Best Solar Power Generators
Electricity is an awesome discovery and a truly helpful technology. It makes life so much easier. However, this power doesn’t always come cheap. In fact, electricity bills are increasing with market inflation, and it can be a headache, especially if you have numerous appliances at home or if your business involves regular usage of electricity.
Of course, most of us rely on grid-based energy to power our electrical devices. What people aren’t paying attention to is the fact that most grids harness power from fossil fuels, a source that’s non-renewable. Therefore, at some point in the future, we will run out of this source, and we will have to produce energy through other sources.
Luckily, the use of solar generators is becoming more and more common. There’s an increase in the number of people relying on solar energy to power up, and not just residential infrastructures, but also large buildings. It won’t be surprising if, in the future, the planet will rely on the sun’s power for energy. This technology is expected to reach greater heights, whether it be in energy production or convenience of use.
The use of solar devices is a big step towards a more sustainable future. Since these devices have an unlimited energy source, it provides financial and environmental gains. This article will explain what a solar powered generator is, how it works, and what its pros and cons are.
It will also provide you with tips on how you can choose the best machine for your needs. This piece will also enumerate five of the best brands out there
What is a Solar Generator?
A solar-powered generator is a device that serves as an alternative to grid-connected energy. It is used to supply energy to power electrical devices when electric outlets are non-operational, possibly due to outages. It is also used for areas without a stable grid connection due to location, such as mountain-based communities or islands.
Solar generators combine solar cells with a storage device, such as a machine, so it can reserve energy for consumption when needed. The sun is used for the charging process, so the device can be used multiple times and recharged when the current stored energy is depleted.
Solar generator machines are often built portable to enable mobility and ease of use. This device can be useful for trips as well, such as yacht cruises or RV road trips, because they can provide power to the appliances in the vehicle even in remote areas.
Aside from the panels and power cells, some generators also have a charge controller, which allows monitoring of the charge level of the battery and prevents overcharging to prolong the battery’s lifespan.
Some also add an inverter to the picture to convert the direct current to alternating current and make it compatible with most electrical devices. Because of the portability and capacity to store energy, the sun-powered generator is considered an eco-friendlier alternative to diesel or petrol-powered ones. However, how does this machine work?
How Solar Generators Work
What’s the mechanism of a solar powered generator and how does it power up devices without needing to be plugged in? The process requires light, electrical, and chemical energy. The solar panels are the primary receiver of photons from the sun in the form of light. The photons received are converted from solar to electrical energy through generating current.
This energy is then stored in the power cell or battery (mostly lithium-ion ones) and is now converted into chemical energy. That chemical energy can be accessed to generate electricity to power up electrical devices such as electric fans or heaters. Solar systems generate direct current.
Therefore, an inverter may be required to convert that direct current to alternating current and make it usable for AC-compatible electrical devices to work.
If the solar power generator is exposed to the sun for too long, it is possible for it to absorb more than sufficient energy to charge the system’s battery and exceed the storage device’s capacity.
This is where the role of the charge controller comes in. It regulates the charge flow so the battery won’t overcharge or overheat. With the storage capacity and ease of use, it is perfect for on-the-go use.
Things to Consider Before Buying Solar Generators
With so many brands out there, finding the one for you can be a tricky job. Now that you understand how these devices work, how do you choose the best one for your use? There are various aspects you need to look for so that you can make the right choice.
- Size – When it comes to determining the device size for you, it is vital to think about where you would put it and what you would use it for. If you have minimum storage, you’d want a smaller device. Of course, bigger devices often have bigger capacities, so you want to consider that if you have enough space.
- Weight – The weight of the device is of great importance, especially if you plan to use the device for trips. Bigger devices hinder mobility. However, heavier devices have better capacity as well. Therefore, if you’d like more capacity and won’t need to move your generator around, you can settle for bigger, more powerful portable solar generator
- Battery – There are different cell types, but the most commonly used for sun-powered generators are lead-acid and lithium-ion ones. The former is more economically priced, but the latter has more capacity and can be more efficient for long-term use. It helps to have high-capacity batteries, especially when the summer ends, so you can use the generator even during winter.
- Dimensions – The length and width of the solar panels will determine the amount of sunlight that the device can absorb, so it is best to have a device that has maximum exposure so it can charge your batteries faster.
