Solar-powered generators benefit you and the rest of the world in many ways, saving money, working during storms and on outdoor adventures, working during power outages, and reducing noise and air pollution. A solar generator uses no fuel, which may not be available during a disaster. Besides emergencies, solar generators also can come in handy during camping, fishing, and hunting trips.
Solar is an excellent alternative to gas-powered generators, which can be expensive to run and maintain as well as harmful to the environment. Solar generators are clean as they generate electricity from sunlight. You don’t have to worry about dangerous fumes or unpleasant noise.
These generators are designed to offer both functionality and convenience. They are usually compact and lightweight, and hence can easily be moved from one location to another. That’s what makes them an excellent option for outdoor events.
With a solar generator, you can keep your essential devices and household devices running even when there’s no grid power. Solar electricity generators are available in a wide range of options to suit different needs and budgets. Let’s dig deeper into solar generators, so you can understand them, their benefits, and be able to choose the best one for your specific needs.
Check Out The Best Solar Generators Available in 2019
|Name||Renogy Phoenix 246.24Wh/150W||Jackery 240Wh||Goal Zero Yeti 1400|
Here Is A Summary Of Our Top 10 Solar Generators
Are you looking for a power generator that’s ideal for light outdoor expeditions and emergency power needs? You can’t go wrong with the Renogy Phoenix All in One Solar Generator Kit. Find out why in our Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator Review.
The Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator packs all that solar functionality into a compact package the size of a briefcase. Measuring 16.24 x 11.95 x 3.94 inches and weighing a little under 13 pounds, the briefcase opens to expose a pair of 10-watt mono-crystalline panels to the sun for charging.
It provides you with an impressive 20 watts of power, which can fully charge a 16Ah lithium-ion battery in fifteen hours. The battery bank lies at the bottom of the unit and boasts a lifespan of about 1500 charging cycles. This punchy solar generator kit allows you to charge your devices safely with 150-watt continuous pure sine-wave inverter power.
Once fully charged, the Renogy Phoenix can charge a laptop five times, a tablet eight times, and a standard cellphone twenty times. Other valuable features of the generator include one AC outlet, four USB ports, and two DC ports to safely charge various devices. It also features a LED light torch and LCD display for user convenience.
The solar generator kit allows for expansion, too. You can add up to 100 watts of external solar points, for a quicker charging time of about 2.5 hours. You can also charge the unit through a wall socket in about five hours.
- Portable and ideal for off-grid usage
- Ideal for emergencies
- Charges fast
- Highly versatile – 4 USB ports, 2 DC ports, 1 AC outlet
- Complete package – panels, plugs, wiring, connectors
- Built-in emergency LED light
- Expandable by adding extra solar panels
- Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) makes it easy to find the perfect position for panel charging
- Dust-proof casing
- Easy to swap battery
- Reasonably priced
- Cannot power large appliances
- Sensitive to heat and shouldn’t be left in the hot sun when not charging
The Renogy Phoenix is our best overall portable solar generator. It is ideal for light use, allowing you to charge your devices on the go safely. Thanks to its affordability and ease of use, it is certainly one of the most convenient ways to tap the sun’s energy for your benefit when you’re far away from the grid power supply.
Equipped with lithium-ion technology, the Jackery 240Wh can generate 67,200mAh of energy or 240Wh at 14.4 volts. This amount of power allows you to charge your high-capacity smartphone at least sixteen times fully. The generator is ideal for any outdoor adventure, thanks to its compact and lightweight design.
Its high capacity makes it suitable for emergencies, such as storms, and on floors requiring a reliable power supply for CPAP machine purposes. The Jackery 240Wh is versatile, too, featuring three USB ports, two DC ports, one AC outlet, and one car outlet.
The DC port on this unit boasts an output of 13.3V/10A. Conversely, the AC outlet has a power output of 110V/200W as a Pure Sine Wave. That’s an impressive amount of power for a portable solar generator.
You can safely charge your electric equipment during short outages or keep your electronic devices topped up on the go. The Jackery is ideal for charging laptops, TVs, drones, smartphones, and tablets. It can even power a minifridge.
It also features an LED display, which allows you to see the battery status. When it comes to recharging this solar generator, the most effective way is to use its own 50-watt solar charger, equipped with larger solar panels. These elements can deliver a full charge in seven to ten hours, depending on the intensity of the sunlight.
You can also charge the unit using a plug-in to a car port. If you’re in a place with grid power, you can use a power cable connected to the AC port.
