Solar generators are a perfect backup power source for all outdoor trips. They are portable power stations using portable solar panels to charge batteries with the stored energy used to charge or operate other appliances. As climate change continues to affect the globe through rising sea levels, higher temperatures, and extreme weather, people are always looking for sustainable solutions to numerous sections of their daily lives.
These solutions include using portable solar power generators to generate and store renewable energy for our backup needs. Solar generators usually generate reliable and clean electricity from sunlight and reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses linked to conventional portable generators.
As a result, solar manufacturers are always looking to make solar backup generators better, more efficient and reliable than their fuel-powered counterparts. This explains the popularity and growth of home solar power systems as a substitute for powering your home and business with fossil fuels.
In this guide, we'll explain everything you need about solar generators and answer the question, "What size solar generator do I need?" Read on!
So, How Does A Solar Generator Work?
Typically, a solar generator is a misnomer. It uses a rechargeable battery powered by a solar panel and works differently from traditional fuel-powered generators. The primary setup of a solar generator is an inverter, a rechargeable battery, a solar charger, and a poly or mono solar panel.
The energy drawn from the solar panels usually passes through the solar charger to the rechargeable battery, where the inverter converts the DC to the usable AC. Often, these systems are all-in-one portable power stations when the battery can also be charged via the usual car or wall outlet.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Generators
Advantages: Free Fuel From The Sun
Energy from the sun is virtually “free,” and solar panels allow you to leverage that free and unlimited solar energy. In addition, energy from the sun is more readily available in most remote regions compared to diesel or gasoline. You can virtually use solar energy in any region where the sun shines. Moreover, solar energy isn't subject to frequent volatile price fluctuations such as diesel and gasoline. Once you've set up the solar equipment in place, your fuel costs will remain steady.
Advantages: Clean Renewable Energy
Solar power is clean, renewable energy. This implies that not only do you not have to worry about the environmental effects of using gasoline, but you don't have to worry about the costs of fossil fuels to power your generator. In addition, solar generators don't release any pollutants when they generate and store energy. You can rest assured that your boating or camping trips are powered by clean energy.
Advantages: Quiet and Low Maintenance
Another major advantage of solar generators is that they're quiet. Unlike gas generators, solar generators lack moving parts, significantly lowering the noise produced when running. This also means reduced maintenance amount required for solar generators compared to gas generators.
Advantages: Multiple Power Sources
As previously mentioned, most solar generators are all-in-one portable power stations implying that they can also be charged by other power sources rather than solar power. Also, the primary power sources are the regular AC electricity from a car or wall outlet that uses the CIG port.
Advantages: Low Running Costs
Unlike fuel-powered generators, solar-powered generators have lower running costs due to solar energy being “free” to use! In addition, lack of moving parts minimizes the chances of spare parts needing replacement or getting damaged. As a result, despite solar generators being a large initial investment, their running costs are lower than fuel-powered portable generators.
Advantages: Lacks Fumes
The carbon monoxide emitted by a traditional fuel-powered generator is a grave health risk explaining why they're only used outdoors and at a safe distance from the home. On the other hand, solar generators don't emit fumes, making them the safest option, even safe enough for indoor use.
Disadvantages: Upfront Costs
Solar generators usually need much higher initial installation costs than conventional gas generators. However, they have much lower operating costs, meaning you'll spend less over the lifespan of a solar generator.
Disadvantages: Slow Recharging
Solar generator batteries are only recharged when sunlight runs out, but it takes quite some time for the solar panels to charge the battery. For instance, a solar panel with a power output of 100 watts will normally take around six to eight hours to charge most mid-sized solar generator batteries. Generators running on fossil fuels can be refueled at any given time, meaning more power exactly when you require it without worrying about the time of day or weather conditions.
Disadvantages: Limited Power supply
The solar generator battery size limits how much the generator can power. A solar generator won't power the entire home in most cases, but it can charge laptops and phones and keep small appliances running for a limited period. On the contrary, gas generators aren't limited in what they can power and how long because you can refill them anytime.
