How to convert 24v solar panel to 12v

Do you need to convert a 24v solar panel to a 12v battery or device? If so, you might be wondering how to do that. The good news is that you can use a 24v solar panel to power a 12v battery, but there are some steps in the middle that you need to know about to do this safely. 

What happens if you connect a 24v solar panel to a 12v battery? Well, eventually, you burn out the battery, and that process can happen very quickly. You can also start a fire should the battery get overly hot and explode. 

In this article, we discuss

  • The trick to converting a 24v solar panel for use on a 12v battery
  • Solar converters and what they do
  • Why should not connect a 12v solar panel directly to a 12v battery

Let’s find out what tricks you’ll need to convert your solar panels.

Side view of a battery

Here’s How to Convert a 24v Solar Panel to a 12v Battery 

One helpful tool or gadget to help turn a 24v solar panel into a more user-friendly component for a 12v battery is a Buck Converter. You can find them specifically for the 24v to 12v relationship. They come in a variety of rampages, and a 30 amp is good. 

You would install the Buck Converter between the solar panel (the input line to the converter) and the battery (the output line from the converter.) 

As solar energy flows down the circuit, it would enter the converter, which would limit the outflow of energy to the batter to 12volts. Usually, the output is a little more than 12 volts. 

Can I connect a 24V solar panel to a 12V battery?

You can connect a 24v solar panel to a 12v battery, but you really shouldn’t do that unless you have a converter in place. Doing so will destroy the battery and could cause a fire. 

The converter and there are many types of converters, limit the power that exits the converter. If the circuit ran only from the solar panel directly to the battery, it would eventually destroy the battery and or the device connected to the battery.

An excellent example of what we mean would be a cell phone with an internal battery. 

When the battery continues to be overcharged, it gets hot. As the heat builds, the enzymes inside the battery dry out, and the batter can self-combust. But, unfortunately, that explosion can also start a fire. 

Rule Number 1 for charging items is never to charge an item using a solar panel when there is not a controller in place. The controller senses the energy level in the battery and shut off the flow of energy when the battery nears the fully charged level.

Thus, the controller prevents the battery from being overcharged and thus reduces the threat of damage to the battery. 

Rule Number 2 is to choose a solar controller or solar regulator that matches your project. For example, a 24v to 12v controller. The numbers mean 24v input and 12v output. 

How can I get 12V from 24V?

Anytime you have a more significant electrical force charging a smaller electrical demand, you need something to limit energy flow from the larger device. In this case, the 24v solar panel is sending way too much energy to the battery. 

Installing a solar converter or regulator into the electrical circuit prevents excess energy from reaching the battery.

Instead, the excess energy dissipates, and depending on the controller’s rating, it will pair up the energy output to the device or battery in need of charging. 

For the most part, you would use a Buck Converter rated at 24v in and 12v out. This converter will handle the flow of energy from the 24v solar panel and tame it so that the excess energy from the panel does not overcharge the battery.

There are other types of solar converters and solar regulators. A Buck Converter may not be the best option for your project or battery charging needs. 

A solar conversion takes a higher energy flow and reduces it. You would want to match the input energy, and output energy flows to your project. In this case, you need a solar converter that can handle 24v input and reduce that to 12v output. 

Are 12V and 24V solar panels the same?

No, they are not the same. A 24v solar panel produces more volts than a 12v panel. They are the same in how they function but different in the amount of energy they produce. The 24v solar panel has 2x the number of PV cells than does the 12v panel.

Traditionally, a 12v solar panel has 36 PV cells. A 24v solar panel would have 72 PV cells and be quite a bit larger than the 36-cell 12v solar panel. Each PV cell contributes to the total energy production of the panel. 

If you are wondering if you can use a 24v solar panel to charge a 12v device, the answer is that yes, you can, with a bit of modification.

First, you would need to install a solar converter or regulator with a design to handle 24v input and 12v output.

The solar converter helps prevent the battery from overcharging and being damaged by the extra energy from the 24v solar panel. 

How many volts does a 24V solar panel produce?

It would seem that the answer is 24v, but it is not. A 24v solar panel will produce around 32 volts in a closed circuit and upwards of 45 volts in an open circuit.

Some extra voltage disputes as to the energy transfers along the circuit, which is part of the reason a solar panel produces more energy than stated on its label. 

Consider that a 12v battery needs 13.6 volts of energy to charge. It is expected that a solar panel rated at 12v will produce more than 13.6 volts of energy, and usually, they produce around 17 volts. 

A solar controller regulates the varying degree of energy produced by a solar panel. Consider also that throughout the day, the energy produced by the solar panel will rise and fall.

Thus, the amount of energy the panel produces is rarely constant. The controller also helps to protect the battery from spikes and drops in energy from the solar panel. 

Be sure to read our other blog on Solar Converters, which details the differences between solar converters and solar regulators. Choosing the best solar regulator for your project is essential. 

Sources

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