What Will A 200-Watt Solar Panel Run In An RV?

A 200-watt solar panel is a must-have for RV owners looking to run their vehicle’s appliances. They’re relatively affordable, small, and easy to find — perfect for powering devices on the go.

This raises the question — what can a 200-watt solar panel run in an RV? Is it enough to power a TV? What about a small fridge or an AC unit?

In this post, we provide the tools to calculate a 200-watt solar panels energy production.

Furthermore, we discuss the appliances, such as what a 200-watt solar panel can run and for how long.

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How To Calculate The Energy Production Of A 200-Watt Solar Panel

200 watt solar panels are a great way to generate electricity to power RV appliances.
Solar panels are a great way to generate electricity to power RV appliances.
Source: blog.campingworld.com/

First and foremost, you need to estimate the amount of energy the panel can generate.


Example

Let’s say your 200-watt solar panel produces 160-watt-hour per hour ( 640Wh per day) at a particular location, and your TV’s power rating is 90W. In this instance, your 200W panel can run your TV efficiently because it produces more energy than the TV consumes.

Moreover, if you use a solar battery or solar generator to store the energy produced by your 200W panel to power your TV at a later stage, you’ll be able to keep it running for about 7 hours.

Remember, a solar panel’s energy output depends on the sunlight it receives, given its location/time of year.

Now, considering different locations, let’s look at various ways to calculate how much energy a 200-watt panel generates.


200-Watt Solar Panel Energy Output

The energy output of a 200W RV solar panel in the U.S. can vary from 0.6 kWh to 1 kWh, depending on the location.

Let’s see how you calculate such a panel’s energy production according to your state’s average solar irradiance.

There are several ways to estimate solar energy production, each of which varies in accuracy.

1. Using Online Calculators:

Use an online energy production calculator, like the PVWatts calculator developed by researchers at NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory).

Simply fill in the required information (address/location, tilt, PV module type, etc.) to get started. The online calculator will provide detailed results regarding solar radiation and energy production, both monthly and yearly.

2. Using Peak Sun Hours (PSH) Data:

Map showing the average peak sun hours (PSH) in the U.S.
Map showing the average peak sun hours (PSH) in the U.S.
Peak sun hours (PSH) is one hour of full solar irradiation (1000W/m2) in which a solar panel’s power output is at its maximum. Therefore, 200W for a 200-watt solar panel.

Another quick and easy method of estimating solar panel energy output is by looking up your location, the peak sun hours, and multiplying it by the power rating of the solar panel, like so:

Energy produced per day = Average peak sun hours × solar panel wattage (200W)

If you want to be on the safe side, it’s best to account for efficiency losses. For this, multiply your result by 80%:

Energy produced per day = Average peak sun hours × solar panel wattage (200W) x 80%

Please note: the 80% used in the formula accounts for the efficiency losses that result from different factors. We will discuss this later on.


Here are a few examples demonstrating how to calculate solar panel energy production using peak sun hours:

Arizona

  • Average Peak Sun hours: 5.7
  • Energy Output Per Day: 200 W x 5.7 hours x 80% = 912 Wh = 0,912 kWh

Florida

  • Average Peak Sun hours: 4.9
  • Energy Output Per Day: 200 W x 4.9 hours x 80% = 784 Wh = 0,784 kWh

Minnesota

  • Average Peak Sun hours: 3.8
  • Energy Output Per Day: 200 W x 3.8 hours x 80% = 608 Wh = 0,608 kWh

Oregon

  • Average Peak Sun hours: 4.3
  • Energy Output Per Day: 200 W x 4.3 hours x 80% = 688 Wh = 0,688 kWh

Texas

  • Average Peak Sun hours: 4.8
  • Energy Output Per Day: 200 W x 4.8 hours x 80% = 768 Wh = 0,768 kWh

If you want to check your location’s average peak sun hours, here’s our list for the U.S.

In summary, the energy produced by a 200-watt solar panel varies based on how many peak sun hours a particular location gets.

Additionally, several other factors result in efficiency losses. Therefore, you must multiply the result by 80% to account for those losses.

3. Using The Specific PV Power Output (kWh/kWp)

This method provides a more precise estimation since it considers empirical measurements and satellite data collection. 

It uses the “specific photovoltaic power output” (PVOUT) of the location, given in kWh/kWp. This metric provides the amount of energy (in kWh) produced for every kilowatt-peak (kWp) of module capacity over a day (or year).

You can use the Solar Global Atlas to find your location PVOUT information — you can select “per day” or “per year.”

With this information, multiply your location PVOUT (per day) by your solar panel’s power rating. In this case, 200 watts.

Energy Production Per Day = PVOUT (kWh / kWp) x Solar Panel Power Rating (kW)

So for a 200-watt solar panel:

Energy Production Per Day = PVOUT (kWh / kWp) x 0,2 kW


Energy Production For Each State Of The U.S.

