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Guest Articles >> Alternative Energy

What Can I Do With a 60-Watt Solar Panel?


By Gregor

Solar panels are becoming increasingly more available today as the prices of many home solar systems go down. For the same amount of money, you can get considerably more clean and renewable power for your home than ever before. But what are exactly the possibilities of a typical 60-Watt solar panel?

When purchasing your first home solar system, it is very important to know exactly what kind of equipment you will get, and what you can expect of it. If you have no previous experience with home solar modules, the 60 Watt system is an ideal solar kit to start with. Compared to the larger installations, this solar kit can be relatively inexpensive, with prices starting from a couple of hundreds dollars.

60 W solar panel There are many things you can do with a solar panel of this strength, but don't expect too much. People often have unrealistic expectations in many areas of their lives, and this is also true when first coming in contact with the renewable energy sources. So, what exactly can you do with a 60 Watt solar module? Here are several tips and guidelines:

  • You can run an adjustable speed direct current (DC) motor, such as some used in some pumps, compressors, or fans.
  • You can recharge your laptop and blackberry batteries as well as other rechargeable gadgets.
  • If you need light during the day, you can use your 60 Watt solar kit to run a light bulb, especially in association with low wattage fluorescent tubes or PowerLED bulbs. Both of them are generally low power consumers, but make sure you check their wattage prior to using them.
  • If you don't need lighting during the day, you can store power by charging a standard acid 12 V battery and use the stored power whenever needed.
  • With little engineering you can turn your stereo line to operate on 12 Volts DC current.
  • In addition, you can find a number 12-V appliances that can be plugged into your 60 Watt solar system.

Once again, with a typical 60 Watt system you will get a nice solar kit to start with, but do not expect too much. For example, with this system you cannot use a standard vacuum cleaner. Most TV sets need at least 300 Watts AC current, so you cannot use them either, even if you attach an inverter to this solar kit. However, there are some small and portable TVs that indeed can be plugged into 12 Volt sources. Even when using a 12 Volt DC to 120 Volt AC inverter you won't be able to draw the required power to run many of the large appliances in your home.

In conclusion, the 60 Watt Solar Modules are ideal for getting to know the solar technology and start lowering your monthly electric bills. Most of the solar modules available today are of excellent quality and can be purchased at great price. Once mounted, their estimated useful life span can be up to 30 years. The saved money will likely be minimal, but your satisfaction will be great as you embark into the new world of clean, free and renewable energy.

About the Author

Gregor Sullivan is an environmentalist and nature lover. He is actively involved in education about the importance of preserving our natural environment and resources. He writes for sunnyray.org where you can read his Sunforce solar charger review.

Disclaimer:

The above guest post is published based on the premise that it will be helpful and informative. The opinions made within it are those of the author and not of sunnyray.org. The links you may find within this post do not necessarily imply our recommendation or endorsement of the views expressed within them.

Comments:

Milton Makanganise says:
10-13-2011


I need need solar that can run my lights for 6 rooms,2 TV sets and radio.
Please send qoutation

Greg says:
10-18-2011


Hi Milton,
That's a lot of power you would need, especially if you are planning on running the TV sets. The conventional light bulbs, in case you are using them, also draw a lot of power. You would definitely need to do the math first and link several high power modules like these, but even then the result may not be to your full satisfaction.

Racel says:
04-15-2012


My husband and I are looking at building a small cabin-type house with minimal conveniences. Could a 60-watt system run a regular sized refrigerator constantly and charge laptop/cell phone batteries for a few hours a day? If not, what size would?

Greg says:
04-15-2012


Hi Racel,
Charging the laptop and cell phone would not be a problem. However, the refrigerator is another story. In order to run it constantly you would need an extra battery (for example, deep cycle battery) - your solar panels would charge the battery, which would then be used to power some super-efficient refrigerator or a portable refrigerator. The best is to choose some portable fridge that operates on 12/24V DC power, for example, Engel MR040 Portable AC/DC 12 Volt fridge-freezer (40qt). Even then, the 60-Watt solar system will not be enough, and you would need to go to larger systems, depending on the actual configuration.

