How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

If you're buying solar panels for the first time, one of your initial concerns would probably be how many you need to buy. Solar panels have different types such as flexible solar panels, folding solar panels, fixed solar panels, and so on. They're usually not on the expensive side unless you need several of them.

The first thing you need to know if you want to determine the number of solar panels you will need would be how much your power requirements are. Let's focus on the camping scene. If you're going to spend the weekend outdoors, make a list of the appliances you're planning to bring, how many hours you're going to use them, and their amp-hour rating. Basically, you will get the sum of these and compare it against the solar panel you're eyeing to calculate how many panels you need to purchase, taking into account the average peak sun hours you get per day.

Here's a quick computation for easier understanding:

Amps x Hours = Ah rating

Ah rating x solar panel voltage / peak sun hours = total amount of power needs

Let's say you need to run four appliances for your camping trip. If you put it in a table, it would something like this:

Appliance Amps Hours of use Ah rating
Appliance 1 5 15 75Ah
Appliance 2




Appliance 3 2 3 6Ah
Appliance 4 2 4 8Ah

Based on the table, you need a total of 92Ah for all your appliances. If you have a 12V solar panel system and you multiply this Ah rating with it, you will have a total of 1,104Wh. The average peak sun hours per day is around 6 hours, so you need to divide your watt-hours with it, which will give you 184W of solar power.

Using this information, you can now decide on how many solar panels you need to purchase. You can either buy a single 200W solar panel, two 100W solar panels or four 50W solar panels depending on which solar panel setup is best for your camping needs.

VoltX 12V 200W Solar Panel Fixed Premium Mono Shingled Cells Camping RV Power

Another important thing to consider is that it's always safer to go beyond the power output you need when buying solar panels. If for example you only need 100W for your trip, better go for a 150W panel or even something higher. This is to make sure that you still get enough energy to help power your appliances in case of cloudy or rainy weather. While solar panels still work under these conditions, their efficiency is reduced significantly. Studies show that solar panels can still provide 10% to 25% of their normal capacity under a low-light setting, but this is hardly enough to power your essentials, especially if you're going off-grid. Also, several solar panels don't necessarily mean extra efficiency. Not every type of setting is well-suited for solar energy use. If you camp out in a colder area with low sunlight exposure or if you're solar panels are not mounted at the right angle, you won't really get maximum returns no matter how many of it you use. Make sure to consider where you're camping first before opting for solar panels to avoid bringing the wrong portable power source.

If you wish to have another option for increased power aside from choosing a bigger solar panel size, you can always pack an inverter generator with you, or pair your panels with an equally efficient battery bank, such as a lithium battery.

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