TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Why Invest in a Solar-Powered Generator
- What To Look for in a Quality Solar Generator
- How-To Set Up Your Solar Generator
- Ongoing Maintenance Tips for Your Solar-Powered Generator
- Take a Step Towards Reliable Clean Energy With a Solar Generator
A solar-powered generator gives you a backup power source with energy directly from the sun. These are power stations that connect to solar panels to give you an energy supply anywhere there is sunlight. Convenient and sustainable, solar generators are becoming more affordable and rivaling the capabilities of traditional generators. Here, we review the perks of buying a solar generator, provide instructions on how to set up a power system, and give some tips for maintaining your generator.
Why Invest in a Solar-Powered Generator
Generators are an important tool to have in a number of circumstances. A generator provides off-the-grid power during natural disasters, road trips, and more. But traditional generators can break and run out of fuel. A solar-powered generator offers a number of cost-saving, environmentally conscious, and safety benefits.
Solar Energy Is Consistent and Free
Fuel costs money. Especially in today’s economy, gas prices are on the rise. Resource availability, politics, and inflation all contribute to the high prices of fuels. The ongoing costs alone make fuel-powered generators less appealing. Not only does it cost money to buy propane, gas, or diesel, but it can be a hassle to remember to resupply.
Solar energy, however, is free and available to everyone, everywhere. No matter where you are, pop up your panels and the solar cells will start charging from the biggest power source in the solar system: the sun! Weather won’t even get in your way. All panels work in shade, clouds, and even rain and snow, albeit a bit more slowly.
Investment in Clean and Renewable Energy
Switching to a solar-powered generator is not only a great choice as a power source and financial investment. Solar energy is a renewable source of energy. Solar panel systems convert the sun’s energy into usable electricity to charge and power your devices. Not only does the sun provide an infinite energy source (unlike nonrenewable fuels), but a solar generator doesn’t emit harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases. The energy from your solar-powered generator is clean and sustainable. You can sleep easy at night, knowing you are doing your part for the planet. Additionally, creating a demand for solar-powered products shows the energy industry that you value renewable power options.
Limited Ongoing Costs and Low Maintenance Costs
Though they are a newer technology, solar generators are much more simplistic than traditional generators. Specifically, they don’t have the mechanistic parts that easily break or wear down. They don’t require the same level of upkeep as fuel-powered generators. Because of this, they have lower maintenance costs.
Great Backup Power Source
Having a power source is a critical part of emergency preparedness. Rain, strong wind storms, fires, and floods can all cause power outages. In the case of natural disasters, it might be days until the power comes back to the city’s electric grid. Solar generators are a great preventative solution. As a backup power source, all they need is the sun. You won’t have to worry about making trips to the store to restock on fuel. Just find a sunny spot for the panels and charge the generator.
While candlelight card games are always fun, having a power source during emergencies can save a lot of headaches. For example, a generator can keep the fridge running and prevent food from spoiling.
Even in non-emergencies, a backup power source offers plenty of conveniences. If you enjoy DIY projects, pair your solar generator with portable battery storage systems to power your tools wherever you are working. It’s also a key piece of equipment for people who enjoy the outdoors. If you enjoy road trips in the RV or are committed to “van life,” a solar-powered generator is critical to maintaining a high quality of life while on the move.
What To Look for in a Quality Solar Generator
While solar generator technology is improving across the board, there are some specific features to look out for that reflect the quality of the device. Many of these also will depend on your intended purpose. If you just need a mini generator to keep your phone charged, you won’t need a huge power output from your generator. On the other hand, if you want a power source that can be a backup in case of natural disasters, you’ll want to invest in a more robust system.
The size of the battery depends on two ratings: continuous power output and power capacity. These reflect the “how much” and “how long” of a battery’s power. Additionally, the surge rating and recharge rate will impact how you can use the generator.
Continuous Power Output
First up is the continuous power output: how much power the generator supplies. The continuous power output of a generator is the maximum amount of energy it can supply for a sustained period of time. Measured in watts, different generators have different continuous power outputs. Depending on the power requirements of your appliances, you might want a generator that has high continuous power output. For example, if you want a generator for camping, a wattage between 3,000-4,000 should be sufficient. Running large household appliances requires a higher continuous power output. For an at-home emergency backup generator, look for something rated at 5,000-7,000 watts.
