Powered By The Sun: How Much Can A 200-Watt Solar Panel Run?

what will a 200 watt solar panel run


ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Over the past decade as a homesteader, I’ve become well-versed in how to be self-sufficient on solar power. Powering my tiny house with solar panels has allowed me to live off-grid and afforded me a lot of flexibility and freedom. Plus, I’ve learned a lot about solar panels along the way.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

When I decided to go off-grid, solar panels weren’t quite as popular as they are today, but with increasing interest, it’s easier than ever to introduce solar energy into our lives. Solar energy is my preferred source of renewable energy. It’s a clean and easy way to move towards energy independence at your homestead or tiny house. Along the way, I’ve utilized 200W solar panels on many occasions and now I’m sharing my experience on what a 200-watt solar panel system can and cannot accomplish.

What Is A 200W Solar Panel?

What Is A 200 Watt Solar Panel

A 200W solar panel is a solar panel that is rated to produce up to 200 watts of power. While 200 watts is on the lower end of the spectrum of available solar panel wattage, it’s not the lowest. It offers double the amount of power as a 100-watt solar panel, for example.

200 watt solar panel off grid setupOne of the first things I’ve learned is that actual output can vary based on many factors, including the tilt of your panels, how bright the sun is shining, and your geographic location. But, under optimal conditions — the standard testing conditions created in a lab — a 200W solar panel can generate 200 watts of power.

It can be harder to find 200-watt solar panels for rooftop or ground-mounted solar installations. It’s much more common to find 200W panels for portable use or DIY solar projects, including RV, boat, or camping use.

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How Much Does A 200-Watt Solar Panel Cost?

How Much Does A 200 Watt Solar Panel Cost

The cost of 200W solar panels can range from a low of $180 to as much as $400. Non-foldable, regular-fixed panels tend to be more affordable, while foldable, portable solar panels are slightly more expensive. 200W panels are on the smaller side, so they take up less space and are an efficient, economical investment if you’re looking to combine solid power output and compactness.

What Will A 200-Watt Solar Panel Run?

What Will A 200 Watt Solar Panel Run

I’ve found that a 200W solar panel is perfect for running small appliances and devices like my laptop, radio, tv, and even my coffee maker. Admittedly, powering my coffee maker sometimes sucks all the juice from the battery, but sometimes it’s worth it! If you are considering 200W solar panels to power your home, this is a great size for tiny houses, cabins, or small solar projects, but will fall short when it comes to powering the average-sized American home and all of the appliances that come with it.

To harness your 200W solar panel’s full capacity, you need a battery that will store all that captured solar energy. A single 200-watt solar panel can provide sufficient energy to run an:

A 200-watt solar panel can run these items

  • Electric Blanket
  • Energy-Efficient Refrigerator
  • 65-inch LED TV
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Electric Blanket
  • Dehumidifier
a 200 watt solar panel can run a dehumidifier

Similar to my experience with the 100-watt solar panel, I quickly learned that a 200-watt solar panel is a great option for capturing on-the-go power from the sun whenever I hit the road to go camping. A 200W solar panel can generate enough current to run higher-powered appliances like a vacuum cleaner, an electric blanket, a 65-inch LED TV, or a humidifier. It can even power a PlayStation®5, a small energy-efficient refrigerator, and several chargers, making it a great choice for glamping, cabin, or yurt living where you want a little more luxury.

200-watt solar panel energy consumptionIf your energy consumption is fairly conservative, a 200-watt solar panel kit that includes a couple of panels might even be sufficient to power your tiny home. Alternatively, if you need more solar power and you have enough resources and unlimited space for your solar installation, you could potentially install enough 200-watt solar panels to meet all your homestead needs. It’s not the most efficient route, but it’s a good approach if you’re looking to save on upfront costs as you work to go entirely off-grid.

Keep in mind, though, that if you decide to start tapping into renewable energy while staying on the grid, you may encounter some problems at 200W. Many solar developers and installation companies don’t carry 200-watt panels for grid-tied installations, so you’ll want to check on local availability before you take the leap.

