There are many different types of solar generators on the market. Many people wish to improve their camping, RV, or tiny housing alternatives in blackouts, hurricanes, or storms.
Solar generators are a terrific way to have additional energy on hand, whether you need to keep your lights on when the power goes out, or you want to charge your phone while camping.
But, in comparison to traditional gas-powered generators, how do portable solar power generators fare? We look at how solar generators function, consider the benefits and drawbacks and explore whether or not a solar generator is a good investment for you.
What is a solar generator, and how does it work?
A solar power generator is, technically, any system that runs on solar energy. However, most people think of a solar generator as a portable power station that generates electricity using solar panels rather than fossil fuels.
A portable solar generator captures the sun's energy with solar panels and then stores it in a battery for later use. Solar generators are commonly used for RV camping, boating, and as a backup power source in a power loss from the grid.
Solar Generators VS Fuel-Powered Generator
When you're camping off the grid, a solar generator can power lights and charge mobile devices just like a typical portable generator or inverter generator. It can also be used to power corded instruments at a job site without electrical outlets.
In a power outage, you can utilize a solar generator to backup essential power devices around your house. On the other hand, a solar generator functions differently than gas, diesel, or propane-powered generator.
It receives the sun's energy through solar panels, converts the solar energy to electricity, and stores it in a battery rather than producing it. When needed, the battery serves as a power source. Some of the primary advantages of solar-powered generators are due to this feature.
Pros and Cons of a Solar Generator
Solar Generators Advantages.
The sun provides free energy.
Traditional gas-powered generators necessitate regular fuel purchases. There are no fuel costs with a solar generator. Install your solar panel and take advantage of the free sunlight!
Clean, renewable energy
Clean, renewable energy sources power solar generators. This means you won't have to worry about the cost of fossil fuels to power your generator and the environmental impact of using gasoline.
When solar generators produce and store energy, they do so without emitting any pollutants. As a result, you can relax and enjoy your camping or boating excursion knowing that it is powered by renewable energy.
Low-maintenance and quiet
Another advantage of solar generators is that they are pretty quiet. Solar generators, unlike gas generators, have no moving parts. This minimizes the amount of noise they make while running extensively.
Furthermore, because there are no moving parts, the risks of solar generator parts breaking are minimal. Compared to a gas generator, this significantly minimizes the amount of maintenance necessary for a solar generator.
Solar Generators Disadvantages
High start-up costs
Solar generators are substantially more expensive to purchase than regular gas generators. A gas generator costs roughly $1,000 on average. Solar generators are usually around $2,000 in price.
Solar generators, on the other hand, have substantially reduced operating expenses. As a result, you'll save money over the life of a solar generator.
The batteries in solar generators can only be recharged while the sun is shining. Even then, charging the battery from the solar panels takes time. For example, most mid-sized solar generator batteries would take over 9 hours to charge using a solar panel with a power output of 100 watts.
Generators that run on fossil fuels may be refueled at any moment, allowing you to acquire extra power whenever you need it, regardless of the weather or time of day.
Power supply is limited.
The size of the solar generator battery will also limit the amount of power the generator can produce. As a result, a solar generator is unlikely to be sufficient to control your complete home. However, it can charge phones and computers and keep tiny appliances operating for a short time.
Because gas generators may be recharged at any moment, they have fewer limitations in terms of what they can power and for how long.
Things to Consider Before Getting a Solar Generator
A solar-powered generator's inverter rating is a number that indicates the highest amount of watts it can produce at any given moment. Depending on your needs, a solar generator with a higher inverter rating may be required.
Don't be fooled: the size of the inverter has no bearing on the power output of solar generators. If you use a 1500W inverter with a 450Wh battery, it's pointless. The most efficient solar generators have a watt-hours/inverter rating of 1.5:1. A 1500 watt-hour battery to a 1000 watt inverter, for example.
To summarize, if you're going camping for the weekend and want to utilize a solar generator to charge a couple of iPhones. A tiny generator with a capacity of 200 watts will suffice. Alternatively, if you're planning to use that size to power your coffee machine in the event of a power outage, you'll be disappointed.
Modes of Charging
Apart from solar panels, a high-quality solar-powered generator should have numerous charging alternatives.
The amount of time it takes to charge with solar energy varies depending on the weather and the amount of light exposure. Therefore, it's possible that setting the generating system isn't fast enough at times. As a result, the power station should be able to be charged directly from an AC source via power outlets and via the 12V battery, which is ideal for RV and camping trips.
If you forget to keep your alternator turned on while charging the power station, you may wind up with a dead car battery.
Devices that can be charged
Not every consumer is a good fit for a solar generator. However, it does not imply that the product is defective; rather, it indicates that it was not created for the function you intend to use.
What do you want to charge is one of the most critical details to remember. What exactly are you looking to back up?
These considerations are also critical for determining which solar-powered generator is the best fit for your needs and avoiding oversizing.
Examine which appliances can be linked to the power station, how many devices can be connected at once, how long the machines can run or how many times they can be charged.
Many modern solar generators combine usefulness and practicality, effectively allowing you to have your cake and eat it too. In any event, a solar generator is likely to include all of the characteristics you desire. For example, it's light enough to move from room to room or lift into a vehicle.
Some of the most excellent portable generators we've seen were heavy, but they featured handles and wheels, making them easy to transfer no matter how serious they were. Look for solar generators that are either light or have handles and wheels if you want your solar generator to be as mobile as you are.
When choosing a new product from a plethora of options, it's always worth considering what additional benefits this brand or product offers that others don't.
Some portable solar generators on the market can only be charged using solar electricity, while others have three setting options.
Also, some solar-powered generators will include an inbuilt charge controller, which is required for solar charging, while others would require you to purchase it separately. Furthermore, some will feature an integrated PWM chip, while others will have an MPPT charge controller, allowing you to get the most out of your solar energy and charge your generator kit even faster.
Additional features such as numerous USB outputs with Quick Charging capability, an integrated flashlight, BMS protection, integrated fuses, and surge protection for the sine wave inverter are all valuable aspects that might help you choose between two similar devices.
Surge Power Capacity
One of the first considerations when selecting a solar-powered generator is the surge pure sine wave inverter rating.
This value represents the maximum power capacity that the solar generator system can offer to your loads at any one time. This is most common in motors and refrigerators, which generate an immediate electric current surge that only lasts a few milliseconds.
Check the surge power requirement of any refrigerators or tiny motors you might need, and ensure it's less than the maximum surge inverter rating.
Another critical consideration is the rechargeable battery's storage capacity, which is measured in watt-hours.
This will tell you how long your tiny appliances (fridges, fans, and mini-coolers) can stay connected or how many times an electronic item can be fully charged.
It will also have an impact on the amount of time it takes to charge the solar-powered generator. Built-in solar panels are uncommon in these types of items, so you'll need to buy a solar panel in addition to the generator if you want an off-the-grid power supply that's completely independent of the grid and suited for camping or RVs. Keep in mind that charging times will vary depending on the weather.