Power Capacity (Watt Hours)
A second important measurement of solar-powered generators is their battery capacity. This shows how long the generator can supply power. The unit watt-hours (Wh) measures the power of a period of time. While the power output tells you the amount of energy the generator provides, the watt-hours tell you how long that power can last. Essentially, the power capacity of a generator is how long the power will last before the solar batteries need recharging. You can calculate the number of watt-hours you need by estimating what devices you need to be powered.
For example, say you want to power a set of string lights (40 W), a laptop (60 W), and a mini fridge (80 W) for 10 hours each day. Adding the power needs (40+60+80) and multiplying by time (180×10) gives you the estimated power capacity you need (1800 Wh). Look for generators that have around 2,000 Wh of battery capacity.
Another important number on solar generators is the surge rating. As soon as you plug in an appliance, it will require a high amount of energy right for a few milliseconds to power up. Also called peak power, this is the number of watts a device needs to start. Solar-powered generators have a surge rating that reflects how much maximum power they can give. This is different than continuous power output in a couple of ways. The wattage will be much higher and the generator cannot sustain this power. All of your devices will have peak power along with their average wattage. The surge rating of your generator should be able to handle the peak power of all your devices.
While sunlight is an unlimited resource, solar generators do take time to charge. The recharge rate of generators is a crucial piece in choosing which model you’d like to buy. The longer the generator takes to charge, the less convenient for you. However, the recharge rate does depend on a few factors:
- Size of battery
- Solar input
- Amount of sunlight
As long as there’s enough power, you can use a solar-powered generator while the panels are charging. This will increase the real time it takes for the battery to reach full capacity.
How-To Set Up Your Solar Generator
To get started using your solar-powered generator, you need to quickly set up all the components, starting with solar battery installation. A solar generator has a few different pieces. Below, we go into detail on each of these parts and how they interact with one another
|Solar Panels||Convert energy from sunlight into a usable DC current|
|Battery (lithium or lead-acid)||Stores the energy for power usage|
|Charge Controller||Regulates the flow of energy between the solar panels and the battery|
|Inverter||Converts the DC power from the solar panels into usable AC current to power your devices.|
Start With Installing Your Solar Panels
The first step of setting up your solar-powered generator is installing your solar panels. Depending on your situation, you may want a permanent installation on top of your RV or on your work shed. If you have a small, portable setup, you may not want a permanent spot. In that case, look for panels that have kickstands for easy setup anywhere.
The solar panel installation depends on where you want your panels. If you want them on the roof, you will first need to attach panel mounts. There are a few different types of roof attachments that correspond to different roofing materials (e.g., metal, tile, shingles). When installing the roof attachments, consider the spacing and aspect of your panels. Next, attach the racking rails that will hold the solar panels to the roof. Carefully lift the panels up and mount them to the railings according to the specific instructions in the panel’s manual.
- [Reliable Power Output] Renogy's 100 watt solar panels can provide an average of 400-500 Watt-hours (Wh) or 33-41Amp-hours (Ah) of electricity per day (depending on sun availability).
- [Efficient Performance] Bypass diodes of this solar panel protect the solar cells from overheating and allow the solar panel to continue working during accidental shading by bypassing the underperforming cells.
- [Industry-Leading Technology] This 100w solar panel is made from high purity silicon cells coated with advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet laminations to enhance cell performance and provide long-lasting durability.
- [Built to Last] Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame of this 100 watt solar panel 12v provides extended outdoor use that ensures the panel can last for decades. The IP65-rated junction box is versatile due to its ability to withstand dirt, dust, debris, and low-pressure water jets.
- [Fast and Easy Installation] Pre-drilled holes on the back of the solar panel kit allow for fast mounting and securing, ideal for off-grid applications including RVs, rooftops, cabins, yachts, and more. They are directly compatible with Renogy ground mounts, Z Brackets, Corner Brackets, Pole Mounts, and Tilt Mounts.
