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Factors to Prioritise When Buying a 12v Solar Panel

The 12v solar system is one of the common choices for small-scale applications, such as powering appliances in a home. A 12v solar panel is a practical choice for an on-the-move energy source. Solar panels for boats, caravans, or RVs are available on eBay.

How do you size 12-volt solar panels correctly?

Size determines the wattage produced by a 12v solar panel and, consequently, the power available to operate devices. The devices running off solar panels and how long they are in use will help calculate the correct size. Find the wattage of each appliance and multiply it by the operational minutes to get the total draw value. Get the figures for all the appliances and use that to pick a solar panel. The size of the solar panel increases proportionately to the wattage.

Are there efficiency standards for solar panels?

Yes, inverter efficiency is measured according to specific standards. When buying small solar panels, it is necessary to confirm how efficiently the system converts DC output to AC. The inverters in 12-volt solar panels operate based on an efficiency profile, as opposed to maximum efficiency. The three standards are:

  • European Efficiency – Based on the power distributed over a year in the Central European climate. It is a weighted efficiency that factors in the performance of the inverter across its capacity.
  • CEC Efficiency – A weighted efficiency proposed by the California Energy Commission to rate solar panels of high isolation regions, such as Southern Europe and the Southwest USA.
  • Peak Efficiency – This measures the inverter when it is at optimal performance. This only covers a portion of the day.
What is the role of an inverter in a solar system?

An inverter refers to the component that allows the use of power generated by the solar system. It accomplishes this by transforming the direct current produced by the photovoltaic cells into alternating current, which is what the majority of electronic devices use. Inverters have evolved to serve more than one role, like monitoring and data logging. They also have advanced utility controls. A 12v solar panel can have an off-grid or grid tie inverter. In an off-grid inverter, the system is standalone, meaning that it draws power directly from the solar battery. On the other hand, a grid tie inverter connects the utility grid and the PV array of the solar unit.

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