Frequently Asked Questions
At Powered Portable Solar, we are passionate about helping others have a better understanding of solar. We know what it’s like to not know what a Watt, Volt, or Amp is. We strive to be an open, honest, and unbiased knowledge resource that will help you make confident decisions for your portable solar system!
Browse through our FAQ’s to find the answers you are looking for or contact us directly if you don’t see your question posted.
We personally test and use all of the solar equipment so we know the exact ins and outs of each one. We also include extra items and discounts in our kits that you don’t get anywhere else. You also get top-of-the-line extra customer service rather than only being dependent on the manufacturer. We have personally run entire houses, off-grid cabins, off-grid RVs, vans, events, and much more so we know firsthand what systems work best for different situations.
For the most part, most systems have at least a 2 year manufacturer warranty, but that is not true for ALL the systems we offer.
A transfer switch is a way to supply power to your house from a different source other than the grid/electrical company. It typically is two pieces. One is a large plug that is usually put in the garage or outside of the garage which has thick cables that connect to your electrical panel inside the house. The second part is a small metal plate that allows you to turn off the power from the grid, and supply power to your electrical panel from the plug in the garage. You can connect a solar generator or gas generator to that plug and power your house.
Pulse Width Module is a type of charge controller. It is a simple computer that helps control how much power is made from the solar panels. PWM charge controllers are very affordable, small and lightweight. They will not help the solar panels make more power as an MPPT charge controller will. In almost every case, it is best to go with an MPPT charge controller instead.
Maximum Power Point Tracking is a type of charge controller. It is a computer that helps the solar panels make more power especially when there are not ideal solar conditions. The MPPT costs more, weighs more and is larger than an equivalent PWM charge controller. It is almost always recommended to go with an MPPT charge controller because it will help make much more power from solar panels than a PWM.
Volts x Amps = Watts. For example, a laptop that uses 120 watts and .5 amps would use 60 watts. (120 x .5 = 60) That means in the course of 1 hour it will have consumed 60 watts of energy.
Watts is the result of multiplying volts and amps together. It is essentially how much energy is flowing through a cable at one time. For example, a toaster will use 120 volts and about 10 amps to run. 120v x 10a = 1,200w.
The same applies to solar panels. An average 100w solar panel will make about 20v and 5a of power. 20v x 5a = 100w.
Whether you’re running a device or charging a solar generator’s battery, the unit of measurement is watts.
Volts are basically the range in which certain devices can work within. Think of it as a shoe size, you may have a size 8.5 foot but sometimes a 9 fits well and other times an 8 fits well. Even though you have a size 8.5 foot, other closeby sizes also work for you. If you get a size way too big or too small the shoe will not work at all.
Similarly in houses, the average voltage in the outlets is 120v. But you can still run devices even if you only have 105v or if you have 130v. It’s a range in which devices can receive power.
Amps are how much power is actually being used in a device. For example with a refrigerator, it operates on 120v power but it isn’t running all of the time. It will only turn on when the internal temperature reaches a certain point and the compressor kicks on. So when it’s plugged in but not working, it’s using zero amps. But when it starts cooling the food down again, it could be using 3 or 4 amps.
Watt-hours are how we measure battery capacity. It’s the result of multiplying the voltage of the battery and the total amp-hours in the battery. This is a far better unit of measurement than amp-hours which some people use. The problem with using amp-hours is it doesn’t tell us at what voltage the battery is at.
For example, if there are two batteries where one has 74ah and the other is 148ah, it would seem like the second one has much more battery capacity. But if battery #1 is a 24v battery and battery #2 is a 12v battery, then they have the exact same amount of usable battery capacity. 24v x 74ah = 1,776wh. And 12v x 148ah = 1,776wh.
This is how we determine how much power a device will use over the course of one hour. For example, a fridge will use about 400 watts when it is running to cool the food. But if it only runs for 15mins (25%) of an hour, then it will only use 100wh of power from the battery. So if the battery is 1,000wh of capacity, and the fridge uses an average of 100wh/hr then we can see that the battery will run the fridge for 10 hours before it is empty.
It is how many hours in a day the solar panels are capable of making their maximum power output. In the USA, the average is 5hrs per day. But this changes greatly depending on the location. Northern states have fewer solar peak hours than southern states because the southern states are closer to the equator. Also, the time of year makes a big difference because we have more sun during the summer and less during the winter. The opposite is true for countries south of the equator.
