How much energy does a solar panel produce?

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If you are forking out big bucks for a solar system installation, you’ll want to know what kind of return you can expect on your investment. Arguably, the easiest way to judge this is through the average output your system can give you.

Whether you are hoping to be less reliant on the grid or just trying to shave a few dollars off your energy bill, knowing the yield of your solar system could help you to make the most out of your solar power.

Although no two systems are alike, in this Canstar Blue guide, we’ve crunched the numbers to gauge a general idea around the amount of energy a solar panel can produce. We’ve also provided some helpful tips for improving efficiency and highlighted the factors that could be impacting the output of your panels.

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How is a solar panel’s output measured?

The size of a solar panel’s generational capacity and its expected output are measured using different scales. Typically, solar panel sizing is measured in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW), whereas a panel’s output is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh).

It is important to note that while these measurements are related, they are not interchangeable. For example, if you install a 4kW solar panel, this does not necessarily mean that your system will only generate 4kWh of energy a day. It simply means that this is the size of the generation system within your solar panel.

What factors impact a solar panel’s output?

Solar panels sitting at the bottom of a roof, facing sunlight

Aside from the obvious factor of the panel size, there are a few other elements that can influence the yield from your system. Some of these include:

While some of these factors may be out of your control, keeping these in mind when choosing where to install your panels could help to improve the efficiency and output of your system in the long run.

How much power does a solar panel produce?

The amount of energy that a solar panel can produce will vary depending on several factors, however, as a rule of thumb, you can expect a 1kW solar panel to produce around 4kWh of electricity a day.

Based on this general guide, a typical 4kW solar system will produce around 16kWh of power per day, provided it has prime location and weather conditions. For context, Australian households use, on average, around 15-20kWh of electricity a day.

Average Daily Production of Solar PV Cells in Australia

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City 1kW 1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW
Hobart 3.5kWh 5.25kWh 7kWh 10.5kWh 14kWh
Melbourne 3.6kWh 5.4kWh 7.2kWh 10.8kWh 14.4kWh
Sydney 3.9kWh 5.85kWh 7.8kWh 11.7kWh 15.6kWh
Adelaide 4.2kWh 6.3kWh 8.4kWh 12.6kWh 16.8kWh
Brisbane 4.2kWh 6.3kWh 8.4kWh 12.6kWh 16.8kWh
Cairns 4.2kWh 6.3kWh 8.4kWh 12.6kWh 16.8kWh
Canberra 4.3kWh 6.45kWh 8.6kWh 12.9kWh 17.2kWh
Darwin 4.4kWh 6.6kWh 8.8kWh 13.2kWh 17.6kWh
Perth 4.4kWh 6.6kWh 8.8kWh 13.2kWh 17.6kWh
Alice Springs 5kWh 7.5kWh 10kWh 15kWh 20kWh

Source: Clean Energy Council, Average daily production of solar PV cells in Australia.

As depicted in the table above, location and climate play a large role in the average solar panel output. Households in warmer, sunnier areas such as Alice Springs, Darwin, and Perth can clearly benefit from a higher energy output on their solar panels. Residents in Hobart and Melbourne though will likely see less solar power generated from their system, due to the cooler, shadier weather conditions.

Solar Plans & Prices

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

4 ways to improve the efficiency of your solar panels

If you are concerned about the output from your solar panels, there are a few things you can do to try and improve the efficiency of the system.

1. Install a more efficient solar panel type

Some solar panel types are considered to be more efficient than others as a result of things like increased surface area or the number of cells included in the panel size. Generally, solar panels that are made from monocrystalline are regarded as a more efficient panel type. This is because monocrystalline panels are created from a single source of silicon, as opposed to other panel types, such as polycrystalline, which use a blended silicon. Keep in mind however, monocrystalline panels typically come with a higher price tag than other panel types, so it may be worth considering whether the potential for more output will outweigh the additional upfront costs.

2. Consider adding more solar panels to your system

If you are looking to expand the power capacity of your system, then it may be worthwhile adding more solar panels to your rooftop. However, there are quite a few things to consider before expanding your system. Firstly, you’ll need to ensure that your solar inverter can support additional panels. Inverters can ‘oversize’ their capacity by approximately 133 per cent, but they cannot support any more than this. As such, if your system is already at its capacity, adding additional panels may mean you’ll also need to upgrade your inverter, which could be costly.

It’s also important to consider the warranty or solar rebates on your current system before expanding. Some warranties or government-boosted solar feed-in tariffs (FiTs) may become void if the system is upgraded before the expiry date.

For more information around adding solar panels to an existing solar system, it’s best to get in touch with a licensed solar professional.

3. Clean your solar panels

You may also be able to improve the efficiency and longevity of your system through regular maintenance and general cleaning. Dirty solar panels can lose between four and 20 per cent of their effectiveness, according to a study presented to the World Renewable Energy Congress. Scheduling in a clean for your panels at least once a year then, could help you to improve the power output of your system.

Man holding phone in front of solar panels with monitoring information displayed on it

4. Use solar monitoring technology

If you are super keen to keep track of the output from your solar panels, it may be worthwhile to start utilising solar energy monitoring technology. Most inverter systems these days should have a built-in monitoring software set up which can show data like how much energy your panels have produced over a certain period, how much electricity you use from the grid and even the impact shade has had on certain parts of the panels. You can then use this information to see where your system might be lacking in terms of efficiency.

If your solar inverter doesn’t have built-in software however, you could also look to invest in a third-party app or device to track your solar power output.

How do I decide what solar panel system is right for me?

Picking a home solar system will be based on many factors, from the number of people living at the property to solar energy goals of the household. That’s why it’s important to carry out your research and gather as many quotes as you can before making a purchase decision. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so finding a quality solar installer that can best work to the energy needs of your home will be key.

If you’re spoiled for choice or stumped on where to start, be sure to check out our annual solar installer ratings below. Here you’ll find a selection of companies that Aussie consumers have rated top-notch for solar installations.

Compare Solar Installers

Image credit: Stonel/Shutterstock.com, iyks/Shutterstock.com, Kampan/Shutterstock.com

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