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.
- Compact and Reliable - The 100W 12V Monocrystalline solar panel delivers a stable output of an average 500Wh of electricity per day (depending on sun availability). With its compact solar cell arrangement, this renogy 100w solar panel weighs only 14.1 lbs and is 8-10% lighter and smaller than conventional rigid solar panels.
- Superior Quality and Material - All Renogy solar panels are made from 100% EL-tested Grade A+ solar cells to provide the highest power conversion efficiency and prolonged lifespan. This 100 watt solar panel is also equipped with PERC cells to deliver an excellent cell efficiency of 22%.
- Advanced Solar Cell Tech and Panel Structure - Renogy solar panels adapted the newest 9 Bus-bars cell tech and Half-cell structure, allowing the full-size solar cell to be cut in half and closely arranged for space usage maximization. Increase the cell receiving surface while reducing current and resistance loss with a thinner ribbon design.
- Built to Last - This all-weather monocrystalline solar panel can handle snow, rain, and heat for decades with IP65 protection. Renogy uses low iron-tempered glass and corrosion-resistant aluminum frames with polyamide corner support to ensure this panel solar can perform and withstand all weather conditions.
- Fast and Easy Installation - 20 pre-drilled holes on the back of the solar panels 100w allow for quick mounting, which is ideal for off-grid applications and 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.
- 【Innovative MPPT Design】Die-cast aluminium design ensuring excellent heat dissipation and Renogy Maximum Power Point Tracking technology with a high tracking efficiency of up to 99% and peak conversion efficiency of 98% It is the best charging solution even in cloudy environments where the max power point of the solar panels will fluctuate all day
- 【12V/24V Automatically Detect】Automatically detects 12V or 24V DC system voltages (for Non-Lithium battery types), and the LCD screen and multiple LED indicators display the solar charging and battery operation information, customizable parameters, and error codes
- 【Full System Protection】Meant to safeguard your system, the self-diagnostic capability can assess and protect against reverse polarity, battery overcharging, battery over-discharging, overload, short-circuiting, and reverse current
- 【4-Stage Safely Charging】Features 4-stage charging (Bulk, Absorption, Float, and Equalization) of Lead Acid Batteries and 2-stage charging (Bulk and Absorption) for Lithiuim batteries as well as Lithium Reactivation
- 【Diverse Load Control】 Connect DC appliances directly to the optional Load Terminals and monitor consumption or set up timer controls directly from the controller
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.
- Hard plastic connectors at each end, female and male connectors.
- Black wire sunlight-resistant cable extends and locks built-in cables.
- UV resistant and waterproof, TUV tested extension cable.
- TUV logo print per feet indicates that the cable meets TUV standards for PV solar application.
- Make more space between your solar panels and the charge controller.
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!
- 【POWERFUL DC-AC】This power inverter 12V to 110V provides 2000W continuous DC to AC power, 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 funs 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, such as flood light,TV, freezer,Laptop,tablet etc. With its quiet and high inductive loads, the solar inverter operates with no buzzing sounds when your electronics are turned on and allow them to run smoother, cooler, and quieter
- 【EASY-TO-USE】 This 2000W inverter 12V 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.Perfect for outdoor emergency AC power supply during work trips,camping and more. NOTES: Power input should be deep cycle battery of 80% discharge depth and above
- 【RELIABLE QUALITY】Etl certified product ensures safety and quality. Durable metal housing protect the 12v to 110v converter from bumps and impact. High-speed ventilation fans help keep the pure sine wave inverter running at a low temperature. 1-Year material and workmanship warranty
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!
- 🌏【SOLAR GENERATOR WITH PANEL INCLUDED】: Powkey solar generator panel kit includes a 200W portable power station and a 40W solar panel. With a built-in premium lithium battery pack of advanced technology, Powkey 146Wh(42000mAh) large capacity portable generator can work as an ideal battery backup emergency power supply for home power outage or outdoor camping, travel, trip, RV or any other activities, supplying long lasting power or energy for most of your electronic devices, such as cell phone, laptop, camera, speaker, fan, drone, mini fridge and RV electronic accessories., etc.
- 🌏【MULTIPLE 7 CHARGING OUTLETS】: Designed with 3 types of different AC/DC/USB 7 outlets, 2*110V Pure Sine Wave AC outlets(MAX 200W), 4*USB outlets( MAX 5V/3.1A) and 1*DC outlet(MAX 15V/2A), Powkey outdoor generator can deliver stable electricity and power most of your devices at the same time. Usually, a fully charged Powkey portable power station for camping can charge your phone about 20 times(10w) , camera about 13 times(15w) and laptop about 2 times(30~50w), a powerful backup battery for home and outdoor use.
- 🌏【3 INPUT RECHARGING WAYS】: In addition, to meet your power needs on the go, Powkey emergency portable power station solar generator has 3 recharging ways, charging by wall outlet(fully charged in 5~6 hours), charging by car cigar lighter or charging by Powkey solar panel(included), no longer be limited by different situation. Besides, 4 specially built-in LED lights indicator helps monitor the power usage or recharging percentage, helping you utilize or manage the power perfectly.
- 🌏【20.5% HIGH CONVERSION SOLAR PANEL】: 20.5% high conversion efficiency enables Powkey 40W solar panel charger to generate electricity and energy in low-lux outdoor environment(>40000 Lux). The built-in smart chip intelligently identifies your device and maximizes its charging speed while protecting your devices from overloading. With 10*DC adapters, this solar panel kit is compatible with most(almost 98%) solar generators portable power stations on the market.
