Did you know that the energy provided to the Earth by the Sun in a single hour is more than what the entire world consumes in a year? In fact, the US Department of Energy states that 430 quintillion joules of energy from the Sun strikes the Earth every hour—that’s 430 with 18 zeros following it!
Indeed, the Sun is a powerful energy source, and even though we can only utilize a small percentage of this energy, harnessing it by installing a solar power system can make a considerable difference to our planet.
While it has been largely criticized for being inefficient or expensive, solar energy is now proving to be incredibly beneficial for both the environment and the private economy.
Thanks to the available solar panel grants and the increasingly competitive prices, solar energy is becoming the primary energy source to run household appliances – like lights, fans and electric stoves – for more and more homeowners.
The technology has drastically improved recently and is complemented by solar battery storage systems, transforming solar into a more efficient green energy source.
Given the rapidly increasing popularity of solar energy, a common question for homeowners is whether solar panels can run electric stoves.
This article will explore just that and guide you on how to set up an electric stove on solar energy. Let’s dig in.
Can an Electric Stove Run on Solar Panels?
Theoretically speaking, anything, including electric stoves, can run on solar energy if you have sufficient panels. Nevertheless, keep in mind that a conventional electric oven requires almost 2,000 watts, and a solar system large enough to power it would cost around $5,4540.
However, after a federal solar tax credit discount (not including any additional state incentives and rebates), the total cost for a 2,000-watt solar system can go down to $4,100.
In addition, you can limit the power to 100 watts to reduce the cost, but this is inadequate to cook food. However, if there’s no heat loss, 100 watts can bring one liter of water from 20 °C to boiling in 55 minutes.
But, you can minimize heat loss enough to slow-cook around 4-8 kg of food per day by insulating the stove. At a caloric density of around 1,000 calories per kg for beans and rice, this would be sufficient food for five to ten people.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need to Power an Electric Stove?
Electric stoves are available in various specifications. Therefore, the power consumption varies. Additionally, the watt requirements also depend on how you use the stove.
It’s something that many people don’t think about when using electric power. Nevertheless, it’s an entirely different thing when you’re using solar energy.
As mentioned, most electric stoves use 2,000 watts. However, there can be differences in power consumption due to the size of the stove.
For instance, a large stove might consume 5,000 watts, and a small-sized burner might require 1,200 watts. Moreover, the longer you run an electric stove, the more power it will consume.
Size of Solar Panel = Electric Stove Power Usage
If you have a 2,000-watt stove, you will need a 2,000-watt solar panel array to power it. Any combination of solar panels will suffice as long as the total power generated is at least 2,000 watts.
For instance, if you use a 300 or 400-watt solar panel, you will require five to six panels to power an electric stove.
Keep in mind the more solar energy you can generate, the better. In case your stove needs 2,000 watts, you can increase the solar panel array size to 2,200 or 2,500. This provides you a buffer if there are variations in solar energy output.
How to Choose the Appropriate Inverter Size for an Electric Stove?
One thing is clear: you need an inverter to power an electric stove using solar energy.
This requirement is because solar panels generate direct current, whereas electric stoves require alternating current. An inverter converts the direct current to alternating current, making it compatible with the electric stove.
The size of the inverter needs to be 15 to 20 percent higher than the power consumption requirement of the electric stove you have to power. So for a 2,000-watt electric stove, you need to get a 2,500-watt or 3,000-watt capacity inverter.
On the other hand, a 4,000-watt stove requires a 4,500-watt inverter. Simply add 20 percent to the electric stove’s watts, and you’ll get the minimum solar inverter size.
There are debates on how much buffer you should ideally have for a solar inverter. Even though the commonly-agreed minimum is 20 percent, there’s no agreement on the maximum. Some say that 50 percent needs to be the top, while others argue that you can even double the solar inverter capacity.
The 20 percent additional capacity should be sufficient when it comes to electric stoves. But remember that you can only use the solar inverter – and the rest of the solar energy system – to power the electric stove unless you have a large solar panel array.
Does an Electric Stove Require Batteries?
Using solar panels alone will not allow you to run the electric stove if the weather gets cloudy, if it starts raining, or after the Sun has set. However, when you use a battery bank, the solar panels will charge it, which will in turn power the electric stove.
A 3,000-watt stove will require two 24V 100ah batteries to power it. You can even use three 12V 100ah batteries.
