The aim of a PV solar calculator is to determine the energy output of your solar system. This can be used before purchasing the solar system to determine if it’s enough to power your home, or just for informational purposes.
It’s always useful to know how much power you can generate and store.
Let’s go over how you can work this out, and how you can use this in your home.
PV Solar Panel Output
Using a solar panel calculator can help you decide how many solar panels, batteries, and inverters you need to have installed. You can decide if you want to power only a part of your home with solar power, or if you want to power your whole home.
The following factors are taken into account when making this calculation:
- Energy produced in kWh,
- The surface area of your panel/s,
- Average solar radiation,
- The performance ratio of your panel, which takes into account losses through resistance; and
- The electrical yield of the solar panel.
Solar Panel Efficiency
There are a few factors that affect a solar system’s efficiency; one of the most important is resistance. This is the current that’s lost when the power moves through the electrical grid of the inverter and wires.
Temperature fluctuations can have a negative effect. It affects the efficiency of the semiconductor material used to make PV cells.
Solar panels are sensitive to shade, so material or obstruction standing between the panel and the sunlight will reduce the power your panels produce.
This is because all the cells in the panel are connected in a series, so they can only produce as much electricity as the lowest-producing cell in that series.
Be sure to check out our sun hour calculator to find out how much sunlight you can expect in your area.
How Do I Calculate My Solar Panel Output?
The formula for working out your solar panel output can seem daunting, but it’s just a matter of plugging in some figures. You might need to do some research to determine the number you need to plug in, but it won’t be a difficult process.
Here’s the formula:
E = A x R x H x PR
Here’s what those letters stand for:
- E: energy
- A: the total area of your solar panel in square feet
- R: solar panel yield
- H: average solar radiation
- PR: Performance ratio
So where do you find these values? The common ones people struggle with are solar panel yield, average solar radiation, and performance ratio.
Solar panel yield is something you can research about your specific solar panel. They’re standard values assigned depending on the size of the panel and are presented as a percentage. For example, the solar panel yield of a 17.2 square foot panel is 15.6%.
Average solar radiation is also something you can do research on. It’s area-specific, and can even change depending on how your house is angled.
Performance ratio estimates the performance of your panels based on the orientation and inclination of a panel, and includes losses such as resistance.
Once you’ve determined all of these values, you’ll be able to use the formula to determine how much power your solar power system kit is capable of generating.
Calculating your solar panel setup’s PV is one of the most important first steps you can take in getting yourself off the grid, but it’s not the whole journey.
You’re off to a great start, but it doesn’t stop here. Be sure to check out our articles on calculating optimal solar panel angle and how to calculate voltage drop. These are both important topics to wrap your head around before you can call yourself a solar expert. But don’t worry, we’ve made working it out easy for you.
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