- Best Solar Generator Reviews
- Goal Zero 23000 Yeti 400 Solar Generator
- Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK Portable Solar Generator System
- Wagan EL2547 Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus
- Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Complete Solar Panel kit
- Suaoki 400Wh PS5B Portable Generator
- Goal Zero 39004 Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit
- Peppermint Energy Forty2Max Solar Generator
- Monerator Gusto 20 256Wh Solar Portable Generator
- Go Power! Solar Elite Complete Solar and Inverter System
- Sunforce 50048 60W Solar Charging Kit
- Best Solar Generator Comparison Chart - Light Duty
- Best Solar Generator Comparison Chart - Heavy Duty
- How to Choose the Best Solar Powered Generator?
- Setup of a Solar Powered Generator
- 5 Advantages of Owning a Solar Powered Generator
- Bottom Line
Finding a solar powered generator that fits your needs can be difficult. You want the best solar generator, but every manufacturer claims theirs is the best. With our top 10 solar generator reviews, comparison tables, and buying guide; we will help guide you on your search. Showing you different sizes and models from the best generator brands. Our unbiased, comprehensive reviews feature only the top rated generator models in the market. Our information is independent and geared towards helping you find the best product. Here we are showing some of the top solar generator kits, for easy assembly, so you can directly start harnessing the sun’s energy. We are presenting all the information you need, to make the most educated choice. We will also explain in few simple steps how to setup your solar powered generator.
Best Solar Generator Reviews
- Goal Zero Yeti 400
- 400Wh~ Capacity
- AGM Lead-Acid Battery (33Ah,12V)
- 300W Continuous - 600W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 40W Monocrystalline NOMAD20 Solar Panels (Optional)
- Weight: 29 lb.
- Price: $$
- Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK
- 558Wh~ Capacity
- Lithium-Ion Battery (38Ah,14.5V)
- Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 40W Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- Weight: 14 lb.
- Price: $$$
- Suaoki 400Wh PS5B
- 444Wh~ Capacity
- Lithium-Ion Battery (35.2Ah,12.2V)
- 300W Continuous - 600W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 60W Monocrystalline Suaoki Solar Panel (Optional)
- Weight: 12 lb.
- Price: $$
- Wagan Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus
- 1500Wh~ Capacity
- AGM Gel Hybrid Battery (100Ah)
- 1500W Continuous - 3600W Surge Modified Sine Wave Inverter
- 80W Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Weight: 120 lb.
- Price: $$$
- Renogy 400 Watt Starter Complete Kit
- 2400Wh~ Capacity
- Sealed Gel Battery (200AH,12V)
- 1000W Continuous - 2000W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 400W Monocrystalline Renogy100 Solar Panels
- Weight: 204 lb.
- Price: $$
In addition, we also prepared our exclusive multiple comparison tables, to clearly mark the difference in each model. Comparing charging time, battery life span, ports, and all the features. Scroll down to see our complete top 10 list, our exclusive comparing tables, reviews, and guides.
Goal Zero 23000 Yeti 400 Solar Generator
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is definitely worth a look. The battery makes this generator uniquely useful, using the advanced sealed lead-acid battery is completely safe to take anywhere even on a plane; making it an excellent alternative portable power source for extended trips.
Not only does it have a replaceable battery, but it also has an LCD display, making it easy to know how much charge it has at any given time.
The Yeti 400 is your electricity wall outlet in the wilderness, with battery peak capacity of 400Wh. Safe for charging sensitive electronic devices, producing 300 watts of clean inverter sine wave energy, and 600 watts surge energy.
And you can easily connect this machine with another to expand your power if desired. Capable of using three different charging methods; the sun, by connecting its Nomad 20 panels or any compatible solar panels, a regular wall outlet, or your vehicle’s 12V adapter, which may come in handy.
Supporting three different outputs; two USB, 12V, two AC, and has a 12V, 33Ah battery that is similar to what’s in your car. Weighing only 29 pounds, and with its almost nonexistent noise level, the Yeti 400 is ideal for use indoors and at noise enforced campsites. While maintaining good quality, overall, we would highly recommend this generator to anyone looking for the best solar generator of this size.
Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK Portable Solar Generator System
I would have thought that the Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK would have been a little bigger because it’s fairly powerful. Weighs a bit over 14 pounds, it’s light and very portable.
With 38Ah lithium-ion battery of 558Wh capacity, and included 40W mono-crystalline folded panel. This little machine can charge any professional camera, or laptop over 10 times, and the average iPhone over 90 times, while also being lightweight; that’s impressive, it’s a great choice for camping.
With two DC ports, four high-speed USB ports, it allows you to safely charge up to four devices via USB simultaneously. It also has an AC/DC ports, giving you the possibility of charging it with your panels, wall outlet, or car lighter outlet wherever you go.
The coolest feature of the KaliPAK is that you can set up a remote system monitoring via an app for your smartphone, both Android and IOS compatible. That’s really one of a kind feature that we didn’t see before in portable solar generators. The ability to monitor this device remotely makes it unique in its class.
Everything about this device is portable; all the parts needed for use can be put into its case and carried along. With as much as you would be on the move, this is an ideal solar generator; compact yet powerful enough to meet your charging needs.
Wagan EL2547 Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus
One of the most important factors when purchasing a solar generator, or any generator really, is ease of use. The Wagan Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus not only is it powerful, it’s very user-friendly. This machine can be used straight out of the box, no assembly required. All you have to do is charge it.
The Cube is versatile; comes with 5 built-in mono-crystalline panels, 80 watts total. It has two AC outlets, two DC outlets (car charger ports), and two USB ports. Furthermore, it has a LED display, allowing you to see the status of the battery.
It has a 100Ah hybrid battery with a max capacity of 1200Wh. And it’s built-in inverter of 1500 watts and 3600 surge watts, you can safely charge your power tools, home appliances, or electronic devices.
The Cube is also expandable, can be easily expanded with extra batteries and panels; easily adapting to your future needs. The front of the Cube has two terminals that allow for solar panel expansion.
While it is a great generator, it’s more mobile than it is portable, weighing over 120 pounds. Nonetheless, it’s as easy to transport as a suitcase; it has all terrain wheels and a heavy-duty handle, making it great for outdoor use.
Overall, the Wagan Solar e Power Cube Plus is a powerful solar generator, boasting all the features you expect when purchasing a generator of this type.
Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Complete Solar Panel kit
The Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Mono-crystalline Panel Complete Solar Kit comes with everything you need to start a new full system; making it an ideal choice for someone who wants to setup and experiment with heavy-duty solar generators, and wants to easily learn how they work.
The kit contains four 100W mono-crystalline solar panels, 30A PWM wanderer charge controller, 1000W running and 2000W surge 12V pure sine wave inverter, and 200Ah battery with a max capacity of 2400Wh. This kit is powerful enough to compete with fuel powered generators.
The Solar Starter Kit’s reliability features make this an outstanding solar generator. Guaranteeing no hot-spot heating, a corrosion-resistant frame that allows the panels to last for decades, and the safety-rated junction box provides complete protection against the environment and low-pressure water jets. Controlling power drops caused by shade, ensuring excellent performance even in low-light environments, and consequently keeping your electronics safe.
Equipped with multiple electronic protections including; overcharging, overload, short-circuit and reversed polarity. And with its charge controller, you can expand the kit, making it suitable if you’re looking to upgrade as you go.
All things considered the Renogy Complete Solar Starter Kit not only is it function-packed, it’s easy to use, requires no previous experience with solar generators.
Suaoki 400Wh PS5B Portable Generator
With three ways to charge, the Suaoki 400Wh/120,000mAh can be charged anywhere; outside via Suaoki 60W solar panel or any compatible panels, in your car via DC input, or anywhere with AC plugs.
A battery of max capacity of 444Wh and a weight of just over twelve pounds, this solar generator is a little powerhouse.
The digital LCD display is probably the best feature. It makes it incredibly easy to monitor the input/output of your devices; it takes out all the guesswork normally required. Everything is clearly marked, making it easy to read and user-friendly.
Supporting four USB ports dispensing 300W pure sine energy for your electronics, two DC ports for lighting, one 12V DC socket for car chargers and similar devices, and one jump starter port for gas cars.
The downside noticed, was the fact that you can’t charge it using the solar panel and use the AC outlet to charge items at the same time. Meaning, if you have your radio plugged into the AC port, you cannot charge the Suaoki via solar panels simultaneously.
While that oversight was disappointing, it may not be a deal-breaker as everything else about the Suaoki 400Wh is impressive. Lightweight and having a handle makes taking this solar generator anywhere an easy task.
- Goal Zero Yeti 1250
- 1200Wh~ Capacity
- AGM Lead-Acid Battery (100Ah,12V)
- 1200W Continuous - 1500W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 60W Monocrystalline Boulder30 Solar Panels (Optional)
- Weight: 116 lb.
