What Is A Solar Generator? – Advantages & Disadvantages
In this guide you will learn what is a solar generator, its working, its advantages, and disadvantages, and why should you go for a solar generator
When it comes to thinking about generators, a loud machine comes inside our mind that runs specifically on natural gas or gasoline. Most generators are like this, but there are some generators that run on solar power.
As the name shows, a solar generator refers to a generator that runs on solar energy but it is also a compact, easily transportable machine that is made up of solar panels, batteries, an inverter, and a solar charge controller.
Being light in weight and quiet, solar generators are ideal for powering road trips and camping. By having a solar generator at home, you’ll get rid of worrying about the low batteries of your smartphones and laptops.
In this article, we will elaborate on all the basics of a so generator such as, what is a solar generator, how it works, and what are the pros and cons of having a solar generator.
What Is A Solar Generator
A solar generator is a portable generator that doesn’t include moving components. It is essentially made up of an inverter, a solar panel battery, solar panels, and a battery charger.
The solar panel captures the solar energy that comes directly through the sun and then stores that energy in the battery that is built into the generator already.
The inverter takes that energy and converts it from direct current power to alternating current power before discharging it.
Once energy is released, you can utilize that energy to supply power to run various appliances at your home in case of a power breakdown.
We have a writing guide about the best solar generators, make sure to have a look if you are planning to get one.
How Does A Solar Generator Work?
The working mechanism of a solar generator is quite simple. The generator converts energy taken from the sun into the form of energy that can be stored and used in times of power outage.
When the particles of light or photons hit the solar panel, they collide to make electrons lose from atoms. Then electrons are converted into direct current electricity to deliver a charge through the charger controller that then regulates the voltage of electricity to move it through the battery for protecting it from damage.
Then, the battery stores the electricity in the form of chemical energy until is bonded to some electrical appliances. Charge passes through the inverter that converts DC into AC electricity.
After this, the electric current travels through the extension cord to power all electrical devices.
This whole process shows that solar generators are quite different from the traditional, fuel-powered generators that mostly use fuel to move a piston for making mechanical energy.
How To Know If There’s A Need For A Solar Generator?
No one can tell you when you need a solar generator but some important things should be considered that will help you to make a decision about whether to get one unit or not.
If you experience a power outage, tornadoes, high winds, hurricanes, extreme heat or cold, or even heavy snowfall, then the importance of solar generators is undeniable.
As they are capable of combating power outages during extreme circumstances and also provide peace of mind by acting as a defense against difficult times.
How Long Does A Solar Generator Last?
Considering the overall lifespan of a solar generator, always remember that the technology is still evolving and there is no exact answer to this question. But the general consensus shows that these generators can stay anywhere from 25 to 35 years.
But if you want more elaboration to this question that how long does a solar generator actually lasts, then the answer is simple: a solar generator will last as long as the sun is out or until all the stored power inside it is drained.
If the solar generator is left for a whole day out in the sun to build power in the battery, then there is a possibility that your generator could last from 1 to 10 hours, depending on the size of the generator and the number of appliances taking power from it.
How Much Power A Solar Generator Can Produce?
It all depends on the size and quality of the solar generator that is being used, the number of electronic devices running, the amount of time to power those appliances, and the amount of energy stored in the internal battery at usage time.
Just to find it out let’s suppose, in your area the power is out due to extreme weather. The capacity of the solar generator you have is 3000Wh. You want to power your refrigerator of 915W, your cell phone of 20W, and one light fixture of 65W. You will use a solar generator only when the power is out and the internal battery of the generator is completely full.
So, a good quality generator should power 1000W of appliances for almost 1 hour. For example, your solar generator will power your devices for at least 3 hours.
We also have written a guide about can a solar generator power a house? make sure to have a look.
How Loud Is A Solar Generator?
One of the best benefits of having a solar generator is they are not loud at all. Not only they are environment friendly, but they are also quieter as well. The generators that run on fossil fuels have engines with moving parts that make them a bane on eardrums.
While the solar generators have no moving parts that make them your ideal companion and also of your neighbors.
What Does It Take To Install A Solar Generator?
Honestly, nothing. A solar generator doesn’t require any installation because the majority of them are portable solutions. That is why they are very easy to maintain as there is no maintenance requirement.
What Size Solar Generator Should You Get?
Depending upon the size of your home, appliances you want to power during the electric shortage, and the average time powering appliances, the size of the generator will be easy to decide.
From a smaller generator, cost-effective solutions are provided that are able to cover indispensables including refrigeration and lights. While an effective whole-house solution plan from a bigger unit will cover everything.
In case of a power outage when everything goes out, with the aid of a premium generator everything will work properly and stay on for hours.
We have also written a guide about generator sizing, you can follow that as well
How Much Does A Solar Generator Cost?
A good quality solar generator ranges in cost from $500 to $10,000 depending on the size, wattage, and brand.
What Are The Best Usages For Solar Generators?
Solar generators are mainly used for running small devices and charging appliances. They are a good source of power backup for boating or RV camping trip due to their portability as well as they are clean and do not require to keep lots of fuel on hand.
Some key appliances can also be powered by solar generators in the event of an emergency. But there is no portable generator that will be able to truly power the entire home off-grid.
You can also consider installing a rooftop solar panel system that should be paired with battery storage. This will allow power backup for your home during an emergency situation and it will also cut down the costs of electricity bills.
Checkout our comparison between solar and gas generator
Advantages Of Solar Generators
Free fuel from the sun: Most traditional gas-powered generators enforce you to purchase fuel constantly. With the help of a solar generator, no fuel costs will be forced and the solar panel set up will also be simple.
Quiet and low maintenance: An amazing benefit of having a solar generator is its quietness. While the gas generators are too loud. The reason for this is their moving parts. Gas generators are loud due to moving parts which produce noise while running.
As no such moving parts are present in solar generators the parts breaking noise is also very low in them. It also helps in reducing the maintenance required for the solar generator in comparison to the gas generator.
Clean renewable energy: No doubt, solar generators rely purely on clean and renewable energy. It means that you don’t need to worry about the fossil fuel costs as well as environmental impacts that usually happen due to gasoline or other fuel.
No pollutants are released by solar generators during the production and storage of energy. You can keep the peace of your mind by knowing that all of your appliances are getting power by clean energy.
Disadvantages Of Solar Generators
Slow recharging: The batteries of solar generators can only be recharged in the presence of the sun and it takes enough time for solar panels to charge the battery.
If the power output of a solar panel is 100watt then it will take almost 9 hours to charge a mid-sized solar generator battery.
While the generators running of fossil fuel can be refueled at any time to deliver power to your appliances even in extreme weather.
Limited power supply: The size of the battery also matters in limiting how much the generator can power. A solar generator isn’t able to power your entire home but it can give enough power to charge your laptops, phones, and other small appliances that need to be run for a short period of time.
Although, a gas generator is not limited in that way of power supply and for how long as they can be refilled at any time.
High upfront costs: A much higher initial investment is required for solar generators as compared to gas generators. The solar generator will cost about $2000 while a gas generator will cost $1000 on average.
No doubt, a solar generator has much lower operating costs and you will spend only less over the lifetime of a solar generator.