Whether you own a massive plot of land, a small family operation, or just happen to own several acres of land, you might have wondered whether you could put some of your land to use with solar panels. These solar panels could not only provide power for your property, but could also potentially make you money. But before you go ahead and start building a solar farm, you’ll want to think about the logistics.
Calculating the Number of Solar Panels Per Acre
One of the key questions you’ll need to ask yourself is how many solar panels fit in an acre, and thus how many you will need to plan for and buy. Determining this number will require some basic math, but fear not, as we are here to help you!
Why install solar panels on your unused acres of land?
Regardless of how many extra, unused acres of land you have, it’s a good idea to at least consider installing solar panels. You don’t need to create a solar farm the size of the Topaz to make it a good investment for you, your pocket, and the earth. There’s a few reasons behind this:
- You create self-sustaining, renewable energy for yourself and/or to sell to the grid
- You can go fully off-grid if you would like
- The acres you put solar panels on may otherwise be unusable for farming
- You are reducing your carbon footprint
When you check out this list, it becomes clear that creating a solar farm on your land can be a productive, constructive, and profitable enterprise! Thus, let’s dive into the meat of the problem and figure out how many solar panels you’ll need!
How Many Solar Panels Will Fit on An Acre of Land?
When determining how many solar panels will fit on an acre of your land, you need to consider a variety of factors, all of which will impact the number of panels you will be able to fit.
As a general rule of thumb, you can think about a 1 acre as equaling about 43,000 square feet. A standard commercial solar panel is going to come in around 20 or so square feet.
All in all, you can probably fit at maximum about 2000 solar panels in a square acre. However, once you adjust proper set-up and spacing, that number may fall.
Terrain and Environment
The first and most obvious factor is the terrain and environment of this acre. If it’s a flat acre of dirt, it’s going to be a lot easier to pack in solar panels than if it is hilly, if there are trees or planets, if there’s water running through it, and if there’s any other obstruction. As a general rule of thumb, you should consider this as a guide for the total number of solar panels you could put on a “fully usable” acre of land that is flat and cleared for construction.
Size of Solar Panel
The size of your solar panel is another obvious limiting factor on the amount of solar panels you will be able to fit on your acre of land. A standard commercial solar panel is 78 by 39 inches, which means a total area of just over 3,000 inches, or 21 square feet.
Set-up and Design of the Solar Farm
Depending on how you set up the acre, the maximum amount of solar panels will vary. Here’s some different scenarios:
Completely Flat Set Up
Under this design, you have a completely flat acre which is completely covered with solar panels. If you lie them flat and as close together as possible, you can probably get just about 2000 solar panels in one acre of land.
Realistic Design Set Up
Realistically, you’re going to want to angle your solar panels correctly to maximize exposure to the sun and preserve their integrity. In addition, you need to leave space between solar panels so they are not overlapping. Ultimately, this reduces your solar panel count by an estimated 20-25%. In most designs, you can realistically probably get about 1500 solar panels on your 1 acre of land.
Non-Ideal Terrain or Environment
If you have any slopes or obstructions in the acre, this will even further reduce the number of solar panels you can fit on the acre. Make sure to compare your situation against these different base cases to make sure you don’t overestimate the number of solar panels and thus your production.
The total number of solar panels that you can fit on one acre of land depends upon the terrain, how you angle and set-up your solar panel farm, and other environmental factors. Ultimately, you can expect to fit about 2000 commercial grade solar panels on a 1 acre plot of land when optimally set-up.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many solar panels are in a square mile?
If you take our realistic base case with decently ideal terrain but proper spreading, you can fit about 1.3 million commercial solar panels in one square mile. Wow!
How much solar power can be generated per acre?
A standard large commercial solar farm will be placed on fairly ideal terrain, and will have proper angling, spacing, and space for related equipment. When you take that all into account, you can anticipate about 0.25 MW per 1 acre of land. So 10 acres of land would generate 2.5 MW. 20 acres of land would produces up to 5MW! This could vary a bit depending on your set-up however.
How much power does an acre of solar panels produce?
You can expect about 250 KWs of solar power to be produced for a 1 acre commercial solar farm with ideal terrain and set-up.