Solar savings checker
Panel orientation (ideally South) and your geographical location influence energy production. However, number of panels is the most important factor. panels = more energy.
Solar panel installers generally provide an estimate of solar energy production when they give you a quote. Alternatively, PVGIS lets you estimate energy production for yourself. Finally, if you just want some approximate numbers to work with, use:
- 2,000 kWh for a small home system (approx 2.3 kW rated power)
- 4,700 kWh for a medium home system (approx 5.4 kW rated power)
- 7,500 kWh for a large home system (approx 8.7 kW rated power)
Electricity unit price
You’ll find this on your electricity bill. Be careful though! Many electricity suppliers quote excluding VAT. So add on 13.5% VAT if necessary to get the real price you pay. If you have both day and night rates then look at the day rate. It’s typically ~ €0.40 in Ireland.
How much of your solar energy will you use onsite in your home? With solar panels alone, onsite-consumption can be as low as 30%. A hot water power diverter should bring that up to ~ 50%. Add a battery on top for 70%.
Onsite consumption will also vary depending on your electricity usage and the size of your solar panel system. With few panels (relative to your needs), your onsite-consumption will be higher. On the other hand, onsite-consumption will be low if you have a huge solar panel system but don’t use much electricity.
Being Smart about your electricity usage can boost onsite-consumption. For example, running power-hungry appliances (like washing machines) in the middle of the day will boost onsite-consumption.
Export payments for surplus electricity
The amount you get paid for selling electricity to the grid depends on two things:
The first factor is determined by your electricity consumption and the production from your solar panels. The second factor depends on your electricity supplier. You can get a higher rate by shopping round, as shown below:
Putting it all together
Our calculator makes some assumptions to estimate your savings and export earnings.
- Typical Irish electricity consumption of 4,200 kWh per year
- €0.40 daytime electricity rate
- €0.20 export payment
- No batteries or power diverters
If you have below-average electricity consumption and a cheap deal on your electricity, then your savings are likely to be lower.
Your savings are likely to be higher if you pay more for electricity, have higher electricity consumption, or add a battery or power diverter. Using power-hungry appliances mainly during daylight hours can also help.
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With a community solar subscription, you automatically receive solar credits that translate to guaranteed savings on your power bill.
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Frequently asked questions
Each Community Solar subscriber receives a portion of the community solar savings generated by their local project. Once the projects start to generate energy, you will start to see those savings reflected on your utility bill. Your local utility bill will see a reduction in your overall utility charges as a result of community solar savings being applied. You will receive a set percentage of the total community solar savings generated by your share in the project, outlined in your subscriber agreement. The remaining solar savings are allocated towards maintaining and operating the local solar project.
For more information on how your bill is calculated by state, visit our Support Center.
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Each state has different rules and regulations of Community Solar programs. To learn more about how Community Solar works in your state, visit our support center.
Once we connect you to a local Community Solar project and that project starts producing energy, you will start seeing savings on your utility bill. The solar savings will continue as long as you are with us, for the determined term length of the project. The construction and connection timelines for solar projects are variable, and are always prone to change. Our members are typically connected to a project within a few months of determined eligibility.
If you would like to cancel your Arcadia membership and discontinue your Community Solar savings, you will simply need to contact our Member Experience team at email@example.com. You can also reach out to us by phone at (866) 526-0083 during standard business hours.
If you are enrolled on a solar project, we will need to remove your subscription from the project. It takes the solar developer and utility company three to six months to fully process an un-enrollment from the Community Solar project. This timeline accounts for your specific billing cycle, as well as the amount of time it actually takes for the utility to cease applying solar savings to your account.
During the cancellation period, your Arcadia account will remain open. After the cancellation period, you will no longer receive solar savings and if you were enrolled in Auto-Pay with Arcadia, you will go back to receiving a statement directly from your local utility company. We will keep you updated during that time and reach back out to you via email when the cancellation process is complete.
Understanding Solar Power
In principle, working out whether it makes financial sense to install solar power for your home is simple. You will need to calculate:
- The cost of a solar power system
- How much energy it will produce
- What you would otherwise pay for the same amount of energy
- How many years it will take for your upfront investment to pay for itself in saved energy costs
- Whether the system will pay for itself in five years
If it does and you have the upfront capital, it’s probably a great idea. If you’ll have to wait longer for savings or take out a loan to afford the system, you’ll need to think the decision through carefully.
In practice, however, things are not this simple. There is a large variation in each of these factors, and that can make the costs and benefits of installing solar power for two homes—even if they are neighbors—radically different.
There are some tools that can help, though. Solar Reviews offer a calculator that will quickly provide you with representative costs and savings for a solar power system in every part of the U.S. Calculators like this are a good place to start if you are new to solar energy and want to understand the basic cost model.
In the rest of this article, we’ll take you through each of the key factors you should consider when calculating the costs and potential savings of solar power for your home.
Before getting solar panels, get quotes from several reputable installers to compare.