In order to calculate watts to amps, simply use the formula:
Volts x Amps = Watts
Ensure the battery’s voltage is compatible with the solar setup. For example, most 3,000-watt inverters and 300-watt panels run on 24 volts. Therefore, you should ideally opt for 24V batteries.
We recommend using lithium-ion batteries as they can be discharged to around 90 percent. On the other hand, lead-acid batteries incur irreversible damage after 50 percent has been discharged.
Thus, you will need to double the capacity. Put simply, you will require two 24V 100ah lithium batteries or four 24V 100ah lead-acid batteries as you can only use half their capacity at a time.
How to Run an Electric Stove on Solar Panels
This section will walk you through the steps to follow to run an electric stove on solar panels.
Step 1 – Mount the Installation
The first step is to fix the mounts that will support the solar panels. Depending on the requirement, you can either opt for flush mounts or roof-ground mounts. This base structure provides sturdiness and support.
You also need to pay attention to the direction in which the solar panels must be installed. Since the US and Canada are in the Northern Hemisphere, you should position your panels facing south to allow maximum sunlight exposure. However, it’s best to have the solar panels face the north for countries in the Southern Hemisphere.
In addition, the mounting structure needs to be tilted slightly. The angle of the tilt could vary from 18 to 36 degrees. Several companies use a solar tracker to enhance conversion efficiency.
Step 2 – Install the Panels
Now you need to fix the solar panels with the mounting structure. You can do this by tightening the nuts and bolts. Make sure to secure the entire structure properly so that it’s sturdy and doesn’t collapse.
Step 3 – Carry Out the Wiring
You can use universal connectors such as MC4 for the wiring process as you can connect them will all kinds of solar panels. You can electrically connect the panels together in the following series’:
- Series Connection: For this connection, you need to connect the positive (+) wire of one PV module to the negative (–) wire of another module. This connection increases the voltage match with the battery bank.
- Parallel Connection: For this connection, you need to connect the positive (+) to positive (+) and negative (–) to negative (–). With this type of connection, the voltage of each panel remains the same.
Step 4 – Connect the Panels to the Battery
Next, connect the solar panels with the battery. In some solar energy systems, these come paired together. Thus, you don’t need to put in any extra effort. However, if you don’t have a single unit, you have to make either a series or parallel connection.
You can make a series connection by connecting a device’s positive terminal with another device’s negative terminal. To make a parallel connection, you need to connect one device’s negative terminal with another device’s negative terminal.
Step 5 – Connect the Batteries with the Inverter
In this step, connect the batteries with the inverter. Attach the battery’s positive terminal with the positive terminal of the inverter and the negative to negative.
Step 6 – Connect the Inverter to the Electric Stove
Connect the input plug of the electric oven to the output socket of the solar inverter and switch on the inverter. You can now run your electric oven on solar energy. Many solar inverters have digital displays to showcase the unit’s power generation and consumption statistics.
How to Save Solar Energy With Your Electric Oven
Here are some recommendations to minimize the power consumption of your electric oven.
Use a Microwave Instead Of a Stove
A microwave consumes considerably less energy than an electric stove. If you only have to heat some food, forget the electric stove, and use the microwave. You will save plenty of solar energy by going this route.
A microwave consumes 800 watts, and that’s based on the assumption you are running it for an hour. Opting for a microwave leads to a significant reduction in watt consumption, so give it a try.
Cook Several Foods Simultaneously
Electric stoves consume less power when you cook foods simultaneously instead of one after another. It is more energy efficient to cook dishes for one long session instead of spreading it over multiple days. You don’t need to cram the stove, but cook as many dishes as fit comfortably.
Clean the Stove Immediately
You will save plenty of time and a lot of power by starting the cleaning cycle immediately after finishing cooking. It is also a good practice to clean your stove regularly.
Leftover gunk makes the stove consume more energy. Moreover, the longer you let gunk sit on it, the more difficult it gets to clean and the more solar power it will use. Thus, it’s strongly recommended to clean the stove immediately before it gets filthy.
Invest in an Energy-Efficient Electric Stove
We might be saying the obvious. However, this does make a significant difference. Energy-efficient stoves consume less power, and this can make a major impact for those who use solar power.
Using solar energy to run electric stoves is an excellent way to protect the environment and reduce your carbon footprint, as solar power denotes a clean, green, and renewable energy source.
Just make sure your solar panel array, solar inverter, and batteries are large enough to power the stove. Also, you should invest in an energy-efficient electric stove to make the most of the solar energy generated.