Solar Power Systems

Solar Panels : The Ultimate Accessory for a Green Home

by Mary Butler

If your home is small or medium size, you're already ahead in the energy efficiency game. To further green your home, you can better insulate it, replace old windows, lower your thermostat in the winter, and up it in the summer. But if you want to take energy efficiency to the next level, add home solar panels.

Determine the Size of Your Solar Power System
Most homes require a 1 kilowatt to 5 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) solar power system. To figure out how many solar panels you need to power your home, collect your electricity bills from the past year. Add together the kilowatt (kWh) hours used and divide by 12 to get your monthly average. Divide that number by 30 to get a daily average and then multiply the result by 1.43 to account for system losses. Your answer is the size of the solar power system you need in kilowatt hours. 
Once you know how many PV solar panels you need, then you can figure out where to put them.

Solar Panels to Fit Every Life
The more modest your home, the fewer solar panels you typically need to see big results. In California, a 4-kilowatt solar array can slash an average homeowner's bills by 80 percent. And you traditionally don't need a lot of space to install solar panels, especially if you purchase a more energy-efficient solar power system.

Install solar panels on your rooftop, in your yard, or even design your home solar panels to pull double duty as backyard shade structure. A starter system can take up as little as 50 square feet.

The Ultimate Reward
While solar panels can be a great idea for every homeowner, they can be especially rewarding for people who live in more modest homes. Why? Because a smaller home usually require less energy, and it's more likely that your solar panels should generate enough energy for most--if not all--of your home's electricity needs.

Imagine this: instead of receiving a power bill at the end of each month, your solar panels could actually contribute power to the grid, leaving you with money in your pocket and a smile on your face.  

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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