Solar Panel Timer (Save Power)

Being efficient with the energy your solar system dispenses is good practice, and how often have you had devices running and using power when you didn’t need them to? The solution could be to put those devices on a timer and manage them more effectively.

The solar panel timer is designed to be connected to your PV system or portable solar power system and only switch on the connected appliances at the designated time. These can be lights, chargers, and small devices that only need to run at certain times.

In this article, we will examine the following :

  • 12V DC Solar timers
  • AC Solar timers
  • Programming a solar timer
  • Why you should use a solar panel timer

Setting a timer to manage your electrical consumption is not new, but let’s look at how it can benefit you in terms of efficient energy usage.

Digital Timer Switch Mount On Din Rail - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Digital Timer Switch Mount On Din Rail

What Is A 12V DC Solar Timer?

The 12V DC solar panel timer is designed to manage the operating times of any devices connected to the system. This ensures that the power generated doesn’t get drained as any devices that aren’t needed aren’t running.

Before we get into this, you need to know that a solar timer does not control power generation from the solar panels. The panels are designed to generate electricity from the time the first rays of the sun hit them until the sunset.

It’s essentially a relay that will activate at the programmed time and then deactivate at the programmed off time. There are many 12V DC timers available in the market, and one of the most common uses for them is the control of lighting connected to a 12V PV system.

If you are running 12V devices and not 110V AC, you don’t need an inverter to manage your connected devices with a 12V timer. You can manage their operating times by connecting the lights to the charged battery and having them on a timer.

Jvr 12V Timer Switch Programmable Digital 12 Volt Dc/Ac/Solar Battery Powered

Example

For example, let’s say you have a 200W Panel connected to a 12V battery, and you use it to run some lights and a few other connected 12V devices while camping. Your lights don’t need to be on until after sunset and only for a few hours.

By connecting them to a solar panel timer, you can program them to come on at a particular time and switch off at a specific time. Most timers have 16 different programmable settings for versatility.

Connecting lights to your timer is an excellent option for security. If they use a motion sensor before coming on, that is even better as the timer will ensure they have power if they need them, and the sensor will only activate them if they detect motion.

Many people would use these timers to control pumps so they can have water when needed and not worry about forgetting to switch the pump on and off.

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What Are AC Solar Panel Timers?

An AC timer is connected to the AC power supply and is often positioned in the DB Board and connected to devices that need to be managed to optimize power consumption from the PV system.

Many homes use AC timers to control heavy-draw appliances like electrical water heaters and pool pumps. Where you have a PV system delivering power from an inverter, using a solar panel timer to manage consumption is convenient and efficient.

Many people may not realize that every watt of power saved in your PV system means you can allocate that power elsewhere. Using a timer to control and manage devices also means you don’t have to remember to switch them on and off constantly.

Another point with this device is that you can use a timer to control a specific circuit, so where you may have devices like a TV, phone chargers, or laptops connected that will use standby power when not active, the timer can shut down that circuit to reduce consumption and save energy in the batteries.

Standby power usage will add up overnight, so using a solar panel timer to control consumption means more in the battery bank in the morning.

Solar Panel Controller Under An Invertere - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Solar Panel Controller Under An Invertere

How To Programme A Solar Panel Timer

Using the buttons on the timer to set which days you want the device(s) to run and the on and off times is about as easy as putting a contact number into your phone.

Most timers are digital and have a battery backup to keep the timer settings if the power goes down, and those batteries can last for years before needing replacement.

When programming the timer, you need to look at the devices you have connected and when you need them to be on, and then use the program settings to control the operating times.

Modern solar panel timers can accommodate more than one device and can also be controlled from your smartphone, so you never have to program one yourself; it becomes as easy as using the app and connecting the devices you want.

Another benefit of a solar panel timer is peace of mind in terms of consumption of the connected devices, so you don’t have to worry about running your power down if you’re not home, as the timer will manage that for you.

Solar Charge Controller On A Wooden Board
Solar Charge Controller On A Wooden Board

Do You Need A Timer With Your Solar System?

Using a timer with your solar PV system will help you manage connected devices and maximize the energy usage from your batteries and panels.

Installing a timer with your solar system is the next step in maximizing your energy usage, whether during the day or night. You can redirect that saved energy to your batteries instead of wasting it by only running devices that need to be during the day or night.

While you may think that because the power from the sun is free, that is a wastage mindset, and remember that every watt you don’t use or need during the day can be stored for usage during the night, which applies to 12V and 110V systems.

Timers are not expensive, and they are easy to install and program. We know from the data that timers control water heaters effectively and reduce power consumption- so why not do the same for your PV system?

The convenience of control and the benefit of reducing energy usage to preserve power are compelling reasons to invest in a solar panel timer.

Solar Panel Setup FAQ

How long do solar panels last?

How long solar panels last depends on their quality and how well looked after. In general, though, most solar panels will last between 25 and 30 years, with the most expensive models having a life expectancy of 40–50 years. That being said, solar panels will still produce energy after this time, although their capability will have declined significantly. 

How do you set up a solar panel system?

The first step in setting up a solar system is determining how much power you need, and planning your solar system accordingly. After this, the setup is fairly straightforward;
1. Gather all the required components together; panels, inverter, batteries, cables, etc. 
2. Find a safe space in your home to house the inverter and batteries
3. Fix the panels to your roof or a stand
4. Connect the panels to your inverter or charge controller
5. Connect your inverter to your batteries

What is required for solar panel installation?

Again, the first crucial step for any solar installation is calculating your power needs. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to purchase the appropriate components. These include;
1. Solar panels
2. Batteries
3. Inverter
4. Charge controller
5. Suitable cables
These components are typically purchased separately according to your needs, but you can purchase ready-made solar kits that have all the components you need too.

Can I set up solar panels myself?

With a bit of basic DIY and electrical knowledge, you can certainly set up solar panels yourself, especially smaller systems. The setup can become somewhat complicated for large, high-power systems that are grid-tied, though, and you may want to get assistance from a qualified electrician. 

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