Will a 5kW Solar System Run a House?

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5 kilowatt solar kit panels are becoming more popular among those who are serious about going solar. But of course the question is, is it enough to run a house? Whether you want a grid tied or off the grid system, knowing the answer is essential prior to installing the system.

A 5kw solar system can produce 25kw a day and up to700kw a month. This is 65-75% of the monthly power consumption of a typical home, which is 920kw. This is sufficient to meet the power requirements of a small household.

How Much Power Does a 5kW Solar System Produce a Day?

5 kilowatts is 5000 watts. In a perfect world, a 5000 watt solar system will produce 5000 watts an hour or 25000 watts / 25kw a day with 5 sun hours. However, differences in peak hours and other factors affect the output of any solar array, regardless of size.

A 5kw solar array can give you around 4000-4500 watts an hour on average, or 20-25kwh every day. This assumes at least 5 sun hours are available. Limited sunlight during the winter for instance, will reduce solar production output.

The PowerECO 3 Piece Solar Panel Set is rated at 300 watts for instance. But it does not mean it will always produce 300 watts an hour.

When the sun is at its highest point in the sky you can expect solar panels to reach its rated output. But as the afternoon goes on, the sun’s position in the sky changes, which affects production.

That output rating is based therefore, is based on its maximum peak performance under ideal conditions. This applies to all solar panels.

This is where solar panel efficiency comes in. A solar panel with a high efficiency rating will be able to convert more solar energy into current. 5 kilowatt PV systems are bundled with high efficiency panels that allow it to produce as much power as possible.

The other factor that determines the output is your location. As explained in the next section, this has a definite bearing on how much power any solar array will generate.

How Much Peak Sun is in Your Area?

Peak sun refers to the period when the sun is at its highest intensity and solar panel production is at its highest. The more peak sun hours available, the more power available for your solar array.

RegionAverage Peak Sun
Northeast4 hours
Midwest 4.5 hours
South 5.5 hours
West6.8 hours

If are in Arizona, you can expect 6 to 7 peak sun hours, allowing your system to produce more power. Depending on your monthly usage you could settle for a smaller solar array.

But in Seattle where the peak sun hour is 3.9 hours, you have to use a large solar system to generate a similar amount of power. This table gives you a general idea of the peak sun hour per region. Here is a list of the peak sun hours per state.

Sample Calculation

Suppose you live in Los Angeles, California which has an average of 6.7 peak sun hours per day. Assuming your 5kw solar array produces 4000 watts an hour, it can generate about 26kw / 26800 watts a day.

4000 watts x 6.7 peak sun hours = 26800 watts / 26.8kw

26.8 kilowatts a day is about 800 kilowatts a month:

26.8kw x 30 = 800kw

Now suppose you are living in Seattle, where the average is 3.9 peak sun hours. Assuming the array is still capable of producing 4000 watts an hour:

4000 watts x 3.9 peak sun hours = 15600 watts / 15.6kw

15.6kw x 30 = 468kw

The same 5kw solar array is only going to produce 468 kilowatts in Seattle due to the limited amount of sunlight available. These are generalities of course because the sun hours available will vary depending on the season, solar panel efficiency, orientation and other factors. By comparing this figure with your monthly bill, you can determine if a 5 kilowatt system is efficient or not.

Is a 5kW Solar System Enough?

The average US home uses 920kw a month. Using the calculations above as a guide, a 5kw solar system can provide 60% to 75% of your total electrical needs, maybe even all of it if you conserve energy.

With 5 sun hours a day, a 5 kilowatt solar system can supply up to 700kw of the average 920kw requirement of most homes. But some households consume much more than 900 kilowatts, and others much less.

The best way to find out is to check your monthly power bill. Compare it with the output of this system and you will know if it is enough or not. Rather than rely on the average, you will get more accurate results by using your own figures.

Look at your latest monthly power bill. At the bottom you will see the total kilowatts used. If your monthly usage varies, get your electricity bills for the past 12 months and average the usage.

Using the calculation guide provided earlier, you can determine if a 5 kilowatt system is enough. If your monthly usage is less than 800 kilowatts and you are in the west, the system will do. But if you are in the northeast you will need another power source or conserve energy.

If you are on a grid tied system like most homes, electrical power will compensate for whatever insufficiencies the solar array generate. But if you are off the grid, you need a battery bank, a generator or another power source to run other appliances.

What Can a 5kW Solar System Power?

The following chart guide is based on a standard American home with four people. What this shows is that a 5kw solar system can run all of these appliances. This is only meant to give you a general idea of what a 5kw solar system can power. Depending on the household, the appliance usage will vary.

ApplianceMonthly Usage in HoursMonthly Kwh
A/C Window 9000 BTU Energy Star9072
Refrigerator 19-21 cu. ft. 720 2772027
Dishwasher (air dry) 30 153015
Chest Freezer 19-21 cu. ft. 720 3072030
Clothes Dryer (electric) 6 76676
Clothes Washer (no hot water) 7 979
Range Top (small) 30 383038
Coffee Maker 30 5305
Microwave 9 898
Lighting LED 10W 90 1901
Ceiling Fan 150 1215012
Heating System (furnace fan blower) 180 154180154
DVD Player602
Heating Sstem (hot water) 180 4918049
standby mode 10Standby mode10
Computer standby mode 10Standby mode2
Game Console standby mode 10Standby mode10

The total monthly wattage comes up to 528kw. It is well within the range of the 600-700kw capacity of a 5kw system with 5 hours of sunlight available. There is enough power left to run other appliances like a food processor, blender, toaster etc. a few minutes a day.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

  • The appliances listed above are among the most commonly used. Yours may be different, so use your own list.
  • The usage is the US national average for a household of four. The watt consumption will differ significantly depending on the number of persons per household.
  • The size of the house is not as important as the power usage. It is the number of appliances being used that matters.

Power consumption will vary depending on the season. You will run an AC unit during the summer months but not in the winter. In the same vein you will turn the heater up during the winter only. This could even things out in terms of usage, but it is better to be more specific. By looking up your power bill as suggested, you will know exactly how many kilowatts you use regardless of the season.

Estimating power consumption for some appliances can be tricky. A toaster may consume 1000 watts an hour, but most of the time it runs for just a few minutes a day. The same with blenders and other kitchen appliances and power tools.

Tips For Using a 5kW Solar System

Before you buy a large solar panel kit, here are some things you need to be bear in mind.

Space requirements. A 5kw solar array needs about 400 square feet of space. Make sure your roof has enough space for the panels so they are not clustered together.
Orientation. The panels must face the south to get the maximum sunlight. In the southern hemisphere it is the opposite, as the panels need to be oriented to the north.
Included components. The kit should include all the essential peripherals to install the system. Aside from the solar panels the package should have microinverters, mounting and racking hardware and a system monitor.
Items not included. Most solar panel kits do not come with the cables, junction boxes, AC/DC disconnect, breakers and fittings. You can buy these in any electrical store. The installer will tell you what supplies are needed.
Solar panel output. The higher the wattage output, the fewer panels you will need. 17 x 300W solar panels can produce roughly 5100 watts an hour, and so will 25 x 200W panels. But the 300W modules will take up less room.

Conclusion

Buying and installing a 5kw solar system is an expensive and serious undertaking. it is not an exaggeration to say it will require making some lifestyle changes as well. Hopefully the information in this guide was able to help you make the right decision.