Embracing NYC sun: How much does a solar panel produce?
Solar panels are a hot item in today’s energy market. In fact, the number of solar employees has grown more than 200% since 2012. And it’s grown for good reason: the average NYC business can save $19,000 over 20 years by switching to solar.
But, while solar is a great renewable energy for the right businesses, it’s not as simple as plugging in a panel and powering your office.
When deciding on a renewable energy source, it’s essential you choose one that has enough power for your business. To help you make the right choice, we’re going to examine solar panel output, so you can decide if they’re enough juice for your workplace.
How much energy solar panels produce
Much like generators or even batteries, there are a number of solar panels that offer different outputs, have different energy efficiencies, and differ in quality. Because of this, there’s no clearcut single answer when it comes to how much energy solar panels produce.
That being said, the average output across the board for solar panels is roughly 320 watts per hour. To put this in perspective, the average home uses roughly 914 kilowatts per hour each month. That’s 914,000 watts, meaning that a single average solar panel needs roughly four months to generate that much energy.
But, again, this is only an average. This number can vary, depending on both the type of panel and other factors.
Are all solar panels the same?
There are numerous solar panel types, and even more solar panel manufacturers. Because of this, many panels have different efficiencies and outputs, some being more effective than others.
The differences in solar panels begins with the material they’re made from. There are several primary types of materials used, each altering how the solar panel performs:
- Monocrystalline: This is a high-grade silicon material that is commonly used in many solar panels. Monocrystalline silicon is the most efficient solar material, yielding the best output and lasting the longest. But, it’s also the most expensive.
- Polycrystalline: This silicon is simpler than the monocrystalline, and as a result is much cheaper. However, polycrystalline silicon is also less efficient than monocrystalline by roughly 4%.
- Thin-film: Thin-film solar panels are made from any combination of several materials, which are then melted down and poured in thin strips. While affordable to mass produce, these panels have a low efficiency rate and aren’t ideal for areas with limited space.
There are variations of the above panel types, so it’s possible you encounter panels that don’t quite match the descriptions from above. But, in general, they should still follow a similar build style.
But, is output determined solely by the build quality and material? Or is there more at play?
What impacts the output of a solar panel?
While material plays a large role in a panel’s efficiency, there are several outside factors that can greatly influence how much energy a solar panel produces.
- Where the panel is geographically located: Just because the sun is shining on a solar panel, doesn’t mean the panel is getting the same solar intake as the same panel in another location. The sun is closer to the planet in certain locations, such as the equator. These areas will see a greater benefit from solar panels.
- Where the panel is locally located: You can’t uproot your company and move to a different altitude for the sake of sunshine, but you can choose where a panel is placed on your work premise. Panels need to be in prime spots that get as little shade as possible. They should also be pointed at the sun, not away from it, when placed on a roof.
- How old the panel is: Even the highest quality panels degrade over time, losing efficiency. Maintenance can lengthen the lifetime of a panel, but they’ll still lose some efficiency each year.
- How hot the panel is getting: While you want your panel to bask in the sun as long as possible, you also don’t want it getting too hot. If you live in a particularly hot climate, your panel could very well end up heating to a point that it actually becomes less efficient.
No two solar panels of different brands will perform exactly the same, but the above factors will impact virtually every panel available. If you want to get as much efficiency as possible out of your panels, be mindful of the above points when setting them up.
Choosing the right solar panel
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a solar panel. While the actual panel will play a large role in the energy output, don’t get too hung up on marketing lingo. With so many factors impacting the output of a solar panel, even the best panels will fall short of your energy goals if you don’t have a great location to install it in.
Do your research, and don’t hesitate to contact solar experts for guidance as you work toward a greener future. With proper preparations, you can soon join the thousands of New Yorkers proudly transforming their rooftops into solar hot beds.