Using a solar power system to generate electricity for you Minnesota home may, at first glance, seem impractical given our long winters and northern latitude. However, Minnesota homes do have excellent solar exposure, making installing solar panels to generate electricity for residential use an excellent option.
Evidence of that effectiveness is the growth of solar power generation across the state. After ranking 25th among states for solar panel installations in 2015, state officials expect Minnesota to climb into the top 10 this year. By the end of 2016, utility and industry projections call for solar capacity to increase to 500 megawatts, up from 35 MW at the end of last year, according to the state Department of Commerce.
Utilities wouldn’t be investing in solar power in Minnesota if it wasn’t a cost effective way to generate electricity, and that same effectiveness can work for Minnesota homes.
Typical residential solar power systems involve installing solar panels on the roof of a home. The panels convert sunlight into DC power, which is channeled into an inverter in the home which converts the DC power into AC current, which is used by appliances, lights and anything plugged into an outlet. Residential solar panels generate electricity whenever sunlight is present, regardless of whether it is used at the time. The sunnier the sky, the more power is generated.
Unused electricity generated by a home’s solar power system doesn’t go to waste. Each system includes a bi-directional meter that tracks the electricity the home generates, power used in the home and the amount of electricity that is pushed back out on to the power grid. Electricity sent out on to the grid is credited back to the homeowner’s bill.
What does an average residential Minnesota solar power system look like? According to the Energy Information Administration, the average Minnesotan home uses about 810 kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity each month. This adds up to about 9,720 kwh of electricity that is needed each year.
In Minnesota, 1 kW of solar panels intalled on a home will produce about 1250 kwh of energy in a year. Therefore the average Minnesotan household needs an 8 kW solar system in order to offset all of their electrical usage, and maybe a bit more.
Here is how this system would look. We typically utilize solar panels that are rated to produce 280 watts for our residential rooftop solar systems. The dimensions of these panels are about 39” by 69”. Each panel takes up about 18 square feet of roof space. Therefore, 1 kW of installed solar panels will take up about 65 square feet of roof space. This home would need about 29 of these panels to produce their 8 kW of solar power. This solar system would take up 515 sq feet of roof space on a good roof facing towards the south. The system pictured is a little over 6 kW in size, and was built in Minneapolis.
While the numbers above are an example of one home’s system, each case is unique. Residential solar panel installers review a home, it’s location, construction and surroundings and measure the location of the sun relative to the home’s roof. This allows identifying the number and configuration of panels necessary to generate electricity for the home.
That means that the typical solar system for your home may look quite different than the one outlined above. Contact us now at 612-888-9599 or on our website and we’ll design a solar system that is unique to you.