Solar power is a sustainable, easily accessible, and cost-effective source of energy. It is not only eco-friendly, but it also has the added advantage of lowering your carbon emissions and cutting down on your monthly electricity costs. With all these benefits, more and more people are considering the possibility of running their households on solar power.
But the question remains: Can you run your house on solar power only?
Yes, it is. But it’s important to understand how feasible and practical it is to go off the grid and rely solely on the sun for your energy needs. In this article, we will explore this question and provide a detailed guide on the different parts of solar technology that you will use. And also include some tips on installing and maintaining a solar power system for your house.
So, let’s dig in!
How much power does your household consume?
The first thing you must consider before deciding to run your house on solar power only is how much energy your household consumes on average.
As per data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the typical American household consumes an estimated 10,399 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. However, this number can vary depending on the
- size and location of your house,
- number and type of appliances and devices you use,
- and your lifestyle and habits.
Generally, a larger household with more appliances and electronics requires more solar panels than a smaller one.
In addition to electricity, households also consume energy for heating and cooling. The EIA estimates that space heating and cooling account for about 42% of household energy consumption. While lighting and appliances account for about 32%. Water heating, refrigeration, and other uses make up the remaining 26%.
Look at your electricity bills and find out how much kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity you consume per month or year. This will give you an idea of how much solar power you need to generate to meet your home’s energy demand.
How much sunlight do you receive in your area?
Since solar power works by converting energy from the sun into power, the next thing you need to consider is how much sunlight you receive in your area.
This will depend on your geographic location, the time of day, the time of the year and prevailing weather conditions.
The more sunlight you have, the more solar power you can produce. For example, a household in Arizona will generate more solar power than one in Alaska.
You can use online tools or maps to find out the average number of peak sun hours (PSH) per day in your area. PSH are the hours when the sun is high enough to provide at least 1,000 watts of solar energy per square meter. For example, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the average PSH per day in Denver, Colorado, is 5.3. While in Seattle, Washington, it is 3.6.
If the average peak sun hours in your area are not high enough to generate the amount of power your household consumes, then it may be impossible to run your house on solar power only.
How to design a home solar power system
Solar power is exclusively available during daylight hours (when the sun is out) and is not accessible at night.
This means you’ll need a system to help you store the excess energy generated during the day. That way, you can use it during the night or on cloudy days.
Designing an effective solar power setup for your home entails careful consideration and strategic planning. You will have to make informed decisions about selecting the appropriate size and kind of solar panels, batteries, and inverters that suit your energy requirements and budget.
- Solar panels are the most vital part of a solar power system. They are responsible for converting sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. The quantity of solar panels required for a solar power system depends on both the electricity consumption of your household and the efficacy of the panels. Typically, a standard home requires around 20 to 30 solar panels to generate sufficient electricity to operate the entire household.
- Inverters play a crucial role of converting the DC electricity produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) power. Which is what most appliances and devices in your home require. Inverters come in different forms, such as power optimizers, micro-inverters, and string inverters. Therefore, the type of inverter required for your solar power system will depend on the size of your system and your household’s particular requirements.
- Batteries are responsible for storing the excess solar power produced during the daytime or when sunlight is abundant. Which you can use on days when there’s no sunlight or at night. The size of the battery bank you need will depend on the amount of energy storage your household consumes and the amount of solar power generated. A typical home will need a battery bank with 10-20 kilowatt-hours (kWh) capacity.
You’ll need to ensure that your solar power system is installed correctly and maintained to function properly and efficiently. That’s why it’s necessary to hire a professional installer who is licensed and experienced in installing solar power systems.
Tips on How to Install and Maintain Your Solar Power System
If you decide to run your house on solar power only, here are some tips on how to install and maintain a solar power system for your home:
Hire a professional:
Unless you have the skills and experience to do it yourself, it is advisable to hire a qualified and licensed solar contractor who can help you design, install, and maintain your solar power system according to your needs and preferences. In addition, they can provide guidance on how to obtain the necessary permits, incentives, or compliance with any regulations relevant to your solar project.
Choose quality products:
When buying solar panels, batteries, inverters, controllers, or other components for your system, make sure they are high-quality products that have good warranties and performance ratings. You can check online reviews or ratings from reputable sources such as Consumer Reports or EnergySage.
Optimize your system:
To get the most out of your system, ensure it is optimized for your location, orientation, tilt angle, shading, wiring, load balancing, monitoring, and maintenance. You can use online calculators or tools to estimate how much solar power you can produce or how much money you can save with your system.
Monitor your system:
To ensure that your system is working properly and efficiently, monitor its performance regularly using meters, gauges, apps, or software. Always check for faults or issues such as low voltage, high temperature, dirt accumulation, or battery degradation.
Maintain your system:
Regularly maintaining your system can extend its lifespan and efficiency. Simply clean the panels, check the connections, replace damaged or worn-out parts, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Is it practical to rely solely on solar power?
Not entirely. While solar power can generate enough electricity to power your household, it’s important to have a backup plan in case of prolonged power outages or periods of little or no sunlight. This is where backup generators come in handy. Backup generators are powered by propane, natural gas, or gasoline. They can provide electricity during power outages or periods of low sunlight when your solar panels are not generating enough power.
Hence, if you’ve decided to run your house on solar power only, getting a generator as backup is advisable!
Running a house on solar power only is possible and is beneficial. With careful planning and consideration, a solar power system can be designed and installed to power your entire household. It’s an excellent way to cut electricity bills, increase home value, and promote sustainability.
If you are interested in switching to solar power, consider all the factors, options, and tips discussed in this blog post. More importantly, consult a professional who can help you make an informed decision.