1. Homeowners
  2. Going Solar
  3. Solar Energy
  4. 500-watt solar panels: what to know

500-watt solar panels: what to know

An in-depth, beginner’s guide to 500-watt solar panels

Author picture
Written by
Author picture
Edited by

Find a Solar Energy partner near you.

    woman confidently checking her solar panels on her property

    Five-hundred-watt solar panels are among the most powerful solar panels you can find on the market these days, making them a good choice if you want to maximize the amount of energy you can capture from the sun. However, they can be tough to find, and their physical size can be a drawback.

    Though these panels are ideal for some uses, there are plenty of lower-wattage photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that can achieve the same results as a 500-watt panel for your cabin, RV, home or business, including 200-, 250-, 300- and 400-watt options.

    Key insights

    • There are only a handful of 500-watt solar panel options on the market at the time of publishing.
    • Solar panels with a wattage of 500 are on the large end of what’s commercially available in terms of both electrical capacity and physical size.
    • A 500-watt power rating is usually achieved with half-cut cells or a ground-mounted bifacial setup.
    • Residential users may be better off going with less powerful panels, but it’s worth doing the math for yourself to see how your options stack up.

    What is a 500-watt solar panel?

    Wattage refers to a solar panel’s ability to produce power, and most solar panels sold to consumers range from 200 to 400 watts. That means a 500-watt solar panel can help deliver very high energy yields for homes, businesses and other uses.

    While some 500-watt solar panels utilize the same technology seen in today’s lower-wattage products, PV manufacturers are incorporating a few interesting technologies to maximize power generation:

    • Half-cut solar cells can double a solar panel’s capacity without increasing its size. By literally cutting the size of PV cells in half, 500-watt solar panels may be made up of as many as 144 individual sections, which is twice as many as a traditional 72-cell panel.
    • Bifacial solar panels are able to absorb light on both their top and bottom sides, squeezing even more energy out of each day’s direct sun hours. The extra electricity generated through the bottom of the panel helps bifacial solar panels boost their potential power capacity.

    Bifacial solar panels can only work when there is sufficient open space for light to refract below them. This makes bifacial generation much more suitable for ground-mounted installations than roof installations.

    How big is a 500-watt solar panel?

    The size of a given 500-watt solar panel will depend on its manufacturer’s specifications. With that said, here are a few size specifications for some 500-watt solar panels available at the time of publishing.

    Trina Vertex 500WTrina Vertex 550WJinkoSolar Tiger Pro 72HC
    Type Bifacial Bifacial Monofacial
    Length 86 inches 94 inches 90 inches
    Width 43 inches 43 inches 45 inches
    Depth 1.2 inches 1.4 inches 1.4 inches
    Area About 26 square feet About 28 square feet About 28 square feet

    In contrast, the average dimensions of a solar panel are 65 inches by 39 inches. That means the average solar panel takes up just 18 square feet of space, far less than the 500-watt solar panels above.

    » MORE: Solar panel size and weight: a guide

    What can 500-watt solar panels run?

    You can run almost anything if you have enough solar capacity and enough sunlight. The benefit of more efficient solar panels is that they generally let you do more with less.

    A small array of 500-watt panels can easily supply enough power to run a residence or business, and because ground-mounted arrays can work well in open fields, large installations of 500-watt bifacial solar panels are well suited to running entire communities. Just be aware that you should connect your solar energy system to the electrical grid or a battery backup system if you want to take full advantage of the energy it produces.

    There are some situations that 500-watt panels aren’t a good choice for, though. For example, monofacial 500-watt solar panels may be too big for rooftop installations or small, do-it-yourself systems, even though they can lay flat on a surface as other solar panels do.

    What can one 500-watt solar panel run?

    Five hundred watts of solar potential exposed to daily sunlight can provide an ongoing supply of sustainable, renewable electricity to run lights, fans, TVs, phone chargers and practically any household electronic device. That means one 500-watt solar panel (or an array of the same total capacity) can run almost any single appliance for a full day as long as it’s equipped with battery storage.

    Unfortunately, as of publishing, buying a single 500-watt panel may be easier said than done — most manufacturers we looked into have minimum order requirements of eight panels or more.

    On the other hand, many brands package smaller solar panels together to create a “500-watt solar panel kit.” These kits can consist of any number of same-wattage panels, such as two 250-watt panels or a set of five 100-watt panels.

    How many 500-watt solar panels do you need for a larger installation?

