How Much Energy Do Solar Panels Produce?

Curious about how much energy solar panels produce? Explore the factors affecting solar panel energy output in the UK.

Toby
February 14, 2024
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The allure of harnessing the sun's abundant energy to power our homes and reduce our carbon footprint has led to the growing popularity of solar panel installations. But how much energy do solar panels actually produce? 

In this guide, we’ll shed light on the energy output of solar panels and the considerations that come into play, especially in the context of the UK's ever-changing weather. 

Solar Panel Energy Production Tool

At MakeMyHouseGreen, we've developed a handy tool that takes the guesswork out of calculating how much energy solar panels could produce for you. 

Our tool is designed to accurately determine how much energy you could harness from the sun over an average year. What's more, it translates these figures into potential cash savings, giving you a better idea of whether solar panels would be a worthwhile investment.

Simply answer a few straightforward questions about your house, such as your postcode, the direction your roof faces, and its steepness. With this information, our tool goes to work, providing you with a detailed estimate of your solar energy potential. But that's not all—our calculator goes the extra mile. It presents you with tailored solar panel options that best suit your property's unique characteristics.

Should you decide to take the next step towards a greener future, we're here to help. We'll connect you with trusted suppliers and installers in your area, ensuring a seamless transition to a sustainable energy source.

Solar Panel Energy Production Tool

Energy production of solar panels: Everything you need to know

A typical solar panel you might encounter in the UK has an output of around 390-430 watts (W). This measurement represents the power a solar panel generates under standard test conditions. However, real-world performance can vary due to several factors.

But before we dive into which factors affect solar panel energy production, let’s quickly touch on how they actually work.

How Solar Panels Work?

The magic of solar panels lies in their ability to convert sunlight into electricity through a process called the photovoltaic effect. Here's a simplified breakdown:

1. Absorption - Solar panels are equipped with photovoltaic cells that contain semiconductors, usually made from silicon. When sunlight strikes these cells, it excites electrons within the material.

2. Electron Flow - Excited electrons create an electric current when they move through the semiconductor material.

3. Electricity Generation - This electric current is harnessed as direct current (DC) electricity, which is then transformed into alternating current (AC) electricity by a solar inverter. AC electricity is what powers your home's appliances and lighting.

Recommended Article - How do solar panels work? In-depth explanation

Factors Influencing Energy Production

The energy production of solar panels is influenced by several key factors:

  • Panel Type: Different types of solar panels, such as monocrystalline and polycrystalline, have varying levels of efficiency. Monocrystalline panels are known for their higher efficiency, while polycrystalline panels more are cost-effective.
  • Location: Your geographic location plays a pivotal role in solar energy production. Regions with more sunlight generally generate more electricity. However, solar panels continue to produce power even on cloudy days.
  • Weather Conditions: Solar panels are designed to withstand various weather conditions, including rain and snow. However, harsher weather such as strong winds or storms can reduce energy production due to debris and dirt covering the panels.
  • Orientation and Tilt: The direction your solar panels face and their tilt angle can impact energy production. Panels facing south and tilted at an optimal angle tend to yield the best results. However, it’s worth noting that if you have a west-east facing roof, you’re still likely to see great levels of energy production - you’ll simply just have to install solar panels on both sides to catch as much sunshine as possible. 

Recommended Guide: Best Direction for Solar Panels UK

How much energy do solar panels produce a year?

To give you a more tangible understanding, let's consider an example. A typical monocrystalline solar panel with an output of 390 watts (W) has the potential to generate approximately 398 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in a year if facing South. If facing North, it would likely generate 203kWh and East or West facing panels would generate 310kWh. This calculation is based on the panel's rated output under standard conditions.

Keep in mind that this is a simplified estimate, and actual energy production may vary. Calculating the precise annual energy production for your specific location and solar panel setup is best done using our handy tool. By inputting details such as your postcode, roof orientation, and panel type, you can obtain a personalised estimate of how much energy your solar panels could produce in a year.

How much energy does a solar panel produce per day?

