The market for solar generator is slowly but steadily growing. All-in-one portable power station that use solar energy are a new alternative to conventional fuel-powered portable generators.

Whether you need to keep your lights on when the grid goes down or you want to charge your phone on a camping trip, solar generators are a great way to have extra energy on hand. 

What is a Solar Generator?

A solar generator is actually a misnomer. The machines that are often referred to as solar generators are often a rechargeable battery that can be powered by a solar panel.

How a so-called solar generator works is quite different from how a conventional fossil fuel-powered generator runs. The mechanics are different and the technical specs tend to be quite different, as well.

The basic setup of a solar generator is a rechargeable battery, an inverter, solar charger and poly or mono solar panels. Energy drawn from the solar panels pass through the solar charger to the rechargeable battery and then the inverter converts the DC electricity into AC electricity.

A different and more appropriate label given to solar power rechargeable batteries is remote portable power station. Sometimes these units are also called all-in-one portable power stations when the battery can also be charged through a regular wall outlet or a car outlet.

How do solar generators work?

Solar generators have four major components:

  • Solar panels
  • A solar charge controller
  • A reachargeable solar battery
  • An inverter

The solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity that is then passed through the solar charge controller. The solar charge controller regulates the voltage of the electricity into the battery, where the solar energy is then stored for use later. Most solar generators sold today are lithium ion solar batteries.

Solar generator components

When you need to use the energy stored in the battery, the inverter converts the electricity into alternating current energy, or AC power, which is what most appliances and devices use.

Solar generators typically have USB ports, AC outlets, and 12 volt carports to allow you to charge multiple devices.

What are the pros and cons of solar generators?

ProsCons
No fuelExpensive upfront investment
Clean renewable energySlow recharging
Quiet and low-maintenanceLimited available power
Multiple Power SourcesBig Size for Big Power
Low Running Costs
No Fumes

Advantages of a Portable Solar Generator

Free fuel from the sun

Using the energy from the sun is free in a way so, solar panels allow you to use a free and unlimited source of energy. However, it is not completely free since it requires an investment in the solar power gear, first.

Also, solar energy is more readily available in most remote areas compared to gasoline or diesel. You cannot run out of solar energy as long as you are in a spot where the sun shines.

Another cost related advantage is that solar energy is not subject to volatile price fluctuations like gasoline and diesel are. Once you have the solar power equipment, your ‘fuel’ costs remain steady.

Clean renewable energy

Solar generators rely entirely on clean, renewable energy. This means that not only do you not have to worry about the cost of fossil fuels to power your generator, you don’t have to worry about the environmental impact of using gasoline either.

Solar generators release no pollutants when they produce and store energy. You can rest easy knowing that your camping or boating trip is powered by clean energy.

solar generator how to work

Quiet and low maintenance

Another great thing about solar generators is that they are quiet. And unlike gas generators, solar generators don’t have any moving parts. This significantly reduces the amount of noise they produce while running.

Plus, no moving parts means the chances of solar generator parts breaking is low. This greatly reduces the amount of maintenance required for a solar generator as compared to a gas generator.

Multiple Power Sources

As mentioned, many solar generators are actually all-in-one portable power stations meaning that they can also be charged by power sources other than solar power. Besides solar power, the basic power sources are regular AC electricity from a wall outlet or from a car using the CIG port.

Low Running Costs

Compared to a fuel-powered portable generator, a solar generator has lower running costs. You do not need to buy fuel since the sun’s energy is free to extract and there is no oil that needs changing.

Not having any moving parts also reduces the risk of spare parts getting damaged or needing replacement. So, despite solar generators being a bigger initial investment, their running costs are lower compared to a fuel-powered portable generator.

No Fumes

The carbon monoxide released by a conventional fossil fuel-powered generator is a serious health hazard which is why they can only be used outdoors and at a safe distance from any buildings. Solar power generators do not release any fumes making them the safest option, even safe enough for indoor use.

Disadvantages of solar generators

solar generator battery bank long life

High upfront costs

Solar generators require a much higher initial investment than traditional gas generators.

However, solar generators have much lower operating costs. So, you’ll spend less over the lifetime of a solar generator.

Slow recharging

Solar generator batteries can only be recharged when the sun is out. And even then, it takes time for the solar panels to charge the battery. A solar panel with a power output of 100 watts would take over 6-8 hours to charge most mid-sized solar generator batteries.

Generators that run on fossil fuels can be refueled at any time, so you can get more power right when you need it without having to worry about the weather conditions or the time of day.

Limited power supply

The size of the solar generator battery will limit how much the generator can power, as well. A solar generator probably won’t be able to power your entire home. However, it can charge phones and laptops, and keep small appliances running for a short period of time.

Gas generators aren’t as limited in what they can power and for how long, since they can be refilled at any time.

Big Size for Big Power

Solar power generators meant for light use are more lightweight than inverter generators and conventional generators. However, if you want to match the power of a solar generator to that of a conventional fuel-powered generator then the solar generator will be the heavier one.

In other words, how lightweight the generator is is directly related to how much power it holds. For light use, a solar power generator is the more portable option but as soon as you go for 1500 watts or more, inverter generators are the more lightweight option.

What are the best solar generators available?

One of the most important things to look for when buying a solar generator is the battery capacity (or how much energy the battery can hold), in order to know if the generator will meet your power needs. This is usually measured in watt-hours (Wh).

Prostar free energy 12v pure sine wave 500w solar generator portableProstar best lithium battery 300w portable solar generator for campingProstar solar portable power station 1000w for heavy duty power supply

What are the best uses for solar generators?

Solar generators are best used for charging devices and running small appliances. They’re a great source of backup power for a boating or RV camping trip because of their portability, plus they’re clean and don’t require you to keep lots of fuel on hand.

Solar generators can power some key appliances in your home in the event of an emergency. But no portable generator will be able to truly power your entire home off-grid.

Instead, you should consider installing a rooftop solar panel system paired with battery storage. Not only will this allow you to have backup power for most of your home in case of an emergency, it will help cut down your electricity bill all year long!

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