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Austin Solar Panels-How Much Will It Cost?

Article by Mark D. Meurs

The information here can help you to estimate an approximate size and cost of a photovoltaic (PV) solar system for a home located around Austin, Texas. The information can be used in other location with some adjustments.

Ultimately you will probably have a professional estimate if you will be having your system installed. This is also a good starting point for any do it yourselfer.

Most utility companies use the kilo watt hour (kWh) as the unit of billing for electricity. An appliance rated at 1000 watts (1 kilo watt) will consume 1 kWh when operated for one hour.

There are a number of things that influence what size PV system you will require and therefore the cost of the system. Location, electric consumption, shading, and the direction of the panels will all need to be considered when you size your system.

You will need to estimate your daily average kWh usage. One of the best ways to do this is to examine your electric bills and find the average daily kWh usage. This should be based on at least one year (preferably more) of usage. Generally you are billed in monthly billing cycles. Calculate the average daily kWh consumption for 12 or more cycles. Do this by dividing the total usage for the cycle by the number of days in the cycle. Then average the results from each of the 12 cycles. The average daily usage in the US is approximately 30 kWh/day.

You can choose to replace any amount of your current usage up to 100%. Actually, you can have a system that produces more than 100% if you want to sell power back to the grid or anticipate increased need in the future. In this example we will calculate for replacing 50% of the average US home or 17 kWh per day.

PV systems are measured in generating capacity in watts or kilowatts and not by square feet. A 1 kW system will produce 1 kW of DC electricity with one hour of direct sunlight (if all parameters are ideal). The DC electric must be converted to AC electricity to be used in your home. This process results in a total power loss of 7-10 percent. Therefore a 1 kW system will actually produce around 900 watt hours (0.9 kWh)per hour of sunlight, of AC electricity.

The next piece of information need is the average daily hours of direct sunlight in your area. Austin, Texas receive an average of 5.4 hours of direct sun daily. Therefore you can expect a 1 kW PV system to produce 4.86 kWh daily (5.4 X 0.9 =4.86). In our example we want to generate 15 kWh per day. We divide 15 by 4.86 and get 3.09. Therefore we will need approximately a 3 kW PV system to generate 15 kWh per day.

The cost of an installed PV system in the United Sates averages ,000 per kW of array. We multiply our desired size (3.5) by 10,000 to arrive at ,000 as the cost of our system, installed. Fortunately, this cost will be lowered quite a lot by Federal tax credits and local rebates.

you will find reports detailing how to get tax credits and rebates as well as other FAQ’s. In addition there is a solar calculator to do all these calculations.

About the Author

Mark Meurs is the administrator of Austin Solar Solutions they provide answers to FAQ’s, Federal tax credit reports, a solar calculator and more.


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