Solar Panel for Shed? How To Power Tools, AC, Outlets, & More (Full Guide)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Solar Panels | March 28, 2024

Woman looking at an outbuilding that has a solar panel for shed and wonders how much electric can a single shed solar panel provide and why should she do it.

Using a solar panel for shed electricity or for powering equipment is a great way to reduce your energy grid dependence and lower your household carbon emissions.

By installing solar panels on outbuildings, you have a great way to take advantage of solar panel tax credits and also reduce your utility bills at the same time.

Panels can be installed that provide on-demand electricity when combined with battery storage options, and depending on the size of your outbuilding or shed, you can generate solar power that is designed to supplement or even replace your grid power.

This complete guide explains how to install a solar panel for shed electricity, as well as how to make sure the power is converted so that it can be used by alternating current (AC) appliances, power tools and more.

Do You Need Solar Panel for Shed? Advantages and Disadvantages

Many people ask themselves if integrating a solar panel for shed electricity is really worth it.

Well, all this depends on what you want.

Solar panel on the barn shed.

(Image: Emily Boren, U.S. Department of Energy16)

Solar panel systems can deliver electricity that can be stored and used throughout your property, not just in the shed.

But, whether you have a rooftop solar system or not, with solar panels on an outbuilding you can get energy for a fraction of the cost of installing solar panels on the roof of your house.11,13

However, there are some drawbacks to this type of energy. In general, solar panels are considered eco-friendly and a ‘clean energy’ due to the fact that there are no emissions associated with them during electricity generation.

Unfortunately, that is not the case when mining and collecting the materials to make them, as well as the production and disposal emissions that can pile up.

Graphic image of advantages and disadvantages of Solar Panel Shed.

When considering any alternative energy source, it’s equally important to consider the carbon footprint solar panels produce, from how the minerals required for solar panel manufacturers are mined, the process of solar panels manufacture, and the predetermined lifespan of the solar panel.12,10

Advantages of Solar Shed

  • Low maintenance cost.
  • It is environmentally friendly.
  • Reduces reliance on the power grid.
  • You could make cash by selling your extra energy.
  • You will have free electricity.

Disadvantages of Solar Shed

  • You can lose out if you spend little; therefore it involves big initial investments.
  • A large roof is required for solar panels.
  • Solar sheds moderate power output.
  • You may need to get permission to install the solar system.
  • Panels require frequent cleaning

Complete Solar Lighting for Sheds Kits: Solar Power Kit for Shed

Buying a solar panel kit is highly recommended for consumers who aren’t sure if the sunlight hours they’ll receive will be enough to meet their needs with solar energy, because it helps you eliminate guesswork.

Knowing how to match charge the controller, the correct collectors, and the required solar power kit for shed with battery can be of advantage to you.7

You may want an AC (alternate current) power; therefore you will need an inverter that translates DC (direct current) voltage to AC for outdoor solar channels.1

All of the above components must be able to work together flawlessly, so it’s recommended that a professional electrician or solar technician perform the hook up.

Solar panel on the Gas Shed beside of powell hut.

(Image: Sarang17)

Solar kits can be found in local or online companies by just searching ‘solar kits’.

They will help you to determine the cost of your solar system, offer information on how many solar panels to power a house, how much power does a solar panel produce, and also guide you on how to install the solar panel when you are ready.

Try to find online reviews from long-term owners, and before you purchase the solar panel, read the manufacturer’s warranty and replacement terms.

Solar Panel Kits: Solar Cabin Kits

Solar panel kits contain all the major components needed to install a complete solar power system.5 The components include Cables, battery banks, solar panels, mounting hardware, and a charge controller or power inverter.

Solar panel kit can be broken down into two primary uses namely off-grid solar kits and grid-tied solar kits.6

There is uninterrupted electric power provided in off-grid power kits including batteries, which are able to store electrical power therefore, providing backup power during outages and after sunset. In contrast, grid-tied solar kits have fewer components, and for that reason, it is easy to install and they usually do not have a backup.

Shed Solar Panel Installation

As long as you follow the instructions carefully and have the right tools, installation of solar panels is very easy and straightforward.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can install a solar panel shed yourself.

Installing the Mount

Installing the mount is the first thing that should be done when in the process of installing a solar panel shed. This foundation always gives support and stability.

The aim in which the PV panels (polycrystalline or monocrystalline) are mounted should always be considered.2

The solar panels should neither face east nor west. Solar panels in the northern hemisphere should always face south because this is the optimum direction where the most sun is received, and countries from the southern hemisphere should face their solar panels south.

The mounting framework should be slightly adjusted from 18 to 36 degrees.

Establish the Solar Panels

Use bolts and nuts to fix the solar panel to the mounted structure. The entire creation is tightened to ensure it is long-lasting and durable.

Site the Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring is the next thing to do. Universal connectors are mostly used during cabling because they can be used with any type of solar panel.

Series connection and parallel connection can be made between these panels.14

Parallel connection: The voltage always remains the same in parallel connections. All you need to do is to connect the positive terminals with the positive terminals.