- Watts – The watt ratings of the device plays a large role in its effectiveness as a portable device. Specifically, it refers to continuous or surge watts. To determine the continuous watts you’d need, you need to sum up the watts per hour of your devices combined and multiply that sum with your daily consumption hours. Surge watts are the sudden increase in consumption needed to turn on a device. Your generator should handle both the continuous and surge watts without leading to an outage.
- Charge controllers – Since the regulation of currents coming into your batteries is important for the longevity of the device, it is good to look for charge controllers that not only cut the connection between the power cell and the panels when a certain voltage is attained but also have a three-stage, maximum power point tracking (MPPT) flow management. It also pays to have a waterproof charge controller so you won’t have to worry about rusting.
- Unique features – Other unique features you may want to look for in your sun-powered device include certifications of safety and excellence, multiple alternating-current outlets to cater to several devices at once, USB ports, and LED panels for charge and current monitoring. You also want to look for framed panels for increased protection and convenient positioning.
Top 5 Best Solar Generators
5. Audew 220Wh/60000mAh Portable Battery Generator Power Station
Audew’s Portable Solar Generator is part of our top 5 with its 220Wh/60000mAh model. With its high capacity, it is suitable for outdoor trips and can power up numerous devices at once. This device uses Lithium Polymer Cell technology that promises a longer lifespan and higher heat resistance.
This 5.51-pound, 13.4 by 7.9 by 5.1 inch device also has a smart control system that has a dual AC power output design that supplies continuous direct current to modified wave AC to power up the majority of your household gadgets and equipment.
With its in-built battery management system, it also guarantees safety as it regulates the battery charging process and usage to prevent the system from overheating or short circuit. With an extra purchase, you can charge this solar generator through the sunlight using either a 50-watt or a 100-watt panel. Its 12-month warranty also gives you peace of mind that the device can be used for years.
- Has good capacity
- Has a 12-month warranty
- Has added protection through the BMS feature
- Suitable for camping and other outdoor activities
- Doesn’t include solar panels upon purchase
4. Nature’s Generator Gold System 1800W
Nature’s Generator does not only deliver in design but also in capacity and quality. This 128-pound, 23 by 22 by 17-inch device can produce a 720-watt output in one charge through its 1800-watt sine-wave inverter and 60-AH power cell.
If you and your friends are to go on a mountain trek for a few days, you won’t have to worry about charging your devices as it has three 120-volt outlets, 2 USB ports, and one 12-volt DC input, so it can work for multiple devices at the same time.
With its LCD screen, you can easily view the machine’s battery level and keep your battery’s charge at its optimum level. Regarding mobility, you can’t go wrong with this one as it’s got a wheeled generator plus a wheeled solar panel frame, so you can easily transport both devices.
The 100-watt polycrystalline panel is reinforced with a 3.2-milimeter anti-reflective glass and has a 50-feet 12 AWD, UL-approved cable. The panel can also be adjusted to summer and winter tilt positions for better sunlight exposure.
- Has a good capacity
- Comes with a 100-watt polycrystalline solar panel
- Has wheels for increased mobility
- Panel is expandable with its 600-volt/175-ampere port
- Can be used to charge multiple devices at once
- Quite hefty
- Plastic covering may not be long lasting
3. SUAOKI 400Wh/120,000mAh Portable Generator Power
If you’re looking for a classy-looking solar generator that can deliver the power that you need anytime, anywhere, check out Suaoki’s 400Wh-portable solar generator kit for your next camping trip.
This 12.35-pound, 9 by 5.5 by 9 inch device has a maximum capacity of 444Wh, more than sufficient to power up your handheld devices and small appliances. It’s got a flexible continuous watt of 300 and a surge watt of 600 with a pure sine AC inverter for your AC-input devices.
If you have DC-compatible ones, it’s got dual DC ports as well for your USB-plugged devices. It also has a cigarette lighter socket of 12V/120W. You can recharge the generator in three ways: through DC power from your car’s 12 V/ 24 V socket, from your AC outlet at home, or through solar power. For the battery charging, you won’t have to worry about overheating or overcharging as it’s got a sleek LCD-display charge controller for convenient monitoring.
- Has an elegant design
- Has a battery manager with LCD display
- Has flexible charging capabilities
- Quite light and easy to carry
- Solar panels have to be purchased separately
- Cannot be used while charging
2. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
This radio-looking device can definitely supply the power that you need for your devices if you’re away from home or don’t have a grid-sourced power nearby. This 29-pound, 8 by 10.2 by 8-inch device can provide 300 continuous watts and 600 surge watts through its pure-sine wave inverter.
