Is a 500-watt solar panel something to get excited about? Yes and no. Here’s why:
About half a decade ago, your standard solar panel size varied between 200-300 watts. It wasn’t until the past couple of years that we discovered that manufacturers have secretly been working non-stop to double these figures.
Sure, we expect that the size, efficiency, and maximum power output of solar panels will improve as time goes on, but not this fast.
This is why seeing solar developers introduce 400 to 500-watt solar panels is something we should all praise as green energy consumers.
However, as we will explain later, 500-watt solar panels are not yet suitable for domestic households.
This is because the existing variety of 500-watt solar panels is still large (72 cells that are 2.2-meter by 1.1-meter). This makes them more suitable for large commercial and industrial setups.
Remember: Your residential 60-cell solar panel is typically 1-meter by 1.6-meters. Feel free to use our solar calculator to size your own solar system.
In summary, 500-watt solar panels are a result of modern technology and ambitious developers. They allow you to harness more solar power, but they are only ideal for industrial applications right now.
What Is A 500-Watt Solar Panel Made Out Of?
In 2020, two solar module firms – Risen Energy and Trina Solar – revealed their 500-watt solar panel made of half-cut monocrystalline PERC cells.
We recently discussed the conventional cell architecture when it comes to manufacturing solar panels. There are other types, but the most common ones found in the marketplace are monocrystalline and polycrystalline.
We also mentioned that solar panels made of monocrystalline cells are more efficient compared to polycrystalline.
Now let’s take our knowledge a step further and talk about an advanced solar cell architecture for monocrystalline called PERC. The Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) concept to improve monocrystalline cells has started to gain traction in recent years. Now, modifying monocrystalline cells to adopt PERC attributes enables each cell to produce 6 to 12% more energy than before.
This is why it makes sense that companies like Risen, Trina, and Jinko solar all turned their attention to this manufacturing tactic.
Most of the 500-watt solar panels they began developing and engineering adopted the PERC monocrystalline cells.
Of course, we can talk more about other modern methods used like half-cuts and bifacial cell technologies. For now, we will just leave those keywords there in case you want to Google them yourselves.
Bottom line: Manufacturers interested in the 500-watt solar panel race focus on adopting modern methodologies focused on the build, material, and architecture of solar cells.
How Much Power Does A 500-Watt Solar Panel Produce?
Ideally, a 500-watt solar panel produces 500 watts.
So, what is ideal?
Good question. Let us once again consult this age-old solar map reference here at Climatebiz. Suppose you have already read some of our early articles. In that case, you already know that the amount of power a 500-watt solar panel produces depends heavily on the irradiance in your area.
Quick explanation: Irradiance is a term used to describe solar power per unit area (W/m2).
Other factors that affect solar panel power output are the time of the day, the orientation of your panel, and the tilt.
So, what is ideal?
An ideal condition sounds like this:
A solar panel that is installed in South-Western states, facing South, and has a 30 to 40-degree tilt. Of course, you will get zero (0) watts if you check its power output in the evening. If you want to see that satisfying 500-watt power, check your solar monitor between 10 am to 2 pm.
An unideal condition, on the other hand, is:
A solar panel that is installed in the North-Eastern state of North Dakota (sorry, guys.). Even though it is facing South and has the ideal tilt during noontime, it will still only get half the number of sunny days as California
How Much Energy Does A 500W Solar Panel Produce?
Before we proceed, let’s discuss the difference between power and energy.
Power is simply the WORK done by an electric circuit. In this case, the electric circuit is your 500-watt solar panel wired to a power inverter.
Now, energy refers to HOW LONG can an electric circuit produce ANY AMOUNT of WORK.
Keep that information in the back of your head. They will help as we move along.
Now ideally, on a good day, your 500-watt solar panel gets an equivalent of about 5 hours of direct sunlight-
Wait! 5 hours? Hold up. The sun is up from 7 am to 5 pm on a typical day! That doesn’t make sense.
Yes, it can get confusing. Now, we agree that your 500-watt solar panel is already receiving solar power from the sun by 7 am. However, it doesn’t give your 500-watt solar panels enough solar power to run at maximum output.
Throughout the day, your solar power produced varies depending on the availability of irradiance.
During a good day, your 500W solar panel behaves like the graph on the bottom left-hand side.
However, days aren’t always ideal, as you can see on the bottom-right-hand side.
A lot of things can prevent sunlight from reaching your panels.
This means that even though your 500-watt solar panel is receiving irradiance in the wee hours of the morning, it is not receiving enough to produce maximum power.
In summary, a 500-watt solar panel produces energy equivalent to 5 hours of its maximum power daily. 500 watts multiplied by 5 hours is 2,500 watt-hours.
What Can I Power With A 500-Watt Solar Panel?
It depends. You already know that your solar panel ideally produces 500W on a sunny day.
What you can power with that 500-watt solar panel depends on your appliance’s rating. It can be seen through the manufacturer’s nameplate installed on your device. It should look something like this.
