Can You Run a Washing Machine on Solar Power? (And 4 great tips to be Sustainable!)

Every year, more people turn to solar panels to power their homes due to climate change. Others choose to power specific appliances with their solar panels. For example, you may want to power your washing machine using solar panels.

But is this realistic? And how hard is it? Basically, can you run a washing machine on solar power?

You can run a washing machine on solar power. Figure out how much power you need to run your washing machine in order to decide what size solar panels you need. Running cold washes greatly reduces your power requirements.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about running a washing machine on solar power!

Can You Run a washing machine on solar power?

In short: yes, you can use solar power to run a washing machine!

To power a washing machine with solar panels, you need to determine how much energy your washing machine draws in order to know how to size your solar panels. Running your washing machine sustainably reduces the amount of energy you need. Solar panels are the perfect way to power your washing machine sustainably.

More on all of this later- so keep reading!

Solar panels on the right side of a slanted roof of a house.

How do solar panels work?

Before continuing with the article, let’s find out how solar panels work in the first place so everything else makes sense!

Put simply:

Solar panels work when sunlight hits the surface of the panels, creating an electrical charge that can be stored in batteries for power.

You will also read about wattage and energy use in this post. The two numbers you’ll need to know about for the sake of this article are:

The amount of power the washing machine uses (watts).


How long the machine is running.

So let’s get to it!

How to calculate your solar power requirements

As mentioned above, you need to know the amount of power drawn from the washing machine as well as how long the machine is running in order to determine how many watts you need from your solar panels.

To calculate your washing machine’s solar power requirements, you need to multiply the washer’s power rating by the number of hours the machine will be running. Then you can buy solar panels that meet or exceed the required wattage.

Now let’s put this calculation to practice in the next section!

How many solar panels do you need to power a washing machine?

Okay, all of that is fine and dandy. But how many solar panels do you need to power a washing machine?

The number of solar panels needed to power a washing machine depends on the power consumption of the washer and how many washes you plan to do on a daily basis. Multiply the power pull of the washer by the number of hours it will be running. Use this number to determine the wattage required by your solar panels.

First, check the technical specifications section of the washer’s owner manual for its power consumption (watts).

Next, use the calculation we’ve learned about already in order to find the wattage of the solar panel(s) you need!

A washing machine with a 300W energy rating, running for one hour on cold, requires one solar panel with a wattage equal to, or higher than, 300W.

Similarly, a washing machine with a 600W energy rating, running for one hour on cold, requires at least 600 watts of power. In this example, you need two solar panels that each have a rating of at least 300W.

Always consult a qualified solar professional for assistance with properly sizing your solar system!

Can you run a washing machine on solar power? These solar panels look like they're absorbing a lot of sun.

Why running hot washes Requires More Solar Power

One of the main keys to running a washing machine using solar power is using cold water. But why?

Running hot washes uses more energy because it takes energy for your washing machine to heat the water up. When you’re powering your washing machine with solar power, you should run cold washes in order to use the least amount of energy.

More on this later!

A white front-loading washing machine in front of a white wall with wooden floors beneath.

How to run a washing machine sustainably

If you want to use solar power for your washing machine, it adds up that you likely want to run your washing machine as sustainably as possible.

To run a washing machine sustainably: don’t run as many rinse cycles, unplug your washer while not in use, use an energy-efficient washing machine, and use cold water!

Now let’s talk about each tip in more detail.

Don’t Run As Many rinse cycles

Rinse cycles aren’t as necessary as you think! Extra rinse cycles won’t make your clothes cleaner. Cut down on rinse cycles in order to lower the power requirements of your washing machine.

Unplug your washer while not in use

We’ve all heard about unplugging things while they’re not in use, but not many of us follow through with it!

Your washing machine draws extra energy when it’s plugged in, even when you’re not using it. Unplug your washer when you’re not using it to avoid wasting precious solar power!

use an energy-efficient washing machine

Of course, an energy-efficient washing machine would be the best washing machine for solar power!

If you’re planning on replacing your washing machine, opt for an energy-efficient version. It’s a no-brainer that energy-efficient appliances are better for the environment.

And when you’re trying to capitalize on a limited power source, energy efficiency is of the utmost importance!

Use cold water

This has been touched on multiple times in this article. Clearly, it’s important!

You should always use cold water when you run a washing machine on solar power. It saves a lot of energy and your clothes will be just as clean!

When is the Best Time to Wash Clothes with Solar?

So what time of day should you wash your clothes?

If you use solar power to wash your clothes, try to use the washer during the day when the sun is out. This is when your solar panels will have the most charge. But if the solar system has been sized properly to cater to cloudy weather, then you shouldn’t have any issues regardless of when you run your laundry.

But still, keep in mind how many days of cloudy weather are coming up to avoid draining your batteries!

Sunlight shining through a bush of flowers.

What Size Inverter do you need to Run a Washing Machine?

You need to size your inverter’s washing machine to handle its continuous and surge power rating (Watts).

Check the owner manual for this information.

To choose what size inverter you need to run a washing machine, if the washer draws a peak power of 1,150 watts, then as a minimum, the inverter should be rated at 2,000 watts and should be a pure sine wave inverter.

The washing machine will run cooler and unusual noises can occur when certain modified sine wave inverters are used to power a washing machine.

Is it Worth Running a Washing Machine with Solar?

If your reasons for running a washing machine with solar power are moral, then it’s up to you if it’s worth it. But financially, it doesn’t make much sense.

At the time of this post, it costs about USD 11 a year to power a 4.5 cubic feet washer. This assumes 6 wash loads a week and an average energy cost of 12 cents.

With a complete 500-watt solar kit – solar panels, inverter, batteries, and charge controller at USD 1,600, the payback period is over 150 years so it is not worth it from a cost-saving objective.

Only consider running your washer on solar if budget is not an issue, your interest is to use solar, the kit is already available or there are subsidies available.

So, can you run a washing machine on solar power?

Let’s sum things up!

Yes, solar panels can be used to power a washing machine. The capacity of the solar system will depend on the power consumption of the washer and how many cycles you plan to do in a day. Use cold water to reduce energy requirements and increase sustainability!

Check out our other articles for more DIY projects!

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