How to keep solar panel voltage at 24V?

Solar panels act a little differently than you might think. For example, all "12 volt" solar panels actually output 18 volts, as high as 20 volts Voc in bright sunlight. You have to remember this is Voc and there really is no situation in which Voc is output when the panel is actually attached to a load and providing current.

I have read a couple of theories on why panels are made this way. One is that under lower light conditions you will still get the minimum voltage required for your load. This is the most common answer that I have read, but it doesn't make sense to me because under low light conditions amperage drops considerably making the panel not very useful.

The other more logical answer has to do with the power curve of the solar panel. If you graphed the current versus voltage curve of the panel you would find that for most cells, you get the maximum current (given the same sunlight) at about 75% of the max voltage of the panel or approx 14/18 volts.(when charging 12 volt lead acid batteries will rise to 14 volts and even a little higher)

So how does this apply to you? Well solar panels are interesting creatures and as soon as you hook it up to your 24 volt fan in bright sunlight, it will drop to 24 volt output and problem solved. No need for extra electronics. I am not sure of the correct terminology, but I believe that the panel's resistance is incredibly low, so that anything you hook it up to has a higher resistance. As a result the voltage of the panel drops to the voltage of the load.

For example my 12 volt panel that reads 20.5 volts in the bright sunlight drops immediately to 10.5 volts, to when I connect it to my depleted lead acid battery (which is 10.5 volts when completly depleted). I would think that the same should happen to your fans.

However, sunlight comes and go, birds, clouds, etc cause the panel's output to fluctuate and thus your fans would likely stop and start repeatedly. Have you considered hooking the panel to a battery first and the fan to a battery? It could be a relatively low capacity battery that could feed the fans a constant voltage and amperage and the panel could feed the battery. You would want a cheap charge controller for the battery. Two 12 volt lead acid batteries in series would work well. I do that with my wife's water fountain. It would shut down for a few seconds when a cloud flew over or the dog ran in front of the solar panel. I got a free lead acid battery that was essentially dead (measured capacity less than an alkaline C battery!). The panel charges the battery while the battery feeds the fountain. Works well even though the battery is almost dead, the battery only really providing full power for a few seconds at a time.

Hope this helps.

The box was mislabeled. The "PMP" is a reference to the panel's point of maximum power output, and that's saying that the panel's nominal voltage is 36V, not 24V as it says on the box. Maybe they're implying on the box that you'd use this panel in conjunction with a nominal-24V storage system, but that would require a separate MPPT/charger module.

In any case, assuming you want to use the panel to run some 24V fans anyway, a good approach would be to get a DC-DC converter module that accepts a nominal 36V input (they usually have a fairly broad range of voltages that they'll accept, at least 2:1) and a regulated 24V output. Such modules are available from several vendors — check Digi-Key and Mouser.