- High power capacity, capable of charging small and large devices several times
- Powerful AC outlet power, providing 200-watt output
- Easy to manage and monitor thanks to the digital power capacity
- All ports placed on the same side for convenience
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- No exhaust fumes
- Bulky compared to its competitors
- Not water-resistant
- Slightly expensive
The Jackery 240Wh Explorer is our pick for the best value for money. It’s an excellent solar generator, with all the versatile features that you might want in a product of this type and size. It is powerful, portable, and easy to use, and you don’t need to assemble it—use it right out of the box.
Measuring 7.5×5.9x 5.5 inches and weighing a little over 7 pounds, Rockpals 300W Portable Generator Lithium Portable Power Station is easy to store and carry. This nifty piece of equipment has a 280Wh rechargeable lithium battery, which provides ample energy.
It is enough to charge not only small devices but also some of your larger electronic items. The Rockpals generator will charge your laptop, tablets, and smartphone, and you can also run a mini fridge, an LCD television, or a CPAP machine for at least five hours.
The portable generator features three different types of ports, making it a versatile and mobile power station. It has four USB ports. Two of the ports are standard 5V/3.1A versions, and the other two are QuickCharge 3.0-compatible for quicker charging.
Additionally, the device features a standard 12V car power port and includes a standard AC power outlet. Another valuable feature of this portable generator is an informative LCD screen, which lets you know which ports are powered up and how much energy is being drawn through each point.
The unit also features two built-in LED lights that can come in handy at night. It’s equipped with a comfortable carrying handle, allowing you to haul the unit over long distances more easily. Another noteworthy feature is that the generator has a quiet operation, so you can run it beside you while you sleep peacefully in your tent or RV.
The most efficient way to recharge this generator is by using solar panels. You can also charge it through the AC power plug from a wall outlet, however, or through the 12V adapter in your car.
- Ideal for sensitive devices thanks to its clean energy
- Compact and lightweight construction that’s easy to carry
- Versatile powering options
- Quiet operation
- Easy to recharge
- Can’t power appliances over 300 watts
- Shuts off automatically with low-power devices
The Rockpals 300W solar generator is a robust portable power station. It is one of the most cost-effective, compact, and portable power stations that you will find on the market today. The 280Wh lithium-ion battery also makes it is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.
If you are looking for a virtually silent, powerful portable power station that you can use indoors, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 is an ideal choice for you. Our Goal Zero Yeti 400 review outlines what the solar unit has to offer.
This device is ideal for extended trips, thanks to its cutting-edge battery management technology. It boasts a capacity of 33Ah and can deliver at least 300 watts of continuous energy. That’s enough power to charge a standard smartphone thirty times, and a laptop about four times.
Whether you’re on a short trip, camping, or living off the grid, you can be sure that the Yeti 400 will keep your essential electronic devices running for a couple of days. While it’s not powerful enough to run a fridge or heater, it can safely power phones, tablets, laptops, and small medical devices like CPAP machines.
This versatile portable power station offers several charging options. It has two USB ports, two 12V ports, and two AC ports. It also houses an informative LCD display on the front, including the battery charge status and wattage output. The nifty screen displays information about what your generator is doing and how long you should expect it to last in its current state.
The generator comes with a top handle, which makes it easy to carry and comfortable to transport. It is silent while it operates, so you can use it even while you are asleep. It runs on lead acid-based batteries, which are somewhat heavier than its Lithium-ion counterparts, but cheaper to replace.
It is possible to charge these batteries using an AC wall outlet, the 12V adapter in your car, or solar panels. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to purchase these solar panels separately.
The Yeti 400 manufacturer says the generator can support up to a 200-watt solar panel charging input. It requires four to eighteen hours of charging time, depending on the method employed.
- Rechargeable through AC power, 12V connection, or solar panels
- Large battery capacity to recharge multiple devices
- Versatile outlet options
- Heavy compared to competitors
- Quite slow to recharge
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is a powerful portable solar generator. It is perfect for use indoors or at a noise-restricted campsite, thanks to its quiet operation. It also offers versatility and convenience with two USB ports, two 12V ports, and two AC outlets.
Measuring 7.3 x 4.3 x 4.7 inches and weighing a little over 2.9 pounds, the Suaoki 150Wh Portable Power Generator is a compact, yet powerful lithium-ion power bank. At 3.7 volts, the unit generates 4500mAh, and 13500mAh when running at 11.1 volts.
There’s surprisingly enough power to keep a 32-inch LED TV running for at least four-and-a-half hours or lighting up a 9-watt LED light for over eighteen hours. The power inverter utilizes Sine Wave technology and is surge protected. These features make it ideal for powering electronic items such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, and it can power multiple devices at a time.
The power consumption would reduce the run time of multiple devices significantly, but the generator allows for versatility, thanks to multiple power outlet options.
