Power generators, whether small portable items or large-scale units are an essential solution for off-grid applications and during power outages. We need to know that there is a reliable source of energy for essential appliances in these times of need. Solar power generators quickly overtook gas generators as the most effective and beneficial solution for these events.
Gas and other fossil fuels are problematic during natural disasters, that solar alternative energy approaches are the only option.
- Why are solar generators much more appealing?
- What should consumers look for when choosing the best solar backup generator?
- Which are the better models around?
There is a rising need for solar generators in homes around the world. Here you can read Solargenerator.guide’s review of the GoalZero Yeti 1250, our number one pick for a reliable solar power pack for home backup use. See our review below among other options.
A recent increase in adverse weather events and major disasters shows that solar power generators are no luxury anymore. It seems that the news is constantly full of stories about natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms, and floods.
The US and Caribbean are still reeling from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Waters rise across Asia in relentless flooding. At the time of writing this guide, a catastrophic earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Mexico. This means countless homes and districts without access to grid-based power. The threat of further storms and blackouts means that consumers need to be aware of their options. A solar-powered backup generator is a must for off-grid power in these situations.
Why Solar Power and Not Gas Power?
There is a strong leaning towards alternative energy sources for these emergency generators, especially solar power, over gas generators. There are multiple reasons for this. The first is the need to cut fossil fuel emissions as much as possible. We don’t want to add more to the atmosphere during these relief attempts.
There is no doubt that fossil fuels are to blame for this escalation in the main global disasters. Climate change is hitting the world hard, and these relentless storms are a sign of the damage caused. This is one of many perfect opportunities to embrace solar and alternative energy generation.
There are some potential benefits in making that switch to solar from gas-powered generators. Clean energy has its long-term benefits for the environment, but there are also short-term benefits in the lack of fumes and noise emitted. There are also economic benefits as this system can be cheaper in the long run. An extensive kit or large-scale generator may be expensive upfront, but the running costs are minimal with the right parts. There is no need to run out and buy fuel to keep topping it up. As long as there is access to sunlight and a good battery onboard, it will provide power.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some downsides and considerations to make before making that switch to solar.
There is something familiar and simple about a gas generator, and this is essentially an emergency. The first problem with solar generators is that they can seem complicated to first-timers. This applies especially to those that decide to build a generator from a DIY kit. This requires a knowledge of all the right parts and requirements of the household for the best result. It also requires the confidence to wire everything up and install it in the best position.
There are plenty of small-scale devices and kits out there that users can adapt to suit their needs. Many experienced users love this approach because of the scope for customization and improvements down the line. Many people turn to companies like Renogy, who provide the panels, charge controllers, batteries and other components for a personalized approach. Some buyers may try and find the middle ground with one of their kits, such as the Phoenix, but they have their limitations.
Many of these portable kits are best suited for outdoor applications, like camping and backpacking.
So what features and benefits should consumers look for with the best solar-powered backup generator?
Many highly-rated alternative energy generators share many of the same benefits and considerations for the user. Ideally, the model that you choose will cover the following factors with ease and reliability.
The Power Supply:
The first thing to look at is the use of panels. How many have the makers included in the box, how powerful are they and what type of cells are in use. The more panels you have, and the better the mounting equipment, the easier it is to capture the sunlight. Many prefer Monocrystalline panels over polycrystalline panels because they are more efficient and often better made.
The Battery Capacity:
A good battery is essential in these emergency situations. The panels allow users to capture energy from the sun over the course of the day, but the battery stores it up for a continual supply of electricity. A high capacity lithium-ion battery is essential for reliable performance.
The Power Outlets and Charging Inputs:
Buyers also have to consider the different ports on the side of the generator. There are some generators with a range of options for AC and DC charging, with some specific outlets for electronic devices and others for a more direct flow to the home. It is also important to look at the inputs for charging the battery of the generator when there is no sunlight. Is there a wall outlet to charge the device between blackouts? What about a 12V option for the car?
The Safety Features:
All solar powered generators need to be safe to use, both regarding the current of electricity and the safety of users. Look out for features of security and an effective current converter with protection against short-circuiting and surges.
Extra Features for Ease of Use:
Some generators are more user-friendly than others. LCDs are a helpful tool for anyone that struggles to understand the status of the operation. There are also some devices that have apps and smartphone connectivity for remote operation.
Finally, there is the issue of portability. How easy is it to relocate this generator between sites? Many small, lighter models have a carry case to make things easier. Some larger models have strong wheels and handle to drag them around with, a little like a suitcase.
