Every prospective solar power owner wants to know what can they practically run on their solar panels and for how long. I remember the first time when I was looking to buy a solar panel; I was confused about what was the best power output for my use. I looked hard to find the answers on the internet, but all I can find was vague answers that were super technical.
If you are not an expert or have good experience in electrical stuff, you can easily misjudge the specifications and buy the wrong one.
Let’s start with a few basics.
- A solar panel that is rated as 100 watts will not generate 100 watts. This power rating signifies maximum power it can generate in ideal conditions, and the conditions are never ideal. There are efficiency losses, transmission losses and variable intensity and duration of sunlight in your area.
- The solar panel will not work the entire day. It will produce more power during the peak sun hours and less energy during the early morning and evening hours.
- The power generation is also influenced by the angle and placement of your panel.
- In most cases, you would have to buy a battery. It will help you store excess power for later use.
- Some locations are more fortunate than others in solar energy. Some parts in California, for example, get twice as much sun compared to parts of Washington.
Solar Panel Power Outputs
Solar panels come in a wide range of power outputs, with the smallest ones generating 0.5 watts to larger ones capable of generating 400 kilowatts. Solar panels with more significant power outputs start getting bulky, so you will generally find several smaller panels connected in larger solar power plants.
Here we will discuss one of the most commonly used solar panel(100 Watts) and what can you run on it.
100 Watt Solar Panel
A 100-watt solar panel is popular amongst campers and RV owners. It can produce descent power that can run your smaller appliances, and it is not that big.
Size and weight of a 100watt solar panel
The size of a 100-watt solar panel is around 47 x 21.7 x 1.4 inches or 119.3 x 55 x 3.5 centimetres which makes it about 4 feet in length and a little less than 2 feet in width. You can expect slight size variations with different brands.
A 100-watt solar panel weighs between 14.3 and 16.5 pounds (6.5 and 7.5 Kilograms)
This size makes it easy to put it on a boat or an RV
100 Watt Solar Panel Price
A 100-watt solar panel costs around $100 without a kit, and with a battery kit, you can get it for $200-$300
How much power does a 100W solar panel produce?
So this is where things get interesting. To know what your solar panel can do, you need to understand its actual power output and the power rating of your appliances.
There is a simple formula to calculate the power output of a solar panel.
E = A * r * H * PR
E = Energy (Kwh)
A = Area of your solar panel (m2)
r=solar panel yield or efficiency
H= Average annual solar radiation on tilted panels
PR= Performance ratio (Average Value = 0.75)
The amount of power you can get from your solar panels varies by your location. We have compiled data on solar radiation of different states and calculated the average power you can get in a day. Please note that these are just averages to give you a rough idea. The exact amount of sunlight that you will receive depends on several factors.
|Code||State/Province||Average Annual Solar resource in kWh/m2/day||Average Daily Solar Power in Watts|
|DC||District of Columbia||4.7||342|
What can a 100-watt solar panel run?
As you can see, the average daily power output of a 100-watt solar panel ranges from around 254 Wh/day to over 526 Wh/day in the united states. If we average out all the values in the table, we have 365 Wh/day.
Please note that the power rating, which is 100 watts, is your instantaneous power, and the average daily power in Wh is the accumulated power you stored in the battery.
So in practical conditions, the appliances you can run on solar power will depend more on your accumulated power than instantaneous power.
|Device||Power||Run time (If You Used Only One Device)|
|60 Watt Bulb||60W||6 Hours|
|Cell Phone||5W||73 Hours|
|DC Fridge||170W||2.14 Hours|
|Booster Pump||60W||6 Hours|
Can a 100-watt solar panel run a refrigerator?
Yes, a 100-watt solar panel can run a small fridge (80 watts) or a DC Fridge (170 watts). However, you will need a battery to accomplish that; and you can expect an average runtime of about 4.6 hours for an 80W fridge and 2.14 hours for a DC fridge in a day.
Please note that these values will vary considerably based on your location, weather conditions and usage.
Can a 100-watt solar panel run an air conditioner?
A 100-watt solar panel can only power an air-conditioner for a few minutes. The smaller air conditioner used in RVs has a power rating of 1000Watts to 1500watts. With a daily charge of 365wh, you can barely run an air conditioner for 15 minutes to 22 minutes which is not practical.
A 100-watt solar panel is an affordable solution to power your essential devices while camping, boating or on an RV trip. However, if you want to power bigger devices, you can combine more panels or get one with a higher power generation capacity.