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300W solar panels can run TVs, laptops and various appliances, so no wonder it is in demand in homes and RVs. Of course a solar panel doesn’t work alone, and you need a battery to reserve energy. But how many batteries will you need?
A 300W solar panel needs at least a 100ah battery to draw 1000W. A smaller battery is enough if you are drawing the power for a short period, but a bigger battery is needed for a longer current draw. The battery size depends on how long you have to provide power to the inverter.
How to Calculate a 300W Solar Panel Battery Requirement
To figure out the battery requirement, you need to know the following:
- How many watts the solar panel can produce
- The amount of power you will provide to the inverter
- How long you need to draw power from the inverter
- The inverter efficiency
- The battery depth of discharge
In our example we will use a 300W solar panel with four hours of sunlight available. if you are looking for one, we suggest the DOKIO 300W Solar Panel Kit as it comes with everything you need. The goal is to supply 1000W to the battery. The question is how many batteries will you need? More accurately, what battery capacity is required and what type?
In a perfect world a 300W 12V solar panel will generate 1200W (300W x 4 hours of sunlight = 1200). But during those four hours, the sun’s angle will change, the intensity will vary, clouds may pass by etc. If you factor these in, the average output is going to be 270W-280W, or 1100W with four hours of sun.
280W x 4 = 1120W
To convert watts into amp hours:
1120W / 12V = 93ah, rounded off to 100ah
Theoretically, 100ah will be enough for a 300W solar panel. But the question now is, how long do you need to supply 1120W to the power load? Divide the total watt output by the number of watts the inverter needs.
1120W / 1000W = 1.12 (approx. 1 hour)
Ideally, the power supply can last for 1.12 hours. But that does not account for inverter energy loss, which is about 80%. So multiply 1 hour by .8:
60 x .8 = .48
That is 48 minutes.
A 100ah battery can supply 1000W of solar panel power to an inverter for 48 minutes. However this will completely drain the battery down to 0%. A lead acid battery has a 50% DOD so you have to double the capacity to 200ah. If you want to draw 1000W for longer than 48 minutes, get a larger battery or reduce the load.
Buy a lithium battery if you want to use all – or most – of the capacity. It’s more expensive than lead acid or AGM, but you don’t have to recharge it at 50%. If you don’t mind the limited DOD you can go with a lead acid battery as it is still effective. We like the Weize 100ah 12V AGM battery as it is dependable and long lasting.
Inverter Load For 300W Solar Panels
The inverter load and duration play a huge role in determining battery capacity. The inverter load determines the battery discharge rate. The larger the inverter load, the faster the battery will discharge. If you are running a lot of devices simultaneously it will drain that battery fast.
Note that the calculations we are working with here is only 1000W. You can use the same steps as above for higher loads. A larger load requirement, such a refrigerator, will demand more from the battery. You also have to make sure the 300W solar panel is enough for whatever it is you want to load on the inverter.
Here’s an example. Let’s assume the weather is ideal and the solar panel produces 1200W (300W x 4 hours of sunlight). On paper that is enough to run a typical fridge for 1 hour. In truth however it is insufficient.
A refrigerator has two power requirements, running watts and starting watts. The running watts is what the fridge uses while it runs throughout the day. The starting watts is the power required to start the refrigerator.
Energy efficient refrigerators use 120-150W, but their starting watt requirement is 1200W-1500W. A 300W solar panel isn’t enough. The same rule applies to any appliance or device that has has a starting watt. This is the rule for any type of solar power, including solar generators. Always add a cushion -20% at least- as it’s better to have more power capacity than less.
Battery Discharge Rate For 300W Solar Panels
The amount of time you need to draw the current determines the battery discharge rate. Let’s say you get 1500W of sunlight from your 300W solar panel (ideal weather). A 125ah battery will draw 1500W for an hour. A 6.5ah battery is enough for 1500W for 30 minutes (125 / 2 = 6.5).
You can slow the discharge rate by reducing the inverter load or drawing power for brief periods only. As was pointed out earlier it’s also more efficient to use lithium ion batteries because of their superior discharge rate. The higher the load requirement the more efficient your solar panel will be. Even then you have to account for energy loss from the PV modules and the inverter.
At the most optimistic scenario, a 12V 300W solar panel produces 2400W (300wh x 8 hours of sun = 2400), but inverter and charge controller inefficiencies will result varying results. An 1800 inverter load with an 8 hour run time could produce 8-10A minimum up to 80A an hour max depending on the weather and solar panel efficiency.
These numerous factors are the reason why we suggest at least a 100ah battery for 1000W and 150ah-200ah minimum for 1800W draws. By overestimating your power requirements you don’t have to worry if the capacity will be enough. Spending a bit more on that extra battery capacity will just make things easier for you. For optimum performance, you must also use the right wire size for 300W solar panels.
Is a 300W Solar Panel Enough for an 1800W Inverter?
Technically a 300W solar panel is enough, but for optimum results you need way more. Six 300W solar panels is sufficient to run all your loads for 4-5 hours. These six panels can produce up to 1800W an hour so it should be enough for even larger power draws.
Half a dozen solar panels will take a lot of room, but if you need plenty of power this is a good option. With a solar array this size you might generate up to 7200W a day. Of course if you plan to store this energy you will need a huge battery bank. You might also want to get an MPPT charge controller to get the best possible performance.
Another thing to keep in mind is the inverter size. The general rule is the inverter watt capacity must be bigger than the total load watts. The extra inverter watts must be at least 20% or even double that of the total load wattage. There is no consensus here, but for high powered appliances it’s better to go with a bigger inverter. For appliances and devices with starting watt requirements, a powerful inverter is mandatory.
Can a 300W Solar Panel Overcharge the Battery?
It is possible to overcharge solar batteries, but it is unlikely. The only way this can occur is if you connect the solar panel directly to the battery. That exposes the battery to possible overheating, overloading and other potential problems. But if you have a charge controller this is very remote.
Whether you opt for a PWM or MPPT controller, there will be overload protection. You can let the solar panel charge the battery for as long as needed, and the controller ensures only the right amount of power goes in. You don’t have to do anything to the panels, inverter or battery as the controller oversees the process.
If the battery isn’t charging, it is probably due to lack of sunlight. Try changing the solar panel angle or wait for a sunnier day to charge. You should also check the wires and cables to make sure nothing is lose. A loose cable might cause solar fire and lead to more trouble.
All the calculating you have to do isn’t as complicated as it seems. Your solar panel likely has information which should tell you what battery it needs. Even if that information is provided, knowing how to crunch the numbers is essential when you have to install new PV modules or add another battery.
I am an advocate of solar power. Through portablesolarexpert.com I want to share with all of you what I have learned and cotinue to learn about renewable energy.