Alam says:
05-11-2012


I need to use 4 (1 for overnight, 3 for 4/5 hours at night) lights, day time I want to use one small motor (0.5 HP) for supplying water to my bath rooms and kitchen. I want to use laptop and 110 V AC TV. How much watt solar panel do I need, and how much 12V battery I need to buy for this purpose. Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

Greg says:
05-12-2012


Hi Alam,
If you want to use AC power, you would need to plug your AC devices into an inverter. The inverter should then be connected to a battery or bank of batteries, and finally the batteries should be recharged by your solar panels. The inverter should surpass the desired wattage input of your appliances. If the combined power of your appliances is, say, 600 Watts and if you are using two 12 V battery of 200 Amp/Hrs, you might get something like 3 Hours of operating time per day. So, your solar panel will have to be powerful enough to provide enough current (during the five to six hours of direct sunlight) for recharging the batteries. Typically, a 480 Watts to 960 Watts system is what one needs to use lights, and some small appliances. You can do the math yourself, depending on the desired power and the time of operation.

david says:
05-15-2012


hi Greg! I need a system that can support 5 bulbs at night, TV set and charge cell phones. Can a 60 Watt solar, 600 Watt inveter and a 12 volt N70 solar battery do? Thanx.

Greg says:
05-16-2012


Hi David. If you have a 60 Watt solar panel on one end of your system, you should have appliances of comparable power on the other end, even when using batteries and inverter, unless of course, you want to use them for a short period of time. The charging of cell phones is not a problem. You can try to limit the power consumption by using low power bulbs and a portable DC TV set, but still it is hard to tell precisely what type of solar panel you would need without knowing the load. You can check the average Watts required for your appliances here.

Natasha says:
05-23-2012


We are wanting to have 2 light bulbs in our barn..60 watts each. Only one will be on all night. Can you please tell me what watt solar panel I will need? Thank you! Natasha

Austin says:
05-26-2012


How about a 3000 watt motor? Lol can that be run off a 60 watt panel? I say yes.
I am (slowly) making a scooter with my 3000 watt brushless motor, and the 36v 12Ah lipo pack will be recharged by the solar panel running through a dc-dc converter then to the chargers, and that charges the battery...
12Ah*33.3v(nominal)=399.6watt/hour
399.6/(30*1.8)=7.4 hours
The 30*1.8 is 30 cells times 1.8 watts per cell...
I may do up to 45 cells in my panel...


If you'd like, follow my progress (and my other projects) on YouTube. I am Hogwit.

pablo says:
06-01-2012


hi Greg,
How much solar panel and batteries do I need to run 6-7 bulbs of 12v 15w for no more than 5 hours per day? will 100w solar panel and a 150amp troyan acid lead battery be enough?
thanks,
pablo

Craig says:
07-10-2012


Hey Greg

We have a 60 watt array going into a 12 volt Die Hard Deep Cycle. We get at least 5 hours of sun on the panels, but our two 15 light (with inverter) shuts down before two hours are up. Is my battery not doing the job or do we need a bigger battery bank?

Greg says:
07-10-2012


Craig, could you check what’s the capacity of your battery in amp-hours?

Louis says:
08-27-2012


I have a 60 watt system installed at this moment with a 1000 watt inverter and a 12v deep cycle battery i use about 5 energy florecent light bulbs 60 watt (15 watt/60 watt). If i install another 12v deep cycle battery, will my system (60 watt) be good to charge my 2 batteries?

anuj says:
08-30-2012


I am planning to buy a solar system.... 200w solar panel, 800w inverter and 150 ah battery ... Plz tell me if this is perfect or not

Greg says:
09-17-2012


Louis, I would have to ask you the same question as already asked above. What's the capacity of your battery?