Then, the negative terminals with the negative terminals.

Series connection: Unlike in parallel connection, the voltage in series increases. In this connection, you connect the negative wire of one PV module to another positive module.

Join the Solar Inverter to the System

This is a must thing to do. Connect the positive terminal from the solar system to the positive terminal of the inverter, while the negative terminal is connected to the inverter’s negative terminal. Link the grid input and the solar battery to generate power.

Connect the Solar Inverter to the Battery

Link the positive terminal of your solar inverter to the positive terminal of your battery, then the negative terminal is connected to the negative terminal of your inverter. The battery is required for backup if you would like to store an off-grid solar system.

Attach the Solar Inverter to the Power Grid

To connect the main power switchboard, you need to use a standard plug.15 Then link an output wire to the electric board.

Switch on the Solar Inverter

After you are done with the connections and cabling, switch on the inverter on the main home’s switch and enjoy your free renewable green solar energy.

How To Connect Solar Panel to Battery

The easiest way how to connect solar panel to battery is by connecting the positive terminal of a battery to the positive terminal of a solar panel.

Then the negative solar panel wire to the negative terminal of the battery.

This should be easy for you if you understand batteries in parallel and series, and how to wire solar panels.

Shed Installation: Installing Solar Panel Shed Roof

Solar panels cannot just be installed on any roof type. This is why the type of your roof is commonly being asked when you have decided to go solar.

Graphic image for Solar Panel Installation with 6 steps.

So, let us dive into the most suitable roofs for installing solar panel for shed.4

Tile Roofs

These kinds of roofs are found in many parts of the world. When you have this kind of roof or you are planning to have one, then working with a professional when installing your solar panel will be very essential as this kind of roof is very fragile.

The distance that the panels will be raised is highly dependent on the materials that a particular tile has. For example, in this scenario, the tile roofs have materials like metal, slate, concrete, clay, ceramic, and synthetic cedar.

Tile roofs can be a suitable choice for their energy efficiency, and their long-lasting effect; however, they are more expensive than other roofing materials.

Wood

The wood roof can be completely flat or can include shingles at an angle. Though wood can be an option for many owners, you have to consider the fact that wood can be damaged by weather, pests, or even fire.

Therefore wood is not the best option when installing solar panels.

Metal Standing Seam

Easy installation comes with a cheaper cost, metal roofs with standing seam attachments of these kinds of roofs make the panel array very straightforward and easy to maintain. For improved energy efficiency, metal roofs help to reflect sunlight onto solar panels.

Composite Shingles

Composite shingles are the most common and perhaps the most suitable roof for installing solar panel shed. They are the most affordable, and durable and also come in different colors for example mission brown, hunter green, and Atlantic blue.

Most composite shingles come with a 30-year warranty, but if yours is older than 15 years then it is recommended to go purchase another one before installing solar panels.

Tar and Gravel

Tar and gravel roofs are made of roofing felt, hot tar, and laminated layers of asphalt-based sheets. These roofs are very heavy therefore; additional support is required when installing solar panel in your home or in a commercial building.

This type of roof is a popular choice because it is economical, durable, and long-term.

How To Insulate Air-Conditioned Sheds

The majority of sheds are far away from the house, and it may take a lot of labor and cost to extend the connections from the main house to the shed. There are various ways you can insulate a solar-powered air conditioner for shed.

For example, if you have a window, you can use it for AC, portable AC, or even mini solar panel kits as long as you make yourself a little heaven in a shed.

If you opt for a window AC. Then you need to seal the gaps from your window and insulate exterior and interior walls using fiberglass foam.

Insulate the door to avoid the escape of cool air, and finally use loose fill to cover the ceiling and rigid foam insulation to cover the floor.

Solar Greenhouse

In the world of today, the energy that is received from the sun can be saved and put into various meaningful things. Farmers of today have decided to go solar by fusing farming with solar power using solar greenhouse.

Photograph depicting a solar-powered greenhouse with thriving crops.

(Image: Preston Keres, USDA19)

Solar greenhouse is simply an enclosure where vegetables, fruits, and flowers are kept and are provided with adverse climatic conditions for their production and growth.

Advantages of Solar Greenhouse

  • Curbs toxic greenhouse emissions therefore good for the environment
  • It is less expensive to maintain

Disadvantages of Solar Greenhouse

  • It has an expensive initial cost
  • It is less efficient, especially under a cloud cover

Solar Panel for Shed: How Much Solar Do I Need?

The amount of solar you need is highly dependent on what you are using it for. For example, you will use 240 watts for four ceiling lights, 10 watts for a tablet or a smartphone, and 600 watts to use a computer.

Add your shed necessity and then calculate the necessary wattage from there.9

Small sheds require less power than large sheds. You can calculate the number of solar that your shed needs after you have decided what you are going to do with the shed, and whether all the power is going to come from the solar panels, or you have other sources of light and power.

