What is a portable solar power generator? Currently most portable power generators run on fossil fuels (Wikipedia), like LPG, petrol and diesel. Portable generators are usually used for back up, commercial applications, or in remote locations were mains supply can be unreliable. Great for use when camping or caravanning when mains supply hook-ups aren’t available,
They can be noisy, dirty and smelly though, requiring constant ‘fill ups’ and are environmentally damaging. A generator can be expensive to run. Requiring mechanical maintenance, with moving parts, needing to be lubricated with oil. Petrol and diesel generators cause deaths due to carbon monoxide (Co) poisoning. Some power generators can produce the same amount of Co as six cars (source-Wikipedia), which can produce fatal emission levels when used indoors. Using them in a garage or any enclosed space isn’t a good idea. Operation, near open windows and air conditioning vents should definitely be avoided.
A great tool for portable power however, as fossil fuels are phased out we need alternative energy sources. The most abundant, natural, renewable energy source we have on the planet is the sun. Sunlight, can power almost anything and it’s clean electricity generation.
What Is A Portable Solar Power Generator?
A portable solar power generator is a power source that captures energy from the sun and converts it into useful electricity. Sunlight is collected by a monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin-film solar panel. The panels then charge the portable solar power generator. The stored energy can then be used to charge electrical appliances such as a mobile phone, or power a microwave.
For power on the go, it’s very useful when you are, camping or caravanning with no obvious mains power supply. Even, providing off grid power at home during a power out or living in a remote location.
What are the typical features of a solar generator:
- Sturdily built to withstand transportation and general knocks
- A carry handle
- Built in lithium battery type
- Built in Inverter to convert the current from DC/AC
- AC mains output socket
- USBA Ports
- USBC Port (smaller makes and models may not have one)
- USBCPD Port – faster charging port (smaller makes and models may not have one)
- DC 12V car cigarette lighter
- LCD Screen – monitor how much stored power is left in the battery
- Can be charged from mains power if required
What Small Generators Are Available?
Small solar generators range between 60Wh and 1500Wh (watt-hour) versions. Suitable for RV, camper van, camping and off grid backup. They are light, compact and very easy to transport so, can be easily packed into a car. However, be aware the higher watt-hour units are bulkier and heavier
100wh portable solar power generator can charge :
- Mobile phones
500wh generator can charge the same as a 100wh system and can power
- Electric blankets
- Air pumps
- Mini fridges
- Heated travel mugs
1000wh generator can power the same as a 500wh system plus
- Ice shavers
- Electric Grills
- Mini fridges
- Coffee makers
- Pressure cookers
1500wh generator can power the same as a 1000wh system plus
- Can run all appliances for longer
You don’t have to have deep pockets to own one, they cost anything from a couple of hundred to around 1,500. The lighter watt-hour versions are the most inexpensive, but they will still charge your electronics. The highest watt-hour versions will power many electrical appliances through the AC mains power output socket.
What Large Solar Power Generators Are Available?
Larger solar power generators can come in 2000wh to 10000wh versions. As you would expect, the higher the watt-hour the larger and heavier the solar generator is. Some can even be mounted on wheels for ease of movement. Some have the ability to operate multiple appliances at once. This means you could watch TV, whilst grilling sausages, with the lights on and charging your laptop.
It is possible with a larger portable solar generator to provide power for:
- A garden shed (were wiring mains power is not an option)
- A cottage
- A beach hut
- A stable
- A cabin or lodge
- A boat
- An outhouse
- A garage
Your pockets need to be deep to own one of the very largest generators, costing around 3k+. However, if you think your worth it, have the need, or using it within your business, go for it !!!
What Type Of Portable Solar Panels?
The best type of portable solar panels to use are Monocrystalline. This is because they are more efficient than polycrystalline and thin-film panels. Portable panels can be rigid, flexible, fold-up and roll-up. For use with a generator 60w to 300w solar panels are required. For as small system 80w to 200w panels will adequately do the job, depending on the generators use. However, there is nothing stopping you using 300w solar panels if you wish. For larger systems 200w to 300w panels are the way to go.
Portable solar panels for generators work best with the fold-up version. This is because they fold nicely for transportation, especially useful when space is at a premium. No need to worry about them being damaged during the trip. The case has a foam lining, protecting the panel from chipping or accidental damage.
What solar panels should to pair with a portable generator?
It all depends on what you are using the generator to power or charge and the watt-hour.
To help here is a rough guide:
- 100wh to 240wh generator – 60w to 100w solar panel
- 300wh to 500wh generator – 100w to 150w solar panel
- 1000wh generator – 150w to 300w solar panels
- 1500wh – 2000wh and upwards – 200w to 300w panels
The larger the generator watt-hour, the more portable solar panels are needed.
What Are The Draw Backs of a Portable Solar Generator?
Portable solar generators are clean, efficient and quiet and their portability is second to non. They are easy to store, to transport and require little maintenance. They do have some limitations though. The portable solar panels re-charge the generator. Because of their low wattage capacity, they can be slow to re-charge it. So the rate of re-charge is governed by the wattage, number and size of the solar panels and the amount of available sunlight. Although the panels will still charge the generator in cloudy conditions, but at a reduced rate.
So, the higher the wattage, the larger the size and the number of connected solar panels, produce a faster re-charge rate. Considering attaching more than one solar panel, with a higher wattage to smaller systems, (larger systems require this) will equal a quicker re-charge.
In larger generator systems, the power produced will keep the lights on, run a portable TV and charge electronic devices. However, if they don’t harvest enough power (IE lower wattage panels, not enough panels or poor weather conditions). The generator will be unable to run all appliances, at one time, for an extended period.
A Cleaner, More Practical Way Of Generating Power
Portable fossil fuel generators are a noisy, smelly, dirty and dangerous form of energy generation. All this is changing due to solar power because eventually LPG, petrol and diesel will be phased out. For the average person to use a gasoline driven generator is difficult, due to weight, portability and maintenance. Not to mention, taking one on a camping trip just to charge your mobile phone, is completely impractical.
However, with a portable solar power generator and a panel or 2, you are now able to charge and power electronics and run appliances with ease. The portability, ease of use and maintenance aspect is a boon in itself.
Your carbon footprint may be important to you, because you feel it’s important to reduce greenhouse gases escaping into the atmosphere. You may feel the same about your business or want to save money on your energy bill long term. You may want to charge your laptop and cool your beer, because you are camping or boondocking, What ever the reason, portable solar power generators provide, clean efficient off-grid electricity
I hope you enjoyed this post and have found it informative. If you have any questions about portable solar generators or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below