Can You Use 24V 36V Solar Panels To Charge A 12V Battery? Should You!
There are over 2 million solar panel systems in the U.S alone. Solar is the fastest growing alternative energy source because it is cheap and easy to set up. The average residential solar installation can get up and running in 5 days or less. DIY installations are very popular since they save up to 15% of the cost of going solar. When you opt to go the DIY route, however, your installation can quickly get complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing. Many questions will come up. One you will almost certainly face is how many volts can your solar panels be in relation to your battery. For example, can you use a 24V 36V solar panels to charge a 12V battery? You can use your 24V 36V solar panels with your 12V battery. But the question is, should you? In this guide, we cover the basics of matching solar panels to a battery.
On a side note! If you’re in need of a reliable and high-performance portable solar panel, We strongly recommend the Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel (Amazon Link). With a high conversion efficiency and foldable design, this solar panel is easy to transport and set up, making it perfect for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and RV trips. The US solar cell technology used in this panel ensures that you get the most efficient and reliable solar charging possible. There is also a 60W option that is more affordable (Amazon Link)
Can You Charge A 12V Battery With 24V?
A 12V battery can be charged with a 24V solar panel. For current to flow, there must be a difference between the source voltage, in this case, solar panels, and the destination voltage, in this case, batteries.
To understand this concept better and help you design an efficient solar energy system you need to know what volts and current are and what the relationship between them is.
Current or charge is the flow of electrons through a conductor. Current is measured in amperes or amps for short. Amps tell you the rate at which electrons in a circuit are moving.
Voltage is what makes current happen. It’s the pressure that pushes electrons in a circuit. It’s just like how water has pressure and flow rate, electricity has voltage and current. To make electrons move from A to B (to create current), you need voltage to push them. Voltage is measured in volts.
Water flows from high pressure to low pressure. Electricity works the same. Current flows from where there is high voltage to low voltage. This is where the concept of potential difference comes from. There must be a difference between the source voltage and the destination or load voltage for current to flow.
What does this mean for your solar panel and battery setup? If your solar panels have a lower voltage than your battery, then they cannot push any current or charge your battery. But how far can you push this rule? What if you have a 36- or 48-volt solar panel?
Can I Use A 36 Volt Solar Panel To Charge A 12 Volt Battery?
A 36-volt solar panel can be used to charge a 12-volt battery. A charge controller is used to regulate the volt output from the solar panel and step it down to the volt input used by the battery.
Electrical systems with higher voltages experience fewer losses when moving electricity from one place to another. It is why the electricity from your grid runs at a high voltage. It’s also why you would want to have your solar array run at a higher voltage.
In the old days, if your solar panels ran at 36 or 48 volts then your batteries had to run at 36 or 48 volts as well. That was, and in some cases still is, the standard design of most solar panel systems.
Thanks to charge controllers, however, you are no longer restricted to exactly matching your solar panel and battery voltages. With a charge controller between them, you can vary the output voltage of your solar panels to suit your needs.
Controllers are there to make sure you don’t overcharge your batteries or drain too much energy from them. In that way, they prevent any long-term damage.
Charge controllers typically have a range of voltages they accept. This information is usually supplied in the specifications or datasheets by the manufacturer.
Can I Use Any Solar Panel To Charge 12V Battery?
Technically it is possible to use any solar panel to charge a 12V battery if the solar panel has the same or higher voltage. The main issues to consider are the capacity of the battery and the power rating of the solar panel.
Solar panels produce a varying amount of energy from tiny hand-held panels that produce 5 watts to large panels that produce up to 400 watts. Will they all charge a 12V battery? As long as they have a voltage of 12V or more, they should.
Choosing which solar panel to use for your battery comes down to answering these three questions.
- How big is the battery? Battery sizes are given in amp hours (AH). The most common battery sizes are 50, 100, and 200AH.
- How quickly do you want to charge your battery? This determines what size solar panel you will get. The more energy or watts your solar panel produces the quicker you will charge your battery.
- How much sunlight will your solar panels get? This will determine how long they will take to fully charge your battery.
Let’s illustrate this with a simple example. Let’s say you have a 100AH battery and you consistently receive 5 hours of peak sunlight. What is the smallest size solar panel you would need to fully charge your battery?
Here you would need a solar panel that produces at least 20AH per hour to fill up your battery. But just to be on the safe side, we need to size our solar panel a little bigger to account for inefficiencies or cloudy days. Instead, we will use a solar panel that produces 30AH.
How many watts is 30AH? To convert amps to watts we multiply the amps by the voltage.
