solar panel size and weight

Solar panel size and weight explained: how big are solar panels?

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Solar panel systems are an increasingly common sight on rooftops all across the U.S., but unless you climb up onto a roof, it can be difficult to figure out how big solar panels are and how much they weigh. In this article, we’ll help you understand solar panel size, solar panel weight, and whether your roof can support solar panels. 


Key takeaways about the size of solar panels


  • Solar panels are roughly 5 feet long and 3 feet wide, with some small variation by manufacturer
  • Solar panels usually weigh about 40 pounds each
  • Professional solar installers on the EnergySage Marketplace are experts at designing and installing a system for your unique property

How big are solar panels?

The average size of solar panels used in a rooftop solar installation is approximately 65 inches by 39 inches, or 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet. There is some variation from brand to brand, and if you’re installing a large-scale solar panel system (such as for a warehouse or a municipal building) your panels will be closer to 6 feet long (these are known as commercial solar panels).

Every solar panel is made up of individual solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. PV cells come in a standard size of 156 mm by 156 mm, which is approximately 6 inches long and 6 inches wide. Most solar panels for rooftop solar installations are made up of 60 solar cells, while the standard for commercial solar installations is 72 cells (and can go up to 98 cells or more).

Solar panel size and weight, residential and commercial panels

FeatureResidential panelsCommercial panels
# of Solar Cells6072
Average Length (inches)6578
Average Width (inches)3939
Average Depth (inches)1.5 - 21.5 - 2

The number of solar cells on one panel is directly related to its length. 72-cell commercial solar panels are approximately 13 inches longer than 60-cell residential panels.

commercial vs residential solar panel size

If an average solar panel measures at 65 inches by 39 inches, how does that translate to a full-sized rooftop solar panel system?

Take a system size of 6 kilowatts (kW). If you install a 6 kW system with 20 average-sized panels, your system will likely measure approximately 27 feet wide by 13 feet long – 352 square feet in all. This assumes that your panels can be placed close together and that there are no obstructions on your roof–in reality, you’ll usually need a little more space than that to accommodate for the unique shape and orientation of your roof.

Importantly, the way your solar panel system is designed impacts the price you’ll pay for solar – a simpler, more compact setup will almost always cost less than a more complex installation.

How much do solar panels weigh?

Understanding how much solar panels weigh is another important factor to keep in mind if you’re planning on installing a rooftop solar system. Knowing a solar panel’s weight is the best way to be certain that your roof can support a full installation.

EnergySage reviewed product specifications for the top 10 solar panel brands most frequently offered to homeowners in the EnergySage Solar Marketplace and compared the weight of their standard 60-cell residential solar panels. While there is some variation from brand to brand, most panels weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 pounds.

Of the top brands that we compared, the lightest was SunPower, with some panels weighing as little as 33 pounds. The heaviest was Canadian Solar, which has panels that weigh as much as 50 pounds.

Solar panel weight by manufacturer

Solar panel manufacturerSolar panel weight (60-cell residential panels)
SolarWorld40 - 47 lbs
LG38 lbs
Canadian Solar40 - 51 lbs
Hyundai38 - 41 lbs
Hanwha SolarOne40 - 42 lbs
Hanwha Q CELLS41 lbs
Trina41 - 50 lbs
SunPower33 - 41 lbs
Axitec39 - 41 lbs
Kyocera42 - 44 lbs

Can your roof support a solar panel system? 

Armed with the knowledge of solar panel size and solar panel weight, we can make a calculation about how much a whole solar panel system weighs – which in turn can help you understand whether your roof can support a new solar panel system or not.

In a 6 kilowatt solar installation made up of 20 solar panels, the panels alone will weigh approximately 800 pounds (20 panels x 40 lbs). Based on our calculation above, we know that this same system measures at 352 square feet, which works out to a weight of 2.3 pounds per square foot (800 pounds ÷ 352 sq ft). When you include the mounting hardware and other equipment for your panels, the total weight will be closer to 3-4 pounds per square foot.

The roofs on most newer homes can handle significantly more than 3 pounds per square foot of weight. However, if you have an older roof or are in any way concerned about whether your roof can support the additional weight of solar panels, talk to a roofing company. A straightforward roof inspection can help you determine whether the additional weight of solar panels are a viable option for your home.

Find the solar option that’s best for your home by comparing multiple quotes

Solar installers are used to customizing their system designs to meet the specific needs of each individual property. However, if you are considering installing solar panels on your roof, finding an installer that’s the right fit for your home may take a little shopping around. You can use the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to easily solicit and compare multiple offers from installers near you. If you have any questions or concerns about your roof, simply add a note in your profile when you register.


16 thoughts on “Solar panel size and weight explained: how big are solar panels?

