A washing machine against a wall in a home's laundry room

Installing solar panels and sustainable energy usage has resulted in more questions than answers. Homeowners are now seen comparing notes and wondering whether a specific appliance can work on solar energy.

You might also wonder if this switch will be cost-effective in the long run, considering how pricey solar panel installations have become. 

Washing machines and dryers are one of the great household essentials. If you’re planning to go off the grid, you must know whether they will work on solar energy. You should also know the factors involved in making this move an energy-efficient one. 

This article gives a breakdown of running a washing machine on solar energy. 

So, first thing first, how much solar power will you need to run a washing machine? 

How Much Solar Power Do Washing Machines Require?

An average washing machine with an A+ consumer rating will need a 300-watt solar panel if it consumes 300 to 500 kWh electricity. However, it will only work if your solar panels receive sufficient sunlight and heat to convert renewable solar energy into electricity.

Alternatively, you will need four to six times more electrical energy if you plan on running your dryer on solar power. These devices consume more electricity than a washing machine. Therefore, you might want to air dry your washed load outside under the sun instead of using the dryer. 

The Premise: How Much Solar Energy is Needed to Run a Washing Machine?  

Typically, a standard washing machine completes one cycle in half an hour. Using an energy-efficient model requires 500 watts per hour for optimal operation. That means it will need 2.25 kWh. These slight alterations in energy usage cut down the cost of your utility bill. 

Estimates show that you’ll only be charged $11.14 on your electricity bill for the wash cycle if you use it only through the solar grid. That’s an excellent feat for individuals running a household on a budget. 

How Many Solar Panels Should You Install to Use a Washing Machine? 

Typically, a residential solar system will consist of 20 to 25 panels. However, the exact number of panels utilized to run a washing machine depends on various factors, including our location, daily energy consumption, and the amount of power your specific panels produce.

The space on your roof is another viable factor that can impact the size of your solar grid project. 

a house roof with solar panels on it, and a small wind turbine at the top

According to experts, a standard-sized panel can generate around 250-400 watts of power. The amount of sunlight and heat your solar panel receives determines the total amount of energy it will generate.

To maximize solar output, you might have to change the direction of the panels and ensure nothing creates a barrier between your solar system and the sunlight. 

So, how many solar panels would your washing machine need? 

In most machines, a spin cycle utilizes around 240 watts of energy. When you compare it with the energy a premium-grade solar panel produces, the input-output requirement is almost equal. 

Therefore, you might only need one panel to complete your first load of sun-powered washing. 

On the other hand, if your washing machine requires more power, you might need an extra panel to ensure your household appliance runs smoothly. 

Factors Impacting Solar Power Consumption in Washing Machines 

Different variables come to play when running a washing machine on solar energy. For example, an older model would consume more solar power than modern, energy-efficient units. Top-load and front-load designs also have an impact on uses. 

Other factors include the load size, capacity of your unit, and water temperature. Energy efficiency elements and design details play an equally important role. 

We discuss some of these variables in greater detail below. 

Load Size: How Many Clothes Did You Put in the Washer?

Overloading your machine causes it to demand extra energy from your solar grid. As a result, it strains your system and the appliance itself. Therefore, you should keep a reasonable load size for your next wash. 

Filling the machine with two-thirds of the load can optimize operation as the motor inside doesn’t have to experience strain in any form. That usually refers to 13-15 clothing items of various sizes. These can include shirts, skirts, dresses, and intimate garments. One extra piece can push the machine into overdrive when you least expect it. 

It would be best if you stick to the user guide and our insights to ensure you experience an uninterrupted and energy-efficient washing cycle.

Capacity: How Many Clothes Can You Put in the Washer?

The load size and capacity of modern washing machines are relatively different.

Units with higher capacity consume more solar power because they run on a large motor. You tend to experience this problem more in older models since newer machines are manufactured to meet sustainable goals. 

Nevertheless, it’s good to know the motor and engine size before installing your residential solar panels. You can use this information to decide how many solar panels you’ll need for a cost-effective purchase. 

Hot vs. Cold Water: Temperature Setting of Your Washer

Solar power consumption multiplies when you use hot water instead of cold water for your washer. Your water heating system will consume a significant amount of energy to boil room-temperature water. 

In some cases, your residential solar system might not manage the extra strain independently. Therefore, you might want to skip hot water on laundry day when running a washing machine on solar energy. Your strategic choice can cut down your carbon footprint. 

A homeowner adjusts the settings on his washing machine

Front vs. Top-Load: Which is Better for Solar? 

Front-load washing machines have doors on the front of the device. Top-loaders are washers that you can chuck in your dirty clothes through the loading area on top. 

When running a washing machine on solar energy, homeowners need to weigh the installation costs of the device itself and its sustainable benefits. Many people hesitate to invest in a front-loading washing machine because they have a higher price and installation fee than top-loading machines. 

