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Solar panels produce direct current, so you need an inverter to convert it into alternating current (AC) and run common household appliances. A 2000 watt inverter can run a lot of thee, but how many solar panels will you need to get the system working?
It will take 7 x 300 watt solar panels to run a 200W inverter. This assumes the inverter is running a full load and the solar panel output is at least 290 watts an hour.
What Solar Panel Size For a 2000 Watt Inverter?
Solar panel sizes are measured by their output in watts. The higher the output, the fewer panels you will need to run a 2000 watt inverter.
Inverter load per hour = solar panel size
If you want to use the inverter at full load, your solar system must produce at least 2000 watts for as long as the inverter needs to run. When the sun goes down the inverter will shut off unless there is another power source.
With 7 x 300W solar panels you can run a 2000W inverter for as long as there is enough sunlight. If there are 5 sunlight hours, the inverter is good for 5 hours.
What if the load is less than 2000 watts? Example you want to load 1400 watts for 4 hours.
1400 watt inverter load = 1400 watt solar panel output
You need a solar array that can produce 1400 watts an hour. Five 300 watt solar panels is good for 1500 watts so you can start there.
You can use other solar panel combinations as long as the total output is at least 2000 watts an hour. However, a 300 watt PV module or larger is ideal because it does not take up as much space as a 200W or 100W solar array.
Why Adding 10% More Solar Power is Better
However it is a good idea to add at least 10% to the solar panel size. The weather, panel design and other reasons make it difficult for solar panels to generate peak output consistently.
To be on the safe side, add 10% or more to the solar panel size. If your inverter load needs 2000 watts, get a 2100-2200W solar system.
Let us go back to the first example. A 7 x 300W solar array can yield 2100 watts an hour. But that assumes each module is good for 300 watts an hour.
If the output for each panel drops to 285 watt hours, the output goes down to 1995 watts. But if you had a 8 x 300W, 7 x 320W or 7 x 350W solar array, you can still get to the required watts and more.
Another reason to get a 2000W+ solar system is the inverter efficiency. Inverters are not 100% effective in converting DC to AC so power is lost. The system will use more watts / amps that what the load requires, so more power helps.
How much extra solar power is necessary? The 10% we quote here is the minimum. You can make it as large as you can afford.
The larger the solar array the less you have to worry about running low on inverter power. However a large solar array is expensive and takes up a lot of space.
You need to strike a balance between having enough reserve power and cost efficiency. If you have a good sized battery bank you can store the extra power, same if you are on the grid.
How Long Will a 2000 Watt Solar Panel Last?
A solar array is going to last for as long as there is sunlight available. However its output can vary depending on how much solar energy is converted.
Imagine you have a 7 x 300W solar array and a 2000W load on the inverter. At noon the sun is at its peak and the array produces 2000 watts.
But the output will go down eventually. From 290 watts the number will drop to 280, 250, 180 and so on until the sun sets.
When computing sun hour availability, consider the intensity too. You might get plenty of sun for 5 to 6 hours during summer from 11 AM until 4 PM, or maybe 10 AM until 3 PM.
But the numbers here assume optimum conditions. During fall and winter the output will be lower. If you need to run a full or near full inverter, solar panels will not be enough. You must also have a good sized battery bank.
This sounds like a lot of calculating and figuring. But it is not as difficult as it sounds. As long as you know how many hours of sunlight are available, just add at least 10% to the total required solar panel size and your inverter should be fine.
Solar Panels and Batteries For Inverters
You can run an inverter with solar panels, but you don’t have to. An inverter can run without a solar array, but it needs a battery bank or another source to power it.
We have already covered the battery requirements for a 2000 watt inverter in another post, so check it out if you are interested. Suffice to say that a battery bank is required to run an inverter regardless of size.
If you are on the grid you don’t need a battery or even a solar array. But for off grid systems, a battery bank is needed especially with an inverter this size.
As long as your battery is big enough for the inverter there will be no issues. You can charge the batteries with solar panels, a generator or another power source.
In most cases an AGM battery bank will do. A 200ah AGM battery like the Renogy AGM can run a 2000 watt load but it will be discharged beyond 50%. To avoid that, keep the battery charged, double the capacity to 400ah or use a lithium battery.
There is no need to choose between a solar panel and battery. For an off grid setup you need both. You can run an inverter from a solar array. But it is more effective to charge the batteries with solar panels and use the battery to run the inverter.
By using a battery bank, you can keep the inverter going for as long as necessary. As long there is power in the batteries the inverter can keep going even at night.
During the morning when the battery is drained, you can charge it with the solar panels. The ideal setup is to keep the batteries topped off so the charge doesn’t drop. Make sure you have a solar controller installed so the batteries do not get overcharged.
Basically this means keeping the battery charged up so you can keep the inverter going. The battery size depends on the inverter load and how long you need to keep it running.
Tips For Using a 2000 Watt Inverter
- Before you buy anything, decide if you want to run the inverter on solar panels, or use the panels to charge the battery bank that will run the inverter.
- Calculate how many sun hours are available. Make separate calculations for the different seasons.
- When computing solar panel output, account for occasional cloudy days.
- Add up the total appliance watts for the inverter load. Check the inverter efficiency rating and add that into the power requirement total.
- The ratings for batteries, solar panels and inverters are for their maximum output. Do not expect to get these results every hour every day. Always make sure to have reserve power at hand.
- A 2000 watt inverter may have a surge capacity of 4000 watts. But if the solar panels can only supply 2000 watts, you cannot use this feature.
- Keep the wirings for the solar panels, batteries and inverter as near each other as possible. The thicker the wires the better.
- Make sure you are using the right circuit breaker size.
- A pure sine wave inverter has a higher conversion efficiency rate than a modified sine. They are also designed for appliances and devices with sensitive components that modified sine wave inverters cannot handle.
Solar panel sizes are not only getting larger but also more affordable. However the output will still depend on the sun. By combining the solar panels with a large battery bank you gain additional power source options.