Are you someone who’s always on the road for camping or fishing trips or maybe just a general RV enthusiast? Or maybe you’re someone who likes to be prepared in case of emergencies? Either way, a solar generator kit should be on your list of must haves.
What is a solar generator kit?
A solar generator kit is a more environmentally friendly alternative to a gas generator. It serves as a huge battery that can be used as a power source for key appliances for a certain amount of time. Solar generators use solar panels to capture the sun’s energy and store it for later use. However, the name may be a bit of a misnomer as more and more solar generator kits available in the market are capable of being recharged through other methods, such as wind power or by simply plugging it in a socket.
With such features and portability, it’s easy to see why it’s important to consider owning a solar generator kit.
The Pros and Cons
One major con of solar generator kits are the upfront costs. A basic kit can cost you around $1,000 while a complete solar generator system can cost $2,000 upwards, depending on the specifications. There is an option for a DIY kit, but not everyone has the patience, time, or expertise to make one themselves. And with any kind of technological DIY, there’s always a risk to both finances and safety. So, it’s always best (and more convenient) to purchase a solar generator kit with a good warranty deal.
The upfront costs may not be ideal, but the lower operating costs make up for it. You’ll be spending less in the long run.
Another thing to consider when it comes to these kits is their limitation. They’re not a total alternative to the power grid. They serve as a backup power supply and will not be able to fully power the entire household. Handy for powering up important gadgets such as phones, laptops, and refrigerators during an emergency. Solar generator kits would also need recharging. One 100 watt solar panel can take almost a day to fully charge up a large battery unit. Luckily, complete kits come with more than just one solar panel, helping speed up the recharging time.
With the ever-increasing need for cleaner and more efficient power sources, and not to mention the effects of natural disasters in recent years, the pros of owning a solar generator kit might just outweigh the cons.
Compared to traditional gas, diesel or fuel powered generators, solar generators do not create the electricity. This makes them quieter when running. And because their process is simpler, they do not have moving parts. This lowers the chances of having parts break down, which means minimal to no repair costs. It also does not have a lot of maintenance requirements. A clean place to store it should do as well as having the battery connected to a power source every now and then. And with a power source readily free and available, there’s no need to purchase fuel every now and then.
What makes a complete solar generator kit?
Browsing the types of solar generators for the first time can be overwhelming. Not only are there a lot of options to choose from, but there are different kits and systems as well. Think of them as similar in concept to Pokemon evolutions. There are different types of builds depending on the intended use, from the smallest, most portable generator used to charge up phones on camping trips to larger ones that can store more energy to power up certain areas of the house in case of black outs.
The basic components that make up a solar generator kit are solar panels, solar generator/battery, inverter, and a charge controller. Some solar generators do have all-in-one designs that includes the inverter and charger controller in the battery.
If the intended use is for off the grid trips and portability is the main concern, a smaller generator with one or two solar panels would suffice. But if the intended use is to have a power back up at home, then you need to pick a system with a medium to large generator with a larger capacity and more than one solar panel. There are options that meet somewhere in the middle that can be used on the go or at home, but the choice will ultimately depend on the usage and the buyer’s lifestyle.
Other considerations before making a purchase
To narrow down your choices when looking at solar generators, it is important to note the following details:
- Wattage and capacity. List down the appliances and gadgets you’re planning to use with the generator to get an idea how much power you’ll be needing. Multiply the total wattage of these devices with the time you’ll need to run them (estimated). You should be getting a generator with a watt-hour capacity larger than the number you got. Also note that the full capacity of a generator may not be fully utilized as there are factors to consider. Temperatures below 32 degrees can affect battery capacity and appliances with motors such as refrigerators and fans would also need a surge of extra power to start them. So it’s always wise to go for a larger capacity, just in case.
- Charging Time. As mentioned, depending on the size of the generator and the power supplies available, charging times might take a while. Environmental factors can also affect charging capabilities. For example, you might not be able to charge during freezing temperatures and cloudy weather might not be ideal as you’ll need direct sunlight. Choosing a generator that uses sources other than solar power to recharge would be best.
- Inverter Types. Inverters are the devices that transform direct current (DC) power into alternating current (AC) power that enable generators to power up appliances. There are two types of inverters: a modified sine wave and a pure sine wave. A modified sine wave is usually the more economical option but a pure sine wave, while more expensive, can deliver the highest quality of energy.
- Battery Types. Solar generators can use either lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries. Lead acid are more inexpensive but lithium-ion are batteries are lighter and more portable. Lithium-ion batteries, however, do have a shelf life of 2-3 years before they break down dramatically.
- Solar Panel types. Solar panels can either be polycrystalline or monocrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are bluish in color and are the cheaper option while polycrystalline are black. The latter are more efficient but are the more expensive type.
Choosing a solar generator might be overwhelming at first, but once you’re established your energy needs and where you’ll be using it, it gets easier.
One brand to look into that combines the best of both worlds of affordable price and quality would be Nature’s Generator, who always offers the best value. With a 1,800W to 7200W capacity, it will fit your needs, whether be it on the road or for an emergency at home. The units also use pure sine wave inverters to deliver the highest quality of energy while also using monocrystalline solar panels and lead acid batteries for durability and to make sure you won’t have to break the bank for a good backup power source. They have different types of kits and systems that are perfect depending on your energy needs—from very portable kits to a complete back up for your home.
Another good thing about Nature’s Generator systems is it also has an option to get a wind turbine as an alternative renewable energy source to the solar panels. This makes it easier to charge your generators when windy. When these two are not suitable, you can also charge the generator via an AC outlet.
For more information on Nature’s Generator systems and how we can help you solve your power needs, contact Nature's Generator here.
* We want to give credit where credit is due. Professional writer, Gisella Salabao, contributed research and content to this blog titled: Solar Generator Kit Thank you, Gisella, for your contributions!