The Suaoki 150Wh features four USB ports, four 12V coaxial sockets, a two-prong AC outlet, and a grounded AC socket. It is equipped with a battery management system (BMS), which protect it against overheating, overcharging, power surges, and other detrimental events.
It can be charged in three ways, but the greenest way to charge it is using the solar panel. It will take you only a few hours to fully charge the device in strong sunlight. You’ll need to purchase solar panels separately, however, as the generator doesn’t come with the units.
You can also charge the unit by plugging it into a wall socket, which takes about eight hours. Another method of charging the generator is by plugging it into your car’s 12V socket.
A noteworthy feature of the Suaoki Portable Solar Generator is its silent operation, making it ideal for use indoors or at a noise-restricted site. For portability, this unit is equipped with a set of sturdy handles. It also comes with an 18-month manufacturer’s warranty, which is an assurance of its reliability.
- Robust and lightweight
- Multiple power outlets
- High energy capacity
- A solar panel isn’t included in the package
- The AC output is somewhat low
The Suaoki Portable Power Station is a solid choice. It has excellent aesthetics and impressive performance. The portable generator is also lightweight and compact, which makes it easy to pack into a backpack for camping, a hunting trip, or other outdoor adventures without it becoming burdensome.
Are you in the market for a portable solar generator, but have limited space for a large unit? Then, you should consider the Paxcess Brand.
In this Paxcess 100W Solar Generator review, we look at what the unit has to offer.
Measuring 6.5 x 3.15 x 6.89 inches and weighing 3.3 pounds, the Paxcess 100W is light and portable. It can easily fit into a backpack. The nifty device includes a 40800mAh lithium-ion battery, which emits 150Wh of power.
The solar generator features a 100-watt Pure Sine Wave inverter, which can power your AC appliances of up to 100 watts. It can also safely recharge your hand-held devices, such as laptops, phones, tablets, and cameras.
The Paxcess 100W sports several types of output ports, and features dual AC sockets, allowing you to power your household appliances. It also comes with three USB ports, so you can charge multiple devices concurrently.
The generator includes a smart chip, which ensures your devices receive the right amount of power at the appropriate speeds. The other power outlets are three 12-volt DC ports and a cigarette lighter charger.
This solar station can be recharged in three ways, including using an AC adapter, which takes up to eight hours to fully power the generator. You can also use a car adapter with a 12V/2.0A recharge speed, which takes up to nine hours.
The most resourceful recharging method is via a solar panel, where the recharging time will depend on the panel’s capabilities and the intensity of the sunlight. The Paxcess 100W has a battery management system (BMS), which prevents overcharging, overheating, and surges.
While this solar generator doesn’t have any shock-resistant features, it is robust and able to withstand a light drop onto the ground. A noteworthy feature is that the unit is IATA-approved for air travel so that you can take it with you across the globe.
- Multiple powering options
- Light and highly portable
- Quality construction
- High energy capacity
- Affordably priced
- AC outlet can be used while recharging
- Silent operation
- Only suited for light use
- Solar panel not included
- 100W AC outlet is low
The Paxcess 100W Solar Generator is a high-quality, affordable, portable power station. It is light, easy to carry, stores a high amount of power, and can be utilized for most of your appliances and devices. It is ideal for camping, weekend getaways, and emergencies.
This Goal Zero Yeti review focuses on the Yeti 150. Measuring 7.75 x 5.75 x 6.75 inches and weighing 12 pounds, the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator is a mini powerhouse that comes in handy during a blackout or on any outdoor adventure.
It is equipped with a 168Wh AGM lead-acid battery, which can charge a wide range of electronic devices, such as phones, tablets, and laptops. At full charge, the solar generator offers 150 Wh of battery capacity. It is enough power to recharge a smartphone up to twelve times, a tablet up to six times, a headlamp at least twenty-five times, and a laptop almost twice.
The Yeti 150 works silently and produces no exhaust, thanks to its incorporation of a deep cycle battery. The battery is removable so that it can easily be replaced when needed. The solar generator comes equipped with a 160W surge-modified Sine Wave inverter, ensuring the safe operation of all your electronic devices.
The generator offers several outputs for your energy needs. It has two USB ports, a standard 110-volt grounded wall plugs, a 12V DC car port, and a 6mm 12V DC outlet. Another remarkable feature of this power station is the display panel at the front, which indicates the power and battery status.
Real-time information allows for accurate power management. You can charge the Yeti 150 in three ways. First, you can recharge it with the sun by plugging in a compatible solar panel. The recharging time will depend mostly on the size of the panel.
You can also plug the generator into a wall socket, where a full recharge takes about six hours. Another recharging option is from your car’s 12-volt adapter, which takes four to six hours. This solar generator also has a pop-up handle that is convenient to use and designed in a stackable shape, so carrying the generator for long distances is safe and easy.