A typical solar panel with an output of 390 watts (South facing) could generate approximately 1.09kWh of electricity per day under ideal conditions. This value is based on the panel's rated output and assumes full sun exposure for several hours.

Now, let's explore how this daily energy production scales when you consider a system of ten solar panels. 

A single 390W solar panel generates 1.09 kWh per day.

For a system of ten identical solar panels, the daily energy production would be:

1.09 kWh/panel x 10 panels = 10.9 kWh per day.

A system of ten solar panels can produce 10.9 kWh of electricity daily, assuming optimal conditions. However, real-world conditions may vary due to factors like weather, shading, and panel orientation.

How much energy does solar panels produce per hour?

For domestic solar panels commonly used in residential setups, the typical output ranges between 250 and 400 watts (W) per hour.

Minimum Output: There isn’t a minimum per se but as long as there is light, even if it’s cloudy, your solar panels will generate electricity.

Maximum Output: During ideal conditions, such as when the sun is directly overhead and the panels are unobstructed, solar panels can reach their maximum rated output. For many residential panels, this can be around 400 watts per hour.

It's important to note that these values represent the panel's capacity to generate electricity in a given hour. The actual hourly energy production may vary due to factors like panel orientation, weather conditions, and shading.

Weather Considerations in the UK

The UK is known for its reputation as a country with frequent cloudy and rainy weather. While these conditions are not ideal for solar energy production, they also don’t halt it entirely. Solar panels continue to generate electricity, even on less-than-sunny days. Here's how it works:

1. Cloudy Days: Solar panels are designed to capture sunlight, not necessarily direct sunlight. Even on cloudy days, they can harness diffuse sunlight and convert it into electricity. While the energy production may be reduced compared to sunny days, it's not eliminated entirely.

2. Rainy Days: Rainfall may temporarily reduce the efficiency of solar panels by blocking some sunlight. However, rain often helps clean the panels, removing dust and dirt that may have accumulated. Once the rain stops, solar panels can quickly resume their normal energy production.

So, even in a country known for its cloudy and rainy weather, solar panels continue to shine, providing a green and cost-effective energy solution for homes across the UK. For more information on how solar panels work in differing weather conditions, we’d recommend our article on whether solar panels need to be in direct sunlight?

How to monitor solar panel output?

MakeMyHouseGreen offers a convenient solution for monitoring your solar panels' output through our energy tracking app. It’s designed to provide you with real-time insights into your solar panel system's performance. Here's what you can monitor with our app:

1. System Output - The app displays the current output of your solar panel system in watts (W). This allows you to see how much electricity your panels are generating at any given moment.

2. Battery Charge (If Installed) - If your solar panel system includes a battery for energy storage, our app provides information on the battery's charge level. This feature is especially useful for homeowners who want to store excess solar energy for use during the evening or during power outages.

3. Grid Usage - You can track your home's grid usage in real-time. This feature helps you understand when you're using energy from the grid versus when your solar panels are meeting your electricity needs.

Whether you're interested in reducing your carbon footprint, lowering your energy bills, or simply staying connected to your solar panel system's performance, our energy tracking app puts the power in your hands. It's a convenient way to make the most of your green energy investment.

Final Thoughts 

We've delved into how solar panels generate electricity, the factors influencing their production, and even provided you with insights into monitoring your solar panel system's output. But this is just the beginning of your journey toward a greener and more sustainable future.

If you're eager to learn more about solar panels and their benefits, we invite you to explore the rest of our 'green guides’ - they cover a wide range of topics related to green home solutions and solar energy, including How many solar panels can I fit on my roof? , how to maintain solar panels and a fully comprehensive solar panel guide.

But knowledge alone can't power your home with clean energy. That’s where our handy tool comes into play - it accurately works out how much energy you could harness from the sun in an average year. It will also translate these figures into potential cash savings. 

Simply answer a few questions about your house such as your postcode, the direction it faces and how steep the roof is. As an added benefit, the tool will also present you with solar panel recommendations tailored to your property.

See what you can save

Helping make the journey as smooth as possible enabling people to go green.