How Does a Solar Generator Work?

How Does a Solar Generator Work

If you are a user of a solar generator then you have to know How Does a Solar Generator Work?

As we know solar generator employs solar energy, one of the most environmentally friendly renewable sources of energy.

A solar generator essentially refers to an energy system powered by the sun, i.e., a solar system. It is technically a rechargeable battery that is powered by a solar PV panel. Most solar generators are easy to set up and lightweight.

You might ask, how do solar electricity generators work fundamentally?

The solar generator uses the energy collected from solar irradiation. The fundamental component of a solar generator is the battery. The solar generators employ solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to harness the sun’s energy and store that energy in a rechargeable battery. The other power management apparatus, such as inverters and charge controllers, operate closely with the battery.

Solar generators are turning out to be a definite substitute for traditional fuel-powered generators.

The installation of solar power technology has been growing massively worldwide over the last two decades. Global cumulative solar PV capacity mounted from 1.288 gigawatts in 2000 to 633.7 gigawatts in 2019. [I]

And that begs the question, how do solar generators compare to gas generators or diesel generators?

It depends on the scope, area, and power requirements.

The technological specifications of solar generators are quite different from the conventional fuel-powered ones. Both arrangements have their benefits and deficiencies.

Some solar generators feature remarkably tremendous adaptable and comprehensive traits, unlike the diesel or gasoline generators.

Find out if solar generators are suitable for your demands in the latter part of the article. Get every information about How Does a Solar Generator Work?

 

What is the purpose of a solar electric power generator?

The 2 main advantages of using solar generators are that

⦁ You can take portable solar generators to remote off-grid places. It is a safe choice as the sun shines worldwide and is an unlimited source of energy and, free to extract.

An all-in-one compact solar generator with solar panels, battery, plus inverter, and charge controller allows you to have alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) electricity anytime and anywhere.

⦁ Standby solar generators enhance your property’s resilience in the event of a power outage, overcast, or rainy conditions with little to no sun.

With a balanced system design, the solar generators will keep your electrical device functioning as necessary until the sun returns or power comes back.

How Does a Solar Generator Work

Solar Generator Work

In an ideal setup what are the different types of solar generators?

1. Solar backup (standby) generators 2. Portable solar generators
i. Solar backup generators are valuable during an event of a power outage. They have a high wattage capacity i. They are ideal for operating on the go.
ii. They can power television, fridge, bulbs, fans and a variety of such appliances ii. They are ideal for use while camping, boating, or traveling

In the event of outdoor activities, how do you charge portable generators?

You can charge the solar power rechargeable batteries by power sources other than solar PV panels.

Provided that, the solar generator module comes with several charging cables such as an AC plug, a carport, charging cable, USB outputs, solar panel cable, etc.

They often can be powered through a conventional wall outlet as well.
Are portable solar generators worth it owning for home use, and where will you use the generator?

A solar generator should be regarded as a part of the house’s energy supply arrangement in an ideal situation.

A portable solar generator can provide enough power to operate small electrical tools in off-grid situations, emergency responses, and off-road trips.

The power produced by a solar generator is regulated by the quantity and capacity of solar panels. You can only provide a restricted number of solar panels in the accessible space on the rooftop or your Recreational Vehicle (RV). The energy is not always satisfactory to power everything you need frequently.

So, how can I use a solar generator indoors and outdoors?

What can you run on a solar generator and what you cannot?

Consider a house furnished with a wide range of power-hungry electrical devices such as

i. Stove v. Toaster,
ii. Washing Machine vi. Air-Conditioner
iii. Hairdryer vii. Fridge
iv. Electric heating or any appliance with a heating component viii. Coffee Makers

If the area is entirely off-grid, then can a solar generator power a house?

It is incredibly improbable that a solar generator could power everything considerably. So, you will need a diesel/gasoline generator.

But suppose machines with high power consumption such as air-conditioners and electric heating aren’t used for indefinite hours. In that case, you may be okay with a suitable solar generator.