Solar panel on the farm shed that are primarily installed on its dark green roofs.

(Image: Mike Brummer20)

For example, you would want your solar panel to do the following:3

  • Lamp: 60 watts
  • Printer: 400 watts
  • Tablet or smartphone: 10 watts
  • Internet router: 10 watts
  • Coffee maker: 60 watts
  • Computer: 600 watts
  • Four overhead lights: 2200 watts

All of the above will need about 3880 watts of power. You may find a single solar panel or sets of solar panels may not be enough to meet your energy requirements.

In this case, you will have to find different sizes of solar panel kits, and if you cannot find any kit then you are free to purchase a standing solar panel and wire it up to the same network that is powering your shed.

How To Test a Solar Panel for Shed

On how to test a solar panel for shed output, you can use a multimeter. A multimeter is an electronic device that is used to measure the current, voltage, and resistance of an electrical circuit.

Installing solar panel on garden shed.

(Image: Jeremy Levine18)

Simply connect the multimeter to the solar panel output, and test the current and voltage of your solar panel.8

Can a Solar Generator Power a Shed?

Solar generator is an eco-friendly and economical choice to solar power your shed. It is small, compact, and easy to use.

Solar generator generates electricity from sunlight and not only can it power your shed but also it can power your house.

How To Run Electricity to a Shed: Solar Powered Electrical Outlet for Shed

Having electricity in your shed is a must especially if you spend a lot of time working there. You will need a switch box, liquid tight conduit, electrical wire, switches, light fixtures, and electrical outlets.

Image that shows the items that you need for solar power for shed such as solar panels, fuse box, charge controller, inverter, and batteries.

Now that you have all the required tools, let us go for a step-by-step guide on how to run electricity to a shed.

Use the Right Conduit

The right and approved conduit to use is a liquid-tight conduit. Always find out if there is a code concerning buried electrical lines.

Do not be concerned about frost lines because you are not dealing with pipes carrying water but electricity.

Make sure to have more conduit than required, because it is going to be connected to a switch box. Electrician’s fish tape is used to draw the wire inside the conduit, and if you find it difficult to pull the wire then there is a lubricant that is used to make your work easy.

But you should always make sure that the lubricant is dry before you connect the wire to the main box.

Wire

You cannot use sheathed cable inside a conduit. Use fish tape to pull the three unsheathed wires into a conduit, that is, white wire for the neutral, black for the hot or live wire, and finally green one for the ground.

Switch Box

For safety reasons, the switch should be positioned inside the house. You may want to turn off the electricity when you are going on vacation. The switch box is connected to your conduit.

Connect the switch to your home electrical panel after you have safely installed all the wiring.

Digging the Trench

You can rent a trench digger to dig your trench or you can just take your time to dig yourself. If you have decided to dig yourself and you end up finding a large rock and you do not have dynamite to blast it off, simply dig around it.

And then bury the conduit.

Wiring the Shed

Determine the best location for the junction box. Keep the electrical outlets, junction boxes, and light switches together.

Connecting the Loop to the Switch and the Main Box

Select one window and drill a hole enough to fit a liquid-tight conduit. Finally, connect the conduit to the switch box and you will have light in your shed.

Some people may see that solar sheds are a more expensive form of electricity compared to their relatively meager output. It might be less expensive if electricity is brought from the main house to the shed if the shed is closer to the house.

But if the shed is far from the house, you should consider installing a solar panel for shed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panel for Shed

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

With regular maintenance and cleaning, a high quality solar panel can last up to 20 to 25 years. You may need to eventually replace them when their plastic jackets become hard or their exterior wires corrode.

What Does Solar Panel Do?

To those wondering, “What does solar panel do?” Solar panels simply convert sunlight to electricity.

Is Solar Power for Small Barn Possible?

Yes, it can. The monthly requirement for solar power for a small barn ranges from about 45 Kwh, and one to three solar panels with a rating of 300 watts are required.


References

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9Bopray, A. (2022, December 06). How Much Solar Power Do I Need for My Shed? Todays Homeowner. Retrieved May 02, 2023, from <https://todayshomeowner.com/solar/guides/how-much-solar-power-do-i-need-for-my-shed/>

10Tiger Sheds. (2021, March 08). SOLAR PANELS FOR SHEDS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. Tiger Sheds. Retrieved May 02, 2023, from <https://www.tigersheds.com/blog/solar-panels-for-sheds-what-you-need-to-know/>

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16Solar array in a barn Photo by Emily Boren, U.S. Department of Energy / U.S. Government Works. Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofenergy/35949062784/>

17Powell Hut Photo by Sarang / Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Powell_hut_4.jpg>

18Solar Garden Shed Photo by Jeremy Levine. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremylevinedesign/6153823505/>

19Vegetable Greenhouse Photo by Preston Keres, USDA / Public Domain Work. Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/32245871823/>

20Solar Installation in Dubuque, Iowa Photo by Mike Brummer, U.S. Department of Energy / U.S. Government Works. Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofenergy/36337884005/>