General FAQs SunPower by Custom Energy
To determine your home’s average energy requirements look at past utility bills. You can calculate how many solar panels you need by multiplying your household’s hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours for your area and dividing that by a panel’s wattage. Use a low-wattage (150W) and high-wattage (370W) example to establish a range (ex: 17-42 panels to generate 11,000 kWh/year). Note that how much sunlight your roof gets and factors such as roof size and battery storage will figure in as well.
Look at your electricity bill for average usage. Look for “Kilowatt Hours (or kWh) Used” or something similar, and then note the time period represented (usually 30 days). If your bill doesn’t show kilowatt hours used, look for beginning and ending meter readings and subtract the previous reading from the most recent one.
You want daily and hourly usage for our calculations, though, so if your bill doesn’t show a daily average, just divide the monthly or annual average by 30 or 365 days, respectively, and then divide again by 24 to determine your hourly average electricity usage. Your answer will be in kilowatt-hours (kWh). (And just in case you are wondering, a kilowatt-hour is how much power you are using at any given time multiplied by the total time the power is being used.)
A small home in a temperate climate might use something like 200 kwh per month, and a larger home in the south where air conditioners account for the largest portion of home energy usage might use 2,000 kWh or more. The average U.S. home uses about 900 kWh per month. So that’s 30 kWh per day or 1.25 kWh per hour.
Your average daily energy usage is your target daily average for to calculate your solar needs. That’s the number of kilowatt-hours you need your solar system to produce if you want to cover 100 percent of your energy needs.
It’s important to note that solar panels don’t operate at maximum efficiency at all times. Weather conditions, for example, can temporarily reduce your system’s efficiency. Therefore, experts recommend adding a 25 percent “cushion” to your target daily average to ensure you can generate all the clean energy you need.
The peak sunlight hours for your particular location will have a direct impact on the energy you can expect your home solar system to produce. For example, if you live in Phoenix you can expect to have a greater number of peak sunlight hours than if you lived in Seattle. That doesn’t mean a Seattle homeowner can’t go solar; it just means the homeowner would need more panels.
The Renewable Resource Data Center provides sunlight information by state and for major cities.
Now multiply your hourly usage (see question No. 1) by 1,000 to convert your hourly power generation need to watts. Divide your average hourly wattage requirement by the number of daily peak sunlight hours for your area. This gives you the amount of energy your panels need to produce every hour. So the average U.S. home (900 kWh/month) in an area that gets five peak sunlight hours per day would need 6,250 watts.
Here’s where solar panel quality makes a difference. Not all solar panels are alike. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels (most commonly used in residential installations) come in wattages ranging from about 150 watts to 370 watts per panel, depending on the panel size and efficiency (how well a panel is able to convert sunlight into energy), and on the cell technology.
For example, solar cells with no grid lines on the front (like SunPower ® Maxeon cells) absorb more sunlight than conventional cells and do not suffer from issues such as delamination (peeling). The construction of our cells make them stronger and more resistant to cracking or corrosion. And a microinverter on each panel can optimize power conversion at the source, in contrast to one large inverter mounted on the side of the house.
Because of these wide variations in quality and efficiency, it’s difficult to make generalizations about which solar panels are right for you or how many you’ll need for your home. The main takeaway is that, the more efficient the panels are, the more wattage they can produce, and the fewer you will need on your roof to get the same energy output. Conventional solar panels usually produce about 250 watts per panel, with varying levels of efficiency. In contrast, SunPower panels are known to be the most efficient solar panels on the market.
To figure out how many solar panels you need, divide your home’s hourly wattage requirement (see question No. 3) by the solar panels’ wattage to calculate the total number of panels you need.
So that average U.S. home in Dallas, Texas, would need about 25 conventional (250W) solar panels or 17 SunPower (370W) panels.
If you have a small or unusually shaped roof, solar panel size and numbers are important considerations. With a large usable roof area, perhaps you can sacrifice some efficiency and buy more larger panels (at a lower cost per panel) to get to your target energy output. But if your usable roof area is limited, or if it’s partially shaded, being able to use fewer smaller high efficiency panels may be the best way to make the most possible power over the long term, ultimately saving you more money.
Typical residential solar panel dimensions today are about 65 inches by 39 inches, or 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet, with some variation among manufacturers. SunPower panels are 61.3 inches by 41.2 inches.
