How Much Electricity Can I Generate with Solar Panels

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Renewable energy and the environment

In a society that is growing increasingly concerned with their impact on the environment, one way in which your carbon footprint can be reduced is by switching to a more renewable and clean electricity source. Solar panels can provide a source of electricity, generated by natural sunlight which can contribute toward a property's electricity use and simultaneously lower the amount that you pay for your electricity bill, or even generate income directly into your bank account.

Types of solar panels and installation

The three predominant types of solar panel available commercially at present are monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells and amorphous solar panels.

Monocrystalline cells consist of grids made up of silicon cells. They are highly efficient compared to their counterparts and would therefore be recommendable to a property with little room for installation. Polycrystalline cells are similar to monocrystalline in their composition, however the growth of the silicon crystals is less controlled and output is less efficient. Amorphous panels are the mostly recently developed and differ completely in design to their predecessors. Silicon is scattered over a thin, flexible layer which can mould to fit the contours of a roof.

The cost of installing solar panel technology on a property can be quite high, and there are other measures that can be taken if your desire is to reduce energy bills; insulation and double glazing can reduce the energy lost through walls, windows and roofing and are generally less costly options.

How much electricity can I generate with solar panels?

There are a number of factors that can affect how much electricity you will generate from any solar panels installed. Some of these are controllable, such as the size, number and position of panels on the home; however others are less predictable like the number of hours of daylight which can depend upon time of year and weather.

Determining the amount of electricity that you may generate on your property must be done on a case by case basis, and it will largely depend on the kind of panel you have and its rating. The standard solar panel has an input rate of around 1000 Watts per square meter, however on the solar panels available at present you will only gain roughly 15-20% efficiency at best. Therefore if your solar panel was 1 square meter in size, then it would likely only produce around 150-200W in good sunlight.

If you need specific information, there are charts available which document the amount of hours worth of sunlight per day in the year. From these you may work out your expected output from the solar panels on your home. This can be done with the following equation:

Take the number of square meters of solar panel on your property and times this by 1000; then times the resultant figure by the efficiency rating and times this final figure by the number of sun hours in your area in a day, according to the chart. This will give you your Watt hours per day.

For example: 2 square meter panel x 1000 = 2000 x 0.20 (20% efficiency panel) = 400. 400 x 5 hours of sun hours = 2000 Watt hours per day.

Impact on your energy bills

Although having solar panels installed is still expensive, once they are on your home you can begin to generate income for the energy they provide thanks to a government's feed-in tariff scheme. This scheme stipulates that major energy suppliers are required to pay individuals who generate their own electricity through environmentally friendly and renewable sources. You will also make savings by being able to power your home with the free energy produced by the solar panels.

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