Greg says:
09-16-2012


Anuj, it all depends on what you wanna do with it.

paul says:
09-16-2012


Ok I admit I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but that's what I'd like to power... Well my shop anyway. I'm really new to this and it seems very difficult to get straight answers on the subject but I love the idea of alternate energy for many reasons. So my question: trying to solar power a small backyard shop where I piddle around about 16 hours a day. If I'm calculating closei would need an economical light (no windows), variable tools like sanders, grinders & maybe a drill or saw or even a small 5 gallon compressor... Oh & everyone needs music to work! LOL but anyway I'm figuring maybe around say 3,200 watts for about 16 hours just to make sure I covered all my bases. Then none @ all for @ least 8 hours so the batteries could charge uninterrupted during prime sunlight (i keep odd hours hahaha). Would it even be feaseable to think I could work out maybe a 45 or 60 watt panel, charge controller with about a 600 watt inverter and maybe say a 4 12-volt battery bank wired in parralell? Either way i appreciate your time and input just think it would be a great learning project (as if i don't have enough projects going already!!! LOL)

Greg says:
09-16-2012


Hi Paul

Think of it this way. With 60 watt panel, provided that you get something like 5 sun hours a day of sunlight (unrealistic in winter), you will end up with 300 Watt-hours. If we disregard any losses, which btw. can be significant and will also depend on the type of charge controller you use to charge the battery, this would mean that you can use 300 Watts for one hour, or 600 Watts for half an hour, or 1600 Watts for less than 10 minutes per day. That's the basic math - you simply cannot get more power on the back end than what you get on the front end.

Frank says:
09-17-2012


Hi Greg, I have a chicken coop about 500 feet away from any electrical outlet. I'd like to keep a 40watt bulb in the coop at night to keep the air circulating and preventing frost from settling anywhere (a farmer neighbor does that and his chickens are healthy). That said, what set up would you recommend I buy? ie 60 watt panel, type of batter, inverter, etc.

My other question is the water freezes in the coop feeder and I'd like some sort of heater for it to keep it from freezing... maybe a heated stone they use in lizard terrariums could work. What kind of set up would you recommend?

Greg says:
09-17-2012


Hi Frank
I don't know about the heater, but 60 Watt panel might be enough to power your 40 watt bulb - it all depends on how many sun hours you have and how long you plan to keep the lights on during the night. It is really hard to tell exactly up front, as there are many parameters to be taken into account.

Andrea says:
10-01-2012


I want some lighting in my horse barn. There would be a max of six bulbs, I would normally only be using them for a few minutes a day. Since it gets darker earlier, I could use some lighting at feeding time. Also, I would like to use those wires that keep pipes from freezing..... just a short pipe. I have a 400 watt inverter and want to get the battery and solar to charge it. Could you suggest size of solar charger to use? Battery?

Gwen says:
10-08-2012


I live in US but my family lives in rural Africa. I would like to buy them a solar panel to light the house, at least 2 bulbs and a 12"tv. Please advise me on the most efficient portable solar panel to get and the right battery to store power. Please reply. Thanks.

Greg says:
10-09-2012


The portable solar panels that I know of are not strong enough to power a TV set, even if it is a 12-Volt DC device. Probably you can try matching Brunton Solaris 52 Watt (look HERE for more details) with the power input of some TVs to see what would be possible, if anything.

Dick says:
10-12-2012


Greg,
We have a 60watt solar panel with two deep cell batteries.
What power can we expect from this?
We could add two more batteries in this location.
What can we expect power wise from either two or four batteries and what size inverter would we need?


Greg says:
10-15-2012


Hi Dick
In the ideal case, you cannot expect to get more power than what your solar panel can produce. In reality you will get substantially less power (say, 60-70% of the panel label). If you have something like 5 hours of peak sunlight you might expect, say, 70% of 60 Watt*5 hours, which would be 210 Watt-hours. On the other end, you can spend this energy running a 210-Watt-device for one hour, or a 21 Watt device for 10 hours. The battery is here just to store the produced energy, adding more batteries will not increase the produced power.

