500 Watt Solar Panel Systems: Everything You Need to Know
The solar industry is in a constant state of innovation as experts globally continue to push the limits of renewable energy to combat climate change. In the spring of 2020, two Chinese solar panel manufacturers have each announced a model of a 500 watt solar panel, however these panels are not readily available for personal use and would be too large in size for most DIY solar panel systems anyway.
In today's market, the highest wattage solar panel available is around 400 watts. Despite this, many people are still choosing to design and install a solar panel system that totals 500 watts by stringing together multiple solar panels (ie. 5 x 100 watt solar panels = 500 watts of solar). In an off grid set up, 500 watts of solar power in full sun can easily charge a battery and power the devices of your van, RV, cabin without breaking the bank.
Since a 500 watt solar panel is not available at this time, let's look at what your options are for getting to a 500 watt solar panel system.
How are 500 Watt Solar Panel Systems Made?
In order to complete a 500 watt solar panel setup, installers will choose to use a few like sized panels to reach the capacity total. Popular options for a 500 Watt solar panel system include five 100 watt solar panels or two 250 watt solar panels. Unless the electrical parameters are carefully considered by an expert, mixing together solar panels of different wattages (i.e. a 100 watt solar panel with a 400 watt solar panel) is not recommended for both safety and system longevity.
The Other Parts of a 500 Watt Solar Panel System
After you’ve selected your panels and have all of the necessary wiring, you will need to complete your off grid solar power system with a charge controller, a battery, and an inverter. These components can all be purchased separately, or in a kit such as this one. You could also look at an all-in-one solar powered generator kit such as these. 500 Watt kits are ideal because they can deliver a significant amount of solar power, but at come in a size that is still portable and mobile.
500 Watt Solar Kits with Solar Power Generators
If you haven’t already purchased your solar panels, there are complete kits available that include everything you need to produce and use the solar power you're harnessing. The Inergy Apex Gold Kit is an extremely powerful 500 watt solar panel system that is backed by an easy-to-use, portable solar power generator. If you’re looking for something even more powerful, there is the 500 Watt Solar Kit with the Titan, which has a larger inverter and room for added solar input or storage.
If you already have solar panels, or would like to build a custom solar generator kit, there are plenty of medium and large sized solar generators that can handle 500 watts of input such as The Bluetti. A large advantage of using a solar generator is that it can be temporarily detached from the panels to power something in a different location. Solar generators are also all-in-one solutions that you can just plugin and power up. For more information on solar generators, read our solar generator buying guide.
How to Make Your Own DIY 500 Watt Solar Kit
If you want to save money and install a permanent 500 watt solar panel system in your cabin, van, or RV, you will need to purchase and install the solar panels, wiring, charge controller, battery, and inverter either yourself or with the help of an electrician.
500 Watts of Solar Panels
As outlined earlier in this article, you will need to string together a few solar panels in order to reach the total capacity of 500 watts of solar. Depending on your budget and the size of available space you have to install the solar panels, you can choose to go with five 100 watt solar panels or two 250 watt solar panels. You can see our selection of solar panels here.
500 Watts of Solar Panel Wiring
Whenever you buy your solar panels, take a special note as to what is included with your purchase. Some panels come with all of the wiring included, while others will not. It is important to make sure each of your components is compatible with one another and that you choose the correct wire size to allow for maximum system efficiency. Most solar panels now a days come with MC4 connectors that can plug right into your charge controller. The other cable you'd need here depending on how you're planning on setting up your system, would be some MC4 to alligator clips such as this here.
The Charge Controller
The charge controller will regulate the amount of power being sent from the panels to the battery to prevent damage and ensure system longevity. For a 500 watt solar panel set up, a 30 AMP charge controller should be large enough to handle most solar power systems operating at peak capacity. To figure out how we did this math, read our solar power system sizing guide here.
Although 500 watts is a lot of power for a relatively inexpensive system, the true capability of your system over time will heavily rely on the size of your battery. For solar energy storage, we believe lithium ion batteries are significantly better than lead acid batteries in terms of cycle life, efficiency, maintenance and weight. Going with lithium batteries means less weight, less maintenance and overall a much longer lifespan. For more information on how to size out your battery bank, read our sizing guide here.
In an off grid setup, the inverter will determine the amount of continuous electricity you can use to power your lights, devices, and appliances. A 500 watt solar panel system will typically have an inverter that is at least 400 watts or bigger so that you can charge basic appliances and electronics such as laptops, lights and a small fridge. You can learn more about solar power inverters here.
I hope this article has helped clear up some of the information regarding 500 watt solar panels of today and tomorrow. If you are looking to purchase or build your own 500 watt system, there are many great solar panel kits available. Otherwise, a DIY 500 watt solar panel system is also a possible. We will be sure to let you know when we finally launch a 500 watt solar panel, but until then, our biggest options are 400 watts.
If you still have questions about 500 watt solar panels don't hesitate to reach out or give us a call today at 877-242-2792.