Alternatively, if you want to ground mount your solar panels, you will need to construct a foundation for them. Once you have a sturdy base, you can install the racking rails and mount the solar panels.
Connect Your Batteries to the Charge Controller
Once your solar panels are set up, you need to prepare your battery. The panels don’t plug directly into the battery; they must first pass through a charge controller. The solar charge controller ensures the battery charges steadily and safely without overcharging. Erratic charging can be unhealthy for a battery and decrease its longevity.
To connect your battery to the charge controller, you’ll need two charging cables. Just like jumping the battery on a car, you will connect the controller to a positive and a negative port on the battery. The order of steps does matter when setting up a battery!
- Connect the cables to the charge controller. First, connect the negative battery cable to the negative port on the charge controller. You may need a screwdriver to firmly connect it. Then connect the positive charge cable to the positive port on the charge controller.
- Connect the cables to the battery. Again, the order matters. Connect the negative cable to the battery terminal before connecting the positive one. Some controllers will turn on when a positive connection has been made.
- Automatically detect 12V or 24V DC system voltages Innovative MPPT technology with high tracking efficiency up to 99% and peak Conversion efficiency of 98%
- Die-cast aluminum design for heat dissipation and The capability of measuring the battery's temperature and remote monitoring Customizable charging voltages
- Charges over-discharged lithium-ion batteries Error code detection for easy self diagnoses
- Compatible with various Deep Cycle battery options: Sealed, Gel, Flooded, and Lithium Electronic protection: Overcharging, over-discharging, overload, and short circuit Reverse protection: Any combination of solar module and battery, without causing damage to any component 4-stage charging: Bulk, Boost, Float, and Equalization and LCD screen with programmable charging parameters
- RS232 port allows the Rover to communicate with the BT-1 Bluetooth module, which can pair with the Renogy DC Home smart phone app
Run Power Cables From the Solar Panels to the Controller
Next, you will connect the solar panels to the controller. First, you will need to connect the adapter to your solar panel’s cords. Then these can be connected to the controller. Double-check that the negative cable from the panel goes to the negative terminal on the controller. If the wires get crossed at this point, you risk creating a short circuit and damaging your equipment.
- TUV tested cable. TUV logo print per feet indicates that the cable meets TUV standards for PV solar application
- UV resistant and waterproof. Produce optimal power output even in high temperature conditions.
- Contain a set of positive and negative cables to connect the charge controller to battery. The Temperature is from -40°F to +185°F. The Rating Voltage is TUV 1000V.
- Heat-shrink tubing insulates wires, provides abrasion resistance and electrical safety. 3/8 inch round center hole.
- High-purity oxygen-free Copper wiring for maximum conductivity. Tin plating.
Install the Inverter and Connect to the Batteries
Before we get into the details of connecting your inverter to the batteries there are a couple of key points to consider about the wiring. You want to use the thickest wires you can plug into the power ports and have the shortest distance between the inverter and the battery. This is because the inverter can pull a high volume of current from the battery. Thinner wires won’t be able to handle that load.
You will connect the inverter to the batteries in a similar way that you connected the other elements of the generator system. First, connect the positive and negative AWG cables to the battery, connecting the negative (grounding) cable first, then connecting the positive cable. Next, you will connect these to your power inverter. Find the positive and negative terminals and screw on the cables. Again, start with the negative connection. When you connect the positive cable, it might make a tiny zap, which is completely normal. Screw on the connection and your inverter will start working!
- 【RELIABLE QUALITY】ETL certification listed. Offers 1-Year material and workmanship warranty.
- 【POWERFUL DC-AC】2000W continuous, 4000W peak surge during load start-up, 12V to 120VAC pure sine wave with conversion efficiency >90%, reduces conversion loss.
- 【SAFE FOR USE】LED indicators for under-voltage and over-voltage protection, over-temperature protection, over-load protection, and short circuit indication. Cooling fans and ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection.
