How to add solar power to your shed or garden office

I get asked a bit “How do I fit solar power to my shed”, well Solar Shed expert and sheddie Kevin Holland (from The Solar Shed), answers your queries on just this subject.

1) I need to power a small fridge in my shed – can solar power this?

Solar can power a fridge, yes. A small 12v fridge will be less energy intensive than a 240v one. The problem is that fridges need to run 24 hrs a day. The sun is in the sky for 12 hrs on average. And most of the time we can’t see it because of the clouds. So generating enough energy from a shed roof will be limited. A totally unshaded roof with a 200w 12v panel and 110ah of sealed gel battery should do the trick. The inverter will need to be matched to the fridge’s energy use, so check consumption of appliances before using through an inverter. Gas fridges are by far the cheapest way to run a fridge when off grid, but don’t discount evaporation techniques or using the natural habitat to cool things down.

2) If I wanted to just power a laptop and a light in my shed – what’sthe minimum kit I need

All solar kits are the same. Regulators, solar generators, batteries and solar panels. So for something like this, I would have a 120w panel, 20a regulator and 75ah battery. The laptop will have a low voltage input, usually 15 or 15vdc. Pointless plugging its charging in via an inverter, you need to get a dc/dc multi-voltage charger. Costs around £25 for a decent one. Just plug one end into a 12v socket and the other into the laptop. They have interchangeable heads and fit most appliances for IT charging etc. I run my heated massage chair, laptop and printer from one when out and about in the Van.

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3) Do I have to have the panel on the shed roof.

No, but the higher up the better. Any shade on any cell of a panel will have a negative effect. Point it up. Keep it clean and clear. Check shadows on bright days and see what time it is clear. If you only get a couple of hours direct light without shade, don’t be running lathes or drills for hours on end.

4) what’s the best type of panel for my money and space (small terrace garden)

Monocrystalline. As long as it’s shade free, it will generate energy. The brighter the better, but even on the cloudiest of days.

5) What are the battery storage options and the best battery for solar storage

All shed and cabin solar kits comprise of a panel, a regulator and a battery. That’s the whole energy source ready for distribution into the building. On the off grid kits, I have always used sealed gel batteries. They can handle the environment, provided they are kept wrapped up in an insulated box. As we develop lithium technology and see it being integrated into our lives a little more, it won’t be long before all batteries will be of similar tech, so things are changing. Problem with Lithium is that it really doesn’t like charging up when cold. The discharge is fine, but wants to be kept at warmer temp that most sheds or cabins provide.

Kevin Holland
Set up a solar company from a shed in 2008 and runs a nationwide network of installers.
07737 457 208
For Business enquiries, please use [email protected]

Related posts : Tips for installing solar power in your shed, Powering your shed

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By Andrew Wilcox

I love sheds Founder & judge of Shed of the year - Wilco writes mainly about sheds. About the blog Enter your shed into #shedoftheyear