To become more energy-independent, save money on power, and be more environmentally friendly, solar panels are a great investment. However, you have to figure out where to put all of these panels.
Finding out your household power consumption is important for calculating how many solar panels you may need. It turns out that a whole acre of solar panels can generate more than enough power for a household, but there are ways to budget this space better.
To power a house in summer, when the amount of sunlight each day is higher, 1.4% of an acre would be necessary. In winter, when the amount of sunlight each day is lower, 3% of an acre would be necessary to power a house.
Daily Power Usage of Household Appliances
|Appliance||Average Wattage (per hour)||Average Daily Usage (hours)|
|Lights (LED)||9 W||5 hours|
|Cellphone/tablet charging||14 W||3 hours|
|Ceiling fan||60 W||5 hours|
|Bathroom fan||100 W||0.5 hours|
|Range hoods||150 W||1 hour|
|Video game consoles||150 W||2 hours|
|Boiler||200 W||5 hours|
|TV/computer||250 W||6 hours|
|Refrigerator||400 W||24 hours|
|Blender||500 W||0.07 hours|
|Security system||500 W||24 hours|
|Gym equipment (treadmill, etc.)||600 W||0.7 hours|
|HVAC/Furnace||800 W||9.6 hours|
|Toaster||850 W||0.1 hours|
|Coffee machine||1000 W||0.13 hours|
|Microwave||1000 W||0.5 hours|
|Washer||1150 W||0.57 hours|
|Electric oven||1200 W||1 hour|
|Electric kettle||1200 W||0.1 hours|
|Dishwasher||1500 W||1.7 hours|
|Dryer||1800 W||0.57 hours|
|Electric stove||2100 W||1.5 hours|
|AC||3200 W||7 hours|
|Water heater||4000 W||4 hours|
Average Power Used to Run an American House
With the table provided above, you can calculate how much power your household likely uses daily.
Because the wattage is given as watts per hour, multiplying the power usage by the hours used daily should give you an approximation of your daily power usage.
The average American individual uses about 12.1 kWh per day.
The average American household uses about 30 kWh per day.
How Much Power Does a Solar Panel Generate?
The average singular solar panel can produce about 2 kWh of energy a day.
One solar panel can save you about $0.36 a day, which may not sound like a lot, but the savings accumulate over time.
For the average American household that uses 30 kWh per day, fifteen solar panels would be needed to produce the energy the household needs.
The power that a solar panel generates depends on two factors: the characteristics of that specific solar panel and how much sunlight the solar panel has access to.
For a high-quality solar panel on a sunny day, the power output would be great.
For a lower-quality solar panel on a cloudy day, the power output would not be ideal.
Number of Solar Panels That Can Fit on an Acre
An acre is equal to about 43,000 square feet.
The average solar panel is about 20 square feet in size.
If the solar panels were jammed next to each other with absolutely no space between each panel, you could fit 2,150 solar panels on an acre of land.
However, 1,800 solar panels on an acre of land is a probable maximum because you need room for other things.
- Some space must be given for the racks of the solar panels since their supports may require that each panel has some space from the panels surrounding it.
- Space must also be given for battery storage. Battery storage is important so that you do not waste energy. There will be days when the energy demand is less than the energy supply, so the excess can be stored. This excess is important for days when the demand is greater than the supply.
- Walking space is essential for the maintenance of solar panels. Without this space, the panels would not be able to be fixed in an emergency.
Likely Energy Generated on One Acre of Land
If you are able to have 1,800 solar panels on an acre of land and each solar panel produces 2 kWh of energy a day, you can have up to 3,600 kWh produced by these 1,800 solar panels.
It is important to remember that this energy output is dependent on panel quality and sunlight availability. 3,600 kWh may not always be produced.
So, although 2 kWh of power per day for a solar panel is a decent estimate, it may not be accurate on average.
If we factor in average direct sunlight hours as well as the average amount of power produced by a solar panel in an hour, we can get a more accurate result for how much solar energy is produced on one acre.
The average amount of direct sunlight on a solar panel is about 4.5 hours and in an hour of direct sunlight, a solar panel produces about 300 W per hour.
This equates to 1.35 kWh for each solar panel and 2,430 kWh for all 1,800 solar panels.
Since the average American household requires about 30 kWh daily, an acre of solar panels is plenty to power a household.
Monthly power production would come out to about 72.9 Megawatts.
Yearly power production would come out to about 875 Megawatts.
Acres Required to Power a House
Covering an acre of land with solar panels may seem like a great plan for a household, but there are many things to consider.
First of all, an acre is a large area of land, but it can be tricky to have both a home and solar panels on the same acre of land.
To generate only enough electricity to sustain the average household (30 kWh), you would need 23 solar panels on your property.
These 23 solar panels would take up about 469 square feet of space, but more space would be needed for walkways, battery storage, and space for the supports, so we can round up to 600 square feet needed for 23 solar panels.
With 43,000 square feet in an acre, this is only about 1.4% of the yard. However, this is the absolute bare minimum and in the winter, when there is significantly less direct sunlight, 23 solar panels may not be enough.
In the winter or on overcast days, solar panels can produce up to 60% less energy than at their best.
Let’s say that on winter days, a solar panel produces only 0.54 kWh.
To provide for a household that needs 30 kWh daily, 56 solar panels are needed.
56 solar panels would take up about 1,120 square feet without accommodations for walkways and the like. Let’s round up to 1,300 square feet needed for these 56 solar panels.
1,300 square feet is about 3% of an acre.
This is about double the bare minimum for summer power generation, but this is still not a large portion of the yard.