Dec. 08, 2022
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Going solar is a smart investment that can help you save money on your energy bills for decades to come. But before you can install home solar panels, you need to make sure your electrical panel is ready to support them.
In many cases, you won’t need a home electric panel upgrade for solar. But there are also many cases where an electric panel upgrade is necessary, especially if you live in an older home or you’re thinking about expanding your photovoltaic (PV) system down the road with battery storage or an EV charger.
What Is the Best Electrical Panel for Solar?
When thinking about electrical panel requirements for solar, amperage is the main factor to consider. Electrical panel breakers are rated by the amount of power they can handle, in amperage (or amps).
To be ready for solar, your panel’s main breaker needs to be rated for at least 200 amps, in most cases. (Larger homes will require a larger breaker for solar, while some smaller homes may be able to manage with less amperage.) If your main breaker is rated for less than 200 amps, it will not be able to handle the power load your solar panels feed into it. This can lead to many issues, including electrical fires.
How Do You Know If You Need a New Electrical Panel for Solar?
Evaluating your electrical panel before installing solar panels will help ensure safe, reliable operation. Common signs that you will need to replace your electrical panel before installing solar panels include:
- Your main breaker is rated for less than 200 amps
- You plan to install solar battery storage and/or an EV charger now or in the future
- You plan to install more electric appliances like a heat pump or heat pump water heater
- You plan to install a pool or hot tub now or in the future
- You are experiencing issues with your current electrical panel, like tripped breakers or flickering lights
Is It Worth it to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel Before Going Solar?
You might not have to upgrade your electrical panel to go solar, but it usually makes sense to do so anyway. The cost of upgrading your electrical panel is relatively low, and installing a solar-ready breaker will ensure you get the maximum value from your investment in solar panels. With a new electrical panel, you’ll get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home’s electrical system is operating as safely and efficiently as possible. And, if you decide to make any electrification upgrades in the future or expand your solar energy system, you’ll be able to take on those projects confidently, knowing your breaker box can handle the increased load.
Get a Free Solar Consultation in Massachusetts
The best way to find out if your house is ready for solar panels is to have it evaluated by a professional. Boston Solar is the leading solar company in Massachusetts with over a decade of experience installing solar energy systems. We can help you determine whether a residential electrical panel upgrade is needed for your solar project, based on your home’s current electrical panel and your current and future energy needs.
Find out if your house is ready for solar. Call 617-858-1645 or contact us to schedule a free consultation.
You might not have to upgrade your electrical panel to go solar, but it usually makes sense to do so anyway. The cost of upgrading your electrical panel is relatively low, and installing a solar-ready breaker will ensure you get the maximum value from your investment in solar panels.Do I need to upgrade my electric panel for solar? ›
Although most newer homes do not need to upgrade their electric panels when installing solar, it is relatively common in older homes. Electrical service upgrades can also provide numerous benefits in addition to accommodating your solar panel system.What makes an electrical panel solar ready? ›
What Makes an Electrical Panel Solar Ready? Your electrical panel is solar-ready when it has available breaker slots, can handle the electrical load of solar, and follows the 120% rule. It might also be a good idea to consider future changing electrical needs even if the panel is currently solar-ready.What panel do you need for solar panels? ›
Based on these factors, the average solar panel system for a home in India will typically consist of around 10-15 solar panels. This is enough to generate between 3-5 kilowatts of power, which is enough to meet the energy needs of a typical household.What does it mean to upgrade your electrical panel? ›
An electrical panel upgrade is where a combination of panel wiring, breakers, or fuses are replaced. This replacement results in increased energy management efficiency of your home. This process is often referred to as a "Main Panel Upgrade" (MPU).Can my electrical panel handle solar? ›
To be ready for solar, your panel's main breaker needs to be rated for at least 200 amps, in most cases. (Larger homes will require a larger breaker for solar, while some smaller homes may be able to manage with less amperage.)How much does it cost to upgrade an electrical panel to 200 amps? ›
The average cost of an electrical panel upgrade is between $1,300 and $3,000. This is the typical range for upgrading from 100 amps to 200 amps; for smaller or larger upgrades, you may pay anywhere from $800–$4,000.What size breaker do I need for solar panels? ›
Sizes in Solar System Circuit Breaker
A 30-amp fuse is necessary for each panel when the panels are connected in parallel. 20 amp fuses are necessary if the panels are less powerful than 50 watts and only use 12 gauge wires. Fuse and inverse time circuit breakers' standard ampere size varies between 15 and 6000 amp.
Solar energy systems can generate electricity in any climate. One of the disadvantages of solar energy is that it's subject to temporary weather disruption. Cloudy days reduce the amount of electricity you produce.Are electrical panel upgrades tax deductible? ›
The energy-efficient home improvement tax credit will help offset the costs of updating your electric panel and wiring. That credit is worth 30% of the cost, including installation. The full amount you can get for home improvements is capped at $1,200 each year.
Standard Solar Panel Size
There are three main sizes of solar panels to know: 60-cell, 72-cell, and 96-cell. For commercial and residential solar panels, the 60-cell and 72-cell solar panels size are most commonly used as the 96-cell measures 17.5 square feet – which can make for a challenging fit on your roof.
If you want to keep the power on when the grid is down, you'll usually just need one solar battery. If you want to go off-grid completely, you'll need far more storage capacity, more along the lines of 8-12 batteries.What do I need to buy with a solar panel? ›
- Solar Panels. Solar panels are the most significant of all the solar energy equipment. ...
- Batteries. Another piece of solar energy equipment is the battery, which is designed to discharge and recharge energy countless times on a given day. ...
- Charge Controller. ...
- Power Inverter.
Typically, a reasonable lifespan for a home electrical panel is three decades. If your electrical panel is older than that, or if you're not sure how old it is but your home is more than 30 years old, it's a good idea to look at upgrading your panel.Why is it so expensive to upgrade electrical panel? ›
When upgrading the panel, new wiring may also be required, adding to the cost. If the electrician discovers other issues that need fixing, like outdated fixtures, wiring, worn-out receptacles, or damaged circuits, then these are all additional materials to buy, so the cost goes up.What is considered an electrical upgrade? ›
An electric service upgrade normally involves the complete replacement of electrical service around the house. This includes the line side service entrance cable, meter base, weather head, load side service entrance cable, the grounding and bonding system, and, of course, the electric panel itself.How hard is it to add solar panels to existing system? ›
It is certainly easiest to add solar panels if there is additional capacity on the roof; however, there are ways to work around this. If additional roof space is limited due to the existing panels, it might be possible to place extra panels on a garage roof, carport, shed or ground mount.Do you need a sub panel for solar? ›
A subpanel made by Enphase is a pre-wired, small module that connects panels with the electrical grid that is connected to your home. It is an important component of your solar energy system since it allows you to quickly and safely manage the power output.Can you install solar on a 100 amp panel? ›
In most jurisdictions, a 100 amp panel box will typically allow you to have a max solar system size of around 4.25kW. A 200 amp panel box can support a system size up to around 12 kW, which would cover most residential installations.