Take note that the sum of the input power requirement of all appliances should not exceed the power output of your solar panel AT ANY GIVEN TIME. This is why knowing the bell curve solar power output earlier is essential to reduce your consumption as you move farther away from peak production hours.
So, let’s use this nameplate as an example. Given that the washing machine consumes 300 watts (yes, we also see that it goes down to 250 watts during spin mode) once turned on, your 500-watt solar panel can power it up along with a 100-watt laptop and three 20 to 35-watt cell phones as long as full sunlight is available.
Now, what happens if you are not in your home at noontime, but you still want to use your solar panel for your laundry in the evening?
This is doable. Today, you can install an energy storage system along with your solar panels. For those who don’t know, an energy storage system is a smarty pants term for rechargeable batteries. Now, that’s an excellent way to look savvy in front of people you want to impress.
More details on batteries are in the next section.
How Many Batteries Do I Need For A 500W Solar Panel?
Now, let’s see how many batteries you need for a 500-Watt solar panel. The short answer is 2,500 watt-hours worth. However, some of you might be more comfortable using ampere-hours. It is not that hard to derive using these equations and the sample manufacturer’s specifications.
|Peak Power (Pmax)||525 W|
|Material||72 Half-cut monocrystalline cells|
|Dimensions||2,300×1150mm (90×45 inch)|
|Open Circuit Voltage (Voc)||50 V|
|Maximum Power Voltage (Vmp)||40 V|
|Maximum Power Current (Imp)||13 A|
|Short Circuit Current (ISC)||13.7 A|
Equation (1): Peak Power (Pmax) / Maximum Power Voltage (Vmp) = Maximum Power Current (Imp)
Equation (2): Maximum Power Current (Imp) x Sun hours = battery size that can be charged (Ampere-hours)
Applying these formulae, we get:
525 watts / 40 V = 13.125 Amperes (this is approximately the Maximum Power Current)
13.125 A x 5 sun hours = 65.625 Ampere-hours
In conclusion, a 40V 500W solar panel can produce 65.625 amps with 5 hours of sunlight. This is enough to fully charge an empty 60 Ampere-hour or a 2,500 watt-hour battery hooked to your solar inverter.
As a bonus, here is a Climatebiz expert tip: Now, we did say that your solar panel can charge a particular battery from zero to a hundred percent.
However, some of you might be interested in making your battery last longer. In that case, we recommend that you maintain your battery’s charge between 30 to 80 percent all the time. This would mean buying a larger battery, but it will prolong the life of your energy storage device.
Which Companies Produce 500W Solar Panels?
The first manufacturers to tread into the 500-watt solar arena are Solar Co., Ltd., Jinko Solar Co., Ltd., and Risen Energy Co., Ltd. Other companies that are also slowly catching up are JA Solar Holding Co., Ltd and Canadian Solar Inc.
These companies are looking to push the boundaries of solar panel technology and reduce the number of panels needed for large solar system projects. However, these unveiled products are primarily meant to cater to commercial and industrial applications than residential homeowners.
How Much Do 500-Watt Solar Panels Cost?
The actual cost of a 500-watt solar panel is about $0.25 per watt. However, soft costs such as hauling, transporting, storing, convenience costs, and other state-specific price adjustment factors, increase this price to $0.7 to $1.50 per watt. That gives us a total of $350 – $750 per solar panel.
The thought of having 500-watt solar panels for your solar system sounds attractive. It is a testament that solar developers are constantly finding ways to push boundaries. However, we’re afraid that the current 500-watt solar panel selection isn’t quite ready to cater to the residential sector.
There are a lot of reasons behind this. For example, 500-watt, 72-cell modules are just too large and therefore not practical for home applications.
There are also issues concerning compliance with the national electric code, like maximum inverter voltage limits for commercial buildings.
Bottom line: The dawn of 500-watt solar panels tells us that future solar panels will be more compact and harness more solar power per square inch. However, this technology is still considered immature to be widely adopted by U.S. residents.
Taking YOU to the Next Level as Green Energy Consumer
Now, before we say goodbye today, we think you deserve some kudos, and here’s why:
By now, you should be feeling pretty good about yourself. We bet it feels empowering to know how solar panels produce different power levels throughout the day depending on the amount of irradiance available.
From here, you can decide to become an intermediate-level green energy consumer. How? By knowing and acknowledging the fact that installing solar panels isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Now you’re probably getting that feeling that transitioning to sustainable living isn’t linear. Like life, it is a journey with a series of highs and lows, but the destination is clear and worth it. Don’t worry. We’re here to guide and take you there.
Okay, that’s enough “aww, shucks” for one day. Let’s tackle one of the potential challenges of solar.
So, here’s the thing about solar: You have to consume the power your panels produce as they are made.
If that statement doesn’t sound appealing to you, we mentioned earlier that energy storage systems solve this problem. Attaching a battery to your 500-watt solar panel and power inverter allows you to store and use solar energy at a more convenient time.
For now, we want you to become used to the concept of storing and postponing the use of solar energy. Once you are sold on this idea, we can make you more money from your green investments by introducing you to advanced techniques. Think of topics like energy arbitrage and time-of-use rates. Exciting, isn’t it?