Saad says:
11-09-2012


Dear Greg,
Greetings.
I don't know a thing about solar panels and desperately need your expert advice.

I want to light a bulb of 20 watts for 10 hours and charge mobile phones for 5 hours. We have direct sunlight for at least 10 hours.

I'll be grateful if you please tell me exactly what things I will be needing to fulfill my requirements.
Thanking You
Saad

Greg says:
11-12-2012


Hi Saad
What you need to check is the number of so-called "peak sun hours" for your exact location. This number varies from town to town and also depends on the season. You would need to determine what the peak sun hours are for the worst case scenario (winter data). No way you will get 10 sun hours if you take the worst case data. The math largely depends on this number.

Robb says:
11-11-2012


I was wondering what would I need to run a 2kw heater for 8 hours?

Greg says:
11-12-2012


That's a lot of power Robb, and to make things worse heaters are virtually incompatible with photovoltaic (PV) solar systems. However, you can use active solar heating systems that use fluids to collect the solar energy and are much more efficient than any PV system.

BUD says:
11-28-2012


I want to use a panel+ controller+ large capacity deep cycle battery+inverter to run battery chargers to float/maintain only. Input on them reads: 120v AC 2 amps/12v 2amps out. I also want to run the charger for my 18v power tool batteries. Not 24/7, just enough to keep them full. How many watts of 5 hr/day solar input do I need? Thanks!

Yonas says:
12-01-2012


Hi Graig
I have
one 21" TV - 120 Watts
one amplifier - 60 Watts
three bulbs - each 12-15 Watts and one DC refrigerator.
now if I want to run the refrigerator for 24hrs/day and the bulbs for 8hrs/day and the TV and amplifier for 12 he's a day, what kind of panel, inverter and batteries are needed? I get 7hrs peak sunlight most of the year cause I live on the tropical area...

mo says:
12-04-2012


I just bought 60 watt solar panel. 1. how many christmas bulbs(LED)can I light for my outside light decoration. 2. If my 60 watts panel is not enough can I simply add more pannel to my system. thanks

bruce says:
12-04-2012


I have a 85 watt solar panel to charge a battery. I want to convert to 115 volt ac, to run a heater that draws 3 amps for 8 hours at sun lite. Will this work?

Sylvester says:
12-11-2012


I have been following this forum for a month or so now. You are doing a nice job. Pls I have 2Q. 1. Can i use a DC MOTOR, ALTERNATOR, CHARGE CONTROLLER, DEEP CYCLE BATTRAY and INVERTER to generate Electricity instead of SOLAR PANEL? Because I saw it on net but there was no good instructions step by step on how to get it work Q2. Pls. I want to used 1 Fan of 65W, 1 TV of 100W 1 DVD of 30W and 60W of bulb. How many Watts of solar panel, Volts of Deep cycle battery, Watts of Inverter, Amp or volts of charge controller will i need. Many thanks.

Greg says:
12-12-2012


@Bud: You should definitely calculate the total load (in Watts-hours per day) prior to looking at the other end and deciding on what kind of solar panel you would need. Simply determine the power of your chargers and other appliances (POWER in Watts = VOLTAGE in Volts x CURRENT in Amps) and multiply the power in Watts with the number of hours you will use them to determine the load per day.

