Is it Possible to Power a Household Entirely by Solar Power? | Ryan

Is it Possible to Power a Household Entirely by Solar Power?

March 1, 2020

Is it possible to power your household solely via solar power? With the advances in solar power technology, this is certainly a timely and fascinating question. The short answer is “yes.” It is possible to power an entire household on solar power. However, there are several caveats and constraints.

First, it can be quite expensive to go off the grid and convert the entire household’s infrastructure to be solar power-based. Second, conversion to solar panels depends on whether or not there is sufficient and sustainable sunlight throughout the year, not only for the region as a whole but also if there are shaded areas that would consistently block sunlight. Third, implementation would depend on the surface area of the household’s roof.

Fulfilling these conditions would create the possibility to power a household solely through solar power. Each of these factors is discussed below.

Costs and Construction

Power is generally delivered to households from electricity generated from gas or other sources of power on a grid. Leaving the grid means installing solar panels on the household’s roof.

Fortunately, solar shingles are now available, making it easier for replacing traditional shingles. In addition, these solar shingles work even in weak or scattered sunlight. The costs of replacing all the roof tiling with solar shingles, however, can be quite high, ranging in the thousands even tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to those costs, there are additional costs associated with constructing energy storage units and wiring to turn captured sunlight into useable energy for the house.

The other factor to consider in terms of costs is consumption. Usually, when a household is connected to the grid, there is an uninterrupted stream of energy and electricity coming in. When considering going entirely solar, calculating usage rates per day from different activities, such as watching television or heating bathwater, for instance, needs to be factored into the equation to see if powering everything solely through solar is possible.

That being said, following installation, there are no additional costs to energy generation outside of maintenance. In addition, under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the federal government gives a subsidy to solar panel systems. This is a tax credit equivalent to 30% of the system’s construction up to $2,000 given the year of the system’s construction.

Utility companies may also give a refund for cutting coverage, and there are green mortgage programs available for financing. From a cost and construction perspective, if a household has the funding and the space availability to construct a solar power system, the proposition of an all-solar household is feasible.

Sustainable Sunlight Concerns

Solar power is about preparing for the worst days, not the best days, of sunlight. The most important factor in considering whether an all-solar household is feasible is the availability of sunlight year-round. For those living in the parts of the world close to the equator, this does not present an appreciable problem. These parts of the world experience plentiful sunlight all year.

For some parts of the world, however, there is simply not enough sunlight to sustain a transition entirely to solar power. Consider Greenland, for instance. During the winter, daylight may only be available for a couple of hours, making it unfeasible to rely on solar power during that time period. Even if summer in these parts of the world may yield generous sunlight, there is simply not enough to store and use to offset the lack of sunlight during wintertime.

Even in less extreme cases, there may still be complicating factors. In parts of the world that experience long periods of time with cloudy weather or dark skies, power generation may be low, making it difficult to sustain. In these situations, adjusting and planning consumption is critical to making an all-solar power system work. While it may be feasible for a household to be running entirely off of solar power, consumption planning is key to making it happen.

A related factor is shade. Even if sunlight is plentiful and predictable, having shade cast over a part of the roof can reduce sunlight capture and make an all-solar system unfeasible. For instance, if there is an oak tree that blocks sunlight consistently, it may reduce capture by 30%, which may put the household below levels needed to run. In this situation, this is also known as 70% solar access. Making sure that there is no or little shade to maximize solar access is critical for making sure enough solar energy is available to run the household.

Connecting all of these factors, investigating meteorological data and getting rid of shade sources ahead of time is important for understanding whether or not an all-solar system is feasible. For many parts of the world, this would mean that running solely off of solar energy is, indeed, feasible.

Surface Area Implementation

Energy generation depends also on the available roof surface area for the household. The current standard for solar power generation is to generate 1 kilowatt-hour per 1,000 square feet.

For smaller houses, having smaller surface areas on the roof space may mean that there are not enough solar shingles to meet consumption needs. In such situations, a separate set of solar panels may be needed to fill that need. This may entail greater costs, or it may not even be possible given space constraints. Accounting for total surface area and total potential output, thus, is critical for ascertaining whether or not running entirely off of solar power is feasible.

For the majority of households, surface area should not be a large concern. In fact, the direction of the roofing can make a difference. For instance, if a triangle roof faces both the sunrise and sunset directions, then energy generation can be optimized, allowing for better generation per square feet.

Direction optimization can allow power generation at levels greater than the standard 1 kilowatt-hour. This means that, depending on different variables, even smaller houses can feasibly run entirely off of solar power. Ryan Refrigeration Heating Air and Solar can help you determine how much energy you can get from a solar system

Learn More Today

Is running entirely off of solar power possible for a household? Subject to weather, house and roofing surface area, and planning, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

In fact, even in rainy Seattle, an individual was able to set up a solar power system that took up only a part of her roofing space but generated over 100% of her energy consumption needs. She is reaping dividends on her solar investment. If anything, this example shows that not only is it possible for households to be powered solely by solar power, it can be a worthwhile, cost-saving, and reliable means of obtaining the energy needed to run a household.

At Ryan Refrigeration Heating Air and Solar, we provide high-quality air conditioning, heating, and solar services to residents in San Diego. Founded in 1996, Ryan Refrigeration Heating Air and Solar is a family-owned business dedicated to providing the full suite of services needed to meet customers’ heating and air conditioning needs. This includes installation, repair, maintenance, and replacement. Rest assured that we deal with the finest York products and are proud to be named a Samsung HVAC Preferred Dealer. Check out Ryan Refrigeration Heating Air and Solar today for more information!

Got Questions? Need a quote?

We know heating, AC, and solar can be a big investment. We're here to answer any questions you may have and provide a free, no-obligation quote for the work you need.