It has 2.1-ampere USB ports and 120-watt 12V ports. This 396 watt-hour device with a 33Ah capacity sufficient to charge a mobile phone over 30 times, a laptop five times, and is even capable of running small appliances for several hours. This solar generator kit can be charged in three ways.
If it’s through a wall outlet, you can juice it up within five hours through its included AC charger. If using a car charger, you can fully charge it within 13 hours. Of course, through its monocrystalline solar panels, you can complete its battery charging process within eight hours.
You also don’t have to worry about overcharging the device as its LCD display will tell you exactly if it’s full. You can also connect it with other 33Ah lead-acid batteries to gain longer battery capability and power.
- Compatible with most mobile and household devices
- Has a good capacity
- Can be bought with a monocrystalline solar panel that has good efficiency
- Can be charged in multiple ways
- Does not come with solar panels, you need to buy them separately
1. Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit with Boulder
Topping our list is the upgraded Goal Zero Yeti brand of sun-powered generator. This elegant-looking device features a unique briefcase-looking 100-watt monocrystalline solar panel that you can easily carry around for convenient use. This 103-pound, 24 by 27 by 30-inch device has a 1250Wh lead-acid power call that has a built-in pure sine wave inverter that provides 1200 continuous watts, which can power up ten devices simultaneously.
It is also possible to extend its capacity further by hooking it up to other 100-Ah lead-acid batteries to keep your device running for longer. The device also features four 2.1-ampere USB ports and two 120W 12V-ports.
With its mobility-friendly build, its rolling cart will make transporting it from one place to another a breeze. If you like hiking, you can definitely bring it with you and access your devices anytime, anywhere. You can also sun-charge it and position its panel to an ideal angle through its integrated kickstand.
- Comes with a 100-watt mono solar panel
- Has wheels for easy mobility
- Includes an integrated kickstand for panel-positioning
- Has a good capacity
- Can charge numerous devices at once
- Quite hefty
Pros and Cons of Solar Generators
Now that you understand what solar generators are, what their mechanisms are, and the best-marketed brands, you may wonder what the benefits are of using one are and if there’s any disadvantage to using this type versus a regular fuel-powered generator.
There are numerous benefits to using solar-powered generator types. First, they are more environmentally-friendly. As you may already know, fuel is harnessed from coal and other non-renewable resources and they will be depleted at some point. With solar generators, you also get the cost savings of not needing to buy fuel as you can easily, conveniently, and unlimitedly charge your device while the sun is shining.
Not to mention that these types are significantly quieter than regular generators. Therefore, if you’re camping out or if there’s simply a power outage in your area, you can still enjoy a good night’s sleep while it’s running. You also don’t need to worry about fuel being stocked in the device for too long if not in use as it will not be running on this power source.
What are the disadvantages to this portable source, then? Well, they’re admittedly slower concerning charging and many of them use lead-acid batteries that are heavier than lithium-ion ones.
Because of its lower capacity, it may not be suitable for running big appliances like regular-sized refrigerators or 8-kilo capacity washing machines. The initial investment can also cost you a hundred to a thousand bucks, an amount that you can use to purchase more powerful fuel-dependent generators.
However, if you won’t need the device to power up numerous household appliances and if you want to decrease your carbon footprint and help the environment, solar-powered ones are still a smart choice.
Solar generators are your alternative to fuel-consuming and loud house generators. With their compact design and capability to be hooked up to a solar panel for charging, using them can save you in money and energy. This generator type can be used for your AC and DC devices, so you won’t have to worry about additional cables and wires to get it working.
When looking for the brand for you, there are various factors you must consider. You should know the size that’ll be most suitable for your space or use. If you wish for your device to be more mobile, you want to get lighter models or those with wheels for easy transport.
If you wish to have bigger capacity, especially if you’re going to use it on the road or during a month-long cruise, check out the watts (both the continuous and surge watts of the device).
The battery type can also make a huge difference in the device’s capacity. Look for the charge controller to make sure that the charging process is regulated. There are brands with LCD or LED displays to make the charge monitoring of the device easier. If there are unique features such as kickstand for solar panel angling or water-proof charge controllers, then they can make the most out of the device.
While solar generators do not provide as much power as fuel-powered ones or may be priced a little higher, they are the greener choice and the more cost-efficient option in the long run. With the sun’s unlimited energy, you can rely on your solar generator for years without spending additional money. Check out our list above and you can get the best sun-powered generator for your needs.