A 100 watt solar panel or any panel array for that matter, can produce a total amount of power in a day cycle, which is measured in watt hours. It’s important to know how much power a solar system can supply in watt hours, because then, you can easily work out how much charge a battery will get on average, in a day cycle – For example; a 100 watt solar panel, under 8 hours of sunlight, can supply approximately 800 watt hours of power. This is worked out by multiplying the hours of sun on the panels by the power of the solar panel(s), i.e. 100 watts x 8 hours = 800 watt hours.
Knowing how much energy the solar panels can produce, gives you an approximate of how much power can be used from the battery(s) before being fully charged again. Battery capacity is specified in Ampere hours, a.k.a. AH. So working out the AH from our previous example becomes: 800 watt hours divided by 12 volts = 66.67 AH. So a 66.67 AH battery would be sufficient for our example.
So coming back to the question, what can a 100 watt solar panel power – Straight off the bat, a 100 watt solar panel can power DC appliances and gadgets such as, water pumps, lights, some 12 volt devices, etc… But when the sun is insufficient, some of those appliances may not even run; or when some of those appliances are running, they may suddenly turn off, because of an over passing cloud! Either way, the abrupt removal of power can damage delicate electronic devices and that’s the risk of using a solar panel on its own to power delicate electronics. A safer way to power your delicate electronic devices with solar power, is to use a deep cycle battery with you solar panel. The energy system would be comprised of solar panels, batteries, charger controllers and inverter. You can read more on how to set up a solar energy system by going here.
Together with a 100 watt solar panel, much can be achieved with the solar panel/ battery combination. Appliances will operate smoothly without abrupt power failures. The fully charged battery combined with an inverter can serve as a great backup system. Any energy used during the night, will be restored at next sunrise and this will keep renewing every day! If less power than what the solar panel can produce is used during a day cycle, the battery will also charge at the same time. With such a system, I power a 12 volt LCD TV for 24 hours none stop! The TV consumes 38 watts and my solar panel is a 100 watt monocrystalline type. So the battery supplies power at night to that TV and during the day, the solar panel takes over charging the battery and running the TV at the same time. This has been going on for the last 3 months now. So what can a 100 watt solar panel power?
Well in my experience, a 100 watt solar panel is very useful for many applications and this is best accomplished by incorporating it into an energy system. An important note though – If a larger battery is used for your system and more power was consumed at night than what the solar panel can produce in a day, then it could take more than 1 day to fully restore the battery!
Any device that doesn’t require a continuous and un-interrupted supply of power, a solar panel on its own can deliver. Such as a solar powered fountain pump for example; a solar powered fountain contains a submersible power pump and a solar panel – a solar tracker could also work off, of a solar panel alone… But appliances that need a continuous supply of power could be a PC, TV, Medical equipment or any sensitive electronic equipment… Running such appliances or devices off, of a solar panel alone is not recommended.
So the question on; what can a 100 watt solar panel power is better rephrased as; how useful is a single 100 watt solar panel? Either way, I think by now you already know the answers to both those questions! Learning about setting up such energy systems can be found here. You can learn on that page how to setup a basic energy system with basic, cheap components.
If you are the adventurous type, you may be interested in building a solar energy system from scratch, where you can build the solar panels yourself! It’s a great learning aid and it has helped many get “off the grid” with power systems they built themselves cheaply, I highly recommend it.
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