When deciding to switch to solar, one of the most important things to consider is the size of the system. Solar panels come in different sizes and produce different amounts of energy, and the one you choose is dependent on your energy needs.
8kW solar systems are fairly middle-of-the-road as far as their power output is concerned. If you want something larger, have a look at everything a 12kW solar system can power so you can take your house off-grid.
So how much energy does an 8-kilowatt system produce? Before we tackle that, let's take a look at how solar PV systems work.
How Do Solar Photovoltaic Power Systems Work?
The photovoltaic (PV) effect is the process of converting light into electricity, which is what solar power systems are made for.
Solar panels consist of rows of individual solar cells made from layers of semiconducting material like silicone. When light hits the layered silicone cells, it creates a charge of electrons between them that generates an electrical current in the form of DC (direct current).
Since DC cannot be used to power homes, it has to be converted into AC (alternating current) which is the job of the solar power inverter. The inverter connects your home to the solar panels, converts DC into AC, and sends the converted electricity to your home.
How Much Energy Does an 8kW PV System Produce?
PV systems are categorized by the amount of electricity they produce when they’re at maximum capacity. In this case, 8 kilowatt systems produce 8,000 watts.
On average, an 8-kilowatt solar system can be expected to generate around 35kWh (kilowatt hours) per day. An 8-kilowatt solar system has the potential to provide enough energy to power an average household off the grid and with a battery backup.
It won't fully power a larger household but it will offset the electricity bill by quite a bit. If you want to go a step larger, check out what a 15kW solar system can power to see if that could make you entirely energy-independent.
The exact energy output of any solar PV system varies due to the factors that influence their efficiency, which is why they don’t always operate at full capacity.
It’s for this reason that homeowners who desire a self-sustaining household are advised to get a solar PV system with a higher output than one that just matches their average rate of electricity usage.
How Many Solar Panels Are Needed for an 8kw Solar PV System?
An 8-kilowatt solar array is usually made up of 20 or more solar panels. The amount varies depending on the type of solar panels used. This is because some types of solar panels are more efficient at absorbing sunlight than others, so the system doesn’t require as many of them.
An 8kW system doesn’t use significantly fewer than the number of solar panels necessary for a 10kW system.
The amount of roof space needed for an 8-kilowatt solar system is about 460 square feet give or take.
How Much Does an 8kw Solar PV System Cost?
Solar PV systems are priced differently from brand to brand. The SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) estimates that the average price of a solar system in the United States is just under $2.90 per watt. Using this, the national average price of an 8-kilowatt system would be around $20,000.
Luckily, the cost of a solar PV system can be brought down thanks to the federal solar tax credit, among other financial aids and incentives.
What Determines the Energy Output of a Solar PV System?
The energy output or efficiency of a solar PV system can be influenced by several factors, some of them are natural, and others are technical. Let's take a look at some of those factors.
Since we're dealing with technology that works in tandem with sunlight, something like shade is an understandable detriment.
The solar cells that make up the panels are arranged to provide maximum efficiency. Because of this, even if a single section of the panels is blocked from receiving sunlight it can negatively affect the output of the entire solar panel.
Luckily the effects caused by shading can be remedied by using a bypass diode, which provides an alternate current when a solar panel is shaded or damaged.
The weather plays a huge role in how much energy your solar system produces. Since solar panels work with light, the amount of sunlight a region receives plays a huge role in the overall efficiency of your system.
As for cloudy weather, it can be a setback for your solar system's energy output but it also depends on the density of the cloud cover. Partial cloud cover doesn’t affect efficiency too much, but highly overcast weather will throw a wrench into your solar panel's energy output.
This effect is magnified with larger systems. A 75kW system will power significantly less than it normally would if the weather isn’t optimal.
That's not to say they won't work at all though, and that sunnier days are always better.
A common misconception about solar energy is the way temperature affects the panels. It may seem like warmer days are better for energy production, but it's the exact opposite. Cool, sunny days are the best for energy production.
High temperatures decrease the efficiency of a solar panel because the voltage in the solar cells drops when exposed to too much heat.
A heavy layer of snow will block your solar panels and disrupt their functioning, but a thin layer of snow will actually increase the panel's efficiency a bit.
While the lifespan of a solar PV system is generally around 25 years, some maintenance here and there is important and necessary for ensuring that your solar panels are performing to their fullest potential.
The tempered glass surface of the solar panels needs to be kept clean so that nothing blocks the light from reaching the solar cells beneath. A heavy layer of dust or snow will affect your solar panel's energy output.
Lack of maintenance also shortens the lifespan of your solar panels, so keeping them clean and unobstructed ensures that your panels absorb as much sunlight as they can for as long as they can.
If your PV system has a monitoring device, take note of any instances where your panel's efficiency starts to drop. When this happens, it may be due to dust build or some other form of obstruction.
Since they’re usually tilted, fallen leaves and other debris aren't likely to stick to them so you don't need to worry about that too much. Cleaning your solar panels 4 times a year is more than enough.
Type of Solar Panels Used
Different kinds of solar panels offer higher efficiency than others. The difference in efficiency ultimately determines the overall energy output of your PV system.
There are 3 types of solar PV system panels on the market today: thin-film, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline panels. These panels are ordered from least to most efficient.
A solar panel array that's made up of monocrystalline panels, the most efficient kind, has a higher energy output than one made up of thin-film panels.
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