# How to Calculate Solar Energy Production

How to Calculate Solar Energy Production

Before you consider installing solar panels, you may want to calculate the solar energy production in your region.  That will help you determine the efficiency of solar panels in generating electricity for your home or business.  You’ll also be able to determine how many solar panels you’ll need for your energy demands.

Efficiency of solar panels depends in part on the angle of their positioning, but perhaps more importantly, the amount of solar irradiation in your area.  Overall solar energy production is influenced by the number of clear, sunny days, but also latitude and longitude.

If you want to learn how to calculate solar energy production where you live or work, there are several methods of doing so.

Perhaps the easiest approach is to use the tools from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  As stated on NREL’s PV Watts page:

The PVWatts calculator works by creating hour-by-hour performance simulations that provide estimated monthly and annual energy production in kilowatts and energy value. Users can select a location and choose to use default values or their own system parameters for size, electric cost, array type, tilt angle, and azimuth angle. In addition, the PVWatts calculator can provide hourly performance data for the selected location.

There are two versions of the NREL PVWatts calculator:

Version 1 allows users to select a location from a map or text list of pre-determined locations throughout the world. Version 2 allows users to select any location in the United States.

The calculations take into consideration several decades of recorded irradiance values.  You can pinpoint your area pretty well using its maps, which are developed based on local weather, sun angles and local microclimate cells.

There are some formulas to help you calculate solar radiation

Some believe that you can get a more accurate total energy production by using your own formula.  Engineers and scientists will enjoy putting pen to paper and crunching the numbers to calculate solar energy production.

Now, I’m not a scientist, but I did find this formula at SolarPanelTalk:

PV STC value *.8 (80% of STC) times hours of usable light (5 is a normal number) The sun may be up 12 hours a day in the summer, but the 3 morning and 3 evening hours, carry little power, so you can’t count them.
Figure in a number for clouds.

2KW array =(1600 *5) = 8000w day x 365 = 2,920,000 watts year, of sunny days, no clouds, no rain, perfect sun angle. You will NEVER exceed this #, and almost always fall short of it because of bad weather.

No matter how you do it – using the NREL links, or crunching your own numbers – calculation of solar energy production is an important step before you install solar panels.

### 11 Responses to “How to Calculate Solar Energy Production”

1. Your calculation 2,920,000 watts year, is this the same for anywhere in the world even in places with av abundance of sun light? I come from Sierra Leone in West Africa where I believe we have at least 8 hours of sunlight if not more.
I now live in England and have taken a keen interest in Solar energy. My long term ambition is to start a small scale industry in Sierra Leone using solar energy.
So I am currently doing a lot of reading about solar energy and youyr solar energy calculation looks pretty cool.

2. would like to learn more

3. i want to produce energy by heating the glass either through sun or water.

4. i want to produce energy by heating the glass either through sun or water.

5. i have plant to use solar system in my house .

approximately loas is 1500 watts .

i need 8 hours back up time to use the solar system .

how much cost it will take full system package ?.

how long warranty available each components .

give me advice .

6. We are planning to solar DC voltage for the VFD, from the VFD we will run the AC motor with PUMP for the farmars. our DC operating voltage betweem 450 DC to 560 DC with variable KWs opeaating VFDs. kindly advice to how to get 450 to 560 DC voltage for 3000watts application. price for the panels.
thanks and regards
swamy k.h

7. i want to know how to calculate output of 100 Watts solar pannel generation in a whole day.
thank you.

8. i am willing to install the solar system but as per the calculation it’s too much costly so which is the better way to use solar system in cheapest cost

9. I am user of solar panel and providing home lights,
I would like to generate 1 mega watt from solar,
how many panels requried and area to install, etc

10. this is pretty cool …i am an architecture student… i really want to understand the working mechanism and power calculations of this… a lot of the buildings now a days using alternative energy sources are not that interesting looking…. i want to work on it..