In our hyper-connected world, living off-grid can seem very appealing. But, even some of our basic necessities, such as lights and furnaces, require electricity. Therefore, keeping these necessities in our lives is why owning a solar generator can be the perfect solution for off-grid living with all the luxuries. So, join us as we learn more about solar generators and reveal some of the best products on the market.
What Is a Solar Generator?
A solar generator is a machine that converts solar energy into electricity. Solar generators have integral solar panels that collect the sun’s rays and then convert that energy into electricity stored in a battery system. You can then access this stored energy to power or charge your multiple devices.
These devices are basically a small version of an off-grid setup you would see on the roof of a home or RV. They all include the same components, but the term “solar generator” has been coined to designate an all-in-one solution.
What Benefits Does a Solar Generator Have for Off-Grid Living?
There are quite a few benefits to using a solar generator while living off-grid. First, the energy is free and easy. You can use your generator anywhere there is the sun–so pretty much anywhere. And you don’t need to worry about filling tanks or burning fossil fuels.
And the fact that you don’t need to replace any fuel makes a solar generator’s running cost inexpensive. There are also relatively no maintenance costs, and any necessary repairs usually have lower prices.
Another benefit of solar generators is they’re lighter and more easily portable than their gas-powered counterparts. Gas-powered generators can weigh up to 250 lbs, making it very difficult for the average individual to move, especially on their own. But some of the best solar generators for off-grid living weigh significantly less.
What Size Solar Generator Do I Need for Off-Grid Living?
The size of the solar generator depends on the size of the devices you’ll be powering. If you plan to power an entire recreational vehicle or cabin, including climate control, you’ll need a large generator–maybe even multiple. But if you only want to turn a light on occasionally or keep your food cold, your generator needs will be much smaller.
In general solar generators are intended for smaller power applications and full-blown permanent solar system installs are a better and more cost-effective option for larger applications.
To calculate the size of the generator, first, know your power needs–add up the wattage for each appliance you intend to use then multiply it for the number of hours. Then, add 20 percent to this calculation as a safety margin. Finally, divide your safety margin calculation by 0.8 to determine the generator’s size.
For example, if your total power needs equal 2kWh, you’ll multiply 2 by 1.20 to get 2.4kWh. Then, divide that number by 0.8 to get 3kVA. In this instance, you’ll need a generator with a minimum capacity of 3kVA.
Pro Tip: The above method is a quick and easy calculation but if you want a more in-depth look at calculating solar needs check out our article How much solar power do you need for your RV or Home?
Features to Look for in a Good Solar Generator
When seeking an excellent solar generator, there are a few features to look for. Battery type and capacity, inverter, power output, and price are just a few essential factors. Let’s look at each in more detail.
Battery capacity describes how many watts your battery will store. Obviously, the larger the battery capacity, the more electricity it can store and the longer it can power your devices before recharging. Good battery capacity also lets you run your generator at night or on cloudy days.
The two main types of batteries are lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are superior to lead-acid in almost all ways. They have better battery capacity and longevity, and are safer and more affordable if you consider the long-term investment.
Your battery puts out a low direct current (DC) which must be converted to alternating current (AC) if you want to run power to your devices. If you have an appliance that requires DC, then an inverter may not be necessary. However, these are rare, and most devices run on AC, which means you’ll need a suitable inverter.
It’s best to get a model with a verified pure sine inverter with high efficiency. This means it creates a cleaner power similar to your home and will use less battery doing it.
The power output must be closely equal to energy needs. Therefore, ensuring the correct power output is directly connected to properly sizing your generator. If your power output is lower than your energy needs, you will not have enough power to run all your devices.
Price is always an important factor in choosing a new solar generator. Ideally, you’ll find an affordable option without sacrificing quality. You also need to include installation costs when calculating the overall price.
As a general rule, don’t go with the cheapest or most expensive models. Look for a middle-range product with great reviews.
5 Best Solar Generators for Off-Grid Living
Now that we know more about solar generators and how to find a high-quality product, let’s consider some of our favorite and best solar generators on the market today.
Pro Tip: Want to use some solar power while on your next camping trip? We uncovered Camping Solar Panels: An Overview of Your Best Options.
1. ECOFLOW DELTA
- Recharge from 0% to 80% within 1 Hour. 0-80% in under one hour....
- Huge 1.2kWh Capacity. Portability doesn't have to sacrifice...
- Power Almost Anything. DELTA's huge AC output can even support...
About EcoFlow Delta: The ECO FLOW DELTA solar generator is a super-efficient model that you can recharge using solar panels, an AC adapter, and a car charger. And you can charge it to 80 percent capacity in just one hour. It also comes with a 24-month guarantee and fantastic customer service.
2. BLUETTI AC200P
- [Power Monster] - With the remarkable 2000Wh of capacity and a...
- [3500+ Life Cycles to 80%] - The ultra-safe LiFePO4 battery cells...
- [Efficient Recharging Rate] - AC200P supports up to 700W solar...
About Bluetti AC200P: The BLUETTI AC200P has excellent battery capacity and inverter capabilities. It can power up to lots of devices simultaneously, including the most power-sucking appliances, such as refrigerators, AC units, and microwaves.
3. Goal Zero Yeti 3000X
- HIGH CAPACITY: With 3,032Wh, power your life at work, at home,...
- HOME BACKUP: Back up your home with power from your Yeti 3000X....
- RECHARGE WITH SOLAR: Maximize your solar input with Goal Zero’s...
About Goal Zero Yeti 3000X: The Goal Zero Yeti provides professional-grade power that’s built to last. Successfully tested in multiple environments, the yeti can power multiple devices simultaneously. And, it has one of the best inverters on the market. Basically, you can power anything that plugs into a conventional outlet with this generator.
4. Jackery Explorer 1000
- Clean and Unlimited Solar Energy: 100% green energy with smart...
- Easy to Use in Seconds: Just one simple touch to finish setup...
- Safe & Reliable for Outdoor Camping: Features industry-leading...
About Jackery Explorer 1000: The Jackery Explorer provides quiet, clean, easy energy for off-grid living. It has a massive battery capacity and power output to run your major appliances and smaller devices.
Learn more about What Is A Jackery?
5. Westinghouse iGen600s
- VERSATILE OUTLETS CHARGE UP TO 8 DEVICES AT THE SAME TIME:...
- HOURS & HOURS OF POWER ON A SINGLE CHARGE: 596 Watt-Hours of...
- MORE COMPACT THAN A 5 QT. MINI COOLER: At 11.3 lb. Lighter Than a...
About Westinghouse iGen600s: The Westinghouse IGen600s solar generator is the best budget-friendly option. It provides hours of electricity and can charge up to eight devices simultaneously. It also has an LED data center with information on wattage and battery levels information.
Choose the Best Solar Generator for Off-Grid Power
When living off-grid, there are always things that need electricity, whether for necessities or life’s little luxuries. But, having the best solar generator for off-grid living can keep the lights on while you enjoy the best parts of the lifestyle. It’s all about choosing the generator that’s best for your off-grid needs.
Which generator do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
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