200-watt solar panels: Are they right for you?

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One important metric to consider when comparing solar panel options is a panel's power rating, referred to as wattage. 200-watt solar panels are on the lower end of the wattage spectrum of solar panels available today, and depending on the type of solar project you have, may or may not be the best option.

Most solar panels installed on homes or businesses today are between 250 to 365 watts per panel; solar panels above and below that range are also available. To determine if 200-watt solar panels are right for you, it's essential to understand the options and how much energy 200-watt panels produce.

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While most solar companies and installers do not offer 200-watt solar panels for rooftop or ground-mounted installations, you can buy 200-watt kits for DIY-type solar projects. Companies like Grape Solar and Renogy offer 200-watt solar panel kits for purchase. These 200-watt kits are almost always a set of two 100-watt panels packaged together as a unified solar kit.

200-watt solar panels are most often used for portable solar projects, DIY solar and generating power for RVs and boats.

A 200-watt solar panel kit is rated to produce 200 watts of power, but the actual power output you see from your panels depends on many factors, including geographic location, shading, and the tilt of your panels.

200-watt solar panel kits are often simply two 100-watt panels sold together to produce 200 watts of power. 200 watts is slightly below what is considered "standard" in the residential solar panel market, and a 200-watt solar panel kit will produce less electricity than most residential panel models.

The number of solar panels you'll install depends on the electricity you want to generate and the space available for solar panels. The table below compares different-sized solar panel systems by the number of 200-watt kits needed for each system size.

How many 200-watt solar panels do you need? System size comparison table

System Size (k W)
Average Annual K Wh Production
Number Of 200-watt Panel Kits
2 kW2,82010
5 kW7,05025
6 kW8,46030
7 kW9,87035

Assumes a production ratio of 1.41

Using ten 200-watt solar panels (or twenty 100-watt panels) will produce roughly 3,000 kilowatts hours (kWh) of electricity, far below how much electricity a standard single-family household uses. Only once you install 30 kits, which ends up being 60 individual 100-watt panels, will you produce enough electricity to offset or eliminate your electric bill with solar significantly.

Installing 25 to 35 200-watt solar panel kits takes significant space. The table below demonstrates estimates for solar energy systems using only 200-watt solar panels. To calculate the estimated space needed, we assumed that 200-watt solar panels are, on average, 16 square feet (8' by 4', or two 100-watt panels at 4' by 2' each).

How much space will a solar installation with 200-watt solar panels take?

System Size (k W)
Number Of 200-watt Solar Panel Kits
Estimated Space Needed (sq. Ft.)
2 kW10160
5 kW25400
6 kW30480
7 kW35560

If you use 200-watt solar panel kits and want to cover most or all of your electricity use, be prepared to install a significant number of panels. Your roof may not even have enough space for the high amount of panels needed, and a ground-mounted system may be the only way to accommodate that many panels.

200-watt solar panel kits may not be the best option for a large, 5 or 6 kW solar system, but are still useful for some types of solar projects.

For example, if you are working on an off-grid solar project aimed at powering a tiny home or a solar shed, a 200-watt solar panel kit may be enough for your energy needs. 200-watt panels are also useful for camping and RV trips for on-the-go power from the sun.

Another use case for 200-watt panel kits is if you have unlimited amounts of space for your solar panel installation and can install enough of these panels to meet your electricity needs. Large-scale commercial or utility installations may avoid high wattage panels because they have the space to install more panels and can save on the upfront cost by installing lower wattage panels. That being said, even with extra space available, projects in this category will likely use panels above 200 watts because most solar developers or solar installation companies don't carry 200-watt panels for their grid-tied installations.

If you're looking to maximize your electricity savings, 200-watt solar panels aren't going to get the job done. Consider standard and above panel options (250 watts and above) to cover most of your electricity needs.

So if not 200 watts, what power rating should you look for in your solar panels? It's entirely dependent on the specifics of your project. If you have a perfect roof for solar, sufficient space for your solar installation, or are considering a ground-mounted system, panels with standard efficiencies and wattages will likely meet your needs. Alternatively, if you have limited roof space or prefer to install fewer panels overall, then high-wattage, high-efficiency panels (such as those carried by SunPower, LG, and Panasonic) are the way to go. These panel options are typically more expensive upfront, but they will enable you to generate as much electricity as possible and save more on your electricity bills for 25-30 years.

Whether you're looking for low, standard, or high-wattage panels, you can get multiple solar quotes from pre-screened installers by signing up on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. If you have preferences regarding solar equipment, you can note them in your account so installers can quote accordingly. If you'd prefer to start investigating your solar options with a quick estimate on what solar can save you, try our Solar Calculator.

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