Can a solar panel charge a laptop? How many solar panels do you need? Is it a very technical project or can the average joe do it?
As a solar panel enthusiast, I was wondering the same thing so I decided to do some research into the subject. I’ll share my discoveries with you here.
If you’re planning to spend some time away from the city, continue reading this article.
Can a Solar Panel Charge a Laptop?
You can use a solar panel to charge a laptop if the laptop is turned off but the power will be unreliable and could potentially damage your equipment. A better alternative is to use solar panels to charge a portable power station and then use that station to charge your laptop.
When it comes to charging a laptop with solar panels, there are many factors to consider, such as your laptop’s power requirements, the solar panel output, sun coverage, the number of solar panels, inverters, and many others. With precise calculations and ideal sun coverage, it could be possible to charge a laptop on solar panels but it’s not recommended.
What you need to know is power generated from a solar panel is not stable, it changes depending on the sun coverage, time of day, panel type, heat, and many others. Even the most efficient solar panels have a wide range of power output, from 0 watts to over the maximum rated watts.
For example, a solar panel that’s rated at 60 Watts could generate anything from 0 to 70 watts, constantly changing depending on the factors mentioned earlier. If you try to power equipment that requires a stable wattage from a solar panel you could damage the equipment.
As you might have guessed, every laptop has different power requirements depending on the hardware. Gaming laptops tend to have much higher power requirements than normal office work laptops. On that note, most laptops also have power-saving features which reduce power consumption based on the workload.
To figure out the power requirements of your laptop, take a look at the power brick, it should show the required voltage range.
Now on to our recommended solution.
Recommended Solar Power Products:
To repeat, I do not recommend charging or running a laptop on solar panels alone because the power output from panels is far too unreliable.
Instead, I suggest using a solar panel to charge a portable power station that can store the energy and output it at a stable rate which electronics can safely use.
With the combination of the right equipment, you can not only charge your laptop but also many other electronics, such as your phone, and whatnot.
Here are some recommended products:
The Jackery Solar Saga is a foldable solar panel set that can output 100 Watts at peak rated at 23% efficiency. The panels do not include a battery but they do have an adapter for USB ports, USB-A and USB-C.
It also has a DC interface cable for charging other equipment which I’ll get into in a second. While you can use this panel to charge a phone, it’s best not to, due to the reasons mentioned earlier. You could use this to charge power banks too.
You’ve heard about power banks, but have you heard about portable power stations? The Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 works perfectly with the solar panels mentioned above.
What the power station does is store energy and convert it to stable and safe energy for electronics. The Explorer 240 has a 240 WH lithium battery and a max output of 200 watts. This particular power station has two USB 5V ports, one AC 110V, 200W outlet.
If you want to charge a laptop, the Explorer 240 can do the trick. Most laptops require under 200 watts, although some require more under full-load. For best results, I recommend charging the laptop when it’s turned off to avoid wasting important energy and keep the power load low. This power station can charge a Macbook twice.
Make sure to double-check the power requirements of the devices you want to use. If they’re under 200W, they’ll work with this power station. If not, you’ll need something more powerful like a portable generator.
Solar panels -> power station -> your electronics
If you buy the two products mentioned above, setting them up to work together is really easy and can provide all the power you need for your camping trips.
The solar panels can simply be unfolded and angled towards the sky pointing towards the area the has the most sun exposure. Next, connect the DC cable from the solar panels to the DC input on the portable power station. Check the portable power station’s screen to see if it detects a charge, it will probably change from time to time.
Plug your electronics into the portable power station. You can charge them from the station while the station is being charged too. With this kind of setup, the panels will keep the power station charged, and the station will keep all your important electronics charged too, a win win.
So that summarizes how to charge a laptop with a solar panel. Just remember, you shouldn’t plug electronics directly into a solar panel because the output is too unreliable. Instead, use the panels to charge a battery of sorts and then use that battery to charge your electronics.
Related Post: Solar Panel Phone Chargers Worth It?
Leave a comment below if you have any questions.