If you are looking for something that runs on green energy and is good for the environment but is more portable, then a solar generator might be the option for you.
Just like regular solar panels, they run on the light from the sun. They work similarly to gas generators, where they are reliable, easy to use, and user-friendly. They are even safe – safer than traditional gas generators.
You may be wondering if these generators are clean, weather-proof, long lasting, efficient, and affordable. This article is here to explain more about these generators that run on renewable energy and if they might work for your needs.
What Is a Solar Generator
A solar generator works the same way as any other generator, where it takes energy from another source and converts it into AC power that your appliances and devices can use. Small ones are sometimes known as power stations, while a bigger device can act as a backup power source for a some households.
However, instead of using gas, it uses solar panels or AC power to give you the charge you need. Since these are often made to be compact and portable, they contain all the important parts you need in one convenient box.
The Two Different Types of Solar Generators
Solar Backup Generators
Solar backup generators are the ones installed in your home. It just provides additional power on cloudy days or at night. It also can be used as a power backup in the event of a blackout.
They run automatically, collecting power when it is sunny out, and releasing it when the sun isn’t quite meeting your demands.
Portable Solar Generators
Portable solar generators are ones you can take with you anywhere, especially if you are camping. They provide you with a power supply to power small appliances or electronics and act as a bigger power bank.
Most of them are light, so they are ideal for campers.
The Benefits of Purchasing a Solar Generator
Some benefits of choosing a solar generator are:
- Low maintenance
- Clean and renewable electricity from the sun
- Can also be charged via a vehicle like a truck or at your home before taking off
- Little to no noise
- Some are portable and can be taken anywhere
- Relies on solar charging
- Clean, green, and renewable energy that relies on light from the sun
- Can be used inside tents or RVs, since no harmful fuel is being used that releases dangerous emissions
Things To Consider When Choosing a Solar Generator for You
When choosing a solar generator, it is a good idea to have a list of things you don’t want to budge on. There is a lot to take into account when choosing a solar generator, and you don’t want to overlook anything.
Even once you know what you want, it can be hard to know where to start. Some of the best solar system generators on the market right now include:
- Delta 2
When looking at solar generators, this is a good place to start. They aren’t all made in the country of the US, but they are good companies to use and have powerful systems that work for any purpose, whether you are getting an installation at home or want a portable generator.
Purpose and User Activity
Every generator company and model creates its devices to have specific features for specific uses. Some are made to stay at home in case your fridge needs some emergency power, while others are made for people who want to be an explorer and travel around while still having outlets to power their devices.
It is wise to shop around to get an idea of the benefits of each unit, so you don’t have to worry about shipping them back if the warranty or the design isn’t right for you.
Weirdly enough, not all solar generators can handle being outside in bad weather as they aren’t made weather-proof, or don’t come with important accessories like a charging cable or boxes to carry them around in. So look at all the information and reviews from other users when you are shopping around before you make your end decision.
Also, you want to determine the outlets you will need. Each generator and company produces a certain number of ports of each kind.
For example, do you mostly want to charge things like a phone or tablet? You may want one with mostly USB ports. However, there are also many different types of USB ports, so make sure you get a generator that has the right ones.
Do you want to power things like laptops and blenders? You may want to get output ports that are AC-based, like the ones you would have in your house.
If you want to closely monitor your system, you can also look at what comes with the display. Is it just whether it is on or not, or will it give you information like the solar energy coming in and the power being used by the system?
Some even have an app where you can monitor the system, including how many charge cycles it has.
Battery Storage Capacity
You need to make sure that the solar charging station you pick has the power capacity you need to charge everything. Look at the amp-hours of the battery to determine if you can power all the gadgets you need.
The lithium battery capacity determines how long you can go without recharging it.
Going up sizes usually increases the weight, but there are lots of options out there, so find units and equipment that power anything you need.
Expandability of Power
It isn’t easy to determine how much power you need, especially if you’ve only gotten power from the grid before. You may start off underestimating the amount you need to power your appliance.
Thankfully, many of these products allow for expansion. While it will add to the price down the line, you can make orders for an expansion such as a new battery or an extra set of panels.
Inverters have power that is rated in VA which is voltage amperes. This determines how much you can power at once. For example, a smaller inverter may not be able to power a smartphone, blender, and grill at once, but a larger inverter can.
To determine how much power you need. Do you just want to be able to scroll through YouTube and Instagram on your laptop occasionally, while powering the lights, or do you want something on the market that can handle a bit more?
You may know how much power you need in a day, but what about the entire load you need at once? The inverter determines the load that your generator can handle by converting only so much DC power to AC.
To make sure that you aren’t over-taxing the design, you want to make sure that you have plenty of wattage (W) at once to power any items that you may need.
While you can always change the battery size and add more panels, it is hard to add another inverter or a bigger one.
Size and Solar Input
Another thing to take into account is the size. If you want to use it while traveling around a lot, you may not want to get the biggest size.
However, getting a smaller size often means a smaller battery and inverter, which means you can’t power as many items, or for as long as might be your ideal choice. That’s why it is best to figure out what works best for you in terms of power, and what you are willing to sacrifice to get a solution that works well for you.
If you are mainly wanting to charge your solar generator with the light from the sun, you may also want to look at solar panels. Some generators come with a set of solar panels. Others, you have to purchase separately, and can use only their brand.
Look not only at whether or not they have solar panels included but at the size of the panels as well. This determines how much more you have to carry, and how much faster your battery bank will charge.
More panels and stronger panels often means more weight, but it also means faster charging times so you can use your battery bank faster.
Also, look at the solar panels themselves. Some brands have ones that can easily be carried while hiking, so you can charge while you go. Others unfold open to large panels that only work when sitting in place.
Some others also can’t handle the weather very well, including rain and wind. So if you are going to be out in some extreme environments, it is best to look at the ratings on the panels and what they can handle.
Do solar generators work on cloudy days?
However, as long as your generator has full batteries when it is cloudy, it doesn’t matter.
The generator stores the power so it can work at any time, even when it is cloudy or dark. If you are trying to charge it, you may want to check the weather in advance, as charging can take a long time on cloudy days. But remember you can also charge your product at home or with a car output.
How big of a solar generator do I need?
If you are camping, there are times when you won’t be able to easily recharge your power station, so you want to make sure you can easily have enough power for the necessities.
The amount of power you are using at once will be heavily determined by the inverter. So if your model only has a 2,000-watt inverter, you can only power around 2,000 watts at a time. This is often just enough for a microwave, and nothing else.
So decide what you want to power, and make sure you get a type that is big enough.
However, the bigger you go, the more the cost increases and some companies are very expensive. Thankfully, if you look in advance and are patient, you can often find deals.
Does a solar generator make noise?
What maintenance does a solar generator need?
Can I power my home with a solar generator?
How do I build my own solar generator?
– Solar panel
– MPPT charge controller
– Battery management system
= Lithium-ion battery
So to build your own solar generator, you have to have, at a minimum, these five parts. If you want to have a little more portability, putting it in a battery box or container is a smart move. You will also need to do some wiring and buy the ports you desire, such as a USB-C port, AC plug, and more.
Additionally, if you want to use your generator all the time, you can take a page out of other solar generator models and include other ways to charge it, such as using a wall outlet or a car charger.