What Can a 50 Watt Solar Panel Power?
Updated July 10, 2023
There’s a solar panel for every occasion. While many people want a solar panel that can generate enough power to run most appliances within your home, sometimes all you need is a solar panel that can run the essentials.
This is where a 50 watt solar panel comes into play, as it’s ideal for both solar and outdoor enthusiasts looking to bring power with them anywhere they go.
A 50 watt solar panel is one of the smaller solar panels available on the market, but it can still power enough energy to run certain appliances and devices.
Due to its size, a 50W panel is ideal for charging batteries and smaller USB devices like a fan, if the panel has a USB port built-in.
A USB port allows the panel to charge other small electronics, too, such as smartphones. This is nifty when you’re out camping for the weekend and need your smartphone in case of an emergency.
The panel won’t be able to directly run an appliance unless the appliance has a rechargeable battery built into it.
While it’s only a small step down from what a 45-watt solar panel can power, their uses are a little different.
What Kind of Batteries?
A 50-watt solar panel can charge two types of batteries, namely lead-acid and lithium deep cycle batteries. They’re a little different from the battery you’ll find in your car for a few reasons.
Deep Cycle Battery
For starters, a deep cycle battery is designed to put out a steady power supply over long periods. This drains the battery to the point where it needs to be recharged to make a full cycle.
A car battery is the opposite, as it’s designed to give a short burst of energy. This is usually enough to get the car started and hand off the rest to the alternator. It should be fully charged at all times.
This battery consists of a negative electrode that’s made from sponge-like lead and a positive electrode that’s made of oxidized lead. Both electrodes are submerged in a solution made of sulfuric acid and water.
A few lead-acid batteries that are compatible with a 50 Watt solar panel include flooded, Absorbed Gas Mat or AGM, calcium, and gel.
While these are cheaper than lithium batteries, they’re also of lower quality and will only last 5 years or so, at best.
Lithium batteries are the best options available on the market. They last twice as long as regular lead-acid batteries, are half the weight, and need little to no maintenance.
Easy and straightforward to use, they’re also referred to as drop-in replacements for older batteries.
However, lithium batteries are also much more expensive compared to lead-acid batteries. An emerging consensus among consumers is that although the price is steep, you’d only have to buy it once and be set for close to 10 years, which is a good pay-off.
The Ideal Battery Size
A 30 Ah (amp-hour) battery is most compatible with a 50 W. The reason behind this can get quite technical but we translated all that technical lingo into English. For this, we’ll be going with a lead-acid battery as an example.
A lead-acid battery can only be drained to 50% of its capacity, if it goes beyond that it runs the risk of damaging the battery and destroying it. In the case of a 50 Ah battery, that would mean not going any lower than 25 Ah.
A 50 W solar panel can provide power to recharge a battery with 17 Ah or so but the 50 Ah battery uses enough power to be drained to 25 Ah in a day.
The problem here is that the solar panel doesn’t supply enough energy to recharge the battery, which leads to a deficit of 8 Ah or so being lost per day.
A 50 W solar panel performs much better when it’s hooked up to a 30 Ah lead-acid battery. The 30 Ah battery discharged to 50% is 15 Ah, and the solar panel can provide 17 Ah of charge while recharging the battery.
Here, the ratio between power loss and power recharge is at a plus with 2 Ah coming from the panel.
How Long Does It Take to Charge a 12V Battery?
We know that combining a 50-watt solar panel with a 30 amp-hour battery is the ideal combination to run, as the panel generates enough power to recharge it.
The question that remains now is how long it takes to recharge. The answer comes in the form of a little equation, and it’s easy to wrap our heads around it.
Volts ✕ Amps = Battery Watt Hour. “Battery Watt Hour” is the time that it needs to recharge. From here we have a 12V, 30Ah battery, and a 50W solar panel. The equation now looks like this:
12 ✕ 30 = 360 Watts
360 / 50 = 7.2
So, for a 50 Watt solar panel, it’ll take around 7 hours or so to fully charge the battery from zero. If the battery is halfway then you would only need to take half of its total capacity and use that in the equation.
What Can a 50 Watt Solar Panel and 30Ah Battery Power?
Using the solar panel in combination with the battery allows you to power several other appliances. It’s able to power fans, electric blankets, DC televisions, and charge laptops.
Other appliances that can be powered include air pumps and mini-fridges, although, these appliances can only be powered for a few hours at a time.
Other Solar Panels
400-Watt Solar Panel
A 400-watt solar panel is one of the largest panels you can get. They’re still new to the market. A panel this big is perfect for residential use, and connecting one or two of these panels can generate enough power to keep most appliances running.
A solar panel like this is usually 80×40×1.5 inches or about 6 ft long and 3 ft wide. Depending on the brand you’re purchasing its size can be varied. It’s also a solid piece of equipment weighing in at 44lbs or so.
What Can It Run?
The panel can run a variety of appliances. It can generate power to supply keep a fridge running for 14 hours or so, a booster pump for 19 hours, and an LED light for around 190 hours.
Keep in mind that this is the data if you were going to power one device at a time. Depending on the wattage each device needs the amount of time it’s kept running can vary. The fridge needs 80W, the booster pump needs 60W, and the LED light needs 6W to run.
100-Watt Solar Panel
Between a 50W solar panel and a 400W solar panel, many people feel that a 100W is a good in-between option.
There are a lot of appliances that the 100W panel can power. Under ideal conditions where the panel gets 8 hours of sunlight daily, it’s able to produce 1 kWh a day.
Now, what can you power with a 100-watt solar panel, you might ask? In short, a 100W solar panel can power several appliances including lights, fans, and laptops.
It’s ideal for an RV or camping trip, especially when you need to have essential smaller appliances or devices powered up and running.
15-Watt Solar Panel
What will a 15-watt solar panel run? It might not sound like a lot but you can trust that it’ll do the best it can,
The list of things is short but also surprising and involves keeping the batteries charged on a boat, tractor, ATV, car, and even your RV.
Essentially, a 15W panel can provide 1 amp every hour while in direct sunlight. This is enough to charge the batteries mentioned above.
Keep in mind that using the panel for charging needs a few extra components to go with it like a 12V car adapter, a decent length of wiring, and standard battery clamps.
What’s more, is that you’ll need a charge controller. This’ll prevent the panel from overcharging and discharging.
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