To charge a 100AH battery in 5 hours you would need solar panels to produce 360 watts of power. That could be one or two solar panels. Source
Can You Mix 12V And 24V Solar Panels?
It is possible to mix solar panels of different voltages. In this case, single or multiple charge controllers are used to balance or manage the different voltages.
It’s quite common to find a solar system with different panels mixed in. This is often the case if you start with a small solar system to which you decide to add more panels to later. While this can complicate the design of a system, a charge controller is usually the easiest fix. Source
I am a very well-experienced techie civil engineer who’s extensively interested in solar panel technology and even more captivated by the potential of solar panels in supporting individual residential units.
Water is by far the best thing to use to clean solar panels with chiefly because it’s always there if needed. Another reason is it introduces fewer unknown chemical agents that may have unexpected.
Poor configuration and maintenance can lead to system losses of up to 24%. Most of which are preventable. One commonly overlooked area of solar panel maintenance is cleaning. Just keeping solar.
As a group of well-versed environmentally active engineers, we made our objective here to help people navigate their way around solar panels and guide them on how to operate them.
Flexcharge NC25A-36 Solar Wind Hydro Turbine Charge Controller Hybrid 36 Volt US
Free Shipping: Free shipping is only available for orders shipped within the 48 contiguous United States. A shipping fee will be calculated and invoiced on orders shipping outside this area. The shipping fee must be paid before an order ships.
Flexcharge NC25A-36 Solar Wind Hydro Turbine Charge Controller Hybrid 36 Volt US
NC25A Flexcharge NC25A 36V Charge controller High Efficiency 25 Ampere Solar and Wind System Charging System Controller The NC25A-(X) is series regulator designed for alternative energy charging systems ranging in size from 0.1A to 25A. It is the ideal regulator for Solar (PV) and Permanent Magnet Generators (Including outboard motors and smaller wind generators). The NC25A also includes the Charge Divert feature. Charge Divert allows you to use the excess charging source energy for other tasks, or for placing a load on permanent magnet charging sources such as wind generators to prevent over speed conditions. The Divert connection is only activated after the charging source is making energy and the batteries are not using the energy (i.e. A wind generator will not be starting into the divert load). This controller can easily and inexpensively be expanded to handle one or more banks of 100A charging sources. (1000A max charging current in this configuration). Multiple battery banks can be charged with the use of a standard battery charging isolators.
Years prior to the sale of the first NC25A, the SES Flexcharge product development team took a hard look at what a new alternative energy charge controller’s performance level would need to be to give the user the best possible controller for there needs. From that effort came the following design criteria;
Highest Possible Charging Efficiency. The NC25A holds a Patent for its innovative an efficient charging circuitry. Most alternative energy charge controllers operate at an efficiency of 97%. Off hand, this sounds pretty good but lets go through the numbers for a typical charge controller.
Power Wasted = (Total Charging Current) x (100%. 96%) x (Typical Battery Voltage). P = 25A x 0.04 x 12.6V = 12.6W of wasted energy.
The NC25A operates at 99.5% typical charging efficiency. (99.9% at its best). P = 25A x 0.005 x 12.6V = 1.57W
In comparing the numbers we see a 11 watt gain in charging energy that is available for your battery bank with the NC25A over the Typical Charge controller.
Question: How much does an 11W solar panel cost? This is precisely why controller efficiency is so critical.
With a peak charging efficiency of 99.9% and an operating current of only 4mA, more of the systems charging energy will get through a NC25A into your batteries than with any other regulator on the market. Models are available for charging 12V, 24V, 36V, and 48V systems. Use with Lead Acid, Gel, or Flooded Nicad battery technologies.
Dependability There should never be such thing as a compromise to dependability when it comes to an alternative energy system charge controller as these systems are often located in hard to reach locations (mountain tops, ocean navigation buoys, polar regions, etc. ). We took great care to design the NC25 for long term unattended operation; extensive transient voltage protection; high steady-state voltage protection (it is not affected by continuous charging input voltages up to 100V, the point where the transient voltage protection kicks in); reverse polarity protection on battery connections; fully sealed electronics for 100% humidity operation; etc. The NC25A is designed for Install and Forget operation.
Simple to Operate The NC25A includes easy to read Charge and Divert Indicators, an adjustment for peak charge voltage, and an easy to use terminal strip for the system wire connections. Because the system charge controller is usually located near the battery bank in a remote structure we chose not to incorporate power consuming monitors such as volt meters or current monitors. If this type monitoring equipment is desired it should be installed after the system disconnect switch and located where you can view them. Easy Upgrades Upgrading the controller to regulate higher currents can be accomplished easily, and is relatively inexpensive.
