How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Power My Home?

With the Federal Solar Tax credit set to expire in a couple of years, you may think that now is the right time to pull the trigger and install solar panels. You don’t want to miss out on the solar panel benefits when the government will help foot the bill.

Of course, the big X factor in any solar installation is the total size of the system. How many solar panels will you need?

If you’re wondering how to calculate how many panels you’ll need to cover your electricity bill, keep reading for a breakdown on doing that math.

Annual Energy Usage

source: minutemedia.cdn

Annual energy usage for your home will depend on a lot of factors, such as home size, appliances, and even occupancy. A married couple with no kids will typically use less electricity than a family of four. Let’s use the national average of around 10,650 kilowatt-hours, which works out to about 887.5 kWh monthly.

For simplicity of calculations, let’s round that up to 900kWh a month.

Average Peak Sunlight

source: images.conversation

You also need the average peak sunlight hours for your location. That number can range from 3 to 7 hours depending on your location. Let’s say you live in Idaho and get around 5 peak hours a day.

Assuming 30 days per month at 5 peak hour, you get 150 hours of peak energy production

Overall System Size

source: kunnskhabynn

To get your overall system size, you must divide your monthly average by hours of peak production. For our Idaho example, that means 900kW/150 for an overall system size of 6kW.

Total Panels Needed


The total panels you need for a 6kW system will depend on the kind of panels you get. Panel energy production in watts can range from 250 watts up to around 400 watts. Let’s split the difference and say your average panel produces around 325 watts.

Your 6kW system needs around 6000 watts of production. To get the total number of panels, you divide the total needed production by the average panel watts or 6000 watts/325 watts. That means that your hypothetical Idaho home needs around 18.46 panels or 19 total.

Consult with a Pro


While the formulas above can help you get a ballpark figure for how many panels you need, they’re not a substitute for a professional opinion. You’ll want a professional solar installation company, such as, to run the number and make a recommendation.

As a general rule, solar system installations run around 20-25 panels for an average home.

Solar Panels and You

source: smushcdn

Taking the plunge with solar panels is often a big decision, but the federal tax incentive and state solar programs can help defray the hit you take on solar panel cost. That makes it easier and cheaper for you to take advantage of all the solar panel benefits like dramatically reduced utility bills and limiting your carbon footprint. You should, however, consult with a solar installation company for a real estimate on the total system size and total panels you need.

Looking for more home improvement or home upgrade tips? Check out the posts in our Lifestyle section.

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