Mobile Solar Generator With Solar Panel on a Grass Field

The Ultimate Guide to Solar Generator Use

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Over the last 20 or 30 years, society has become increasingly interested in sustainable power sources that can save money, reduce harm to the environment, and provide convenience at the same time. Solar energy has been used now in homes for some time as a supplement to the power grid, leading us to other important ways to utilize this amazing energy source.

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Solar Generators Use Guide

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A solar generator is a device that allows you to take solar energy and carry it in a portable way, meaning you have a constant and reliable source of power wherever and whenever you need it. As traditional fuel powered generators have been known to cause pollution and cost a lot to maintain, it makes sense that solar is now set to replace it as the next big thing in generator power.

With so many benefits to both the user and the environment, making the switch to a solar powered generator has become more desirable than ever. As one of the world’s leaders in carbon emissions, anything we can do as individuals to reduce our country’s carbon footprint is necessary to ensuring the best for our planet and our families.

Happy family standing in front of house with solar panels

Whether you’re looking for an alternative backup supply of power for around the home or something portable and efficient to take on regular camping trips, a solar generator is the device for you. With so many great options available for harnessing the sun’s free energy, investing in a portable solar generator has never been easier.

The History of Solar Generators

When the photovoltaic (PV) was discovered in the 1800s, the idea of a solar generator was probably very far from the inventor’s mind. The PV effect found that when light and heat hit certain materials they were able to conduct electricity, and this was specifically the case when the sun’s natural light was able to make electrical currents when in contact with silicone.

In 1994, the first solar generator was made using a large dish which was tied to a utility grid. Since then, portable solar generators have become smaller and easier to transport so that everyday citizens can utilize solar energy for themselves.

Testing an Old Solar Panel

Constant research into solar cells and the possibilities of this power has improved the efficiency of solar panels so that we can generate as much energy as we do today. With ongoing studies into the photovoltaic effect and the other factors associated with solar energy, the future of this technology is full of opportunity.

What Parts Are There to a Solar Generator?

Solar generators are a lot simpler than those powered by a motor, and with no moving parts, they’re a lot easier to maintain and keep in good condition. Every generator is made differently, though, so they won’t always be constructed in the same way. Here are a few of the important parts you might find within your portable solar generator:

  • Solar panels - These panels are up from a group of small silicone cells that come together to make a circuit. These cells are generally made from monosilicone or polysilicone cells, each with varying degrees of price and efficiency.
  • Inverter - Since solar panels produce energy in direct current (DC), this won’t power up your electronics which run in alternating current (AC). The role of the inverter is to convert this power supply so that it’s compatible with your electronics.
  • Battery - The battery is a crucial element to the solar generator, as this is where your power is stored. Although most generator kits come with a battery, it is possible to add on more to get additional power if you need.
  • Voltmeter - Not all generators are equipped with a voltmeter, but they’re used for monitoring your power usage. These are fairly important to understand how much power you’re using and how long it takes to charge the battery.
  • Jacks and plugs - Your generator will have at least one outlet for you to power up from, generally an AC plug. Other generators also have USB ports and other handy slots, but it depends on what is most convenient for you.
DIY Solar Generator Starter Kit

It is possible to buy a solar generator kit with everything constructed straight from the box, and these are ideal for those looking for convenience or perhaps with limited knowledge on solar. Otherwise, there are ways to build your own so that it meets your specific power requirements and any other convenient extras you might like to use.

How Does a Solar Generator Work?

While many people rely on this renewable source of energy for their backup power, not many understand exactly how it works. Using the key parts described above, a solar system generator captures heat from the sun and turns this into sustainable electricity for your use.

The solar panels of a generator are placed in the sun, away from shade and obstructions. When the sun projects light and heat onto the panels, made up of the smaller silicone cells, the heat is captured and then converted into energy which is fed to the inverter.

From there, the inverter passes energy into the battery so that it can become fully charged and converts this energy into usable power. The batteries have outlets for AC power device or USB plugs so you can use the energy as it’s fed to the system. When it makes more power than it needs and creates a surplus, this can be stored in the battery for later use.

Save Money With Solar Generators

At first, spending hundreds or thousands on a solar generator might not seem like a cost-saving measure, but the return on investment with these systems is where they can save you money.

Hand Counting Quarters and Pennies

Having a solar generator to take along on camping trips or being used every day to power up just a few of your appliances can save you hundreds in utility bills, fuel for generators, and ongoing maintenance costs. Considering these systems can last for many years without the need for replacement, they will end up paying for themselves with enough use.

