One of the questions I am frequently asked is can you power a TV with portable solar panels? And there are 3 ways you can do it. After all, when you are off-grid you still want some entertainment don’t you?. You may want to keep up with your favourite shows. Or watch an important sporting event.
You can of course use your smartphone, tablet or laptop. But the screen size really doesn’t cut it when gathering the family to view together. To watch a big sporting event or family movie or favourite TV show. These are times that can make happy family memories especially if your team wins or it’s a particularly good movie.
Quick Jump Menu
|Can You Power A TV With Portable Solar Panels?|
|Using Portable Solar Panels and TV With A Built In Battery|
|It’s All Down To The Power Consumption Of The TV|
|Using Portable Solar Panels With A Portable Power Station to Power A TV|
|My Closing Thoughts|
Can You Power A TV With Portable Solar Panels?
The short answer is “YES” and the good news is there are a 3 ways you can do it.
Using a portable power station and solar panels
Using your recreational vehicle batteries and portable solar panels
Using a TV with a built in battery and a portable solar panel
If you didn’t already know, portable solar panels are designed to charge batteries. This means you cannot plug a portable solar panel straight into your 48inch smart TV. This is because your smart television runs on alternating current (AC). A portable solar panel produces direct current (DC).
This is solved by using an inverter that converts DC to AC. A portable power station has one built-in and an RV would have one fitted separately. A TV with a built-in battery doesn’t require an inverter. And can be charged directly with the portable solar panel and a solar controller.
Using Portable Solar Panels and TV With A Built-In Battery
These types of televisions are great for camping especially if you are in a tent, This is because they are usually a portable version. But they have limitations when it comes to how long the battery will last.
The example I am going to use is the LEADSTAR 14 Inch Portable Digital ATSC TFT HD Screen. This portable TV has a built-in 7.4V, 4000mAh lithium-polymer battery. Which will last approximately one and a half hours. Is This long enough to watch the average movie these days?
This isn’t a problem if you are using an external power source such as a portable power station. Or your recreational vehicles batteries to power it instead of the internal battery. But if you are camping in a tent is it worth it without a portable power station?
This means in the real world you would need a portable power station as well. If you were going to use a power station. You may as well use a TV that normally plugs in at home.
But I suspect you are reading my post because you want to know if you can power a TV at least 32 inches
It’s All Down To The Power Consumption Of The Television
Ok I am not going to overly bore you with facts and figures and equations and things like that. But I do need to discuss some things like that. This is so you know what it takes to effectively power a television using portable solar power. Don’t worry it will not be too ‘techie’, you will understand no problem.
I am going to use LED, LCD and OLED TV’s for their power consumption which is rated in watts. These are a rough approximation because different manufacturers rate at different wattages. So you would have to refer to your own TV for an exact match. Older technologies such as Plasma and Cathode Ray have even higher consumption ratings.
|TV Screen Size||LCD Wattage||OLED Wattage||LED Wattage|
The first thing you need to know is how much power the TV will consume in watt hours (Wh).
In case you didn’t know;
The watt-hour (symbolized Wh) is a unit of energy equivalent to one watt (1 W) of power expended for one hour (1 h) of time. The watt-hour is not a standard unit in any formal system, but it is commonly used in electrical applications (Source:WhatIs.com)
So what you do is, multiply the power consumption of the TV (Watts) by the number of hours of use. This will give you a rough approximation of the number of watt hours the television will use.
For instance you want to watch a sporting event that lasts for 3 hours. You are watching on a 32inch LCD TV. You multiply 70 (TV Wattage) x 3 (Time; the number of hours of use) This equals 210 (Wh).
A 60 inch LCD TV consumes 200 watts of power. The same 3 hour sporting event would consume 600Wh. To complicate matters the inverter needs to be able to handle 200 watts of continuous power output.
Using Portable Solar Panels With A Portable Power Station to Power A TV
So what does all this mean if you are using a portable power station and solar panels to power a television? The portable solar panels are not affected by this at all. You just use the recommended wattage of solar panels for the power station you are charging.
But it does affect the size of the portable power station you are using to run the television. I am going to assume you are not going to take a 60inch TV with you camping in a tent. But I will discuss the size of the power station you would need to run a 60 inch TV. In case of an emergency or power outage later in the post.
What size portable power station will I need?
I am going to use two power station examples for two LCD TV sizes. This will give you a good idea of what you will need for the rest of the television screen sizes. I am going to assume you have an LCD TV. This is because it consumes the most power compared to an OLED or LED.
And while camping you might watch 3 hours of television in a day. I think that might be reasonable keeping children entertained at night after an evening meal. So I will use 30 and 40 inch LCD examples.
A 30 inch LCD TV
This size LCD TV is going to require a minimum 180Wh hour power station. (LCD TV 60w times number of hours 3). To achieve this you will need a power station that is 3 x the watt hour capacity equaling 540wh. .
This is because even if you had been charging a 180Wh station all day to 100% capacity.. After watching 3 hours of TV it would be completely depleted (discharged). You wouldn’t be able to use it for anything else like camp lights or charging smartphones and laptops etc …
A 40 inch LCD TV
This size LCD TV is going to require a minimum 300Wh powerstation. (LCD TV 100w times number of hours 3). Again you will need a power station 3 x 300wh equalling 900Wh or more. Obviously if you watched even more TV you would have to calculate more watt hours.
Emergencies and power outages
These are becoming more prevalent across the world and can last several days. But currently according to official figures the average power outage lasts around 6 hours. You might want to watch TV to chew away those lonely hours. Your portable power station would be really handy to power your 60inch LCD TV.
To power a 60 inch LCD TV with a portable power station you are going to need a minimum 1200Wh station. (LCD TV 200w times number of hours 6). Even a 42 inch would require a 720Wh station as a minimum. This is without keeping the wi-fi and other appliances going.
So it would probably be worth hooking up to a smaller TV. Or if you were fortunate enough to own a LED TV hook the station up to that. As an aside, think about how much your TV is actually costing you to power.
According to A.C. Nielsen Co. The average american spends 28 hours per week watching TV. (Source; csun.edu) That is 1.465 hours per year. For a 60 inch LCD TV that is 87.360Wh when it is switched on. How much power does it use on standby? It’s food for thought.
My Closing Thoughts
When choosing portable solar panels and a battery to power a television it boils down to its power consumption. Using a TV with a built-in battery may not be the best option if you want to view with a larger screen. The built-in battery seems ok as a back up. But for day to day use it is limited by the length of time it will power it.
Using portable solar panels and a power station camping in a family size tent and wanting a larger TV would fit the bill. A portable power station might also work for you if you own a recreational vehicle. Although you can use your installed solar panels and your leisure batteries. You may want to watch the television outdoors for instance under the cover of an awning. Portable solar panels and a power station can give you that option.
I hope you enjoyed my post and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about powering a TV with portable solar panels and a battery. Or want to leave your own personal thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment below