Solar vs Gas Generator: Which is Right for You?

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There are a lot of options out there when deciding what type of generator is right for you. By far, the two most popular options are solar or gas generator. Both options offer benefits and drawbacks, so it can be a hard choice to make between the two. Solar panels and batteries provide clean, renewable energy that is safe and effective. Yet, the upfront cost and reliance on the sun can be prohibitive. Gas generators are great for powering multiple large devices and are more cost-effective upfront. But create pollution and rely on a steady supply of gasoline. When making the choice of using a solar vs. gas generator, there are lots of things to consider. The following article will help you choose which is more suitable for you.

solar vs generator

Solar Power:

A portable solar generator or solar battery backup is a power supply that uses solar panels to collect energy from the sun, which is stored for later use. Rather than burning fossil fuels, the panels convert the sun’s rays into direct current (DC) electricity. Then, the electricity is passed into a charge controller, which regulates voltage, and into the battery, where it is stored until you need it. When something needs charging, plug it into the battery, and an inverter transforms the power into alternating current (AC) energy that is ready for use! Solar generators usually have multiple ports of different sizes. They allow you to power various small devices simultaneously.

Fuel Types

One of the biggest draws of having a solar battery backup vs. generator is that there is only one fuel type! The sun! As long as the sun is shining, you will have a free, unlimited source of fuel. The solar panels soak up the sun’s rays and store them in a backup battery for storage. They remain until you are ready to charge your phone, turn a fan on hot days, or turn on a space heater when it is cold. However, if the sun isn’t shining, you will be out of luck until it shows its face again.


The upfront cost of running a solar battery backup can be quite expensive. This technology has not become widespread enough at this date and time to be a cheap option at the time of purchase. However, we do expect the initial purchase price to decline as the technology is more commonly adopted. On the bright side, once purchased and set up, you have an unlimited supply of renewable energy. Additionally, maintenance costs will be minimal (unless you break a panel).

Ideal Usage – Who is it for?

Solar are best for those wanting to power devices for short trips or quick emergency situations. The relatively small size of solar batteries will limit how much power you can use. So, while it probably won’t be able to keep your whole home supplied with electricity during a natural disaster. But you will be able to keep your devices charged and run small appliances.

Environmentally Conscious

When comparing fuel generators vs. solar generators, if you are looking for an environmentally friendly option. Then solar power is the way to go. It gives you the peace of mind that you are using a completely free, renewable energy source. You will not have to worry about releasing pollution into your home or the environment when using solar power. So it is a guilt-free way to charge your favorite gadgets.

Off-Grid Living

Another group that might choose a solar panel vs. generator is those looking for an off-grid experience. Dry camping or boondocking are common scenarios. Solar chargers free you from needing to find sources of fuel. Additionally, because solar batteries have no moving parts, you will not have to perform oil changes. In fact, once the initial setup is complete, the only maintenance needed is to keep the panels clean and safe from damage.

Weekend Socialites

Those who love to throw weekend get-togethers or barbeques would also be ideal for solar generators. Because these gatherings usually occur on bright, sunny days. So solar power would be a great choice. These types of parties would most likely not need a large power source. Usually just enough to power a TV or radio, plus a few other devices. Or just to provide a charging source for party goer’s personal devices.

Short Getaways

If you like to go tent camping, take a day trip on the boat for fishing, or have a small RV or conversion van. Then a solar battery would be a great choice. The limited number of devices you can take along on these types of trips will probably not be very power-hungry. A solar-powered battery would be perfect for taking along on these types of trips.

solar vs gas generator

Generator Power:

Portable electric generators are great if you are looking to power multiple devices, appliances, or even your home. Because they need no time to recharge like solar-powered batteries. The only limits on what you can do are the amount of fuel you have and the generator’s size. Gas generators produce electricity by running an engine powered by gasoline. It rotates an onboard alternate to create electricity. Then, simply plug in appliances, gadgets, and tools to get instant power.

Fuel Types

As you can probably imagine, fuel-powered generators have many options. They burn fossil fuels to generate electricity. While a gas generator runs on gasoline, others can run on propane, diesel, and sometimes use more than one fuel type. While the long-term costs of powering gas generators are higher than that of solar generators. But the upfront cost is much lower, and you can always shop around for better gasoline prices. Apps exist to help you find the best deal. And many fueling stations offer loyalty rewards to subscribing members or cardholders. Fuel prices also vary widely between different areas. So be sure to check average fuel prices near your home or along your trip route to get the best deal.


When comparing solar vs. gas generators’ cost, gas generators are less expensive in upfront costs. But cost more to power over time. A small, portable gas generator is within the budget of nearly all individuals and families that regularly take short vacations or live in disaster-prone areas. Larger gas generators can be more costly. But are still significantly cheaper upfront than solar generators. While you will spend more money over time on fueling costs, this fact can be mitigated somewhat by shopping around for the best gas prices. Additionally, we all know that if you have limited income, it is easier to get something great by spreading the cost out over time. So, gas generators pack the power you need at a more acceptable price.

Ideal Usage – Who is it for?

Those who prefer a solar vs. gas generator will have a lot of power needs. The main drawback to solar generators is the run time of the battery. If you have many power-hungry devices and appliances, a gas generator will be the best choice, as you will have enough juice to power them for a long time. Another disadvantage to solar is that if the sun is not out, you may be waiting for quite some time before getting the power you need. This is due to the slow recharge time of solar batteries, which you will not experience with a fuel-powered generator.

Inclement Weather

Fuel-powered such as dual fuel generators should be considered as your primary choice if you live in a region prone to natural disasters. If you are experiencing an emergency situation where the power may be out for extended periods of time, solar might not be the best option. Solar panels are reliant on the sun. But gas, propane, and diesel are more readily available, and you can keep extra gas cans on hand. While you will need a good supply of fuel, propane and gas generators are more reliable than solar generators because you will always know how long you will have power.

Home Backup Power

While solar generators have many good points, if you often experience power outages where you live, then a standby generator is the best option. Because the last thing you want to deal with when living through an outage situation is how you will keep yourself and your family feeling comfortable. With lighting, fresh food from the refrigerator, heat, air conditions, or power to keep your emergency contact devices charged. Therefore, if you are looking for a generator to provide electricity during power outages or other emergencies, get a generator.

Big Rig Campers

If you like to take long, extended camping trips or have a big RV with lots of toys, a solar charger may not just have the extra oomph you need to keep everything running properly. Even though many campsites have plugin power options available, their capabilities might be limited. And you may have to pay extra for powering certain devices or for excessive power usage. Having a generator for the RV on hand will allow you to make sure you have enough power to fuel all your gadgets, gizmos, and comfort appliances.

The Bottom Line

Both solar panels and gas generators have many advantages and drawbacks. When deciding between a solar vs. gas generator, the main concern you should have is what you will be using it for. If you like taking short trips for camping or fishing, want a short-term solution for power outages, or regularly throw backyard barbecues, a solar-powered battery might be right for you. On the other hand, if you need a long-term solution to regular power outages or like to take a big rig RV out for regular vacations, a gas generator may be the better option. Costs vary between different sizes and different models of both gas generators and solar battery backup power. So be sure to do your homework concerning what you will be using it for before committing to one or the other.

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