- Stylish design
- Multiple charging options
- AC inverter included
- Compatible with different solar panels
- Solar panel not included
- Cannot support larger appliances
The Yeti 150 is the smallest solar power generator that Goal Zero has to offer, but it is an incredible portable power solution. It is lightweight and easy to carry around. This nifty little product can also generate 80 watts continuously, which is impressive for a unit that weighs just 12 pounds.
If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly, silent, off-grid power source, then you might want to peruse this Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Solar Generator review.
Measuring 10.4 x 15.3 x 10.1 inches and weighing a hefty 43.7 pounds, the Yeti 1400 solar generator is equipped with a 1425Wh capacity lithium-ion battery. The battery is designed to last 500 full-charge life cycles, which translates into about seven years of use before you need to replace the battery pack.
This generator can power or charge all devices with a capacity of up to 1500 watts. It can charge a laptop at least twenty-three times, power a television for about sixteen hours, run a small refrigerator for up to twenty-seven hours, and power a cooler box for up to one hundred hours.
The unit offers several power outlets to suit different energy needs. It has two 3-prong 120V AC power outlets, a 60-watt USB-C port, a 15-watt USB-C port, two 2.4A USB Type-A ports, and three 12V power outlets, including a car port. Each set of power output ports has a button to turn them on and off.
The generator also has two input ports for solar panel charging. Another remarkable feature of the Yeti 1400 Lithium is a 3-inch LCD monochrome display panel. The information displayed on this panel includes:
- Number of hours left to empty
- Number of hours left to fully charged
- Percentage power remaining
- Average power output when appliances are plugged in
- Average power output when the generator is charging
The best thing about this solar generator is that you can also view the above mentioned information on the Goal Zero app, easily installed on your Android or iOS device.
You can charge this generator in different ways. Charging it at the wall socket using the included AC adapter is the obvious method, but you can also charge it via solar panels. The latter is about twice as fast as the wall socket recharge.
- Compact and portable
- Silent operation
- Multiple charging ports
- User-friendly mobile app
- Solar panel not included
- No customizable alerts
The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Solar Generator is a robust portable power solution that has our vote for Most Grunt. It’s most outstanding attribute is that you can monitor and control it with your smartphone. It is completely silent and promises hours of power for household appliances and other electronics.
The AIMTOM Portable Solar Generator might be your ideal portable power solution. Find out more in our AIMTOM Portable Solar Generator review below.
At 3.48 pounds, the high-capacity generator is light and delivers 42000 mAh or 155Wh of power. That’s more than enough power to keep your essential appliances and devices running while on the go or during an outage. It can run your laptops, phones, tablets, monitors, a mini fridge, and even smaller pieces of medical equipment, like CPAP machines.
This solar power station offers a range of outlet options for different energy needs. It has three 5-volt USB ports for cellphones, camera, tablets, and other small devices. It also features three 12-volt output ports to run appliances of up to 180 watts.
There are three ways you can recharge this unit: via a compatible solar panel, an AC wall charger, or a 12-volt car charger. It is also equipped with a built-in power inverter.
The AIMTOM portable generator is silent when in operation, so you can comfortably have it working beside you while asleep. Notably, the charging system uses a maximum power point tracker (MPPT), which ensures the charging rate is always accurate.
This innovative system also helps to draw optimum energy from the solar panels.
The solar generator is designed in a way that makes it a travel-friendly power pack. It is compact and lightweight and can easily fit in your backpack.
For security purposes, the generator incorporates a battery management system. It protects your devices from the detrimental effects of excess voltage, current, and heat. The AIMTOM even contains an automatic cooling system that prevents overheating.
An SOS emergency LED flashlight can come in handy in dark situations, and the product also comes with a 12-month warranty, which serves as an assurance of its reliability.
- Compact and lightweight;
- Multiple charging ports
- Easy to use
- Competitively priced
- Takes a while to recharge
- A little underpowered
Weighing just under 4 pounds, the AIMTOM Portable Solar Generator may seem small, but it still packs a punch. With three USB ports, three 12V DC output, and a 110V AC outlet, this portable power station is the perfect companion for camping or any other outdoor adventure. It is also cheaper compared to most of its competitors.
In this CHAFON 346WH Solar Generator review, we look at what the UPS battery backup power source has to offer.
Featuring a briefcase design with an ergonomic handle, and weighing just 7.4 pounds, the CHAFON 346WH is easy to carry. The rechargeable battery can conjure 110 volts or 500 watts of power, and this portable power station allows you to charge devices up to 500 watts. It also features an output for a Pure Sine Wave inverter, enabling you to convert DC to AC for all your appliances.
