There are a lot of things to be considered before buying a portable solar generator. So, what things you should know or consider before buying a portable solar generator? Well, here are some of the essentials factors to be considered.
Before buying solar generators
Keeping in mind that solar generator is usually preferred in the outings, it should be highly portable. You should consider yourself buying a really handy solar generator over the bulky and heavy ones.
Normally you can choose any solar generator of around 25 lbs which is almost easy to carry with one hand by everyone. But if you are a bit muscular, you can go with any solar generator up to 35lbs.
But in my point of view and from personal experience, any solar generator above 35 lbs cannot be handy in any case and can bring a mess in your camping.
If you are planning to buy a solar generator for home use, weight may not be a great factor to determine as the solar generator is to be set at a single place.
But also it is a good point to pick up a portable solar generator if you are planning to buy as the same solar generator can be used in any other outings and campings.
2. Charging Speed
Charging speed is one of the essential factors to consider while buying a solar generator. Charging speed determines how fast the battery gets to 100 from 0. In the day time, the generator is used for running basic appliances like freezers and fans but at the same time, the battery is being charged and needs to be full during day time. So if the charging speed is really slow, you won’t get a full charge by the end of the day.
In my region, the average amount of time that a solar panel can receive energy is almost 6-7 hours but it differs from region to region. On average, it would take 6 hours for a solar panel to fully charge a 2500 watts battery if the charging speed is good enough. But almost 70% of the solar generators in the market have really really slow charging so you may struggle if you do not consider buying a solar generator with decent charging speed.
3. Battery Capacity
Most of the batteries that are in use now are generally made with Li-ion technology. Companies advertise a lot regarding their batteries. They claim their batteries to be of more than 1500 watts of power and most of them even claim they can run the equipment like deep freezers all day long which is really insane but almost impossible for a solar generator.
The advertisement can be of any type but be smart on yourself. Even if the battery is of 3000 watts but the inverter is only of 750 watts, the battery acts as 750 watts so it is of no use or simply it would get bottlenecked. So you must assure the battery as well as inverter power before buying because most of the companies use advertising techniques and flex only about their batteries.
Usually, when we are on a road trip or camping, we do not use lights, freeze, deep freezers, and fans all at a time so considering from my point of view, battery with power around 1500-2000 watt power is sufficient. But if you are a heavy user and you use the freezer, fans all day long, then consider yourself buying a solar generator with a battery of power around 3000 watts. Do not forget to check and match the power of the inverter as well.
4. Number of plugin ports
The more the appliances, the more they need for plugin ports. And in today’s life, we are surrounded by many electrical appliances and it is obvious that they need energy for their functioning. As the power goes out, we search for the solar generator but sadly can not plug in all the appliances as there are a limited number of ports and they are less than our appliances to be plugged in.
So as a matter of fact, it becomes much convenient if your solar generator has more plugin ports. So for a minimum number, you should buy the solar generator with at least four ports but if possible go with 6 ports generator with the port of 110v each so that you can run freeze, coolers, light, TV, fan, and chargers all at once.
All of the companies claim their product to be the best and they claim they use the best materials out there. But long term users know the facts and know the proper durability. You spend hundreds of dollars in the solar generator and it is likely that you expect it to operate more and more years. The more the quality of the component, the more the durability.
Make sure you purchase the best solar generator from a well-renowned company in this field. If we talk about the best players in the solar generator right now, most of the companies are from China and very few of them from the US and Europe. Personally, I suggest you go with the Chinese manufacturers as their products are much more durable.
6. Product Warranty
Being an electrical product, there is always a risk of hardware failure. And most of the companies in the solar generator market right now are focused on advertising and selling products to new customers only. They usually do not provide customer support. But it feels very bad if you have to spend extra dollars for the repair even after investing hundreds of dollars.
So it is better to be clever while purchasing. I suggest not to run after the company’s advertisement but rather research about the company’s background and check whether the company is providing proper after-sales service or not so that you do not need to spend extra bucks for the maintenance.
Most of the companies provide 1 year of warranty and a few of them provide 2-5 years of warranty. So choose wisely!
7. Car Charging Technology
A solar generator is supposed to be charged with solar energy of course but while purchasing you should also look whether the solar generator supports car charging or not. Suppose you are in a camping and your solar generator is out of power and there is no sunlight or it is raining. In such a miserable condition, car charging can be a boon.
Also, check our solar calculator for power calculation.
Not only this, but you can also charge your solar generator’s battery with your car charger and make it full when you are approaching your destination. Sounds cool right? Yeah! You do not need to charge the battery prior to the departure if your solar generator supports car charging and can save you from having a nasty holiday experience also.
8. Battery Life cycle
Most of the batteries used in solar generators are Li-ion technology which uses Lithium ions and a very minority of them are using Li-Po technology which uses Lithium Polymer.
At the conclusion, all batteries use Lithium as their constituent element. And there is one problem with Lithium. It has a very short life cycle.
Most of the solar generators using Li-ion batteries out there has an average life cycle of around 500 cycles. Assuming that a full cycle would complete in 2 nights. So on average, the battery would last up to only nearly 2 years only.
This means your hundreds of dollars will worth less than a penny in 2 years. So, it is better to choose a battery with an average life cycle of nearly greater than 2000 cycles so that your battery would last more than 8 to 10 years.
9. Inverter rating
The inverter is something that converts AC voltage into DC and DC voltage into AC. Generally, solar power is generated in very low voltage DC but inverter converts that low voltage into high voltage AC so that all our equipment like freeze, deep freeze, cooler, etc could function.
The common inverter that is used in most of the solar generators converts the DC power into 120 volt AC power which is a common standard for most of the devices. The best inverter rating that you should go with should be like 1:5:1 usable watt-hour to inverter rating ratio meaning that it should be able to provide 1500 watt per hour to 1000 watt inverter.
A single battery can store a limited power. But what if you need more power than your battery can store?
In such a case, you need to expand your setup and attach an extra or second battery. So it is better that you choose a solar generator which is expandable. Your solar panel may produce extra power than your battery.
Suppose your battery is of 750-watt power and the power produced by your solar panel is 3000 watt a day. So clearly you have a loss of 2250 watt per day as you can not store that 2250 watt energy.
So if you will be able to add a second battery of 2500 watt, you won’t have to lose any power and with that, you will have extra energy so that more appliances could be run at night.
I think you can have a basic idea about the things to be considered while buying a solar generator after reading this article. Don’t panic! Be calm and take decisions wisely because solar generators are not really cheap and there are a lot of things to consider while buying a solar generator.
We have generators Reviewed on those Topics:
Besides the above-mentioned things, there are still some factors you should look upon like Balanced System Design, PV rating and many more before buying solar generators.