Do you live in an area that is prone to blackouts, hurricanes, tornadoes, high winds or any other event that could knock power out for a day or more?
Maybe you are simply looking to power an off-grid site such as a cabin, RV/camper, tiny home or campsite.
The best way to combat these power outages and have power off the grid is using solar energy. They don’t need fossil fuel, they are nearly silent, they recharge quickly and, in many cases, can be taken to other locations if needed.
The best way to harness solar power is by using solar generators, but how does a solar generator work? You’ll learn that plus other valuable information about solar generators in this article.
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What is a Solar Generator?
A solar generator is a compact electronic box that encompasses three main components, namely:
- Charge controller
- An inverter
The generator draws energy from the sun via solar panels and stores it in a high-capacity battery. Through an inverter, the stored energy is released for use with a wide variety of devices and appliances at home, including smartphones, lights, laptops, and refrigerators.
Solar generators are an excellent power source for people who are concerned about the negative impact of diesel and petrol-powered generators on the environment. These generators don’t emit harmful emissions, thanks to the fact that they use renewable energy.
How Does a Solar Generator Work?
The best way to answer this question is by exploring the main components of a solar generator and their individual functions.
- Battery – A solar generator has to store the energy it captures from the sun for later use. That’s the work of the battery. Lithium-ion batteries are more commonly used in solar generators, but you can also get lead-acid batteries. Lithium-Ion batteries have far more benefits than lead-acid batteries and in the long run are actually more affordable.
- Charge Controller – The charge controller is an integral component of a solar power generator. Its primary purpose is to protect and promote the durability of the solar generator’s battery. Charge controllers normally have different characteristics for charging and discharging depending on your battery type. This is the brain of the generator.
- Inverter – The work of an inverter is to convert the low DC (Direct Current) power from the battery into AC (Alternating Current) power that can be used to power various AC devices in your home. DC items can actually bypass the inverter completely since the electricity doesn’t need to be converted.
In short, a solar generator works by capturing energy from the sun via solar panels, storing the energy in its in-built battery, and converting the energy into AC power through an inverter before being released for use in household appliances and other electronic devices.
When integrated, the three components defined above make an efficient solar generator like the ones found on our page here. It’s worth noting that solar generators come in different types as outlined in the next section.
Types of Solar Generators
There are two major categories of solar generators, namely:
- Solar backup generators
- Portable solar power generators
Solar Backup Generators
If you are tired of constant power outages, a solar backup generator may be a practical solution for you. Solar backup generators are designed to provide an emergency backup in case of a power blackout. They usually have a high-wattage capacity and may be equipped with several batteries to maximize power storage.
These types of generators are designed to power the essential devices and electronics in your home, which may include lights, televisions, computers, and small to mid-range appliances. They are the most efficient power generators you can have without installing a complete system. They normally feature several AC outlets.
If you have high-wattage solar panels for your solar backup generator, it can take less than two days to charge your generator to full capacity, depending on the weather. This ensures that you have uninterrupted energy supply in your house, even during extended outages.
Unlike gas and diesel-powered generators, solar backup power generators are entirely silent and don’t emit carbon dioxide into the air. That means you can keep solar backup generators inside your house. You don’t have to leave them outside.
Despite their many benefits, these types of solar generators are not without some setbacks. They usually are quite heavy. You can have a hard time moving them around when you need to. It can also be quite expensive to purchase solar generators that deliver the same amount of power as their fossil fuel-powered counterparts.
This is why we recommend the Point Zero solar generator for solar backup systems. It has a unique feature where the battery packs can be disconnected from the main system so that each piece can be easily moved. This makes it the perfect setup for backup and for portability.
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Portable Solar Generators
With a portable solar power generator, you can enjoy the benefits of renewable electricity while on the go. Portable solar generators are usually lighter than their backup counterparts. You can easily pack, store, and move them around.
They are ideal for camping, outdoor events, and emergencies. They can also serve as small backup sources. While these types of solar generators have a low-wattage capacity, they still can power devices such as smartphones, portable televisions, small appliances,laptops, and lights for considerably long time periods. Moreover, you can usually charge these types of solar generators through AC outlet or with a car adaptor.
