Solar 101: What is A Solar Generator?

bluetti solar generator

More and more travellers are deciding to utilise solar energy in their homes, RV's, and camping trips. 

And for good reason, it offers a sense of freedom not possible when you rely on the local utility for electricity. 

In fact, according to Google Trends the Covid-19 Pandemic sparked the rush to self-sufficiency. People from around the world were desperate to learn about off-grid living in the hopes they could protect their friends and family in the worst situation. 

Since February 2020, solar generators took the lead over gas generators in terms of popularity. 

However, to this day although more people are buying solar generators, very few actually understand how the technology works. 

In this article we aim to explain what components make up a solar generator and how it works.

What is a Solar Generator?

what is a solar generator

A solar generator is a device that is capable of storing and converting DC electricity generated via attachable solar panels into useable AC electricity. In essence, it acts as a large mobile powerbank, capable of charging and running all sorts of appliances from drones to CPAP machines. 

A solar generators generally consists of the following components: 

  • Solar panels
  • MPPT charge controller
  • Pure sine wave inverter
  • LiFePO4 battery

How Does a Solar Generator Work?

Solar generators can provide off-grid energy, consistently, over extended periods of time, without requiring anything other than the power of the sun.

Solar generators provide a green solution for power generation, that in many cases can be as effective or even more effective than propane or gas powered generators.

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 solar energy into a useable electrical current.

To better understand how solar generators work, we will discuss each of their components individually.

  • Battery
A solar generator needs to store the energy it collects from the sun in order for you to use it at a later stage. The battery functions as the storage unit.

Lithium-ion batteries have been used in a wide variety of solar generators on the market since about the year 2016. However, you can also use less efficient lead acid batteries which are cheaper and more abundant than lithium-ion technology.

With that being said, lithium-ion batteries do have significant advantages over lead acid batteries, and it is our recommendation to use lithium-ion batteries as they are safer and more affordable in the long term.

  • Charge controller: 

Is a vital component of the solar generator, its main purpose is to protect and promote the durability of the battery. Charge controllers usually have various features for charging and discharging based on the certain type of battery and solar panel combination that you are using.

Charge controllers are crucial to making a solar generator work as they balance the power dynamic between the solar panels and batteries.

  • Inverter:

This component converts the low direct current (DC) from the battery to alternating current (AC) which can be used to power your everyday household items.
Appliances that require DC power can actually do without the inverter since the electricity does not need to be converted.

Solar Generator VS Gas Generator

Below we have compiled a table which outlines the major differences between a solar and gas generator. Notice the differences in noise level. 

When it comes to dB output, no gas generator in the world can compete with a solar generator. For the main reason being a solar generator just has no moving parts, this makes it close too silent. The only thing you will hear from time to time is the internal fan cooling off the inverter. 

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

 

What Are the Key Factors to Consider when Buying a Solar Generator?

bluetti solar generator charging a car

The most important thing to consider before buying a solar generator is the capacity you need.

The best way to find this out is to make a table jotting down all the appliances you will need to power, how much wattage they draw, and how long you plan to use each appliance. By doing this you can get a fairly accurate figure on what size solar generator you need. 

Next you will want to consider the type of battery technology the generator uses. Solar generators generally come with a variety of battery technologies.

Make sure yours has the latest LiFePO4 battery technology, this will ensure that your generator lasts the longest with as many life cycles as possible.

Another metric you should be paying attention to is the max inverter wattage. This is critical to what sort of loads your solar generator can handle. 

For example, if you buy a solar generator rated at 1,000 watts but aim to power a 1,100 watt appliance your solar generator will simply not work. make sure you have a rough idea of what you aim to power with the generator, this will allow you to size it correctly. 

What Are BLUETTI Solar Generators?

See for yourself: 

Examples of Bluetti solar generators are: 

bluetti ac200p portable power station

  • 2000W AC Pure Sine Wave Inverter (4,800W Surge)
  • 2,000Wh Capacity
  • LiFePO4 Battery with 3,500+ Life Cycles to 80%
  • 17 Outputs For Multiple Devices
  • 7 Ways to Recharge (AC/Solar/Car/Generator/Lead battery/Dual AC/AC+Solar)
  • 700W Max. Solar Input
  • 1200W Max. Fast Dual Charging (Solar + AC Adapter Simultaneously)
  • Eco-friendly/Gas free/Quiet/Cost-effective
bluetti ep500 pro solar generator
  • 5100Wh LiFePO4, 6000+Charge Cycle
  • EP500Pro: 3000W Pure Sine Wave Output
  • EP500: 2000W Pure Sine Wave Output
  • Movable Power Station
  • In-grid UPS Mode&Flexible UPS Mode(24/7)
  • Off-grid Energy Storage
  • Multiple Devices Can Be Loaded Simultaneously
  • Flexible Recharging Way To Keep Your EP500 Always On
  • App Remote Control
  • Smart Touchscreen

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for a portable solution that can be powered by the sun, we believe that solar generators are the best option! They produce clean energy, as the sun's natural rays are converted into electricity through solar panels. The next time you hear "What is a solar generator" you'll know the answer!

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