Solar generators are needed on many occasions, and in the event of a power outage, it is desirable to have a backup power source. Food needs to be refrigerated and devices need to be charged. Fuel may not be available in an emergency, but there is always sunshine. So how big of a solar generator do you need?
This is of course an important question. Buying the right size solar generator will ensure you have the best source of power without paying more.
Types of Solar Generators
Solar generators broadly fall into one of two categories – standby and portable. Before getting into the details, let’s examine the pros and cons of each type.
Home Backup Solar Generator
Backup house generators are large units with enough juice to power many appliances in your home. Because they are not gas-powered, solar generators can be stored and used inside. Their large size allows you to power more devices for longer.
The largest unit has several disadvantages:
- Size. Devices of this size are bulky and inconvenient to carry.
- Price. Large generators contain a lot of batteries, raising the price considerably. You can easily spend upwards of $5,000 on a 3000-watt system before giving birth.
- Installation is difficult. Installing generators to power equipment such as water heaters or heating or cooling systems requires a qualified electrician to modify or replace electrical panels. If you already have a system and use network metering, you will need to have a transfer switch so your system’s power doesn’t go into the grid.
- A large whole-home solar generator is a major investment. Talk to a solar expert to find out what it takes to install a whole-home generator.
Portable Solar Generator
Smaller solar generators are cheaper, mobile, and can power a wide variety of devices. They require little maintenance and require no electrician to install. Think of them as plug-and-play devices that keep your phone charged, give you some light, and power some appliances.
These generators can also be used for non-emergency situations. Outdoor uses include camping, boating, and RVs.
Portable generators have smaller solar panels than rooftop-mounted solar panels. You don’t need to carry solar panels on camping trips, as many portable chargers can be plugged into a car charger.
To choose the right solar generator for your needs, ask yourself these questions.
- How much power do I need?
- When purchasing any generator, you need to determine your electrical needs. Do you want to power your device and a few lights? Besides keeping your refrigerator running, do you want to use the microwave or start some tools?
Plan what you need
Planning what you need is a three-part process:
Decide what power you want
- Find out how much energy your appliances use.
- Figure out how much power the generator will provide.
- Let’s examine each in more detail.
Find out how much energy your appliances use
First, list all the devices you want to use. Only those products that can be plugged into a common household socket are included. Appliances such as water heaters that are directly connected to the fuse box will not work. Neither will ovens that require a 220-volt outlet.
If you need air conditioning or heating because of your location or medical condition, consider purchasing a small air conditioner or portable heater.
What is the size of the power station?
The size of a power station is usually measured in watts (W). This is the power metric used to calculate the energy transfer rate. But what you need to know is that the more wattage your power station has, the more power it will give you on a single charge.
Having said that, there are different watt measurements to be aware of when deciding on a power station.
The first measurement is often referred to as continuous power. This is the amount of electricity the power station can continuously supply.
The second measurement is often referred to as peak power. This is the maximum amount of electricity the power station can supply in a short period.
Continuous vs Peak Power (Example)
Here is an example. Think about when you turn on your air conditioner. It takes a quick burst of power to get started. That’s peak power. But the amount of power required to run the AC unit continuously is usually low. That’s the lasting power.
Some appliances, like refrigerators, require 3-7 times normal power to start. Remember that your power station needs to be able to meet this peak power required to operate the equipment. So if you’re looking for a solar generator to run your refrigerator, it’s not enough to just meet the continuous power requirement.
Sustained power is probably the more impactful number you consider. It tells you how much power your power station will get on a single charge under normal conditions.
How to Calculate Your Optimal Plant Capacity in 4 Steps
SOUOP sells power stations to meet various electricity needs. Our products range in capacity from 167Wh up to 2,060Wh.
How many watts does a solar generator power station need?
To determine which SOUOP product provides you with the right power capabilities, you need to perform the following calculations:
Step 1: Choose what you want to power with your power station and for how long
The first part of choosing the right power station for your needs is understanding what those needs are. This means choosing the specific equipment you want to power with your solar generator and making a rough estimate of how long you want its power station to provide power.
TIP: Make sure to only select devices that can be plugged into the SOUOP station. For example, things like water heaters are often hardwired into your home. So, you probably won’t be able to power one person with a power station. (Unless you also hardwire the device into your home.)
Here are some common devices people use solar generators to power:
- Laptops and PCs
- mobile phone charger
- Kitchen Appliances
- hair dryer
- air conditioner
- video game system
Step 2: Find out how much energy each option uses
Once you know what you want to power, it’s time to figure out how much energy you need to do it.
The starting point for calculating this is to find out how many watts your device needs to run. This number is usually listed somewhere on the device itself. However, if you only see measurement in amps, you can multiply that number by the project’s voltage to convert it to watts.
Next, you need to choose the number of hours you want to be able to use each device. Then, multiply the number of hours you choose by the wattage for each item. This will give you the total watt-hours required to be able to power each device.
Here is an example:
You want to power two 60-watt bulbs for two hours each. To find the total watt-hour power you need:
- To get total hours: Multiply 2 hours of charge by 2 bulbs. (2 x 2) = 4
- To get total wattage: Multiply 2 bulbs by 60 watts. (2 x 60) = 120
- Multiply them together to calculate the total watt-hours. (4 x 120) = 480
Then, divide your answer by 0.85 to account for a constant energy consumption rate of 85% while the device is charging.
480 watt hours / 0.85 = 564 watt-hours
This results in you needing a power station that can provide at least about 564-watt hours to meet your goal of powering two 60-watt bulbs for 2 hours.
Step 3: Add all your watt-hour answers together
You’ll need to perform the calculations shown in the previous step for each project you want to power with the SOUOP solar generator.
Then just add all the answers together to get the total watt-hours you need from your power station to reach your goal.
For example, let’s say you need 400 watt-hours to power your lights, 300 watt-hours to charge your phone, and 300 watt-hours to charge your laptop. Your total watt-hour requirement is 1,000 (400 + 300 + 300).
Step 4: Determine the Watt Hours You Want for Your Plant
At this stage, you have all the information you need to choose the right portable power station.
Just take your answer from step 3 and compare it to the wattage provided by each power station you look at. Just make sure the power station you choose has a higher wattage than the total watt-hour requirement you calculated in step 3.
The Benefits of Buying a Portable Solar Generator
Portable solar generators are a dynamic backup power option. You can use them at home and on the go. They are intentionally made smaller than dedicated home backup solar generators to provide this flexibility.
Since they have a power station that can be charged using a portable solar panel, you plug the portable solar panel into the power station until it gets charged. Then you can use the power you created on almost any appliance or electronic device you want.
Many people buy portable solar generators to get clean electricity while enjoying the outdoors. Then, as a bonus, they can use the generator as a backup energy source in their home when needed. It’s this versatility that makes portable solar generators so popular.
Solar generators provide clean, renewable energy as a low-maintenance power source anywhere you need it. Whether it’s at home, outdoors, or both. They can be a very worthwhile investment. However, it makes sense to buy the right size for your energy needs.
That’s why SOUOP offers solar generators with various sizes of power stations to ensure you find the one that fits your goals and budget. Always keep in mind which devices you wish to power and for how long.
If you’re not sure how much power you need, we hope this article helped you figure out the right size power station to figure out the right size solar generator for you.
For more information on SOUOP solar generators and the various sizes of power stations that come with them, check out our solar generators page.