It’s a reasonable enough question to ask, and for homeowners wanting to make the switch to solar, they deserve to know the answer.

While it absolutely is possible to power your entire home using only solar energy, the answer deserves a more detailed explanation, and to do that, let’s firstly look at how solar energy works:

Solar energy; how does it work?

In its most simple terms, solar panels capture light particles, otherwise known as photons, that cause the electrons to break free from their atoms, and in the process, generate an electrical current. In a nutshell, a surprisingly simple process enables sunlight to be converted to energy, and once that energy has been generated, it can be used to power homes and businesses.

Is it possible for solar energy to power your entire home?

A few variable come into play when considering this question in detail, and these variables are used to help you determine how much power your home needs, and how many panels it will take to meet that requirement.

Of course each household has its own unique power requirements, and each home will need a different number of panels according to those requirements. How those panels are positioned can significantly affect the amount of sunlight hitting them, and ensuring that you install the right number of panels, in the right spot, is crucial if you’re to fulfil your household’s energy needs.

Determining your household’s monthly energy consumption

With average annual electricity consumption for residential utility customers at around 900 kWh per month, dividing this number by 30, helps to determine that the average U.S. home consumes around 30 kWh of electricity every day, or 1.25 kWh every hour.

But, this number can vary significantly from home to home, so make your own calculations – or ask a local solar energy system provider to help you – to get a better idea of how many panels you’ll need to power your home. You might also find your energy consumption rate on your monthly utility bill.

While the number of sunlight hours your home receives can vary from day to day, it’s important that you at least make an approximate estimate using the following equation, before scheduling a solar installation consultation with a local company:

• Multiply your home’s hourly usage by 1,000, which will convert the amount to watts
• Then, divide the average hourly wattage, by the number of peak sunlight hours in your area each day

Once you’ve done this, you’ll arrive at the amount of energy needed to be produced by solar panels, every hour. For an average U.S. property in an area receiving 5 hours of peak sunlight on a daily basis, panels would need to produce 6,000 watts.

How many panels does your home need?

Solar panels come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and their quality and power output can vary significantly, too. This means that giving an answer to some of the questions asked in this article, requires professional assistance from a local solar installer.