Solar Panels

How to Add Solar Power to a Shed

By:Michael Johns

solar panels on shed

In this article you will learn how to add solar power to a shed.

With the right equipment and components the process is simple. You can even carry out the installation yourself in just a couple of hours. Below we’ll go through how a system works, what you’ll need, and installation step-by-step.

Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to power up your backyard shed with lighting, fans, speakers, tools, and any other low wattage appliances. 

Step 1 – How Shed Solar Power Works

The first thing you need to understand is how a solar panel system works. You’ll be installing an off-grid system which means you don’t need to worry about connecting to the mains electricity supply or running cables from your house.

There’s four main parts to your system – the solar panel, charge controller, battery, and power inverter. It works as follows:

  • The solar panel absorbs sunlight and creates an electric current. The electricity passes down a wire into the charge controller. 
  • The charge controller regulates the current and voltage before sending it to charge a deep cycle battery. 
  • The battery stores this energy as Direct Current (DC) electricity for you to use when needed.
  • A power inverter then draws DC power form the battery, converts it into Alternating Current (AC). This replicates the type of electricity you get from the main grid.
  • You can plug appliances into your power inverter just like a wall socket in order to run or charge them. This could include lighting, fans, gadgets, tools, phones, and small home appliances like mini-fridges.

Here’s a solar wiring diagram from you to visualize how everything connects:

Solar panel diagram for shed

Step 2- Choose Your Shed Solar System

Now you know what components you need to add solar power to your shed you can start to choose what system you need. 

You can start with a solar panel starter kit which includes the solar panel and solar charge controller. Then you’ll need to pick a battery and power inverter to go with the kit.

In my experience, for ample system power a 100W solar panel, a 10A charge controller, 100Ah battery, 500W inverter delivers enough electricity for general lighting, tool recharging, and running the odd appliance.

If not sure then here’s a useful sizing chart and you can read Best Solar Panel Kit for Sheds.

AppliancesSolar Panel PowerBattery CapacityInverter Size
LED lighting and fans30W35Ah300W
Charge tools, LED lighting, fans, small appliance100W100Ah500W
Run small power tools, mini-fridge, charge large tools200W100Ah / 200Ah1000W

You can see what a 100 watt system will look like in this hands on video review:

Step 3 – How to Install Solar Panels on a Shed

Once you have your solar power system all that’s left to do is complete the installation. Take the time to read all the instructions for your components and check you have everything you need before starting.

What you’ll need:

  • Solar panel
  • Charge controller
  • Battery
  • Inverter
  • Battery cables
  • Drill
  • Screw driver
  • Mounting plates and screws

Mount Solar Panel

It is usually best to mount solar panels on your shed roof. Ensure that it gets plenty of sunlight during the middle of the day. Try to remove tree branches and plants that obstruct sunlight.

  1. Attach z-mount brackets to your solar panel. Most starter kits will arrive with these so simply screw them to the frame as the instructions dictate.
  2. Place the solar panel where you would like to mount it and mark holes for drilling. It’s best to try and place mounts on structural beams for support.
  3. Check inside that you will not drill into anything by mistake.
  4. Drill your holes and secure solar panels with required screws. Make sure to add sealant around the screws and holes for a watertight finish.
  5. Run your solar panel cables inside the shed towards the charge controller and battery. Do not connect the solar panel yet.

Mount and Connect Charge Controller and Battery

Next we can start working on the charge controller and battery. It’s best to keep these close to each other with short wires. Make sure this is a dry area where there is no risk of leaks or water buildup.

  1. Mount solar charge controller on the wall. 
  2. Connect the positive/red battery terminal to the +/positive battery output on the charge controller.
  3. Repeat this with the Negative/black battery terminal and -/negative battery output on the charge controller.

Connect the Solar Panel to the Charge Controller

Now it’s time to hook up your solar panel. With a starter kit you should have MC4 adaptor cables with one end stripped to exposed wire.

  1. Wire the positive/red striped cable end to the +/positive input terminal on the charge controller.
  2. Repeat this with then black/negative wire.
  3. Plug the MC4 connectors on the adaptors and solar panels together. Always connect positive to positive and negative to negative.
  4. You should now see your solar panels charging your battery via the charge controller.

Connect the Power Inverter

Finally you can now hook up your power inverter to your battery. This will connect to the same battery terminals as the solar charge controller.

  1. Connect the red/positive battery cable from the power inverter to the positive battery terminal.
  2. Repeat this with the black/negative side.
  3. Go through your whole solar panel system and ensure there is no exposed wiring as this is a fire hazard. Finish any wires with crimping and electrical tape.
  4. If your battery is fully charged, switch on your power inverter to check everything is running. You should get a solid LED green light.
  5. Now you can plugin your appliances to the AC output or USB ports on the power inverter. Remember not to overload it by exceeding its wattage rating!

How Many Watts of Solar Power Does a Shed Need?

For the average shed 50 to 100 watts of solar power will be enough to run your electronics. This will be plenty for LED lighting, fans, tool recharging, and small power tools.

On average, it will be able to generate 15Ah deep cycle battery charge per day for every 50 watts of solar power. So a 100 watt solar panel can add 30Ah to your battery on a sunny day. This means to store this energy a 50Ah to 100Ah is a good size. It will allow you to run multiple electronics while staying well charged.

You should also consider the power inverter. This will have a maximum wattage rating. If it’s too small it might get overloaded quickly. And if it’s too large it will be unnecessarily expensive (plus use more energy). A 500W to 1000W power inverter is a good size for a shed to run lighting, recharge electronics, small power tools, and even run small appliances like speakers.

Is Adding Solar Power to a Shed Worth It?

If you need electricity in your shed then adding solar power is the best way to achieve this. You can carry out the installation yourself and it will only cost a few hundred dollars!

You will no longer need to run long extension cords from the house or need to use a noisy generator. Simply leave your solar panel to keep your battery fully juiced up. Then whenever you head into your backyard you’ll have electricity at the flick of a switch.

So are solar panels worth it for a shed? Yes, absolutely.