How Big Are Solar Panels? (Weight & Size Explained)

Have you ever wondered how big solar panels are? 

Well, you must have because you found this article where we answer that exact question.

Solar panels range in a variety of sizes, factors such as solar cell type, total wattage and the type of panel all affect the overall size. 

In this article we are going to lay down the foundation and give you all the factors that dictate solar panel size.

Additionally, we have created tables which give you examples of solar panel size based on wattage and solar cell type. 

How Big Are Standard Solar Panels?

Standard residential solar panels, the ones you would have installed onto your homes roof, measure on average 65 inches by 39 inches, or 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet, covering an area of 15 square feet.

There are slight measurement variations depending on the solar panel’s manufacturer. 

For large scale solar installations like the ones built onto warehouses you could expect solar panels to measure up to 6 feet (these are known as commercial solar panels).

To understand solar panel size, you need to first understand the general makeup of the panel.

Solar panels are made up of smaller individual solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. PV cells always come in the same standard size:156 mm by 156 mm, which is approximately 6 inches long and 6 inches wide.

The majority of small scale solar installations, like the ones you are likely to get on your home, are made up of 60 solar cells.

Commercial solar installations on the other hand, are made up of 72 cells, and can go up to 98 cells or more.

Solar panel size - residential and commercial panels

FEATURE

RESIDENTIAL PANELS

COMMERCIAL PANELS

Average Length (inches)

65

78

# of Solar Cells

60

72

Average Width (inches)

39

39

Average Depth (inches)

1.5 - 2

1.5 - 2

 

Essentially, the number of cells found in a solar panel is directly responsible for its length. 

See below a comparison of residential panels VS commercial panels:

how big are solar panels

Most setups, whether residential or commercial usually do not comprise of a singular solar panel.

So what sort of measurements are we looking at with a full blown solar installation, say something like a 10 kW solar system?

Let’s assume you use 34 average sized solar panels each with a 300 watt power rating and stack them up vertically next to one another making two rows of 17 panels each. 

Your 10 kW solar system will measure 55,25 feet by 10.8 feet, covering a total of 596 square feet. 

Of course, these overall measurements assume that you place each said panel closely next to one another, leaving minimal space in between each panel.

In reality however, you will need factor in slightly more area, as you need to take into consideration the unique shape/orientation of your roof.

What is The Average Area of a Single Solar Panel?

A good example of common residential solar panel would be the High Density Shingle PERC Module (HiDM) from Canadian Solar. 

This single solar panel is capable of producing 345 watts of power (weather dependent).

The dimensions of said solar panel are as follows: 1700 ˣ 992 ˣ 35 mm (66.9 ˣ 39.1 ˣ 1.38 in) 

To work out the total area we want to multiply the length by the width. 

However, to not end up with an incredibly large measurement, we will want to convert mm into feet. 

  • 1700 mm = 5.5 feet 
  • 992 mm = 3.2 feet

Therefore, the average area of a modern single solar panel measures 17,6 square feet.

What Factors Determine Solar Panel Size?

When it comes to the factors that determine solar panel size, you need to consider the following criteria: 

  • Solar panel type
  • Solar panel wattage
  • Solar panel material

Solar Panel Type

As you may well be aware by now, solar panels come in 3 main different types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film.

Each one of these different types have their own unique advantages/disadvantages. 

Here is a quick table to give you a basic understanding of the differences:

Monocrystalline

  • High efficiency
  • Aesthetics
  • Higher costs

Polycrystalline

  • Low cost
  • Lower efficiency/performance

Thin-film

  • Portable/flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Aesthetics
  • Lowest efficiency/performance

 

Solar panel type dictates size because of the different materials used inside each of them. 

For example, monocrystalline and polycrystalline both use cells made of silicon wafers. 

However, the composition of silicon in each type of solar panel varies. 

Monocrystalline solar cells are always cut from a single, pure crystal of silicon.

Whereas polycrystalline solar cells are made up of smaller fragments of silicon crystals (which are melted together in a mould before being cut into sheets of wafers).

This difference in composition/makeup of the solar cells themself create slight inefficiencies. 

In this case, monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels and because of this vary in size. 

