The Internet is filled with a variety of solar calculators, each serving its purpose. Some are used to size the system and some focus on the financial side of things.
Thanks to our online solar savings calculator, you can find out how much you’re saving in a matter of minutes. All this without having to do any difficult maths.
But before we know how much we’re saving, we need to understand how much we’re using, or how much we need to use.
How to Calculate Solar Needs
One of the first variables in a savings calculator also happens to be the first in a PV solar calculator for sizing your system.
Your solar needs are based on the total watt-hours per day that your appliances consume. Arriving at this value is a simple process.
Most, if not all, appliances have a label printed beneath or at the back of them. These labels have power ratings on them that are measured in watts.
This is the total amount of power an appliance draws.
However, sometimes the values are separated into volts and amps. Luckily, multiplying these values together gives you the appropriate wattage.
Sometimes the appliances also give you a reading in milliamps, but simply multiplying this value by 1,000 gives you the amps.
Once you have the output wattage, you’re going to want to multiply it by the number of hours each appliance will be running per day.
This gives you the watt-hours per day for that appliance. You’re going to need to rinse and repeat this process and add all the watt hours per day together.
Now you have the total number of watt-hours per day in kilowatt-hours.
Using this value in conjunction with your calculated sun's peak hours, you can determine the size of your solar system’s components.
This includes everything from the battery to the solar panel, to the solar panel inverter.
Now that we have some idea of the kilowatt hours needed and the size of our system, we can determine how much we’ll save over a year.
Manually Calculate Savings
If you don’t want to use savings calculators, you can manually calculate it too. To obtain the savings, you need to understand the tariff amount.
To figure out your total solar savings, there are a few important values you need to find first.
To start, figure out exactly how much you’re paying for a unit of electricity. In the US, the average cost of electricity is 11 c/kWh, so this is the value we’ll use for our calculations going forward. However, these values are prone to fluctuate depending on where you live, so be sure to check with your local utility.
The nest value is your total generation capacity. This, again, depends on things like the size of your system, where you live, how much sunlight you get, etc. There are also large fluctuations depending on the season, since units tend to produce less electricity in the winter owing to the diminished sunlight levels.
If you’ve calculated the optimum solar angle tilt, you can expect an average power production of around 1,600 kWh per year for a 1 kW system. This works out to a saving of around $180 per year. That may not sound like a lot, but as your system gets larger, so does the amount you save.
Solar System Size
How to Use Online Savings Calculators
The first value you need to enter is your annual energy bill based on your monthly spending on solar.
You also need to enter the annual energy consumption in kilowatt-hours.
This is a measure of intensity, the amount of wattage you’re using, and for how long it’s being used. You’ll notice this value is used in other calculators like solar payback calculators.
For this example, we’re going to say that we spend $150 every month and accumulate a total energy consumption of around 7500 kWh each year.
The next variable for the calculation is what type of solar panels you have.
You normally have to pick between tilted photovoltaic which is the most common in residential areas, a flat photovoltaic setup designed for flat roofs, and rotating or tracking photovoltaic designed for larger scale systems like farms.
Assuming we’ve used our on-grid or off gird solar calculator to determine the size of our system, we’re going to use a residential setup.
From there, you choose the module type of your solar panel.
Some calculators have a drop-down menu of almost every type of solar panel while others will ask you to simply enter the data.
Selecting Area Space
The solar savings calculators that are integrated with google maps allow you to select the area on your roof where you’d want solar panels to be placed.
They normally work with 4 pinpoints that close to show the surface area. Once selected, it will return the area in square feet as well as the size of the system that can fit in that area.
For example, if we select 4 points on our roof and it returns around 430 square feet, the calculator will recommend a system size of around 6.5 kW.
The solar savings calculator works on estimates, so it will return the annual energy production as well as the value of the energy being produced.
In our case, this will be around 13,410 kWh per year. However, we’re only consuming around 7,400, so the system size is too large for our needs in this example. This is why it’s importat to calculate your solar needs before you purchase your system.
Luckily, those 4 points can be changed to suit your needs. If we make the surface area smaller, the values for the annual amounts as well as the value of energy changes automatically.
You want to keep changing the values until it somewhat resembles the initial values you entered.
If the energy production matches the 7,500 kWh we entered at the start, it should return a value of energy produced at around $2,500 per year.
It also returns the gross cost of the system, the tax rebate, and the net cost.
These calculators also return the different financing periods over a 14-, 20-, and 30-year period.
You can usually get the statistics printed out so that you can keep track of any changes made to the variables you entered.
With solar becoming as big as it is, thanks to various online calculators, we can obtain all the information we need with a few values and a click of a mouse.
There’s a multitude of online solar savings calculators that might require different variables, but they all return the same value and have the same function.
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