If you have all the space you want for solar power, you can take this kilo-Watt-hour value you calculated above (by dividing your monthly usage by 30) and use that as an estimate for the amount of panels you need.
Example: if you use 900kWh a month, that gives you around 30 kWh as the average daily usage rate. Divide this number by the sun-hours at your location (5 peak sun-hours is typical in the USA). This provides the amount of energy your panels need to produce every hour. In our case, that would be 6 kilo-Watts, or 6000 Watts. Multiply that by 1.3 to account for losses in the solar system, which is 7800 Watts. Divide this number by the panel size, e.g. 320 Watt for our panels, which means you would need 24 panels to cover 100% of your energy needs. That’s a lot of panels, considering the size of the average solar panel, and shows that you need a lot of roof space, if you want to cover 100% of your usage.
Do you really need to cover 100% of your energy needs? No, not at all, it turns out. If you size your system this way, it’s typically because you have the possibility to install solar on your home’s roof. In this case, you can either install the panels yourself and hire an electrician to connect you with the grid and deal with the utilities for approval yourself. Or you can hire an installer to do all this for you. Make sure to get multiple quotes and check the price per kilo-Watt-hour (kWh). The average price for solar installations currently is around 3$/kWh after subsidies. Also, consider that the number we calculated above will always give you the maximum, so there’ll be plenty of days, where you won’t be using as much energy and sell to the grid.
CraftStrom products are designed to be modular, so you don’t need to decide immediately how many panels you can use. Our system is still grid-tied, in the sense that you will still purchase any power that your solar panel cannot provide, but you won’t be selling back to the grid. You can start with one or two panels and already see a markable change in your electricity bill. Since they are plug&play, adding more solar panels won’t cost you any extra installation fees and you can still apply for subsidies.