Solar panels with a rigid aluminum frame and a glass front are the best known and most widely used format.
1 x Solar Panel
Note: By using this 5W panel to fully charge a 12V 7Ah SLA battery from empty to full will roughly require 20 hours of direct sunlight.
Q & A
Most solar chargers are designed for 12 VDC. Typically, when 24 volts or greater is needed, solar panels may be wired in series, or we can special order solar panels that are made to deliver more DC Volts such as 24, 36, 48 etc.
Q: CHARGE CONTROLLERS
Anytime you use a panel that is over 5 watts rated output, we recommend using a solar charge controller. Actually, a charge controller is a good idea in a majority of applications, as it can provide several benefits such as preventing overcharge, improving charge quality, and preventing battery discharge in low or no-light conditions. Some solar panels are made with blocking diodes pre-installed that prevent battery discharge during low or no-light conditions. In most cases where a 6-watt or larger solar panel is installed, the use of a charger controller is highly recommended. In a nutshell, a solar charge controller acts like an on and off switch, allowing power to pass when the battery needs it and cutting it off when the battery is fully charged. Something to be aware of when selecting a controller is that they are typically rated in amps, while photovoltaic panels are typically rated in watts. That means a solar charge controller such as the Intelligence PWM Solar Charge Controller 10A, Light / Time control will work with nearly every panel we sell, right up to about 70 watts.
Q: POWER RATING WATTS AND AMPS
Solar panel manufacturers rate solar output in watts. As a rule of thumb, a rating of 15 watts delivers about 3,600 coulombs (1 AH) per hour of direct sunlight. As an example, the 5W 12V panel can output 0.33AH per hour of direct sunlight. This is a very popular panel for maintaining single and dual batteries for stand-by and storage applications.
Q: OUTPUT CONDITIONS
Solar panel ratings are calculated in bright direct sunlight. Conditions such as indirect sunlight, overcast and partial shade conditions will decrease the output.
Q: WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN Mono vs. Poly SOLAR CELL
Mono are the first variety of solar panels and are older than poly. Compared to mono solar panels, poly are less expensive and easier to produce.
> Read more mono vs poly cons and pros
Q: ARE SOLAR PANELS WEATHER PROOF
Nearly all solar panels are designed for outdoor installation, as this is where they will receive the best, most direct exposure to sunlight. Remember that anything less than that will cause the panel to produce less than its full-rated power.
Q: DO I HAVE TO MAINTAIN SOLAR PANELS
A periodic inspection to remove dirt, debris and check electrical connections is all that is needed. Keeping the panel clear of snow and debris will allow for better results.
Q: HOW LONG DO SOLAR PANELS LAST
Performance from a solar panel will vary, but in most cases guaranteed power output life expectancy is between 3 and 25 years. This guaranteed life expectancy rating is usually 80% of the published rating of the solar panel. Of course, this will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and as always, you typically get what you pay for. Watch out for those cheap panels made in Paki-china-nam-istan.
Q: USE OF AN INVERTER
Many folks use an inverter to convert 12 VDC to 230 VAC. Since they change power from one form to another, inverters are power-gobbling monsters and should be avoided when possible. If you have a choice of a 12-volt, DC-powered device or 230-volt AC device, go with the 12-volt DC device. There are DC devices on the market that either step down or step up DC power, and these also use significantly more power.
> Read more use An Inverter
Q:HOW DO I FIGURE SOLAR PANEL SIZE
The first thing to remember about solar power is that it is all a matter of numbers. The power you require vs. the power the panel can put out. Before you can even get started when purchasing a panel, you need to know how many amp hours or watts you’ll need to produce in a set period of time. This figure could be measured in hours or days. Since there are 24 hours in a day, we suggest you use that as a baseline. First, determine your total electrical consumption in that time period. Then figure the amount of direct sunlight the solar panel will receive in that time period and come up with a total amount of watt hours needed. You should always err on the side of caution and over-estimate your power needs. Typically we see an average of 4 hours of usable sunlight in the winter, and 6 hours of usable sunlight in summer.