Can a Solar Panel Run a Fan?

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Keeping your home cool during the summer can be difficult as AC units consume a lot of watts. One way to keep the cost down is to use a fan, but how well does it work with solar power? The answer is fans run are very compatible with solar panels, and you don’t need a lot to work with.

An 80W solar panel can run a 48 inch blade ceiling fan while a 100W solar panel can power a 52 inch bladed fan. DC fans may be connected directly to a solar power system, but an inverter is required for AC powered fans.

How Many Watts Does a Solar Powered Fan Use?

The conversion formula is watts x operating hours = solar panels required +10% for overcast days

An average ceiling fan consumes 60W an hour. 60W x 1 hour = 60W solar panel required. A 60W fan that runs for 5 hours a day is equal to 9000W a month or 9kwh. You may want to use a 70W solar panel to have extra power in case of a cloudy day. In this case, the 60W Rich Solar Panel will be enough.

You need a battery if you want to run the fan at night. Solar panels can power fans when the sun is out, but it can’t generate energy when the sun goes down. So you must have a battery bank to reserve energy so the appliance can keep running.

The following chart gives you an overview of how many watts a fan uses. For the solar power requirements, add 10%-20% of the fan’s wattage. This is to ensure maximum draw during overcast days.

TypeWatts Per HourMinimum Solar Panel Requirement
Ceiling Fan55W-90W60W-100W
Tower Fan60W-100W66W-120W
Whole House Fan150W-600W+165W-660W
Window Fan30W-100W33W-120W
Pedestal / Table Fan50W-60W33W-66W
Smart FanVaries by Fan TypeDepends on Type

The figures above are examples only. There are many types of fans and some will require more power than others. Generally, the larger the fan blade, the more watts it consumes. However you also have to consider the number of blades and other features it may have.

The point is you should take a look at the watts requirement on the product itself. You can find this on the fan if you’re buying in a store, or online at the manufacturer site or in the product manual.

What is the Best Fan For Solar?

There are a lot of variants, but the most common are ceiling, whole house, pedestal, window, smart and tower fans. The best fan for solar will depend on how you intend to use it. Below is a brief overview of each type so you know what to expect.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans use anywhere from 55W (36 inch blades) to 90W (52 inch blades). These are ideal if you want to cool an entire room. Installing won’t be as easy as the other fans, but it can be done. This is a very popular fan and works well in many homes.

  • You only need one ceiling fan to bring a soft breeze to a room.
  • They are sold in different blade sizes.
  • Cheaper than AC and whole fans.
  • Some models are equipped with lights.
  • Ceiling fans are permanent installations. Once it up there, it’s going to be difficult to remove.
  • The fan cools only the people in the room, not the installation location.
  • The cooling efficiency depends on the room size. A large room necessitates a bigger ceiling fan.

Smart Fans

A smart fan is any type of fan (ceiling, window, tower) wish special features like automatic on/ off, temperature control and motion sensors that detect when someone is in the room. With smart tech now a daily part of our lives, these fans could easily fit your lifestyle at home or in an RV.

  • The fan automatically turns fan on or off depending if there are people in the room.
  • These can be controlled with apps, Google Assistant, Siri and other technologies.
  • Easy to program and customize.
  • Costs more than the average fan.
  • The extra features require additional solar power.

Tower Fans

A tower or floor fan enhances air circulation by moving air around the area. Most tower fans consume 60W to over 100W. Older models were large energy wasters. But current releases are more efficient and can be moved around easily.

  • Available in various sizes and specs.
  • While tall, tower fans are easy to relocate.
  • Convenient to set up.
  • Occupies a lot of space.
  • Air movement range is limited.

Whole House Fans

As the name makes clear, these fans are designed to cool an entire house. And it is not surprising whole house fans consume the most power, up to 600W or more. This might be too much for small solar panels, but a good sized solar generator can handle it. Whole house fans however, use less watts than an AC.

  • Can cool down an entire house, eliminating the need for other fans.
  • Uses less solar power than an air conditioner.
  • Various sizes available.
  • Requires a large solar panel or generator.
  • Professional installer needed.
  • Vent covers required in the winter.

Window Fans

Window fans come in various sizes and styles, with power ranging from 30W to 100W. The low end models are used to cool single rooms, while the most powerful can be configured for an entire house. These are versatile fans that can be used with solar power in many ways.

  • Cheaper than whole house and ceiling fans.
  • Simple installation.
  • Multiple window fans can be used.
  • Cavities need covers for optimum performance.
  • Multiple window fans will require more solar power.

Pedestal Fans

Pedestal fans are portable and placed on tables, which is why they are also called table fans. Watt usage ranges from 50W-60W depending on the number blades. Because they don’t use a lot of watts, you can get by with an 80W solar panel or even less.