The unit is ideal for charging cellphones, tablets, and laptops. It can also power a TV, computers, and a camping area. It even has enough energy to jump-start a car.
Another outstanding attribute of the CHAFON 346WH is that it has surge protection for home entertainment systems, networking systems, desktop computers, and workstations. It protects not only your equipment but also your data when the power grid falters.
The generator also has a battery management system (BMS), which regulates the voltage and temperature within the unit. It is versatile, offering several options of power outlets, including a triple three-prong 110V socket for powering appliances of up 500 watts.
Other outlets include four standard USB ports and four 12-volt DC ports. Also, worth mentioning is the 1-watt LED flashlight, which can be useful when you find yourself suddenly thrown into darkness.
You can recharge the generator’s battery in three ways. Plug it into the wall AC outlet or the DC car socket. Either of the recharging options will take seven to eight hours.
You can also use a compatible solar panel, which normally takes fourteen to eighteen hours to recharge the generator fully. You will need to purchase a solar panel separately as the package doesn’t come with one. The generator works effectively with any 40-watt to 100-watt solar panel.
The package includes the UPS backup battery, MC4 connector cable, AC charging cable, DC cable, smart clamps, 0.6m car charging cable, and a user manual.
- Lightweight and portable
- Emergency car jump-starter
- Voltage and temperature control
- LED flashlight
- Battery management system
- Curved handle for a comfortable grip
- Solar panels not included
The CHAFON 346WH is one of the best portable solar generators available in its category. Its most outstanding features are the LED light and emergency car jump-starter. It is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.
How Do Solar Generators Work?
- Solar panel – The work of the solar panel is to absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. It’s worth noting that some solar generator systems don’t come with a solar panel included. That means you’ll need to buy a solar panel separately.
- Battery – A solar generator stores the energy it gets from the sun for later use. This energy stores in the battery.
- Charge controller – The charge controller is a critical component of a solar generator. The controller protects and promotes the longevity of the solar generator battery. Charge controllers normally behave differently depending on the battery type.
- Inverter – A power inverter helps to convert the battery’s DC (direct current) power into AC (alternating current power). AC, which comes from electrical outlets, can power various AC devices in your home.
When integrated, these components make a complete solar generator system. The system works by harnessing energy from the sun through the solar panels and storing the energy in the battery. It can then convert the energy into AC power via an inverter before being made available for use in electronic devices and household appliances.
It is worth noting that there are different types of solar generators, each with varying capability when it comes to the amount of electricity they can produce. The solar generator’s voltmeter indicates the amount of electricity generated.
Are Solar Generators Best For Me?
The answer to this question depends on how you use electricity. If you want to be able to charge small devices on the go, such as on a boat or camping vehicle, a solar generator would be an excellent investment for you.
Thanks to their ease of use and portability, solar-powered generators provide an excellent energy solution for people who need some extra electricity while on the go. A solar generator also works if you want to keep your essential devices and household appliances running during a blackout.
However, if you’re looking for a power backup system for your entire home, a solar generator may not be the right choice. Its limited power capacity, long recharge time, and dependence on the sun limit its efficiency and reliability in such a situation.
If you want a backup power supply from a renewable energy source, consider installing a ground-mounted or rooftop solar system with a home battery attached.
Are Solar Generators worth it?
Many people shy away from investing in solar generators because of their high upfront costs. These people are usually oblivious to the fact that solar-powered energy systems have a way of paying for themselves in the long run.
With solar energy, you won’t need to pay a monthly fee to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. You only need to make a one-time investment by purchasing the solar generator system. Then you can harvest as much energy as you can by setting up your solar panels in a way that they can receive optimal sun exposure.
Therefore, investing in a solar generator will help you save a significant amount of money in the long run. Moreover, solar-powered energy solutions require minimal maintenance. Every few months, you’ll need to clean the panels to get rid of any dust that could undermine their efficiency.
You’ll also need to replace them only every few decades. Conventional generators, on the other hand, can be very demanding and expensive when it comes to maintenance. Also worthy of note is that solar-powered generators can help you generate some extra income.
If you’re able to harvest more energy for your home, you can store the energy for future use or sell it to a local electricity company. So, are solar generators worth it? Yes, they are, depending on your energy needs.
Can Solar Generators Power A Whole House?
Many homeowners want to know if a solar generator can power an entire house before they go shopping for the right model. Most single solar generator systems cannot power a whole home. However, multiple solar-powered solar generators can handle the task quite easily.
There are larger solar generators that can power household appliances like refrigerators, heaters, and fans. However, these generators lack the capacity to power larger appliances such as water heaters and air conditioning systems.
To keep such appliances running, you would have to invest in several generators or a custom-built, large solar-powered generator, which can be very expensive.
