A Guide To Understanding Solar Power Generators

A solar generator is the energy insurance that pays out in an emergency.

Solar generators are one of the best ways to ensure you have power right when you need it, whether you're living off-grid or hit by a tornado. It’s common for people who live in disaster-prone areas to have a generator to keep their power in emergencies.

There are different solar generators and solar power stations on the market, so choosing the right one can be difficult. Solar power isn't just for houses; you can use portable solar generators or power banks to power appliances in an RV, van, or boat or as a backup power source.

Many solar generators are portable and easy to operate, so they offer a low emission energy solution for people on the move or anyone who needs some emergency backup electricity. The роwеr gеnеrаtіоn from a solar generator is comparable to other ѕtуlеs оf gеnеrаtоrѕ while being more eco-friendly.

Is a solar generator right for you? This solar power station guide will tell you everything you need to know about solar generators covering key components, use cases, and how they differ from other types of generators.


What is a solar generator?

A solar generator works alongside solar panels to provide backup power to your home in emergencies or during power outages.

If you live in a disaster-prone area, you’re probably very familiar with emergency generators; you probably need to use one once or twice a year. But solar generators don't actually function like other generators. Solar generators are more like portable battery storage systems that replace traditional generators and serve the same purpose.

What many people mean when they say 'solar generator' actually refers to portable power stations which use solar panels. These portable solar power stations are becoming more common as an energy source for camping, camping, and boats.

Many small, cheap power stations on the market are only designed to provide power to small devices like phones. Small or medium-sized solar generators may not generate enough power for a single-family home. However, larger solar generators could work as a backup or the primary power source for an RV, boat, or small cabin.


How do solar generators work?

Solar generators work alongside solar panels and some form of solar storage. Using solar panels, you can utilize sunlight as a power source, then store it to use later on. You can buy a solar panel, solar generator, and solar battery separately or get a solar generator as part of an all-in-one solar power kit.

Portable solar generators work by being the storage solution for the energy which is generated from your solar panels, much like the larger lithium-ion battery bank storage solutions for the home. However, solar generators are much smaller and much more portable than a solar battery bank.

Your generator takes the energy from the solar panels and stores that in a battery. The power then gets released through an inverter where it is converted from DC to AC before discharge.

Like traditional generators that use diesel or gas, sоlаr gеnеrаtоrѕ аrе uѕuаllу іnѕtаllеd tо be a backup power source in emergencies. The generator is installed into vital еlесtrіс сіrсuіtѕ at your home. Then, if an electrical blackout occurs, the solar gеnеrаtоr will take over to provide роwеr temporarily to your home.

In an emergency situation, it's best to limit the generator use and power only your most essential devices and appliances, such as lіghtіng, heating, AC, аnd refrigeration. Restricting the use of the generator helps preserve the charge that your solar panels have acquired.


What are the components of a solar generator? 

A solar generator consists of four main parts: an inverter, solar panels, a battery, and the charge controller. These four components make solar generators essentially a portable solar installation. By using a solar generator, you can effectively house the critical components in one handy system. 


Solar panels 

Solar panels are always the basis of any solar installation. A solar panel or panels turn sunlight into electricity, which can then be stored in a solar battery for use at another time. The solar generator then draws energy from the sun via solar panels.


Solar battery 

Once the generator has drawn energy from the solar panels, it can store it in a high-capacity battery. There are four common types of solar batteries: lead-acid, lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and flow batteries.

Solar batteries allow you to store solar power for use at a later time, such as in the evenings or on cloudy days when the weather is overcast. If you want to keep solar power, a battery or generator is essential. 


Charge controller 

Solar charge controllers are a critical part of solar installations unless you have small panels smaller than five watts. A charge controller sits between the solar panels and the solar battery bank. It prevents the batteries from overcharging by limiting the amount and rate of charge to your batteries.

A charge controller also helps preserve the life and health of the solar batteries by shutting down the system if stored power falls below 50 percent capacity.


Inventer 

Inverters turn the direct current (DC) output collected from your solar panels into alternating current (AC). AC is the most common and standard current used by commercial appliances.

Solar inverters serve as a gateway, drawing energy from your solar panel system and transporting it to your devices or appliances. You'll usually need an inverter for any solar panel that is bigger than five watts.


Benefits of solar generetors 

Many benefits come with using solar power generators, especially compared to a traditional gas-powered generator. Solar generators or power stations are often used by campers, RV travelers, hunters, and others, replacing noisy, gas-powered generators.

Here are some of the key benefits of solar power stations.


Portable 

A solar generator is lightweight and a great portable option for supplying your power needs anywhere and everywhere. Small generators are popular when boondocking, traveling in an RV, or living off-grid.

There's no need to carry around additional fuel, so these lightweight generators are much more portable than a non-solar generator. They're ideal for use when out on the road, on the boat, in an RV or camping.


Piece of mind 

Peace of mind is one of the most significant selling points of a solar generator or power station. A solar generator is beneficial to anyone who regularly experiences power outages, hurricanes, high winds, tornados, heavy snowfall, or other adverse weather conditions.

Even if you don’t live in an area where these weather events frequently occur, you never know what could happen. A solar generator can be an essential part of your emergency kit in a major earthquake or other once-in-a-lifetime event.

Solar generators offer peace of mind and combat power outages during challenging weather or when disaster strikes. Once you're properly set up, you could ѕurvіvе with a solar generator fоr several years with little to no maintenance.


Quiet

One of the best things about solar generators is that they are quiet. If you've ever camped or traveled in an RV with a non-solar generator, you will know they can be incredibly noisy. The noise of traditional generators can be particularly annoying in smaller spaces like RVs, van conversions, or tiny homes.

The average traditional backup generator measures between 60 and 70 decibels when heard from 23 feet away. That’s almost the same noise level as a vacuum cleaner - it’s not something you want to hear all day and night.

