Solar panels are typically the main focus of a solar energy system. Although there are other components of a solar array that are equally important, such as the inverter, it’s the panels that most people see and recall when solar is the topic of discussion.
As the most obvious visual representation of the system, solar panels in Kenya are the focus of most aesthetic decisions when exploring solar for your home. It’s natural to wonder what the solar array will look like. A reputable solar partner will create a visual representation of the array during the design phase.
The first step in this process is determining the number of solar panels that will be installed on your roof.
So, how many solar panels will you need? While it’d be nice if there was an easy formula, like a 1,200 square foot home = 16 solar panels, it’s really more nuanced and customized to your unique energy footprint. With that said, let’s dive into the most critical variables to consider when sizing a solar energy system for your home.
A qualified solar installation team will be able to walk you through the various options and price points to determine which one is best for you.
Your Energy Goals
One of the first steps in determining how many solar panels you need is figuring out your goals. Three common goals are to reduce on-peak usage, reduce a certain percentage of your electricity bill overall, and/or completely eliminate your electricity bill entirely. A qualified solar installation team in Kenya will be able to walk you through the various options and price points to determine which one is best for you. Depending on what your goal is, your system might be larger or smaller than you initially pictured.
For example, if your goal is to reduce a certain percentage of your energy bill, you will need fewer solar panels. While a smaller array produces less energy, it also means a much smaller upfront investment. Conversely, if your goal is to fully eliminate your bill, you will need more solar panels, but this will come at a greater cost. In both examples, the payback period – also known as return on investment (ROI) – is calculated by looking at total savings over time. A reputable solar installer will share this information willingly. If your solar partner is reluctant to discuss ROI, seek another partner.
Your Energy Usage Profile
How many panels you need will also depend on your energy usage profile. If you are a relatively low-energy user, the number of panels you’ll need to make a serious dent in your electricity bill will be less than a higher energy user.
In general, the more energy you use, the more solar panels you will need to achieve your clean energy goals.
In this way, sizing is a direct result of family size and family behavior. A single person could move into your same home and have a much smaller bill than a family living in the same space. This is exactly why square footage and the number of rooms matter much less in terms of system sizing than family makeup and practices.
As a general rule of thumb, a east-facing roof will require fewer panels than a west-facing roof. This is because an east-facing roof will receive more sunshine throughout the day than a west-facing one.
The Orientation of Your Roof
While it might seem like a small factor when it comes to installing solar, the orientation of your roof notably influences how many solar panels you need. As a general rule of thumb, a east-facing roof will require fewer panels than a west-facing roof. This is because a east-facing roof will receive more sunshine throughout the day than a west-facing one. More sunshine hitting the same amount of panels will produce more energy. So if you’re wanting to offset a certain percentage of your energy bill, you might require more or fewer panels based on your roof’s orientation to achieve it.
While you may save a few thousands by buying solar panels on your own, we would caution against buying solar panels on your own for a few key reasons.
Quick Note On Buying Solar Panels On Your Own
Many people think they can save money by purchasing panels by themselves by looking for deals online. This approach requires you to hire an installer willing to back a panel that they didn’t sell.
While you may save a few thousands by buying solar panels on your own, we would caution against buying solar panels on your own for a few key reasons. First, depending on the seller, you might not know the true condition of the panels, or where they came from. Maybe you’ll get a couple of good ones, but there’s just as much chance you could end up with factory rejects, damaged or otherwise compromised units with much lower rating than indicated on the sticker. Maybe the wattage of the panels has been impacted in some way, or they’re used panels being passed off as new. We’ve seen it all.
Along with not fully knowing what kind of panels you might get, most qualified solar installation companies won’t install just any panel. A reputable solar installer in Kenya will want to ensure that you get a reliable system, and most will back their system with a workmanship warranty. If the installer cannot guarantee the product you purchased will perform or last as designed, they will most likely not be willing to warranty it and will decline your project.