What Size Solar Generator Do I Need?
Before you go out shopping for a solar generator, you first need to determine how much power you’ll need from a generator. Knowing your power needs helps you choose the right size solar generator. Solar generators have two watt ratings:
- Continuous watts – This refers to the amount of power a generator can consistently generate. To determine how many watts your generator should produce, sum up the number of watts per hour that your essential appliances consume and multiply by the number of hours you need to use them daily.
- Surge watts – Surge watt rating refers to how a solar generator can handle the high initial gust of power needed to start electric motors. This surge usually lasts less than a second. Say your appliance consumes 500 watts of continuous power in a day but uses 2,000 watts of power to start. You need a solar generator that has at least a 2,000-watt surge rating to restart it during an outage.
Generally, most portable solar generators have a hard time keeping high-draw appliances such as air conditioners, dryers, and water pumps running. It is advisable to invest in compact, energy-efficient appliances and devices to ensure you don’t strain your generator.
Here’s a look at the standard sizes of solar generators available on the market today and the respective devices they can power. We will help you determine what size generator would suit you the best:
- Small Solar Generators – These typically have a capacity of 10 watts to 250 watts. They are ideal for charging up small devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops. They can also power small televisions. Small solar generators are usually lightweight so that you can carry them with you virtually anywhere.
- Medium Solar Generators – Ranging from 250 to 1,000 watts, medium solar generators are an ideal option if you want more electricity over a prolonged period. They can also be a great choice if you need to power an appliance with higher wattage demand.
While they are not as lightweight as their small counterparts, these generators are also quite portable. You can easily carry a medium solar generator singlehandedly.
- Larger Solar Generators – With a capacity of between 1,000 watts and 10,000 watts, large solar generators are great for powering homes on a larger scale. They are capable of keeping large appliances running for extended periods.
Large solar generators are available in a variety of residential and commercial options to suit different purposes, such as household use, camping & RVs, and industrial use.
Can Solar Panels Replace Conventional Generators?
Whether to invest in a traditional generator or solar panels will depend on how much power you need to meet your needs. If you don’t need a lot of electricity to run your home, a conventional generator would be an ideal option for you.
However, if you usually use a substantial amount of energy to power your home, you could be better off with solar panels. You can purchase as many solar panels as you want to maximize your sun exposure output.
You want to ensure you harvest the optimum amount of solar energy throughout the day. So purchase portable solar panels that you can move around your home to maximize sun exposure at different times.
What To Look For When Buying A Solar Generator?
If you want to get the best value for your money, look for several features when purchasing a solar generator. Be sure to keep the following things in mind when you go shopping to ensure you get the best unit for your needs:
- Generator Size
It is essential to consider the size of the solar generator that you’re looking to buy. You might want to choose a unit that is compact and is easy to transport. You would also want to go for a generator that won’t give you a hard time when it comes to storage.
Something else to think about when it comes to size is the ease of adjusting the solar generator to capture more sunlight. You don’t want a solar generator with a design that is so bulky that it’s challenging to work with.
Weight is another critical aspect to consider when purchasing a solar generator. If you’re looking for a portable solar generator, go for a unit that you are sure you can move from one place to another effortlessly.
Even if you don’t mind about the portability, it is crucial to make sure that you have everything you would need to set the generator up and running. If you plan to work with a solar generator installation contractor, be sure to speak with them in advance to avoid last-minute disappointments.
- Watt Rating
You want to choose a generator that can deliver the highest possible amount of power you can consume in a day. It’s better if the generator can produce more than your maximum daily power consumption rate, to ensure you don’t get caught off-guard.
In this way, you can rest easy that you will be able to meet your daily maximum regardless of the intensity of the sunlight. If you can’t find a solar generator that meets your energy needs, you might want to consider investing in a hybrid generator. Hybrids ensure you always have sufficient power even during cloudy days when the sun’s intensity is low.
It might be challenging to predict how much power you’ll require in your future activities. Therefore, it is advisable to invest in a model that is expandable with batteries and solar panels. Such a model will allow you to increase its output whenever you need more solar power.
A wide selection of expandable solar generators is on the market. Expandable generators allow you to plug in additional panels and batteries to increase output and storage capacities to power more appliances.
- Overall quality
The quality aspect can be challenging to determine if you’re not physically with the solar generators. However, if you get an opportunity to view before making a purchase, make sure you check out the quality of the device’s components.
Solar generators may be exposed to harsh conditions, especially if you use them at outdoor events. Therefore, it is vital to choose a unit that is rugged and can bear up to the toughest of conditions. Be sure the model you want comes with a good warranty as well.
How To Choose The Best Solar Generator?
