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The energy efficiency of TVs have improved significantly, and it is no longer a problem to use them on solar panels. But solar panels are not enough as you also need an inverter to run it with your other appliances, but what is the right size?
A 350W inverter can run a TV for 9 to 10 hours. A larger inverter will be needed if you add a gaming console, Blu-ray or set top box.
How Many Inverter Watts Does My TV Need?
The formula is simple: add 20% to 25% to the watts a TV needs to run, and you have the inverter size. For the best results, the inverter should be near the battery Short, thick cables are required to connect the TV, inverter and battery.
A 45 inch TV consumes around 80 watts if it is LED and up to 120 watts if it is a high end LCD model. Assuming it is 120 watts, add 25%:
120 = 25 = 150
So a 45 inch 120W TV needs at least a 150W inverter.
You do the same with a 65 inch 100W TV:
100 = 25% = 125W
20 to 25% is the minimum addition. You can go with 50% or even a 100%. But 25% is safe enough, and you really should go higher only if you plan to use other devices. Most of the time that is the case though, as solar power users use one large inverter to power various devices.
For reference here is a chart for the most popular TV screen sizes, types and what inverter size is required.
|TV Size in Inches
|Recommended Inverter Size
For the inverter capacity you should round off the figures to the next largest size available. You will not find a 187W inverter for instance, so you should buy a 200W instead.
So if you have a 42 inch LED TV you can use something like the BESTEK 150W Inverter and not experience any problems with capacity. A larger TV of course will need a bigger inverter.
These are the minimum inverter sizes you can get. If you are going to use the inverter to run other appliances on solar besides the TV, a larger capacity is required. But the computation is the same. Instead of just the TV, total all the appliances’ watts and add 20% to 25%.
Most inverters for solar systems have a minimum capacity of 1kwh, so it is more than enough for a TV. But there are portable inverters available with 300 to 400 watt capacities if you want to go small.
If you only need a portable TV for your RV and do not plan to use other appliances, those are suitable. But for most solar powered setups and regular households, a large inverter is preferable to run several appliances at once.
How Long Can an Inverter Run My TV?
There are many factors that determine how long your inverter can run a TV, such as battery size, such as wattage, battery discharge rate, how many hours you watch and what other devices you want to use along with the TV.
A 1500W inverter powered by a 100ah 12V battery can run a 100-150W TV for 9 to 10 hours. The runtime will also depend on the inverter efficiency. Assuming it is 85% efficient, the 5 to 6 hour running time is reasonable. There is more information about that available you are interested.
Most solar batteries are 12V while TVs are 120V, so you have to multiply the amps drawn by 10. If the TV draws 2 amps per hour, that becomes 20 amps per hour for a 12V battery. Using that figure you can estimate how long a 100ah, 200ah or any battery will last.
If your solar system is on the grid there is no runtime limit. The inverter draws power from the solar panel and can switch to the power grid. As long as there is power on the grid you can keep the TV and any appliance running.
If your system is grid tied you can run the inverter as long as there is electrical power. If you are off the grid, we recommend a minimum 100ah battery. Our choice is the Renogy Deep Cycle AGM since it runs well with TVs and other appliances.
Which Type of Inverter is Best for TVs?
A pure sine wave inverter is recommended for newer TVs because it is more energy efficient. Modified sine inverters are cheaper but the energy loss can be as high as 30%. The higher the energy loss, the shorter the appliance runtime.
There are a lot of pros and cons to this debate. But essentially you can use modified sine wave inverters on simple electronics like chargers and water pumps. Appliances with AC power like a coffee maker, refrigerator and compressor require pure sine wave inverters.
Older TVs will run on modified sine wave, but newer models may not. Since you want to be as energy efficient as possible, it is better to invest in a pure sine wave inverter. However if you have an TV or do not plan to use it much, modified sine may be acceptable.
Do You Really Need an Inverter to Run TVs on Solar?
Most 40 to 60 inch TVs rely on AC power, so an inverter is required. Some TVs do run on DC, but modern ones use 120V AC, so you need an inverter to convert DC solar energy into alternating current.
Some TVs use both, that is once connected to AC power, its internal circuits convert it to DC. But most solar powered TVs are connected to inverters because it is more convenient and practical
You can connect a load directly to solar panels if they run on DC power. Assuming your TV does it should run fine. However, solar power is not consistent.
Assume you watch three hours of TV in the afternoon, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. You have a 150W solar panel powering your 100W 40 inch TV.
Everything is fine as long as the sun is shining. But once it rains or when the sun goes down, solar power is out. But if you have an inverter and a battery bank you can watch TV day or night.
And the other reason as we pointed out is that most TVs today run on AC power. So most likely you have to install an inverter. And even if your TV runs on DC power, it makes more practical sense to use an inverter as we shall explain.
Can You Use a TV Inverter with Other Appliances?
Yes, you can use an inverter for your TV and other appliances provided the system has enough power. Both off and grid tied solar systems can use inverters.
In a grid tied system, the inverter is connected to your solar array and the power grid. If your solar system has no power, the inverter draws from electrical power to run your TV and other devices.
If you are off the grid, you need a battery bank so you can use appliances without solar panel power. The battery bank will play the same function as a power grid , so the battery capacity determines how long the inverter and your TV runs.
A 350W inverter can power a TV up to 75 inches and 270 watts, but if you add a movie player, video game console or other peripherals, it will not be enough. You will probably need a 500W inverter to get your TV and those extra components running.
The bottom line is if you should get at least a 1000W inverter to power a TV, movie player, fan, lights and a video gaming console. With a 1000W system you can also run a mini fridge or freezer without worrying about the power running out.
Appliances like refrigerators and air conditioning systems have surge and running watts. The running watts is what the appliance consumes as it runs. The surge watts is the power required to start the appliance.
The surge watts can be three times as high as the running wattage. TVs do not have surge watts so it is nothing to worry about. But if you plan to run your entire house or most appliances on the inverter, you have to account for the surge watts.
The basic rule when it comes to inverters is to just add 20% to 25% to the total load. Because TVs do not have surge watt requirements it will not draw too much power. And with even large TVs becoming more energy efficient, you should have no issues running them on a solar inverter.
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.