With electric prices going through the roof, now is the perfect time to go the solar energy route.
Besides, living off-grid gives you peace of mind now that you don’t have to worry about power bills and blackouts.
While solar energy is cheap and deserves to be more popular, most of us aren’t knowledgeable enough about it.
Hereof, Can You Power a Garage with Solar Panels?
In one word – YES. However, you might want to check your municipality regulations before anything. Most municipalities require that a structural engineer review your property and determine the roof’s strength. Once you get a pass, nothing else should stop you.
Why Would Anyone Power Their Garage with Solar Panels?
A detached garage deserves solar power more than any other auxiliary structure at home because of its distance from the main home.
Rather than run underground cables from the home to the garage (a bothersome thing to do), you can make it self-reliant by equipping it with solar panels.
Also, if your garage demands slightly more power for your daily activities, solar energy would be a great supplement.
The need for cheap electricity is the main driving factor nonetheless.
What The Solar Power Options For Your Garage?
There are two options for you:
- You can take a simplistic approach that will cost you about $100
- For greater energy needs, go for a complex paneling system that will generate much power on a bigger budget (over $3000).
Eventually, the cost of the project, duration of the installation process, and effort will depend on your energy vision and how you plan to use the garage.
How Many Panels Do You Need?
Start by understanding your garage’s energy usage.
Check out your recent monthly power bill.
Your monthly energy consumption is normally printed in kWh (kilowatt-hours) somewhere in a table on the bill.
Since monthly power consumption varies, calculate yearly energy consumption for the garage area alone.
Step 1. Calculating The Amount Of Sunlight Received By Your Locality
Once you determine your garage’s yearly power usage, proceed to find the amount/intensity of sun received by your locality or ‘peak sun hours.’
The figure obtained above represents the amount of daily amount sun recorded in your area, but we want the monthly amount.
Multiplying the obtained figure by 30 days – call it ‘monthly peak sun hrs.’
This figure will help you to know the number of kWh of power 1 kW solar array will generate in your locality daily.
If your area gets 160 monthly peak sunlight hrs, then 1 kW of the solar array will generate 160 kWh of electrical power every month.
Difference between kW and kWh
Note that kW and kWh aren’t the same – kW shows the rate at which you use electricity, whereas kWh depicts the total amount of electricity you use.
We won’t get into finer details, but you can learn more here.
Step 2: Finding The Size Of The Solar System Perfect For Your Garage
Now that you know what a 1 kW solar array is capable of generating in your area, you can easily find the size of the system as follows:
(Monthly peak hours / monthly peak sun hrs.) = x kW
- To know the exact number of solar panels needed for your project, first, take the figure obtained above (size of the solar system) and multiply by 1000 (you’re basically converting kW to watts).
Proceed to divide the new size of the solar system (in watts) by the wattage of the solar arrays of your choice.
Congrats! You just got the number of the total solar panels required to complete the project.
How Much Garage Roof Space Is Needed For The Solar Panels?
An average single car garage has a roof area between 240 and 384 sq. ft. or 20 – 24 ft. long and 12 – 16 ft. wide.
You can use the size of a car as a reference – an average car is 97.5 sq. ft. long and over 6 ft. wide.
To find the precise size of roof space for your solar system, take the number of solar panels you obtained above and multiply by 17.5 sq. ft. (the area of the typical modern solar panel in the market today).
Here’s are the estimations:
|Size of System
|Monthly Energy Generation
|No. of Panels
|225 sq. ft.
|332 sq. ft.
|440 sq. ft.
Can You Install the System from Scratch?
Yes, certainly. It isn’t hard, especially if you take a simplistic approach with minuscule power production.
However, dealing with a bigger system with many solar panels will be challenging.
Still, you need some DIY skills. Such systems contain numerous components that have to work flawlessly.
Solar panels aren’t the same either. Some are high-efficiency; others can’t stand dampness.
If you aren’t experienced in this area, HIRE A PROFESIONAL.
So How Much Money Do You Stand to Save In The Long Run?
It’s hard to come up with MORE precise figures. However, a rough estimate for an average 3 kW solar system on a detached garage could make you save anything in the region of $600 per year.
You can expect to get at least 4000–4300 kWh of free electricity every year.
For better results, ensure that most of the panels, or 200–240 sq. ft. of your solar arrays, are in direct line with the sun most of the day.
In a 7–8-year period, your ROI (return of investment) could be stagger anywhere in 10–30 percent.
What Are the Key Factors to Consider?
There are THERE:
You want to generate more electricity from the tiny space that makes up the roof of your garage.
You might not cover the whole roof with solar panels, so each of your few panels needs to be very efficient.
A few years back, the highest efficiency you could get was 15 percent plus a power rating of 370W.
Today, some panels come with over 20 percent efficiency and a power rating of 370W.
2. Panel Size
Size does matter, and we’d recommend you go for midsize or small panels.
There are two reasons for that:
- firstly, you don’t have a lot of space on your garage roof to accommodate giant panels (they may stretch past the roof’s edge).
- Another reason is resistance – the larger the solar panel, the longer the distance the current has to travel from the solar energy cells to the collection point. Distance traveled is directly proportional to the resistance to electricity.
Cheap panels from a company you barely know could turn into a headache in the future.
Such products are seldom accompanied by a reliable warranty.
You’d be to get your panels from a reputable company.
To summarize everything, you can power your garage with solar panels as long as your municipality regulations permit it.