To make things easier, we prepared a list showing the average PVOUT and energy output of a 200W solar panel (per day) for each U.S. state:

U.S. StatePVOUT average per day (kWh/kWp)200W solar panel production per day
Alabama 4800 Wh = 0.8 kWh
Arizona4.9980 Wh = 0.98 kWh
Arkansas 4.1820 Wh = 0.82 kWh
California4.8960 Wh = 0.96 kWh
Colorado 4.4880 Wh = 0.88 kWh
Connecticut 3.4680 Wh = 0.68 kWh
Florida 4800 Wh = 0.8 kWh
Georgia 4800 Wh = 0.8 kWh
Hawaii3.6720 Wh = 0.72 kWh
Idaho 4.4880 Wh = 0.88 kWh
Illinois3.9780 Wh = 0.78 kWh
Indiana 3.8760 Wh = 0.76 kWh
Iowa 4800 Wh = 0.8 kWh
Kansas4.5900 Wh = 0.9 kWh
Kentucky 3.9780 Wh = 0.78 kWh
Louisiana 4.1820 Wh = 0.82 kWh
Maine 3.6720 Wh = 0.72 kWh
Maryland 3.9780 Wh = 0.78 kWh
Massachusetts 3.8760 Wh = 0.76 kWh
Michigan 3.6720 Wh = 0.72 kWh
Minnesota3.9780 Wh = 0.78 kWh
Mississippi 4.1820 Wh = 0.82 kWh
Missouri 4800 Wh = 0.8 kWh
Montana 4800 Wh = 0.8 kWh
Nebraska 4.4880 Wh = 0.88 kWh
Nevada 4.9980 Wh = 0.98 kWh
New Hampshire 3.7740 Wh = 0.74 kWh
New Jersey 3.9780 Wh = 0.78 kWh
New Mexico5.21040 Wh = 1.04 kWh
New York 3.4680 Wh = 0.68 kWh
North Carolina 4.2840 Wh = 0.84 kWh
North Dakota 4.2840 Wh = 0.84 kWh
Ohio 3.7740 Wh = 0.74 kWh
Oklahoma 4.4880 Wh = 0.88 kWh
Oregon 4.3860 Wh = 0.86 kWh
Pennsylvania 3.5700 Wh = 0.7 kWh
Rhode Island 3.9780 Wh = 0.78 kWh
South Carolina4.3860 Wh = 0.86 kWh
South Dakota 4.2840 Wh = 0.84 kWh
Tennessee 3.9780 Wh = 0.78 kWh
Texas 4.4880 Wh = 0.88 kWh
Utah 4.6920 Wh = 0.92 kWh
Vermont 3.4680 Wh = 0.68 kWh
Virginia4.1820 Wh = 0.82 kWh
Washington 3.3660 Wh = 0.66 kWh
West Virginia3.6720 Wh = 0.72 kWh
Wisconsin 3.8760 Wh = 0.76 kWh
Wyoming 4.6920 Wh = 0.92 kWh

Factors That Impact Solar Energy Production

Under ideal conditions, a 200W solar panel produces 200 watt-hours of energy (per hour). However, this doesn’t happen during “everyday” situations. Why? Because numerous factors affect solar energy production, including: 

Therefore, you need to account for efficiency losses when estimating the energy output of a 200-watt solar panel using peak sun hours.


Ideal Conditions

If you check your solar panel’s specs, you’ll notice the manufacturer states the electrical properties according to a specific measurement standard, namely STC and NOTC:

  • NOCT (Nominal Operating Cell Temperature: Irradiance 800 W/m2, ambient temperature 20 °C, wind speed 1 m/s); or
  • STC (Standard Test Conditions: Irradiance 1000 W/m2, Module Temperature 25°C, AM 1.5)

Therefore, the STC specs state the “best case scenario” energy output. Your solar panel will produce less energy than stated in the specs.

Related Reading: BougeRV 200W 12V Solar Panel Review


Can A 200-Watt Solar Panel Run A Refrigerator?

A 200-watt solar panel is capable of running a refrigerator. However, fridges come with different power demands. Therefore, in this instance, size matters.

A 200-watt solar panel will not produce enough energy to run a family-sized refrigerator efficiently (with 5 to 7 cu.ft), at least not for long. However, it will run a small refrigerator (1 to 1.5 cu.ft, average daily consumption of 0.45 kWh) for an entire day in almost every U.S. state except Alaska.

Let’s consider that a 1.6-1.7cu.ft refrigerator with a tiny freezer uses an average of 0.45kWh daily. We know that the average energy produced by a 200-watt solar panel (in all U.S. states) will be enough to run a small refrigerator.

