Solar panels have a rating based on how much DC power it produces under standard test conditions, which just happens to be 1000 watts of sunlight per square meter of surface. But if you’re not at the equator at noon on a sunny day without cloud cover, your solar panels will never function ideally. The average solar panel produces about 200 watts of electricity. This varies from solar panel to solar panel based on the size and efficiency of the panel. What will actually determine the amount of energy a solar panel produces is the solar panel efficiency, solar panel size, and the amount of sunlight hitting the panel.
Solar Panel Efficiency
Shade, the direction and angle your solar panels are facing, and the surrounding temperature will affect how efficient solar panels will be. Panels placed in shaded areas will receive less sunlight and thus produce less energy. Temperatures above 77o F decrease the efficiency of a solar panel. And if you want your solar panels to absorb the most amount of sunlight, they must be placed at an angle of 10-60 degrees facing south, west, or east.
Solar Panel Size
The average size of an installed solar panel system is 5kW. On a sunny day, it should produce 5000 watts of power per hour. Larger solar panel systems will absorb more sunlight and produce more power and the opposite is true for smaller solar panel systems.
The hours of sunlight an area receives varies across the U.S. with some states experiencing as low as 4 hrs of sunlight and others receiving as much as 7 hrs of sunlight. The time of year and amount of cloud cover will also determine how much sunlight is available. As you’d expect more sunlight means your solar panels can produce more power. But if you live in an area with little sunlight, you can compensate for this by using solar panels with high solar panel efficiency.