When you set up your solar system, the amount of time that you can run your appliances and devices will depend on the amount of energy that you have stored in your battery. Your battery stores excess solar energy for later use, and if weather conditions allow your panel to generate about 800 watt-hours of energy, you’d be able to run appliances with a collective wattage of 200W for about four hours.

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What You Can (And Cannot) Run On A 100W Solar Panel

Item Watts
LED Light Bulb 10
Wi-fi Router 10
Tablet Charger 15
Extractor Fan 20
Portable Fan 20
Air Purifier 25
Cell Phone Charger 25
Computer Monitor 50
Television (22” LED) 50
Television (42” LED) 60
Ceiling Fan 60
Laptop Charger 65
Portable Mini Refrigerator 70
Light Bulb (Incandescent) 75
Desktop Computer 100
Television (49″ LED) 100
Television (25” Color) 150
Humidifier (13 Gallon) 175

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Is A 200-Watt Solar Panel Enough For Going Off-Grid?

Is A 200 Watt Panel Enough For Off Grid

While a 200W solar panel is the best choice for its compact size and solid power, I wouldn’t consider it enough for going off-grid completely. A single 200W panel won’t get the job done — you would need to mount multiple 200-watt solar panels which requires more space. On the upside, this costs less up front if you go bit by bit. If you are limited on space but have a little extra cash, a smarter move would be to consider upping your wattage to 250 or higher in order to power your entire homestead.

off grid kitchen

How Many Batteries Can A 200-Watt Solar Panel Charge?

How many batteries a 200-watt solar panel will charge depends on your battery and how many hours of direct sunlight your solar panel gets. Solar batteries are the key to your solar panel reaching its full capacity. The batteries store the excess energy produced by your panels and can provide a continuous power supply in the event of a rainy day or two.

Batteries are typically characterized by amp hours (Ah), a measure of electric charge. On a sunny day with about eight hours of direct sunlight, a 200-watt solar panel can charge three 100Ah batteries, two 150Ah batteries, or one 300Ah battery.

solar generators

What Else Is Needed To Use A 200-Watt Solar Panel?

What Else Is Needed To Use A 200 Watt Solar Panel

To assemble a 200W solar panel, you need the following five components:

  • Solar Panel: A 200W solar panel packs a punch in power and compactness. It’s a great option for powering tiny homes and for campers, RVers, and boaters.
  • Battery: You need a solar battery that is optimized for your solar system, but in most cases, I find that a 12V battery is the best option to store the excess energy captured from a 200-watt solar panel.
  • Charge Controller: A solar charge controller prevents your battery from overcharging. A minimum amperage of 17 is necessary to power your 200-watt panel and charge your 12V battery. I got this number by dividing the panel’s power (200w) by the battery voltage (12V).
  • Power Inverter: The power inverter is what makes the current flowing from your solar panel compatible with the electric grid. I find that doubling the wattage is a safe bet when trying to figure out which inverter to get. So, a 400-watt inverter would pair perfectly with a 200-watt panel.
  • Wiring: The appropriate wire will guarantee that your 200-watt solar panel functions safely and effectively. I recommend calculating your wire gauge needs to align with your specific solar panel system. On average, a 4 AWG should work for a 200W panel.

setup to run a 200 watt solar panel system

Although many of the 200W solar panels on the market are portable, some of them can be mounted to the ground or installed on rooftops. If that’s your goal, you’ll also need the appropriate hardware to facilitate installation.

off grid solar cooking

How Much Power Does A 200W Solar Panel Produce?

How Much Power Does A 200 Watt Solar Panel Produce

In lab-controlled conditions, which mimic a perfectly sunny summer day, a 200W solar panel output equals up to 200 watts of power per hour. In real life, the actual output may vary due to weather changes, the temperature outside, the tilt of your panel, your geographical location, and the season of the year.

For the most part, a 200-watt solar panel that receives four hours of peak sunlight can produce about 800 watt-hours of electricity in a single day. Not bad, but a 200-watt panel that receives eight hours of direct sunlight can generate up to 1600 watt-hours, or 1.6 kWh worth of energy.

refridgerators that can run on a 200 watt solar panel

How Much Is 200 Watts Of Power?

