There are certain situations where solar generators can be excellent power sources. However, there are also many situations and circumstances where they aren’t practical or simply can’t get the job done. Before you spend big bucks or use this as your power source, you need to understand a few things about them.
Today, we’re sharing five of the common misconceptions about them. If you’re considering any solar generators on the market, you’ll want to keep reading. Let’s get started!
What Are Solar Generators?
A solar generator is a portable power solution. It uses solar panels to collect sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) power. The electricity travels through a charge controller and then gets stored in a battery. The battery will store the energy until the user plugs into the solar generator to charge or power a device.
The electricity will leave the battery and travel through an inverter, which converts the energy into alternating current (AC) power.
These devices are popular power solutions for those who enjoy spending time off the grid. They’re also convenient during power loss from severe weather events or other emergencies. They can allow the user to keep electronics charged and to power small appliances when it wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
How Long Will a Solar Generator Power a Refrigerator?
How long a solar generator will power a refrigerator will greatly depend on its size. Jackery, one of the most popular solar generators, offers them from 160W to 2000 watts. A typical refrigerator in America uses approximately 1500 kWh when running for the day. To run a refrigerator for at least 24 hours, you’d need a generator that stores at least 1500 watts.
It’s important to remember that just because you have a 2000-watt solar generator doesn’t mean you’ll be able to power a refrigerator indefinitely. Cloud coverage and various other factors could cause you not to generate enough power to recharge the battery bank on your solar generator.
While you started with 100% and depleted your battery down to 10% to 15%, you may only get enough sun to recharge your batteries to 85% that day.
If that’s the case, you will eventually run out of power. You depend on clear skies and several hours of sun for your solar panels to soak up the rays and convert them into usable energy to charge your battery and run your fridge.
Can a Solar Generator Power a House?
A solar generator could be an excellent option if you’re looking for a power solution in case the power goes out at your house. There are some available that can power an entire home. However, the size of the battery bank and what you’re planning to power with the solar generator will determine how long you’ll have power.
The smallest solar generator to power a house will be at least 2000Wh, which can go to 10,000Wh or more. A smaller 3000-watt system can typically cost upwards of $5000 for just the basic equipment. This doesn’t account for any labor to install the system or if you choose to upgrade to lithium batteries.
While some may beat gas-powered generators in terms of being environmentally friendly, it’s no competition when it comes to cost. Solar isn’t as efficient or affordable as gas-powered generators.
5 Misconceptions About Solar Generators
Many consumers rush into buying a solar generator, thinking it will be the perfect solution. However, there are a handful of misconceptions about solar generators that we think are important to clarify for anyone considering this option.
Being an informed shopper can help you avoid making a bad purchase and experiencing buyer’s remorse.
1. Solar Generators Only Work When the Sun Is Out
One of the largest misconceptions about solar generators is that they only work when the sun is out. But, during daylight hours, a solar generator collects and converts the rays from the sun into usable power to charge the solar generator’s battery bank. The battery bank stores the power until the user needs to use it.
Once the sun goes down, you must rely on the generator’s battery bank to get you through the night. The smaller your battery bank, the more you’ll need to manage your power. You’ll want to ensure you have enough power to get you through the night and early morning hours until the sun comes up to recharge your solar generator.
Depending on the size of your battery bank, it could take an entire day of sun to replenish your battery bank.
Pro Tip: The Best Solar Generators
2. You Can Be Off Grid With Solar Generators Less Than 1,500 Watts
You may be able to make it through the night using a solar generator of less than 1,500 watts, but that won’t always be the case. Solar generators are excellent when you’re in an area that consistently experiences a tremendous amount of sun and has few cloudy or rainy days. However, to stay off-grid as long as possible, many discover that those days are more common than you might think.
You may get by fine the first day since your battery bank started at 100%. However, if you deplete your battery too far or don’t get enough sun, you may start your second day at 85%.
If you’re lucky enough to make it through the night and have a similar day the next day, you may start with 60%. This negative cycle will cause you to realize the importance of having a large enough battery bank to make up for those days when you won’t get enough sun, and you’ll have to worry about managing your power.
3. You Can Run Your Refrigerator Overnight With a 1500-watt Solar Generator
You can run a typical mini-refrigerator off a solar generator for 24 hours. However, trying to run it for consecutive days on a 1500-watt solar generator will likely not get the job done. While the sun will rise in the morning, you’ll still need to power your fridge.
A 1500-watt solar generator typically only comes with a 100-watt solar panel, which typically generates around 500-watt of power on a good day. This means you’re simply replacing any power you use during daylight hours and not creating enough to recharge your batteries.
You’ll likely drain your batteries completely and have no power shortly after the sun sets.
4. Solar Generators Are Too Expensive
Depending on your needs, solar generators can be very cost-effective options. Jackery, one of the most popular brands in the segment, offers products ranging from $300 to $2800. You’ll want to consider how you plan to use your solar generator and how often you think you’ll need to use it.
They can pay for themselves if you plan to use a solar generator to boondock or live off the grid. Considering that there’s practically zero maintenance required, it can add to the appeal and make them a viable option. Just make sure you purchase an adequate solar generator for your needs.
5. A Solar Generator Can’t Replace a Fuel Generator
While we think they’re great options, they’re nowhere near as effective, consistent, or cost-effective as fuel generators. Fuel generators can create a tremendous amount of power on demand. It doesn’t matter what time of day or the weather. A fuel generator will start creating power whenever you crank it up.
You can find a 3500-watt portable fuel generator for approximately $1000, which is a fraction of the cost of a comparable solar generator.
While you’ll have to deal with the annoying hum of the generator’s motor, it’s worth it knowing you have power that you otherwise wouldn’t if it weren’t for that annoying hum. Solar generators may be better for the environment, but that’s about it.
Keep in mind: A gas-powered generator will provide more power for a cheaper upfront cost….but, there are disadvantages.
Are Solar Generators Worth It?
They can be worth it in some situations. They can get the job done if you’re looking to power a handful of small appliances or only need a single night’s worth of power.
However, if you’re planning to spend a significant amount of time off-grid regularly, they will likely let you down more often than you’d like. Consider your needs and have a backup plan for recharging your solar generator on those days when you might not get enough sun to recharge it. It could be the perfect solution if you can come up with a solid plan.
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