We focus on having solar generator kits that are capable of recharging in 5 hours or less because the average is 5 solar peak hours per day.
Direct current means that the electricity being used does not need to be converted to AC (alternating current) in order to run the device that is connected. DC power is more efficient meaning it uses less overall power when compared to AC power. Common items that use DC power are RV fridges, tire pumps, phone charging adapters, camping lights etc… DC requires no inverter as long as the device being used is designed for DC power.
Alternating current is more common than DC (direct current) power. AC power has to be converted from DC power. This conversion means that there is a power loss, but the loss is fairly minimal. More common for running items around the house. AC power requires and inverter to convert the power from DC to AC.
Nominal voltage is a way of defining a voltage class. For example, a 12v battery will rarely be exactly 12v. Depending on the type of battery chemical the voltage range can be anywhere from 10.8v to 14.4v. That means anywhere in the voltage range the battery will operate, but, at lower voltages, the battery generally doesn’t work as well.
No. There are no circuits inside solar panels so they do not need to be protected from an EMP.
Yes. There are many circuits inside solar generators that need to be protected from an EMP. We recommend the Tech Protect Faraday Bags because they have been tested and proven to be 100% EMP proof. It is recommended to nest (double bag) items inside the faraday bags due to the threat of Super-EMP weapons.
IP65 stands for the protection level the junction box has on a solar panel. IP65 means that it is dustproof and waterproof against low-pressure jets. See the image below
IP67 stands for the protection level of the junction box has on a solar panel. IP67 means that it is dustproof and waterproof against submersion at 3ft for 30mins. See the image below
Use this solar generator comparison chart. We have developed 6 different levels of solar generators so that they may all be fairly compared against each other. You can also watch this video that helps explain the comparison chart.
Nearly every solar generator currently on the market has “pass-through charging.” This means nearly every solar generator is capable of being charged while also running equipment.
This varies a lot from person to person. One person may just need to run a fridge, freezer, a light, and a phone charger. Whereas another persona may need to run their well pump, laundry, 2 fridges, 3 freezers, chargers for everyone in the house, and much more. For this reason, we recommend you use our Kit Calculator or Contact Us and we are happy to find out exactly what system will work best for you.
The short answer is, Yes! But it depends. Nearly all well pumps use 240v power. Only a few solar generators are capable of making 240v power. This means you have to use one of those units, and you will need a transfer switch on your house so you can get power from the solar generators to your well pump.
Yes, it’s possible. Not necessarily easy. First, it is imperative to make sure that the alternator is designed for high power discharge otherwise you’ll kill the battery and eventually the alternator. One option many people do is run-heavy gauge cables into the vehicle from the alternator and then connect those cables to a pure sine wave inverter. This gives you 120v outlets inside the vehicle so you can use wall chargers, appliances, and other devices directly off of the power being generated by the vehicle’s alternator.
Each solar generator has a different way to connect solar panels. It is very important to stay within the set charge parameters for the solar generator. For each kit, we offer we have wiring diagrams that suggest how to put the solar panels together. If that isn’t helpful enough, please contact us and we can give you guidance on how to do that.
Series connections mean that you connect from one solar panel, directly to the next one. Solar panel 1 will connect to solar panel 2. Then solar panel 2 connects to solar panel 3, and so on. When solar panels are connected in series, the total voltage (VOC) of those panels will increase but the total amperage (ISC) will stay the same.
Because having solar panels connected in series increases the voltage but not the amperage they are much more efficient. It is easy to send volts over a long distance but difficult to send amps over a long distance. Series connections keep the amperage low which means you can use thinner wires safely.
The disadvantage is that solar panels connected in series will all be equally as powerful as the weakest solar panel. If there are five solar panels in series and one of them has shad on it, then the other four will make the same amount of power as the single panel in the shade.
Parallel connections are when each solar panel has its own direct connection to the main solar cable that goes to your solar generator. The solar panels do not connect directly to each other. When solar panels are connected in parallel, the overall voltage (VOC) stays the same but the overall amperage (ISC) goes up.
When solar panels are connected in parallel the amps go up which means there is more resistance in the solar cables which means they have to be thicker in order to get that power over longer distances. It is generally considered less efficient because of the necessity to use thicker cabling.
But when solar panels are connected in parallel they all work independently of each other. This means if there are five solar panels and one of them is in the shade, the other four will work at full strength and not have their output power affected by the one solar panel in the shade.