- Price: $$$$
- Peppermint Forty2Max
- 2000Wh~ Capacity
- Lithium-Ion Battery (83Ah,24V)
- 1000W Continuous - 2000 Surge Modified Sine Wave Inverter
- 180W Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Weight: 75 lb.
- Price: $$$$$
- Monerator Gusto 20
- 256Wh~ Capacity
- Lithium-Ion Battery (20Ah,12.8V)
- 20W Monerator Solar Panel (Optional)
- Weight: 7 lb.
- Price: $$$
- Go Power! Solar Elite Complete Solar
- Not Available
- Not Available
- 2000W Continuous - 4000W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 320W Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Weight: 104 lb.
- Price: $$$$
- Sunforce 50048 Solar Charging Kit
- Not Available
- Not Available
- 200W Continuous Modified Sine Wave Inverter
- 60W Amorphous Thin-Film Solar Panels
- Weight: 71 lb.
- Price: $
Goal Zero 39004 Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit
Goal Zero is one of the leader brands of portable solar power sources. The Yeti 1250 is another addition to their powerful machines.
It has a 12V, 100Ah AGM lead acid battery with 1200Wh capacity. Capable of running your critical appliances including freezers, refrigerators, and home health care equipment like a CPAP machine.
With pure sine wave inverter of 1200 watts continuous, and 1200 watts surge, you can safely charge your sensitive electronic devices as well. It’s capable of charging the average laptop over 20 times.
This machine is easy to use with its LCD display, giving you full control of its input, and output. Supporting multiple outlets; three USB ports, three AC ports, and three DC ports.
The Yeti 1250 portable power station kit comes with two mono-crystalline Boulder 30 panels, 60W total. They can fully charge the battery in 40-80 hours depending on the sun’s visibility. It can also be charged through your AC wall outlet, or your DC outlet in your RV, making it versatile and useful.
It’s also expandable, allowing you to chain it with another unit, or extra solar panels for more power. Whether you need a solar generator for emergency situations, outdoor events, or camping, the Goal Zero Yeti 1250, has a great shelf life, and it’s very easy to use, making it a practical for a lot of situations.
Peppermint Energy Forty2Max Solar Generator
A suitcase of all in one powerful solar generator system, with all built-in heavy-duty components. It has a 2000Wh lithium-ion battery, that holds the charge for up to 6 months.
Peppermint Energy Forty2Max has 2000 watts of surge energy, and 1000 watts of continuous sine wave energy. Capable of powering critical appliances in a power outage situations, such as your fridge, TV system, laptop. It’s a powerful machine that can compete with fuel powered generator’s capacity.
It has a total of 180 watts of mono-crystalline built-in panels, that can fully charge the battery in 12 hours. As well it can be charged through your wall outlet.
It has 2 USB, and 2 AC outlets, to safely charge a variety of devices. And the fact that it’s a green energy-powered generator contained in a suitcase, makes it easy to take to your trailer, caravan, or boat.
Weighs 75 pounds, with no wheels, it’s a bit heavy to carry while camping. But, overall, the Peppermint Energy Forty2Max, is a powerful solar generator with attractive design, and easy to use features.
Monerator Gusto 20 256Wh Solar Portable Generator
Weighs only 7 pounds, with two options for charging; solar panels or wall plug, this tiny machine is versatile while also being ultra-portable.
It has a built-in 20Ah lithium battery with 256Wh capacity, it’s silent, fume-free and user-friendly; all important features for a portable generator.
Monerator Gusto 20 kit comes with some useful accessories; a 20W solar panel, two light bulbs, and an external inverter 12V/110V. These accessories allow you to take advantage of all the benefits this machine has to offer. The inverter is a great accessory to have, because it allows you to use your AC devices, such as your laptop charger. This accessory is a necessity if you intend to use this generator with indoor devices because the Gusto 20 doesn’t have an AC output port.
Can last over 1000 charging cycles, it has 4 DC jack ports, and can power up to three USB devices simultaneously. The downside is it doesn’t seem to be expandable, which can be a decision maker in a lot of cases.
This generator could be great for different tasks, but the Gusto 10 is ideal for auto emergency situations. With its long shelf life, ability to run multiple devices at a time; this little solar generator fits easily in the back of the car and can also be used in just about any auto emergency event.