Energy State Taper Charge Process This graph describes the charging process used by all Flexcharge controllers. It has many benefits including greatly reduced gassing during charging and it allows for micro-equalization of Lead acid as well as sealed Gel battery technologies. Click on the link for more details.
- 5 YEAR WARRANTY.
- COMPLETELY SEALED ELECTRONICS FOR MARINE OR OUTDOOR MOUNTING.
- LOW BATTERY VOLTAGE INDICATOR. (FLASHING RED LIGHT).
- ARC REDUCTION CIRCUITRY TO ELIMINATE OR REDUCE RELAY CONTACT WEAR.
- CHARGING EFFICIENCY BETTER THAN 99.50% FROM 0.5A TO 30A OF CHARGING CURRENT.
- OPERATES EFFICIENTLY (98%) WITH AS LITTLE AS 0.1A OF SOLAR PANEL CHARGING CURRENT.
- EFFICIENTLY CHARGES BATTERIES FROM 0 VOLTS WITH FULL POWER.
- 25 AMP CHARGE CAPACITY. SPECIAL ORDER 24V, 36V, AND 48V MODELS, OR EXPANDED MODELS WITH CHARGING CURRENT CAPACITIES UP TO 2000A.
- 25 AMP CHARGE DIVERT CIRCUIT. STABLE DIVERT CIRCUITRY PREVENTS ERRATIC RELAY SWITCHING IF CHARGE SOURCE VOLTAGE DROPS.
- DIVERTS ONLY WHEN VOLTAGE AND CURRENT ARE AT USABLE LEVELS. PERFECT FOR MOTOR TYPE DIVERT LOADS (FANS, PUMPS, etc. )
- PEAK CHARGE VOLTAGE ADJUSTMENT WITH A RANGE OF 13.8V TO 15.9V (Multiply by 2,3,or 4 to find voltages for 24V, 36V, or 48V versions).
- CHARGES WITH THE SAME HIGH ACCURACY THROUGH BATTERY ISOLATORS.
- CONSUMES LESS THAN 5mA (0.005A) WHILE CHARGING AND AT NIGHT, 2mA IF YOU DO NOT USE THE CHARGE INDICATOR.
- CHARGES BATTERIES AT FULL POWER, BELOW THE PLATE SATURATION POINT, THIS CHARGES BATTERIES FASTER, AND REDUCES ELECTROLYTE DEPLETION BY UP TO 90% OVER CONVENTIONAL CONSTANT VOLTAGE, PWM, HIGH FREQUENCY CHARGE REGULATORS.
- BATTERIES START CHARGING AT 0.005A OF CHARGE CURRENT.
- CONTROLLER CAN WITHSTAND OPEN CIRCUIT INPUT SPIKES OF 1500V/A, 140V CONTINUOUS WITHOUT DAMAGE.
- REVERSE POLARITY AND TRANSIENT VOLTAGE PROTECTION ON THE BATTERY SENSE WIRES.
- NO POWER WASTING SAMPLE PERIODS.
- REMOTE BATTERY VOLTAGE SENSING SO THE CONTROLLER CAN BE MOUNTED ANYWHERE BETWEEN THE CHARGING SOURCE AND THE BATTERIES.
- EASY TO INSTALL USING THE LABELED CORROSION RESISTANT NICKEL / BRASS / STAINLESS STEEL CONNECTOR.
- U/L 94V-O RATED ENCLOSURE AND UL LISTED OR RECOGNIZED COMPONENTS.
(Multiply by 2, 3, or 4 for 24V, 36V, or 48V Systems)
Free Shipping Free shipping is only available for orders shipped within the 48 contiguous United States. A shipping fee will be calculated and invoiced on orders shipping outside this area. The shipping fee must be paid before an order ships.
How to Build a Solar Powered Golf Cart
Golf carts are heavy, and they are meant to run for hours and miles at a time. They’re electric vehicles that can reach speeds of approximately 15, sometimes 19 or 20 miles per hour depending on the make, model, and year of the cart. They require electricity or gasoline to run. Usually, people use mains power to charge it by plugging in, and it brings an extra payment for electricity bill. But have you thought of a solar-powered golf cart?
Can you Charge a Golf Cart with Solar Power?
