A 100 watt solar panel can run some small devices reliably without issue, including:
- Light bulbs
- Wireless routers
- Televisions and monitors
- Video players
- Coffee makers
Depending on your setup and the capabilities of your solar system, you may be able to handle more or less, so please keep that in mind while you keep reading. In this article you’ll get a better idea of what you can run without issue on a 100 watt solar panel, how you can determine the capability of your system, and how you can increase the available energy.
Common Items You Can Run on a 100 Watt Solar Panel
Solar panels are a fantastic sources of renewable energy, and a 100 watt solar panel provides a great starting off point. At this size, panels are often easy to replace and portable, making them a fantastic choice for camping and other recreational activities.
While these panels are small, you can still expect a 100 watt solar setup to provide reliable energy for smaller appliances. Listed below are common devices that you can power off a single 100 watt panel.
These estimates, along with others, help you determine what you can run on a 100 watt solar panel. Make sure you consider the actual consumption of each item you use, even if you just run a few small devices.
There are three common types of light bulbs:
- Light-emitting diode (LED)
- Compact fluorescent light (CFL)
LED bulbs are the most efficient option, and they produce the same level of light at a lower energy costs. For example, an LED bulb might consume 10 watts to produce 800 lumens, while an incandescent bulb would require 60 watts to reach the same goal.
You can easily run 6 LED bulbs, 4 CFL bulbs, or 1 incandescent bulb non-stop using a 100 watt solar panel.
Ceiling fans are more energy efficient when it comes to cooling a living space. They are the most effective method of circulating air, and they came in a variety of sizes.
An average 48 inch ceiling fan will use about 75 watts. This means that you can operate one of these fans on a 100 watt solar panel, but you should not expect continuous use.
Cell Phone and Laptop Chargers
While portable devices like cell phones, tablets, and laptops need to be recharged, they handle energy more efficiently than stationary devices like corded phones or desktop computers.
A mobile phone charger uses about 2 to 6 watts when charging. When it is plugged in but not in use, it still pulls about 0.1 to 0.5 watts.
Laptops use much more energy, but they still consume far less than a desktop computer. The exact number changes depending on screen size, graphics quality, and the computer’s settings, but you can expect the average 14 to 15 inch laptop to use 60 watts when plugged in.
This means the laptop can be charged for a maximum of 10 hours off one 100 watt solar panel.
Wireless routers are essential for internet access, and their solid state does not consume much energy. A router can use 2 to 20 watts, averaging at about 6 watts.
You should not need to worry about leaving a wi-fi router on continuously when using a 100 watt solar panel.
Printers have a higher level of energy consumption than most expect. They pull anywhere from 30 to 50 watts when printing, dropping to 3 to 5 watts when in standby mode.
This means that a printer can be used on a 100 watt solar panel, but there may be limits on when you can print and how much you can print at one time.
LCD/LED Displays and Televisions
Power consumption varies greatly when it comes to LCD and LED displays on televisions and computer monitors. Major factors include:
- the size of the screen
- Static vs. moving images
- Power save settings
If you are looking to power a screen using a 100 watt solar panel, you can cover the 30 watt pull of a 22 inch LED screen with minimal constraints.
DVD Players and DVR Devices
While a DVD player can use up to 13 watts, DVRs use anywhere from 11 to 26 watts. Both of these numbers are small enough that continuous use of either device is not a problem with a 100 watt solar panel.
You can even connect a satellite dish, which uses an average of 30 watts, with minimal issues.
Keep in mind that these devices do not work on their own, and you need to factor the energy needs of the screen at the same time.
Coffee makers are a trickier appliance to consider because they average 300 to 600 watts for just 2 cups of coffee. This can easily max out the energy available to you from a 100 watt solar panel and any connected batteries.
Any more coffee than that is usually too much. You can get up to 1000 to 1500 watts for 8 to 10 cups of coffee, and a 100 watt solar panel is not sufficient to maintain that level of energy.
Not only those appliances, but there are also many more devices that people need on a regular basis. Here we make a list of the appliances that are used regularly. By reading this whole chart, you will acknowledge the power and devices that a 100-watt solar panel can run.
|Appliances Name||Power (watt)|
|CB Radio||5 W|
|Satellite Dish||30 W|
|Cable Box||35 W|
|Phone Charger||6 W|
|Tablet Charger||8 W|
|Sewing Machine||100 W|
Appliances that Cannot Run on a 100 Watt Solar Panel
While you can create a solar system to handle larger appliances, 100 watt solar panels are insufficient to support them on their own.
Even when you have batteries to store solar power, using 100 watt solar panels is not the most effective way to support high energy appliances such as an average refrigerator, air conditioning, or heating system.
In most situations, running a ceiling fan is a great solution for times you do not have enough power to run an air conditioner. If you want to be able to run an air conditioner or refrigerator continuously, you need to hook up to an AC power source or increase your solar panels to meet your energy needs.
Size and Cost of 100 Watt Solar Panels
Solar panels vary in size, efficiency, and design, but for a standard 100 watt solar panel you can expect dimensions of 47 in. x 21.3 in. x 1.4 in.. You can purchase the panel on its own, but you still need additional hardware to use the solar panels, including:
- Charge controllers
The price for a solar panel varies depending on the quality and manufacturer, as well as whether you buy a kit or a lone panel. You should expect to spend as little as $100, or you can find a complete kit for around $300.
What Affects Energy Production Availability?
The size of the solar panel is the most immediate indication of how much power you can get. Other factors that affect power production include:
- Your charge controller
- Your inverter
- Battery capacity and type
- How the panels are installed
- Your location
You can always get more power by adjusting these details and adding onto your solar system, but discovering your baseline is important to determine the amount of power produced. Your system needs to be able to handle situations when you have less sunlight, such as a cloudy day or time spent in the shade.
Your charge controller is tasked with blocking reverse current and protecting batteries from overcharging. While they are not necessary for using a solar panel directly, they are necessary if you intend to store excess energy in a battery bank.
Your charge controller affects the number of amps produced. An MPPT controller adjusts the current and ensures that the solar panel can operate at maximum efficiency. Making sure that your charge controller is appropriate for your setup ensures you get the most energy from your panels.
Your inverter converts direct current (DC) electricity generated to alternating current (AC) for household use. This is important for many devices that only run on AC, including most of the small appliances a panel can power.
Inverters are rated based on:
- Continuous watts: the amount that can be supplied continuously
- Peak watts: how much above the continuous rating the inverter can go; for power surges or devices that use more energy when turning on
- Input voltage: which must correspond with solar panels and battery storage; usually 12V or 24V
Power station vs. Inverter
If you are in the market for your first solar panel set up, I recommend getting a power station, especially if this is for camping or your RV. A Power station combines an inverter, battery and interface into once easy to use platform.
My recommendation for a small portable power station is VATID’s PB002 300W/296Wh Portable Power Station. (Does not include solar panels)
Battery Capacity and Type
While you can use a solar panel on its own, the most efficient way to use power is through battery storage. Lead acid batteries and lithium ion batteries are the most popular ways to store energy from solar panels. They give you access to the excess electricity beyond peak hours and at nighttime.
Batteries come in a variety of sizes and types, but you usually see 12V batteries with varying amp hours (ah), ranging from 20 amp hours to 100 amp hours.
You can use as many batteries as you want, but do not deplete a lead acid battery to less than 50 percent of its capacity. Because of this, your solar battery should store at least twice the daily output of your panels.
Lithium ion batteries can be discharged almost completely, so one that stores a bit more than your daily output should be fine. A newer lithium ion battery setup is usually preferred to older lead acid batteries.
How much energy your panels produce depends heavily on proper solar installation. Panels need to be at the correct angle. Permanent installations should try to face due south as much as possible, and portable panels can be adjusted throughout the day.
Solar panel tilt angle also affects their efficiency. Most panels do best at a steep angle around 60°. This can be adjusted to 45° in the spring and a lower tilt near 20° in the summer.
The number of peak hours, or hours of direct sunlight, varies depending on your location. These are times when there is at least 1000 watts/m2 for an hour, and you can usually find this number online.
Your average daily solar production varies depending on the day, so make sure you look at the averages by month for a better idea of how much energy to expect.
Keep in mind that these are still averages. Daily conditions such as increased cloud cover will skew your total power, even during the sunniest months.
Calculating Expected Daily Energy
Determining your expected daily energy is simple and only requires you to plug in a few numbers (or you can use a solar power calculator).
This power output is expressed as Watt-hours, and it is based on the peak sun hours for a location. Most places average 400 to 500 Wh per day based on a 100 watt solar panel.
To get this number, multiply your panel wattage rating (100 watts) by the hours of sunlight received per day. A 100 watt solar panel that receives 8 hours of high power sunlight would have a daily output of 800 Wh.
This number also increases with the number of panels you own. If you have two 100 watt solar panels you can expect twice as much daily energy.
Creating a Solar Array with 100 Watt Solar Panels
You can always adjust your solar setup to meet your needs. One of the easiest ways to do this is by connecting solar panels.
You see more electrical connections with houses, but these require much larger panels. The typical home requires a solar setup between 5 kW and 10 kW (5,000 to 10,000 watts), and you would need to network dozens of 100 watt solar panels together.
If your energy needs are this large, using 100 watt solar panels is not efficient. This creates a complicated scenario that involves more framing, racking, and fastening than necessary. The number of connections would make the system less reliable.
If you only need a few hundred watts of solar power, creating an array with 100 watt solar panels should be sufficient. This works especially well if you are upgrading an existing solar installation so you can power all the appliances in your rig.
Make sure you remember to add more batteries as you add more panels. This allows you to store more energy and take advantage of your power output, creating the ideal solar energy environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will a 100-watt solar panel run a refrigerator?
If your 100W solar panel can produce anywhere from 400 Watts to 700 watts of energy per day. But, even a small fridge, requires roughly 800 watts of power per day. If you goal is to power a refrigerator, I recommend going will at least 2 100 Watt solar panels.
How fast will a 100-watt solar panel charge a battery?
A 100 Watt Solar panel will roughly charge a 12 Volt battery at 8 Amps per hour. While Batteries have varying capacities, expect your battery to be fully charged in 6 – 18 Hours.
How many 100 watt solar panels does it take to run a house?
If you choose a solar panel to power your house, then have to take into consideration what appliances you are going to run panel. With a 100-watt solar panel, it will require approximately 20 panels.