Take for example two solar panels capable of producing the exact same wattage (take note of the difference in size):

Monocrystalline solar panel – 365 watt

  • Dimensions: 1776 mm × 1052mm × 35mm.Area = 5.82 x 3,45 = 20,07 square feet
  • Weight: 45 pounds

Polycrystalline solar panel – 365 watt

  • Dimensions: 2000 mm x 992 mm x 35 mm. Area = 6.56 x 3,25 = 21,32 square feet
  • Weight: 49 pounds

Clearly solar panel type has an affect (albeit small in the case of mono vs poly) on the overall size of the solar panel, the more efficient the makeup, the less big the actual panel needs to be. 

Solar panel wattage

Solar panels are made up of series of single solar cells, all of which are connected in parallel circuits to form the entire solar panel. 

Of course, the higher the solar panel wattage, the more solar cells it needs to achieve that rating.

So ultimately, the more wattage a solar panel produces, the more solar cells it will require. Thus, the bigger the overall panel size.  

Are Solar Panels Too Heavy for A Roof?

are solar panels too heavy for a roof

Let us assume you are installing an average residential solar system on to your roof.

The average weight of a 365 watt monocrystalline solar panel is 45 pounds. 

To establish a 10 kW system you will need a total of 28 solar panels mounted on top of your roof. 

We know that one 365 watt solar panel weighs 45 pounds and takes up an area of 20,7 square feet. 

Therefore, 28 solar panels will take up an area of 580 square feet and will weigh a total of 1260 pounds. 

1260 pounds ÷ by 580 square feet = 2.17 pounds per square foot. When you take into account mounting equipment, you can raise the weight per square foot to about 3.5 pounds. 

This means a 10 kW solar system (with mounting equipment) will weigh 3.5 pound per square feet. 

A modern roof with concrete or clay tiles should be able to support 27 pounds per square foot.

As you can see by these calculations, a 10 kW solar system should have little to no affect on your homes roof, that is, your roof is strong enough to support some of the biggest types of solar panels. 

(Please note, our advice should not take the place of a professional solar installation company.)

How Much Weight Do Solar Panels Add to a Roof?

This all depends on what sort of solar system you are looking to install onto your roof. 

Let us assume you want to install a 5 kW, 10 kW or 15 kW solar system onto your residential home. 

First things first, you need to distinguish hoe many watts make up a kW. 

The calculation is easy, 1000 watts makes 1 kW. Therefore, you simply have to times the kW by 1000 to figure out the total wattage. 

  • 5 kW = 5000 watt
  • 10 kW = 10,000 watt
  • 15 kW = 15,000 watt

To understand how much weight solar panels add to our roof, we need to decide on what wattage solar panel we want to install. The average residential solar panel produce 300 - 420 watts. 

For this example let us use a 365 watt solar panel, we already know that they weigh about 45 pounds per panel. 

The calculation is as follows: 5000 watt ÷ by 365 watt panel means you will need 14x 365 watt solar panels to make a 5 kW system 14 solar panels x 45 pounds = 630 pounds.

  • 5 kW solar system will add 630 pounds to your roof. 
  • 10 kW solar system will add 1,260 pounds to your roof.
  • 15 kW solar system will add 1,845 pounds to your roof. 

(Please note, these amounts do not include mounting equipment.

Examples of Solar Panel Sizes

 Average size of solar panels

FEATURE

RESIDENTIAL PANELS

COMMERCIAL PANELS

# of Solar Cells

60

72

Average Length (inches)

65

78

Average Width (inches)

39

39

Average Depth (inches)

1.5 - 2

1.5 - 2

 

Average weight of different solar panel manufacturers

SOLAR PANEL MANUFACTURER

SOLAR PANEL WEIGHT (60-CELL RESIDENTIAL PANELS)

SolarWorld

40 - 47 lbs

Canadian Solar

40 - 51 lbs

Hanwha Q CELLS

41 lbs

Trina

41 - 50 lbs

SunPower

33 - 41 lbs

Renewsys

39 lbs

Axitec

39 - 41 lbs

Kyocera

42 - 44 lbs

Enersol

39 lbs

 

Conclusion

After reading this article we hope you have a much better understanding of how big solar panels are and how much they weigh (on average).

Many manufactures around the world are spending tons of money on exploring different ways to increase the power and efficiency of solar cells.

There is no doubt that the future holds many advancements in this green technology, and Bluetti Power is on the forefront of that innovation.