Can A Solar Panel Be Too Big? (Need-To-Know!)

Solar panels come in many sizes. What happens if they are too big or too small? Can a solar panel be too big?

Many people have many questions about solar panel sizes, and as technology continues to get better, solar panel sizes tend to get smaller.

All that change makes the situation even more confusing.

Not to worry though, we have some information that will make answering these questions easier. Plus, we throw in some other helpful information too. 

Inside, we discuss:

  • How the size of a solar panel impacts the energy produced
  • What happens if the solar panel is too large.
Big Solar Panels

Can a solar system be too big?

Can a solar system be too big? Yes, the entire array can be too large for what your immediate power consumption needs are, but that may not be a big deal. Here is a little more to consider. 

If your solar array is still grid-tied, then any energy that it produces and that is not used by the home or business goes into the community power grid.

If that happens, your local utility company might pay you solar credits, which you used to pay for the energy that you use from the community grid. So that’s not a bad problem to have. 

If your solar array is not tied to the grid, and you are off-grid, the extra energy produced by the array dissipates and is wasted.

We call that a solar opportunity.

What to do if your solar system is too big?

  • Add more energy consumption to your lifestyle — keep the house cooler in summer, warmer in winter, etc. 
  • Disconnect some solar panels to bring down the amount of energy the array produces. 
  • Do nothing and allow the array to produce too much energy. It is not the best solution, but it is what it is. 
  • How to determine the number of amps a solar panel can create.
  • What happens to excess energy produced by a solar array.

So, even if the array overproduces energy, it is not a big deal but does present some opportunities. 

See also: Solar Panel Sizes and Wattage: A Comprehensive Guide to Making the Right Choice

Does the size of a solar panel matter?

The size of the panel can matter. If you are using a single panel to power a fridge or gadget, then the size of the panel matters a great deal.

The physical size is not such an issue, but the amount of watts the panel produces each day is.

For example, if you want to charge your cell phone but the solar panel only produces 4volts of energy per day, you will not be able to charge the phone’s battery because the battery is 5volts.

You would need a larger solar panel, one that produced five or more volts per day. 

Also, the size of the solar panel sometimes dictates how much energy the panel can produce given one hour of direct sunlight.

However, this is very dependent on the panel itself as some micro panels will outproduce larger traditional solar panels. 

If you are adding panels to your solar array or designing a solar system, the size of the panels is essential for two reasons:

  1. Installation of solar panels should be efficient, so their physical size can be an issue. You want to be able to put as many panels as possible in the least amount of space. 
  2. Total energy production — Again, how this works depends on how many watts each panel produces and how much energy your household needs. There is an argument for adding more panels than you need when you know you will increase the amount of energy you use.

A good example would be adding more panels now because you know you are adding a heated swimming pool next spring. 

How many amps does a 300-watt solar panel produce?

Amps multiplied by volts equals watts is the formula you need to figure out how many amps a solar panel can produce.

If the solar panel is 12volts, then X(volts) = watts or X(12)=300 X=300/12. X = 25. So a 12-volt solar panel capable of creating 300 watts of energy will produce 25 amps of power per one hour of direct sunlight. 

The factors in the above formula change based on the attributes of the solar panel. What happens if the solar panel is 24volts?

What happens if the solar panel only produces 250 watts? So different models of solar panels will have different attributes.

Those are all important facts when you choose the type of solar panel you need. 

What Happens When You Overload A Solar Panel?

The only thing that happens when you overload a solar panel is that energy sent through the circuit decreases.

Inside the home, that process would like a brown-out. What can happen inside the house is that certain appliances or gadgets might become damaged, especially when the decrease in energy reverts.

In addition, that spike in energy can be damaging to electronics plugged into the system. 

Will overloading solar panels damage the panel. No. The panel will produce energy to its maximum ability. What you do with that energy is up to you. 

Should I Oversize My Solar System?

There are a few ways to answer the question, Should I oversize my solar system.” Here’s those options breakdown:

  1. If you are tied to the grid, go for it. The extra energy produced by the solar array will go into the community grid, and you may or may not receive solar credits from your local utility company. That is an excellent problem to have. 
  2. If your solar array also has a solar battery backup, then excess energy would first be stored in the battery system, and then if you are grid-tied, it would go into the community grid. If you are not grid-tied and are off-grid, the energy would be wasted and present an energy opportunity. 
  3. If your solar array does not have a battery backup system and you are not tied to the grid, then any extra energy production by the array would be wasted. If that is a lot of energy, you could consider reducing the active number of solar panels or increasing the amount of energy you produce. 

Most solar arrays are grid-tied so that the extra energy would go to the community power grid for most people.

For those who are off-grid, the energy not stored by the batteries would be wasted.

However, you would have more energy on low power days since each panel in the array would create less energy during cloudy weather. 

What Happens to Excess Solar Power Generated Off-grid?

Solar energy produced by the grid first goes to the immediate power consumption of the home or business, whether you are grid-tied or off-grid.

In off-grid situations, the extra energy produced by the array would then go to the battery backup system. When the batteries are completely charged, the remaining energy will become wasted. 

How to Prevent wasted energy

What you can do to prevent wasting the extra energy produced by the array is to:

  1. Install more solar batteries so that extra energy is available for a long while — deep storage.
  2. Reduce the number of solar panels in the array to match your current energy need. You could install a switch or inverter that you could activate or deactivate as needed. On cloudy days, the array would utilize the extra panels to compensate for low energy production. On sunny days, you would deactivate that string of panels to decrease the total amount of energy produced. 
  3. You could do nothing. The energy would become wasted. There is no ill effect of wasting excess energy from a solar array. You do lose the opportunity to put that energy to use. 


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Elliot has 20+ years of experience in renewable technology, from conservation to efficient living. His passion is to help others achieve independent off-grid living.

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