200 Amp Solar System
With solar power becoming more mainstream than ever before it brings a lot of new faces to the scene, and many of them have questions that need answering.
What would be enough to power their entire home, is a recurring one, and a good answer to that is a 200 Amp solar system. However, this is only a nudge in the right direction. What are amps, and why do we need 200 of them?
In a moment, we’ll be serving you with loads of information as to what a 200A system can do for you, and what it means for your household.
What Are Amps, Volts, and Watts?
Before we delve into the capabilities of a 200 Amp solar system, we’ll do a little refresher on basic terms that we’ve heard before, namely amps, volts, and watts.
Amp (A) refers to the amount of current or the number of electrons available. Volt (V) is the speed or pressure of that current. Lastly, Watt (W) is the unit that is used to measure the total amount of power being generated. This is typically calculated by multiplying Amps with Volts (A ✕ V = W).
The total amount of voltage that is typically available from US grid electricity is 240 nominal volts. This is because the wires being used in a standard electrical panel are two 120V wires.
How Many Watts Does a 200 Amp System Need?
Solar panels are measured in watts while electrical circuit boards are measured in amps. To make things easier we have to convert amps into watts with the same equation from before.
For example, to determine how much we need for 100 Amp service the equation would look like this:
240 V x 100 A = 24,000 W or 24 kW
The same equation can be used for the 200 Amp service, where the answer is 4800W.
What About Solar System Voltage – 12V or 24V?
A question most people often ask is whether they need a 12 or 24-volt solar system to get their solar journey started. It all depends but we can take a simple example to get a rough idea.
For starters, an individual solar cell can generate an open-circuit voltage of around 0.5V to 0.6V, and 0.46V when under load — which is close to 3A. An individual with an open-circuit voltage can then produce 1.38W.
The following example is also going to tell us the difference between a 12V and 24V solar system. Most manufactured solar panels are able to charge a 12V or 24V battery.
A standard panel with 36 cells has a maximum open-circuit voltage of around 18V to 21V, which reduces to between 12V and 14V. That would be enough to charge a 12V battery, for instance. Of course, the more cells a solar panel has the more capable it is of producing higher voltages.
It begs the question; what is the maximum system voltage in a solar panel? Maximum system voltage, or voltage at maximum power (Vmp), refers to the voltage when the amount of power being put out is at its highest.
Under standard conditions, this is what you want to see when it’s connected to the MPPT controller. Naturally, this varies according to the time of day, temperatures, shading, and how clean the panel is.
What Size Do Solar Panels Have to Be?
The right size solar panels are important when you need to generate a particular amount of solar energy. On top of that, you need to factor in the fact that solar panels only run at 100% capacity under ideal sunlight conditions.
Solar panels need direct sunlight and have to be set at just the right angle to maximize their potential. A more reasonable average you can expect is around 80% on a good day.
Although, this can be different depending on weather conditions, locations, and the season. Now we add the 20% difference to our current values. Since we’re focusing on a 200 Amp solar system, it should look something like this:
240 V x 200 A = 48, 000W + 20% = 57,600W
That final number represents the total amount of watts that has to be generated via solar. Another way to determine the size of a solar panel is by the number of cells it has.
The Difference Between a 60-cell and 72-cell Panel
The number of cells that a solar panel uses determines the amount of wattage they are capable of. It’s also good to know whether these cells are made of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon.
The cells are arranged in a grid pattern, the 60-cell panel is arranged 6 by 10 cells and the 72-cell is arranged 6 by 12 cells. This, naturally, means that 72-cell solar panels have a higher wattage thanks to their size.
Due to this size difference, 72-cell solar panels are commonly used for commercial while 60-cell solar panels are used for residential purposes.
There isn’t much of a price difference between the two as the prices for either can go for around $16 000. Luckily, the federal tax credit brings that number down to $11 250.
However, 72-cell solar panels work out cheaper per panel because they can be bought in wholesale volumes. This is usually for large utility-scale and commercial installations.
Due to their large size, 72-cell panels aren’t suited to smaller roofs, they are heavier and harder to install. That’s where the 60-cell panels come in, as their small and compact size allows them to be installed on smaller roof segments.
How Many Solar Panels Are Needed for a 200 Amp System?
In short, you’ll need four batteries and seven solar panels for a 200 Amp system. Although, going with a few 200 Watt monocrystalline solar panels can bring that number down to three. For a 1,000 Watt solar system, you’ll need five 200W solar panels or ten 100W panels.
With that in mind, we need to cover the topic of breakers. Your home’s primary breaker has to be rated to handle at least 200A to be able to support solar. An electrical panel that’s rated for less than 200A won’t cut it and could lead to an electrical fire or other issues.
Before committing to such a large solar system, be sure to check that your panel is able to accommodate it. There’s an alternative route in case your breaker isn’t rated for that much — we recommend opting for the AC200 Max from Bluetti.
How Much Power Does a 200 Amp System Generate?
200 Amps is the current standard for the latest service panels and newer homes. 200 Amps are enough to fulfill all the normal electrical needs in a typical household.
However, it cannot support a large electric heating system. For homes that are located in the colder parts of the US, 250A or more would be needed.
All in all, a 200A system should do the trick for a normal-sized home, a cabin at your favorite camping site, or even for an off-grid home somewhere isolated and far from the city.
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