What Are Solar Arrays?

What Are Solar Arrays?

Updated January 5, 2022

If you are planning on installing a solar energy system on your roof, you may have heard of the term solar array. A solar array is a critical part of your solar energy system. 

A solar array, in simplest terms, is a grouping of several solar panels. In other words, it holds all of the panels of a solar energy system. Therefore, it is the most important part of your solar panel system.

How Solar Arrays Work

Your solar array has two essential roles: collecting sunlight and converting the sunlight into electricity.  Your solar array starts small with solar cells called photovoltaic cells. Collectively, the photovoltaic cells make a solar panel.

Each solar cell generates power through a photovoltaic process. Solar cells are typically made of thinly sliced silicon, which serves as a semiconductor. The photons in sunlight separate the electrons from the silicon in the solar cells. As the electrons are separated, an electric charge is generated.

The Size of Your Solar Array

While a solar array is simply several solar panels, the physical size of your solar array may vary. This is because the number of solar panels for each solar energy system is directly dependent on the intensity of sunlight that the area receives. 

On average, most households need anywhere from 21 to 34 solar panels. Three variables affect the size of your solar array and how it is situated, which include;

  • Where You Live
  • The Position Of Your Roof
  • The Energy Needs Of The Home

Where You Live

Where you live will determine where the solar panels will be placed on your roof. For example, in the northern hemisphere, the south side of the home receives more sunlight than the east, west, and north sides. Thus, when possible, your installer will place the solar panels on the south side of the home to receive the most hours of sunlight. 

Still, installers will need to consider more than the hemisphere you live in. Some areas are sunnier than others. Your installer will factor in the amount of sunshine in your area when designing your solar array.

The Position of Your Roof 

Not all homes have a roof that allows for a solar energy system to be installed on the south of the house. If your roof does not face due south, your installer will figure how many panels will need to be installed east and west to achieve adequate solar energy production.

The Energy Needs of The Home 

Your installer will also analyze your specific energy usage or anticipated energy usage. They will look at your current and past electricity bills, along with other factors, to determine the total size of your solar array. 

Limited Space

If you have limited space on your roof, it will directly impact the size of your solar array. In this case, you may want to discuss high-efficiency equipment when your solar array is installed. Higher-efficiency equipment will help increase electricity production and maximize the value you’re getting out of your system. 

Adding onto a Solar Array

Down the line, you may need additional solar panels for your solar energy system. Typically, solar panels are required when electricity consumption increases. 

Various situations can lead to an increase in energy usage. For instance, purchasing an electric vehicle, hot tub, upgrading home appliances, and much more can impact your electricity costs.

It is possible to add on to your solar array. Your original installer will be your best resource. Other installers may not be willing to add to your system due to conflict of interests and installer warranties. 

However, adding to your solar array is not a simple process. Adding onto your solar energy system will be more costly as you will have to pay for additional labor along with materials and any needed permits. You may also lose some financially advantageous programs, such as tax incentives.

Instead of expanding your solar array, if you anticipate an increase in electricity consumption in the future, discuss this with your installer. A better option may be installing a more extensive system. In the beginning, it will be oversized but will be able to accommodate your electricity consumption as it grows.

Expand Your Solar Array Today!

A solar array is an integral part of a solar energy system. Your solar array is composed of solar panels, and solar panels are made up of solar cells. On the whole, a solar array collects sunlight and turns it into usable electricity.

Each solar array is made specifically for each home based on several factors, so your installer will design the best solar array for you and your unique home.