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Can I run this with a solar panel?

  1. May 2, 2014 #1
    So I built an "air conditioner" that runs with a 6 inch personal fan that you can see here https://www.amazon.com/Massey-inch-Personal-Speed-will/dp/B005OOJNZ0
    I want it to run 100% off the grid, meaning not plugging into my house. I planned on plugging it directly into a solar panel but when I was researching that there was a lot of electrical terms that I wasn't totally getting so I didn't want to risk it without fully understanding the workings. Is there a way I can power this fan directly from a small solar panel? There are some pics of the entire contraption posted below. Thanks in advance, guys!

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2014 #2
    They make that size fan that will run off 12V DC. That would make your life much easier. An inverter could work but you'll lose effiency.
  4. May 2, 2014 #3


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    You can run pretty much anything off of a solar panel providing that the solar panel is big enough. And you don't care if it doesn't run when it's cloudy. And you don't care if it doesn't run at night.

    You need to figure out what the output of the solar panel is and what the requirements of the fan are. And neumeric is certainly right that you want to go with a DC fan to avoid inverter losses.
  5. May 2, 2014 #4
    Ok, great, thanks! I've never messed with solar panels before, do you just plug into it or have to wire into it?
  6. May 2, 2014 #5


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    I repeat:

    You need to figure out what the output of the solar panel is and what the requirements of the fan are
  7. May 2, 2014 #6


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    Hi dde0485.
    Solar panels are built up from arrays of individual solar cells, each of which gives about 0.5 volts.
    A good basic summary is here: http://www.freesunpower.com/solarpanels.php

    Do note that good panels produce about 15 watts per square foot of collector area and cost about $100. That should drive a small fan. Just don't expect a hurricane of cold air, 15 watts is 1% of the power available from a 120V socket and that will only power a room air conditioner.
    As neumeric has pointed out, 12V panels are pretty standard, so you do not need to mess with power inverters to change the output to AC, just get a fan that runs on 12V. The kind that plugs into the cigarette lighter is probably the easiest.
  8. May 2, 2014 #7


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    Just checking: you are content to have the fan run only while the sky outside is nice and sunny?
  9. May 3, 2014 #8


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    Your Massey 6 inch clip fan operates on 120 volts AC (Alternating Current). http://massey-fan.en.alibaba.com/product/501186749-213039055/6_Clip_Fan.html [Broken]

    A solar cell panel produces a DC (Direct Current) voltage. To operate a fan “completely off grid” you have two options:
    1. Use an inverter to convert the panel’s DC output to 120 VAC, 60 Hz, or

    2. Find a fan that operates on low voltage DC. Automotive fans, for instance, operate on 12 VDC. Then connect your panels in series/parallel to give 12 VDC.

    Option #1. is expensive and not efficient. Option #2. would be the easiest and cheapest.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  10. May 6, 2014 #9
    And of course, if your solar panel is not pointed directly at the sun, preferably in the middle of a sunny day, it will give you less power than it is rated for...
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