When solar panels are in a series/parallel combo it means that there are at least two groups of solar panels with at least two solar panels in each group connected in series. Then those groups connect together through a branch connector to the main solar cable. Each panel in the group is connected in series and then each group has a direct connection to the main solar cable. So it uses both series and parallel connections.
Using series/parallel combo connections is generally the best solution for most solar generators. This just means you get the best of both worlds of both series and parallel connections. By using series connections the solar panels will be more efficient and can use thinner cables safely. And by having multiple groups of solar panels the groups will work independently of each other. If one group of solar panels is in the shade and the other is not, then the second group will work at full power even though the first group has diminished output.
The DC solar panel watt-meter is only capable of giving readings up to 60v. An average 100w solar panel will make about 20v. If you connect three of them together in series then the voltage will be about 60v going through the watt-meter. If five solar panels are connected together and then connected to the watt-meter then 100v is going through the watt-meter and it ruins the circuit board. If more than 60v was connected to the watt-meter, then it is broken and will no longer work.
Generally yes. For the larger more powerful solar generators it’s generally easy to use any solar panel. It is important to stay within the charge parameter of the solar generator. Some solar panels may input more power while staying within the solar charge parameter. For example, the Delta Pro can input 1,600w of solar input using our 200w solar panels while staying within the charge parameter of 11-150v and 15a. But only three of the EcoFlow 400w folding panels can be used with the Delta pro and stay within the charge parameter. That only gives it 1,200w of solar input. A larger solar panel doesn’t necessarily mean more power.
Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient. That simply means that you can have a smaller mono solar panel and make the same amount of power as a large poly panel. Polycrystalline is generally used where space is not an issue such are large rooftops. Monocrystalline solar panels are generally used where you want to conserve space or get more power by using the same amount of space as a polycrystalline panel.
At Powered Portable Solar, we only recommend monocrystalline solar panels.
The Flexx solar panels are very lightweight (4lbs for Flexx 100), do not have an aluminum frame, have an ETFE special coating instead of tempered glass and are meant for ultimate lightweight portability. They will last about 3-5 years of constant use. They can be damaged so it’s best to not use them permanently.
The Rigid solar panels are not lightweight but also not overly heavy (14lbs for Rigid 100 and 24lbs for Rigid 200). They have an aluminum frame and heavy duty tempered glass front. They are designed to last over 20 years of outdoor constant use and are extremely durable against the weather. They are the most common type of solar panel people get and the top one we recommend.
The briefcase solar panels are simply two rigid solar panels put together. They have a hinge and handle so they break down for easy transportation. They come with a protective padded cover so they can stay safe while being transported. The biggest advantage is they have built-in legs so they are easy to set up anywhere.
ETFE stands for Ethylene-Tetra-Fluoro-Ethylene. It is a type of high-strength fluorine polymer that is used as the finishing layer on the solar cells. It is corrosion, stain, and discoloring resistant making it the most ideal finish on solar panels, especially flexible solar panels. ETFE finish will generally last 20+ years and retain 80% or more of its original efficiency, clarity and quality. It is always preferable to PET finish. More often than not you can easily spot ETFE because of its matte low gloss finish. The Flexx 100 solar panels use an ETFE finish.
PET stands for Polyethylene terephalate. Commonly used on solar panels it is a plastic that helps protect the solar cells from damage. PET is also used as water bottle plastic, or even disposable household cleaner bottles. PET works well for short periods of time but will not stand the test of time like the ETFE finish will. PET is often noticeable by its high gloss look. PET will often flake, discolor or crack within 6 to 12 months of continual use in outdoor conditions. Much more cost-effective in the short run but will not last in the long run.
Yes, it is only a protective plastic covering which helps the panels keep safe from scratches in shipping. The plastic covering is not UV proof and if left on will eventually adhere to the solar panel causing power loss.
No. As long as the panels are not connected to the generator when the EMP happens they will not be damaged.
Monocrystalline solar panels are panels that have their solar cells cut from one large piece of silicon. Mono panels have a higher efficiency rating and cost more than Polycrystalline cells.
Polycrystalline solar panels are panels that have their solar cells molded from lots of fragmented pieces of silicon. Poly panels have a lower efficiency than mono panels but cost less than monocrystalline cells.
Solar panel efficiency refers to how much light is converted into power per cell. The more efficient a panel is the fewer cells it will need to make the same amount of power as a solar panel that is less efficient. More than anything efficiency means more power with less space.