If you rely on large batteries or a fuel-powered generator, there is an ongoing cost to keep these running. Not only will you have to keep it filled with gas, but they don’t last as long as solar devices due to their moving parts and will often require fixing or replacing altogether.

For those who really don’t want to spend too much, there is the option to make your own portable solar generator with just a few key parts. This can be done for under a few hundred dollars and when quality materials are used it should last many years. Even those who want to purchase a ready-made unit can still see great savings over time, so it’s always a smarter option when investing in a generator.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Solar Energy

The most important benefit of using a solar generator when compared to standard electricity use or a fuel-powered system is the impact on the environment. Long has solar energy been used in homes and businesses as a clean and renewable alternative, so it makes sense that generators harness this power source too.

Using a solar generator will not only reduce your reliance on electricity, but it will completely rid you of the need to use non-renewable energy sources such as gas too. With improving technologies, even our reliance on fuel powered cars could decrease in the very new future as we welcome the age of solar powered vehicles.

Comparison across Technologies on Carbon Footprint

Our impact on the environment has never been more important to us, as according to the US Energy Information Administration our levels of carbon dioxide emissions increased in 2014 by nearly a whole percent. Something as simple as switching your home’s backup power supply to a solar generator can help to lower that level and keep our emissions down.

Not only is a solar generator useful for emergencies, but it can be used every day to power up just a few of your appliances. While it may not seem like a lot on a daily basis, over the years the amount of energy you can save by switching to clean and renewable power from the sun will be phenomenal.

Have a Portable Energy Source With Solar Generators

As handy as electricity is in our homes, it often keeps us in the one spot. The more we rely on electronics and other devices to live our daily lives, the more we find ourselves bound to our homes as we wait for our phones and tablets to charge up.

A solar generator can be an easy and portable source of power that you can use virtually anywhere. If you’re after something less powerful and more portable, there are great options for solar energy such as backpacks and USB chargers that let you use the sun’s free power and take it with you anywhere.

PowerOak 400Wh Portable Solar Generator Carried by a Man

Having a portable supply of power gives you the freedom to move around, whether it’s camping with friends or on a more serious task such as providing medical support to those in need. These devices are lightweight and easy to transport, giving them greater mobility than other forms of energy.

When compared to a gas powered generator which uses many moving parts, engines, and heavy steel casing, your solar generator kit can be packed up and taken wherever you need it. All you need is the sun’s natural light to keep it going, which can be accessed virtually anywhere in the world.

Maintenance And Cost Free Energy With a Solar Generator

One of the biggest benefits of solar generators is with their low rate of ongoing maintenance and running costs. When considering a purchase of a solar generator, you should contemplate this as a huge factor into how much you’re willing to spend on a system. While it may seem like a lot at first, you’ll be able to get years of free energy without lifting a finger so it’s got a great return on investment.

Thanks to their construction involving no moving parts, the maintenance of a solar generator is extremely low compared to other types. When taken care of correctly and cleaned when needed, solar panels can last for many years. Cleaning the panels also ensures they run more efficiently, so it’s another way to improve your savings too.

Two Men Cleaning Solar Panels on a Roof

Having a solar generator available when you’re camping means you can set up the panels in the optimal space when you arrive, and never give it another thought through the whole trip. You won’t need to keep refilling it with fuel or moving it around, provided you’ve found a great space that gets lots of natural sunlight.

Once you’ve purchased your generator, the running costs are virtually zero. These handy systems will continue to supply you with free power for as long as the unit lasts, which can be years in most cases. There’s no need to pay for electricity, batteries, or gas, so after your initial investment, it truly is a free source of power.

Have a Reliable Source of Backup Power For Emergencies

Those who live in areas often affected by wild weather will attest to just how important having backup power is. When you have to go hours, days, and even weeks without electricity it can put into perspective just how much we rely on power to keep our lives running.

Even for those who don’t experience regular blackouts, it’s nice to have peace of mind that your family can always stay connected in times of need. Having a solar generator for homes is exactly how to get that peace of mind, and know that you’re doing your part for the environment in the process.

Goal Zero Yeti Powering a Microwave in a Kitchen

Using your solar backup generator can keep your devices running during the day as they plug directly into the unit, but the powerful batteries within also mean you have power stored for night time too. This means you’ll never be without energy so long as your panels are getting the right amount of sunlight, so it’s an extremely reliable device to own.

