There is no denying that paying for your monthly electricity bill is expensive. It is the reason why people prefer to use solar energy. True enough, solar panel installation is costly. But not having to pay for an electricity provider monthly means more savings in the long run.
But what appliances can run on solar power? In this article, we will take a look at the following appliances:
- Electric Stove
- Electric Fan
- Water Heater
- Washing Machine And Clothes Dryer
- Air Conditioner
What Appliances Can Run On Solar Power?
LED lights to use light-emitting diodes and tiny electrical parts that prompt electricity to travel in one direction. The electricity received by LED lights flows through a microchip in the middle of the bulb, thus illuminating these diodes. Once the diodes receive the electricity, they will prevent it from flowing back, so LED lights only use a small amount of electricity.
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Moreover, LED light bulbs are now a popular appliance for homes. The reason is that this type of bulb use ⅓ or even less amount of energy than incandescent lights.
LED Bulbs Last Longer
LED bulbs also last longer than other household light sources.
This light source uses direct current (DC) electricity to run, the same type of electricity produced by solar panels. For this reason, LED light bulbs can run on solar power. LED light bulbs will not need a ballast or converter to run on solar power. So you will not need to spend additional costs to use LED light bulbs in a solar-powered household.
Solar panels can produce electricity anywhere as long as it receives sunlight. On the other hand, LED bulbs only use little power, so solar panels are a perfect electricity source for them.
Refrigerators can run using solar power. However, it is essential to note that a solar power system suitable for a refrigerator needs more than just solar panels. The system requires batteries that can store the power produced by the solar panels. This way, your refrigerator can still run at night or when the solar panels do not receive enough sunlight.
Additionally, the solar panels’ batteries need a charge controller. This device will prevent the batteries from overcharging by reducing the current they receive once they reach a particular charge level.
Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity. On the other hand, a refrigerator needs an alternating current (AC) to run. You need an inverter to convert DC power to AC to power your refrigerator using solar panels.
Calculating How Much Solar Energy Does A Refrigerator Need
You need to know how much solar energy your refrigerator will consume. If your refrigerator is a new model, you can look at the energy guide information on the package to know that quoted power rating. But if you are using an old refrigerator, you need to compute the energy it consumes.
To do this, find the voltage and required amperes by your appliance. Then use the equation voltage x amperes = watts. The resulting figure is the amount of solar energy you need to power your refrigerator.
One thing worth noting about using solar energy to run a microwave is that you need an inverter to convert DC to AC electricity. Your inverter should also have a higher wattage than your microwave. For instance, if your oven runs on 1500 watts, you must use an 1800-watt or higher inverter. It is essential not to load an inverter to its limit as it can damage your solar power system and microwave.
Microwave ovens consume a high amount of electricity. So, when running it under solar power, use the appliance’s lowest settings whenever you do not need its high-end features. This way, you can save some of the energy produced by your solar panel.
An energy-efficient microwave also works best for off-grid households. It does not consume much energy, making it energy-saving, primarily if you use your microwave frequently. If you are using an old microwave model at home and want to run it on solar power, it may be best to get a new and energy-saving model. It can be a high investment at first, but it will allow you to save from the electricity it consumes in the long run.
It is also ideal for turning off your microwave whenever you are not using it. The appliance’s standby mode consumes electricity, which will add up over time.
Like the refrigerator and microwave, an electric stove can run on solar power if your system has an inverter installed. This inverter directly connects with the solar power system and your electric stove to provide the correct type of energy it needs to run.
However, your electric stove will not function if the weather is cloudy or nighttime. So, along with the inverter, there should also be a battery bank where the solar panel can store energy that appliances can use even when it is not sunny.
Most electric stoves use 3000 watts of electricity. In this case, you need the same solar panel wattage to run it. However, we do not suggest loading your solar panel system to its limit as it can cause damage to both the system and the appliance you are using. So, if you have a 3000-watt electric stove, we recommend using a 3200-watt or more solar panel to power your electric stove. This additional size will also provide a cushion if the solar output suddenly fluctuates.
Tips To Save Solar Power When Using An Electric Stove
- Cook multiple dishes simultaneously – the longer you use your electric stove, the more solar energy it will consume. So, it is ideal for cooking various dishes at once to cut the time your stove is on.
- Clean the oven right after using it – after pulling out the dish you baked in your oven, initialize the cleaning cycle immediately to reduce the amount of time and electricity it consumes for the cleaning process. It would be best if you also cleaned your oven regularly to prevent gunk from building up. Gunk buildup prompts your oven to use more power, thus forcing it to use more solar electricity.
- Opt for an energy-efficient stove – we cannot stress this enough but energy-saving stoves and other appliances make a huge difference. They use way less electricity than regular appliances, which makes a significant impact if you are living in an off-grid household. Using an energy-saving electric stove will also allow you to save some solar energy from your battery bank.
An electric-powered fan is a great way to cool your home during the summer. It does not use much energy so solar power can run it for hours. So, as long as your solar panels produce enough energy, you can use them o power a fan even on a cloudy day. But you also need a battery if you use your fan at night when solar panels are not receiving sunlight that they can convert into electricity.
