What Can A 100-Watt Solar Panel Run?

As concern for the environment grows, so does interest in solar panels! The price of solar panels has gone down significantly—dropping a whopping 70% in the last ten years—and interest has skyrocketed. 

Solar panels come in many different sizes, from small 100-watt solar panels to much larger ones designed for sprawling buildings.

If you’re not ready just yet to dive into covering the roof of your house with solar panels, you can always start with a small panel to see how you like it! A little 100-watt solar panel is a great place to start. But what can a 100-watt solar panel run?

Here are some key points I’ll cover, plus some other information that you’ll need to know:

  • Devices for 100-watt solar panel
  • How much power a 100-watt solar panel generates
  • What type of battery is best for a 100-watt solar panel
  • How long does it take for a 100-watt solar panel to recharge a battery?
  • What accessories you’ll need for your solar setup
  • Various uses for a 100-watt solar panel
  • What a 100-watt solar panel costs

In today’s article, we’ll go over what you’ll be able to get out of a 100-watt solar panel, what you can use it for, as well as answer some other frequently asked questions about this compact little solar panel.

100 watt solar panel in the countryside

Here’s What You Can Run on a 100-WATT Solar Panel

Solar panels of 100 WATTS, comparatively, generate a somewhat small amount of power, so they’re best suited for small appliances and devices that don’t need to be run continuously. 

However, appliances that do need to be run continuously can be configured to make it work in a pinch.

Generally, appliances and devices that run on 100 watts or less will work just fine with a 100-watt solar panel. Here is a list of some of these appliances!

  • DVD players
  • Blu Ray players
  • Cable boxes
  • Clock radios
  • Various types of lightbulbs, including compact fluorescents, halogen bulbs, and LED bulbs
  • Printers
  • Desktop monitors
  • Phone chargers
  • Tablet chargers
  • Laptop chargers
  • Electric razors
  • Radio telephones
  • Ceiling fans
  • Hand mixers
  • Energy-saving TVs

A mini-fridge can also be run on a 100-watt solar panel as it generally only uses 50 and 100 watts, but it would be best to keep a battery pack charged and ready.

Your solar panel will not be producing energy at night and will be producing reduced amounts of energy when not in direct sun.

Keeping a battery pack charged is very important if you need to make a 100-watt solar panel work for more critical appliances like mini-fridges.

How Much Power Does a 100-WATT Solar Panel Generate?

The amount of sunlight you get daily causes this number to vary. In ideal conditions, your 100-watt solar panel is capable of producing 0.5 kilowatts every day when exposed to the consistent sun for five hours.

The wattage of your solar panel equals the number of watts it can produce from one hour of sun. 

One thousand watts equals a kilowatt, so a solar panel generating 100 watts per hour over five hours of sunlight would produce 500 watts or half a kilowatt.

When considering voltage, remember that solar panels are usually rated for a few volts lower than what they actually produce. A 100-watt solar panel is usually listed as being able to generate 12 volts, but the maximum output is usually around 18 volts.

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

What Battery Packs Should You Use with a 100-watt Solar Panel?

A 100 Ah, 12-volt battery is a great companion for a 100-watt solar panel.

Deep-cycle batteries are often recommended for use with solar panels because they are built to withstand continuous recharging. Some kinds of batteries degrade in quality and performance if they’re recharged too many times. Deep-cycle batteries have a much longer lifespan.

How Long Does It Take for a 100-WATT Solar Panel to Recharge a 12-Volt Battery?

On average, it’ll take about 5 to 8 hours to charge a 12-volt battery. 

However, this estimate is relative to ideal conditions. If it’s a cloudy day or your solar panel isn’t in direct sunlight, this could take longer. 

This also depends on the battery itself. If your battery is well taken care of and on the newer side, it’ll charge faster. If it’s older and has been through a large number of charge cycles, then it’ll more than likely take longer to charge. 

What Accessories Do You Need for Your 100-watt Solar Panel? 

To use your solar panel, you’re going to need more than just the solar panel itself.

