A 500-watt solar panel kit with the right inverter and battery bank can make a pretty nice off-grid solar system. Solar power systems are still quite expensive when you compare them with grid-supplied power. In my opinion, though, they are cheaper than generators for off-grid (cottage or RV) applications. And they are getting more affordable every day.
There is a lot of joy in being completely disconnected from the grid. However, for that, you will need a bigger system. To be completely off-grid, I suggest you start with a 1000 watt solar panel kit and system.
In this article, I hope to show you what a 500 Watt solar panel array can do, show you how to create a 500-watt solar panel system, and list out the best 500-watt solar panel kits you can find online. Please note that I will be focusing mostly on the solar panel kits and not the complete systems.
Why 500 watt solar panel?
You do not need a 500-watt solar panel kit to start your journey off-grid. But you will be off to an excellent start if you start from here.
I started my journey with a 40-watt solar panel, then I went for a 300-watt solar panel system and then a 1000 watt solar panel system. A solar panel kit like this will provide a lot of power to recharge your batteries during the day fast enough to use it again at night.
That being said, it is not hard to find a 500W solar panel kit these days. This is because the 100-watt solar panels are no longer the most popular single panels. There are now single panels that range anywhere from 150 watts to 400 watts.
This means that kits are more efficient at 400 watts, 600 watts, 800 watts, 1000 watts, 2000 watts, and so on.
So to form a 500W solar panel kit, you would most likely choose five 100 watt solar panels or two – 250 watt solar panels. It is better to go for the 250 W or higher wattage panels because it leaves room for expansion.
If you already have a system with some 100-watt panels, you can expand with a 500-watt kit. Or if you have lots of space, you can also go with a 500-watt kit made up of 100-watt panels.
What can a 500 watt solar panel kit do?
A 500-watt solar panel kit can either be connected to a 12V or 24V system. The downside of a 12-volt approach is that you will be drawing more current from your batteries, and as such, you will lose more power to the heating of your battery cables.
A 500 watt solar panel system does not mean that all you can power in your house or cabin is 500 watts. The 500 watt rating only refers to the amount of power that will be returned to your battery bank from the sunlight.
A 500-watt solar panel system will deliver 500 watts to your batteries every hour that the sun is directly over the panels. We all know that the sun will not always be overhead. So depending on your location and time of the year, you may get an average of 5 – 12 hours of sunlight daily.
This means that your 500-watt solar panel kit can theoretically deliver 2500watt to 6,000 watts of power to your battery bank. In practice, however, you may estimate for 50-70% of that. This is because the sun is only directly over your panels for about 1 hour of the day. At other times it is at an angle, and your panels will not deliver the full 500 watts.
How to connect a 500 watt solar panel kit to form a system.
A Simple System
These are not the exact components used in the video. These are the components you will need to build yours.
Cables and woodwork will cost extra, but you can work with these and get a good estimate.
Solar panel system Connection with a combiner
If your budget allows it, you can go for a 1000 watt system, but if not, all you need to do is replace this system with a 500-watt solar panel array, and you can still power the same amount of equipment during the day but for less time. You may also need to turn things down, so you have some juice in your battery at night.
If you are going for a 500-watt solar panel system, I can guess that you don’t intend to go completely off-grid, or you would not be powering so many things. Whatever the case, a 500-watt solar panel array can charge your batteries and run at least 300 – 400 watt of devices all day without affecting your fully charged batteries.
Components needed to build a similar System. This is if you want to build your own solar power kit.
- Solar Panels (500 watts or more)
- Outback Flexmax 80amps charge controller
- 2500watts 120v Inverter
- 4x AGM 105amps hour made into 24volts
- Subpanel and dedicated outlets
This system runs a 6000 BTU window air conditioner, washing machine and other electronics for 10hrs daily.
Build your own 500 Watt Solar Panel system.
Here is a sample cost for a robust 500-watt solar panel setup. It is more than 500 watts (1,280W), and you can always change the pieces as you desire.