How to calculate your Solar energy requirement

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Posted by on Wednesday January 22, 2014 at 13:0:23:

How much solar energy does one really need? We keep on hearing of solar energy as a cool green and alternative source of energy that comes without you paying bills to the power company and I think it's something worth adoption.

Solar energy is really abundant in many countries in Africa like Nigeria but lots of people are not really tapping into it but would rather buy power generators that consume a lot of fuel and pollute the air.

Well, I know a bit on how Solar energy works and how solar cells can simply convert light into electricity which can be used at home or office.

If you are living in a 3rd world country like Nigeria like I do, you'd agree that the power sector hardly works and you'd be lucky to get more than 6 hrs of electricity everyday. As at now, we only get 6 hrs at night and that's ok when you consider the fact that there are other millions of people living without any power at all.

A lot of people may probably know about solar energy after all they might have used solar calculators like I have and might have marveled at it. Most people don't really believe that Solar energy can power a home completely in Nigeria and so may be skeptical about what this alternative source of energy can really offer.

I've been thinking of a way to at least power my DSTV decoder and TV using solar energy and a battery but I wasn't sure of how to do it. I'm like most consumers in Africa who are a bit knowledgeable about Solar energy and inverters but don't really know the calculations and technicalities involved and I guess that why Solar technicians would be able to charge us more for solar installations.

I've not yet done a solar installation yet but would hope to do so sometime soon and when at least I understand better how it works.

So, I was thinking to myself on what type of solar installation I really need. I needed to know the capacity of the Solar panel, the type of battery and the things it can power and didn't really know how to do it until I Googled for it.

Googling for things like Solar energy calculator brought up a lot of good results and noticed a website at Wavemaker UK that really did the job for me. I just wanted to know my solar energy requirements if I just wanted to power a simple television.

I just selected Television as the device and entered the number of hours I wanted it to run and noticed that I needed the following things:

The total Watt-Hours calculated was 14400WH since 600Watts*24hrs = 7200

Solar Panel(s) required:
4235 Watts (assuming 4 hrs sunlight)
Solar panel requirement = 4235Watts = 14400WH/(4hrs*0.85)
We could make use of ten or eleven units of 400 Watts Solar panel to produce 4000 or 4400 Watts

Inverter battery required:
12V 1200Ah(Amp Hours) of Battery Power => 14400/12. We can make use of 6 units of 12V 200Ah deep cycle batteries.

The calculation for the quantity of Power(Watts) required for the 24 hrs was was done by simply multiplying the Power(Watts) of the device by the number of hours(24) you wanted it to run and in my case the device was assumed to be a 600Watt television for 24 hrs i.e. 600*24.

The Solar Panel requirement was calculated by dividing the Watt-Hours by the product of sunshine hours and the constant factor, 0.85. This is assuming the solar panel just gets at least 4 hrs of Sunshine everyday. Well, I know sunlight in Nigeria runs more than 6 hrs a day.

The battery requirement was calculated by divided the Watt-Hours by the voltage of the battery and in this case, we expect to use a 12V battery. The Amp Hours for the required battery was 600.

So, If one can get all these things together, then you'd be able to know what you need and then get to also know how much it would cost you. In the calculation above, it's basically an estimate of what it takes to watch a Television for 24 hrs using a Solar energy system.


Re: How to calculate your Solar energy requirement Reply by Traffic on Sunday August 24, 2014 at 10:26:2:

Thank you very much for enlightening us. I think there is a mistake in the number of solar panel required because if you use watthours you won't get the result you have. You probably used WATT instead.

Thank you

Re: How to calculate your Solar energy requirement Reply by Felix Okoli on Wednesday November 25, 2015 at 3:8:29:

@Traffic, thanks for the correction. I've updated it.

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