Outdoors blog

Equipment

What is a Solar Generator? (Answer, Pros and Cons)

Solar generator converts the suns light energy into electricity producing an output voltage that can be used to power lights and electronics and stored in batteries.

There are plenty of solar energy devices that work on the same principle, including smart solar box, farm solar panels and power station system. The advanced versions of solar power systems are equipped with an interactive graphical user interface that promises increased usability.

Solar generators are widely used to supply power to other appliances, power grids or machines. It is important to mention that a solar energy generation device cannot work independently as it does not have the ability to supply power instantly. Instead, it requires a battery to harness generated solar energy.

Components of a solar generator:

Solar power devices are usually made up of charge inverter, solar batteries, battery charger and solar panels. Solar panels are responsible for the conversion of energy from sunlight that can be further used through a battery charger. Furthermore, the energy from the battery charger can be used to run several batteries.

Example of popular model from Zero Point Energy.

The advanced versions of solar power devices may have a circuit breaker which helps to prevent devices from accessing too much electricity. It is also possible to buy solar array mounting racks that can be installed on the building roof and require very less maintenance.

Working of a solar energy generator:

A solar energy generator is a compact system containing a charge controller, battery pack and inverter. Each and every component in this box is designed to match the specific electricity rating of the device connected on the receiving side. The standard rating for such generators maybe 48, 24 or 12 volts for running appliances within the 110 to 240-volt rating.

The solar energy generator is a reliable choice for portable electronics, home appliances and industrial tools as well. With these generators, it becomes easier to charge tablets, smartphones and portable GPS technology almost hundred times using solar energy. Note that it can help to run a refrigerator for dozens of hours; however, the more powerful equipment such as heavy construction devices can only operate for a few hours.

Types of solar generators:

The solar backup generators are a practical solution for large scale units including indoor lighting, refrigerator and television as well. The perfect combination of backup generators can be used for power station systems and farm solar panels as well.

These generators are designed to work with the highest rating of alternator wattage. Most of the times, these backup generators are used for emergency purpose.

The main disadvantage of using solar backup generators is that they are difficult to move around due to heavy finish. Moreover, they are one of the most expensive types of generators. Many of these solar generators do not offer the same amount of fuel as that of an electrical energy generator, but they are more environmentally friendly, hence are preferred widely.

One can also find some portable versions of solar energy generators. These batteries receive a lower rating as compared to the backup versions. Therefore, they are widely recommended for running appliances like cameras, laptops and other cordless tools as well.

The pros for solar generator are free natural energy, lower maintenance, and quiet clean run. The cons are limited power, costs, and time to recharge.

Gone are the days when solar systems were used just for rooftops, the advancements in technology have now presented portable versions of solar products. Solar generators are better defined as a backup power source that can help users run their appliances when grid turns off.

As the name indicates, solar generators are powered by the sun. However, in most cases, they are portable units that are used with specialized batteries attached to them. Although the portable solar-powered generators are not always a reliable solution for a big property, they can be widely used for RVs and boats or to manage emergency backup needs as well.

Pros of solar generators:

There are so many benefits of owning a solar generator as compared to the traditional fossil fuel systems. Few of them are listed below:

  • Free natural energy

Using generators that run from fossil fuel leads to a huge investment in raw materials, whereas getting power from solar generators means you are harnessing energy from the sun for free. The best part is that it is possible to use this energy for the lifetime of your installed solar panels which is somewhere between 25 to 35 years.

  • Lesser maintenance requirements:

The solar generators do not have any moving parts, and they don’t even need any liquid fuel. Hence, their lifetime gets significantly increased, and owners need not spend more on repairs.

  • Quiet and clean operators:

One of the biggest benefits of choosing solar-powered generators over traditional fuel-based systems is their environmentally friendly operation. The fossil fuel-based system causes more harm to the environment and is the main contributor to negative changes in the global environment. Hence, it is better to go ahead with solar systems.

Cons of solar generators:

Well, like most other systems, Solar powered generators are also loaded with few flaws. Here we have highlighted a few of them:

  • Limited power supply:

Although solar-powered generators can help you run your essential appliances, they are not suitable to power the entire house. You can expect running your smartphones, tablets and other small electronic devices, but it is not possible to run refrigerator, fridge and entire lighting system.

  • Higher upfront cost:

There is no doubt to say that the operating cost of solar generators is almost the same as fossil fuel-based systems, but the installation cost may be comparatively higher. So, if you are planning to get one, it is important to be prepared to invest more.

  • Slow recharging:

It is not possible to get instant power from solar setup; they take a longer time to recharge the battery. Hence, they are better rated as temporary solutions or can be suitable to meet some emergency needs only.

Now, as you have gone through the pros and cons of solar power generators, it is good to find a reliable solution based on your needs. You can check the rating and storage capacity of solar generators in advance to make the best selection for installation.

