I always get excited when I receive a new solar generator and get to try it out. I purchased the ExpertPower Alpha and put it through its paces to see how well it would do. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was right up there with the few good solar generators on the market.
It is often compared to the Bluetti solar generator made by MAXOAK. For more info on the direct comparison between the two click here.
The ExpertPower Alpha has a nice sized 1,500 watt-hour lithium-ion battery. The battery is big enough to run important items through the night since that is when the battery is mostly used. The solar input offsets the battery capacity as I’ll talk about down below. It uses LG batteries which are considered very high quality. The 1,500wh capacity is enough to run plenty of items once the sun has gone down.
Commonly run items during the night are things like TVs, phone chargers, laptop chargers, humidifiers, de-humidifiers, CPAP machines, fridges, freezers, fans and so on. It all depends on the application. If I am using the Alpha while camping then I just need to run an air pump shortly, charge phones, maybe my walkie talkies depending on the type of camping trip.
If I were using the Alpha for RVing then I’d want to run a blender, lights, fans, chargers, TV, and so on. There are so many different applications for the Alpha because it’s not a large generator. It is quite portable and easy to store.
It has a 1,000-watt pure sine wave inverter. I was sad to see that it was only 1,000 watts of continuous power because some appliances such as coffee makers, electric cooktops, and microwaves will use more than 1,000 watts continuously. It would’ve been nice to have a 1,500-watt inverter but there’s a good reason as to why it only has a 1,000-watt inverter which I’ll get into in just a second.
The inverter is a pure sine wave that will allow it to run all appliances normally just like at home. I was surprised to see that even at the low price point that it wasn’t a modified sine wave since those are more affordable and the Alpha is for sure on the more affordable side when it comes to solar generators. It will easily run older non-energy-efficient items to brand new LEDs and other energy-efficient items.
The peak power that the ExpertPower inverter can give out is only 1,200 watts. That really should be higher too but for the most part, I am not running equipment that has a huge start-up. Since I can’t run things like a toaster oven, microwave or hot plate then I don’t have to worry about high surges. I do like that they sized the inverter and battery properly together.
My understanding of the solar generator market is that companies understand solar, electricity, volts, amps, watts, loads, and all of those things very well. People on the other hand generally have no idea how that works. Sadly, MOST solar generator companies take advantage of people’s lack of understanding and will use that against them. I obviously don’t think that is right at all.
ExpertPower has not done this though which is one of the reasons I like them. They have a 1,500-watt-hour battery, with a 1,000-watt inverter and the battery can use 1,000 watts until the battery is dead. This is important for one major reason:
Other solar generators will have a 1,500-watt inverter, a 1,100-watt-hour battery and a draw capacity/battery can only use 550 watts continuously for more than a few minutes. What this means is that other companies use batteries that are not sized to the inverter. Or the inverter is too large for the battery since the battery can only do 1/3 of what the inverter can do. This to me is very misleading and can cause some serious buyer remorse.
The Alpha is different. It has a large battery which is nice, and the inverter is 1,000 watts and the battery is matched to what the inverter can do. This means I don’t have to overpay for a feature I can’t use. If the Alpha had a 1,500-watt inverter and the battery can only put out 1,000 watts continuously then that would mean I would be paying a higher price for the 1,500-watt inverter but couldn’t use 1,500 watts. Nice going ExpertPower.
The Alpha is rated to 1,000 lifecycles at a 60% draw. What this means is that if I use the Alpha every day and drain it down to 60% before charging it, I will be able to do that 1,000 times before the battery has degraded. This is less than 2,000 which is the max lifecycle capability of a large lithium-ion battery.
Most of the time I use my Alpha I don’t drain it much farther than 60% because I don’t have a ton of things to run. This means I could do that every single day for 3 years before I must worry about my battery being degraded. For most users, they will never reach 1,000 cycles on the battery. Therefore, I am okay with the 1,000-lifecycle rating.
The first time I turned on my Alpha it took me a second to figure it out. I pressed the power button, and nothing happened. Naturally, I held the button down and that did the trick. I had to hold it down for about 2 to 3 seconds for it to power on. After doing that there was still no power in the plugs.
The Alpha has three buttons on the front of it: Power, DC Power and AC Power. To see battery level, input power and screen info all I have to do is turn it on.
If I want to run the DC plugs on it then I hold the DC Power button for 2 to 3 seconds and it will turn that on. Then if I want to use any AC power from the house outlets, I turn on the AC power by holding that button for 2 to 3 seconds.
Pretty self-explanatory when it’s in front of you but it definitely confused me at first since I didn’t know I needed to hold the buttons down.
The Alpha allows up to 500 watts of solar panels to be used for charging. I love that! The reason is that 500 watts of power from the sun is quite a bit when the battery is 1,500wh. That means I could charge it from 0% to 100% in 3 hours in ideal conditions. There are about 5 hours a day that can be counted on in the USA where the sun is bright enough that the panels can make their full potential.
Effectively what this means is that I can make 2,500 watts of power in a clear ideal day. 500 watts of panels x 5 hours max charging power = 2,500 watts. Realistically though it’s not going to be ideal conditions every single day. I will be able to make power outside of that 5-hour window though because the sun is obviously out and shining for more than 5 hours a day in the USA.
