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The average American watches 4 hours of TV a day, and if you binge watch on streaming it’s probably much more than that. Since the TV was invented it’s become a part of our lives and considered an essential appliance. So, can a solar panel power a TV? And how many panels will you need?
A 150W solar panel can run a 50 inch TV for 4 to 5 hours a day. By adding a 50ah battery and inverter to the system, you can watch TV on solar power day or night for several more hours.
How Many Solar Panels Does a TV Need?
There are endless varieties of TVs, in all sizes, shapes and specifications. The table below shows the watt usage of common TV sizes and solar panels needed.. Plasma and CRT TVs are obsolete so they are not included here. If you still have a plasma TV, consider buying LED or LCD because plasma uses double the power of LED and LCD.
|LED TV||Watts Per Hour||LCD TV||Watts Per Hour||Solar Panels Needed|
|32 Inch||20W-60W||32 Inch||24W-72W||80-90W|
|42 Inch||60W||42 Inch||72W||80-90W|
|46 Inch||60W-70W||46 Inch||72W-84W||100W|
|50 Inch||85W||50 Inch||102W||150W|
|6 Inch||120W-130W||65 Inch||146W-156W||200W|
|82 Inch||230W-300W||82 Inch||276W-360W||400-500W|
The figures are for typical TVs. TV technology is moving rapidly and becoming more energy efficient, so check the product specs for more details. Note that these figures are for the TV only. It does not include cable boxes, Blu-ray players or other paraphernalia. Your power consumption will go up if any of those are included.
The power consumption will depend on how many hours of TV you watch. The longer you watch, the more power required. And if you add a video game console or other peripherals, you will need a lot of solar power.
Calculate TV Solar Power Needs
From the table above, you can calculate how many solar panels your TV needs. Multiply the TV watts usage by the number of hours you watch per day, and add 10% to 20% to the result.
If you have a 32 inch, 35W LED TV and want to watch 4 hours a day:
35 x 4 = 140
140 + 20% = 168
You need 168 watts of solar panel. Two 100W solar panels will produce 180W-200W with 5 hours of sunlight. We prefer the 200W Newpowa Monocrystalline Solar Panel as it is more efficient.
If you have an 85W, 50 inch LED TV, you would need a 400W solar panel. You need 4 x 100W or 2 x 200W solar panels. Any combination will be fine as long as the total is 400 watts.
As has been pointed out in other posts, you have to add 10% to 20% to the calculation because of energy loss, weather, etc. This happens to all solar panels, even the top ones. Of course you should only buy the best solar panels to ensure energy loss is at a minimum.
These calculations assume there is 5 hours of sunlight available. Depending on the location you might get 7 or 8 hours. The more hours the better for your solar powered TV. If sunlight is not enough, you need to add a generator or battery to your solar system.
Do I Need Batteries to Watch TV?
Yes you do. As good as solar panels are, they cannot run without the sun. If is pouring outside your panels will not generate enough electricity.
You can run a TV off solar panels, but a battery is more effective. By charging the battery with solar panels, you can run the TV off the battery and not worry if there is enough sunlight.
To find out how many batteries you need: TV watts / battery voltage = battery size
If you have a 50 inch,, 85W LED TV and want to watch for 5 hours:
85 watts x 5 hours = 425 watts
You need 425 watts to run the TV for 5 hours. You can choose between 12V, 24V and 48V batteries. let us use 12 volts:
425 / 12 = 35
You need a12V 35ah battery to run a 50 inch TV for 5 hours. After 5 hours the battery will be fully discharged, so better get a 50ah battery instead. We like the Ampere Time 12V 50ah LiFePO4 as it is efficient and charges fast.
These battery calculations assume you will be discharging the battery completely. You can do that with lithium batteries, while AGM can be discharged up to 70%-80%. Flooded lead acid have a 50% DOD, so you have to double the capacity.
