Yes, Solar Panels Can Power a Whole House—But It’s Not All That Simple

You may have seen those commercials for solar panels that promise to power your whole house or even the entire neighborhood. You may be wondering if that’s really possible.

So, can solar panels power a whole house? This article will give you the answer. It will also discuss how much power solar panels can produce, how many solar panels you need for your home, and the solar panel installation cost. We even have some tips on increasing the efficiency of your solar panel system.

Key Points

  • How Much Power Can Solar Panels Produce?
  • How Much of Your House Can You Run on Solar Power?
  • How Can Solar Panels Power a Whole House?
  • How Much Solar Installation Costs
  • How Long Will It Take for Solar Panels to Power the Whole House by Themselves?

How Much Power Can Solar Panels Produce?

Solar panels are usually made of photovoltaic (PV) cells and are rated by the amount of power they can produce in watts. Want to know more about how solar panels are made? Feel free to read our article about it.

On average, a home solar system with a capacity of 1kW generates approximately 850kWh per year. Most solar panels for homes produce between 250 and 400 watts per hour (and per panel). So, how much power does a house use? The average home in the United States uses about 900kWh of electricity per month.

Guided by this logic, we can determine how many solar panels are necessary to power a house. Suppose you want to install a 250-watt solar array. In that case, you’ll need anywhere from 28 to 34 solar panels to power your home with solar energy.

How Much of Your House Can You Run on Solar Power?

The amount of solar power that your solar panel system can generate is only one factor to consider when determining how much of your house you can run on solar power. The other factor is the efficiency of your system.

Solar panel systems are typically about 15–20% efficient, which means that only 15–20% of the sunlight that hits the panels gets converted into electricity. So, if you have a 30kW system, it will only produce about 4.5kWh of power per day (30kW x 0.15 = 4.5kWh).

How Much Solar Power Do Electric Appliances Need to Run?

Now that we know how much solar power is needed for a home and how many solar panels are required to generate that amount of energy, let’s take a look at how much power some specific appliances require to run.

For example, an electric oven typically uses about 2,000–2,200 watts of power per hour, an electric clothes dryer uses 1,800–5,000 watts of power per hour, and an electric water heater uses about 4,000 watts of power.

How Can Solar Panels Power a Whole House?

Can you run a house on solar power alone? Well, we’ve concluded that the answer is yes, at least in theory. Although there are various external obstacles to utilizing solar power 100%, there are still things you can do to increase the efficiency of your home solar power system. The crucial thing is to determine the size of the solar system for your home.

Calculate Your Home’s Monthly Energy Consumption Rate

Before you equip your house with solar panels, you must find out how much energy you consume on a monthly basis. To find out the monthly energy consumption rate of your home, you will need to know two things:

  • Your home’s square footage
  • The average monthly electricity bill for a home of your size.

You can find this information on your most recent electricity bill. Once you have this information, you can calculate your home’s monthly energy consumption rate by dividing your home’s square footage by the average monthly electricity bill for a home of your size.

For example, if your home is 2,000 square feet and the average monthly electricity bill for a home of your size is $100, your home’s monthly energy consumption rate would be 20kWh per month.

We use this to figure out how many solar panels are necessary for a home. So how many solar panels do I need to power my house? You can use the calculator kindly provided to you by DIY Solar Shack to determine the number and size of solar panels based on your home’s energy consumption, or you can do it manually.

If you have a monthly energy consumption rate of 20kWh and want to power your whole home with solar energy, you will need a solar panel system that can generate at least 20kWh of electricity per month. Since you can sometimes get a high electricity bill with solar panels installed, you must get your facts straight and calculate everything carefully to avoid any additional costs.

Evaluate Your Climate and Number of Hours of Sunlight

The climate in your area and the number of hours of sunlight you get each day will significantly impact the efficiency of your solar panel system.

If you live in an area with a lot of sun, you will need fewer solar panels for your house, but you will still be able to generate as much electricity as someone who lives in a less sunny area. Likewise, if you live in an area with many clouds, your solar panel system will be less efficient.

You can find out the average number of sunlight hours in your area by searching for “sunlight hours” online or contacting your local solar company.

Assess Your Solar Production Environment Based on Your Home’s Surroundings

Your solar production environment is the area around your home that receives the most direct sunlight. This is typically the roof. Thus, roof solar panels are the most prevalent—learn how to install them. However, it could also be a south-facing wall or another sunny spot on your property.

When assessing your environment, you also need to take into account things like trees and other buildings that could block the sun since shade affects the performance of solar panels.

Add a Generator or Battery

A battery backup system stores excess electricity from your solar panels so that you can still have electricity at night or on cloudy days. This can improve the efficiency of your system by 30–40% and be a great way to increase the amount of power that your home solar panel system can generate and make your home completely self-sufficient.

Install a Solar Tracker

You can also increase the efficiency of your house’s solar panels by installing a solar tracker. As its name says, it tracks the sun’s movement and adjusts the position of your solar panels so that they are always pointing directly at the sun. This can increase the efficiency of your system by up to 30%.

How Long Will It Take for Solar Panels to Power the Whole House by Themselves?

Depending on the size of your home solar panel system, it could take a few weeks or a few months for the solar panels to produce enough electricity to power your whole house. Remember that solar panels need sunlight to work (no production at night). Of course, it’s crucial to maintain and clean your solar power system.

Once your solar panel system is up and running, you will be able to save money on your electric bill each month. How much money you save depends on the size of your system and the amount of electricity you use. For example, Texans with residential solar systems can save up to $960 a year on electric bills.

Can Solar Panels Power a Whole House: Our Takeaway 

Solar panels are an ingenious solution for going green. Considering they last for up to 30 years, they’re a long-term investment that will pay off in the future.

But can you have a fully solar-powered house? Affirmative, provided you considered everything we’ve talked about and did your calculations! You may hate it, but it’s better to sit down and do the math upfront than to calculate later how much you owe for electricity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can solar panels power a house during a power outage?

As you know, solar panels rely on sunlight to generate electricity, so if there is an extended power outage during a period of inclement weather, the panels may not be able to generate enough power to sustain the household. Additionally, solar panels are typically connected to the grid, so if the grid goes down, the panels will likely go down as well. However, a solar power system can power your house with the batteries installed.

Can solar panels power a whole house at night?

Solar panels don’t produce power at night since there’s no sunlight. But, if you play your cards right and use most of the electricity during the daytime and less at night, your solar panels will be able to generate enough power during the day to offset the electricity used at night. In addition, solar panels can be paired with batteries that store energy for use at night or during a power outage.

How much do solar panels cost for a 1,000-square-foot house?

The solar system installation cost for a home of 1,000 square feet can be anywhere between $4,760 and $5,950. When considering installing solar panels, it’s essential to consult with a qualified professional to estimate the costs accurately. So, can solar panels power a whole house of 1,000 square feet? Yes, but the number will depend on the panels’ wattage (e.g., you’ll need at least 16 250-watt panels, or five 400-watt ones).