Solar Generator VS Generator (Technology Compared)

Solar generator vs generator, what are the pros and cons of both technologies, how do they compare against one another, which technology is better? 

If these are some of the questions you find yourself asking, then you have came across the right article!

As we have already discussed in this article, the photovoltaic effect was discovered in 1839 by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel. 

Since then, solar technology has been developing at an exponential rate. 

In fact, solar prices have dropped more than 70% in the past few years. 

These significant price drops have made technology like solar generators much more accessible to the general public.

Solar generator VS generator

solar generator vs generator

Solar Generator Gas Generator
Average Price $1700 $1000
Noise Level (7m) 7dB 70dB
Ease of Use Press a button to start Complicated start up 
Environment Zero CO2 500g/H CO2
Average Weight  59 Pounds +55 Pounds
Running Cost Zero Ongoing costs

 

(In the chart above we compared the standard Bluetti AC200P 2000 watt solar generator with a standard 2000 watt gas generator.)

We will compare the solar generator vs generator in full a little later in our article, for now we want to explain both technologies. 

What is a solar generator?

A solar generator is capable of capturing the sun’s energy via attachable solar panels. These solar panels are able to transport said energy to an internal storage system (which is usually comprised of lithium-ion technology, it is worth noting that our latest solar generators use LiFePO4 battery technology).

Solar generators are usually comprised of the following technology:

  • Solar Panels
  • Inverter
  • Charge controller
  • Battery 

How does a solar generator work?

Solar generators work, by integrating a solar panel, charge controller, a battery system and an inverter into a compact system that is able to convert and store solar energy which can then be later transformed into a useable electrical current.

Solar panels:

  • Solar generators can be bought with or without solar panels. If you don't have solar panels, you will need to recharge your device via another power source. Although, the most efficient way to operate a solar generator is via solar panels. Your solar panels will convert the sun's energy in electricity

Inverter:

  • Our solar generators all come with the latest built in pure sine wave technology. Inverters are used to convert your solar generators stored electricity from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). The reason for this conversion is simple, most of the appliances we all own operate using alternating current. 

Charge controller: 

  • Bluetti solar generators all come with the latest built in MPPT solar charge controller technology. The primary purpose of charge controllers are to prevent your solar panels from over charging (thus damaging) your built in battery.

Battery:

  • Perhaps the most important aspect of a solar generator is the battery. Bluetti's latest models come with the best battery technology: LiFePO4. All that electricity being generated from your solar panels needs to be stored somewhere. That is where your battery comes in, it is able to store large amounts of solar energy at any one given time. Most solar generators are rated by their capacity and are an indicator of how many/how long they will be able to charge or power devices. 

What is a gas generator?

A generator converts kinetic energy (motion) into electricity. 

A generator usually consists of the following components:

  • Engine
  • Alternator
  • Fuel System
  • Voltage Regulator
  • Cooling and Exhaust Systems
  • Lubrication System
  • Battery Charger
  • Control Panel

As you can already see when it comes to solar generators vs generators, generators are made up of much more components. Most of these components are moving, this is the reason gas generators require more ongoing maintenance. 

How does a gas generator work?

It converts kinetic energy (motion) into electricity. It does this by using a spinning electromagnet (armature) to produce an electrical current through a stationary magnetic field (stator).This kinetic energy is usually made possible by burning either gas or oil.

Engine:

  • The engine is where it all begins for the gas generator. It’s the source of the input mechanical energy to the generator. The maximum power output of the generator is directly related to the size of the engine. Keep in mind that the manufacturer of the engine should be consulted to obtain maintenance schedules.

Alternator:

  • The alternator is also known as the “genhead” and is responsible for producing the electrical output from the mechanical input supplied by the engine. It is made up of stationary and moving parts which are all encased in a housing. All these components work together to cause a relative movement between the magnetic and electric fields. This is what actually generates electricity.

Fuel system:

  • Most fuel tanks connected to generators should have sufficient capacity to keep the generator operational for 6 to 8 hours on average. Small generators usually have their tanks as part of the skid base or is built on top of the generators frame.

Voltage Regulator:

  • This component regulates the output voltage of the gas generator. It pretty much does the same thing as the solar generator’s inverter. It converts AC to DC and feeds this to the relevant components which cycle it between AC to DC and DC to AC. This cycle continues until the generator is able to produce output voltage equal to its full operating capacity.