A solar-powered golf cart is indeed possible. Such vehicles have been in use for several years and are gaining in popularity. They exist, and they function well. Changing the power source to solar doesn’t diminish a golf cart’s speed or performance. In addition to continued performance power, there are reasons why you should consider a solar panel golf cart.
What Golf Carts can be Powered with Solar?
Any golf cart will be powered with solar as long as its battery is solar-rechargeable. A solar panel can charge most batteries (lead-acid, lithium-ion, and AGM), so yes, almost all golf carts can be powered with solar. And aren’t these the batteries we use in a typical solar power system?
Why Consider a Solar Panel Golf Cart
When think of building a solar roof on golf cart, people usually cares about the performance of solar-powered golf cart, such as:
How well a golf cart can perform when powered by the sun
Whether a solar panel kit will get enough power to maintain speed
How long a charge lasts to charge the battery full when use solar
Solar panel golf carts have as much power as traditional carts, because the batteries stay the same. They aren’t slow, they stop and start with as much vigor as high-performing electric or gas carts.
The range (both driving distance and running time) of a solar-powered cart is normally better than a traditionally powered golf cart. It’s because the batteries still be charged when driving. A solar-charged cart goes up to five miles farther and has 10 percent more driving time per charge than a cart that has to be plugged for charge.
Using solar power to charge your batteries can avoid low speed or flameout situation caused by insufficient power while driving, and extends their life significantly. With the sun powering your golf cart, you’d no longer worry about being out on the course too long and having to deal with a dead battery
Likewise, you’d have no more hassles with normal charger and having to watch to prevent it from overcharging.
Solar energy is clean. No carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as it is when batteries are plugged into the wall to charge. Similarly, no fossil fuels are consumed as they are in gas-powered golf carts.
Of course, you need to prepare some budget if you want to build a solar roof on your present golf cart. But as a long-term valid power, the solar panel usually can work for more than 20 years, consider the electricity bill it saves for you for such a long time, its ROI can be significant.
So generally, adding solar panels to your golf cart is a brilliant idea that’ll allow you to charge it with free solar energy and run it for a long time while reducing maintenance costs significantly.
How Many Solar Panels You Need?
Golf cart’s battery voltage
Proper sizing of the solar panels is crucial for this project. Solar panel voltage should match the battery bank voltage for regular charging. Most golf cart batteries are 36V or 48V, this will help you know the size and number of solar panels you need. For example, the available solar panels are 12V, you’ll need 3 for a 36V and 4 for a 48 V solar golf cart battery.
A higher voltage solar panel may work with any charge controller.
The roof size of your golf cart
It may be possible to size solar panels to fit your club car’s battery, but if the roof doesn’t allow for them, you may need to reconsider.
There are generally two ways to add the panels, depends on how big your cart’s roof is:
- Buy an entire solar roof panel to replace your existing plastic roof, or
- Buy kits containing solar panels for golf carts to add to the roof you have
Normally, a 2-seats golf cart’s roof has space for 1 big panel, 100w if you add it on the roof, 300w if you use it to directly replace the original roof.
A 4-seats cart’s roof can handle about 4-5 pieces of 100w solar panels
You can find a solar golf cart kit in eCommerce stores, as well as at local solar equipment stores.
How to add a Solar Panel to a Golf Cart
The golf cart solar kit should come with:
Here some simple steps to charge your cart with solar:
1.Put the solar panels on the roof of your golf cart, ensuring that it fits perfectly. Also, make sure to use a extension cable to make the panel cable reach the back of cart’s back.
2.Use mounting brackets or screws to tie the panel
3.Fix the charge controller on the base floor with some tapes
4.Connect the battery bank to the controller’s battery port with suitable connector
5.Wire the solar panel extension cable to the controller’s PV port to complete the whole installation
Caution: Avoid connecting your golf cart’s battery directly to the solar panel, as doing so may put it at the risk of overcharging and possibly damage.
In addition, we’ve designed a MPPT step-up boost charge controller for golf cart solar system, which can convert the 12V current from solar panel to 48V/60V electricity to charge the 48V/60V golf cart battery bank. Reduce the panels need and make the connection easier, find more details here: 48V/60V/72V Boost 12A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
Golf cart solar panel kit
Except the step-up charge controller, we now provide a whole solar kit solution, which include solar panel(s), this step-up charge controller, brackets for roof installation and necessary wires.
Solar roofs and weigh more than your golf cart’s original roof. It’s logical to wonder if the extra weight will slow down your cart.
Actually, compared to the total weight of a golf cart (approximately 1100 pounds), the weight of the solar panels (less than 50 pounds) isn’t enough to affect operation.
