Can You Run a Computer on Solar Power?

Another day I got this question, Can you run a computer on solar power? The simple answer is yes. Yes, you can run a computer on solar power.

The combination of solar panels and inverter allow you to power your computer with solar panels and it will enable you to get continuous power even without electricity.

The most important thing to remember here is that a computer or laptop can run with DC power from IPS or a battery. Solar panels produce DC power, so running a laptop or computer using solar panels is possible.

Can You Run a Computer on Solar Power?

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need to Run a Computer?

I am going to share with you how you can calculate the number of solar panels needed to run your computer in three steps, the first step will be to calculate the energy you need, the second step you will need to know the number of sun hours you receive and the last step will be to calculate the number of solar panels needed. 

Step 1: Find out how much does your computer consume

In order to know exactly how many panels you need to run your computer, the first thing is to find out how much power your computer consumes, you can check this on the quick startup guide you get with your computer or you can read on a label that comes at the back of your computer.

I have a Lenovo Ideapad 530S, that according to the manufacture it needs 65 watts to run, most desktop computers will consume between 200 watts and 300 watts.

Let us assume you have a desktop computer and it consumes 200 watts of power and you are going to turn the computer for 8 hours, the energy consumption will be 200×8 watts-hour or 1.6 KWh.

Step 2: how many usable hours of sunlight at your region each day

Before you can calculate the number of solar panels needed to run your computer, you need to find out how many usable hours of sunlight at your region each day.

The easiest way to do this is to look at an isolation map, if you are a professional solar panels installer you might have software that will help you with that but if you don’t you can just check on https://www.nrel.gov/gis/solar.html

Step 2: how many usable hours of sunlight at your region each day

Now, imagine that you live in a location where on average there are 8 hours of sunlight every day. and from step one above you know that your computer will consume 1.6KWh per day.

Take the power consumption we calculated in step 1, you divide by the number of daily usable sunlight and then you multiply it by 1.25 ( this is to compensate for the power loss due to batteries, solar inverter, and wiring ).

If we continue with the example above, the solar panel watt needs equal: 1.6kWh needed / 8hrs of sunlight*1.25=0.25 kW or 250 watts per day.

If do you want 250 W solar panels, that is 250/250 that is 1 solar panel or you can use one 300 watts solar panel.

If you will use 100W solar panels that are 2.5 panels, you will need 3 solar panels to run your computer for 8 hours.

Can you connect a computer directly to solar panels?

Even though the solar panel will produce the DC  voltage, it is not recommended to connect the computer directly to the solar panel.

In order to run computers on solar power, you need some other suppliers to connect solar panels and your computers. Such as inverters, charge controllers, batteries, and some small devices. Firstly, install solar panels, then connect inverters, charge controllers with batteries. Finally, connect your computer to the batteries.

Do you need a battery to run a computer with solar panels?

There is no direct answer to this question, it depends on what do you want to do, you can connect solar panels to the inverter and from there connect your computer and be good to go, this way of running your computer will be cheaper but the problem is that there is no backup system, so when there is not the sun or at night you will not be able to use your computer. ( unless it is a laptop and you charged it).

When you have batteries, these will act as energy storage units and when there is no sun or it is night, you can still use the energy stored in them, during sunlight the batteries will be charged with solar panels and at night you can use them, the problem is that solar batteries are expensive, they will take 30 to 50% of the budget for the whole project.