How Many Solar Panels Do I Need for a 5kW System?
Updated: July 20, 2023
Solar panel technology is continuously improving with modern systems becoming more efficient at storing the sun’s energy. Solar panels have helped people all over the world reduce their carbon footprints and curb the effects of climate change.
These positive effects on the environment have resulted in more powerful solar systems being developed with larger energy storage capacities and greater efficiencies. Many modern solar heat systems are now equipped with batteries that make it possible to use stored energy during sunless days.
Powering your household with the sun’s energy has a number of advantages, such as being unaffected by rising electricity rates, benefitting from government incentives and solar tax rebates, and increasing the price of your home.
5kW solar systems are a general size and starting point for first-time solar panel buyers. This system is enough to offset an average suburban household. However, what is the correct number of solar panels needed for a 5kW solar system to function at full efficiency?
The following article discusses this question as well as things that might affect the number of panels needed.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
The number of solar panels needed for a 5kW solar system is dependent on two factors – the type of solar panel and the power of the solar panel in watts.
There are two types of solar panels which are polycrystalline and monocrystalline.
Other factors include the size of your property. If you stay in a small home, then a cabin solar system might be more beneficial than a full-out system.
If you have limited space on your roof then monocrystalline panels are for you, and they ‘e significantly more powerful with higher efficiency ratings.
If space isn’t your main concern and you would rather save a few extra bucks, the more affordable polycrystalline panels are suited for you.
Polycrystalline panels are less efficient than their monocrystalline counterparts, which means you’d require more panels for the same energy output when compared to an array of monocrystalline panels.
For polycrystalline panels, you’re looking at a typical wattage output between 250 and 300 watts.
How Many Monocrystalline Panels Do I Need for a 5kW System?
5kW systems are a good starting point for homeowners who are looking to break into the solar market and power their homes with solar energy. They’re considered small solar power systems but have enough energy to meet your energy needs.
Typical households use about 867kWh per month, which means that a 5kW system generally covers their electrical usage.
If you decided on the more powerful monocrystalline solar panel system with an output of 400 watts, there are a few calculations you need to do to find the number of panels needed.
Since we have a 5kW system, which equates to 5,000 watts, we take 5000 and divide it by 400 watts for each solar panel. This gives us a total of 12.5 panels, which we would round up to 13 panels.
Therefore, to run a 5kW solar panel system you need 13 solar panels with a wattage of 400 watts each. You can easily adjust this equation to make it accurate to your equipment and needs
What About the Polycrystalline Option?
If you want to go for the less powerful crystalline option because you have significantly more space on your roof available or have a tight budget, then you need a lot more panels.
We can use the same scenario where you need a 5kW system installed to supply your household with enough energy for the month.
Again, we take the average power of your solar system and divide it by the average output of one polycrystalline panel. Let’s say that one solar panel has an output of 300 watts.
You simply take the 5,000 watts and divide it by the 300 watts of a single panel. This equates to 16.6, which we can round out to 17 solar panels. As you can see, you need a lot more panels for this system compared to a monocrystalline system or more powerful solar panels.
Which Option Is Better for Me?
At the end of the day, it depends on space and what you're willing to spend. As mentioned above, polycrystalline solar panels are a little less efficient than monocrystalline ones, but they’re more affordable.
Additionally, you need a lot more roof space to have polycrystalline panels installed. If space isn’t an issue, then your best bet is to dish out a few extra dollars and spend it on a monocrystalline system.
These days, some panels are much more powerful than monocrystalline ones, with a wattage close to 700. Using the previous calculations and metrics, you would only require 7 panels for your 5kW system.
How Much Space Do I Need?
Sizing solar systems can be a bit confusing with all the calculations involved, but this simplified guide will make it much easier for you.
Of course, before we decide on what panel we want to have installed, we need to have an idea of how much space is available on your roof. Typically, you also want to leave 25% of your roof free of panels for safety reasons.
The average solar system size is 17 square feet, so if you decide on the monocrystalline panels for your 5kW system then you are going to need approximately 221 square feet plus the 25% free space. This equates to a final number of 281 square feet, which is the overall space you will need.
You need a lot more space for polycrystalline panels because of their lower efficiency. Let’s take the 17 panels we calculated previously and multiply them by 17 square feet.
This gives us a value of 289 square feet. Once we add the 25% it comes to 361 square feet we need for this system.
One thing that you should always consider is that you won’t have direct sunlight throughout the year. Some days your panels have full exposure to the sun’s rays, while other days clouds or snowfall may hinder efficiency.
With this in mind, you should always try to install more panels than needed that are still in compliance with the availability of space you have on your roof.
Always aim to install an extra panel or two to account for weather variability or solar panel damage. Over time, your panels degrade, but with an extra panel installed you can ultimately slow the degradation process.
Additionally, make sure you monitor the amount of sun your region gets daily. This will help you establish which kind of panel you need to meet your electricity requirements.
If you have any further concerns are questions in general, then reach out to ShopSolar.com for assistance. We have exceptional customer service and even an option that allows you to select which solar system is best for your household. We can make everything incredibly simple in your search for the best solar options.
Calculating solar energy-related equations can be quite a daunting task at first, but it doesn’t have to be. With this simplified guide, you can consider yourself a master at solar panel calculations in determining how many panels are needed for a 5kW system.
Solar panels are an incredible investment, especially now that we are living in a world with continuously rising utility bills. Not only will you be saving a buck through incentives, but you will also be lending mother nature a helping hand in our fight against climate change.
The time is now, so let’s go solar and become a more sustainable planet.
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