When all conditions are met, a washing machine can run on solar power.
However, there are several variables that must be in place to meet the requirements.
Assuming that you have a regular washing machine and not a solar power washing machine, these questions and answers need to be addressed.
Retrieve Information on your Washer
Your sticker on the back of your washer or the owner’s manual can provide the information that you need.
The number of watts of power your machine uses will be the starting point of how much solar power you need.
Most washers consume 400 to 550 watts of power per load.
There are smaller models that only use 150 watts while more technically advanced models can run as high as 1500 watts per load.
The calculation of loads and number of days in a week will give you a close idea of how many watts are needed.
Considering that 1 solar panel produces 300 watts of solar per hour, this is equivalent to ramping up, washing, and spinning 1 full-size load of clothes.
This being said, 1 solar panel does not make a clean load of laundry.
Being able to power the solar panel in order for it to function is a job for the generator.
The Solar Generator
A solar generator has 3 separate components:
- Charge controller
- An inverter
The charge controller is the brain of the generator. Its main job is to protect and reinforce the care of the battery.
This is a very important job since the battery holds all the energy produced by the solar panel.
The inverter is the way that power is converted from DC mode to AC mode.
This enables the generator to communicate with household appliances.
While these steps sound simple and within reason, there can be a lot of complex problems that can occur.
Some of these include:
- Miscalculating weekly consumption
- Failing to include dryer power on rainy days
- The generator is too small
- Critical sun planning is way off
- Panels are not sized and angled properly
Solar Powered Washing Machines
Solar-powered washing machines are designed for small loads and are popular for off-grid use.
They can be used in a home, allowing it to consume less fossil-fuel-generated electricity.
If you wash as much as 3 times a week and charge over 7 kilos at a time, then a battery-powered solar machine may not be the most efficient option as its battery could easily break down due to continuous use.
However, RVs and tiny homes can benefit from this type of unit and save on fossil fuels.
This washing machine has built-in solar panels that absorb sunlight.
The battery is then charged from the energy and runs the DC motor.
The amount of energy consumption dictates how many solar panels need to be used.
A solar-powered washing machine is still energy-efficient, compact, and lightweight for apartments or traveling in an RV.
Any appliance can be set up to be solar-powered, whether self-contained or part of a whole-house unit.
The difference in cost of a regular washer and dryer and a solar washer and dryer are not much different.
The cost of washing a load of clothes is approximately 17 cents per load when using electricity.
This is less than a dryer that usually runs for 40-minutes and costs 45 cents in electricity.
This does not sound like much when comparing to solar power, but anything is a luxury if you are forced off-grid.
If your washing machine is getting older, opt for a new solar-powered washer and dryer and compare the difference.
To save more energy, wash clothes in cold water and select a washer model with simple controls.
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