If you live in Los Angeles, you’re lucky—you have nearly ideal conditions for solar power. Beautiful, sunny days are the norm here, and the city offers solar power rebates to sweeten the deal. As you’re planning solar power for your home, here’s our guide to how much solar power the average home needs in LA.
Sunny Los Angeles = Strong Solar Power Output
The first step in estimating the size of your solar power system is understanding how much sun your home gets throughout the year. Your solar power installer will go through the exact details with you, based on your specific location, the direction and angle of your roof, and whether you have trees or other shading during part of the day. You can also use Weather Underground’s handy solar insolation calculator, which will tell you how much sunshine your roof gets, and approximately how many solar panels you may need.
For a rough estimate, you can look at averages for sunshine in Los Angeles. Throughout the year, LA gets over 3,000 hours of sunshine. In the summertime, the city gets over 6 hours of full sun a day, and in the winter, the number’s still high at over 5 hours of sun a day. The daily average over the course of a year is 5.62 hours. All that sun means solar panels in LA can pump out more power.
If you look at the back of a solar panel, it lists a “maximum power rating,” or how much power the panels produce under ideal conditions. The manufacturers calculate this in labs using light equivalent to a sunny day, at noon, at the equator. Most solar panel owners don’t live at the equator, and for all of us, the amount of sunlight hitting the roof varies throughout the day, and throughout the year. The bottom line, though, is that more sun is better, and LA gets plenty of sun.
Sunny, But Not Too Hot
Another benefit for solar panels in Los Angeles is that (despite some recent heat waves) the city doesn’t usually get too hot. Like other electronics, solar panels work most efficiently in cooler weather. So, a sunny day in LA’s typical 72-degree weather might actually result in more solar power than a longer sunny day somewhere hotter, like the desert. This climate helps get solar panels in LA closer to their maximum power rating.
Power Use in LA
Your specific solar power needs will depend on what you’ve got. A Bel Air mansion is a bigger power hog than a tiny bungalow in Hollywood, and will need more solar panels. If you own a swimming pool, or use air conditioning, you’ll use quite a bit more power than someone who doesn’t. You can get a good sense of your power needs by looking through your past electric bills, and your solar installer will help figure out the details of what you need.
The average LA home uses a little under 6.5 kilowatts of electricity per year. That’s actually a little lower than in the past, thanks in part to a strong push from the city to encourage energy efficiency. (You can actually get up to $8000 in rebates for energy efficiency from the city and your power company right now). The less power you use, the smaller your solar power system can be.
Your solar power installer will work with you to help you figure out the ideal configuration for your home. If you use 6.5 kw of power, and want to cover 100% of your electricity use with solar, they’ll help you set up a 6.5 kw system. Los Angeles also offers net metering, a program that credits you for extra power that you produce, so some homeowners choose to actually get a system that’s a little larger than their average power use.
Ready to learn more? Sign up for a free quote on solar power in LA from one of the experienced installers we work with.
Last modified: November 13, 2012