How Much Energy Does a 6kW Solar System Produce
Updated: August 24, 2023
Big solar systems are great; they generate more electricity than you probably use monthly and you can save a lot on your electrical bill, too.
However, not all of us want or even need a large solar system. This is why opting to install a 6kW solar system can also hold significant benefits for your home.
Here, we’ll explore what you should expect from a 6kW solar system; from its power output, cost, and the amount of space it takes up.
Total Power Output of a 6kW Solar System
The amount of electricity that a 6kW solar system produces depends on several factors like the orientation and angle of the panels as well as the quality of the parts used in the system.
The primary factor that determines power output is the average amount of sunlight your area gets. So, depending on where you live your solar system’s total output can vary. For example, a 6kW system in Maine will produce around 20% less energy annually than in California.
Solar systems in sunnier states or cities can generate more power than in cities or states where the climate tends to be colder and less sunny. It may be an obvious observation but it’s something you should keep in mind.
Getting to the point, a 6kW solar system generates between 400kWh - 900kWh of electricity on a monthly basis, which leads to an annual energy production that ranges anywhere from 4,800kWh to 10,800kWh. It’s a few more kilowatt-hours than what a 5kw solar system can run.
In the United States, the average home has a monthly electrical usage of 893kWh, which is more than what a 6kW solar system is able to handle. For commercial and industrial use, companies or individuals would need to know how much a 75 kW solar system produces, for example.
In Texas, the average electricity usage is around 13 500kWh a year but in California, that number goes down to 6 400kWh. We can see that a 6kW system is going to do better providing for a home in California than one in Texas.
For the folks living in Texas, ask yourselves how many kWh does a 12kw solar system produce? You’ll be satisfied to know that it’ll be able to produce around 22 800kWh annually.
How Many Solar Panels Does a 6kW Solar System Need?
While a 6kW solar system isn’t the largest solar system out there, you still need to install between 17 to 24 solar panels. The average 6kW solar system has 19 solar panels.
Depending on what kind of panels you’re opting for might mean installing more or fewer. A 10k solar system would need between 25 to 27 panels to achieve optimal electrical output.
This is because solar panels usually come in three options, monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Monocrystalline solar panels come with the highest amount of wattage and are very efficient, polycrystalline panels are mid-tier, and then thin-film solar panels.
A few of the best solar panels are able to produce 350W to 400W with the output of less efficient panels going as low as 250W.
So, the higher the output of a single solar panel, the less you’ll need to reach a total of 6kW. For example, going with 350W solar panels, you’ll only need 17 of them to fulfill the requirement for a 6kW solar system.
Keep in mind that the prices go hand-in-hand with output and efficiency levels, so you’ll be paying a lot less for panels that do less, and vice versa.
Low-efficiency models, although they’re cheaper, might need more panels and high-efficiency panels, while more expensive, would need fewer panels.
So, whether you have 24 low-efficiency solar panels or 16 high-efficiency panels you’d pretty much end up paying the same amount for either option.
How Much Roof Space Is Needed
Solar panels measure on average 65” by 39”, or 17.5 sq. ft., so it’s important to take note of this when measuring the space on your rooftop.
A 6kW solar system needs around 330 sq. ft. of area space. Fearing that your roof might not have all of that space in one particular area, you can always use micro-inverters.
Micro-inverters, unlike string converters, let you place solar panels anywhere on your rooftop in groups of three. Doing this also allows multiple panels to generate power at different angles and times of the day.
How Much Does a 6kW Solar System Cost?
In 2022, the average cost of solar is about $3 per Watt, making a 6kW solar system close to $18 000. With the federal tax credit, which is around 30%, that price drops down to $12 600 or so. If you’re asking how much a 4kw solar system costs, the same principle would apply.
You can also benefit from other state or utility-based solar incentives and rebates if it’s available in your state. A few examples include net metering, which can further help reduce the cost of a solar system installation.
The cost of a solar system is also dependent on the design and parts being used, whether it’s ground-mount racking or a solar panel inverter, to name a few.
How Much Can You Save With a 6kW Solar System?
We’ve already established that a 6kW solar system won’t be able to cover all of your electrical needs but we’re not going to disregard it. In fact, a 6kW solar system can still significantly reduce that utility bill of yours.
Let’s say your utility bill is around $120 a month which is about $1,440 per year; you can still save around $1,200 annually on electrical expenses.
This is thanks to net metering. It’s a program where homeowners with solar are able to earn credits from local utility companies for any electricity produced by their solar panels. This is any surplus electricity that’s put back into the local power grid.
There are two ways of net metering that you can choose from if it’s available in your area, net metering at retail price or at a reduced feed-in tariff.
At retail price, you’ll be credited in full for every kilowatt-hour that’s sent to the grid. If you’re being charged 15c per kWh you’re using then can be credited with 15c per kWh you export. This is required by law in 29 states, already.
A reduced feed-in tariff refers to extra electricity being sent to the grid but is credited at a lower rate. In this scenario, you are charged 15c per kWh for usage but paid 9c per kWh sent to the local grid. Feed-in tariffs are a part of alternative programs in the other 17 states where retail prices aren’t required by law.
What Is a Payback Period?
A payback period refers to the number of years before your solar system paid itself off or breaks even. For a 6kW solar system, it can be 10 or 12 years before it reaches that point.
To determine your particular payback period you have to divide the total cost of the system – this includes rebates and incentives – by the amount you’ll save each year on electrical bills. The formula will look like this, for example, $12,600 ÷ $1,200 = 10.5 years.
Keep in mind this is just an example and might not accurately depict your situation, specifically. To get a better idea you have to look at your current power bills and get a quote from a legit solar company.
Alternative Ways of Financing a 6kW Solar System
There are other ways of getting that solar system to your home without the cash coming straight out of your pocket.
One of which is applying for a zero-down solar loan. You could even opt for solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) or solar leases from solar companies.
Solar loans and leases are like getting a headstart on your solar savings; you just pay the full amount over a period of time and still benefit from the advantages of solar energy.
Solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) are a little different. The solar companies still own the panels you’ve installed on your roof and you’re required to pay them a monthly fee for the energy generated by the system.
Leases and PPAs don’t save as much on the utility bill over the long term as buying a system out of pocket. Knowing this, we’d say you’re better off buying a solar system upfront to start saving on electrical expenses sooner.
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