That means even in non-ideal conditions I will likely be able to make anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 watts of power a day from those panels. When the battery is 1,500wh that means I can fully charge the Alpha each day while still running important equipment such as a fridge, freezer, fans, computer or whatever.
One point to understand though is that it cannot exceed 60 volts or 10 amps going into the power plug or it will shut off the input charge ability. ExpertPower says it’s best to chain five 100-watt solar panels together to achieve the 500 watts wanted. The problem is that often 100-watt solar panels will make about 18 volts of power each. When I chain solar panels together that increases the voltage but keeps the amperage the same.
This means if I have five 100-watt solar panels it would be 18v x 5 panels = 90 volts! That’s way too much and would definitely not work.
If I connect the solar panels in parallel, then the volts stay the same and the amps go up. Each panel makes about 5 to 6 amps each. 5 amps x 5 panels = 25 amps! That is more than the allotted 10-amp max. So how on earth can I connect my panels to make this work?
There are two ways to make this work the best.
Option 1: Use a series/parallel combination with four 100-watt panels a two 50-watt panels. This means I will connect two 100-watt panels and one 50-watt panel all together in series. This will make about 45v of power. 18v x 2 (100 watt) panels = 36v. 9v x 1 (50 watt) panel = 9v. Then we take 36v + 9v = 45 volts. This will keep the amps right about 5 amps. Then I add a second set just like this in parallel. See image below:
This will make about 45v and 10amps. The biggest concern with this is that I’m right at the limit of the amps which means if it’s super sunny out I could go over that amount. The best thing to do to avoid this issue is to use a watt meter to see how much power is coming off the panels.
Option 2: It’s exactly like option 1 but only uses four 100-watt solar panels. This will give a better chance of not making too much power, therefore, shutting off the charge ability. The downside is that I can’t make as much power as possible. 400 watts is still quite good though.
The Alpha uses a semi-common DC7909 barrel connector. In the world of barrel connectors, it’s fairly common however in the world of solar it’s not used very often. The only other solar generator I am aware of that uses that same DC7909 connection type is the Bluetti.
This means it’s very important to not misplace the DC7909 to MC4 adapter cable. The adapter allows me to use any solar panel that uses MC4 connectors, which is about 95%+, and use it with the Alpha. If I lose it, I will have to get ahold of ExpertPower and order another one since it is not a common cable.
Because it only has one charging port for both AC wall charging and solar charging, this means I cannot simultaneously charge from two sources. For me, it’s fine since I never charge from two types of power sources, but some people like to do that.
There is no car charger. This is the biggest let down of the system. It’s nice when I’m on the road on the way to my camping location or wherever and I want to top off the unit before arriving. Or even when I’m coming home from a trip, I like to have my equipment ready for use again. If I were able to charge it while driving, then I could to it off and have a ready unit when I arrive.
There is a way around this though. The simplest way to do it is to simply buy a car DC inverter and plug the wall outlet into that. This is an easy solution that I like but it’s sad that it doesn’t come with the ability to charge from a car. I have to get a third-party item to make it work.
MPPT or PWM
The Alpha comes with an MPPT charge controller which is very nice. This means that even on cloudy days I will have a far better chance of being able to charge my Alpha faster. The MPPT charge controller is essentially a computer that figures out how to work the solar panels so that they make more power with the amount of light that they are receiving. This makes charging a lot more consistent and faster.
Weight and Size
The ExpertPower Alpha weighs in right at 38lbs which can be a bit hefty for some people. For me my comfort zone is 35lbs and under. This is just outside of my comfort zone but is still absolutely manageable. I don’t know if they could’ve shaved off a few pounds on the internal components in order to have a lower weight but in the end is probably not necessary.
It measures 14.4” tall x 6.5” wide x 14.6” long.
Plugs and Ports
It is quite simple when it comes to ports and plugs on the Alpha. It has two 110/120v house plugs on the backside of it. Four 5v USB ports. One USB-C 45W port. One DC cigarette lighter style port rated to 9 amps. The charge port is rated to 60v and 10a.
As far as the ports go, I really wish they would’ve added at least two more 110/120v house plugs because that is what I use the most. I don’t use the USB ports very much so I would’ve preferred more house plugs so I can plug more things in at one time.
There is also no 30amp RV plug which is too bad because that makes life so much easier when camping with an RV or camper. However, this system would be a bit light to run a lot of RV type items since the inverter is rated to 1000-watts. I’m glad they didn’t put an RV plug on there and then limit it to 10 amps or something like that because that would make it pointless.
The user manual says that it should be used and charged every three months. I have never had an issue though that if I leave the unit charged at 100% and then come back to it in one year it still works perfectly fine and the battery is full.
It comes with a complete 1-year manufacturer warranty. This is nice because since I use my solar generators often if there is an issue it will usually present itself in the first few uses. I think it is important that once people receive this item, they put it through its paces and see how well it works. If there are any manufacturer defects they will come up and it will be fixed quite easily.
Do I think that ExpertPower Alpha is worth having around? Yes. I think it’s a well put together product. There are just a couple things I would change but they are not big deals as previously mentioned.
I like that it will also fit easily into an XXL EMP Faraday Bag for protecting from an EMP attack as well as water, dust, and abrasion.
It is very competitively priced and seems to be worth every penny.