Go Power! Solar Elite Complete Solar and Inverter System
Go Power! Solar Elite Complete Solar and Inverter System 320W comes with almost everything you will need to start your solar generator system. This system doesn’t require expertise, making it a nice choice if you’ve never used a solar generator before.
Comes with two 160W mono-crystalline solar panels, 320W total, and can be expanded if desired for more power. And has a 2000 watts pure sine wave inverter; allowing you to run sensitive or high wattage appliances while protecting them from power surges and other mishaps that come with unstable power sources.
It also comes with a digital regulator, smart battery charger, as well as multiple useful cables. However, it doesn’t come with a battery, you will need a compatible deep cell storage batteries for this system. The Go Power, also lacks a DC power port, meaning you can’t plug in a car charger or any other DC power devices without some sort of an adapter.
But the Go Power Solar Elite is a good system overall. In cases of emergency or natural disasters, it’s a lifesaver; but arguably it’s best use is allowing you to live off-grid by using completely green energy; making camping cabin, RVing, boating a more freeing experience.
Sunforce 50048 60W Solar Charging Kit
The Sunforce 50048 60W Solar Charging Kit, weighs 61 pounds, and it’s an economical option for starting with solar power. It comes with everything you need to charge a battery with the sun’s energy.
The kit comes with four 15W amorphous solar panels, 60 watts total. Included in the kit are a 200 watts modified sine wave inverter, charge controller, 12V DC plug, mounting hardware, and battery clamps. However, the kit does not include a battery, a compatible 12V deep cell storage battery will be required for this system.
The amorphous thin-film panels included in this kit are durable, and fully weatherproof, made to tolerate extreme weather conditions. Able to harness the sun’s energy even in low lighting conditions, including cloudy, and very cold weather environments.
You also have the option of purchasing more solar panels, and easily expanding the power of this kit. Thin-film panels are not as efficient as crystalline types of panels, their efficiency may reduce by time, and they require a big area for more power. In case you are looking for more powerful solar panels, expand your kit with mono-crystalline, or poly-crystalline panels for better efficiency.
The Sunforce 50048 Solar Charging kit, works in silence, can serve well in your camping trailer, but it’s best use is as backup power for your home in outage events.
Best Solar Generator Comparison Chart - Light Duty
|Feature/Product||Goal Zero Yeti 400||Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK||Suaoki 400Wh PS5B||Monerator Gusto 20||Sunforce 50048 Solar Charging Kit|
|Battery Storage||400Wh~||558Wh~||444Wh~||256Wh~||Not Available|
|Full Charge by Solar Panel||2 x Nomad20 (40W): 20-40 hrs.||Kalisaya (40W): 18-19 hrs.||Suaoki (60W): 8 hrs.||Monerator (20W): Not Available||Sunforce (60W): Not Available|
|Full Charge by AC Input||5 hrs.||10-12 hrs.||8 hrs.||7 hrs.||Not Available|
|Full Charge by DC Input||12 hrs.||12-14 hrs.||9 hrs.||Not Available||Not Available|
|Battery Display||LED Indicators + LCD Display||LED Indicators + KaliAPP||LED Indicators + LCD Display||LED Indicators||Not Available|
|Battery Life Cycles||Hundreds||1000-1500||1000||1000||Not Available|
|Battery Protection||Available||Available||Available||Available||Not Available|
|Solar Charge Controller||Available||Available||Not Available||Available||Available|
|USB Output Port||2||4||4||3||1|
|AC Output Port||2||0||2||1||2|
|DC Output Port||3||2||1||4||1|
|Certificates||CE + FCC + ROHS||CE + FCC + ROHS||Not Available||CE + ROHS||Not Available|
|Expandable||Extra Solar Panels + Extra Units||Extra Solar Panels + Extra Units||Extra Solar Panels (up to 100W max.)||Extra Solar Panels (up to 100W max.) + Extra Units||Extra Solar Panels + Extra Batteries|
Best Solar Generator Comparison Chart - Heavy Duty
|Feature/Product||Wagan e Power Cube 1500 Plus||Renogy 400 Watt Starter Complete Kit||Goal Zero Yeti 1250||Peppermint Forty2Max||Go Power! Solar Elite Complete Solar 320W|
|Battery Storage||1500Wh~||2400Wh~||1200Wh~||2000Wh~||Not Available|
|Full Charge by Solar Panel||4 x Wagan16 (80W): 33 hrs.||4 x Renogy100 (400W): 6 hrs.||2 x Boulder30 (60W): 40-80 hrs.||2 x Peppermint90 (180W): 12 hrs.||2 x GoPower160 (320W): Not Available|
|Full Charge by AC Input||44 hrs.||Not Available||18 hrs.||12 hrs.||Not Available|
|Full Charge by DC Input||Not Available||Not Available||44 hrs.||Not Available||Not Available|
|Battery Display||LED Indicators + LCD Display||LED Indicators||LED Indicators + LCD Display||LED Indicators + LCD Display||Not Available|