Using a DC fan, you can connect it directly to your solar power system. This fan runs quietly and is more energy-efficient than AC fans, which need an inverter to connect to a solar power system. While a DC fan is more expensive than an AC fan, the amount of electricity you can save using it makes up for the initial purchase cost. (source)
A water heater is an essential appliance for people living in places with a cold climate. There are two types of water heater systems that solar energy can support – active and passive water heater systems.
Active Water Heater System
An active water heater system has two divisions:
- direct circulation system
- indirect circulation system
A direct circulation system uses a pump to circulate water through solar collectors and throughout your household. This type of water heater is best for homes where the cold climates never reach a freezing point.
The second type of active water system is the indirect circulation system. This system uses a non-freezing fluid that circulates through solar collectors. Unlike a direct circulation system that goes into your home after passing through solar collectors, an indirect circulation system runs the fluid through a heat exchanger.
The heat exchanger transfers heat to the water before the system circulates the heated water into your home. An indirect circulation system is standard in places with freezing temperatures.
Passive Water Heater System
This heating system is less expensive than the active water heater system. However, it can also be less efficient if you use it frequently.
Moreover, there are two basic types of passive water heater systems:
Integral Collector-Storage Passive System
The integral collector-storage passive system is standard in regions where the climate rarely drops to a freezing point. It has solar collectors integrated directly into the water storage tank. So, the water inside the storage tank gets warmer as the sunlight heats the tank.
Meanwhile, a thermosiphon system has its solar collector placed lower than the water storage tank. As the collectors increase the water temperature, it naturally rises into the storage tank, thus allowing it to circulate into your home.
The installation of water heater systems can be expensive. For this reason, running it using solar energy will help you requite the cost you spent on the installation quickly. (source)
Solar energy provides an endless source of power for running a television. However, the power supplied by your solar panel system must be higher than the voltage and amperes needed by your television to work. There are three ways to run your television via solar energy:
- Portable solar panels with a deep cycle battery
- Solar generator
- Solar power system
Portable solar panels with a deep cycle battery and an off-grid solar power system are similar as they both have an inverter and charge controller. On the other hand, a solar generator has a built-in battery and does not need an inverter. However, its solar panel may need a charge controller to prevent the battery from receiving too much voltage.
Moreover, you may think that television is a major energy sucker. Such is especially true if you are using a high-end model. But on the contrary, it consumes less electricity than you think.
The amount of electricity your TV uses depends on its size and model. But there are LED televisions that use 60 percent less power than other televisions. (source)
Washing Machine And Clothes Dryer
A washing machine and clothes dryer are essential appliances that a home can never go without. Given that you frequently use these two appliances simultaneously, they can consume a high amount of electricity every month.
Your washing machine uses warm water to operate. Warm water increases your washing machine’s energy consumption further, making it challenging to save on electricity costs. Simply heating the water makes up almost 90 percent of your machine’s energy. (source)
On the other hand, a clothes dryer is not as expensive as a washing machine in terms of operating costs. Condenser dryers are also more energy efficient than vented dryers, although they cost more. But while vented dryers are more budget-friendly, they use more energy when drying clothes.
Using solar energy to run your washing machine and clothes dryer will help you reduce electricity costs. However, you need to ensure that the solar panel system you use should have four times higher wattage than the said appliances. For instance, if your machine uses 2000 watts of electricity per hour, you need six to 10 300-watt solar panels. This way, you will prevent overloading your solar power system, which can cause damage to your machines.
The size of your dishwasher determines the amount of solar power it needs. The larger the dishwasher, the more energy it needs to clean your dishes. A regular dishwasher uses about 1200 to 1800 watts of electricity every hour. If you use the heating option, the electricity usage will increase to 3000 watts.
Your dishwasher’s energy will tell you how many solar panels you need to power it. To compute the number of solar panels that you need, the equation will be:
Number of solar panels necessary = dishwasher wattage x number of cycles
On average, a dishwasher runs five cycles every week. These cycles can last for hours, depending on your settings. If you use a 1500-watt dishwasher running on a regular cycle, you also need more than 1500 watts of solar power to make the dishwasher work for an hour. But if you are using the dishwasher’s dry heat option, this could increase the energy consumption to 3000 watts.
However, it is worth noting that your dishwasher’s energy consumption will depend on how frequently you use your dishwasher. Assuming that you use it more than five times a week, the wattage it consumes will also increase. You also need to equip your solar panels with an inverter to get the correct type of electricity to power your dishwasher.
If you have a 1500-watt dishwasher, your inverter needs to have a wattage of about 2000. (source)
An air conditioner is an essential home appliance, especially in places where the summer gets hot. However, this appliance is an energy sucker, which can cost so much when you power it with monthly electricity. Fortunately, an air conditioner can run on solar power.
Air conditioners have different efficiencies measured in tons instead of watts. Tonnage represents how much cooling your AC requires to melt 2000 pounds of ice per day. The bigger an air conditioner’s tonnage is, the more air it can cool every hour. A ton of air conditioner power has a wattage of 3516 watts.
