What is the standard size of a solar panel?
Here’s a guide to understanding the standard dimensions of solar panels.
If you’re thinking about covering your house or garage with solar panels, or even building a solar pergola, you’ll want to know something about solar panel sizes.
I’ll get to that, but first let’s clarify what we mean by size. It could mean a couple of things:
- The physical dimensions of the panel, or
- The power output of the panel in watts
To address the first point, solar panels for large scale power generation - meaning, larger than a DIY project like a camping setup - come in two general sizes: residential and commercial.
Residential solar panels are commonly around 39 inches wide by 65 inches long, give or take an inch or two.
Commercial solar panels are larger: about 40 inches wide by 80 inches long.
There isn’t an industry standard size, so both residential and commercial solar panels from different manufacturers can be a few inches larger or smaller than this.
Solar panel dimensions by type
In addition to the sizes mentioned above, there are a lot of solar panel sizes available to suit a wide variety of smaller applications.
You can get small solar panels to mount on your motorhome or boat. They even come in flexible form factors, which you can easily take with you camping if you want electricity but don’t want a generator.
Smaller solar panels for camping, RVs, boats, etc.
Solar panels can be really handy if you’re camping off-the-grid but still want to power your devices.
There are three common sizes for small solar panels: 50 watt, 100 watt, and 160 watt. Keep in mind that these wattages are approximate, so you might find 150, 160, or 175 watt panels.
Here’s what the typical dimensions of these panels are. As with all the panels listed in this article, the width and height can vary by a few inches:
|Wattage (approx)||Width (approx)||Length (approx)||Thickness (approx)||Voltage|
|50 watts||21 inches||26 inches||1 inch||12 volts|
|100 watts||21 inches||47 inches||1.5 inches||12 volts|
|160 watts||26 inches||58 inches||1.5 inches||12 volts|
|50 watts (flexible)||21 inches||26 inches||0.1 inches||12 volts|
|100 watts (flexible)||21 inches||48 inches||0.1 inches||12 volts|
|160 watts (flexible)||26 inches||55 inches||0.1 inches||12 volts|
The ones listed as flexible refer to bendable crystalline solar panels. They look like this:
Flexible solar panels tend to vary a little more in their sizes, so don’t be surprised if you find panels with dimensions that differ from this table.
Solar panels for homes, commercial, and industrial uses
When it comes to solar panels for grid-connected applications, there are two size categories: residential and commercial solar panels.
As mentioned earlier, the sizes are approximatelly 39 inches wide by 65 inches long for residential panels and about 40 inches wide by 80 inches long for commercial panels. But there aren’t any industry-defined standards for this, so these sizes can vary by a few inches in any dimension.
For example, it’s becoming common for manufacturers to advertise 400 watt solar panels. This is accomplished through high cell efficiency, but sometimes manufacturers “cheat” by making the panels a little larger, making the 400 watt benchmark a bit of a marketing ploy in some cases.
The other thing to note is that there’s nothing preventing an installer from using commercial-sized solar panels on a home, or residential panels in a commercial setting. The smaller residential size exists mostly so that the panels can weigh under 50 pounds, making them more feasible for a single worker to carry up a ladder. Commercial installations typically involve larger crews and equipment, so the heavier panels are less of a concern.
What does cell count in solar panels mean?
It used to be the case that most residential solar panels were made of 60 individual solar cells wired together, and larger commercial panels were made of 72 cells.
This is still often the case, but with changing technology and manufacturing methods, this is no longer a hard and fast rule. For exmaple, half-cut solar cells doubles the number of cells in a panel, and shingled solar cells does away with individual square cells and replaces them with long strips of cells.
That said, if you see mention of a 60-cell or 72-cell solar panel, that respectively refers to a residential or commercial solar panel.
What is the size of an individual solar cell?
When it comes to traditional solar cells that aren’t half-cut or shingled, the most common sizes are:
- 125mm x 125mm (5 inch)
- 156mm x 156mm (6 inch)
Most solar manufacturers are using 6 inch cells, with one notable exception being SunPower. For example, the 96 cell SunPower panels use smaller 5 inch cells, which explains why their panels are the same dimension as 60 cell panels from other companies.
This does mean SunPower panels have higher voltages, but again, this is something that most homeowners don’t need to worry about because their installer will select compatible equipment.