There are several factors to consider to ensure you choose the best solar generator for your needs. Let’s explore some of the most critical factors:
What are you planning to use the solar power generator for? Are you looking to have a backup power supply for your property in the event of a blackout or just a supplementary power source? Maybe you’re looking for a portable solution for powering your devices while you are on the go?
It is essential to answer these questions first when you are considering investing in a solar generator. The answers will guide you on what type of generator you should acquire. There are two major types of solar power generators:
- Portable solar generators – If you want renewable energy for use while on the go, then you’ll need to buy a portable solar generator. These generators are compact, lightweight, and efficient. They are ideal for use when fishing, picnicking, camping, and other outdoor adventures.
They are designed to produce enough power to recharge various small electronics such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and flashlights.
- Solar backup generators – When looking for renewable energy solutions to keep your home running in the event of an outage, a solar backup generator is an ideal option. These generators usually have a very high wattage capacity.
They are usually equipped with multiple batteries to maximize power storage. Solar backup generators are great for powering essential household electricals such as lights, computers, televisions, and refrigerators. However, it can be challenging to find a unit that can power everything in your home.
- Type of Solar Panels
The energy produced by solar panels measures in watts. To determine the amount of energy a solar panel can generate in a day, multiply the panel’s watt rating by the number of hours the panel gets exposure to the sun.
If you have a 200-watt solar panel, for example, and it gets 8 hours of sun exposure in a day, then it produces 1,600 watts of power for that day. However, it’s worth noting that the energy produced by a solar panel is not always constant as the sun’s intensity varies from day to day. Various factors, such as weather, affect how much sunlight radiates onto a solar panel.
There are three common types of solar panels. These panels differ in terms of construction and efficiency. Before you buy, you must understand them to be able to choose the best type for your needs.
- Mono-crystalline solar panels – The most common type, these panels consist of single-crystal silicon wafers. They are more efficient compared to the other two types. For that reason, you’ll have to pay a higher price for them.
- Polycrystalline solar panels – These panels consist of melted silicon fragments. They have a good rating, thanks to the fact that the movement of electrons between fragments is somewhat more fluid.
While they are somewhat less efficient than their mono-crystalline counterparts, the difference between the two solar panel types is statistically negligible for most systems.
- Amorphous crystal solar panels – Also known as thin-film panels, these solar panels are light, slim, flexible, durable, and exceptionally cheap. However, they are only 50 percent efficient when compared to their mono-crystalline counterparts.
That means they’ll need double the footprint to generate the same amount of energy as mono-crystalline panels. As such, they are not a good option for use in small portable generators.
- Battery Type
There are numerous different types of batteries available in the market. However, the most common types used in solar power generators are:
- Lead-acid batteries
- Lithium-ion batteries
Of these two, lead-acid batteries are a cheaper option. That makes them the most popular and cost-effective choice for domestic use. However, they are not as durable as their lithium-ion counterparts.
Some models of lithium-ion batteries use a special gel to enhance their lifespan and safety. However, this gel doesn’t make those batteries better in terms of performance. If your budget allows, you can consider investing in deep-cycle batteries.
While they are more expensive, deep-cycle batteries can handle repeated heavy electricity discharges and can last much longer than standard lead-acid batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, are compact, lightweight, and boast a longer lifespan than their lead-acid counterparts. People use them mostly to power cordless devices. Despite being the most expensive option, they are increasingly becoming popular in portable solar generators, thanks to their size and weight.
- Battery Capacity
One of the best ways to determine a solar generator’s reliability is to check its battery storage capacity. With battery storage, you can use your generator at night, during periods of limited sun, and when your electricity needs surpass the amount of solar energy coming in.
Experts express battery capacity in amp-hours (amp/hr), such as a 12-volt 80 amp/hr battery. However, it can be hard to estimate usage times because most power applications measure by their wattage draw. For ease of calculation, convert amp-hours to watt-hours.
Do the conversion by multiplying amps by volts. If you have a 12-volt 80 amp/hr battery, for example, the battery capacity will be 960 watt-hours (12 x 80). However, we advise you not to use all of the rated watt-hours.
According to battery manufacturers, you should only use 2/3 of the full capacity of a standard lead-acid battery. Not going at full capacity helps to preserve the battery’s lifespan and minimize failures. For lithium-ion batteries, you can use up to 90 percent of their full capacity.
Following the above recommendations, a 12-volt 80 amp/hr lead-acid battery would give you 640 usable watt-hours of battery capacity (960 x 2/3). When you know a solar generator’s usable watt-hours, you’ll have an easy time determining how long it can power specific devices.
For example, a solar generator equipped with a 100 amp/hr battery would run a computer with a 100-watt draw for 8 hours before it would require recharging. When you go shopping for a solar generator, you should be wary of models that have limited or no battery storage capacity.