Solar generators are worth taking
⦁ into parks for employment in entertainment purposes,
⦁ in eventful places and,
⦁ to outdoor activities such as boating trips, camping, fishing, etc.

The traditional generators whereas will diminish the serenity and credibility of any exhibition with their fumes and noises.

 

How to use & maintain a solar generator: What do you need to know?

Solar Panels: How do solar systems produce energy?

⦁ A solar photovoltaic (PV) panel converts photons of the Sun energies into electricity through photovoltaic conversion.

Solar PV panels should be positioned at an inclination angle near the region’s latitude so that the panels get the best exposure to direct sunlight year-round.

The solar panels designed specifically for solar generators are not similar to typical domestic or commercial solar PV panels. These solar panels are built focusing on portability, ease of operation, and wattage capacity.

Conversion efficiency and the size of a solar PV panel in a solar generator are such that it will charge the battery completely with a day’s sunlight

Required solar panel capacity = the energy demand in watt-hour / sufficient sunlight hour (watt)

The lifespan of solar panels

⦁ Solar PV panel technology has come a long way since 1839 when Edmund Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect.

The lifetime of Solar PV panels is now expanded to two decades or even more.

Maintenance of solar panels

⦁ Solar PV panels are non-thermal renewable technology. Some panels require a minimal concentration of water for cleansing. At the same time, some PV panels utilize dry cooling.

Some solar panels can’t withstand hot temperatures in a tropical or sub-tropical climate. The solar PV panels must be kept at a cooler temperature while exposed to maximum sunlight, not restricting the solar PV panels at drawing in an adequate amount of energy.

Battery

⦁ The batteries in a solar generator allow the PV array to function at an ideal power output.

The inconsistent solar energy availability due to cold/cloudy weather conditions makes the rechargeable battery a vital component of the solar system. It stores electricity to supply power on demand.

Battery capacity= Load /Voltage

A 500 Amp hour battery
⦁ will last 500 hours at 1 Amp or,
⦁ 25 hours at 20 Amps

The lifespan of a battery

⦁ The lifespan of a battery depends on parameters such as

i. maximum discharge,
ii. temperature, etc.

The life cycle of typical lead and lithium batteries are:

Lead-acid batteries (cycles) Lithium batteries (cycles)
750 – 1000 2,000

⦁ But the most crucial question is how long it takes to charge a solar generator.

Most solar generator batteries take a long time to charge themselves, even though most modules have several charging options.

Suppose the power output of your panel module is 100 watts. Then it will take a minimum of 9 hours to recharge a medium solar generator battery.

Instead, it would be best to get an appropriately sized battery since the slow charging time is not ideal for emergency circumstances.

⦁ Generally, a lead-acid battery drops voltages significantly when it is connected to a heavy load.

Additionally, its capacity fluctuates under diverse loads.

A lithium battery does not have many such limitations making it an ideal choice for solar generators.

⦁ You do not need a battery if the utility grid functions as a storing facility. In that case, you won’t be able to power up your emergency appliances in the event of cut off from the grid during a power outage

What is the best battery for a solar generator?

Maintenance of battery

⦁ A Solar Generator battery should provide partial and deep slow discharging.

It should not discharge the battery entirely, i.e., 100%, as it can damage your storage device. You should rather use less than 50% of energy for a better lifespan of the batteries.

For efficient performance, you may employ a user-friendly battery management system that will regulate the temperatures.

You must not combine a lead-acid battery with a lithium battery for creating a robust storing facility, i.e., “Chaining.”

 

Inverter

⦁ Energy from the battery goes through an inverter before it reaches the appliances to power them up.

Devices such as AC refrigerators, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc., employ alternating current (AC) for their operation.

A solar generator inverter converts the direct current (DC) power into AC power. They transform low volt DC to standard 120 / 220-volt AC electricity.

You do not need an inverter if there’s no AC load exists.

