Running A Computer Off Solar

Today I’m going to show you how I built an off-grid solar system for apartments or other renters. I have Renogy panels installed on a balcony connected to an Adventurer charge controller.

I’m using a car battery, but I plan to switch to a deep cycle in the future.

The wires run from the adventurer’s charge controller to the battery and then to a Renogy 500-watt power inverter. I’ve also tested this with a Renogy wanderer.

This takes the 12 volts off of the battery and panels and converts it to 120 volts, which can power a computer.

Monitoring power consumption

I also have a cable that connects to a Kill-A-Watt to monitor how the system is performing.

You can see it’s actually running in the video. The voltage coming out is 110, which is fine. The computer is drawing about 75 to 85 watts, though it jumps up a little bit higher at times. I can get a read on what the overall kilowatt hours are up to, currently about 125.

AC or 12 Volt PSU?

So, running a Windows PC off of solar panels is working really well. To improve the setup, I can get a DC to DC power supply that goes into a standard computer.

This would eliminate the need for the inverter, though I would need to add some filtering circuitry. The 12-volt to 12-volt supplies I’ve seen are not terribly efficient, though, so using an AC PSU might actually be a better bet long term.

The other advantage of sticking with an AC supply is that I can plug this computer right into the wall power if I want to run it not in my solar system.

I hope my overview of running a computer off of solar power was helpful!

Key Takeaways

  • It is possible to run a Windows PC off of solar power.
  • Using a car battery is fine for a short-term setup, but deep cycle batteries are recommended for long-term use.
  • Using a DC to DC power supply would eliminate the need for an inverter and be more efficient in the long-term.
  • Monitor battery voltage and make sure it doesn’t go too low. Computers can suddenly spike and draw lots more power if you’re doing something processor-intensive!