@Yonas: So, let’s see. 120 Watts x 12 hours + 60 Watts x 12 hours + 45 Watts x 8 hours + 40 Watts fridge?? x 24 hours = 3500 Watt-hours per day. So you need something like 3.5 KWh per day.
To account for losses in case you use a MTTP charge controller (more expensive solution) you have to multiply this number with 1.5 which gives you 5.25 KWh per day. In case you opt for a PWM controller (cheaper solution), you would have to multiply your load with 1.8 or more.
The next step would be to select you battery, accounting for 3, 4 or 5 days autonomy (in case something goes wrong). If you want to have 3 days autonomy, the required load will be 15.75 KWh. As the batteries should not be discharged below 50%, you have 31.5 KWh, which translates into 24-Volt batteries with 1312 Amp-hours capacity.
The last step would be to select the solar panel, which should provide 5250 Watts in 7 hours = a system of panels of 750 Watts total power.
Last but not least, you would need something like a 40 Amps MTTP solar charge controller.
All in all, this is obviously not a cheap set up.

@mo: The answer to your first question is - it depends on the total load of your LED lights (see the replay to Bud above). You should be able to add more panels, connecting them either in serial or in parallel to increase the total power of your system.

@bruce: If your heater draws 3 amps at 115 volt for 8 hours, it means that you require 2760 Watt-hours per day (without even taking into account the power losses). No way you can provide this power with just one 85 Watt solar panel.

@Sylvester: Thanks for the comment, but I have no idea what Q2, or 2Q is.

jason says:
01-10-2013


Hi Greg. I have a hydroponic system that uses a lot of power with a 400 watt lamp, fans and heater. I use in my green house what sort of solar system would I need to run for it.

arnearne says:
02-03-2013


Looking to power a 200w (200w actual wattage) flouro bulb/grow light indoors for tomato plants, melons etc..

what system is enough to run a 200w bulb say 8h a day?

James says:
02-07-2013


Hello Greg,
I'm looking to power a 4.0 Kw electric Garage heater for very stints, enough the warm the unattached garage for maybe an hour or 2 while I'm in there working in my cars at night. will a 60 watt system work with a few deep cycle batteries?

scott cleator says:
02-11-2013


I need to pair a system for an off-grid water heater for my cottage.It is for a low-usage outdoor shower. i just want to know how much power i could need and what size of heater i shold purchase to make it happen. thanks

Ribal says:
04-02-2013


I have 28 watt solar panel and 65 Amh battery (filled with water, and 1500watt inverter (nominal but acctual 750watt). How can i use it to run 32" LCD and reciever and LED light (about 1 amper needs) and how much time will it last. And one other question i need to put the panel on the roof and i'm setteling in the first flor so I need about 25-30 meter wire what thickness do i need?

Ric says:
04-05-2013


Hi Greg
I have a 48 volt wind turbine at 300 watt, 2 solar panels at 100 watt each and a 20 watt solar panel with an 12 volt inverter at 700 watt. 2 deep cell 12 volt batteries and an all in one wind/solar charge controller, I would like to know if I can generate current to run a 21 inch TV, a music system and 3 light bulb at 60 watt each. I have sun shine in the Caribbean maybe 8 hrs most days. Please give me your in put on this.
Thanks
Ric

Brian Stuaffer says:
04-09-2013


I am putting together a fishing cart and I would like to add on a couple of electronic things... Radio (either ran by iPod or car stereo) and an external light fixture. Can you tell me information I would need to get the right amount of solar power I would need. Thanks for the help

Mark says:
04-12-2013


@Brian: I would suggest something from the Brunton Foldable Solar Array line of products.

Hendon says:
04-15-2013


Hi I have a 600 watt light at the end of my peir. How many watt solar panel do u think it would take to run the light for a couple of hours at night?