Once a portable solar generator runs out of power, the solar panels will effectively recharge its battery for subsequent usage. Some portable solar generators are equipped with a luggage-like pull handle or a simple handle on top to enhance portability.
One of the significant disadvantages of portable solar power generators is that they don’t have adequate wattage to power larger appliances. You might be able to power your refrigerator, but you shouldn’t expect it to last long. Running anything that uses 220v such as a dryer is definitely out of the question.
Another setback is that these generators can take a very long time to charge if you are using low-wattage solar panels. If you are a heavy user who needs to recharge your generator daily, you might need to invest in more expensive solar panels to reliably use your portable solar generator. It is important to understand how fast the generator can charge.
Review the generators battery capacity as well as charge capacity. If the battery is 1,000 watts and the charge capacity is 150 watts it won’t work well. You should count on roughly 5 hours a day for charging. 150 watts charge capacity x 5 hours a day = 750 watts produced a day. That’s not enough to recharge the battery in a day.
Nonetheless, portable solar generators remain an excellent and convenient way to ensure uninterrupted power supply while on the go. They’re typically so small that you can easily carry them in your car’s trunk. They also can come in handy during an emergency at home or when on a road trip.
It’s worth noting that you can purchase solar generators as separate components or as a single package. That brings us to what is known as solar generator kits.
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Solar Generator Kits
When it comes to investing in a solar generator system, you’ll have to acquire several different items: solar panels, charge controllers, and solar generators. All of the above are normally sold separately. It can be overwhelming to look for components that are compatible with each in order to put together a fully functional generator.
Moreover, trying to set up a solar generator can lead to costly mistakes such as miswiring components—that’s where solar generator kits come in handy. For example: simply touching the wrong wires together when building a DIY Lithium solar generator will cause the batteries to completely die, costing hundreds of dollars. A solar generator kit groups all the components together in a single package making it much easier.
Solar generator kits also typically come with components manufactured by one company. So, you’ll generally get panels that are made specifically for your generator. You’ll also get the right charge controller for your system, so you don’t have to worry about your generator’s battery getting damaged due to overcharging.
In this case with PoweredPortableSolar.com, we obtain parts from different manufacturers because we have found these manufacturers to have the absolute best equipment. So we make our own kits that ensure the highest quality using different manufacturers.
There’s a wide selection of solar generators available on the market today, and there are numerous factors to consider to ensure you get the best unit for your needs.
Three Main Factors To Consider When Looking for The Best Solar Generator
- Battery Capacity – Battery storage capacity is an important thing to look for when determining the usability of a solar generator. Higher capacity means that your generator will keep your devices running for a longer period before it needs to be recharged. So, be sure to go for the highest possible battery capacity for your budget.
- Inverter Rating – If your solar generator has a low inverter rating, you might not be able to use high-wattage devices and appliances. Be sure to get a generator with an inverter rating that corresponds with the wattage of items you’re planning to power with the generator.
Some solar generators are equipped with inverter chargers. These generators can obtain battery power via other sources apart from solar panels. You might consider investing in these types of generators if you are looking to use high-wattage devices and appliances.
- Portability –Look for a solar generator that is easy to carry around. If you’re going for a backup solar generator, it’s advisable to choose one that has wheels and extended handles to enhance portability.
When it comes to choosing portable solar charges, some are designed to be more portable than others. Therefore, be sure to select a unit that has properly-designed handles and is relatively lightweight.
If you are located in a place with no grid power, you’re looking a more cost-effective source of energy, or you want to ensure you have constant power supply even during power outages, solar generators are a solid option. These generators have numerous advantages compared to their fossil fuel-powered counterparts. They get energy from the sun and hence don’t release harmful emissions. They are also very quiet, so you can keep them inside your house. They also require almost no maintenance. Moreover, you’ll always have peace of mind that you have an uninterrupted power supply, no matter what happens to your grid power.