- 【PROTECT YOUR ELECTRONICS】Advanced pure sine wave technology provides quality AC equivalent to grid power which will protect and extend the life of your electronics and appliances. With its quiet and high inductive loads, there are no strange buzzing sounds when your electronics are turned on, and allow them to run smoother, cooler, and quieter.
- 【EASY-TO-USE】 Offers a built-in 5V/2.1A USB port, 3 AC Outlets and 1 AC Terminal Block, along with two 3Ft 4AWG Cables and a 19.8ft Wired Remote.
Attach a Meter to the Battery With an Insulated Wire
A battery monitor isn’t a necessary part of your solar generator setup – the power will still flow without it. But it’s incredibly handy, and, because of the charge monitoring, it can help extend the life of your battery. The battery monitor will have a screen that shows a few pieces of information:
- Remaining battery charge (as a percentage)
- Net Amps going in and out of the battery
To install, the battery monitor will attach between the battery and the inverter using a shunt. The shunt is the piece that actually measures the voltage of the battery. Connect your shunt to the negative terminal of your battery and the positive terminal of the inverter. Between the two, it can measure the current going in and out of the battery.
To connect your battery monitor to the shunt, use an insulated wire. You want the battery monitor to be in a visible place. For example, you might mount it on the wall of your RV. Now, you can tell the status of your battery with a quick glance at the meter.
Keep the Battery Stored Safely and You’re Ready To Go!
The last step to set up your solar-powered generator is battery storage. Maintaining your battery is crucial to increasing its longevity. A poorly cared-for battery won’t last as long. That being said, follow these tips for battery storage:
- Keep the battery clean. Dirt and grime can cause your battery to corrode. Store it somewhere that will prevent it from getting dirty. If it does, promptly clean off any dust or debris. For a portable setup, have a dedicated box for your battery to keep it out of the elements.
- Control temperature and humidity. Though the climate conditions will fluctuate, keep the battery from exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity levels. The best storage spot will be cool and dry.
- Avoid storing the battery on its side. Though some types of batteries (e.g., AGM, gel, and LiFePO4 batteries) can be stored on their side, it’s not great for them. Moreover, side storage can destroy a lead-acid battery. The best practice is to keep your battery upright.
Ongoing Maintenance Tips for Your Solar-Powered Generator
To keep your solar-powered generator operating at its fullest capacity, use these solar maintenance best practices.
Invest in a Monitoring System
A monitoring system can help you keep tabs on the energy production of your solar-powered generator. Just like a battery meter will help extend the life of your battery, installing a monitoring system will keep you informed about the quality and quantity of energy production. For example, if you have more than one solar panel hooked up to your generator, a monitoring system will track which panel produces the most energy. Based on that information, you can reposition your panels to maximize their activity. Additionally, a monitoring system will help you track the generator’s performance over time. It will alert you to any issues with the setup, like a canary in a coal mine.
Keep Your Solar Panels Clean and Clear of Debris
Solar panels can only produce energy when exposed to the sun. While clouds and rain won’t completely obscure them, a pile-up of debris will. Routinely clean your panels to ensure they are functioning at their highest capacity.
Don’t Overload Your Generator
If you try to power too many devices from your generator, you risk overheating it. Overloading your generator can be dangerous. Not only will it harm the device, but it can also start an electrical fire. Many generators have built-in circuit breakers that will shut down the system before this happens. If yours doesn’t, make sure you’re devices don’t require more watts than the generator’s continuous power output.
Store Your Battery At Half Charge When It’s Not Being Used
Storing a battery at full charge can cause it to age faster. On the other hand, you need a little charge in your stored battery to keep it functional. Therefore, store your battery at about 50% charge. Lead and nickel-based batteries will self-discharge when stored, meaning they will lose a bit of charge even when not in use. Keeping some charge in these types of batteries will provide some buffer for this discharge. Lithium batteries, on the other hand, don’t self-discharge. However, store them at least 40% charged to keep them stable. This will be plenty of power for them to function without harming their longevity.
