12V Solar System - How They Work & What They Power - ShopSolar.com
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12V Solar System

The need for alternative energy has increased immensely over the last two decades.

Solar energy has become such a great discovery as it is a free, renewable source of energy.

By now, you would have seen those long black sheets of glass on rooves of buildings, called solar panels, which convert solar energy to electricity.

Solar systems range in terms of size, but as you’ll see, a 12V solar system can be very useful.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

24 volt solar system

Solar energy comes from the rays of light produced by the sun.

Most solar systems are made up of solar cells, which absorb the sunlight as it passes through.

In short, the energy collected is sent through the inverter which converts the solar energy into alternating and direct current.

From the inverter, the electricity produced is stored in a solar battery.

Watts and Volts

When researching or shopping for solar panel kits, you will stumble across the terms watts and volts.

In basic terms, the higher the wattage and voltage, the higher the amount of power or energy produced.

For example, a 12V system can power fewer appliances than a 1,000w solar system.

What Is a 12V Best Suited for?

12-volt solar systems are extremely versatile and have therefore gained popularity quickly.

These systems are perfect for DIY solar situations such as camper trailers, tiny homes, and RVs.

RVs and some camper trailers are standard fit with 12-volt batteries, therefore installing the same voltage solar battery to replace it makes sense.

Don’t get confused between current (amps) and voltage (V). It might sound more impressive, but a 200 amp solar system isn’t necessarily any bigger than a 12V system.

24v solar system

The Benefits of a 12-volt Solar System

As mentioned earlier, 12-volt solar panels are popular due to their small size and adaptability.

These systems are relatively simple to install and are generally aesthetically appealing.

Solar panels have great lifespans, and a 12-volt system can last up to 30 years if it’s maintained properly.

As opposed to some of the higher voltage solar panels available, 12-volt solar panels are cheaper than most others.

Lastly, if somehow the solar panel stops working or breaks, parts for 12-volt systems are always readily available. 

These systems have even been used as solar panel kits for homes and are not limited to DIY use.

12-volt vs. 24-volt Solar System

These two solar systems are the most popular in the DIY sphere of solar energy.

Essentially, 24-volt solar panels are suited for larger installations where more voltage is needed.

A benefit of higher voltage is that the current flows through the system is reduced.

A 24-volt system would therefore be suited for a small home, where the excess electricity could be put back into the grid to reduce electricity costs.

Both a 12-volt and 24-volt solar panel kit are great for DIY scenarios, however, 24-volt solar kits have to be adjusted when installed into an RV or camper trailer.

12 or 24 volt solar system

Best Environment and Conditions for Optimal Solar Energy

As we discussed, solar energy comes from the sun, so it makes sense that direct sunlight is required for solar panels.

However, solar panels can absorb a surprising amount of light, even when obstructed by objects, plants, or bad weather.

Too much heat can actually damage a solar panel in the long term, so a moderate climate is great, even though solar panels work fantastically in snow.

When positioning a solar panel, the ideal direction to face it is south, with an unobstructed vire of the sun.

Calculating Energy Needs

It’s almost impossible to guess which size solar system you will need, and it’s always advisable to do even a rough calculation of your energy needs.

To get the most accurate results, you should use a solar calculator. These are freely available online and we even have our own in our blog section.

The solar calculator will show you exactly how many kilowatt hours your house would use.

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

solar 12v system

Polycrystalline panels are blue in color and are less space and energy efficient than monocrystalline.

Monocrystalline panels, on the other hand, are noticeably more expensive.

Monocrystalline panels are dark in color and are more energy efficient, therefore if you have higher energy needs or limited roof space, these are ideal for you.

Portable vs. Mounted Panels

12 Volt solar systems can be mounted to the roof, or they can be used as a portable solar kit.

Roof-mounted, rigid solar panels are the most durable and popular panels available.

Roof-mounted panels are ideal for consistent energy needs, usually in a household.

Portable solar panel kits are perfect for those who aren’t ready or able to do a roof installation, need solar energy for the open road, or for those who move homes often.

12V Solar Panel Maintenence

Generally speaking, solar panels have long lifespans, and maintenance is fairly trivial.

It’s recommended that a solar panel be cleaned at least once a year to remove any dirt or dust resting on the surface.

Solar panels which have been covered in snow should be cleared weekly for optimal energy production, and there are a few ways to remove snow easily.`

12 volt solar system

System Voltage Control

The maximum system voltage of a solar panel depends on how it’s made.

Each solar panel kit typically has a maximum system voltage of 600 to 1,000.

A 12 Volt solar panel has a system voltage control of around 600 watts.

The Importance of Solar Energy

The earth is running out of renewable resources rapidly.

Harmful fossil fuels are released when materials such as gas and coal are consumed as a power source, contributing to global warming.

The Earth is a remarkable place, and clean, renewable energy from the sun is made available for our use every day.

The use of even a small 12-volt solar panel kit contributes to the global fight against climate change and global warming.

Solar panels also offer a cheaper alternative, in the long run, and pose no negative impact on your health like gas or coal.

12v solar systems


Solar energy is rapidly increasing in popularity.

Solar panel kits range in different shapes and sizes.

12-volt solar panels are great for those who want to cut utility costs, become energy independent, ensure reliable access to energy and decrease the use of gas generators.

They are extremely popular in DIY use, specifically for motorhomes and small homes.

These systems can be mounted or remain portable and do not take up large amounts of space. 

If your energy needs are not vast, we highly recommend using a 12-volt solar panel system.

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