How to Use a Solar Panel for TV (Solar Powered Television Tips)

In this article, you’ll learn about solar panels for TVs, how to get the best results, and the top products available.

If you’re planning to spend some time in a remote location or off-grid but still want to run your TV then a solar panel system will enable you to do this. It’s important to understand how the equipment works to ensure you get the best results. 

For example, you can’t just connect a solar panel directly to a television and expect it to work. In fact, you’ll need a few components to get reliable performance including at night when there’s no sunshine. 


What Size Solar Panel for a TV?

You will need at least a 50 watt solar panel to run your TV and if you’ve got the budget a 100 watt panel will work even better. 

This is because a television will use around 40 to 70 watts depending on its size and efficiency. You will need a solar panel that is able to generate enough electricity to efficiently charge a battery and power the TV for a number of hours.


How a Solar Panel System Works with a TV

As I mentioned, you shouldn’t try to connect a solar panel directly to a TV. This is because the current will be erratic and reliant on weather conditions. Plus you won’t generate any electricity when there’s no sun (e.g. nighttime)

An off-grid solar panel system works by using a solar panel to charge a deep cycle battery. Then you draw power from the battery with a power inverter. The TV can be plugged into the inverter just like an AC socket at home.

The power inverter also converts the direct current (DC) produced by a solar panel and battery into alternating current (AC) which is needed to run most TVs and home appliances.


What You’ll Need for a Solar Powered Television

You will require the following components to use a solar panel to run a TV:

  • Solar Panel – 50 or 100 watts.
  • Solar charge controller – This regulates the charge between the solar panel and battery. You can buy solar panel kits with charge controllers included.
  • Deep Cycle Battery – At least 50Ah in capacity. This will give you a big enough energy storage to run your TV for a few hours.
  • Power Inverter – At least 200 watts to give you plenty of capacity to run TVs and other appliances.
  • TV (obviously….)

Here is a wiring diagram to show you how everything connects together:

Solar panel diagram for TV

If you’re not confident about running a complete off-grid solar panel system then you can always use a solar generator (portable power bank) which includes all of these components in one neat user-friendly package. Plus you can charge them using portable solar panels or AC outlets.


How to Run a TV with Solar Power

Now you know what you need and how the system will work, let’s go through how to use a solar panel for a TV step-by-step.

Step 1. Connect Charge Controller to Battery

Start by connecting your charge controller to your battery. Always do this first before connecting the solar panel. 

Using alligator clips or o-ring lugs, connect the positive (+) output on the controller to the positive/red battery terminal. Then repeat this connection with the negative side.

Step 2. Place Solar Panel in the Sun

Find a sunny spot for your solar panel. Ensure it is receiving direct unobstructed sunlight. This means there are no shadows or shading across the black solar cells. Any shade will instantly reduce its output. 

For optimal performance place the solar panel on a rooftop or use a tilt mount to angle it at 45 degrees towards the sun.

Step 3. Run Cables and Connect to Charge Controller

Now you can connect your solar panel to your charge controller. If you buy a kit this should have all the correct cables. Usually, you will have adaptor cables with MC4 connectors on one and stripped wires on the other.

Wire these cables from the panel to the controller in a positive to positive and negative to negative fashion.

Now your solar panel will be charging your deep cycle battery. If your controller has an LCD screen you will see charge levels and voltage readings. 

Step 4. Hook Up Power Inverter

The final electrical connection is to connect your power inverter to your battery. The inverter should have battery cables installed on the positive and negative input. Simply wires these cables to the battery terminals. Once again make the connection positive to positive and negative to negative.

You can now switch your inverter on. It will start to draw power and show a green LED light if everything is working correctly.

Step 5. Plug in TV and Relax

With all your equipment wired up in the correct order, you can now plug in your TV. You can simply use the AC outlets on the inverter just like the wall socket at home. As long as your inverter has a wattage rating of 20% more than your TV it should run fine.

If you have an inverter with enough power, like 500 watts, you could even run a games console!


Best Solar Panel for TVs

As you know there’s a few things you need to pick up to get your solar powered TV working. Below I have shortlisted the best solar panels to run a TV which include a solar charge controller. Plus you’ll also need a decent 50Ah deep cycle battery and inverter (also listed below).


Can I Run a TV Directly from a Solar Panel?

Running a TV directly from a solar panel never provides very good results. More often than not your picture will cut out as the power output changes with the weather. Even a single cloud could knock things out. 

If you do try to do this with a DC camping TV you will still need a charge controller to connect things up. And with a normal home TV, you will require a power inverter anyway. 

So the answer is no. For an off-the-shelf solution, I suggest a solar generator, like a Jackery, which you can charge with solar panels or AC plugs. Then you can plug your TV into this power bank to draw electricity. 


Solar Panel for TV Summary

I hope this article helps you to understand how to use a solar panel for a television. 

It’s very common to use this method when living in vehicles like RVs, trucks, and boats. In fact, with a big enough system you can run all your appliances including lighting, fans, phone charging, and computers.

Thanks for reading. You might also be interested in the Best 100 Watt Solar Panels.