In-Depth Analysis: Can Solar Panels Power a Whole House?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Solar panels are increasingly becoming a popular renewable energy source that is both efficient and cost-effective. With the advancements in solar technology, it is today one of the most effective ways to fight climate change and reduce utility bills. However, can solar panels power a whole house? The ability to power your house will depend on factors such as sunlight hours in your area.

While solar power is one of the best options to eliminate fossil fuel use, the reliance on sunlight hours poses a challenge for many. The challenge is especially considering that some areas experience much less sunlight than others. Nonetheless, with efficient energy usage, you can avoid relying on the power grid and effectively eliminate electricity bills.

This article will explore the different determining factors and how many solar panels are required for excellent solar energy.

How Can Solar Panels Power a Whole House

Can solar panels produce electricity for your whole house? Well, the answer though positive, is a lot more complicated. Several external factors can help you utilize solar power to the max, and some can hinder efficiency. Moreover, one homeowner can enjoy a fully solar-powered house while another is forced to supplement.

Enough Electricity for Entire Home

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Calculate Your Home’s Monthly Energy Consumption Rate

Before you give up on solar power or decide to start the installation, one of the most important things to consider is your home’s energy needs every month. To effectively calculate your personal monthly energy consumption rate, the following are necessary:

  • Measure the square footage of your home
  • Calculate the average cost of your monthly electricity use

To find the correct amount in kWh, divide the square footage of your home by the average monthly bill. You can find the electrical bill information on your most recent electricity bill. The amount you get after the calculation is used to determine how many solar panels your home needs.

For example, if your most recent electricity bill reads $200, and your home is 4000 square feet, your average monthly energy consumption rate is 20kWh per month.

Cost of Installing Solar Panels

Completely Power a Home

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The cost of installing solar panels and pricing estimates depends greatly on your state. Regions that witness more sunny days and higher usage will typically have robust incentive offers. At the same time, areas with fewer sunlight hours will have prices on the higher side. However, if your region offers excellent net metering programs, the sunlight hours may not have significant effects.

Therefore, it is wise to consult installation companies for a personalized breakdown of the solar installation costs per location.

Can Solar Panels Eliminate Your Electricity Bill?

A grid-tied solar system, also known as net metering, can help you eliminate most, if not all, of your electricity bills. Net Energy Metering programs require that your electricity company purchases excess solar energy from you.

So, how does this work? To begin with, solar panels are at their peak during the day when the sun is shining bright. At this time, they generate a high amount of electricity, which is usually more than your home needs. And because most homes don’t use much electricity in the middle of the day, the excess energy is sent to the power grid.

Excess Electricity

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Essentially, the more solar energy production, the lower your electric bill. However, the excess energy produced by your solar system and sent to the grid will have your electric meter spinning backward. The backward spin forces your utility company to apply a credit for the full retail value of electricity.

When this happens, you are not only saving money monthly, but you help your utility company to conserve fossil fuels. In addition, you can easily find yourself not paying for electricity because every kilowatt of energy sent to the grid from your solar panel system means you get the same amount from your electricity provider for free.

How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Power Your Whole Home?

To discover the number of solar panels that you’ll need to power a whole house, you must calculate how much energy your home uses monthly. The size of your home and your location will also play a significant role in which panels you buy. The right information will help you understand how many panels you’ll need to power your home off-grid and while using the grid power.

Solar Panels Generate Electricity

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Here is a detailed guide to help you know how many panels you will need to power your entire home.

1. Check Your Electricity Usage

The first step is to sit down with all your power bills from one whole year and find out the average electricity consumption by your home per month. The reason for going through the monthly bill for the whole year is how power usage fluctuates from time to time. Hence, you must get a holistic average for your home to work with.

2. Find Out How Many Peak Sun Hours Your Area Gets

One factor determining the amount of energy output a solar panel generates is the number of direct sunlight hours per day. So, find out how many peak sun hours your region experiences so that you can determine how many panels will be in your home solar system.

3. Determine Solar Panel Wattage

Solar panels produce different amounts of energy depending on their wattage. Therefore, you will need more panels to power your entire house if they have a lower power rating. Remember that one kilowatt (kW) is equal to 1000 watts. Note that the energy output of your solar system will be determined by the amount of wattage each of its panels emits.

4. How Many Solar Panels Will You Need?

It becomes easier to determine how many solar panels your home needs after you know your monthly average energy consumption. Then, with a good company, you should be able to have the correct solar panel installation that will provide you with a sufficient power production rate.

Talk to professionals to guide you through this decision. Consult your local utility company and a good solar installation company to ensure you make informed decisions. Another group of professionals that will come in handy when choosing how many panels you need is architects.

Factors That Affect Solar Panels Efficiency

Solar Panels Work Better

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1. Location

The best place to ensure your solar panel system is most efficient is in direct sunlight. Receiving full sun exposure with little to no obstruction will increase productivity.

2. Type

The kind of material used to make a particular solar panel will also determine how efficient it is. Knowing which type of solar panel is more suitable for your location and needs is important. Remember that the more powerful the panel is, the more it will prove efficient and generate more solar power.

3. Temperature

The best solar production environment is warm weather. When the temperatures are high, solar power also increases. Therefore, when your solar panels are in a good solar production environment, you can be sure of an increase in voltage and energy production.

4. Tilt Angle

In order to optimize production, the optimal angle is 30 degrees from the ground. Nonetheless, if you have a slanted roof design, ensure that all the solar panels are placed at an equal tilt so that none of them cast shade on another.

5. Solar Shadings

Solar shadings can cost you up to 30% of energy than you would have gotten. Solar shadings are “shadows” of solar panels. Whenever objects of any kind block the sun’s rays from hitting the solar panels, you can expect significant interference in solar energy production.

What Happens When You Are Unable To Install Your Solar Panels?

Home's Energy Consumption

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Several reasons can make it impossible to install your solar panels. If you know how long it takes to become an architect, then you’ll understand why such evaluations require professional input. Therefore, take every advantage to seek expert counsel about your solar panels.

Nonetheless, the most common reasons homeowners cite are poor infrastructure and financial constraints. Even so, you can still take advantage of solar panels’ financial and environmental benefits to the community.

If your roof is old or not built to carry the weight of solar panel installation, you may be deemed ineligible for a solar panel system. Hiring professionals who will advise you on what can be done to ensure your home enjoys the benefits of solar power is important. You can also be ineligible financially, especially if you come from a location where the solar panels cost is high.

However, you can opt to become part of a solar community program. Your home will not be getting solar electricity directly, but your subscription will contribute towards eco-friendly energy in the future. Additionally, subscribing and supporting the local solar array will get you monthly discounts on your electricity bill.


It is no secret that the sun can help you save money by producing solar electricity for your home. All you have to do is understand the requirements for efficient solar panel installation costs and the number of solar panels per your home and location.

There are several types of houses that can benefit from solar energy. So, don’t let anything hinder your home from enjoying solar power and saving on electricity costs. And amongst renewable energy options, solar panels power is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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