An excellent solar generator should provide at least 1,000 usable watt-hours of battery storage capacity. Otherwise, usability and reliability would be significantly affected. A solar generator with no batteries included is not worth your money.
- Inverter Rating
A power inverter converts the DC power that the solar panels produce to the AC power that the electrical appliances and devices consume. Inverters have a watt rating, which shows the highest possible amount of energy they can handle.
When it comes to choosing a solar generator, you want to go for a model with a pure sine inverter. While this type of inverter is expensive, it boasts a higher level of efficiency. It also minimizes wear on various devices, including television, CPAP machines, and microwaves. However, if you use the generator only occasionally, a modified sine wave inverter costs nearly half as much as a pure sine wave inverter.
The portability of a generator is an important consideration depending on how you plan to use your solar generator. If you’re planning to use it as a backup power solution at home, it wouldn’t matter.
However, if you will be moving around with your solar generator, consider investing in a portable model. The batteries account for the bulk of the solar generator’s weight. Therefore, if you want to make your unit more mobile, you might have to sacrifice some of its battery capacity.
Fortunately, most of the best portable solar generators available on the market are lightweight. The heavy ones usually come equipped with handles or wheels or both, making them easy to transport. If you’re looking for a solar generator that is easy to move around, go for a unit that is either light or has handles and wheels.
- Additional Features
Another thing to consider when buying a generator is ease of use. A good solar power generator should have the following extra features for your convenience:
- Several AC sockets
- Integrated USB ports
- 12-volt DC output
- Replaceable batteries
- Back-lit LED display, allowing you to monitor your system’s operation even in the dark
- Energy-efficient accessories that help to optimize power savings
- Expandability features, which make it easy to plug in additional batteries and panels
- Panels with frames and handles, which facilitate repositioning for optimal sun exposure
Advantages Of Owning A Solar Powered Generator
There are numerous benefits to owning a solar-powered generator, especially when compared to conventional power generators. Here are some of the benefits:
- Environmental Friendly
Choosing a solar power generator over a fossil fuel-powered model has environmental benefits. First off, fossil fuel systems contribute to air pollution and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Buy a solar power generator to produce less greenhouse gas and minimize global warming.
Furthermore, traditional generators are loud when they are running. Solar generators are a clean energy solution. They don’t produce harmful exhaust fumes. They also don’t have moving parts, which means they are silent when they run.
- Long Term Benefits
When you use a solar generator to produce electricity, you harvest the sun’s energy for free. If you use the sun’s radiation, you need not purchase costly fossil fuels. You can enjoy this benefit for more than 25 years, depending on the lifespan of the solar panels you are using.
- Low Maintenance Costs
We’ve seen that solar generators have no moving parts. They also don’t use liquid fuel, which significantly minimizes the likelihood that you’ll need to spend money on repairing your generator.
- Perfect for Indoor Use
You can use your solar generator indoors safely. They are just like the batteries you have within your house. They don’t produce exhaust fumes, so you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Lightweight and Portable
The most massive components in a traditional fossil fuel generator are the engine, battery, and fuel tank. Solar-powered generator only has a battery, which significantly reduces the weight of the generator.
- Convenience and Ease of Use
Once you’ve set up your solar generator correctly, it will run round-the-clock without requiring any maintenance from you. The sun will charge your battery during the day, and the battery will power your electrical appliances at night. Provided there is sufficient sunlight during the day, you never need to worry about the functioning of your generator.
In the case of a fuel-powered generator, there are several things you’ll always have to worry about. These include managing the fuel, changing the oil, and ensuring the generator is not so loud that it disturbs your neighbors. Fuel generators are inconvenient in several ways.
While this doesn’t mean that fuel-powered generators are not beneficial, the advantages of solar generators usually far outweigh those of their fuel counterparts.
Investing in a solar generator, whether for home use or travel, is one of the best decisions you can make. With a solar generator, emergency power outages, extended camping trips, fishing expeditions, and other outdoor adventures will be more convenient and more exciting. Furthermore, it will save you a significant amount of money in the long run.
While fuel-powered generators are great, they are usually not as convenient as their solar-powered counterparts. For example, the fuel may not be available when you need it. They are also very expensive to run and maintain.
With so many brands and models available on the market, coupled with conflicting or insufficient information, it can be challenging to choose the best solar generator. We prepared this guide about solar generators to make sure you have an easy time searching for the best unit for your needs.
From the types of solar generators, types of solar panels, to understanding technical aspects like battery capacity and inverter rating, this article covers it all. We hope it will help you make an informed decision and get a solar generator that offers the best value for your money.