  • Portable, can be moved from room to room..
  • Easy to install.
  • Multiple fans can be used.
  • Not as powerful as window fans.
  • May be insufficient for large rooms.
  • Does not have the same cooling effect as other fans.

Can I Connect a Fan Directly to a Solar Panel?

A DC fan can be connected directly to a solar panel. An AC fan requires an inverter to convert the electricity. Do not connect any AC appliance directly to a solar panel because it could cause damage. If you have an AC fan, better install a complete solar power system -solar panels, battery, inverter and charge controller – to avoid problems.

AC vs. DC Fans

So does this mean a DC fan is better than an AC powered fan? If we look at it from strictly from an installation viewpoint, yes it is. You don’t need to buy an inverter and you’ll save money right? Well, yes and no.

Yes because inverters are not cheap. But if you are running a TV on solar powerLNK and other appliances, you probably have an inverter already. Second, solar panels cannot produce energy when the sun goes down or it rains. You need a battery to reserve energy.

If you are going to buy a battery, might as well get an inverter to run your other appliances. So it is not really much of an advantage. That being said, DC and AC fans have other pros and cons.

DC Fans Pros
  • Can be connected directly to a solar panel.
  • Runs quietly.
  • More energy efficient than AC fans.
  • Up to six speed options.
  • More power than AC fans.
DC Fans Cons
  • Costs more than AC fans.
  • Needs an inverter if you are going to plug into an AC wall outlet.
AC Fans Pros
  • More affordable than DC fans.
  • Runs on solar power and any AC wall outlet.
  • Reliable performance.
  • Widely available.
  • Different styles and size to choose from.
AC Fans Cons
  • Not as energy efficient as DC fans.
  • Requires an inverter to run on solar.

Are There Solar Powered Fans?

Yes, there are many solar powered fans available. These look like your regular fans except it runs on solar. This is a nice option if you don’t want to convert your existing fans into solar or don’t want to go through a solar system installation.

Solar powered fans offer many other benefits. They are perfect for fishing, camping and other outdoor activities. If there is a power outage you’ll really find it useful. Runtime varies, but fully powered a solar fan can go for several hours before requiring a recharge.

Just like solar powered freezers, these fans are built to last. Most have extra features like MP3 players, flashlight, LED light, radio etc. All these are nice and useful, but they will use up power and could drain out the power more quickly.

Solar fans are portable, essential for outdoor use. A battery – usually lithium – is built in for recharging. Charging time varies but under ideal conditions will not take long. Most of them have charging outlets so they double as a portable solar chargerLNK.

Are solar power fans better than DC or AC? Features wise they are similar, and if you already have a solar panel system installed, it just comes down to your preference. If you don’t have a solar power system yet or don’t want to divert its resources for a fan, then a solar powered fan may be suitable for you.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Solar Fan

Buying a fan requires research, even more so if you are going to run it with solar power. Here are the most salient points.

Fan Type. This will depend on how you’ll use it. There is no single best fan type, as it comes down to what your needs are. Are you going to use the fan extensively? Are you going to pair it with an air conditioner? Do you only need a small fan? Consider all of these before you start to buy..

Energy Savings. Modern fans are energy efficient, but some more so than others. Once you have chosen a type, pick the one that meets your needs while consuming the lowest watts. If you already have a solar system set up, think about how much power each fan will use up. If you are going to install more than one fan, consider how it affects the entire system.

Application and Usage. How, where and when will you use the fan? A small to medium size unit will do fine in an RV or a small room. But you will need a large one if it is for a spacious area of your house. Consider also your future needs and what adjustments you have to make if you are going to use a bigger fan.

Blade and Motor. As pointed out, the bigger the blade the more watts it will use. But large blades and a powerful motor produces superior performance. Again it comes down to individual preferences. A large fan uses a lot of power, but it is still less than an air conditioner, TV or running a welding machine on solar power.

Warranty. Fans don’t consume a lot of power like a well pump or other high powered appliances, but a good warranty won’t hurt. Look for the best warranty from reputable manufacturers to get your money’s worth.

Feedback. What do customers say about this product? Look for information on how the fan works with solar power. If there is none, get a general idea of what people think of the product and how the manufacturer responds to problems.

AC, DC or Solar Power Fan. This is entirely up to you. Each has its own pros ad cons. Even solar fans have an AC or DC power outlet so your options are almost the same. The difference is the other features, how much power they will consume and if you need them.


Whether you go with a solar fan, or a DC / AC fan and connect it to a PV module, you will get excellent results and save money. You can use a fan in lieu of an AC or pair them up to reduce dependence on the air conditioner. It’s really up to you.