The Cost of Solar Power for Homeowners
First, let’s look at the cost of installing a solar power system for your home. The average, upfront cost of a residential solar power system is between 3,500 and 16,000.
Why the huge range of costs? Well, a lot of the variation depends on the size of the system you’d like to install and the type of panels you want to use. Whatever system you use, keep in mind that solar power is capital intensive and the main cost of owning a system comes upfront when buying the equipment. The solar module will almost certainly represent the largest single component of the overall expense.
There are some additional costs, as well. Other equipment necessary for installation includes an inverter (to turn the direct current produced by the panel into the alternating current used by household appliances), metering equipment (if it is necessary to see how much power is produced), and various housing components along with cables and wiring gear. Some homeowners also consider battery storage. Historically, batteries have been prohibitively expensive and unnecessary if the utility pays for excess electricity that is fed into the grid (see below). The installation labor cost must also be factored in.
In addition to installation costs, there are some further costs associated with operating and maintaining a PV solar array. Aside from cleaning the panels regularly, inverters and batteries (if installed) generally need replacement after several years of use.
While the above costs are relatively straightforward—often a solar installation company can quote a price for these for a homeowner—determining subsidies available from the government and/or your local utility can prove more of a challenge. Government incentives change often, but historically, the U.S. government has allowed a tax credit of up to 30% of the system’s cost.
details on incentive programs in the U.S., including programs within each state, can be found on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency (DSIRE) website. In other countries, such information is often available on government or solar advocacy websites. Homeowners should also check with their local utility company to see whether it offers financial incentives for solar installation and to determine what its policy is for grid interconnection and for selling excess power into the grid.
The U.S. installed 19.2 gigawatts of solar PV capacity in 2020 to reach 97.7 GWdc of total installed capacity, enough to power 17.7 million American homes.
Calculating Your Energy Production
The second factor you’ll need to consider in your calculations is the amount of energy your system will produce and when it will do that. This can be a very complicated calculation to make, even for experienced solar engineers. However, let’s run through the basics.
How does solar power save you money?
One of the most important considerations is the solar irradiation levels available in the home’s geographical location; in other words, how sunny it is where you live. When it comes to using solar panels, being closer to the equator is generally better, but other factors must be considered. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) produces maps for the U.S. showing solar irradiation levels and the tools on its website provide detailed solar information for specific locations within the U.S.
Equally important is your home’s orientation: For rooftop arrays, a south-facing roof without trees or other objects obstructing sunlight maximizes the available solar energy. If this is not available, panels can be mounted on external supports and installed away from the house, incurring additional costs for the extra hardware and cables.
And then you must factor in the size of your system. Solar panel size is quoted in terms of the theoretical electrical output potential in watts. However, the typical output realized for installed PV systems—known as the capacity factor—is between 15% and 30% of the theoretical output. A 3 kilowatt-hour (kWh) household system running at a 15% capacity factor would produce 3 kWh x 15% x 24 hr/day x 365 days/year = 3,942 kWh/year or roughly one-third of the typical electricity consumption of a U.S. household.
Pros and Cons of Solar Panels for Your Home
Like most things, solar power has its benefits and drawbacks. At the same time, some economic costs may be defrayed by the social benefits to the environment and lowering your carbon footprint, which may be more important to you than a purely monetary evaluation.
- Green energy that lowers your carbon footprint
- Net metering allows you to sell back excess energy produced
- You may be eligible for certain tax breaks
- Installation and maintenance costs are still high
- Solar only works when the sun is out
- Parts of the system need to be replaced every few years
- Some tax breaks may have expired or will be expiring
Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone?
Practically, it is not often possible. This is because solar only works when the sun is shining—when it is cloudy or nighttime, they do not generate electricity. There are some battery solutions to provide power during these times, but they still tend to be quite expensive. Most homes with solar panels still rely on the grid from time to time.
Depending on where you live, it is possible that the system can pay itself back and more over time. This is because you won’t be spending as much money buying electricity from your utility. If net metering is in place, you could reduce your bills even further.
How Much Does a Solar Panel Cost?
have been coming down steadily over the years. The total cost will depend on how many kilowatts of power your array will generate. According to consumer reports, after solar tax credits are accounted for, the cost for a solar panel system on an average-sized house in the U.S. in 2021 ranges from 11,000 to 15,000.
Depending on where you live and the size of your system it can take, on average, anywhere from 10 to 20 years to break even on a solar installation.
The Bottom Line
Determining whether to install a PV solar system may seem like a daunting task, but it is important to remember that such a system is a long-term investment. In many locations, solar power is a good choice from a financial perspective.
How Much Is Solar Saving You. Fronius Solarweb | Know Your Solar | Episode 10
Even if the cost of solar power is found to be marginally more expensive than electricity purchased from a utility, homeowners may wish to install solar power to avoid future potential fluctuations in energy costs, or may simply wish to look beyond their personal financial motivations and use solar for green living.