  1. Coughlin Daniel

    Could solar panels really be installed at no cost to a Florida Home owner? Large oversized rooftop with no shade ever. I would have it done if that was the case? Would like to know. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. John Ulloth

    3 answers for Mr. McAffee:
    1. Though it makes sense to ask an engineer, I don’t know why the writer panicked over solar panel weight (as if you need to take a quarter of a million pounds dead load to the ground in 1 column!); 2-4lbs per square foot is ~the same dead load as changing your roofing from asphalt roofing to clay (Spanish) tiles, and most building rooves after WWII can handle that bit extra. But she omitted mobile units, whose outer walls used to be made of 2×3’s (2 x 6’x ripped in half lengthwise in order to save a mere 2″ inside) where wall buckling could lead to failure; contact your manufacturer’s engineering dept.
    2. Many mobile home parks allow a canopy to be built over the car parking space and the mobile home …OR… over the parking space next to the mobile home (build it the same height as the mobile unit’s roof to prevent solar shading, or slope it if the driveway is to the south of the mobile unit*)- think of a little piece of this one: https://www.asolarp.com/blog/2017/5/17/mobile-home-solar-installations.
    Usually all-aluminum (including posts), I’d recommend all-steel construction instead (a local structural or civil engineer could design it for you to get building permits, with local wind & snow loads designed-in). Some cities Building Departments (Simi Valley, CA) have a pre-approved “Standard Carport Design” (all wood) that would work.
    3. BIPV (Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics) is THE ANSWER! Demand manufacturers build the photovoltaic panel AS THE MOBILE UNIT’S ROOF – NOT ON TOP OF A ROOF!
    But DO NOT any waste more time complaining here; you’ve got a lot of work to do!: Send your message in a signed postal letter (& followup phone call) to all mobile home manufacturers telling them YOU’RE READY TO BUY IT AS SOON AS THEY’RE READY TO BUILD IT! Point out to each of them this will be a huge advantage over their competitors.
    Hope this helps -JJU
    __________
    * research the ideal slope angle for your location (Alaska’s will be diff. from Florida’s)
    ** almost every state has a mobile trade group! https://www.mobilehome.net/associations.htm

    Reply
  3. Michael McAffee

    Sometime someone is going to design a light weight solar panel that will easily and safely be installed on the roofs of mobile homes. Some off grid solar systems are appealing but there is no effort by anyone to make the mobile home roof connection to off grid solar. Bottom line … is it even possible to trim down the weight and size of the damn panels and have some kind of strapping system to hold them on the mobile home roof?

    Reply
  4. fyi guy 2

    FYI “rms”
    Average panel wattage is 250 watts not 100 watts so 120 kW = 120,000 watts divided by 250 watts = 480 250 watt panels. So his roof is likely to get coverage. that would work out to a conservative weight of 480 * 51lbs = 24,480 lbs.
    I would suggest asking instead of telling when you don’t know.

    Reply
  5. MD. Nazrul Islam

    I have one a core land (29400 square feet)
    If I want to set up a solar power plant then how much panel can I use there.
    Would u help me please to gave me some idea about this.

    Reply
  6. nisar

    hi
    Good day, i have a roof top of 1700 squre meter and i wana install the system panels and mounting of about 120kw, so how can i calculate the weight, can you please let me out of this
    thanks and best wishes
    KH Nisar

    Reply
    1. mjs

      If the average panel is 65″ x 39″, which is 2,535 sq inches. (residential panels)
      1 square meter is 39.37″ x 39.37″ = 1,550 sq inches
      Thus 1 panel is roughly 1.64 square meters.
      Your roof area, assuming you could cover 100% of it which is not likely, but assuming you can you now have:

      1,700 sq meters / 1.64 sq meters (per panel) = 1,036 (rounded down to nearest whole panel).

      Using table above the lightest panels: 1,036 panels x 38lbs = 39,368 lbs (but you also have to consider frame and wiring).
      Using table above and the heaviest panels: 1,036 panels x 51lbs = 52,836 lbs (but you also have to consider frame and wiring).

      Reply
      1. fyi guy

        But, he only needs 120 panels at 100 watts per panel, not 1,036. Hence, 120 panels x 100 watts = 120kw. Therefore, 38 lbs. per panel x 120 panels = 4,560 lbs. plus wiring and framing.

      2. rms

        FYI “fyi guy”,
        A kilowatt is 1000 watts. therefore 120kW = 120,000 watts divided by 100 watts = 1200 100 watt panels. But because of his roof size he cannot fit any more panels than 1,036, as mjs mentioned the roof is not likely to get 100% coverage.
        I would suggest asking instead of telling when you don’t know.

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