That said, it’s important to note that runtime may not be that long. Here’s why:


Estimating Whether A 200-Watt Solar Panel Can Power a Refrigerator

To answer this section’s question, we need to compare a 200-watt solar panel’s average energy production against the average amount of energy consumed by an RV fridge.

As previously mentioned, the amount of energy produced by a 200-watt panel per day varies from one location to another, according to the amount of solar irradiance available.

For this reason, it is hard to provide specific results for each location. That said, we’ll walk you through the logic behind this process so you can figure out whether your 200-watt solar panel can run your RV refrigerator. Don’t worry; it’s pretty simple.


Example: Small RV Refrigerator

For this example, let’s consider California. 

According to the table in this article, the average energy produced by a 200-watt solar panel per day in California is 960Wh = 0.96kWh.

We need to know how much energy an RV refrigerator consumes daily. Let’s illustrate this example with a portable RV refrigerator like the ICECO VL60 DUAL ZONE

This refrigerator has a rating input power of 85W (0.085kW). Therefore, we know that a 200-watt solar panel in California will run this portable RV refrigerator because it generates enough energy (more energy than the refrigerator consumes).

In fact, if you stored the energy produced by this 200-watt solar panel in a battery, you could use this energy to power the refrigerator for about 11 hours.

Here’s how you can calculate runtime:

Runtime (h) = Energy Available (Wh) / Energy Consumed (W)

So using the energy information from the examples above:

Runtime (h) = 960 Wh / 85 W = 11,29 hours

Now, if we take the average energy produced by a 200-watt solar panel in Pennsylvania (which is 700 Wh), the runtime would be:

Runtime (h) = 700 Wh / 85 W = 8,23 hours

Please note: These are only estimations. In reality, the runtime can vary due to the difference in power consumption while the refrigerator is still cooling — right when you plug it into the AC port — and when it is already cold. However, it shouldn’t considerably impact runtime.


Example: Large RV Refrigerator

Now it’s time to see whether a 200-watt solar panel in California can run a large RV refrigerator like the DOMETIC DM 2672.

The rated input power (AC) for this refrigerator is 440W, and the average energy production of a 200-watt solar panel in California is 960Wh.

Therefore, the energy produced in one day by the 200-watt solar panel can run this Dometic RV refrigerator because it can more than the fridge consumes.

However, it wouldn’t be able to run the refrigerator for long.

Runtime (h) = 960 Wh / 440 W = 2,18 hours

So if you have power-hungry appliances in your RV, we suggest you install multiple 200-watt solar panels, so you can produce enough energy to run them for an extended period. 

In addition, solar batteries or solar generators are a must if you wish to power your appliances after sunlight hours.


Examples Of RV Refrigerator And Their Energy Consumption

Here is a list showing 5 examples of RV refrigerators and their rated energy consumption:

Refrigerator modelRefrigerator volume (cu.ft)Average consumption
DOMETIC DM267260.44kWh hourly and 10,56kWh daily
ICECO VL60 DUAL ZONE2.10.085kWh hourly and 2,0 kWh daily
NORCOLD NRF 301.10.06 kWh hourly and 1.5 kWh daily
IGLOO IRF16RSBK1.60.02kWh hourly and 0.48kWh daily
Avanti Compact RM17T1B1.70.02kWh hourly and 0.49kWh daily
* Daily kilowatt-hour is calculated assuming 24 hours of operation daily

In Summary

A 200-watt solar panel runs most small RV refrigerators because it generates enough energy to do so. However, it won’t run a family-sized refrigerator (with 5 to 7 cu.ft), at least not for long, though it will run a small refrigerator (1 to 1.5 cu.ft, average daily consumption of 0.45 kWh) for an entire day in almost every U.S. state.

Related Reading: What Are The Best Lithium RV Batteries?


Can A 200-Watt Solar Panel Run A Freezer?

A 200-watt solar panel will run a freezer for an entire day in almost every U.S. state, but only if the freezer’s daily energy consumption is below 800Wh (0.80 kWh) for sunny states like Arizona, California, New Mexico, or Utah, and below 600Wh (0.60 kWh) for the rest of the U.S.

Therefore, you need to check your freezer’s energy consumption to know if a 200-watt solar panel can run it.

For reference, we prepared a table with four freezer models and how much energy they consume:

Freezer modelVolume (cu.ft)Average consumption
Avanti CF24Q0W2.40,015 kWh = 0.37 kWh daily
Midea MRU03M2ABB3.00.03 kWh = 0.65 kWh daily
New Air NFT070MB006.30.03 kWh = 0.68 kWh daily
Arctic King AC35ESKCR1RCM  3.50.02 kWh = 0.48 kWh daily
* Daily kilowatt-hour is calculated assuming 24 hours of operation per day

Modern average-sized freezers (between 5 to 9 cu.ft) have an average power rating of 42W (it ranges from 15W to 74W). That’s 42Wh (0.042 kWh) hourly and 1008Wh (1.008kWh) daily.

