How to Test for Solar Panel Output

What You'll Need
Amp Meter
Multiple Resistors
Digital Multi-Meter

When you buy solar panels, you need to check quite a few things to make sure you are getting the right kind, including checking the solar panel output. Buying and installing solar panels requires some research to determine how many you need to get enough output to satisfy your electric needs.

Most homes and offices need more than one solar panel to run their whole electric system. However, it is important to know exactly how many panels your system needs to avoid over or under buying.

Step 1 - Understand the System

Current is either AC or DC (where AC is alternating current and DC is direct current). DC is when the current continuously flows through an electric charge. Usually this is a wire or another conductor but it can also be an insulator, a semi-conductor or even an electron. In DC, the electric charge flows in the same direction unlike in AC. Therefore, DC is used for only low-voltage requirements, like a solar electric panel. 

However, appliances use electricity and this measurement—of the amount of power they need—is in watts. Therefore, when you set out to buy solar panels or test them, you need to first know how many watts of energy your solar panels need to be able to generate to work in your home or office. This is simply done by using a formula. 

Wattage (Power) = Voltage X Current. 

So you need to measure both the voltage and the amperage of the solar panel to determine the power production that you will get from the system and whether or not it will be sufficient for you. 

Step 2 - Measure Amperage

Since electric current is measured in amperes, you will need to buy a meter (known as an amp meter) and measure the output. Attach the meter to the positive and negative terminals on the solar panel and make sure the panel is properly exposed to sunlight. As long as the amp meter is rated higher than the solar panel, you will be able to measure the output effectively. 

Step 3 - Measure Current

After you have checked the output, you can reconfirm it by measuring the voltage of resisters. You will need multiple resistors for this test and a digital multimeter as well. The digital multimeter is used to measure DV voltage. Once you have made all the measurements, use the following formula to calculate the output: 

Current = Voltage/Resistance

These three steps should help you figure out the solar panel output and whether or not it will be sufficient for your home or office. You might also need to get a solar charge controller which is used to construct a solar power system. This will regulate the power coming from the panels into the battery.