    It can be difficult to determine how many solar panels you need for a unique installation, but for most homeowners, it comes down to a matter of your goals and your available space.

    System capacity# of 500-watt solar panelsApproximate daily outputAverage annual productionExample use
    0.5 kW 1 2,014 Wh 735 kWh RV, cabin or boat
    8 kW 16 32,225 Wh 11,762 kWh Average home
    12 kW 24 48,329 Wh 17,640 kWh Large home
    1,000 kW 2,000 4,028,219 Wh 1,470,300 kWh Community solar garden

    Given that 500-watt solar panels can take up around 28 square feet each, you’d need roughly 450 square feet of unobstructed roof space for the 16 panels it takes to offset the energy use of the average U.S. home. That’s significantly less space than the 720 square feet it would take to get an equal amount of capacity from 40 200-watt solar panels.

    However, currently available 500-watt panels may have passed the point of diminishing returns on this front. An 8-kilowatt solar array made with 400-watt panels would actually need less space (about 420 square feet). That’s because 400-watt panels are significantly smaller than 500-watt panels, at about 21 square feet each.

    » LEARN: What is community solar?

    How much energy can a 500-watt solar panel produce?

    On average, a single 500-watt solar panel can generate about 2 kilowatt-hours of electricity every single day. However, the amount of energy a 500-watt solar panel can actually produce in real-world conditions depends on several different factors, including the daily sunlight, the solar panel’s efficiency and the other equipment used to process and store its energy.

    Let’s take a closer look at how you can estimate the impact of these factors on your PV system.

    Solar panels can work at very low efficiencies when exposed to indirect sunlight, but their most significant power generation happens within a daily window known as “peak sun hours.” Your expected number of peak sunlight hours each day depends on the weather, the season and your location.

    500 watts is half a kilowatt.

    While states like New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada average over six hours of daily sun, states like Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois average fewer than four. Using a tool like the Global Solar Atlas, you can find the estimated solar power potential of any address in the world. This potential is often expressed in kilowatt-hours of potential per kilowatt of capacity installed. To calculate how much energy a single 500-watt panel can produce at your location, simply divide the number of potential kilowatt-hours per kilowatt of capacity in half.

    For example, let’s say you wanted to install a 500-watt solar panel on the White House. According to the Global Solar Atlas, 1 kilowatt of solar capacity installed there would generate an average of 4.028 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day. That means a 500-watt panel there would generate 2.014 kilowatt-hours per day.

    » LEARN: How do solar panels work?

    Are 500-watt solar panels right for you?

    A 500-watt solar panel isn't for everyone; these are among the most powerful, efficient options on the market today, but that definitely doesn’t mean they’re right for every solar installation.

    Due to their limited availability, large footprint and installation requirements, 500-watt solar panels may be an unnecessary investment for residential users and DIY hobbyists. On the other hand, if you need a lot of solar power and you have the space for them, 500-watt panels are at least worth considering, especially if the technology advances over time and new products enter the market.

    » MORE: Best solar panels in 2023

    Find a Solar Energy partner near you.


      How much do 500-watt solar panels cost?

      A 500-watt solar panel typically retails for $300 or more, but many manufacturers require you to order multiple 500-watt panels at a time.

      Also, remember that the true cost of solar panels generally includes installation expenses and additional components, like batteries and inverters.

      What brands offer 500-watt solar panels?

      At the time of publishing, only a handful of solar companies offer 500-watt panels, including JinkoSolar, Trina Solar and a few international manufacturers. However, many other brands sell “500-watt solar panel kits,” which are actually just multiple lower-wattage devices bundled together.

      How many batteries do I need for a 500-watt solar panel?

      Although the average daily production for a 500-watt solar panel is around 2,000 watt-hours, you’re better off with a 3,000-watt-hour battery or larger — it’s usually a good idea to have a little more battery capacity than you think you’ll need.

      How many amps does a 500-watt solar panel produce?

      Most single 500-watt solar panels (such as the JinkoSolar Tiger Pro 72HC) produce around 12 amps at any given point in time. In peak conditions, a 20-amp charge controller is usually sufficient to handle a single 500-watt panel.

      ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page. Specific sources for this article include:
      1. TurbineGenerator.org, “Average Sunlight Hours Rank.” Accessed Feb. 28, 2023.
      2. Global Solar Atlas, “Map.” Accessed Feb. 28, 2023. 
      Did you find this article helpful? |
      Share this article