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How Many Solar Panels Is the Wrong Question

How many solar panels do I need?. is the first question most people ask. But a better question is, "How can I need less panels?"

"How many solar panels do I need?" is the first question most people ask. But that leads to waste. A better question is, "How can I need less panels?" When you step back and look at the Whole System of energy use, just adding panels is like using them as bandaids.

It isn't just about the performance of your solar panels, it's about the completeness of your renewable energy system.

Read along to learn about 5 levels of optimization that can help you save money on both initial and ongoing costs of your solar panel installation.

With a Whole System Renewable Energy approach you can:

  • Typically use less panels
  • Have a lower upfront cost.
  • Get a better return on investment.
  • Have a system that really performs like you intend- it reduces waste and increases energy independence as much as possible.

How to need less panels is a better question.

It isn't what you use for renewable energy, it's what you ensure you don't leave out and leaving out the other variables while you add solar won't give you the energy performance and ROI you could otherwise achieve.

We have found there are 5 Levels of Optimization when adding solar that need to be attended to:
  • Level One: Just Solar Panels
  • Level Two: Attic Spray Foam Insulation
  • Level Three: Hardware Optimization
  • Level Four: Self Consumption Battery
  • Level Five: Backup Battery Power

Let's explore each in turn:

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Level One: Solar Panels

Starting with the most obvious, what we call a “level one” system, is to only install solar panels.

This is what most consumers do, perhaps misled by "solar only" companies that have an incentive to sell as many panels as possible.
Chances are, you’ll end up using extra, unneeded panels as “bandaids” on a suboptimum system.

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Level Two: Attic Spray Foam Insulation

An under-insulated house or business can waste a substantial amount of energy.

Attic Spray Foam Insulation integrated well with Solar Panels and can pay for itself with as much as 40% better efficiency and the ability to get up to 51% in tax credits when combined with solar panels.

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Level Three: Hardware Optimization (HVAC & Hybrid Hot Water Heater, Rooftop Replacement)

It is also often possible to get a return on investment by reducing the need for solar panels with modern, more-efficient HVAC and/or hot water heater.

And, when installed as part of a Solar project, qualified Homeowners can save as much as 51% on a new HVAC system using the Solar tax credits.

Similarly, many installations can get return on investment by incorporating Rooftop Replacement along with the solar panels, which can also qualify for up to 51% tax credit by dovetailing it with the project.

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Level Four: Self-Consumption Battery

You typically don’t sell excess energy back to the grid for the same rate you pay. That opens up opportunities for additional savings.

Using what we call a Self-Consumption Battery installation means you are storing your excess power for use when the solar isn’t providing - like nighttime - instead of selling power for less than you can buy it back at.

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Level Five: Battery Backup Power

Another purpose of the battery system is to restore power in an outage. You can have self-consumption without extending to the backup function of a battery system.

The question becomes, “what functions should be restored in a backup?” and calculations can be made to determine the optimum system.

4 Stages of Optimization Beyond Just Solar Panels

Solar Panels on RoofTo summarize, there are 4 additional levels beyond just adding solar:
Attic Spray Foam Insulation
Hardware Optimization
Self Consumption Battery
Battery Backup Power

Using a Whole System approach will likely reveal you don’t need as many panels as some will tell you. Want to learn how this applies to your solar panel installation? Sustainable Energy Solutions of Myrtle Beach and Charleston will give you a no-obligation consultation.

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How Many Solar Panels Is the Wrong Question

How Many Solar Panels Is the Wrong Question

How many solar panels do I need?. is the first question most people ask. But a better question is, "How can I need less panels?"