|Battery Life Cycles||Not Available||Not Available||Hundreds||1000||Not Available|
|Battery Protection||Available||Available||Available||Available||Not Available|
|Solar Charge Controller||Available||Available||Available||Available||Available|
|USB Output Port||2||1||3||2||0|
|AC Output Port||2||2||3||2||1|
|DC Output Port||2||0||3||0||0|
|Certificates||Not Available||CE||CE + FCC + ROHS||Not Available||CE + FCC|
|Expandable||Extra Solar Panels (up to 300W max.) + Extra Batteries||Extra Solar Panels + Extra Batteries||Extra Solar Panels + Extra Units||Extra Units||Extra Solar Panels (up to 160W max.) + Extra Batteries|
How to Choose the Best Solar Powered Generator?
Solar generators are quickly and quietly becoming a mainstream way to create green energy. Green energy is cleaner and more reliable than other sources of power; will save you money and better for the environment, too. A solar generator is a machine that captures the sun’s energy using solar panels. Then converts that power into electrical power then stores it in a battery, to be released later through an inverter.
Deciding to buy a solar generator is a fine choice, however, finding the best portable solar generator is a daunting task. There are so many different kinds, styles, and features that it can seem like a never-ending list of devices that all look nearly the same. Throughout the rest of this article, we’ll list the key features available in solar generators today, what to avoid, and give you an idea of the differences between some of the components.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Solar Powered Generator
Some parts can make your solar generator more efficient, while others make it more costly. Choosing the right solar generator is very similar to buying a car; you have a price point in mind, you have a list of features or at least a list of uses, and you’ve done your research.
Type of Solar Panels
Three primary kinds of solar panels exist; mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline, and thin-film.
- Mono crystalline panels: offers the most quality, and thus are the priciest. Yielding a 15-20 percent efficiency rate, and operating better in high-temp situations are the two biggest benefits of mono-crystalline solar panels.
- Poly crystalline panels: comes in second, yielding a 13-16 percent efficiency rate, and operating slightly less efficiently in high-temp situations than mono-crystalline panels. The differences between mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline are minimal. The difference in manufacture is mono-crystalline is made from one crystal, whereas poly-crystalline is made from many. Poly-crystalline panels are a bit less expensive, and only slightly lower in quality than mono-crystalline panels; so they are typically the most popular choice.
- Thin film panels: are usually less efficient and less convenient than their crystalline counterparts. Yielding a relatively low efficiency rate of between 7 and 13 percent, they require a significantly more vast area of coverage to compete with mono or poly crystalline panels. Thin-film panels are, however, the cheapest option. I believe this is one of the occasions where you truly do get what you pay for as far as quality.
Choose wisely, on which panels fits you best for future convenience.
Battery capacity is a major deciding factor when choosing a solar generator. When looking at the battery capacity of solar generators, be sure to look for watt-hours (Wh), because that’s the right battery capacity.
For example, the average iPhone uses about 5.5Wh, and an electric blanket is about 200Wh; if your solar generator only has a 200Wh capacity, you won’t be able to charge your phone and use your blanket at the same time for more than an hour.
Some generators have battery capacities ideal for charging your devices on a weekend camping trip. But if you want a generator as a backup power supply for you home, you’ll want something that can withstand the high wattage appliances. Be sure to get a solar generator with a high enough watt-hour battery capacity for whatever your needs may be.
The inverter rating on a solar generator is a number telling you the maximum amount of watts you can pull from the generator at any given time. Depending on your desired use, you may need a solar generator with a larger inverter rating.
But don’t be fooled; inverter size alone doesn’t determine a solar generators capabilities. A 1500W inverter will do you no good if it’s being used with a 450Wh battery. The best and most usable solar generators have at least a 1.5:1 ratio of watt-hours/inverter rating ratio – i.e., 1500Wh battery to a 1000W inverter.
