Can I use a 24V solar panel to charge a 12V battery?
You can use a 24V solar panel to charge a 12V battery, but it is not a good practice you should consider. Ideally, your solar panel should be sized to match the voltage of your battery.
Using a panel that is too large or too small compared to your battery will create complexities in planning your solar power systems.
In other words, a 12V battery should have a 12V solar panel and so on.
If you try to power a 12V battery with a 24V solar panel without any type of voltage regulation in place, you will end up overcharging and damaging your battery.
Please note this type of damage will not be covered under warranty since you are technically misusing the product.
Installing a voltage regulator in between the solar panel and battery, you will reduce the charging current to match your battery’s needs so you won’t have any problems.
How to use a 24V solar panel to charge a 12V battery?
There is more than one way to charge a 12V battery with a 24V solar panel. However, not all methods are ideal for every situation.
Here are a few options you may want to know about.
Use a DC-DC converter (step down module)
A DC-DC converter is a device that changes the voltage of an input source. You can use this converter to step down 24V from your solar panel into 12V for your battery.
DC-DC converters are relatively inexpensive and sold in most hardware stores.
Although this type of solution is okay, it is far from being ideal. Because you will lose energy in the DC-DC converter when trying to match the voltage of your sources, you are losing efficiency.
That means when you use a basic DC-DC converter, you will not get the maximum power from your solar panel.
Wire two 12V batteries in series
Another way to power a 12V battery with a 24V solar panel is to use two 12V batteries in series.
Wiring two batteries in series increase the voltage of your battery pack allowing you to use a higher voltage solar panel without overcharging.
This type of configuration is fine but will be still more expensive than using a single 24V battery.
Here is why it happens so.
Building a 24V system is almost always cheaper than building a 12V system.
Because using two 12V batteries require twice as many cables, terminal blocks, and wire. In addition to that, with a 12V system, the amount of amps need to pass through the cables will double compared to a 24V system.
That means the wires with a 12V system have to be twice as thick and the cable amperage capacity must be twice as high. All of this will add up very quickly in price because the copper wire is very expensive.
The other cost that you need to pay attention to is the solar charge controller. Solar charge controllers are expensive and using a 12V system you will need a charge controller that can handle double the amperage.
This means that you will need a charge controller that is twice as powerful, which again doubles the price.
Use an MPPT solar charge controller
You can also use an MPPT solar charge controller to charge your 12V battery with a 24V solar panel. MPPT charge controllers adjust the voltage and amps coming from your solar panel to match the battery.
They not only allow you to use a 24V solar panel with your 12V battery, but they will also maximize the power from that panel.
However, MPPT charge controllers are expensive, and they are not worth it for small-scale solar systems.
If you are building a large solar system, then an MPPT charge controller might be worth the investment for your 12V batteries too.
Use a PWM solar charge controller
PWM solar charge controllers can also be used to charge a 12V battery with a 24V solar panel.
They adjust the voltage and amps coming from your solar panel to match the battery similar to MPPT charge controllers.
However, PWM solar charge controller is not as good at maximizing the power from your panel compared to an MPPT charge controller.
This means that PWM solar controllers will give you less power than an MPPT version would under the same circumstances.
PWM solar charge controllers are much less expensive than MPPT solar charge controllers, and they work almost as well. So if you have a small system with a small budget, then you can use PWM solar charge controllers.
It is possible to charge a 12V battery with 24V solar panels, and there are more than one ways to do it.
However, most of these solutions are less efficient than using a 24V battery with a 24V solar panel.
Using a larger voltage system will not only save you money but also make your system more efficient. Because voltage losses will be lower and you will not lose energy converting the voltage from your solar panel.