12V Vs. 24V Solar Panel (The Difference)

There are many choices when choosing solar panels; one is between 12-volt and 24-volt. So let’s see what’s best for your situation.

12V solar panels are ideal for smaller homes and buildings, while 24V panels are better for bigger installations. 

These are some of the key points I will be covering, along with other solar panel information:

  • The process of converting solar energy into usable energy.
  • Differences between 12V and 24V solar panels.
  • How batteries are used to store energy.
  • Proper compatibility.

The power you need will determine if a 12V or 24V solar panel is best for you. A variety of available solar panels can be overwhelming and create confusion, but knowing which one fits your needs is paramount before making any purchases.

12V Solar Panels
12V Solar Panels

Are 24V Solar Panels Better Than 12V Ones? (12v vs 24v solar)

24V solar panels can provide more power than 12V ones, but that doesn’t mean they are better. Both excel in different scenarios and have advantages and disadvantages.

12V solar panels are more common because most home appliances operate with a 12V power system. That fact alone eliminates the need for 24V panels for some people. 

Bigger homes and commercial buildings that require heavy loads of energy would be better suited with 24V panels. 

Many important factors can affect the performance of both solar panels, so let’s look into how solar panels work first.

Why Some Solar Panels are 12V and 24V

The voltage of a solar panel determines how much power it produces and is usually located on the rear panel if you’re not sure. 

  1. Plenty of small photovoltaic solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity are linked together to form a solar panel. 12V panels contain 36 cells, while 24V ones have 72. 
  1. Those photovoltaic cells absorb tiny particles of light from the sun – called photons – when sunlight comes in contact with the solar panel and turns them into direct current (DC).
  1. Most homes use alternating current (AC) to power their homes, so inverters are usually required to convert the DC electricity into usable AC energy.
  1. The AC electricity flows from the inverter to an external circuit that distributes the power within your home. Solar-generated electricity is now available for powering your light switches, fridge, televisions, and most home appliances. 
Do Solar Lights Need Direct Sunlight
Do Solar Lights Need Direct Sunlight

12V Solar Panels

12V solar panels are a popular, versatile choice for small off-grid homes, most of their appliances, and some vehicles. They can provide enough power for cabins, offices, street lights, phones, laptops, refrigerators, cars, boats, RVs, and more. 

Some people find 12V solar panels appropriate for their lifestyles, while others might find them quite limited. They are also cheaper to buy upfront than 24V panels, but 24V panels might save you more money in the long run. 

They are available in 10, 20, 40, 50, 125, 160, and 180 watts. 

Pros 

  • Works with most batteries, devices, and home appliances
  • A most common solar system with components widely available for repairs 
  • Light and easy to transport
  • Ideal for small buildings and DIY projects

Cons

  • Lower voltage means it loses more heat
  • Can only work with other 12V appliances
12V Power Outlet Socket In The Car. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
12V Power Outlet Socket In The Car.

24V Solar Panels

24V solar panels look similar to 12V panels but are bigger and contain twice as many solar cells, totaling 72 cells. They can still be installed in many places, despite their bigger sizes. 

They can produce much higher voltages that range between 1,500-2,000 watts. 

These powerful panels are ideal for bigger houses with higher energy needs and commercial buildings with large amounts of electricity flowing all day, like hospitals, hotels, and banks. 

Pros 

  • More heat efficient and powerful
  • Can supply power for appliances of different voltages, including 12V
  • Saves you more money in the long run
  • Voltage drop is low

Cons

  • Expensive to pay upfront
  • Harder to find replacement parts because they are not as common
Portable Solar Panels And A Campervan On A Beach Next To The Sea
Portable Solar Panels And A Campervan On A Beach Next To The Sea

What is the Advantage of a 24V Solar Panel Over a 12V Solar Panel? 

As mentioned above, the biggest advantage to using a 24V panel is the amount of power you’ll produce.

Not only will your system be more heat-efficient, but if you’ve got a bigger house that requires more energy, you will have a much easier time powering it with a 24V panel and battery than a 12V. 

This doesn’t make a 24V system any better than a 12V one, but it does make it more powerful. Of course, the downside to needing that extra power is that 24V panels and batteries may not be as easy to find (and not as easy on the wallet). 

Similarities Between 24V and 12V Solar Panels

We’ve already covered the differences between these panels above and which may be appropriate for your lifestyle, but are there similarities between them?

As it turns out, yes, there are a couple of similarities you can count on, regardless of which system you buy: 

  • Both systems can be cost-efficient, depending on how you plan to use them. 24V panels are cheaper for bigger installs, while 12V is much more budget-friendly for smaller setups. 
  • They both produce varying levels of power that you can use to charge appliances in residential or commercial buildings.
  • Each system has relatively low heat loss for its size and power.
  • Both panels are fairly easy to transport and install, with most 12V panels being a little more lightweight than 24V panels. 
  • Generally, voltages should match panels and batteries, and each panel type comes with a matching battery (such as 12V or 24V batteries).

Ampere Time 24V 200Ah 5.12Kwh Deep Cycle Lifepo4 Battery With Longer Runtime, Built-In 200A Bms, 4000+Cycles &Amp; 10 Year Lifetime, Perfect In Solar/Energy Storage System, Rv, Marine, Backup Power, Etc.