The only state in which a 200-watt solar panel produces enough energy (daily) to run an average-sized freezer for an entire day is New Mexico, producing 1040Wh daily.

Arizona (980Wh daily), California (960Wh daily), Nevada (980Wh daily), Utah (920Wh), and Wyoming (920Wh) come close.


In all other states, a 200-watt solar panel won’t generate enough energy to power an average-sized freezer.

The good news is that this solar panel can produce enough energy to power a smaller freezer (up to 4 cu.ft) in all other states.

Related Reading: Using A Solar Generator In Your RV (A Complete Guide)


Can A 200-Watt Solar Panel Run An AC?

An air conditioner is one of the most power-hungry residential appliances.

On the bright side, when you need it the most — on warm sunny days — you’ll get the maximum energy production out of your solar panel.

Unsurprisingly, a 200-watt solar panel won’t generate enough energy to run a typical RV AC unit — the one you install on the ceiling. The daily energy consumption of these units can range from 4,5kWh to 6kWh, which is more than the highest energy production of 200-watt solar panels — 1,04kWh daily in New Mexico, on average).

However, a 200-watt solar panel can produce enough energy in sunny states to run a small portable AC unit (up to 5000 BTUs).

We’ve found a few AC models with low energy consumption, as shown in the table below. An example is the Coolzy-Go Personal AC, with an energy consumption of 0.34kWh. This means that a 200-watt solar panel could run this AC in most U.S. states, at least for a couple of hours.

AC modelBTUsAverage consumption (hourly)
Midea MAP05R1WWT5.0000.82 kWh
Coolzy-Go Personal AC4.0000.34 kWh
SereneLife SLPAC88.0000.9 kWh

In summary, a 200-watt solar panel can run an AC with a low cooling capacity, but not for long.

Therefore, if you wish to run an AC with a higher cooling capacity, installing multiple 200-watt solar panels in your RV is best.

Related Reading: RV Greywater (Everything you need to know)


Can A 200 Watt Solar Panel Run A TV?

In short, yes. TVs typically present a low wattage, and a 200-watt solar panel can produce enough energy to run an average-sized TV (around 48″) for a few hours.

Here are three TV models (AC power) that a 200-watt solar panel can run for at least 5 hours daily:

TV modelSizeWattageMaximum daily consumption
PHILIPS – 50HFL6214U/2750″155W0.77kWh
SAMSUNG Class TU700043″120W0.60kWh
NEC – E32832″31W0.15kWh
* Daily kilowatt-hour consumption considers the appliances would be on 5h a day.

Essentially, a 200-watt solar panel can generate enough energy to run a TV (up to 70″). The runtime, however, depends on how much energy the TV consumes.

Related Reading: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For My RV? (Expert Advice)


What Will A 200 Watt Solar Panel Run In An RV?

First, it’s important to point out that a solar panel alone cannot run AC appliances. Solar panels produce DC power, and most devices require AC power.

As such, you should use solar panels in combination with a solar charger, batteries, and an inverter to create a complete system capable of powering RV appliances.

With this in mind, let’s see what a 200-watt solar panel would be able to run and for how long.

For this, we’ve considered the average daily energy production of a 200W solar panel in the U.S. as 0.8kWh and searched for the average energy consumption of the most common RV appliances. Here are the results:

Device/ApplianceAverage Power RatingRuntime
RV water pump100W8 h
Wifi Router20W40 h
Electric Fan50W16 h
Phone Charger15W53 h
3 LED lamps9W (each)29 h
Laptop Charger60W13 h
*Runtime refers to the amount of time the solar panel would be able to run each device individually, not all devices combined.

Final Thoughts

As you probably figured by now, a 200W solar panel is an excellent addition to your RV!

It is affordable, compact, and can power almost any standard device — at least for a couple of hours.

Even though its energy output is low compared to more energy-efficient residential modules, it does not disappoint when it comes to powering devices on the go.

It can generate a daily average of 0.8kWh in the U.S.; as we’ve seen, it’s enough energy to run several appliances, even a small freezer or a small AC unit.

However, don’t expect a single 200W solar panel to do the job if you have a big RV with many residential appliances. Estimate your energy demand and install a system (including solar panels, charge controller, battery, and inverter) that is big enough to meet your needs.

Ana Lejtman

Ana Lejtman

Ana is a Research Chemist with a strong background in Environmental chemistry. She's deeply interested in how chemistry can be applied to the development of green technologies. Her passion for sustainable chemistry and the environment led her to join the Climatebiz team, writing informative articles on renewable energy/green technologies related topics.

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