Yes, these solar-powered generators are worth your attention due to many reasons. The main reason is the “zero operating cost”. Unlike electric and fuel generators you do not have to pay for the energy source of the generator. A solar-powered generator uses sunlight as its energy source, which is 100% free and renewable.
Solar-powered generators are becoming very popular among travelers as these can save them from lots of trouble. But these solar-powered generators are also great as small backup energy sources for a home during power outages.
What is a solar-powered generator?
The solar-powered generator is a device that supplies backup power when there is no power supply from the grid.
These solar-powered generators also work the same as a solar system. But they are designed with less capacity and more portability. So they are most suitable as a backup power source and for travelling.
This device acts the same as a conventional generator, but it does not use fossil fuels. This solar-powered generator absorbs the energy of the sunlight and converts it to electricity.
Due to many reasons, these generators are very popular among travelers. They are also good for homes as backup power supplies, during power outages.
How does a solar-powered generator work?
A solar-powered generator consists of the following components;
- Solar panels (portable)
- Solar charge controller
- Solar battery
The working principle of a solar-powered generator is the same as a home solar system. Solar panels will absorb the energy of the sunlight and convert it into electricity.
Then this produced electricity will be stored in the solar battery. The solar charge controller regulates the charging of the solar battery. This will help to protect your solar battery from damages that can happen during charging.
As we all know, lots of electric devices we use, need an AC power supply. But the output from the solar panel is given as a DC supply. So before supplying the power to the device you want to charge it will go through an inverter.
The inverter converts DC power to AC.
According to the solar generator you purchase, there will be several USB ports or power outlets to connect your devices. So when purchasing a solar generator, make sure that the generator is compatible with your device.
Advantages of using a solar-powered generator;
Great for travelling – These solar generators are portable and designed to be easy to travel with. These are good for RV travelling and boats as a backup generator. Because the battery charges by converting solar energy, you do not have to worry about going for power stations or using fuel.
No noise – Unlike fuel-powered generators these solar generators do not make noise while working. Most campsites prohibit using generators, as the noise from a conventional generator disturbs the wildlife. But with solar generators, you do not have to worry about that. Also, this is good for home usage as this will not disturb the peaceful environment of your house as well.
More environmentally friendly – like diesel generators solar generators do not burn fuel to get energy. Burning fuel releases many harmful substances to the environment. But by using solar generators you can avoid this. Also, as we said earlier diesel generators produce a lot of noise when operating. This increases noise pollution. But by using solar generators you can avoid this too.
Even though using electric generators do not release any harmful substances on the spot, electricity generation at the power plants produces so many harmful substances. So because of this reason using grid power to charge your batteries is also harmful.
No operational cost – When using solar generators you do not have to pay for fuel or electricity. Sunlight is 100% free anywhere you go. So for solar generators, there is no operational cost at all.
Less maintenance work- solar generators do not need much maintenance. But you have to clean the solar panels as they should be free of dust and debris to work properly. Keep the solar generator moist free to increase the lifetime of the electrical parts.
Easy operation – using solar generators is not hard at all. All you have to do is place the generator where there is good sunlight (solar panels work more efficiently when they are exposed to the sunlight properly). Let the battery charge and then connect the device you want to charge to the power outlet.
Disadvantages of using a solar-powered generator;
Expensive than other generators – when compared with conventional generators, solar generators are expensive. So you have to invest more money initially.
Limited capacity – the capacity of the solar generator means the capacity of the battery used for the generator. As these solar generators are designed for travelling, manufacturers had designed them with less weight and size. So the capacity of the battery of the solar generator is limited. These solar generators are more suitable to charge small electrical devices like phones, laptops, etc.
The output varies with the availability of sunlight-like all other solar-powered devices the sunlight affects the efficiency of the solar generators too. So the efficiency of the solar generators will vary with the sunlight. Also, if you are living in or travelling to an area with less sunlight solar generators will not be of much use as they cannot give you much power.
Need more time to charge the battery – as we said early, sunlight affects the efficiency of the solar generator. So the output of the sunlight will not be constant. So the system will take more time to supply enough power.
Can a solar generator replace a home solar system?
No, it cannot replace the home solar system.
Solar generators are mainly designed for travelling purposes. So they are designed to be lightweight and small. So the battery and solar panels come with lesser capacity and lesser power than the home solar system. Because of that solar generators cannot supply much power and they cannot replace the home solar system.
What you should consider before buying a solar-powered generator (buyer’s guide)?
Battery capacity – the solar generator needs a battery to store the energy converted by the solar panels. The battery capacity is the value that indicates the amount of power that will be stored inside the battery. If you need to get more power for more time from a solar generator then you have to go for a solar generator with a higher battery capacity.
Compatibility with your devices- the solar generator has to be compatible with your device. It should have proper output voltage, connectors etc. Otherwise, your devices can be damaged.
Manufacturer – as we said earlier when compared to conventional generators, solar generators are very expensive. So there are many low-quality generators available in the market for low prices. These low-quality products are not effective as high-quality generators and they do not last for that much time. By purchasing from a well known trusted manufacturer you can get a high-quality solar generator. When selecting a trustworthy manufacturer you can get help from a professional or refer to online reviews.
Portability – solar generators are designed to be portable. But every solar generator does not match your needs. So make sure that the solar generator matches your needs such as size, weight etc. before purchasing it.
What is the lifetime of a solar generator?
When compared to a conventional generator, a solar generator has a quite long lifetime. Solar panels of this solar generator have about 25 years of a lifetime. The solar battery has a lifetime of about 5 years. So you may need to replace the solar battery from time to time.
Is a solar generator worth the price?
The answer depends on your intentions. As we said earlier solar generators are very useful as a backup power source. Even though having less capacity looks like a major drawback, these solar generators are great for travelling as you do not need to search for a power station during your trip. Also, these are great for getting power in rural areas. Also, as you do not have to pay for power stations or to purchase fuel, you can save money as well.
So this investment is only worthy if you buy solar generators with the above intentions.