Solar Panel Sizes: Which Size Do You Need for a Portable Solar Generator
Choosing the right solar panel size is a sure way to ensure that you have enough solar power to suffice all the electric needs. However, as a homeowner or someone new to solar, it can be pretty confusing to select the right size for your home or to know the amount of weight your roof can handle. Well, if you find yourself confused about what solar size to choose for your home, do not worry because you are at the right place in this post, we will walk you through all you need to know about selecting the right solar size for your home.
What Is The Best Size of Solar Panels?
The best solar panel size will depend on the purpose for which you are purchasing it. In terms of purpose, there are two types of solar panels:
- Residential Solar Panels
- Commercial Solar Panels
What Is a Solar Cell?
Before we dive into each, we will like to explain what a solar cell is. So, when you look at a solar panel, you will realize that it is divided into a couple of squares, usually straight lines that meet to form a diamond shape at each end. Well, these squares are called "Cells." Each solar cell or PhotoVoltaic Cell has a dimension of 6 inches by 6 inches. Each cell produces about half a volt of voltage (0.46 Volts).
Residential Solar Panels:
When it comes to residential solar panels (solar panels used for homes) the 60-cell solar panel is a preferred choice. Just as the name suggests, this solar panel comprises 60 solar cells and has a dimension of:
- 62" to 66" in height,
- 35" to 39" in width,
- A thickness ranging from 1.5" to 2", and
- Usually weighs about 40 pounds.
Since each cell produces a voltage of 0.46, a 60-cell solar panel can produce a total voltage of 27.6 volts or 30 volts, with a wattage ranging from 270 watts to 330 watts.
Commercial Solar Panels
For building larger than residential homes such as small businesses, multi-story buildings, and many others, a commercial solar panel will be ideal. Commercial solar panels consist of two main options:
- 72 cell Panel
- 96 cell panel
a. 72-Cell Panel
Just as the name suggests, a 72-cell solar panel comprises 72 solar cells. These types of solar panels usually have the dimension:
- 75" to 78" in length
- 39" to 40" in width
- 1.4" to 1.7" in thickness
- Usually weighs around 50 lbs
A 72-cell is capable of producing a total voltage of 36-39 volts with a wattage of 350 to 400 watts. This means a 72-cell solar panel can charge a 24-volt battery efficiently. Not, a 60-cell solar panel cannot charge a 24-volt efficiently.
b. 96-Cell Panel
The last type of commercial solar panel is the 96-cell panel, and this type is uncommon on the market due to its large size; however, they are worth mentioning. This solar panel has a dimension of:
- 62" to65" in height
- 40- 43" in width
- 1.6 to 1.8" in depth
- Usually, weigh around 45-55 lbs
These solar panels have a voltage of 44.6 volts.
So, the best size is going to depend on your needs and the amount of voltage and rated output power of the solar panel.
How Big are Portable / RV solar panels?
If you are looking for a solar panel for your RV or camper, then you might want to look into a portable solar panel. RV solar panels usually vary in power production. However, most RV solar panels have a dimension of:
- 21 " to 24" in height
- 14.6 to 15 " in width
- 1.6 to 2.5" in thickness
- Weigh between 30 to 40 lbs
That being said, RV solar panels are capable of generating anywhere from 100 watts, to 150, 200, and 250 watts of power per panel, and some can be almost the same size as a residential panel.
How Much Do Solar Panels Weigh?
The weight of a solar panel greatly depends on the type of solar panel and the kind of materials used by the manufacturer to make the solar panel. However, on average, you should expect the following under-listed weights:
- 40 lbs for a 60-cell solar panel
- 50 lbs for a 72-cell solar panel
- 45-55 lbs for a 96-cell solar panel
- 30 to 40 lbs for an RV-solar cell
What Size of Solar Panel Do you Need For a Portable Solar Generator?
The size of the solar panel needed for a portable generator will greatly depend on the wattage of the solar generator and the light exposure it gets during the day, or the amount of light available at the place you wish to camp. However, since most small-sized solar generators have a power rating of around 500 watts, you will usually require 2 units of 250 watt portable solar panels or 5 units of 100 watt solar panels. Generally, you will divide the wattage of the generator by the wattage of the solar panel.
However, practically, the number of solar panels you need depends on three things:
- Your daily electricity consumption: This value can be gotten by getting a copy of your monthly utility bill. We recommend you get the last 6 months of utility bills and find the daily average electric consumption. Or you can ask the energy company.
- Your geographical location: This helps us identify the amount of peak sunlight you get per day and the best orientation of the solar panels. This is between 4 to 6 hours for most homes. However, do well to do your research per your state and city.
- The rated output power of the solar panel
To determine how many solar panels to get, you will use the formula:
Number of solar cells= total daily house power usage/(peak sun hours per day X power rating of the solar cell)
So, if you use 29.5 kWh of power daily, your area has an average of 4 peak hours of sunlight and the rated outage of the solar panel is 330 watts, then you would need, (29.5X 1000)Wh/ (4x330 watts)= 22.34 330 watt panels to cover your electric needs. Therefore, you will need about 23 panels if your home uses 29.5kWh of power and your peak sunlight hours is 330 watt.
This formula stays the same even if you want to determine the number of solar panels you need for your RV, commercial property, or generator.