Whether you want to use your backup power source for your own household, help a friend or neighbor out in a time of need, or take your portable energy supply with you elsewhere, there’s no denying just how convenient it is to have backup power for emergencies.

Quiet And Comfortable Portable Energy With Solar

Although fuel powered generators can be convenient when we’re without electricity, they can also cause quite a disturbance. Anyone who has used a fuel generator before will attest to just how much noise they make while running, due to their motor.

Another common disturbance by fuel powered generators comes from its fumes, with a steady stream of carbon monoxide being emitted while they operate. These dangerous fumes make them unsafe and potentially fatal to operate in an enclosed area, and even when ventilated can make the air quite unpleasant.

During Superstorm Sandy, in particular, a reported 17 people died due to carbon monoxide poisoning from using a generator, making them extremely dangerous in some situations when not operated safely.

Enerplex Generatr 1200E Portable Generator in Use for Laptop

A solar generator tackles both of these problems, making it a far more comfortable choice than other portable power supplies. For a solar system to generate energy it requires no moving parts, so it’s virtually silent as it powers up your appliances.

Without a running engine, these generators also won’t emit any fumes. Not only is this a bonus for the people using the generator, but it’s also widely beneficial for the environment. Considering a portable gas generator makes more dangerous fumes than an idling car, the impact can be severe.

Solar Generators For Disaster And Medical Relief

There are times when backup power is needed not just at home, but to provide emergency assistance for others. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of solar powered generators being used to provide relief to military operations, medical emergencies, and natural disasters around the world.

When considering areas that may have been affected by the disaster, the use of a fuel powered generator just isn’t viable. They’re costly to run, have a short life, and can be dangerous when used by an untrained hand. Solar generators tackle all of these issues and provide a free and renewable source of energy as well.

The U.S General Services Administration now supplies a number of portable solar generators to assist with disaster relief, with far more power and durability than most domestic solar types. These heavy duty generators have been designed to withstand more rugged scenarios, including the impact of hailstones which measure up to an inch in diameter. The generators can be used to power up emergency lighting, communication devices, and even supply energy for medical assistance tents.

Solar Generators and Solar Panels Used in a Disaster Relief

Heavy duty solar generators such as this signal an important shift in how we can assist victims of disaster, in a more convenient and safe way for everyone involved. As the use of fossil fuels and dangerous gasses decreases from the use of large fuel generators, this will also have a huge impact on the health of our environment too.

Possible Disadvantages With Solar Generators

While the advantages of using a solar generator far outweigh the disadvantages, there are a few areas to consider. However, for each of these downfalls, there’s usually a simple solution that can help turn it into a positive.

  • Purchasing a solar generator is costly - Making an investment in a solar generator will generally set you back at least a few hundred dollars, so it can be expensive and out of reach for some households. However, consider the ongoing savings that having free energy from the sun will get and also the low maintenance of these systems compared to others.
  • They’re not as reliable - Having a generator that relies on adequate sunlight can leave some people apprehensive, and they’re not as simple to fill and power up as a fuel device. Choose a generator with additional power source options such as a wall outlet to charge up the battery so if you get really stuck you have backup power.
  • They can’t produce as much power as a fuel generator - Fuel generators have been known to power more stuff, which may make some people hesitant to purchase a solar device. It’s true that fuel generators are more powerful, but even most small solar generators have the option to add batteries and panels so you can increase your power capabilities.

There are still areas for improvement with solar generator technology, but consider first all of the benefits that these amazing devices can bring before you focus on the negatives. With a bit of forward planning none of these disadvantages should affect you, so it’s just a matter of using your renewable energy more wisely.

Different Types of Solar Generator

While there are many solar devices available, the difference between most and a solar generator is the generator’s ability to store power for a later use. There are some handy inventions that feed a direct supply of power from a solar cell to a device, however, these don’t have the battery attached that allows them to hoard energy for the future.

To find the best solar generator for you, you’ll need to consider your energy usage. Not only how many kWh you plan on using per day, but other things such as portability requirements, plugs and jacks, and the ability to add on batteries and panels to upgrade its power if you wish.