Standard Testing Condition is the environment in which solar panels are tested. This standard is used worldwide and helps give a benchmark for different companies to work off of so customers can compare panels. These are perfect conditions and the parameters are: 77 degrees Fahrenheit, Solar Irradiance 1000watts/sqm (sun at noon position in the sky), and Atmospheric density of 1.5 (90 degrees perpendicular to the solar panel at 500ft above sea level).
Normal Operating Cell Temperature is the environment in which solar panels are more commonly found. This is a rating according to the manufacturer that will tell customers how much power they should actually expect to be close to when using that solar panel. The conditions are: 113 degrees Fahrenheit, Solar Irradiance 800w/sqm (sun just outside of peak hours), Atmospheric Density of 1.5 with 85-90% of STC.
Pmax stands for the maximum power point for the solar panel. It’s the maximum power that can be produced by the solar panel. The maximum amount of volts and amps combined to make the max amount of watts.
Vpmax is the greatest voltage of the solar panel.
Ipmax is the greatest amperage of the solar panel.
VOC is a spec that can be found on the sticker on the back of solar panels. It stands for “Open Circuit Voltage.” Essentially, it is the maximum amount of voltage the solar panel is capable of making in different weather conditions. The VOC number is the most important spec to pay attention to when connecting solar panels together to stay within the charge parameter of solar generators.
ISC is a spec that can be found on the sticker on the back of solar panels. It stands for “Short-Circuit Current.” Essentially, it’s the maximum amount of amperage the solar panel is capable of making in different weather conditions.
Yes. Pretty much with any solar generator system out there that I’m aware of you can use it while it’s being charged.
No. You can use any solar panels you’d like. There are two solar input ports on the Titan. Each one is rated to 145v and 30a. As long as your panels do not exceed those parameters you will charge just fine. Each port will only let 1,000w pass through it. The Titan comes with an PV Connector adapter so as long as the solar panels have PV Connector connectors they should be fine.
Yes. As long as you don’t exceed 145v and 30a. As an example, if port 1 had 1,500w of solar panels attached to it and the panels were making more than 1,000w from the sun, only 1,000w will go through the port. Each port can have more than 1,000w in panels but the Titan limits each port to only let in a max of 1,000w per port.
Yes. The Titan is the first of its kind to have a stackable battery design. Each battery has a 2,000wh capacity that can be sandwiched between the original battery and the inverter. Or it is possible to remove the plug covers from the bottom of the original battery and simply add the new battery below the original battery.
No. You can use any type of external battery. It is recommended to use a lithium base since the Titan battery is Lithium NMC. The Battle Born 24v battery is a great match for the Titan. Or two Battle Born 12v batteries can be paired together in series to make 24v to attach to the Titan. Make sure the external batteries are within .1volts charge of the Titan battery.
First of all, no one has done as much research and testing as I have when it comes to each component of the kits. Many people use cheap quality flexible panels that look similar to the Flexx 100 panels but do not come close to the same amount of power production. Second, I have been working on the Titan with the manufacturer almost since its inception. I have had first-hand experience with it when NO ONE else has.
Yes, they are IP65 waterproof which means they can handle heavy rain no problem.
Yes. The solar generator is essentially a computer. It has microchips, diodes, resistors and so on inside that will fail to work after an EMP. The Titan Solar Kits come with faraday bags to help protect against EMP attacks.
Yes. Since the Titan uses a Lithium-Ion battery it needs to be protected. Lithium-Ion batteries have micro-inverters in them that can be damaged from an EMP attack.
No. If there is an opening in the faraday/emp bag then it does not work. Also if there were cables sticking out of the bag, the cables would act as an antenna and would guide the EMP into the bag.
Yes. All that is needed is the proper Anderson SB50 connection cable and the batteries can be strung along however preferred. Be sure to use 6 AWG cables since that’s the thickest the SB50 connector can fit.
Yes. Simply ensure that if using something like a wind turbine that it is a 24v setup not a 12v. It can charge from an AC charger while charging from solar panels while being run.
No. Since a car’s alternator makes 12v power and the Titan uses 24v power, the alternator cannot be used for charging. One option is to have a 12v 750w or 1,500w inverter installed in the car and use the 1 AC wall charger for the 750w inverter or 2 AC wall chargers for the 1,500w inverter.