Can Solar Power a Home?

Quite often, solar power absolutely can power a home, but you'll want to make sure that solar power is actually capable of powering your home before you make the switch. After all, all of the incentives in the world, from lower utility bills to tax breaks, don't matter if your solar panels aren't doing the one thing you expect them to: power your home.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Home's Energy Use

To make solar power work for your home, you'll first need to determine how much energy you use each day. The average U.S. household uses approximately 30 kilowatt-hours each day, but this can vary quite a bit. The size of your home, the number of people living there, and even the climate can all affect how much electricity your house uses each day.

If you don't have your previous power bills to look back at, figuring out how much electricity your house uses can be time-consuming, but it's not very difficult. You first need to find how much energy each appliance uses in one hour. You can do this by either checking for an energy guide label that will display the information or hooking up a usage monitor. Once you have the per-hour usage amount for an appliance, multiply that by how many hours the appliance runs each day. Add up this total for all of the electrical devices in your home and you'll have a fairly good idea of how much energy you use every day.

Step 2: Look at How Much Sun Your Home Gets

You'll also have to determine how many hours of sunlight your home receives in a day. This doesn't have to be a precise number, mostly because there likely isn't one. Daylight hours fluctuate throughout the year, as does the weather. But you should be able to get a rough idea just by looking out the window or going outside at different times throughout the day.

Step 3: Design Your Home's Solar Energy System

Once you've determined your energy use and the amount of sunlight your house receives, you can begin working with a solar power professional. Using the information you gathered, they can start designing a solar energy system that's capable of efficiently powering your home. From the size and wattage of the panels to their placement and installation, there's a lot of work that goes into a home solar power system, so it's best left to a professional. When all is said and done, though, you'll have a home that's completely energy self-sufficient and freedom from costly utility bills.