Recently we received a question from someone who wanted to know whether or not it would be possible to run his laundry room off solar power. He wanted to know if he could purchase solar panels to run his laundry room, and connect them in such a way that his laundry facilities would not tap into the house’s main electricity, and whether he could run a power cord from a solar panel to his washer and dryer.

I’m posting the answer here as it might be useful to others as well.

“Very simply stated, yes, this is possible.

However there are several things that need to be taken into account in order to determine the setup you would want to get. For example:

  1. How much power does the washing machine use?
  2. How frequently is the washing machine used?

Based on the answers to the above questions we can determine the type solar power system you would need.

A solar power system for domestic use consists of more parts than just a solar panel and a power cord. A complete system would have the following parts:

  • A solar panel to collect and convert sunlight into electricity
  • A battery bank in order to store the collected electricity
  • A charge controller to prevent electricity from flowing from the battery back to the solar panels, and to prevent the batteries from overcharging
  • An inverter to convert the battery power into 110 volts A/C, in order to run the laundry machine.

These are the basic components that make it possible to collect, store and use solar power.

There are a few other factors you might want to look at depending on the purpose or reason you want to use solar power for your laundry facilities. Are you trying to save money on your energy bill, or do you simply want to use solar power due to environmental considerations?

As for cost, the larger your solar power system is, the easier it is to recover costs. If finances are not a consideration, and you simply want to use solar power due to environmental concerns, this would not be an issue.

But if costs are a consideration, there are some other options to look into, such as solar hot water.

A large portion of the power consumed by washing machines is consumed by the heating element, in order to bring the water to the desired temperature. Feeding preheated water into the washing machine drastically reduces the amount of power consumed during the laundry cycle.

Solar hot water systems tend to be cheaper, much more cost-effective, and do not require as many parts. Solar hot water systems are also relatively easy to integrate with existing plumbing, and can be used to provide hot water for showers, heating and laundry.

Even if you live in a colder climate, a solar hot water system can be used to preheat the water before feeding it into your existing boiler system, thereby drastically decreasing the amount of power consumed.

Also with the federal and state level clean energy rebates and tax credits now available, a solar hot water system can be the most affordable and fastest way to recoup any investments made into environmentally-friendly energy systems.

I hope this gives you a bit of a better concept. I apologize if this does not fully answer your question as to what exactly you need to get, but as stated earlier, the answer to that depends on the power consumption and frequency of use of your facilities.

You should however know that it is possible to tailor a solar power system to meet any needs, regardless how large or small, but each case needs to be individually looked at.”

This just gives a general idea of what is involved.  If you are serious about installing solar power in your home (and its great if you are) the one thing I would recommend above all else is that you get a good, stable guide which will teach you exactly how to set up a DIY solar or wind power system for your home.