However, it’s a nifty investment when considering energy consumption rates between this model and its top-loading counterpart. That’s because front-load machines don’t consume as much energy as top loaders.

As a result, you’d be using less solar power to wash an equal amount of clothes in front-loading machines without wasting energy.

Can You Monitor Solar Energy Consumption with a Top Load Model?

Yes, top load washing machines can be an economical option for households that don’t use washers as frequently. 

If you don’t use the washing machine regularly, you can make up the difference in solar energy consumption. But, more importantly, you save a few extra dollars on upfront costs by purchasing the more budget-friendly model. 

Your choice depends on your current household budget and the number of times you use the washer in a week. 

Sustainability Tips to Save Energy While Running Your Washing Machine on Solar

Whether you want to save more on electricity bills or ensure your solar power grid withstands the continuous demands of the machine, we can help. Here are some valuable tips about saving energy when running a solar-powered washing machine. 

Here’s what you can do: 

Invest in an Energy-Efficient Machine 

Old washing machines and top loading machines consume excessive electricity. These devices will do the same for solar systems by demanding more solar energy to operate efficiently. 

In contrast, front-loading machines and Energy Star washer models don’t consume much energy. That makes these devices a better fit for residential solar panel systems. 

Set an Energy-Efficient Laundry Schedule 

Do you wash your clothes every day? Washing a few items of clothing and other accessories each day uses up more solar energy than designating weekly routines. So instead of each day, washing clothes twice or thrice a week seems like a viable option for a small family household. 

Switching the device on and off and using it each day for an hour or two can use up more solar power than necessary. A streamlined laundry plan and alternative use of machines optimize solar energy usage. 

Use an Eco-Friendly Detergent 

Do you pour multiple scoops of liquid detergent into your machine? It would help if you swapped traditional cleaners with non-toxic detergent powder or eco-friendly pods to wash your clothes. These cleaning solutions require less water and discharge a lower number of carbon emissions than liquid detergents.

Moreover, they are more concentrated than diluted liquid solutions. This fact makes them a more effective cleaner and stain-remover than water-based solutions. Plus, less water usage means less energy consumption. 

Soak Your Clothes Before Washing Them

Have you got dirty gym clothes? Do your kids’ sports jerseys have muddy stains on them? Did the baby spill juice on her dress?

Clothes pre-soaking in buckets before going into the washing machine

Messy clothes take double the time in the washer. You can cut down washing time by soaking them in lukewarm water for over an hour. Some hard-to-remove stains might require extra soaking. 

This designated period in water can soften the stubborn stains. In doing so, you won’t need multiple rinse cycles to clean your load. This one step can conserve water and solar energy, making your laundry routine more environmentally-minded and safe. 

Reduce Rinse Cycles 

Avoid running multiple cycles in the washer. In most cases, two rinses are enough to get clean and fresh clothes out of the washer. 

The first cycle allows the washing machine to deal with stains and spills while the other washes away the soap suds clinging to the fabric. 

Reducing rinse cycles prevents the washing machine from working in overdrive, meaning less solar energy consumption and more conservation. Your clothes are also less likely to become coarse and rough when you don’t overdo the wash cycle. 

Remember to Switch Off and Unplug Your Washer

Washing machines kept on standby mode use power because they are still running.

Even though the standby mode only consumes a small amount of energy, you might be wasting many watts if you calculate how many hours a day your washer is on standby. It could be a substantial loss when considering the solar energy wasted in a year.

Not to forget that plugged devices are a fire hazard when not used. In addition, your washing machine and the grid can experience a short circuit due to power fluctuations or stormy weather. 

Moreover, you are depleting your daily solar energy storage by keeping your washing machine switched on. 

Therefore, you should switch off your washing machine after doing the laundry. 

Parting Words 

A standard washing machine running on solar energy will need a 300-watt solar panel if it utilizes 300-500 Kwh energy. Usually, you only need one solar panel from a reliable manufacturer to power a washing machine.

However, you will need more panels if you use a high-capacity device. Front-loading washers are an ideal choice in this scenario since they don’t use up solar energy. 

Aside from this, machine size, design, and usage significantly impact the amount of solar power you need to run a washing machine.

It would help if you also become more mindful of using the washer. Taking steps to reduce water usage, minimize the rinse cycle, and opt for eco-friendly detergents are substantial steps toward this goal. 

We strongly advise you to upgrade old devices for newer energy-efficient models.

Also, ensure you don’t leave your washer on standby whenever not in use. Setting a strategic laundry schedule is another thing you can do to ensure your washer does not drain away from your residential solar energy unit. 

Now that you know everything about running a washing machine on solar energy, would you be tempted to start practicing mindful machine usage? Let’s go!

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