Try Not To Utilize 100% of Its Power
Another tip to preserve battery life is to never completely drain it. Batteries are under the most strain when they are fully charged or completely empty. That’s why you want a charge controller to keep the panels from pumping energy into a fully charged battery. Similarly, don’t completely drain your battery to 0%. Discharging a battery completely can cause irreversible damage, and reduce the battery’s lifespan.
Take a Step Towards Reliable Clean Energy With a Solar Generator
Technology for solar-powered generators has come a long way. Prices are becoming more affordable, and the batteries are becoming lighter and more portable without sacrificing charge capacity. They make a great replacement for a traditional, fuel-powered generator. Not only is solar power a clean power source, it doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases or other pollutants. Opting for a solar-powered generator will benefit the environment. Additionally, these generators are more pleasant to have. They don’t make the loud noise or emit the off-putting smells of a traditional generator. Instead, they will almost silently chug away, creating free and clean energy just or you.
A solar-powered generator is a great option for a few different purposes. The portable varieties work well for a road trip. If you enjoy traveling by RV or in a van, find a solar generator kit that can be set up on the go. The larger, more permanent generators are also great as a backup power source for your home. They can provide power to a work shed or be turned on in emergency situations when you lose connection to the grid.
With all this information about how solar-powered generators work and how to set them up, we wish you luck finding the perfect generator for your needs!
- UPGRADED 250-WATT POWERFUL AC, USB AND 12V OUTPUTS: Comparing to similar battery powered generators, Rockpals RP250W portable generator has upgraded the AC output to 250W continuous (300W surge max) dual AC outputs, built-in 2x USB 2.1A and 4x DC 12V ( 60W ) ports. Perfect emergency backup power for home/ travel/ camping, charging up your tablets, iPhone, iPad, laptops, fans, TV, lights and CPAP machine (*Use DC converter from your CPAP would get longer hours)
- HIGH CAPACITY LIGHTWEIGHT LITHIUM POWER PACK: 240WH(3.7V 64.8Ah/12V 20Ah) lithium polymer batteries and weights 5.5lb. powerful enough to charge smartphones ( 2500mah ) 25 times, laptops ( 50W ) 3-5 times, 32" TVs ( 75W ) 2-3 hours, mini car refrigerator ( 60W ) about 4 hours or other small appliances, lights, and more (AC output). This solar generator is also very handy to be put on your RV, camper and perfect for emergencies, camping or wherever you need power
- EASILY RECHARGEABLE VIA THREE WAYS: 1)The solar generator can be recharged from the sun with any compatible 60W or 100W solar panel (SOLD SEPARATELY). 2) This battery pack can be fully charged in 8 hours by being plugged into the wall outlet. 3) The portable power station can also be charged by plugging into your car 12V socket. (Car charger included)
- PURE SINE WAVE INVERTER: Better than modified sine wave and clean power like utility supplied electricity. Inductive loads like microwaves and motors run faster, quieter and cooler. Reduces audible and electrical noise in fans, fluorescent lights, audio amplifiers, TV, fax and answering machines. And it is a gas-free source of portable power supply, it runs quiet (The cooling fan on the side of generator will make a slight sound when working), no exhaust fumes
- WHAT YOU GET: Rockpals portable generator (240Wh Portable Power Supply), 6.5ft / 2m AC adapter, 3.3ft / 1m car charger cable, DC to Cig Socket adapter, user guide
- Clean and Unlimited Solar Energy: 100% green energy with smart MPPT controller for optimal charging efficiency. The power station can be fully charged with 2 Jackery SolarSaga 100W solar panels within 6 hrs or only 5.5 hrs via AC wall outlet charging. Ideal for your camping or family emergency storage.
- Easy to Use in Seconds: Just one simple touch to finish setup within 60s to enjoy outstanding charging efficiency.
- Safe & Reliable for Outdoor Camping: Features industry-leading cylindrical batteries (popular with manufacturers of Electric Vehicles) that meet UL safety standards. Certified with Impact-Resistance Class 9, passing the UL drop test (withstanding 3 drops from 0.9m height on any surface). The pure sine wave inverter delivers constant voltage that protects equipment from damage.