Cooling & Exhaust system

  • Fresh water is generally used as a coolant for small generators or very large units over 2250 kW and above. Hydrogen can also be used as a coolant for the stator windings of large generator units. Hydrogen is generally more efficient at absorbing heat than other coolants. As for the exhaust, it is incredibly important that an adequate system is used. Fumes emitted by a generator are just like fumes from any other diesel or gasoline engine and contain highly toxic chemicals. Carbon monoxide poisoning remains one of the leading causes of death among post hurricane affected areas.

Lubrication system:

  • Unlike solar generators, gas generators comprise of many moving parts in the engine compartment. For this reason it requires ample lubrication to ensure that everything remains smooth and durable for a long period of time. The generators engine is usually lubricated by oil stored in a pump. It is important that from time to time you check the level of lubrication oil (every 8 hours). You also need to pay attention to any sign of oil leaks and should change the engine oil every 500 hours of generator operation.

Battery charger:

  • Most gas generators start function is battery operated. The onboard battery charger keeps the generator battery charged by supplying it with an accurate float voltage. If the float voltage is too low, the battery will remain under charged. If it is too hight, it will damage the battery. Most battery chargers are fully automatic and do not require any adjustments to be made or any settings to be changed.

Control panel: 

  • This is the user face that is featured on most modern generators. They also contain provisions for electrical outlets and controls. Different manufacturers have caried user face features which could include electric start and shut-down, engine gauges, generator gauges.

Which type of generator do you need?

We will break this section up into two scenarios. Each scenario will give you a basic idea of when each type of generator will be the most useful to you. 

Scenario 1. 

solar generator vs generator

Winter is coming up and you live in an area with high amounts of blizzards and snowfall. You want to make sure that if the power goes out during this time that you will have enough power to run all your most important appliances such as your heater and some lights. 

In this scenario having a backup power source that doesn't rely on the sun is ideal as long as you have sufficient fuel you will be able to generate your own electricity for as long as you need. 

 All it takes is some foresight in setting the gas generator up near to your home to run an extension cord. However do bear in mind you don't want it too close to your home or the fumes will come into your home. 

Scenario 2. 

solar vs generator

If you need backup power to your home during summer, then there is no doubt our latest solar generator is your best bet. It can store more than enough energy to power all your appliances for a few days or even weeks.

Additionally, smaller solar generators also shine when it comes to camping and the outdoors. 

Solar powered generators are eco-friendly and make absolutely no noise, pretty much essential if you are out camping in the woods. 

Unlike gas generators, once your solar generator is set up (that is the solar panels have been placed correctly towards the sun) you can forget about it. There is no refuelling needed. In fact the longer its out in the sun, the more it's garnering. 

5 BENEFITS OF USING A SOLAR GENERATOR

1. FREE CLEAN ENERGY FROM THE SUN

When you use a solar generator, you are essentially using free energy from the sun instead of using costly dirty fossil fuels. You can continue getting this free energy from the sun for the lifespan of your solar panels, which is usually around 25 to 30 years.

2. LOW MAINTENANCE COSTS

Unlike most conventional fuel or gas generators, solar generators have absolutely no moving parts and do not use a liquid fuel. No moving parts means that the likelihood you will need to pay for any types of repairs is significantly lower.

3. QUIET AND CLEAN OPERATION

Aside from the obvious financial gains of using a solar generator, choosing this green technology over other fossil fuel systems has various environmental upsides. Gas powered generators lead to air pollution alongside noise pollution, and while the latter is jut simply annoying, the former contributes to climate change.

4. IT’S AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

The overall lifespan of a solar panel is 25 to 30 years. While gas powered generators do have long lifespans, usually 20 to 40 years, they do not come without problems. You will need to perform various maintenance jobs on them to keep them operational. Additionally, you will need to continuously buy them fuel in order to use the device. Solar powered generators require no such tasks.

5. LIGHT AND EASY

Most heavy duty gas powered generators can weigh hefty amounts, sometimes up to 250 pounds. Our heavy duty solar powered EP500 Pro weighs a mere 182 pounds in comparison. Obviously, the less powerful the generator the lighter it usually weighs but in summary, solar generators weigh much less than gas powered generators.

Final thoughts

If you are comparing solar generators vs generators, then we hope after reading this article you have a better understanding on all the differences involved between the two technologies.  

If you have any more questions revolving around solar generators, you can reach out to us at any time!

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