Experts recommend using a solar charge controller whenever you’re using a panel that puts out over 5 watts of power. If you don’t use a controller, you risk overloading your battery. When using a 100-watt panel, always make sure your controller is working properly. 

What Size Controller Should You Use?

For a 100-watt solar panel, a 10 amp controller is plenty to protect both your solar panel and your battery. 

When Is a 100-WATT Solar Panel Useful?

Though 100-watt solar panels are on the small side, there are a plethora of uses for them in many different situations. From being used as an alternative to a generator to being used as the main power source on a camping trip, this little panel set up really is a powerhouse.

Around the House

Like working on your computer outside? You can keep your laptop running with your 100-watt solar panel instead of running an extension cord.

This kind of solar panel is also great for when the power goes out. Since it’s powerful enough to charge laptop and mobile device batteries and run small appliances, it’s a great alternative to using a generator for these items.

This allows you to save the generator for the bigger appliances, which can save you fuel in the long run. This can help quite a bit if you’re dealing with a long-term power outage. It’ll save you money and frustration waiting in line at the gas station. 

Camping

100-watt solar panels are a great option for camping trips. It’s always a good idea to keep a phone charged and available for emergencies, but running the car to keep it charged just wastes gas. Setting up a little 100-watt panel is a great, eco-friendly alternative.

RV Trips

This runs along the same lines as the camping option, but with an RV, you can permanently affix your 100-watt solar panel to the roof of your RV so you don’t have to worry about setting it up every time you take a trip. 

100-watt panels are a good choice for small RVs and campers seeing as this panel size doesn’t generate too much power.

Boating

The great thing about using solar out on the water is that you never have to worry about shade! A small solar panel permanently affixed to your boat can help cut down on your fuel usage when you need to charge your devices or keep a fan going in the cabin. 

How Much Does a 100-WATT Solar Panel Cost?

As we mentioned earlier, the cost of solar panels has dropped a significant amount over the last decade. Depending on the brand and package type you decide on, it’ll cost between $80 and $450. 

Some brands are more expensive than others, and there are often different packages available that are suited to one specific use or another. 

Here are two of our favorite solar panels. One is if you need one on the move, and the other is a great option for fixed solar;

Compact 100-watt solar panels are on the inexpensive end. These models tend to not come with the necessary accessories included, so the cost doesn’t come down too much if you’re just starting out.

To properly set up your panel, you will need to purchase the other parts separately but the highly reputable Renogy is made for starters and includes what you need.

If you are looking for an all-inclusive kit so you do not have to go hunting for parts, there are plenty of options out there for you to consider. Solar panel kits usually fall between $250 and $450. 

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel Starter Kit with 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel + 30A PWM...
  • 【Efficient Performance】The Starter Kit will produce an average of 500Wh of electricity per day (Based on 5 hours of...
  • 【Solid Quality】Advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet laminations protects cells from physical damage...
  • 【Smart Function】The Wanderer PWM Charge Controller is compatible with four different types of batteries: Sealed, Gel,...

On the high end, you can get even more specialized panels like the Nomad 100-Watt solar panel for around, which are made specifically for camping and are collapsible for easy travel. 

Solar panel kits usually come with a solar charge controller, necessary cables, and mounting hardware. These kits are great for camping and boating because they are easy to install on your boat, camper, or RV since all the necessary parts and hardware are included in the box.

Topsolar 100W Foldable Portable Solar Panel Charger Kits for Portable Power Station Generator Cell...
  • 【Designed For Most Portable Power Station】The 19V DC port is specially designed for charging portable power stations and...
  • 【USB Smart and Fast Charging Technology】 Dual USB Ports QC3.0 & 2.0 (5V/9V/12V 2A max), and the USB-C port support...
  • 【Foldable&Portable】:After being folded, the size is only 19.98x20.28x1.38inch. You can easily pack it into backpack or...

All in all, solar panels have become increasingly affordable, so it’s not hard to find one that both meets your needs and your budget.

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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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