Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular as electricity prices continue to increase. Just a thought: who wouldn’t want to use free renewable energy from the sun? However, a portable solar power system for the home and its installation is hardly as easy and straightforward as one might think.
The initial steps involve identifying your energy requirements and choosing the best one for your home. Then there are steps for setting them up and connecting them.
Nevertheless, this shouldn’t discourage you from buying portable solar panels. With portable panels set, you can ultimately save money as you won't have to worry about the increasing electricity prices. It will also help you lower your carbon footprint substantially.
In this article, we will tell you all about making your home solar-powered with solar panels from scratch. So continue reading if you wish to make your home solar-powered and generate free electricity from sunlight.
What are Portable Solar Panels?
Before we dive into how you can make your home solar-powered with portable solar panels, let’s look at what portable solar panels actually are.
Portable solar panels allow you to produce and store your own electricity using portable and lightweight solar panels, batteries, inverters, and charge controllers. Instead of roof mounting panels, portable solar panels come in a couple of different forms, such as folding panel kits that you can fix on the ground to flexible panels that you can hang from your RV.
Like roof-mounted solar panels, portable solar panels consist of several silicon solar cells. The panels have a positive and negative layer which produces an electric field. When the sun’s rays hit the panels, they create an electric current. Panels are then connected to a charge controller that controls the amount of current that enters a battery. Batteries store and generate DC power. However, household appliances such as laptop chargers, phone chargers, and blenders use AC power. Thus, an inverter is used to convert the DC power into AC power.
What Home Appliances Can a Portable Solar Panel Power?
Portable solar panels can power multiple appliances. It all depends on the power rating of the panel. The higher the power rating, the more energy it can store to run your appliances smoothly.
For instance, a 300-watt solar panel that gets 8 hours of sunlight every day will generate almost 2.5 kilowatt-hours per day. If you multiply this by 365 days per year, you get a solar output of approximately 900 kilowatt-hours yearly. In simple words, every panel will generate 900 kilowatt-hours every year.
There’s a long list of home appliances and devices that a 300-watt solar panel can effectively run, including a laptop charger, a vacuum cleaner, a small fridge, LED lights, a TV, etc. However, a 300-watt portable solar panel might not be able to power more energy-consuming appliances such as a clothes dryer or hot water heater.
To get an accurate calculation of what you can and cannot run with a single 300-watt solar panel, you will have to compare the panel’s daily or monthly output (i.e., 2.5 kWh per day for the panel) with the requirements of a particular appliance (12 kWh per day for a space heater). Thus, in this example, a 300-watt solar panel is not sufficient to power the space heater.
Steps to Make Your House Solar-Powered with Solar Energy
Installing solar panels from scratch to power your home with renewable energy might sound tough at first. However, with a few simple steps, you will be there in no time. In this section, we outline a comprehensive list of steps you need to follow to make your house solar-powered with solar energy.
Step #1 – Calculate your Power Needs
The first step in setting up a portable solar power system is identifying your energy needs. This way, you can correctly size your solar panel system and make sure you have the required number of panels, the appropriate-sized battery, the charge controller, and the inverter, all of which are important components of a solar panel system. Getting a portable solar energy system without performing this step could result in you under or over-sizing the system.
To identify your monthly energy requirements, you can simply go through your monthly electricity bill to see much electricity you consume. You can also do it manually by listing down all the electronic appliances and devices you wish to power with your system. This can include devices such as electric ovens, fans, smartphones, lights, etc.
Then add the power used by all the appliances on your list. If the power requirement of a device is not mentioned on it, you can simply calculate it by multiplying the voltage and input current. This way, you’ll have a good idea of how large a portable solar system you need.
Your next step should be to get your energy requirements in kWh. For this, you use the formula mentioned below.
kWh = (watts × hours) ÷ 1,000.
Step #2 – Pick Your Solar Panels
There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when choosing portable solar panels for your home. The most important thing is the wattage of the panels. Like regular, roof-mounted panels, portable solar panels come in several wattage options, including 350W, 200W, and 120W. You can check which wattage suits you best by taking your net energy requirement into account that you calculated in the previous step.
For instance, assume your net household energy needs are 30 kWh per day. Assuming your area gets 8 hours of direct sunlight, a single 350W panel can generate 2.8 kWh per day. To calculate the total number of solar panels you need, you have to use the following formula:
Number of Solar Panels = Net Household Energy Needs ÷ Energy Generated by Solar Panel.
In this case, it will be 30 kWh ÷ 2.8 kWh which equals 10.7 or 11 portable solar panels.
Apart from the number of hours of sunlight you get, you also need to factor in the efficiency of your portable solar panels. The more efficient your portable solar panels are, the less oversizing you need to do to make up for the losses. In simple words, if your panels have a low-efficiency rating, you should probably get a few more solar panels to meet your 30 kWh of energy needs. The extra wattage is going to help make up for the additional losses.
Thus, when choosing a portable solar panel system, you should pick one that offers the highest efficiency. At BLUETTI, we offer portable solar panels with efficiency as high as 23.4%, and you should surely check them out!
Step #3 – Get a Charge Controller
Charge controllers regulate the electricity flow from the solar panels to the battery. It keeps the panel’s voltage and current in check, preventing the batteries from an extremely high or an extremely low current. This way, a charge controller keeps your battery in good shape and maximizes its life.
To determine which charge controller is right for you, all you have to do is divide the net energy generated by your portable solar panels by your battery’s voltage. This way, you’ll get the current rating for the charge controller. Nevertheless, it’s best that you multiply the value with a safety figure to make up for changes in the output power of your panels. Just ensure that your charge controller’s voltage matches your solar battery’s voltage.
If you use Lithium-ion batteries for your system, you can get two kinds of charge controllers. The first one is the Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) controller, and the second one is the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controller. MPPT charge controllers are costlier than PWM charge controllers as the former also regulates the voltage entering your panels, making them more efficient.
Step #4 – Choose an Inverter
Inverters are a key component of portable solar panel systems. Nevertheless, a lot of people fail to realize their importance. Well, in simple words, inverters convert the DC power generated by the portable solar panels into AC power. Typically, most electronic appliances and devices work on AC power as that’s the energy supplied by the grid.
These appliances cannot work on the DC power produced by your panels and will immediately get damaged if you try to run them directly. Therefore, you need an inverter to convert the DC power into usable AC energy.
The input rating of the inverter should not be lower than the combined wattage of all the appliances and devices you will be running on your solar panels. In addition, the nominal voltage of the battery and the inverter need to be the same.
The inverter in your home solar panel project should be able to handle the total wattage of all the appliances you’ll be using at any point in time. Moreover, you should keep a safety buffer for unexpected power surges and size your inverter 20% higher than the total wattage of all devices and appliances you will be running at a particular time.
We highly recommend you opt for sine wave inverters as they have a higher efficiency ranging from 90% to 95%. For instance, you can get the BLUETTI AC200MAX which is a 2,200-watt pure sine inverter equipped with a LiFePO4 Battery with 3,500+ Life Cycles to 80%.
Last Few Words
Portable solar panels are an excellent way to make your house solar-powered and live an entirely off-grid life. One of the biggest advantages of portable solar panel systems is that they require minimal maintenance and can provide you with dependable energy output in almost every part of the world.
These advantages are something that other portable sources of energy, such as gas generators, just cannot match! To make sure you get the maximum benefits from a portable solar panel system, buy your solar panels from a trusted and reputable brand such as Bluetti.
At Bluetti, we offer a vast range of portable solar systems including portable solar panels, portable solar generators, portable solar power stations, along with several different accessories. Feel free to contact our customer care team if you need guidance.