How Many Solar Panels Does An AC Unit Need?
The general rule for running an air conditioner via solar power is that you need 1200 watts of solar panels for every ton of cooling capacity. Most modern AC units have two to five tons of cooling power.
For instance, you have a five-ton air conditioner running for four hours a day when the temperatures are at their highest. Say your AC is running continuously during the peak of heat; it will consume 24 kWh of electricity. During four hours of peak sunlight daily, a 300-watt solar panel can gather 300 watts of electricity per hour, which converts to 1.2 kW/h.
At this rate, your air conditioning unit needs 20 x 300-watt solar panels to produce 24kW/h of electricity for a five-ton AC.
If you plan to use your air conditioning unit at night, your solar panel system needs a battery bank that can store solar energy. This way, you will still have electricity even without sunlight. But suppose you are using a central power grid. You can tap the AC into the grid to supply it with electricity without installing a battery bank. (source)
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Run My Appliances?
Your household appliances take a lot of electricity to run, thus costing a lot of money every month. For this reason, switching to renewable energy, such as a solar panel system, is ideal and cost-effective. While the cost of installation is no doubt expensive, you will be able to regain your investment after some time of not having to pay for the monthly electricity bill.
Before switching to solar energy, you first need to calculate the number of solar panels your household appliances need to work. Moreover, several factors determine how many solar panels your appliances require:
- the amount of sunlight there is around your house
- the amount of electricity you use
- the wattage of the solar panels you are planning to install
How Much Sunlight Does Your House Receive?
Your solar panels need to receive as much sunlight as they can. The more sunlight there is in an area, the more energy the solar panels can convert into electricity. But if your area does not receive much sunlight, you will need more solar panels to compensate for the low amount of sun.
How Much Electricity Do You Use?
The rule of thumb in using solar energy is that the number of solar panels you need to install depends on how much electricity you use. So, the more appliances you have, the more solar panels you need to provide the right amount of solar power.
What Is The Wattage Of Each Solar Panel?
The power rating or wattage of your solar panels determines the amount of electricity the panels can produce. The higher the solar panel rating is, the fewer solar panels you need to produce electricity.
Moreover, the most common solar panel rating used to power household appliances is 320 watts.
Considering these factors, the number of solar panels needed to run appliances will vary from one household to another. If you are using many home appliances, you need to use more solar panels to provide them with solar energy. That said, you can determine the number of solar panels you need by checking:
- Your home’s energy usage
- How much sunlight is there in your area
- The solar panel system size you need
- The number of solar panels you need (source)
Calculating The Number Of Solar Panels Your Home Appliances Need
You can hire professional solar panel system installers to calculate the number of solar panels your appliances need to run. It is the most effective and accurate way of finding how many solar panels you need. But if you are not yet sure about installing a solar panel system and you want to calculate the potential cost of installation, below are the steps to finding out how many solar panels you need to run:
Find Out How Much Power Your Home Appliances Use
You can check your monthly electricity bills to determine how much electricity your home requires each month. Your monthly electricity bill will show the total amount of electricity you used for that particular month measured in kilowatts per hour (kWh).
Adding your monthly electricity consumption to get your annual usage is the best way to estimate the number of solar panels you need for your entire household. It is not ideal to rely on only six months of electricity usage as the amount of electricity you use fluctuates and increases depending on the season.
You also cannot base on a month of electricity usage alone as your monthly electricity consumption varies.
Therefore, the best way to calculate your home appliances’ power is to get your average electricity consumption. You can do this by collecting all your electricity bills for an entire year and adding the amount of electricity you consume. Then, divide the resulting number by 12, and you will get your monthly average electricity usage. (source)
Check How Much Sunlight Your Area Receives
Solar panels need as much sunlight as possible to produce electricity. For this reason, you need to determine the amount and intensity of the sun in your area. You can do this by measuring the peak sun hours in your area.
Measuring the peak sun hours in your home will allow you to determine how many kWh of electricity a 1 kW solar panel can produce in a day. One peak sun hour is equivalent to 1000 W/m² of sunlight per hour.
The peak sun hours are the same as your average solar insolation daily. So, if you receive five peak sun hours per day and multiply it by 30, you will get 150 monthly peak sun hours. Therefore, a kilowatt of solar panels will be able to produce 150 kWh of electricity every month. (source)
Compute The Number Of Solar Panels Your Appliances Need
Now that you know how much solar energy a 1 kW of solar panel can produce, you next need to figure out how many solar panels you need to produce and the amount of electricity you consume each month. You can do this by simply calculating:
Monthly electricity consumption / monthly peak sun hours = the system size you need in kW.
Next, multiply the system size in kW by 1000 to convert it to watts. After converting the system size, determine the wattage of solar panels that you want to install. If you are planning to use 300-watt solar panels, all you need to do is to divide the size of the system in watts by 300. The resulting figure will be the number of solar panels that you need. (source)
What appliances can run on solar power? Many devices can serve as an answer to this question. However, the above list is likely the most common items used in every household, and therefore would be powered by solar if the house is equipped for it.