Updated: Feb 10, 2022
A generator is a device that converts one [ or any ] form of energy into electrical energy. However, solar generators not only generates electricity from sunlight but also store it for usage when the sun didn’t shine. Moreover, it is less like a gas generator but more like a portable power storing device with multiple charging options and multiple flush-mounted power sockets with switches.
In this blog, you will learn
what is a solar generator
what type of battery is used in it.
what is its use
how it works
how long it can run
how much power it can generate
what it can power and
can it power a house
What is a solar generator?
The solar generator is a portable off-grid solar power plant with an inbuilt battery pack. Other than AC power or solar panels these devices can also be charged by other batteries and car power ports. These devices also have multiple flush-mounted AC power sockets, USB ports and even some solar generators have wireless chargers.
These PV generators are popular with portable solar panels and these are great for beginners level off-grid living or short term camping to run a fan or TV and lights. However, a big size solar generator can even power a whole house during a power outage and charge EV [ for emergency usage only]
There are different types of solar power plants, like grid-tied, off-grid and hybrid solar power plants. Where grid-tied solar power plants have no battery backup but required net-metering [ or smart meter ] to run with the grid. However, you can also run it without net metering or with a gas generator with the help of ZED Advance.
On the other hand, off-grid solar power plants required separate battery banks to operate. And the hybrid solar power plant has the facility to run with both grids as well as battery backup.
Moreover, solar generators are more like off-grid solar power plants. In an off-grid solar power plant, off-grid inverter and batteries are brought separately. And required cable connection between batteries and solar inverter. However, in solar generators both inverter and battery are placed in a common box. And require only cable connection with the string of solar panels.
The inverter size of these solar generators varies from 500 W to 2,000 W and battery backup size varies from 200 Wh to 10,000 Wh. Also, the solar input capacity of these devices varies from 200 W to 2,400 W. Furthermore, the number of output ports varies from 10 to 18 depending upon their size and make. Learn more about the best 2,000 Watt solar generators.
A small rating of solar generator has low solar input capacity, low battery backup and few numbers of output ports. However, high-end solar generators have high solar input capacity, high battery backup and high numbers of flush-mounted power ports.
What type of battery is used in solar generators?
These solar generators carry lithium-ion batteries, which is light in weight and has battery performance as compared to conventional flooded lead-acid batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are split proof, has high energy density and take 1/3rd times in charging as compared to lead-acid batteries. However, lithium-ion batteries are expensive too.
There are two types of Lithium-ion batteries, that is Lithium-ion Chemistries-Nickel Manganese Cobalt [Li-ion NMC/ NMC] and Lithium Iron Phosphate [LiFePO4/ LFP]. Besides the chemistry of both batteries, there are many similarities between them. Like round-trip efficiency, impact on performance due to temperature and C rating [how fast battery can charge or discharge]
However, studies have shown that LiFePO4 batteries have a longer lifespan than Li-ion NMC batteries. Also, the charge cycle life of LiFePO4 batteries is about 3 times that of Li-ion NMC batteries.
What is the use of solar generators?
Solar generators are used as a power source for camping, living off-grid and backup during a power outage. Solar generators have USB ports, AC and DC power sockets to run appliances and charging phones. It can be charged with portable solar panels, conventional solar panels [ mono/poly/flexible ] and AC power sources [ grid or gas generator ].
Due to their simple plug and play design, ease of caring and multiple charging options, these solar generators are very popular between campers and those living off-grid.
Off-grid living: One of the biggest challenges of living-off gird is the availability of backup power to run daily usage home appliances and charging phones. Now on-grid solar power plants don’t work as off-grid [ but it can be tricked, click here ] and installing DIY off-grid required some sets of skills as well as experience. However, installing and operating solar generators don’t need any particular skills. Anyone, who knows how to plug in and plug out can operate solar generators. Learn more about solar generators for off-grid living.
Campers: Capmaning is the most popular outdoor activity. Yet, you will need power backup for a little comfort and emergency. A small size solar generator with a portable solar panel is very handy for campers.
Backup during a power outage: The grid-tied solar power plants didn’t work without reference power resources [ grid or generator ]. However, its panels can be used to charge a solar generator. Yet, you will need the right size of solar generator to connect with the solar panels of your grid-tied solar power plant. Learn more about solar generators for house.
Charging EV: A high-end solar generator with an extended battery can even charge an EV.
How does a solar generator work?
A solar generator has an inbuilt battery pack and it can be charged by DC [ solar panels and car lighter port ] or AC [ grid and gas generator] power source. Furthermore, while discharging it converts the stored DC power into AC and DC power and that can be used via different USB ports as well as AC and DC power sockets.
Most of the solar generators have both DC and AC input power points and they come with AC adapters for charging with grid power and gas generator. And DC aviation plug cable to connect with solar panels. Yet, some manufacturers sell these accessories separately.
A higher rating of the solar generator also has the option of extending battery capacity and dual charging options. And their battery capacity can be extended up to 3 times. However, these extended batteries need to be brought separately.
How long can a solar generator run?
Depending upon the size of the solar generator, wattage of load and amount of sunlight, a solar generator can run up to 10 min to 48 hours. The minimum battery size of a solar generator is 100 Wh [ 10 min to 30min ] and the maximum battery size is 12,000 Wh [ 4 hours to 48 hours].
How much power can a solar generator produce?
Depending upon the size of the solar generator and weather conditions, a solar generator can deliver a peak power of 100 watts to 2 kW. The maximum power a solar generator can generate depends upon its inverter rating. That’s mean, a 2,000 W solar generator with an 8000 Wh battery can deliver a peak power of 2,000 Watt.