 

Maintenance of inverter

⦁ Inverters rating suggests the maximum watt you can withdraw at a time from the solar generators. For instance, a 2500-watt inverter lets you bring in up to that watt in AC electricity.

On the other hand, you must not withdraw the maximum watt from an inverter. It drains the lead-acid batteries more rapidly.

 

Charge Controller

⦁ The electricity from solar PV panels runs across a charge controller that permits an appropriate amount of power to flow to the rechargeable battery.

The critical function of the charge controller is to safeguard the endurance of the batteries. Overcharging the battery often degrades its quality by a margin.

The charge controller lets you know when the battery requires charging. It also notifies you if the battery is overcharging.

⦁ A charge controller with a limited voltage input scale will limit the expandability of power.

A pulse-width charge controller will restrict your solar generator to be less portable and less efficient. A maximum power point tracker (MPPT) solar generator charge controller on the other hand, efficiently captures the solar radiation.

The minimum ampere capacity = Amperes (sum of all appliances without motors) x 1.5

 

Maintenance of charge controller

⦁ Being the brain of the solar generator, the sustainability of the charge controller is of great importance.

You should use the MPPT charge controllers if

⦁ the system requires higher power with 2 or more solar PV panels or,

⦁ the solar PV panel voltage is much higher than the battery voltage.

 

Solar PV input: Will you get enough sun hours?

A solar generator may not collect sufficient energy due to winter or weather conditions. If gloomy weather (limited sun hours) persists for a couple of days, the solar power will drop significantly from its rated output.

When you are buying a solar generator, the most crucial factor is a balanced system design. For that, you need to

⦁ recognize the atmospheric pattern at that location and

⦁ identify your required daily power consumption.

Suppose you are in a remote off-grid area and have a substantial power requirement for fridges, lighting, televisions (TVs), water pumps, etc. In that case, it’s rather unlikely that a solar generator could completely power a house.

Often diesel or gas is more readily available in some parts of the world. In many cases, a solar generator can’t entirely substitute a conventional generator.

Do solar generators really work with heavy power apparatuses that run continuously? Although solar generators struggle in such circumstances, you can keep in mind that they are a great option to supplement your necessary power requirement.

 

Determining the energy demands: How much power do you need in watt-hour?

A decent solar generator is of utmost importance if you are employing a broad range of electrical appliances.

For instance,

Appliances Watt Hour
(Power rating of the appliances x time, i.e., hours to run)
Fan 50-Watt x 3 hrs.
= 150
Television 60-Watt x 3 hrs.
= 180
  Total Watt Hour
= 330

If we consider a 30% loss during the processes,

Total Watt Hour becomes = 330 – {330 x (30/100)}
= 231

A 231 Watt-hour solar generator can supply

– 231 Watts of power uninterruptedly for 1 hour. Or,

– 21 Watts of power to a small device like a dim light for 11 hours, etc.

 

Pros and cons of a solar generator

A solar generator is an alternative to traditional diesel or gas generators. Which is a better portable power alternative – solar generator or conventional fuel-powered generator?

Let’s find out what are the pros and cons of a solar generator.

 

PROS: Benefits of a solar generator

i. Environmentally friendly: No toxic and noxious fumes

Conventional generators discharge greenhouse gasses- carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

They can pose a severe threat to our health and cause severe damage to the atmosphere.

A solar generator doesn’t emit hazardous fumes and is environmentally sustainable.

ii. Silent: No Noise- Clean and quiet operation

Solar generators are noiseless and don’t produce smelly gasses as the conventional fossil fuel-powered generators.

iii. Maintenance-free: Low Running Costs

A solar generator works autonomously. There’s no engine involved in the basic construction of a solar generator. You don’t have to change any filters furthermore.

Since a solar generator doesn’t have any moving parts, it requires minimal maintenance. There’s barely any broken piece of equipment that you need to replace or repair.

iv. Lightweight 

Solar generators neither have to carry any engine (except for the battery) nor any fuel-filled tank.