It can really ruin the experience of living off-grid in nature when all you can hear is the humming of your generator - or your neighbor’s generator. By comparison, solar generators are quiet; even during operation, they're entirely noiseless.

 

Eco-friendly

Unlike traditional generators, solar energy іѕ a low emission, renewable source оf еnеrgу. Conventional diesel or gas generators require a power supply- usually propane tanks - to support them.

Solar generators are more environmentally friendly than internal combustion engine-based generators since they do not require fossil fuels that produce pollutants. Because there are no pollutants emitted from a solar generator, your carbon footprint is reduced. They're an eco-frіеndlу energy option that's also low cost.


Low-maintenance 

A solar generator is low maintenance; you don't have to mess around with gasoline, changing oil, or air filters. Solar generators are quiet and have almost no potential for mechanical problems. If you use lithium-Ion batteries with your generator, you will not need to maintain them or supply them with water.


Low cost 


Both gas-powered generators and solar-powered generators or power stations have initial upfront equipment costs. The overall cost of a generator will depend mainly on the size and final use case.

Gas-powered generators vary in price but usually range between $500 to upwards of $3,000. Comparatively, Renogy's solar power stations are much more affordable and cost between $499 to $1199.

Traditional generators also consume fuel, which adds an ongoing running cost. In a real emergency, the availability of gas or diesel is uncertain. Recent fluctuations in the price and availability of gas and diesel fuels show casts doubt on their reliability long-term or in a crisis. When it comes to a disaster situation, solar-powered generators are the safest and most reliable option.

Solar has the benefit that it costs nothing to run; once you've paid for your equipment, it powers itself. Unlike gas-powered generators, a well-designed solar system works autonomously and won't require maintenance costs.


What to look for in a solar generator?  


There are multiple things to consider when picking your solar generator; which one is most important to you will be based on your individual needs.

Battery storage capacity, no matter what your use case, will be one of the top priorities. If you don’t have the capacity to store enough power for your needs when the solar panels are not generating power, the entire system becomes useless.

The solar panels themselves are a prominent key component to the solar generator. Considering that you only get full sun for a small portion of the day, the solar panels must generate as much power as possible in that time. Keeping in mind, you want enough solar panel input power as your battery capacity can hold.

Having quality components is always a desirable quality. You shouldn’t compromise on quality when buying a backup energy source that needs to get you safely through an emergency.

Quality components should be a priority, especially when it comes to the battery, panel, and inverters. An inverter is responsible for delivering power to your devices, and as such, ultimately, the inverter is what dictates the maximum watts your system can pull at any given moment.

Finally, depending on your use case, portability can be a concern. If you want to use the solar power generator for an 

RV or backpacking use case, then small size and light weight will be a high priority for you.


Solar generator battery capacity  

Solar generators can come in all shapes and sizes. Solar generators range from small setups in the 500 Watt range to top-end spec generators producing up to 200 Watts surge power.

Depending on your needs, a generator could recharge some small USB devices or run bigger appliances in a blackout.

For those with small energy needs, the Renogy Phoenix 300 has a capacity of 337Wh.

For larger energy needs, the Renogy Lycan powerbox has a capacity of 1075 watt-hours. You can charge up this powerbox with up to three 100 watt panels.

Remember that if you're using your generator regularly, it will need to be recharged. The overall amount of energy produced by a solar system is always determined and restricted by both the weather and the size and number of solar panels available.

If you're traveling in a van or RV, the amount of energy you can produce is often limited by the number of solar panels you can fit onto the available space on the roof.

How big of a solar generator do I need?  

How much power a solar generator produces depends on the size and quality of the solar generator.

Which size generator you need will also be impacted by your lifestyle and usage. Other factors to consider are the number of devices or appliances you want your generator to power. The length of time and frequency with which you'll be using them and the amount of energy stored in the internal battery.

The size of your tiny home or cabin and the desired coverage you want also play a part. A smaller generator can provide essential circuit coverage covering the indispensable in an emergency - such as lights and refrigeration. 

However, an effective whole-house solar solution will need a more significant solar generator to power everything in the house. You'll need to go with a large, premium generator if you want everything to come on and stay on in a power outage.

Our solar panel calculator can help you work out how much energy you plan to use compared to how much you can generate from the sunlight in your region.


Why have a portable power generator for home?  

In the right circumstances, you can power an entire house with a portable solar generator during an emergency. However, solar generators are best used for charging and running small devices and appliances. They also make a great source of backup power.

Solar generators can power a whole house with the correct setup and a more permanent installation. Weather also plays a factor in your ability to run a whole house on a generator for an extended period of time.

In states like Arizona, there’s plenty of sunlight to use for solar power. But if you live in a region of the world where sunlight isn't as abundant, it is harder to power your house just on solar power.

You should do your research before trying to go completely off-grid to ensure you will get enough sunlight hours to achieve your goal. If you’re thinking about greeting a completely off-grid system, you will need to approximate your solar PV system wattage and compare it to the available sunlight hours per day.

You have a couple of options for connecting your solar generator that depends on the style of solar generator you choose. The first option is to build your own solar generator that connects to your home's electricity.

This option is a challenging route that requires a certain amount of skill. The second, more accessible option is to purchase a ready-made solar generator that you can plug your appliances into manually. 


Are you prepared?  

Solar-powered generators make a great alternative to traditional generators that are noisy and guzzle gas. You can head out on your next adventure with solar-powered generators and experience freedom from the ties of the grid.

One of the biggest selling points of solar generators is the peace of mind they bring in an emergency. Are you prepared for an emergency? Even if the grid goes down, you can rest easy knowing that when the sun comes up, you'll still be able to power and run your devices and appliances with a solar generator.