  • Solar generator kit - A solar generator kit consists of everything you need to have a working solar generator, so there’s no need to build you own. These generally have a battery unit attached to solar panels, with the ability to add more panels and batteries to increase the wattage.
  • Fixed units - A fixed solar generator can’t be transported, and they are usually found on top of RVs and motorhomes. These generators have panels in place that can’t be moved but feed energy through to a battery so you never need to set up your system when you travel.
  • Portable solar generators - A portable solar generator comes in many forms, whether it’s a smaller power pack designed to charge up basic electronics or a larger system intended to supply a few days of power to a campsite.
  • Solar battery storage devices - These larger battery devices are capable of powering up entire homes and make it possible to live off the grid entirely. A solar battery storage system keeps your generated power at home and feeds it through at night when the sun isn’t able to supply any energy.
Briggs & Stratton Portable 3000-Watt Inverter Generator on a Grass Field

How to Make Your Own Solar Generator

If you’re interested in the benefits of solar power but aren’t yet ready to spend hundreds or thousands on a generator, there is a simple way to make your own at home. With just a few parts you can construct a generator that will give you enough power to run your TV for a few hours or basic lighting for up to seven hours.

You’ll need all of the standard parts found in a generator, including solar panels, an inverter, battery, charge controller, and wires. Depending on how much power you require, you may like to add further batteries or panels to increase the capacity of your generator at a later date.

Start by connecting the inverter to the battery, being sure to connect the negative pole before the positive. Next, connect the charge controller to the solar panel and battery using your wires, with negative poles first again. Finally, charge your panels by placing them in the sun and once it reaches 50% battery power you’re free to start using this renewable energy source.

DIY Solar Generator Starter Kit

This simple project should cost under $150 to make, so it’s a great way to test the efficiency of solar power before you decide to upgrade to a larger generator. To take things even further, some people like to build their own solar panels. This can be done by connecting a group of solar cells together on a board, but will add some time to your project.

Other Ways to Get Portable Solar Energy

If you’re after something a little less bulky than a solar generator, there are other ways to experiment with solar energy. You may find that using these low scale portable solar devices entices you to try something bigger and invest in a solar generator, once you see how convenient they can be.

These devices usually don’t have a battery included, so the power feeds straight into the device. What makes the generator unique is its ability to store this power and use it in the future, adding further to its convenience.

  • Solar powered backpacks - For your very own solar generator that you can carry with you each day, a solar backpack is a great alternative. These designs feature solar panels on the back which attract the sunlight, with enough power to keep your cellphone, laptop, or other device charged every single day.
  • Solar lighting - One of the most popular ways for homes to utilize solar power without having to invest too much is with solar lighting. There are options for garden, security, camping, and regular household lights too, so you never have to spend money on electricity costs for lighting again.
  • Solar phone charger - As one of the most common items we keep plugged into electricity, making the change to a solar powered phone charger can save you a lot of time and energy over the years. These devices are compact and portable so you can keep it on the outside of your bag or clipped to your belt for a constant supply of phone battery.
Man Using His Solar Backpack to Charge Cellphone

Using Solar Generators For Camping

As one of America’s favorite past times, we’re always looking for ways to improve our camping experiences. Those who spend a lot of time outdoors likely already use a generator to power up their campsites, but the solar generator can offer so many more benefits to enhance you experience in the wilderness.

Whether you like to incorporate a mix of on-site power with a generator or get completely off the grid and avoid power outlets altogether, a solar generator is a smart and efficient way to achieve this. The biggest benefit to the camper or holiday maker is how whisper quiet these devices run, and without the need to emit any dangerous and smelly fumes.

A solar generator can be small enough to keep just the basic necessities running, or you can opt for something more powerful in watts that can provide you with lighting, refrigeration, and entertainment so you don’t miss out on any of your modern conveniences.

Expeditionary 201 Solar Generator Used in a Tent

These solar generator kits can be set up as soon as you arrive on site and the panels placed on your tent or RV rooftop for a constant and reliable source of power for your entire trip. The panels will generate power during the day, and your battery will have enough stored within to keep you going through the night, making the very best use of your outdoor surroundings.

Solar Generators For Home Use

The most common use for a solar generator at home is having one for your backup power supply in case of any unplanned or scheduled power outages. Having a fully charged solar generator in your garage gives you peace of mind that you’re always covered in times of emergency.

To incorporate your solar generator into your regular power supply, you might prefer to switch some of your energy use to one of these solar systems. Just by converting a few appliances and lighting to solar power you’ll still be able to make significant savings on your utility bill, as well as reduce your carbon footprint.

