You have estimated the size of the solar system that you need and are ready to get the equipment from the market to install it. But wait, are you sure you have enough space in your garden or your backyard or your rooftop to install the solar panels? How can you do a rough estimate of the area required by the solar panels? Here is a quick and easy way to go about it.

Lets assume that you want to install 10 solar panels rated at 100 Watts each and having a conversion efficiency of 18%. The total power output of the solar system can be calculated as:

Total Power Output = Total Area x Solar Irradiance x Conversion Efficiency

We know the required Total Output Power is 1000 Watts (10 panels x 100 Watts), the Solar Irradiance for a surface perpendicular to the sun’s rays at sea level on a clear day is about 1000 Watt/m^{2} and the Conversion Efficiency is 18%. Plugging these number in the above equation we get:

1000 Watts = Total Area x 1000 Watts/m^{2} x 0.18

or

Total Area = 1000/180 = 5.56 m^{2}

I you are going to install all the panels in one line you would need a space of approximately 1 m x 5.56 m (each panel having a size of 1 m x 0.556 m) on your rooftop. There you go. You have a rough estimate of the space required by the solar panels of your system.

Note:

1. Do remember that solar panels are usually installed at an angle to the earth’s surface and this may change the results somewhat. For an example of detailed calculation see the following post.

2. Appliances typically operate on AC voltage, whereas, solar panel produces DC voltage and battery also operates on DC. Therefore an inverter is needed to convert DC to AC and there can be substantial losses in conversion.

3. Imagine a solar panel has a conversion efficiency of 100% i.e. it converts all the solar energy into electrical energy then all you would need is a 1 m^{2} solar panel to produce 1000 Watts of electrical energy :).