Buying a portable solar generator is a great way to have a portable renewable energy source. Make the right selection with this helpful article.
What do hurricanes and birthday parties have in common? How about thunderstorms and camping trips?
If you guessed that they’re all great occasions to get out the grill and start barbecuing you’re close.
While not as tasty, these are all also very real opportunities for a portable solar generator to prove its worth.
What Is a Solar Generator?
Simply put, a solar generator stores electrical energy within a built-in battery. While most are intended to be charged by solar power through solar panels, they can also be charged by plugging into an electric outlet in your house. Some models can even be charged off your car battery.
Growth in the solar power industry has mimicked that of the computer industry. Back in the 1960s, a single computer took up an entire room and weighed in at several tons. Today, one fits in your back pocket and weighs ounces.
As fast as they shrunk in size and weight, computers grew in capabilities. Computing speed and storage capacities ballooned. Solar generators have evolved in much the same way.
Initially large and immobile, whole-house units stored a fraction of the energy gathered from a roof full of very sensitive solar panels to power some parts of your house. Solar generators have evolved to the point where a complete generator and panel can be built into a backpack.
There are small phone chargers (that are technically still generators) that are hardly larger than the phone itself. At the other end of the spectrum, there are even commercial operations powering other new industries including bitcoin mining.
Portable Solar Generator Benefits
If you live in an area where storms or overuse frequently threatens the power grid, even if you already own a portable generator of another type, you may want to get yourself a portable solar generator as well.
Why? One year after Hurricane Irma, parts of Puerto Rice were still without power. Sandy had people all up and down the east coast lining up at local distribution points to refill portable propane tanks days in advance of landfall.
A portable solar generator:
- Runs silently – no noise to keep you up at night
- Runs free of fumes – no noxious gases to fill up a camping tent
- Offers free refueling – no long lines or increased fuel costs
- Is extremely rugged – they are built for outdoor use
- Is portable – it goes where you need it when you need it
This is great news for anyone looking for a reliable and safe back-up energy source. These same benefits also make them great things to have on hand at your next outdoor barbecue or on a camping trip. Even better, prices have dropped to a point where they have become practical additions as well.
Choosing Your Portable Solar Generator
Unfortunately, solar generators are not yet as evolved as personal computers. While generators have shrunk in size and weight, and their power levels have gone up, a single portable solar generator is not yet able to power your entire house.
If you need a unit that can function as a back-up for many key appliances in your home, this review at poweredportablesolar.com covers everything you should consider and compares the top models in this class for you.
If you need something you can take with, consider the following criteria when selecting your portable generator.
What do you want your generator to power? An air conditioner demands 1,000 watts of power. A refrigerator needs between 800-1,200 watts of power. However, a phone, a laptop, a radio, lights, and a fan, for example, could all be run off of a much smaller unit at the same time.
Even if the total wattage of the generator you are considering looks like it might be enough to handle a bigger load, you need to consider your use as well. For example, a 1,500-watt unit may look like enough to handle that min-refrigerator and your portable stove. However, if they are both plugged in and their motors turn on at the same time, your generator may shut down.
How are you going to move your solar generator around? Some of the bigger units that provide 1,500 to 3,000 watts of power weighing in at 50-100 pounds. Some of these big units come with wheels attached, though you will need to purchase a dolly to move others.
While wheels solve the basic mobility issue with the bigger units, they do not make them suitable for your upcoming trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Nor does the weight of the unit take solar panels into account. There are just a few portable generator types that include solar panels in their kit. In most cases, you’ll need to purchase panels separately and some sizes can weigh several pounds on their own.
Time to Charge
From a low of 2,170 hours of sunshine in a year in Seattle to a high of 3,871 hours in Phoenix, the number of hours a day of sunlight to charge your generator obvious varies a lot. However, if you figure an average of five hours a day of charging possible (cloudy days still generator some solar power), you can determine how long it will take any given generator to fully charge.
The formula to figure this out is the number of watts in the unit divided by watts charge per hour. For example, a 1,000-watt unit that charges at 160 watts per hour, will take 6.25 hours to fully charge. That means it will not be fully charged in an average day.
Finally, when you chose which appliances you wanted to run off of your generator, you should have taken note of their inputs. While most generators will have outlets for three-prong inputs, not all generators will come with a USB input.
Now It’s Time to Shop!
Once you have determined your criteria for a portable solar generator, you’ll be ready to shop for your portable solar generator. You’ll find no lack of reviews online that can help you determine the best brand and model for your needs.
One final thing to consider is how much the unit will initially cost versus how much it will cost to operate. When you consider a solar generator is capable of doing for you, you may be very pleasantly surprised by how little this extra peace of mind will initially cost you.
If the initial cost pleases you, you will be positively thrilled with the cost of ownership. There is no refueling cost, very little maintenance needed and 5-15 years of use before the battery is likely to wear out.
Now if only your new portable solar generator could help you earn as much as this article on bitcoin mining.