- Power Pretty Much Anything: Power 90% home appliances with 1002Wh (1000W AC output power) and 8 outlets (3*AC outlet, 1*USB-A , 1*USB-A quick charge 3.0, 2*USB-C PD, 1*Car outlet). Ideal for outdoor off-grid activities and home backup power to power refrigerator, TV, mini cooler, electric grill, fan, and more for your outdoor and home needs.
- Quiet & Strong: At a such large capacity, this Explorer will leave you with VERY LITTLE to NO noise, giving you the peace and power all at once. Extra bonus for the built - unlike most other portable generators, this supports pass-through charging while its battery life is protected.
- SPEED UP YOUR RECHARGEABILITY: It takes only 2 hours to recharge 80% battery of the power station through the wall outlet and 60W PD USB-C port simultaneously. You can also recharge your power station with an AC adapator when at home, through the car outlet during a road trip or simply use a Jackery SolarSaga 100.
- SAFE & STEADY POWER SUPPLY: Armed with a 293Wh lithium-ion battery pack, the Explorer 300 features 2 Pure Sine Wave AC outlets that deliver stable and safe 300W power. The portable power station weighs only 7.1 pounds. You can simply rest assured in outdoor off-grid activities.
- POWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Featuring 2* AC outlet, 1* PD 60W USB-C port (input/output supported) , 1* fast charge 3.0 port, 1*USB-A port and 1* DC car port, the power station can recharge itself and charge (up to) 6 devices (e.g.Drones, Macbook, Cameras, etc.) at the same time to satisfy your outdoor needs.
- GREEN POWER SUPPLY: The power station is compatible with the Jackery SolarSaga 100 solar panel. The integrated MPPT controller enables the solar generator set to operate at its max power point, so that it speeds up the battery recharge, making them ideal portable power kits for tent camping, overland journey and etc.
- WHAT YOU GET: 1* Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station , 1*AC adapter, 1* car charger cable, 1* user guide
- Kit Includes: 1x 1260wh Solar Generator and all its accessories; 1x 160W Foldable Solar Panel and all its accessories. May be in different warehouses because the products are in the form of a Bundle. Don’t worry when you receive only part of the product, you can send us an email and we will provide you with another tracking number.
- 6 x 1800W AC OUTLETS AND 1260Wh CAPACITY: DELTA can power up to 13 devices simultaneously with multiple outlet options, including 6 pure sine wave AC outlets. It offers up to 1260Wh power, which is ideal for home backup situations where you need to power smartphones, laptops, refrigerators, and more.
- RECHARGE FROM 0% TO 80% WITHIN 1 HOUR: The patented EcoFlow X-Stream technology enables you to charge the DELTA from 0-80% within 1 hour and offers a full charge in just 2 hours. Use the EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel to charge DELTA in 10.5-21 hours at a recharging rate of 10-65V/10A max, 400W max input.
- INTELLIGENT SOLAR CHARGING: The EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel has a high conversion efficiency of 21-22%. Combine the 160W Solar Panel with an EcoFlow Power station to enjoy improved solar charging in cold and cloudy environments.
- Waterproof & Durable: The 160W solar panel is waterproof to endure all weather conditions, ideal for outdoor activities such as camping, climbing, hiking. You can submerge the panel in water for up to 30 minutes with no detrimental effect to the product.
- Endless On-Demand Hot Water; Consistent hot water when you need it that never runs out; Continuously monitored water temperature and controlled flow rates ensure efficiency and consistent performance within 1 degree of selected temperature
- Save Space; EcoSmart tankless electric water heaters are 90% smaller than traditional tank heaters; may be installed on wall or at point of use; Dimensions 11.5 x 8 x 3.75 inches
- Save Energy; EcoSmart tankless electric water heaters are 99% thermal energy efficient; Only heats water when called unlike a tank heater that maintains water temperature even when not being used.
- EcoSmart ECO 11 Sizing; 13-kilowatt tankless electric water heater ideal for providing hot water for a bathroom, small sink, office breakroom and other point-of-use or low-flow applications; provides between 1.3 and 3.1 gallons-per-minute depending on the inlet water temperature; refer to the sizing guide to select the proper solution