Solar generators use solar panels to capture renewable energy from the sun and store it as electricity in either portable or tied-in power stations. They can provide reliable energy as a backup power source in a power outage or on a full-time basis. They run quietly and are low maintenance. During a power outage, having a generator will enable you to use much of the same lighting, heating, and many cooking appliances you already use, lessening the need to fall back on more alternative methods. It can also provide electricity to power essentials such as refrigerators and medical equipment.
There are three types of solar generators: portable, stand-alone, and solar backup generators. Each offers something different. Learn about each and see what works for your budget.
A portable solar generator is a device that captures the sun’s energy via solar panels, converts it into electrical power, and stores it in a battery for later use. It is small and lightweight and can be easily carried around. It’s useful for powering small appliances and devices. Unlike a gas-powered generator, you can bring it into your home and plug it into it there. You can also take it with you should you need to leave your home. These generators are clean, easy to use, don’t require fossil fuels, and are becoming more and more affordable as solar technology improves.
On average, this generator’s cost ranges from $800 to $5,000 depending on capacity and features. Popular brands include Jackery, Goal Zero, Anker, Bluetti, and EcoFlow.
This is a larger generator that is designed to be used as the primary power source for your home. It generates electricity via solar panels, which are used to charge the solar battery with the help of a charger controller. An inverter is then used to convert the electricity for use in your home. When choosing a stand-alone solar generator, it’s important to consider the capacity you need to power your home appliances and electronics. The higher wattage output can power a wide range of appliances and devices.
On average, this generator’s cost ranges from $2,000 to $25,000 depending on capacity and features. Popular brands include Geneverse, Jackery, Anker, Bluetti, and EcoFlow.
A backup generator can power most appliances and LED lights. It is permanently installed and wired to your home’s electrical panel. The more appliances you want to run, the higher capacity backup generator you will need to purchase. Once set up, this generator will sense when the power goes out and will turn on automatically and provide backup power. When your neighbors are scrambling to set up their portable generators, you can sit back. There’s no need to do anything because the work has already been done.
On average, this generator’s cost ranges from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on capacity, power rating and included accessories. Popular brands include EF EcoFlow, Jackery, Generack, Bluetti, and Renogy.
How to determine your capacity needs
To determine the energy capacity you will need from a portable generator, choose the appliances and devices you would like to power and add up the wattage of each. This should consider the starting wattage that is required to turn the appliance on, and the running wattage needed to operate it. You can find the wattage of each appliance in its owner’s manual or on the equipment itself. Once you have calculated your total power requirement, you can choose a generator with a capacity that meets your needs.
What about cloudy weather?
Solar generators can still charge on cloudy days, but their efficiency will be reduced. On cloudy days, most solar panels will still work, generating about 10-25% of their normal power output. However, as long as your generator has full batteries when it is cloudy, it doesn’t matter. Because the generator stores the power, it can work at any time, even when it’s dark or cloudy.