It’s easier than ever to harness the sun’s power to charge your portable electronics without worrying about cords and outlets. All you need is a portable solar panel that meets your needs! But with the wide variety of solar panels on the market, it can be hard to know what size of panel you need.
The size of the solar panel you need will depend on:
- Your power requirements
- The size of your battery
- The amount of sunlight available
- The efficiency of the panel
- Your budget
This article will help you decide exactly how big of a portable solar panel will work best for you.
Factors That Determine the Size of Solar Panel Required
Let us take a look at how the factors listed above will determine the size of the panel you need.
1. Your Power Requirements
There is a direct relationship between your power requirements and the size of the panel you will need. The greater the amount of power to be drawn from it, the larger your panel will need to be. Of course, the inverse of this is also true: the lower your power requirement, the smaller your panel needs to be.
Your power requirements are calculated in amperes based on the number of appliances you will connect to the panel, their wattage, and how long you plan to use them.
A general rule of thumb is that the more devices you want to charge, the larger the panel you’ll need. Similarly, the power that the devices connected to your panel draw will affect how large it needs to be.
If you want to use your solar panel for camping, you’ll need a larger panel than if you’re just going to use it to charge your phone. And if you have multiple such devices or use them for longer, your power needs will still be higher.
Another critical factor to consider when determining what size portable solar panel to buy is how long you will need to connect your devices to the panel.
If you only need to use your solar panel for a short period, such as for charging your phone while you are on a hike, you will not need a huge panel. A small panel that produces 5-10 watts will be sufficient.
On the other hand, if you use your solar panel for more extended periods, such as camping or RVs, you will need a larger panel that produces 50-100 watts.
2. The Size of Your Battery
Batteries are the most common and easiest way to store solar power. They’re relatively inexpensive and getting cheaper by the day.
A large battery stores more energy and needs to draw on your solar panel less frequently, whereas a smaller battery stores less power and regularly draws energy from solar panels.
For this reason, your battery’s size is inverse to the size of your solar panel. With a larger battery, your solar panel can be smaller. But, if your battery is small, you will need a larger solar panel.
3. The Amount of Sunlight Available
The amount of sunlight available in your area, too, has an inverse relationship with the size of panel you will need.
You can make do with a smaller solar panel if you get more hours of intense sunlight in a day all year round. Suppose you live in a place with predominantly overcast weather or in a region with long periods of gloomy weather? In that case, you will need a larger solar panel to make the most of the sunlight available.
4. The Efficiency of Your Panel
Size is not the only important factor in choosing a panel. Different solar panels are rated for efficiency differently.
A panel’s efficiency is defined by the amount of solar energy it can convert for your use. The more efficient a panel is, the smaller it needs to be to capture an equal amount of energy and vice versa.
5. Your Budget
When you’re looking for a portable solar panel, it’s essential to consider your budget. Larger, more efficient solar panels are more expensive than smaller, less efficient ones. The reason they are more expensive is that they also provide more power.
Ideally, you’d want the largest, most efficient panel that meets your needs with a little room to spare. If this does not fit your budget, you will have to compromise.
What Is the Best Sized Portable Solar Panel for Most Use Cases?
The best-sized portable solar panel for most use cases should generate between 10 and 100 watts of power depending on your needs and where you live. While individual energy needs will vary, this amount should cover the wide range of everyday applications most consumers require.
Does the Quality of the Panel Make a Difference?
The panels’ quality is directly related to the amount of power they generate. The higher the quality of your solar panel, the more energy it can produce and store. High-quality panels also tend to last longer than lower-quality ones.
Additionally, a high-quality panel will charge faster and have a longer battery life than a low-quality one because it can absorb more light from each passing hour of sun exposure without overheating or breaking down under stress.
Does the Quality of the Battery Make a Difference?
The quality of the battery is essential. It should be able to charge quickly and effectively, but it also needs to hold up over time. The higher capacity batteries are better than smaller ones because they can handle more cycles without losing their charge capacity.
This is crucial when talking about portable solar panels since we’re talking about how much power will be needed for your devices in an emergency where there isn’t enough time to access electricity from elsewhere, like a grid connection at home.
A portable solar panel can be a great way to get renewable energy on the go, but how big a panel you need will depend on your power needs. A small panel will do if you’re just looking to keep your phone charged.
But if you’re looking to power appliances or even an RV, you’ll need a much larger panel. The panel size also affects the price, so be sure to consider that when making your purchase.
- Itech World: How to Calculate Your Solar Panel Requirements
- Omni Calculator: How to Calculate Solar Panel Output
- Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Solar Integration – Solar Energy and Storage Basics
- Green Citizen: 10 Best Portable Solar Panels (2022)
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