Nevertheless, suppose you want to meet a higher power requirement.

In that case, the conventional fuel-powered generator becomes a more lightweight selection than the solar generator ones.

The larger the requirements for power, the lesser the portability of the solar generator.

 

 CONS: What are the 2 main disadvantages of solar energy?

i. Inconsistent energy supply

Clouds or the seasonal cycle dictates the system. A solar generator doesn’t perform well if the climatic settings are unpromising.

Traditional generators (diesel/gasoline) can support thoroughly if the power outages settle for a long time.

ii. Slow Charging: Limited power supply

The recharging time of solar generator batteries is often relatively slow and varies with temperature, weather, etc.

Gas or diesel-powered generator supplies steady power so long as the tank is not empty. A solar generator can’t generate electricity without delay.

 

Weighing against solar power vs. backup generator

The dependency of solar generators on solar radiation during daytime and relatively slower recharge time restricts solar generators’ usability as a standby system.

Considering the potential drawback, why are solar generators so expensive?

There is a significant transformation in solar generators in the last couple of years. The solar generator market is expanding steadily.

  • Small solar generators have a capacity range of 10-250 watts, and medium solar generators have a capacity range of 250-1,000 watts.
  • You cannot often implement solar generators in a diverse set of applications. The variety of solar generators tends to be in the more exclusive class.

Even after all that, diesel or gas price points frequently vary versus the steady “fuel cost” of solar generators.

 

A brief buying guide

The solar generators available in the market are capable of powering everything from your hairdryer to your notepads. So, what are the best solar generators available in the market?

Eco-Worthy Jackery OG Solar HQST Goal Zero

⦁ Top reviewed solar generator kit: do you have solar generator kits that include everything?

You will have choices for buying apparatuses like solar PV panels, batteries, and inverters separately.

You may find purchasing the base parts of a DIY (Do It Yourself) solar generator and putting the components together rather more complicated.

Then, you can buy many solar generators in the market as a complete package.

Some of the best solar generator products include everything in an all “all-in-one” Solar Generator Kit.

How do I choose a solar generator if I’m purchasing one?

– If you’re buying a solar generator, then the first thing you must know is how much electricity can a solar generator produce. The solar generators in the market can generate 900 – 5,000 watts of power in an hour.

Here is a list of 5 key attributes (Tips & Tricks) on how to find the best portable solar generator

1. MPPT technology The solar generator must include maximum power point tracking (MPPT) tech. It enables the PV module to produce the best power and charges the rechargeable battery.
2. Free of corrosion The solar panels that come with the package must have corrosion-free attributes.
3. Temperature Sensitivity It is better if the solar generator kit contains a cooling system that checks the overheating phenomenon
4. User-friendliness It should be a travel-friendly and lightweight package for a traveler. The traveler must not expect much additional preparation
5. Solar panel It must be a comprehensive package. The product must come with the brand’s solar panel and inverter since various brands use unique branded connectors.

Conclusion

Considering the pros and cons of solar generators, you will see diesel, gas, or solar; all three generators have an upfront materials expense.

Bearing in mind, the mechanical failure of conventional generators will cost you quite often.

And their consumption of fuel will supplement an endless running charge as opposed to solar generators.

There is an abundant and persistent supply of solar energy in many regions. With the prerequisite engineering and economical solutions, solar generators can meet all our crucial energy requirements for the future.

Summary

Diesel and gasoline generators need to be serviced frequently. The shaking in a fuel-powered generator causes sound pollution and troubles the neighbors and wildlife.

You do not need to refuel your solar generator, and it is maintenance-free among many other countless such properties.

The initial investment for a solar-powered generator is more significant than for a conventional fuel-powered generator.

You can consider buying it if you have consistent & lengthy sun hours in your area.

So, the question to ask yourself is, is a solar generator right for you? I hope this article “how does a solar generator work” is helpful for you.

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