Outbuildings, potting sheds, workshops, lean-tos, she-sheds, studios, deckboxes, garages— there’s a lot of different names for the utilitarian spaces where we keep everything from garden equipment to power tools to old holiday decor. Whatever you call the shed in your backyard, you might at some point have wondered how to make it work better for you. Whether it’s installing a workbench, better shelving, getting it better organized, or realizing you need more light or electrical outlets, getting your shed exactly how you want it doesn’t have to be difficult or terribly expensive. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest— like installing a solar panel for your shed.
Setting up a solar panel for your shed is an attractive solution for several reasons. It goes without saying that adding any kind of electricity makes it easier to spend time in and use your shed when it isn’t light out. However, by adding a solar panel for your shed, you don’t have to worry about unsightly wires running across your yard from your house or the nearest utility pole or digging a trench in your turf. It’s a simple, elegant solution to get just the right amount of power to the space.
Another reason to consider installing a solar panel for your shed is if you’re considering a larger solar project. If you’ve been curious about what the cost and effort would be to, say, take your home off-grid or rely on solar power in your RV or camper, a starter project like electrifying a shed might be a good way to get your feet wet and learn more about how solar arrays work.
The first step is determining how much power you’ll need to light your space. There are two different metrics you’ll run into as you make these calculations— watts and lumens. A standard 60-watt bulb puts out around 750-850 lumens of light, a lumen being equivalent to about one birthday candle. If you want to test out how many watts you think you might need, you can use an extension cord or generator and a lamp or work light to test if one bulb is sufficient or if you might need more illumination.
Once you’ve determined how much power you’ll need, you can get the right solar panel for your shed. For the average sized shed, RV, or small cabin, our 50 watt, 12 volt solar kit is a great starter option. It comes with everything you need to set up your system right out of the box, including a Renogy 50W 12V Solar Panel, a 10A PWM Charge Controller, a 20ft 12AWG MC4 Adaptor Kit, an 8ft 10AWG Tray Cable, and a set of Z-brackets.
These solar kits also come in versions from 100 watts to thousands of watts if you have a larger space or need more intense illumination. Pair with a deep cycle battery to store up the sun’s power for night time and cloudy days, and you’ll be able to set up solar panels for your shed in no time.
These kits are easy to install and use, even if you don’t have prior electrical experience. Simply connect the Charge Controller to your Deep Cycle Battery using the Tray Cables. Start by attaching the Tray Cable to your battery, and then hook the cables up to the Charge Controller one at a time. This step is not unlike the order in which you might hook up jumper cables between two cars. Next, connect the Solar Panels to the Charge Controller with the Adaptor Cables. The Z Brackets are used to attach the solar panels to the roof of your shed.
Setting up solar panels for your shed doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. The off-grid system is a great way to keep your backyard free of clutter, maximize your storage space, and even create a safe backup power area in case of emergencies. And if you find you like the process and the results, you’ll have the knowhow to delve into bigger systems, like getting your whole house on solar!