Finding The Best Possible Solar Power Generators For Your Needs
It is better to go for a model that is the equivalent of a plug and play option than a kit. This is especially true for newcomers. This approach means less time fiddling with compatible panels and wires and figuring out the right battery to use. Buy a model with everything including where you are sure that the output will suit your needs. The following five examples all have their benefits for new users.
1) Goal Zero Yeti 1250
(Source: Brad Herder)
Goal Zero is a name that many consumers immediately turn to when searching for the ideal solar generator. The Yeti range covers different needs with well-made generators with different power outputs and features. The Yeti 1250 is one that many immediately recommend for emergency backup for home because of the quality, reliability, and power for large-scale application. It has a 100Ah 1200Wh battery and is compatible with Boulder solar panels. This allows for a charging time of 40-80 hours with two panels.
There is also the opportunity to charge the system via an AC or 12v charger. This system has impressed many users regarding the performance, power, and capacity. The only issue here is portability. It has poor quality wheels and a flimsy handle, both of which are a problem on rough ground.
2) Wagan EL2547 Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus
The Wagan EL2547 Cube looks like a beast of a machine in comparison to the Goal Zero Yeti and some other, smaller machine. This cube folds out to reveal a series of five built-in mono-crystalline panels for a total of 80 watts. It also contains two AC outlets, two DC outlets and two USB ports to increase the functionality. The true appeal here with this cube is that it is expandable.
Buyers can start out with the basic structure and battery output and upgrade it as they see fit. This is ideal for those unsure of their precise needs – especially if calculations prove misguided during a storm. Other benefits of this system include the LED display and surprising level of portability. It has all-terrain wheels and a heavy-duty handle that add to the user-friendly feel of this machine.
3) Helios 2800W Solar Generator
The Helios 2800W Solar Generator is a device for all those that favor power over other conveniences. The specification of this machine shows that there is plenty of power behind the system for reliable performance in the worst blackouts. The unit offers a minimum output of 2800W AC power and can safely surge to as much as 4800W when required. When it finally does run out of power from the battery supply, users can charge it back up via the 1750W battery charger.
Nice additional features help to improve the performance and convenience for users, such as the cooling fans for temperature regulation and the MPPT solar panel tracking. This is one of the more expensive options around, but the power, reliability, and adaptability mean it could be a good investment in at-risk areas.
4) BePrepared Solar 5000W Heavy Duty Solar Generator
Some of the products mentioned in this list place portability a little lower down their list of priorities. This is because many are larger, heavier items that might not be best suited for transportation. Others, like the BePrepared Solar 5000W Heavy Duty Solar Generator, make sure to balance a powerful, rugged system with a portable design.
All of the elements of this system folded up into a handy case for storage and transported as needed. This includes the two 100W solar panels and the 5000W battery pack. Users will appreciate the balance in benefits here. It is pretty ugly, with the bulky plastic box, large locks on the lid and cables coming out. The Goal Zero range is sleek and attractive by comparison. However, how much do these looks matter during an emergency?
5) Zamp Solar Power Pack 1000W Solar Generator
The last model to consider here is one that puts plenty of emphasis on the strength of the design and materials used – not just the battery. The designers say that they built this device to last a lifetime thanks to the use of 16 gauge steel, strong fasteners and the lockable panel for the electrical access panel.
Despite this heavy-duty feel, this is also light enough to carry via the handles or mount on the brackets. This system contains a 1000W pure sine wave inverter, LED readout and multiple ways to recharge the battery once depleted. Users also appreciate the fact that the battery is replaceable, unlike many models with built-in batteries.
The five models above are just a small selection of the options that are available from these brands and their competitors. It is important that all consumers take the time to research their needs and options before buying fully. Take the time to compare specifications to ensure that a system is compatible. Also, take the time to read user reviews for a better idea of the reliability and ease of use of each option.
The right alternative energy generator could prove to be a sound investment for many families.
The increased frequency of these major storms and hurricanes shows that we cannot become complacent. We need to understand the risks of damage and blackouts. It is better to prepare for the worst with a reliable solar powered backup generator. This way we can maintain some form of energy supply during these periods. ‘
Gas generators still work, but they are unappealing options compared to these safer solar options. The best solar models above all share the benefits of a strong power supply, high capacity battery and user-friendly features for a convenient, reliable performance. It is time to give up on fossil fuel generators and invest in this green alternative. It will increase our peace of mind with the knowledge that there is a solution to blackouts if another storm comes along.