If you install large solar panels that can power your home appliances during the day and night, you can go off the grid. But if the electricity that the solar panel generates is not sufficient to meet your power needs, you will still need to connect to the grid to power your home.

 

Most homeowners in the US with solar panels are still connected to the grid because their solar panels don’t meet all their power needs. It is also too expensive to purchase storage batteries. Additionally, it is mostly dependent on weather, a factor that makes them unreliable.

 

When you switch to solar energy, then you meter to also switch to net metering. A net meter works in two ways. First, it shows the utility company the amount of energy that your home consumes when the solar panel is not generating any electricity. Secondly, it shows the amount of power that your solar panel generated during the day.

 

How much energy a solar power generator varies from .1 kWh to 3 kWh. The amount depends upon the capacity of its battery. The level of charging in the battery and the power drawn by the connected appliances make a considerable difference in its performance.

Once you know your specific power requirements, it is possible to find a portable solar power system with the required capacity. The heavy-duty devices need a large solar power system; however, the smaller ones such as mobile phones can be charged multiple times by using small solar power battery.

How much power can a solar generator give you?

When we talk about fuel-powered generators, their expected run time is already mentioned in the product description. However, in the case of solar generators, this information is not provided directly. In order to know how long these generators can run, one needs to understand the battery capacity and the load requirements. Same as fuel-powered generators, when connected appliances draw more power, the battery may drain faster.

The solar generator power is usually calculated in watts, and the overall capacity is rated in amp-hours or watt-hours. Higher figures mean more powerful generator. However, we cannot say that a powerful solar generator can translate to comparatively longer runtime because it is greatly dependent on load. Considering all these factors, the buyers need to be more careful while choosing the right size of generator to meet their requirements.

Calculating power that you need from a solar generator:

While calculating the overall runtime of your solar generator, it is first important to prepare the list of electrical devices that you need to run over it. Write down their wattage along with the estimated number of hours for which you need to run them.

In case if the wattage rating is missing on a certain device, it can be calculated from given amps by using formula Watts = volts X amps. Then you may need to calculate total running hours and total wattage as well. Simply multiply total running hours by wattage, and it will help you know the estimated battery capacity that you need to fulfil your electrical requirements.

The owners need to calculate the power needed by their electrical devices before buying a new portable generator.

It is important to know that few solar power generators are capable enough to charge when their battery is also in use by some connected electrical devices. If you plan to install such type of generators, it means even a lower capacity battery may also serve your needs well.

Make sure you check the rating and capacity of the system more carefully so that it can ensure beneficial returns in the long run. Other than this, also check the recharge time of the battery so that you can rely on its performance.

The beginners can also take help from experts to get a better idea about battery capacity and rating of a solar generator. It can help you ensure better returns on your investment.

 

Solar panels use daylight energy to convert light into useful electrical energy, not the sunlight itself. This means that solar panels don’t require the sun to shine to produce an electrical current. Instead, they only need natural daylight.

 

The sun heat has no effect in any way in the production of electricity. The solar panels comprise of semiconductors that create an electric current when natural daylight heat the photovoltaic cells. This means that solar panels produce the same amount of electricity on a chilly day as it would on a hot summer day. Sunlight is not a factor in how much eclectic the PV solar panel will generate.

 

However, direct sunlight provides the ideal condition for the solar panel to work. But your solar panel will still work perfectly even if your property does not receive a lot of direct sunlight. Modern solar panels are equipped with a system of lenses and mirrors that help to maximize any light that hits the PV cells.

 

As such, most solar panels produce nearly the same amount of electricity on a cloudy day as it would on a bright sunny day. Recent research conducted by the US department of energy revealed that the production of power by modern solar panels does not fluctuate significantly on cloudy days.

 

Solar panels don’t work during the night for a simple reason: there is no light. The solar panels are equipped with photovoltaic cells that only convert light to electricity when light hits them. As such, they cannot produce light during the night because there is no light.

 

Solar panels start to generate solar energy as soon as the light hits them and stop producing electricity when the sun goes down late in the evening. However, the amount of electricity produced by the solar panel depends on the sun’s strength and angle. According to experts, the highest solar generation during the day is usually from 10 AM to 4 PM. However, your solar can generate power as early as 8 AM when the light starts hitting the PV cells.

 

 

Multiple studies conducted by credible institutions have found that the snow covering of the solar panel has minimal effect on its performance. Researchers have found that light can still scatter through sparse coatings, reaching the PV cell to produce electricity. However, if heavy snow accumulates, covering the panel entirely, the solar panel will not produce electricity.

 

Snow can only present a problem if its weight stresses the solar peel support structure. The reason why solar panels are installed in a slanting position is to help snow slide off the panel to prevent blocking light from reaching the PV. That is why snow accumulation on most solar panels have minimal effect on their performance. In fact, most industry experts recommend that you don’t remove snow from the solar panel even with a roof rake. Doing so will not only put you at risk of injuring yourself but also void your solar panel warranty.

This generator will power a small home.

More about how it works.