- 🌏【FOLDABLE&WATERPROOF SOLAR PANEL】: Powkey 40W foldable solar panel for camping can be folded in 4 layers, which greatly saves the space when not in use. And after it is spread out and faced toward the direction of the sunlight, the large area of panel surface will help absorb the most effective solar energy. Made from durable nylon and adopted with IPX 4 technology, the surface of Powkey solar panel is waterproof(the outlet connector box is NOT) that can keep the panel surface from getting wet. It has 3 outlets to power up your devices, 1*DC Outlet 15V/2.66A(max), 1*USB-A 5V/3A 9V/2.5A 12V/2A, 1*Type C 5V/3A 9V/2A 12V/1.5A.
- 【288Wh Capacity, 330W Output】330W (600W surge) pure sine wave supports most laptops, tablets, phones, lights, fans, CPAP medical devices, projectors, TV, mini-refrigerator, speaker, camera (rated power less than 330W). 288Wh huge capacity but light weight makes it compact and perfect for camping, car trips and other family outings.
- 【Upgraded Battery Management System】We promise to adopt quality lithium batteries since we found that the use of lower-quality batteries could pose a serious risk to life and should become a crucial part of deciding what to buy. Upgraded BMS provides built-in overload, overcharge (automatically stops charging when the device is full), and short-circuit protection. Dual built-in silent cooling fans help to keep the station's temperature safe.
- 【USB-C PD 60W, USB-A QC 18W】PD60W fast charging makes it possible to charge Android and iPhone, tablets, and laptops quickly, more than twice as fast as other standard USB-C output, and ultra-high efficiency in emergencies. All USB-A ports are quick-charge 3.0 18W, providing higher efficiency for each device.
- 【Power 8 Device simultaneously】Equipped with 1*AC output, 1*USB-C PD 60W output, 3*USB-A QC3.0 18W outputs, 1*Car port, 2*DC outputs, GRECELL solar generator can power eight devices at the same time (as long as they draw less than 330W combined). Each switch can control each output module.
- 【3 Ways To Recharge, Built-in MPPT Controller】GRECELL power station, can be charged via an AC outlet, a solar panel, or a car outlet. Built-in MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking Control) so it can extract the maximum power from the solar panel, optimizing the utilization of variable power sources like a solar generator.
- 1296Wh capacity. With - 4 hot-swappable batteries for instant full power, we bring back the convenience of old-school removable batteries - just swap for QUICK RESTORATION, like changing batteries in retro cellphones.
- Featuring 3X1200W pure sine wave AC output, 5 DC outlets (2USB-A 28W, 2USB-C 100W, 1Car outlet), and 115W wireless charging, the Runhood Rallye 1200 Plus can simultaneously charge up to 9 devices while accommodating various plug requirements.
- Experience unique charging methods. The Swappable Energy Bar (EB324) can be charged separately in 3 ways: AC, car, and solar panel (sold separately). The Rallye 1200 Plus can also be charged through these 3 methods.
- Enjoy versatile power options. The EB324 battery can be used in two ways. Connect it to the AC connector (AE80) to create a mini 80W/324Wh portable power station. Alternatively, use the DC connector (UE256) for a powerful 90000mAh super power bank with 2 PD 100W and 2 USB 3.0 outlets. Enjoy convenience and adaptability for all your power needs!(AE80 and UE256 not included)
- Portable and convenient, weighing only 26.41lb (4*EB324 batteries included). Take it with you while traveling, camping, or enjoying outdoor activities. Power on the go, hassle-free!
- 🔋【FAST CHARGING】Voltfanty generator charging speed is 10 times faster than most portable power stations on the market. Built-in MPPT controller to improve solar charging efficiency and automatically recognizes the on-board charging function. It can be charged from a car outlet, or solar panel, and take only 2 hours to charge fully with a 1000W AC outlet.
- 🔌【Power Pretty Much Anything】This portable generator has a power of up to 2400W and 12 output ports (4 * AC outlets, 4 * USB-A, 2 * PD USB-C, 2 * car outlets). Charge up to 12 devices simultaneously - Phones, PADs, Electric Bikes, Air Conditioners, Refrigerators, Drones, Cameras, Microwaves, etc. Multiple 2000Wh power stations are superimposed to use the expandable capacity to meet more power needs.
- 👍【Super Safe and Durable】The solar generator has multiple safety technologies and certifications. 1) Use the BMS battery system to provide overcharge protection, overvoltage protection, short circuit protection, high-temperature protection, etc. 2) Built-in A0 long lifespan LiFePO4 battery, more heat-resistant and safer. 3) Aviation-grade aluminum alloy casing, V0 fire rating. 4) Passed CE/FCC/ROSH/PSE/UN38.3/MSDS/UL certification.
- 💖【Humanized Design】Voltfanty outdoor generators is ideal for camping and home backup power. It operates with less than 30dB of sound, ensuring quiet charging; High-definition, high-brightness large display screen, accurately displays power and usage time; The ergonomic shape of the handle makes it easier to hold.
- 📦【What You Get】 1* Voltfanty 2000Wh Portable Power Station, 1* User Manual, 1* AC Charging Cable, 1* Car Charging Cable, 1* Solar Charging Cable, 12-month warranty and our friendly customer service.