What to Keep In Mind About 12V and 24V Solar Panels

Solar panels and batteries need similar ratings to work together. That means that 12V panels should be used with 12V batteries, and 24V panels should be used with 24V batteries. 

Unfortunately, 24V batteries are not widely available in the market, but you can get the same results by using two 12V batteries in a series connection.

The same battery compatibility rules should apply to inverters and charge controllers with 12V and 24 V solar panels. 

So a 12V solar panel should operate with a 12V battery, a 12V inverter, and a 12V charger. Same for 24V solar panels. 

Best Selling 24 Volt Batteries

Bestseller No. 1
Lifepo4 24V 200ah Lithium iron phosphate battery pack 3000 Deep Cycle Battery for Solar Storage…
  • 24V 200ah lifepo4 battery ×1pcs with quick charger
  • Service life: more than 3000 cycles,with BMS protection board build-in
  • Charging temperature : 0~45 ℃ Discharge temperature : -20 ~ 60 ℃ Storage temperature : -20 ~ 60 ℃
Bestseller No. 2
24V 200Ah Rechargeable Deep Cycle Lithium Ion Battery, Built-in 200A BMS, 24 Volt LiFePO4 Battery…
  • 【Easy To Install 】Plug & Play of 24v System. No additional wires are needed in series (avoid one battery in a series…
  • 【Safe & Economical】HiMASSi LiFePO4 battery has built-in BMS to protect battery from Over-charge, Over-discharge,…
  • 【Good Material & Nice Appearance】The case of this lifepo4 deep cycle battery is made of high quality ABS, which is…
SALEBestseller No. 3
Ampere Time 24V 100Ah LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Lithium Battery, Built-in 100A BMS, 4000+ Cycles…
  • 【Automotive Grade Lithium Battery】Ampere Time lithium iron batteries have exceptional quality since they are manufactured…
  • 【10 Years lifetime】Ampere Time LiFePO4 battery provides 4000~8000 cycles, which is more than 10 times to Lead Acid with…
  • 【1/3 Lightweight 】Ampere Time LiFePO4 Battery weighs only 47.4 lbs for one module, only 1/3 the weight of lead acid…

Best Selling 12 Volt Batteries

SALEBestseller No. 1
Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery 12 Volt 100Ah, 3% Self-Discharge Rate, 2000A Max Discharge Current,…
  • 【Maintenance Free & Safe to Use】Manufactured with thick absorbent glass mat (AGM) separators and advanced valve regulated…
  • 【Outstanding Discharge Performance】Proprietary quinary alloy plates and exclusively treated plate grids enable low…
  • 【Longer Shelf Life】Made of high purity materials, Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Batteries reduce the monthly self-discharge rate…
Bestseller No. 2
WEIZE 12V 100AH LiFePO4 Lithium Battery, Up to 8000 Cycles, Built-in Smart BMS,for Solar System RV…
  • BUILT TO LAST: Our 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 Batteries live more than 2000 cycles at 100%/8000 cycles at 50%(Suggested) depth of…
  • 10 YEAR WARRANTY: As the No.1 lead acid battery brand on Amazon, Weize newest Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries are…
  • AUTOMATIC BMS AND MAINTENANCE-FREE: The built-in Battery Management System (BMS) protects your battery from Over Charge and…
Bestseller No. 3
OYMSAE 30 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel Solar Trickle Charger 30W 12V Portable Solar Battery Charger &…
  • 🌞[22% High Conversion Rate] Monocrystalline solar battery charger use ETFE , with a light transmittance of up to 95%. The…
  • 🚗[Intelligent Protection] Combined with built-in charging microprocessor technology, it will not overcharge the battery…
  • 🚙[Charging Visualization] The indicator lights are used to help you understand the charging status: the blue light is on…

Solar Panel 12V and 24V FAQs

Here are some common questions about 12V and 24V solar panels. 

Can I Use A 24V Solar Panel To Charge A 12V Battery?

Yes, you can charge a 12V battery with a 24V solar panel, but it is not recommended. Solar panels and batteries perform better when their voltages match. You can also overcharge and damage your battery if the solar panel is too big and lacks voltage regulation.

What Is The Best Voltage For Solar Panels?

12V, 24V, and 48V are the most common types of panels for a solar system, and the ideal one will depend on the size and energy usage of the building you plan on installing them. 

Matching voltages should be set up for your whole solar system, so 12V batteries should operate with 12V panels. 

12V panels are better for small homes, RVs, and DIY projects, while bigger buildings that demand higher energy usage work best with 24V panels or higher.

Are 24V Inverters Better Than 12V?

No, a 24V inverter doesn’t necessarily mean better the best inverter will be one that matches your energy needs and components. A 24V battery will perform best with a 24V inverter. 

Why Does The Military Use 24V?

Heavy-duty military vehicles use the 24-volt system because their highly-compressed diesel engines require powerful starters. The 24V system is also more reliable with fewer voltage drops and ensures radio compatibility. 

Can You Wire 12V Solar Panels To 24V?

As mentioned previously, it is possible to wire 12V solar panels to a 24V system  – but you’ll need to wire them in a series, not separately. Two 12V solar panels equal a 24V system, so you can expect the same amount of power you’d get with a single 24V panel. Keep in mind that if you do choose to do this when you connect them in a series, it’s usually ideal for connecting them in a parallel arrangement. 

Sources:

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

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