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Solar Panel Sizes & Wattage: A Complete Guide

Summer is around the corner, and people are busy buying coolers and air conditioners. However, if you are in the market for solar panels for your home or establishment, you are at the right place. Over the years, sustainable energy has been taking the world by storm. Solar power has emerged as a forerunner in the race thanks to its clean and renewable nature. You must be wondering what makes it better. One key factor to consider while investing in renewable energy, especially solar panels, is their size and wattage output. Agreed, the initial costs might not be the usual cost that goes into traditional fossil fuel electricity. As you read ahead, we delve into the nuances of solar panel sizes and wattage, providing you with everything you need to make informed decisions about your solar energy investments. The guide further aims to illustrate the key components that help harness the power of the sun.

Read on to make informed decisions that align with your energy needs and spatial constraints. However, before we dive deep into the details, let us understand the types of solar panels.

Types of Solar Panels

Three types of solar panels are commonly used in residential and commercial applications: monocrystalline, polycrystalline (also known as multi-crystalline), and thin-film. Each type has advantages and disadvantages regarding efficiency, cost, and appearance.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Made from single-crystal silicon give them a uniformly dark color, monocrystalline solar panels have a high efficiency that typically ranges from 15% to 22%. Their smaller footprint compared to other types makes them ideal for installations where space is limited. Compared to the other two solar panels, the monocrystalline has a longer lifespan and better performance in low-light conditions. That said, these are generally more expensive than polycrystalline panels.

Polycrystalline (multi-crystalline) Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are made from silicon crystals melted together, giving them their textured blue appearance. They are slightly less efficient than monocrystalline panels, typically ranging from 13% to 17%. Although they come with a lower manufacturing cost, making them a cost-effective option, they have a larger footprint than monocrystalline panels, requiring more space for installation.

Thin-film Solar Panels

Made by depositing thin layers of photovoltaic material (such as amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, or copper indium gallium selenide) onto a substrate like glass or plastic, the thin-film solar panels have lower efficiency compared to crystalline silicon panels, ranging from 7% to 15%. Lightweight, flexible, and often aesthetically pleasing, these solar panels suit unconventional installations and applications. Although less affected by high temperatures, these panels need more space for installation due to lower efficiency.

Does Size Matter?

Of course! However, the answer to this question is not a straightforward one. There are two factors that you need to consider:

  • The dimensions of the panel – height x width measured in meters or centimeters.
  • The maximum power output of the panel – measured in wattage, or ‘W’

The size of a solar panel directly impacts the number of solar cells that can fit onto the panel. This also determines how much electricity can be generated from captured solar power. Solar panels come in different sizes depending on what they’re for. For example, ones made for businesses are usually bigger than ones for homes. This is because businesses usually have more room on their roofs for bigger panels, so they can use more of them.

Understanding Solar Panels

Solar panels comprise small squares called solar cells. These square-shaped cells convert sunlight into electricity. The more the number of cells a panel has, the greater its capacity to generate electricity. Earlier, cells were usually 156mm x 156mm, but now, with technological advancements and rising demands, panels are getting bigger.

Solar Panel Width Height Depth
60-cell 39” 66” 1.3” – 1.6”
72-cell 39” 77” 1.3” – 1.6”
96-cell 41.5” 62.6” 1.38”

Residential Solar Panels

Home solar panels are usually made of 60 solar cells (or 120 half-cut solar cells) and can produce electricity from 250W to 400W. They come in varied sizes, ranging from 1.6m tall by 1.0m wide to 1.7m tall by 1.0m wide. One of the more popular residential solar panels are 1.7m tall by 1.0m wide. These solar panels cover an area of 1.7 square meters and can make up to about 330W of power.

Commercial Solar Panels

Commercial solar panels are designed for businesses and come with 72 cells. They are 30% larger than residential ones and normally measure around 2.1 meters tall and 1.1 meters wide, covering an area of about 2.3 square meters. These big panels are mostly used to generate solar power for big buildings or solar farms. However, if there’s enough space, they can also power smaller homes.

Half-cell Panels

On half-cell panels, you might see 120 smaller solar panels (as big as regular 60-cell panels) or 144 smaller solar panels (as big as regular 72-cell panels). These smaller panels are called half-cell panels because their solar cells are cut in half. This change helps the panels produce the same amount of energy while making it easier for electricity to flow through them, making them work better. Most new solar panels now use this technology. These smaller panels are about the same size and weight as the regular ones.

Now that you know the approximate size of a standard solar panel, let us take a quick look at the table that indicates the roof space you will need for different-sized solar systems made up of standard 1.7m2 solar panels.

 

Please note that this is just a rough indication. You would need accurate measurements to equip your terrace solar panels.

Solar Panel System Size Number of Solar Panels Required Approximate Roof Space Required (m2) Wattage Per Year (Calculated at 
2kW 6 12 2,800kWh
3kW 9 17 4,200kWh
4kW 12 23 5,600kWh
5kW 15 28 7,000kWh
6.6kW 20 38 9,240kWh
8kW 24 45 11,200kWh
10kW 30 55 14,000kWh

Weight of Solar Panels

Now that you have decided to have solar panels installed, you should consider the weight of solar panels for two main reasons:

  1. The roof or structure where the solar system is installed must be strong enough to hold the weight.
  2. Carrying and installing the panels should be easy, especially on roofs.

For example, a regular 60-cell solar panel weighs about 18kg (40 pounds), while a 72-cell solar panel weighs about 23.5kg (52 pounds). 72-cell panels are taller and harder to handle, making installing them on a roof tough.

Furthermore, because of their larger size, 72-cell panels can be more affected by strong winds during installation.

So, it’s crucial to consider the weight of solar panels when picking a system and planning its installation in India.

Factors Affecting Solar Panel Sizes and Wattage

Many things affect how big and powerful solar panels are. This includes new technology, where you live, and how you set them up. As technology gets better, panels can make more power while being smaller. This makes it easier to put them in different places and make more energy. Also, where you live decides how much sunlight your panels get and how much energy they can make. So, it helps pick the right size and power for your panels.

The Formula

To understand how big a solar panel is required for your home or business, follow the steps below:

  • Determine your monthly energy usage (in kilowatt-hours).
  • Calculate the number of hours of sunlight received per day.
  • Consider the efficiency of the solar panels.
  • Use the formula: Monthly energy usage ÷ (Sunlight hours per day × Solar panel efficiency) to estimate the required wattage for your solar panels.

Wrap Up

In short, knowing how big solar panels are and how much power they make is really important for getting the most energy and making your solar investment work well. If you think about things like what type of panel you need, how efficient it is, and what you need to install it, you can make smart choices that match what you want for your energy and how much you want to spend. Whether you’re someone with a house who wants to be greener or a company looking for clean energy, using solar panels can help make the future cleaner and better.

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