Rakesh says:
04-25-2013


Hi Everyone:
after reading few comment, I come to know there is requirement to clear fundamental of Solar cells.
First of the types of solar cells
1) amorphous (cheap and less efficiency per sq. meter)
2) polycrystalline (more costly and more efficient)
3) mono-crystalline (more costly and more efficient even than polycrystalline)
Now calculation,
First calculate total used power per day.
Example: if you use 2 30w cfl for 6 hour a day + a fan 75w for 4 hour per day then total power utilized per day is,
2*30*6(for cfl)+1*75*4(for fan)=660 watthour per day.
Now calculation for solar panel required.
A typical 100 watt solar panel produce 400 watthour per day
so for 660 watthour you need:
(required power)/(typical power produce by panel)*(efficiency of system)= total no. of solar cell required.
Here 0.8(80%) is considered as efficiency of your system in worst case + 120-130% more power to charge battery.
Here we have:
660/400x0.8=2.0625
so you need 100*2.0625=206
~200w solar panel.
Now calculation for battery
as you need 660wh per day
watthour/volt=amperehour.
660/12=55ah
so you need 55ah 12v battery
As battery degrade with time its better to use 70ah 12v battery.
for any help you can contact me directly on r.kumarrakesh231@gmail.com
or at www.facebook.com/rakesh231


Redley says:
06-24-2013


Is it possible to use a heat from a high watts bulb as source of energy to my solar panel to charge batteries at night.

sunnyray says:
06-26-2013


No, that is not the way to go. That way you have nothing to gain, you can only lose energy.

Brian says:
12-04-2013


Hi ya,

Two questions

1. I have 2 x 12v 20w PIR flood lamps. As they will only be on at night time when movement I reckon they may be on for say 5 hours. Would a 50w solar panel do the job???

2. If I have a 240v 70w flood lamp could I directly fit a 70 w solar panel to an inverter then to my lamp and use it during the day for working?

Gift says:
12-15-2013


I want a solar system that can be used to light a chicken run.It will use 600w of power for 12 hours for lighting purposes only. what solar size,inverter,battery would you recommend for me.

Sbonelo mzimela says:
12-30-2013


I have a 10w panel ,60ah 12v sealed lead acid maintenance free and 230w inverter, is enough to run 14 TV and 2 energy saving lights 15w each?

sophie says:
01-12-2014


Hi, we wanted to hook a 500mah 5W mini keyboard vacuum cleaner to a 5W panel, will it work? Or do we need another panel with higher watts? I heard that you have to match the watts of the appliance with the panel. Also, do we need a12V battery as well? I hope you can enlighten me on this one because we will be presenting it as our project. Thank you very much

Hello says:
01-13-2014


I bought myself a 80W panel with a steca 10A controller with a 105ah deep cycle battery, the cables was supplied by the company I bought my system from I want to run just a 12v dc snomaster camp fridge on this system and just 1 by 12v light would this system be good enough or would I need something more?? Can you also supply the basic setup/connection diagram for this system I do have a battery case with inline fuse in the case. Thank you

Aashish says:
01-14-2014


hi! i need 2 lit in average 6 5 watt led bulbs for in average 5hrs @ night....of how much watt should my solar panel be and how much volts should the battery be???? thank u in advance for your advice.

santiago says:
01-27-2014


I want to run a 0.5 hp motor along with an 8051 micro controller and other electronic devices like comparator,charge controller,regulator.I have a 74 W solar panel. What are the ratings of the battery I need?How much time is needed to charge the battery?Will I need any extra solar panel?

drew says:
01-27-2014


Greg I have the optimax blue top batter 12v. Nice battery from what I've read. 60 watt sunforce kit. How good is this battery w this set 200 watt inverter 7amp charge controller.and could I simply add more batteries in parallel sequence or is there a basic formula to watts in solar panels to battery equation? Example 300 watt in panels=x amount of batteries? In blue top?

kithaka says:
01-29-2014


I have a 100 watt solar panel and a 100 AH battery. What appliances can I use with the power?

Troy says:
03-02-2014


Could someone please tell me the solar set up I need to run a 1500watt submersible water heater that we use in our equine 100 gallon water tubs. Living in North Dakota it will have to run 24/7 during winter months as it seems we can never get above -40 below..lol any help would be appreciated.

Lovington says:
04-03-2014


Hi, I bought a 60 watts solar panel to use for 3 power led lights, small telly, small stereo and charge the phones; how many watts inverter plus what size regulator do I need?



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