These dimensions have remained more or less unchanged for decades, but the efficiency and output from that same footprint have changed dramatically for the better. In addition, SunPower designs entire systems to have virtually no gaps between panels and uses invisible framing and mounting hardware to keep the rooftop footprint as tight, efficient and attractive as possible.
Knowing the answers to the above questions will give you an idea of the ideal number of panels for your electricity generation needs — or at least a realistic range. Next, a professional installer needs to assess your roof architecture, angle to the sun and other factors to see if and how you’d be able to physically arrange the right number of panels on your roof to achieve your daily energy production goals.
You should also consider net metering as you’re considering figuring out your ROI for your solar system. Net metering is how your utility company credits you for producing excess solar energy when the sun is shining and then lets you draw from those credits when you’re using conventional power grid at night, if you don’t have a solar battery storage system.
A photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system is composed of solar panels, racking for mounting the panels on the roof, electrical wiring, and an inverter. From sunrise to sunset, the solar panels generate direct current electricity (DC) which is sent to the inverter. The inverter converts the DC into alternating current (AC), the type of electricity required for household use. (SunPower also offers AC solar panels which do not require a central inverter because they feature a microinverter that’s factory integrated into each panel.) The AC power is delivered directly to your home’s main electrical service panel for use by you and your family.
It’s important to minimize shading because solar panels operate at optimal output when their entire surface is fully exposed to direct sunlight. The system will still produce energy if it is shaded but its output will lessen. SunPower will evaluate your particular situation and provide solar options for you.
Our systems are designed to have a useful life of 40 years or more.* For more information about solar panel durability and performance, check out this report on solar system useful life field tests performed on SunPower® systems vs. conventional panels.
Your current monthly energy use and the size of your system will determine your actual savings amount. And with little or no startup costs*, systems can start paying for themselves immediately. Savings will vary based on several factors, including system size, performance, your household's average energy usage as well as any applicable solar credits, tax incentives, and current solar energy buyback (net metering) rates offered by your utility company. A detailed calculation of your potential return on investment (ROI) will be provided by SunPower during your solar evaluation. Get more information about what goes into calculating home solar panel system costs and other important solar energy questions to ask your installer.
Having a solar system typically adds value to your home.* Depending on where you live, there is often no increase in your property taxes.
SunPower has a wide variety of financing options, including some that don't require you to pay any upfront costs if you qualify. The cost of your solar system depends on several factors, including your current energy usage, your available amount of unshaded roof space, your local utility’s net metering policy, and other factors.
As each residence is unique, exact costs are difficult to estimate without an initial consultation. With this in mind, we offer free estimates for all of our clients. We also work to make solar an affordable choice with financing options that include $0 down and low same-day approvals.
Despite the generalities you may hear in solar advertising, not all solar systems are created equal! Of all the solar panels on the market, SunPower panels have the highest efficiency* and convert the highest amount of sunlight into electricity. This means our solar panels generate more power than conventional panels within the same amount of space, and you’ll need fewer panels to produce the energy you need. You can maximize your available roof space to choose the best, unobstructed location for electricity production. Our world-record panel efficiency* means you'll save more money over time by choosing SunPower panels.
No! SunPower by Custom Energy also offers ground-mounted solar and solar carports. Our design team will consider your preferred aesthetics and your home’s layout when helping you decide which option is best.
Ideal conditions for solar power are cool temperatures and bright sunlight. While rain, hail, and clouds can reduce the efficiency of solar panels, recent innovations have minimized the impact. Every SunPower solar panel is equipped with a micro inverter, harnessing the full potential of each panel in the system and reducing the negative effects of bad weather. Backup power solutions offer additional security.
At SunPower by Custom Energy, we are more interested in educating clients on the benefits of solar power than making a sale. Our team promises to serve with integrity, educating our clients on the benefits of solar energy and empowering communities to build a sustainable future. We proudly install SunPower systems, a leader in the solar energy industry. With a highly professional and respectable team, we promise quality service, excellent communication, and a smooth installation process. We are proud to be considered the best solar company in Utah and the state’s sole SunPower master dealer!
Yes! With our backup power solutions, you can store any excess energy produced by your SunPower system and use it during the night, on a rainy day, or in the case of power outages.
Studies show that homes with solar panels have a higher resale value than comparable homes without solar energy.
If you are interested in going solar, the process is simple. Contact us for a free estimate and we will begin an initial consultation to see if solar is right for you. From there, there are only a few more steps until you’re ready to power your home with renewable energy from the sun.
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