Some people like to take their solar generator use one step further and have a whole house solar generator setup. These people are able to live off the grid completely and not rely on any electricity supply to keep their homes running.

Home With Multiple Solar Panels on a Roof

These homes generally rely on a battery storage system such as the recently popular Tesla Powerwall, which allows you to use your home solar panels to store energy for use at a later time. Essentially, you can get your electricity during the day while the sun is out and then rely on your stored power at night without ever needing to connect to the power grid.

How Much Power Does Your Solar Generator Need?

The most common question when purchasing a solar generator focuses on how much power you’ll need your system to have. Considering the unique makeup of each family and how much energy they’re likely to use on a daily basis, this answer can change quite dramatically for every household.

For a general idea of how big you’ll need your solar generator, you can easily calculate your daily energy use and then go from there.

  • Add up the total kWh per day that you plan on using, being careful to think about lights, entertainment, refrigeration, and charging basic devices. Divide this amount by the voltage of your battery, considering that most solar generator batteries are 12v.
  • For reserve days, triple the amount so that you can have adequate backup power especially if you’re camping or far from civilizations.
  • Multiply the minimum battery capacity which you calculated during the last step by 2 due to the fact that you’ll need batteries to remain about 50% at all times for their best efficiency.
Briggs & Stratton Portable 2200-Watt Inverter Generator in Use while Camping

An average campsite with energy needs of about 20kwh per week will use a 1400 watt generator, however, this is accounting for quite a lot of power. If you’re looking to reduce your usage, there are ways to do this such as using a separate solar powered fridges or energy efficient light bulbs.

The Effects of Solar Energy on The Environment

Using solar energy to replace just some of your traditional electricity supply can have dramatic effects on the environment, even if you can’t see them directly. The use of solar energy in our homes and with portable power supplies such as generators and chargers is one of the easiest ways we can reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Considering a third of these emissions come from electricity usage, changing the way we consume this energy should be a priority. Making the switch to just a few solar devices or choosing to install panels to your home can not only help the environment but greatly reduce your annual electricity bill.

Couple of Houses in a Village with Solar Panels on Roofs

Generating energy from solar systems doesn’t emit any greenhouse gas emissions, nor does it have any impact on the environment. Although there are some concerns about potential pollution from the building of solar panels and large-scale systems, these are still minimal and certainly outweighed by the numerous other benefits to our earth.

Solar Generators of The Future

Any technology with as much potential as solar energy is only set to make improvements in the future. Considering the huge benefits now possible with this renewable source of energy, developers are now looking to magnify those results and make solar energy even more attainable by the average household.

The recent focus on using solar generators to power up large batteries in our homes signals a shift to how much rely on our local power supply, with some batteries big enough to give you full independence from traditional power sources. While the technology is still being improved, it may be a while before most homes utilize this type of solar generator and battery system, but it’s a strong indicator of where solar energy is heading.

As these devices become more powerful and the efficiency of panels improves, solar energy is set to increase in popularity even further as one of America’s top renewable energy sources. Reports have stated that in 2016, over a million U.S homes will use solar power which is a record not yet seen before.

New Concept of Glass Sphere Solar Generator

The more efficient these devices come, the more affordable they will be to the average household which will also help their popularity increase. As solar generators are already the preferred method of backup power for many homes, it won’t be long before this translates into using solar for their everyday electricity needs as well.

Clean And Renewable Energy With Solar Generators

A solar generator can have so much positive impact on your household and the earth, with a deserving place in every American household. Whether you prefer to harness solar energy on a small scale and use it to power up your phone, or want to move completely off the grid with a larger generator and really incorporate this energy in a big way, these amazing devices will get you there.

Without the huge range of benefits to your wallet, the environment, comfort levels, and convenience that a solar generator can offer, fuel powered generators are expected to see a decrease in popularity over the coming years. While fuel generators are still extremely useful in many situations, you can achieve all of their power without any of the negative side effects when using solar energy.

The simple process of converting the sun’s heat and light into renewable energy will continue to amaze as advancements are constantly made in this field. Not only can the average household benefit from a clean energy source such as solar, but the professional world can too with medical and disaster relief now a common reality.

Concept of a Floating Home on Water Fully Solar Powered

Finding the best solar generator for your needs will be as unique as your household is, so don’t expect there to be one model to fit everyone. Your energy use and special circumstances will lead you to the best choice, so you can begin to use the sun’s free energy for a more sustainable future.

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