How Much Is 200 Watts Of Power

Watts are a measure of power; they’re used to calculate a solar panel’s performance based on how much sunlight it can convert into power. For a 200W solar panel, 200 watts is the maximum power it can generate, but the actual output depends on the weather conditions. A few 200W panels working together might produce enough energy to power your tiny house, yurt, or cabin.

Once you’ve set up your system, solar energy is cost-free and efficient. But learning the ins and outs of this new technology comes with a bit of a learning curve. It’s a good idea to learn about amps, watts, and volts before diving in.

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How Many Volts Do 200W Solar Panels Produce?

Simply put, a volt is a measure of the “pressure” at which electricity flows through a system. A 200W solar panel can produce voltage at varying levels, but, typically, the voltage output is 18V.

How Many Amps Do 200W Solar Panels Produce?

Amperage is another way to measure the amount of electricity running through a system. The larger the amperage, the more electricity can flow through it. The formula combining wattage, voltage, and amperage is simple: watts divided by volts equals amps. Therefore, a 200W solar panel with a voltage output of 18V will produce about 11.1 amps of current every hour.

amps watts volts formula

How Many kWh Does A 200-Watt Solar Panel Produce?

One kWh stands for 1,000 watt-hours, and it’s a measure of power produced over time. If a 200-watt panel operates at full capacity for about four hours, it will produce 0.8 kWh, or 800 Wh (watt-hours).

solar power for tiny houses

How Many 200-Watt Solar Panels Do I Need?

How Many 200 Watt Solar Panels Do I Need

During my years on solar, I’ve learned how to run my A/C on solar and how to cook with solar. These simple daily tasks take up a lot of energy, and I quickly realized that a single 200W panel wouldn’t be sufficient to meet my needs. First off, I suggest you evaluate your energy needs. You might find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your average energy requirement?
  • What is your current energy usage in watts?
  • How many hours of direct sunlight hits your area in a day?
  • What is your space availability?

A quick way to determine your current energy consumption is to look at your past utility bills. To calculate your needs with solar, multiply your home’s hourly energy needs by the peak sunlight hours in your area. Then, divide it by the solar panel wattage you are considering investing in.

For example, by using the average energy consumption for powering a tiny home, we can determine how many 200W solar panels we would need to live completely off-grid:

How Many 200W Solar Panels You Will Need

  • An average tiny home uses 4 kWh of power.
  • Adding on 25% as a buffer brings the total to 5 kWh.
  • Multiply the energy needs, or 5 kWh, by 1,000 to convert to watt-hours. That totals 5,000 Wh.
  • Divide 5,000 Wh by the number of peak sunlight hours in your area to get the amount of energy your solar panel needs to produce every hour. For example, in North Carolina where I live, the average number of peak sunlight hours is four. This means my tiny home needs 1,250 watts of power. If I am investing in 200W panels, I would need to purchase seven 200W panels to meet my energy needs.

how do tiny houses get power

What Can A Single 200W Solar Panel Run?

While a 200W solar panel isn’t the most powerful, it is more versatile and compact than its larger 500W counterpart. If you enjoy camping as much as I do and want to power your campsite, one or two 200-watt solar panels are a great option for a little extra luxury while enjoying the great outdoors.

If your goal is to power your tiny house and you have enough land to link multiple panels together, then a 200W panel might be right for you. However, if you’re planning to power a more energy-heavy solar project or a larger house and have limited amounts of space, it’ll be more cost-efficient for you to invest in higher-wattage solar panels.

It all comes down to your solar goals and energy needs, and that’s different for everyone. Getting clear on your unique needs, and then evaluating the physical space and money you have available to invest upfront is an important first step. These factors will help you decide if starting with a 200W system is in your best interest or if you need to aim for higher wattage from the start.

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Your Turn!

  • How do you intend to use your 200W solar panel?
  • Have you used solar panels in the past? If so, what for?

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