To sum it up, if you intend to use a solar generator to charge a couple of cell phones on a weekend camping trip, a small 200Wh generator will do just fine. Alternately, if you’re hoping to power your sump pump in the event of a power outage; that size likely won’t be of much use to you.
Many solar generators on the market today combine functionality and practicality; allowing you to have your cake and eat it, too essentially. In any case, you’ll likely find all the features you want and need in a solar generator, portable enough to easily transport from room to room or lift into a vehicle.
Some of the best portable generators we’ve seen weighed a decent amount, but had handles and wheels; allowing for easy transportation, regardless of weight. If you want your solar generator to be as mobile as you are, then you’ll want to look for generators that are either light or have handles and wheels.
I wasn’t far off when I compared purchasing a solar generator and buying a car; there are features that you may not ‘need’ but are especially useful to have. There are solar generators with LCD displays, making it much easier to monitor the charge of your device and the remaining battery life of your generator.
Some generators can wirelessly connect to apps on your phone, allowing you to monitor your generator and devices remotely. Also, some generators allow you to expand your power by connecting extra panels when needed.
Things to Avoid when Choosing a Solar Powered Generator
- Finally, avoid buying solar generators that have the solar panels and battery installed in the same unit – it will shorten the life of your battery due to heat. Batteries hate heat.
- Avoid making an impulse decision on which solar generator to get; do your research. Solar generators with built-in solar panels are often manufactured in such a way that they cannot be repaired.
- Solar generator kits, i.e. generator, solar panels, cords, accessories, are more cost efficient not only upfront but also in the long run because they can be repaired and the individual parts can be replaced.
- Watch out for the snake-oil pitch many companies are using to convince people that their generators are the “best”. Avoid spending big money on low-quality solar generators.
- Purchasing the parts individually or as a kit is almost always the best choice. You get exactly the quality parts you want, and you can also replace or repair those parts as needed.
Setup of a Solar Powered Generator
How you set up your solar generator system is very dependent on which solar generator you’re intending to use, and for what purpose. Some solar generators require little or no installation, for use when camping, driving, and backup battery use.
Meanwhile, if you’re aiming on running all the electrical equipment in your luxury RV solely on solar energy, you will have a more in-depth installation process. This includes installing the solar panels on the roof, wiring your panels to your generator, installing the regulator, as well as placing your deep cycle auxiliary battery or batteries and installing your inverter. In fact, inverters are a necessary if you want to use AC (household) appliances; they’re what converts DC power into AC power.
Whether you’re building your system for your home (on-grid), or your mobile vehicle (off-grid), there are some things you’ll need to know.
Setup of an Off-Grid Solar Generator System
A good off-grid setup will allow you to live without a public electric utility. Whether you’re traveling cross-country in your RV, camping, or just want an emergency backup power source.
Once you’ve decided how much power you will need, having a bank of four deep-cycle batteries and two or three solar panels, you should have no problem meeting your power needs. You also have the option of installing a huge solar generator system, one that is able to power an average house, complete with full-sized appliances. But that requires a pretty big budget. There are four primary things that you will need to start your off-grid solar system:
You will need enough solar panels to efficiently charge your batteries, so choosing the right ones is important. Mono-crystalline panels are the most efficient (although the most expensive) choice. Poly-crystalline panels are a little less efficient, but a little less expensive and can do a good job.
Pro tip: Aluminum frame solar panels last longer, are more versatile, and carry a longer warranty than flexible solar panels.
Warning: Check the warranty carefully when installing solar panels on an RV or other mobile vehicles. As this use is often not covered by warranty.
A charge controller is a voltage regulator; designed to keep the batteries from overcharging. They are almost always a necessary component of nearly all power systems that charge batteries.
Most charge controllers will work with many high voltage solar panels, regulating the maximum total input of voltage to not exceed the capacity. However, using a charge controller will cause a loss of power – from 20% to 60% of what your solar panels are rated at.
A solar panel is only capable of putting out a limited amount of amps. So although the voltage is diminished, the amperage from the panel cannot rise above the rated amps. Therefore, a 175W solar panel, rated at 23 volts or 7.6 amps, will only be able to put 7.6 amps at about 12 volts into the battery.
Pro-tip: Use Ohms Law (watts = volts x amps), to find out how many watts your battery is getting.