Not only can you watch TV anytime and in any weather, but you are no longer limited to a few hours per day. As long as the battery is charged you can keep watching TV.
That is, a 32 inch LED TV running 4 hours needs only a 20ah 12V lithium battery, but it becomes 40ah for lead acid because of the 50% depth discharge. More info about battery longevity and capacity can be found here.
Do I Need an Inverter to Watch TV on Solar Power?
If you search for “is TV DC or AC”, you’ll find different answers, some say TVs use DC power, while others claim it is AC. It does not make a difference if you are using electricity, but if you’re on solar, it does.
Bottom line: whether your TV runs on DC or AC power, we recommend using an inverter. if you will use batteries to watch TV, an inverter is necessary whether it is AC or DC powered.
The inverter capacity has to be at least 20% larger than the TV power consumption. If your TV uses 100 watts, the inverter size must be 120 watts (TV watt hour x 120% = inverter size).
Many of the TVs in the United States use direct current (DC) others do run on AC. You should always check the specs to be sure. If it uses the same cable as other AC appliances, that TV is AC powered. If the power supply has a DC label, then it is direct current.
Most LCD and LED TVs run on DC, but it won’t hurt to use an inverter. Modern TVs have built in converters so if AC power is coming in, it will be converted into DC.
Can you connect a DC powered TV directly to a solar panel? Yes, you could. But for practical reasons, you probably should hook it up to an inverter like other appliances running on solar. such as crock pots
First of all, you need more than just solar panels to run a TV. A battery is required as explained earlier, and even 100ah will be sufficient for a 50 inch TV. If you are going to buy a battery bank, chances are you will use it to power other appliances. Most home appliances run on AC, so an inverter is a must. It makes more sense to connect the TV to the inverter as well for a simplified configuration.
How to Run TVs on Solar Panels
First thing you have to do is set up your solar power system. This consists of the solar panels, batteries, charge controller and inverter. If you bought a solar panel kit all the essential components should be there. But if you’re buying each part separately, here’s a solar accessories guide for what you will need.
if you’re going to install the solar system in your home, it’s best to call a professional technician to do it for you. This will be a complicated task whether it is hybrid, grid tied or off the grid. Once everything is installed, you just connect your TV to the inverter and let the solar system charge. When there’s enough power, turn the TV on and it will run on solar power.
The way it works will depend on what kind of solar power system you have installed. If it is grid tied or hybrid, you probably have the TV and other appliances running on solar panels, with electricity as backup. You don’t need a battery since the electric grid serves as your battery backup if solar production is low.
Living off the grid is a different matter. Your TV will run completely on solar panels, batteries or a solar generator connected to solar panels. You need a battery bank because you have no other power backup available. You can still run the TV on battery if sunlight is limited.
From an energy efficiency standpoint, LED is the best choice for solar power. Compared to OLED and LCD, it uses less power and offers pretty good picture quality. If you live off the grid then a LED TV is the best option.
If you’re on a hybrid system, it depends on personal preference. It doesn’t matter what type of TV you buy if you’re on the grid. But if you plan to watch TV with solar panels or a solar generator, LED TV is ideal. Of course if you have a large solar power system, you can use any TV you want.
What about Solar Powered TVs? You have probably heard of solar powered TVs and wondering, is it worth buying?
Even if you wanted to buy, you probably won’t be able to find any. Solar powered TVs are still in the early stages of development. It looks promising though and should be worth keeping an eye on. Most solar powered TVs are just like regular TVs that come with solar panels, a battery and charge controller.
You are not going to find a lot of solar powered TVs, but that is okay since regular TVs can run on solar power anyway. As long as you have the right components and set it up correctly, you can harness the power of the sun to go binge watching.
Unlike other power hungry appliances, getting a TV to run on solar panels isn’t that hard. Modern television sets have become really energy efficient. Whether you live in an RV or a house, you won’t have much trouble finding the right solar panel size to watch your favorite TV shows.