Disadvantages: Big Size for Big Power
Solar power generators designed for light use are more lightweight than inverters and traditional generators. However, if you're looking to match the power of a solar generator to that of a traditional fuel-powered generator, you'll need to go for a heavier solar generator.
This means that how lightweight a generator is directly linked to how much power it holds. A solar power generator is the more portable solution for light usage, but when you go for 1500 watts or more, an inverter generator is the ideal lightweight option.
What Size Solar Generator Do I Need?
Before purchasing a solar generator as your versatile and convenient power source, you must ask yourself about the right size of solar generator you need. Getting the correct size solar generator ensures that you have a maximum source of power without paying more for one than you have to.
Consider Your Power Needs
The first thing to consider is your power needs. Solar generator power stations are sized depending on continuous and peak power. The former is the amount of power the power station can generate consistently, and the latter is the maximum amount it can generate in a short burst. If you have heavy power needs, you should go for a larger size than lower power needs and appliances.
Calculating Your Power Requirements
You must know how many watts your solar generator's power station needs. The first step is identifying what you want to power your power station and for how long. A pro tip is selecting devices you can plug into your power station, such as water heaters hardwired into the home.
Unlike devices such as laptops, PCs, phone chargers, kitchen appliances, hair dryers, electric bikes, video game systems, and air conditioners, these won't be able to power with a power station. The second step is identifying how much energy each selection uses and how many watts your devices require to run. This number is usually listed somewhere on the device.
Other factors to consider:
- The number of people in the household
- The electricity consumption during a blackout
- The solar panel array
- The blackout frequency
Selecting Your Solar Generator
Like any generator, the system you buy should be able to cover your power needs. Consider the following tips when selecting your solar generator:
The running watts, also known as the rated-watts measurement, show the electricity the solar generator can produce continuously. You should add up the wattage requirements of the devices you need the generator to power and check that the running wattage of the solar generator is higher than this total.
The watt-hours ott capacity of the generator assists in ensuring that it can power devices for the period you need. This amount also helps you estimate how much power your generator can deliver before requiring a recharge.
The peak power output or the starting watts measurement of the generator shows the power the generator can briefly generate before settling into the running output. The measurement is higher than the running watts and is briefly required to start an electric motor on appliances such as a fan or a mini refrigerator.
The recharge time gives you an idea of how long it takes to return an empty solar generator battery to a full charge. This is usually based on the maximum solar power input, which you can always expect. For instance, cloudy days will affect charging, and you'll require direct sunlight for perfect results.
Solar Generator Maintenance
Regular cleaning of your solar generator is key for its longevity. You can simply wipe down the generator with a soft cloth to keep off dirt and dust. However, using detergents or soap can lower the effectiveness of the cloth, so all you require is a microfiber cloth so as not to leave any residue or fibers behind on the generator. Some generator maintenance tips to follow include the following:
- Avoid overloading your solar generator
- Be sure you have proper ventilation when using your solar generator
- Avoid placing it in or near water
Cleaning and Storing Your Solar Generator
When it comes to storing your generator, there are several factors to consider. These include the following:
- When not in use, keep the generator turned off to prevent any damage or discharge to the battery, so you can be confident it's ready to go when required.
- Take care of the temperature and avoid exposing it to too much cold or heat as that can damage the battery.
- Mind the humidity! High humidity levels can lead to moisture buildup and damage to the generator parts. So, store it in a dry, cool area such as a basement or garage.
- Avoid storing it in direct sunlight, which can damage the battery or cause the internal components to overheat.
- Store it in an area free from dust and debris, which can clog up the ventilation system and cause it to overheat.
You should cycle the battery on your solar generator to get the longest possible lifespan. You should use at least 25% of the battery's capacity, then recharge it to approximately 50-75% every six months. This helps prevent the battery from staying at a low or full charge for too long, which can damage the battery and lower its overall lifespan.
Getting the correct size solar generator ensures that you have a maximum source of power without paying more for one than you have to. To find more information about solar generators, you can browse Solar Paradise's collection of Solar Generators to find the one that suits your needs. If you have questions about solar generators or anything related to solar power, contact our Customer Support team, and we'll be glad to help.