A high amp-hour deep cycle battery is the best choice for off-grid or strictly solar recharge use. A deep-cycle battery is designed to be able to regularly deeply discharge; meaning using most of its capacity. High power usage appliances mean a shorter life per charge. So if you want to use your solar system without worrying about every light being on or off, you will need a high amp-hour (Ah) battery. Battery options include lithium batteries which are the most expensive, or lead-acid batteries which are still high quality and more affordable.
An inverter is a great thing to have in a portable solar system because you won’t have to worry about finding a 12V charger or device while traveling. As well it produces sine wave energy that is safe to use with sensitive electronic devices and appliances, such as mobile devices. A 2000W inverter is a good choice; it will run almost anything, except an air conditioner.
Installing of Solar Panels
Which position to set your solar panels can be a little tricky because you will want to generate as much power as you can during the daylight hours. When positioning your solar panels, be sure to place them facing south (if possible), and angle them at about 30 degrees. This will give you optimum efficiency throughout the year. If you live in a house that only has East and West facing rooftops, you can install solar panels on both; allowing you to get maximum coverage throughout the day.
Setup of an On-Grid Solar Generator System
An on-grid setup is very simple. You simply install a solar panel(s) on your roof or in your yard, then connect them to a grid inverter. Then connect the inverter to your existing electrical network.
Pro-tip: A great option would be to install as many solar panels as you can within your budget. Then simply wire the panels into a micro inverter, and plug the inverter into any standard 3-pin plug in your home. Power will always take the shortest route; therefore your appliances will use the available solar power before any power from the grid. This is a great way to reduce your electric bill, as well as go green using renewable energy.
5 Advantages of Owning a Solar Powered Generator
Whether you have decided to become more eco-friendly, are looking for a less dangerous backup power source to replace your fuel-powered generator, or you want to go off-grid; there are many benefits, and no foreseeable downsides, to owning a solar powered generator. In fact, there are too many benefits to list in one article; so here are 5 great advantages of owning a solar generator.
The average 5 person, 2 car family produces 58,109lbs of CO2 per year. As a matter of fact, by using solar power to run your home just 25% of the time, you can decrease your households’ CO2 output by nearly 6% per year. That’s the equivalent of 175 gallons of gas.
Investment in Long-Term Savings
Using solar energy just 25% of the time can save you as much, or more, than 400$ a year. Moreover, that’s if the only energy-saving action you take is using solar power. Therefore, no matter how much your home solar generator system costs, it will save you money over time. Everyone likes the idea of saving money.
Great for Indoor Use
As opposed to gas powered generators, solar generators are unbelievably convenient for use indoors due to them not using fuel. Producing no toxic fumes, consequently, solar generators are completely safe for use indoors. No moving parts is another great safety feature. Being able to use your backup power source indoors is significantly more convenient in a power outage situation; rather having to gas up and maneuver a gas generator outside in the dark. You can easily transport your solar generator from room to room in the safety and warmth of your own home.
Not only is it easy to use indoors it’s also a silent system; many campgrounds have a quiet time or noise regulation, as a result effectively limiting the usefulness of many fuel powered generators. Charging your camera, or flashlight in the middle of the night isn’t going to work if you can’t run your generator. Most gas powered generators range from 50 to 85 decibels (dB) of noise. Every 10 decibels is about 10 times louder to the human ear. Therefore, making an 80-decibel noise rating nearly unbearable.
Ease of Use and Convenience
Lastly, once a generator is properly installed and or set up, it will run 24/7 with no maintenance from you. During the day, the sun’s rays will charge your battery, and at night the battery powers your electronic devices. For as long as there’s enough sunlight during the day, you’ll never have to worry about your solar generator. If you’ve ever used a gas-powered generator, you know that between changing the oil, managing the gas, and in addition to making sure it’s not being too loud for anyone around, you’re perfectly aware of the many inconveniences a gas powered generator can have. However, that’s not to say that gas generators don’t have a good use, but in many cases, the benefits of a solar generator greatly outweigh the benefits of a fuel generator.
Choosing to own a solar generator, whether for home or travel, is a great choice. Furthermore, it can and will save you money, and it will also make emergency power outages, long camping trips and cross-country RVing easier, more convenient and more fun. With so many brands and options, not to mention conflicting or absent information, it’s hard to make an educated and informed decision about a product. We brought you solar generator reviews and guide to make your search for the best solar generator a little easier. Whether you were trying to figure out the difference between solar panels, or you wanted to know what an inverter is, we hope we covered all the information you would need to make an informed decision.