Fortunately, PV panels are very durable and covered by tempered glass, also known as safety glass. It’s able to bear both snow and heavy rain. Unless a ball hits it at an exact right angle, otherwise, nothing will shatter or break it.
Solar panels charge your batteries quickly on a sunny day. While the charging time and productivity won’t be as efficient on a cloudy day as on a sunny one, charging will happen nonetheless, because what the panel needs is just daylight.
I have a 48v golf cart how much for a solar power I live in south Florida
Darrell Ashley February 4, 2023
One 36V Battery or Three 12V Batteries? Pros and Cons
Years ago, if an application required 36 volts, you’d connect three 12V batteries in a series. But now, we have 36V batteries. So you might be wondering if using just one battery might “float your boat” better. (Literally, if you’re powering your trolling motor!)
Here’s an example. Let’s say your trolling motor or other application requires 36 volts and 50AH. You can swap a single 36 volt 50AH battery for three 12V 50 amp hour batteries wired in series. But is that the right way to go?
It depends on what you need to power, the type of battery you’re using, and personal preference. First, let’s take a look at how battery type might affect your choice.
What type of 36 volt battery are you using?
For certain battery types, choosing between three 12V batteries and one 36V might make more of a difference. For example, lead acid batteries need to be checked often and topped off with distilled water. So you might prefer keeping an eye on just one battery instead of three.
But if you’ve chosen lithium, you’ll cut out maintenance altogether. So maintaining batteries won’t be a factor when it comes to deciding between three 12 volt batteries or one 36 volt battery.
And speaking of lithium…as the latest technology in batteries, it’s superior in every way. Both three 12V batteries and one 36V lithium battery will provide power for twice as long as conventional batteries.
Here are some of the benefits you get by choosing lithium:
- No maintenance needed.
- Faster charge time than conventional batteries (2 hours or less).
- Toxin free, won’t leak, and safe to store indoors.
- Much longer lasting.
- Lighter and more compact.
- Three 12V lithium batteries or a 36V lithium battery will weigh 70% less than a similar setups of other battery types.
- Amperage remains consistent even when below 50% battery life.
- Discharge rate when not in use is only 2% per month (The rate is 30% for lead acid batteries).
Three 12V lithium batteries vs. 36V lithium battery
Ok, so you’ve chosen lithium. Now let’s get to the question at hand. Should you use a single 36V battery to power your trolling motor/other application? Or three 12V batteries?
Truth is, both options work well with lithium! So you could say the only “pros” and “cons” are based on application-specific needs and personal preference. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between using a 36 volt battery vs. three 12 volt batteries:
Pros and Cons of Using Three 12V Lithium Batteries
Pros: One argument for using three 12 batteries in a series is that if one of them fails, it’s easy to replace. Also, you have more flexibility when placing the batteries in your application. This may be useful for those who want to distribute weight in a boat.
Unlike a 36 volt battery, you won’t need a special charger for your 12V batteries. They’re also engine start assist capable.
Cons: The more batteries you have, the more connection points you have. You’ll have to mount and connect each one, and each exposed connection is a potential source of unreliability.
Pros and Cons of Using One 36V Lithium Battery
Pros: The most obvious advantage of choosing a single 36V battery is, well, it’s only one! One lightweight battery (if it’s lithium) to install and store. Just one set of cables to hook up, less connection points to worry about, and less clutter to trip over.
Another pro is the fact that 36V batteries are “plug and go”. You don’t have to figure out how to link three 12V batteries together in a series to obtain the higher voltage.
But the most important advantage for many might be the fact that using just one 36V battery saves space! That’s great for fishing boats, where every inch of space counts. It’s one reason why they’re popular for use with high powered trolling motors.
Cons: You’ll need a special charger for a 36V lithium battery. 12V chargers are more common on the market, but they won’t cut it.
What about the price of a 36v battery vs. three 12v batteries? Will one option set you back more hard-earned cash than the other? Probably not. While 12V batteries are less expensive, you’ll have to purchase three of them to get the power you need. And unless you’re needing a new charger to accompany it, the cost for a 36v battery is only slightly higher.
The bottom line is that both choices work just fine. There isn’t a huge difference between using three 12V batteries or one 36V battery as far as advantages and disadvantages go. As long as you’re using lithium – that’s the main thing. Choose the setup that works best for your application and needs.
And here’s some more good news – we’ve got both options! Shop for our new 36V lithium battery here, or check out 12V lithium batteries here.
Learn more about lithium batteries here: