How to calculate your solar power requirements | iTechworld

How to calculate your solar power requirements

How much solar power do you need?

 

So you want to set your rig up for Solar but you are not sure what size of set up you need? This blog is designed to give you the tools to be able to work out exactly what are you are drawing from your rig's batteries and what type of Solar set up you need. Knowledge is key when setting up your rig for Solar so the more information you have on each and every one of those home comforts devices you plan to take away with you the better. If anyone has a question pop it in the comment section below. I will answer each and everyone.

 

 

How to work out Watts, Amps and Volts

It stands to reason that a larger Solar Panel will collect more energy in less time, but just how big does the solar panel need to be?

The power consumption of appliances is given in Watts. To calculate the energy you will use over time, just multiply the power consumption by the hours of use. For example:

10 watt device used over 3 hours equals 10 x 3 = 30 Watt

How to convert Amps to Watts

The energy in Watts is equal to the electric charge in Amps times the voltage in volts:

Watts = Amps × Volts

Example

If your device doesn’t have the Watts labelled on it, then it should at least have the input Volts i.e. 240V and the Amps AC it draws such as 240V – 1.5A. You can then use the equation Watts Volts x Amps so 240v x 1.5amps = 360 Watts.

How to convert Watts to Amps

The electric charge in Amps is equal to the energy in Watts divided by the voltage in volts (V):

Amps = Watts / Volts

Example

Find the electric charge in Amps when the energy consumption is 300 watts and the voltage is 240 volts.

300 Watts / 240 volts = 1.25 Amps

Check out the iTechworld inline Watt meter which does all these calculations for you HERE


Do I need a battery?

Solar panels are commonly used to charge a battery – not to charge a device directly. There are a couple of reasons for having batteries. Solar panels might not generate enough wattage to directly power an appliance, but they can build up a higher wattage via a battery. Secondly a battery can regulate the power going in to the appliance at a constant rate. When solar panels are charging a battery it is usually at a varying rate which could harm an appliance if not regulated.

Battery capacity is measured in Amp Hours (e.g. 100Ah). You need to convert this to Watt Hours by multiplying the Ah figure by the battery voltage (e.g. 12V) – see calculations above.

AH refers to amp hours. This rating is usually found on deep cycle batteries. If a battery is rated at 100 amp hours it should deliver 5 amps of power for 20 hours or 20 amps of power for 5 hours.

When choosing a deep cycle battery, keep in mind the equipment you will be powering and the time in which they will be running. Theoretically a 100Ah battery can deliver 5 amps over a 20 hour period (and so on). Taking into account the average small campsite - with a small 45W fridge running for 6 hours, 3 hours of 15W lighting and 20W of other electronic equipment - the minimum consumption to be expected is 335W. Take this wattage and divide it by the voltage, 12V, gives 28Ah. With the aim of leaving 50% in the battery brings the requirement to 56 Ah per day.

Check out the only the battery that iTechworld recommends with Solar Power HERE

What size solar panel do I need? 

Solar Panels power generation is commonly given in Watts e.g. 120 Watts. To calculate the energy it can supply the battery with, divide the Watts by the Voltage of the Solar Panel.

120 Watts / 18v = 6.6 Amps

Please note that Solar Panels are not 12v, I repeat Solar Panels are not 12v. Any one who works out the Amps of a solar panels using 12v as the voltage calculation does not understand solar or has been misinformed. All solar panel voltages should be marked in the item description of our website or on the unit itself.

Check out the iTechworld Solar Panel range HERE

Inverters

The power inverter converts your storage battery power into the 240 volts AC that runs your appliances. Unless you only run 12 volt DC appliances you will need a power inverter to supply your AC.

There are 2 types of Inverters

Pure sine wave and Modified sine wave.

The Pure Sine Wave matches the power to that of which you get from your Electricity Supplier, its clean and you can run any appliances safely even sensitive equipment.

The Modified sine wave used to be considered a dirty power but some aren't as bad as they used to be, you can use this inverter type for  things that don't have sensitive electronics for example fridges, cookers, pumps, You may have to be careful with some appliances such as laptops and TVs so check first.

Check out the iTechworld range of inverters HERE

Charge Controllers/Regulators

All Solar Panels 30 watts and above need a Solar Charge Controller/Regulator. A Charge Controller/Regulator is necessary to protect the batteries from over charging and supply them with the proper amount of energy to promote long battery life. If the charge isn’t regulated it can have a damaging effect on the battery being charged.

Check out the iTechworld range of Charge Controllers/Regulators HERE

 Read our easy Solar installation guide HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

 

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Comments

David G#1

Greetings Ian,

I cant make heads or tails of all this can you help me understand what the wattage is of work drill?
The Amps is listed on the label as 4.1 Amps.

Thanks in advnace. David

iTechworld#2

Hi David,

Thanks for getting in touch.
I can definitely help you.

Amps x Volts = Watts

4.1A x 240v = 1000 Watts

I hope this helps?

Best regards

Ian

Alan Simpson#3

Can you please tell me what size regulator I would need for 2 X 80w panels.

iTechworld#4

Hi Alan,

Thanks for getting in touch.
The minimum size regulator you need for 2 × 80w panels is 10Amps.

Please see here http://itechworld.com.au/collections/solar-regulators

kevin#5

Hi wondering ìf a 30 amp regulator be okay for 400 amps solar

iTechworld#6

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for getting in touch.
It depends on the voltages of the solar panels.
Please call me on 08 9472 7200 to discuss more

Best regards
Ian

june rasmussen#7

I have 250 watt solar panels and i brought a 30amp 12/24 v controller how many panels can i hook this up to

june rasmussen#8

Could you tell me what the wattage rate on 30amp solar controller is pls thank you for yr time and help

iTechworld#9

Hi June,

To help you more i would need to know the voltage of the 250 watt solar panels.

I will send you an email regarding this.

Best regards
Ian

Eric#10

Hi Ian Can you advise me with this situation, I have a 50lt waeco cfx 12 volt compressor fridge, the book says @ 12 volts current draw is 7.8 amps,( I don’t know if this is on start up or continuous it probably starts very infrequently overnight say 6pm to 6am , 12 hours, I have 120 watts @ 18.6 volts max power in two panels supplying only a 105 amp hour all rivers agm deep cycle battery, do you think this can work overnight if the fridge is not opened often overnight, if not what do you suggest? many thanks for any help kind regards Eric

iTechworld#11

Hi Eric,

Thanks for getting in touch.
Those specs do seem quite high for that fridge. I done some research that suggests the average amp draw from that particular fridge is 0.77 an hour.
I will send you an email with more information.

Kind regards
Ian

Eric#12

Hi Ian Many thanks for your fast reply on further investigation the booklet says current draw at 240v is 0.46Amp, now looking at this info it looks as though it may cope with this current draw , what do you think about this now with the 120w panels, the waeco fridge you posted in your first reply is the model we have, I am happy to hear you say that 0.77A @ 12 volt will work ok. Thanks for your help and explaining all this. Many kind regards Eric.

Nathan#13

Hi Ian, Can you tell me what wattage solar panels I require to run 2 × 60 ltr engel fridges. Current draw on these fridges is 4.2 amp maximum. I would also like to run 2 x auxilary batteries. Can i run 2 different battery types from 1 regulator ? or would you recommend 2 seperate systems?

iTechworld#14

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for getting in touch.
I would always try and keep the batteries the same when connecting them up in parallel.
I would recommend our 200 Watt solar panel to keep up with your 2 60ltr engel fridges. They will not draw the full 4.2amps all the time.

Kind regards
Ian

Cairns#15

Hi Ian,can you assist me on this, I’am trying buy a 120watts solar panel please specify how regulator and type of battry required.
Thanks and kind regards.

bob#16

Hi Mate i have 50 w pump 12 volt for fish pond, need to run on solar, what size battery and panel i need so pump can run day and night.

thanks

iTechworld#17

Hi Bob,

I would recommend at least a 160 Watt solar panel with at least one 100a deep cycle battery. Two batteries would be preferable.

Kind regards
Ian

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