Can washing machine run on solar panel?

Can washing machine run on solar panel
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Washing machines are dumb electronics. Even automatic machines are called “Automatic” to differentiate dumb from dumber.

A washing machine can run on solar power as long as:

  1. The panel can capture enough solar energy.
  1. There is a battery to store the power.
  1. The battery power rating is greater or equal to that of the solar panel.
  1. There is an inverter to convert DC to AC current.
  1. And the inverter power rating is greater than that of the washing machine.

As long as these 5 criteria are met, a washer will power up and run even if the power is generated by a solar panel

Solar setup for washing machine

There are two solar setup for a washing machine. 

  • Solar generator
  • Manually assembling of setup

Before discussing both setups, you should first determine your washing machine power requirement.

I recommend you read this other article to fully understand washing machine power requirement.

But in summary, most washing power rating can be divided into this 4 broad categories

  1. 500W
  2. 1000W
  3. 1500W
  4. 2000W

You can find your washer’s power requirement by located a datasheet, usually located at the back of your washer. 

Locate any number that has “W” attached to it. This is your washing machine power requirement. 

For understanding of the meaning of the symbols on the datasheet, kindly read the suggested article.

Now that you have determined your washer’s power rating, it is time to:

  1. Understand the materials needed for the setup
  2. Understand the minimum power needed to power your appliance.
  3. Understand the options available to you.
  4. Determine what solar panel and battery ratings you’ll need
  5. Start and complete your setup

Understand the materials needed

Solar generator

Solar panel and generator

This is the easiest. It’s what the name is: a generator powered by solar energy.

Don’t let confuse you. It’s just a combination of the different equipment we’ll mention in the next points. 

  1. They simply assemble the different components into one casing. 
  2. It stores solar power as Direct Currrent DC (DC is the current stored in batteries).
  3. Converts it to Alternating Current AC  (AC is the current distributed through a city’s grid or transformers). for household consumption.
  4. If the power rating of the generator is greater than that of the washing machines, it will power the washer.

Manual Setup

A second option is to assemble the different solar components needed to generate power for the washer.

Items needed for a full setup

  1. Solar panel
  2. Charge controller
  3. 12 volt battery 
  4. Inverter

Solar panel

40W Solar panel

Solar panel captures rays from the sun and converts them to 12 volts DC current. 

The current can range from 12 volts to about 18 volts, depending on the intensity of the sun, and the panel’s position in relation to the sun.

Light harnessed by the sunlight varies throughout the day as the sun changes direction and intensity. 

Technically, the sun does not change direction, instead the earth does.

At the sun’s peak, the panel can output as high as 18 volts. On the far end, when there’s less sunrays, the panel can output less than 12 volts.

However, a solar panel’s constant voltage is 12v.

The power from a solar panel can be used by any device that has 12 volt input requirement.

Solar panel power is better used after it has been transfered to a battery. Therefore a battery is needed in the setup.

But because the voltage from the panel is not constant, and batteries used along with solar panels need a constant charge of 12v, a charge controller is needed.

Charge controller

Charge controller

This is what a charge controller looks like. 

It is able to receive varying  volts input from a solar panel while output a constant volts of 12 volts.

Different charge controllers has different specifications, you will need to confirm from your vendor to verify the panel voltage PV input requirement.

Mine is a small controller for a smaller battery, but the specification is not enough to power bigger batteries that can carry a washing machine.

My charge controller specifications:

Rated voltage:12v/24v

Rated current: 30A

Max PV voltage: 50v

Max PV power: 390 Watt(12 volts), 780 Watt (24volts)

The above controller is a small unit, but can supply constant charge, needed to lower power consumption appliances, like refrigerators, for example.

As seen in the example above, the charge controller can accept varying panel voltage (PV) up to 50v. But out put only 12 volts needed to charge a battery needed to charge a battery.

In the flip side, it can accept inputs far lower than 12 volts (for example, solar panel output after sunset)

In this case, it simply cuts off the output to the battery so the low volt does not drain the battery.

Also when the input is too high, it also cuts supply to the battery, preventing it from being toasted by excess voltage. 

This control mechanism ensures that a battery only gets enough power needed for storage and operation.

12 volt battery

A solar panel does not store solar power. It only collect solar power, converts it to batte power (DC) and output it in real time

The implication is that, once the sun sets, no more power is produced.

This is when a battery is needed. It stores the power generated by the sun, and can output them at later times.

A battery can only accept a fixed voltage (input) and produce a fixed output.

Since a washing machine has about 2000 – 2300W power rating, you should by batteries that are at least twice the maximum capacity of a washer.

A 4000 battery is the minimum battery capacity to purchase for a 2000W battery.

To add why this is so, let’s deviate a little into how appliances work.

Appliances do have two power requirement:

  1. A running power.
  1. A starting power.

The starting is twice it’s running volt. That means a 2000W battery need at least 4000W initial electric power to startup.

Of course if you have a lower power consumption washing machine, you’ll can purchase a smaller battery capacity if you so wish.

Inverter

1000W Inverter

Most washing machines runs Alternating Current (AC). Solar panels and batteries produces Direct Current (DC). 

For the washer to operate, it needs a means of converting the battery current to one it can use.

This is where an Inverter comes in.

Inverters simply convert DC to AC currents.

When connect to a battery, the inverter takes the DC from the battery as it’s input and converts it to AC.

The washing machine can then be plugged to the AC output for it’s operation.

There are different inverters with different power specifications.

Just as you need you need solar panels and batteries with power ratings greater than 2000W, similarly you need an inverter with ratings greater than 2000W.

For a 2000W washing machine, a minimum power of 2000W is ideal.

Advantages of using solar power for washing machines

  1. It is invaluable in areas with much sunshine hours and intensity.
  1. It is easy to maintain.
  1. It is a longterm means of saving on power.
  1. It can be useful in areas with limited amenities, such as electricity.
  1. It can be handy for campers, especially when used with mini washing machines.

Disadvantages of using solar panels to power washing machines

  1. You might not get enough sunshine on winter months with less sunshine.
  2. Some parts of the world has less sunshine all year round. Using solar panels to power washing machines might not be practical in these regions.
  3. It can be expensive to setup.

Solar setup equipments vendors

If you’re new to solar installations, buying the solar generators is your best option.

It is so easy to install. Actually you’re really not doing any installation. It’s just a plug-and use. 

And requires little technical knowledge to operate.

I recommend purchasing from this vendor. Although there are still other great vendors out there. You just need to do diligent research before purchasing.

solar generator vendor recommendation.

If you’re more technically inclined, you can opt to assemble your solar components yourself.

It  is easy to repair. When one components goes bad, all you need do is replace the faulty component.

You don’t need to “repair” your setup as you would a faulty component in a solar generator.

There are different vendors that offer great solar products. 

Below are some of our recommendations.

Solar component recommendations.

Conclusion

Solar energy is a great way to generate power for your washing machine.

It only requires a one time expense. But once installed, can be a great way to save on energy.

Plus it’s usefulness in areas without electric infrastructure, makes it a lifesaver.

By any means the washing machine is not meant for the rich and elite alone.

Neither is it for affluent city dwellers alone.

With the solar panels and the energy it generates, anyone in any part of the globe can have access to mankind’s best laundryman: the washing machine.

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