Solar panels are rapidly increasing their sizes. A mere five years ago, the most powerful solar panels were barely capable of producing 300 watts. Now, in the year 2022, we are witnessing the release of residential solar panels with outputs of up to 400 watts and possibly even higher.
The development of solar cell technology has allowed for an increase in the size of solar panels, which was previously impossible. But another reason for the proliferation of new solar panels with outputs of 400 watts or more is that manufacturers of solar panels are engaging in a game of one-upmanship in which each is eager to demonstrate that their solar panel is the most powerful.
But when it comes to solar panels, does the size of the panel really make a difference? Is it a better option for your home to install a solar panel with a capacity of 300-350 watts, which is the more typical range, or a panel with a capacity of 400 watts?
What exactly is a 400w solar panel?
Solar panels have their dimensions determined by the amount of energy they can produce. A solar panel is considered to be 400 watts if it has the capacity to generate 400 watts of instantaneous direct current electricity when tested under ideal Standard Test Conditions.
How much energy can a 400w solar panel produce on a daily basis?
Depending on your geographic location, a solar panel with a capacity of 400 watts will generate an average of 1,200 watt-hours (1.2 kilowatt-hours, or 1.2 kWh) to 3,000 watt-hours (3 kWh) of direct current (DC) electricity each day in real-world conditions.
Using the figure that corresponds to the peak sun hours for your location, you will be able to determine the exact value for where you live. In Texas, for example, places with a lot of sunshine receive an average of six peak sun hours (PSH) each day. Simply by multiplying the panel wattage by the number of PSH (in this case, 400 W by 6 PSH), we can determine that the typical daily power production at that location would be 2,400 watt-hours (2.4 kWh).
Can a 400w solar panel power your home?
Yes. If you want to build a solar system of a certain size, you can do so by wiring together a number of separate 400-watt panels.
For instance, the installation of a typical residential solar power system with a capacity of 6 kW would involve the placement of fifteen (15) solar panels, each with a power output of 400 watts. There are now a number of major solar panel manufacturers, such as LG and SunPower, that offer 400-watt solar panels for use in both residential and commercial settings.
However, as of the year 2022, solar panels with a wattage of 400 watts are not yet common in residential solar power installations. Instead, the majority of customers choose panels with wattages in the range of 300 to 350.
Can a 400w solar panel power your RV and boat?
Yes. Because of the limited space and power requirements, boats and RVs could satisfy their off-grid power requirements with a single solar panel that is 400 watts in capacity.
On the other hand, it is significantly more common for recreational vehicles (RVs), boats, and other similar setups to use 400-watt starter kits. Typical installations include an MPPT inverter, solar charge controller, AGM battery bank, extension cables, and mounting hardware. This yields a total solar capacity of 400 watts when all the panels are connected together.
Are these solar panels expensive?
It’s true that panels with 400 watts cost more than those with a smaller size. In addition, the price of a 400-watt panel is not just higher in absolute terms because it generates more power; rather, it is higher in relative terms as well, meaning that it costs more per watt.
To produce a solar panel that generates more power without a corresponding increase in size, manufacturers of solar panels need to employ more advanced manufacturing processes. In addition, 400-watt solar panels are relatively new and high-end models; therefore, manufacturers of solar panels typically include a higher profit margin on these products.
If you build your solar energy system with 400 W solar modules rather than modules in the more standard range of 300-350 W, you can anticipate paying an additional cost of approximately 5-10% more per watt.
Reasons why owning a 400w solar panel is a must:
- Space saving
The primary justification for purchasing a solar panel with a power rating of 400 W or higher is a shortage of available roof space.
The most effective solar cell technologies are used in the construction of solar panels that are at least 400 watts in size and are designed to generate the most amount of power. When it comes to producing a specific amount of power, a solar panel’s efficiency directly correlates to the amount of space it needs to do so.
Look for solar panels with a module efficiency of at least 20% and a wattage of 400 if you want to get the most solar power out of the space you have available.
- Less problems to be encountered
If you use solar panels with a wattage of 400, you will reduce the risk of having issues with your system over the course of the panels’ lifetime.
Why? Because the use of solar panels with a 400-watt output reduces the total number of modules required. It is possible to construct a solar power system with a capacity of 6 kW using only fifteen (15) 400-watt panels rather than twenty (20) 300-watt panels.
Failure of the solar panels themselves is extremely unlikely; however, the likelihood of failure of allied equipment is significantly higher. For example, module-level power electronics (MLPE), which include microinverters and power optimizers, are frequently used with each individual panel in order to fulfill the prerequisites specified by the code.
Because you are using fewer panels, you are reducing the need for MLPE, and as a result, the likelihood that you will run into problems both during and after the duration of your warranty is significantly reduced.
- Less panels; less roof space required
The majority of homeowners who want to install a solar energy system on their roof will need between 15 and 30 solar panels with a wattage rating of 400, presuming they are installing systems with a capacity of between 6 kW and 12 kW.
That would require somewhere between 329 and 658 square feet of space on the roof, and that’s before taking into account access and setback requirements, which can vary from state to state.
Considering all factors, installing a 400w solar panel on your homes is one of the best investments you could make this 2022. With how much power it could generate for you, the return on your investment is a sure hit and will come in no time.