|

What Size Solar Generator Do I Need?

I have reviewed several portable power stations and solar generators recently, but one area I want to dive deeper into is calculating the size and wattage of the generator you need.

The importance of reliable power has never been more evident. Whether it’s for everyday conveniences, emergency preparedness, or sustainable living, finding the right source of energy can be a pivotal decision.

Choosing the right size solar generator is crucial to ensure it efficiently meets your power needs. The size of the generator you need depends on several factors, including your power requirements, location, and how you plan to use it. In my real-world guide, I will explain how to determine the size of the solar generator you need, with examples of what it can power in various scenarios.

1. Calculate Your Power Requirements:

Before you choose the size of your solar generator, you need to determine your power requirements. Make a list of all the appliances and devices you intend to power using the generator. For each item, note its wattage, which can typically be found on a label or in the product’s user manual.

Example Appliances and Their Wattages:

  • Laptop: 50-100 watts
  • LED TV: 50-200 watts
  • Refrigerator: 100-800 watts (varies by size and efficiency)
  • Microwave: 600-1200 watts
  • Air Conditioner: 1000-5000 watts

2. Estimate Daily Energy Usage:

Once you have a list of your appliances and their wattages, estimate how many hours each item will be in use during a typical day. Multiply the wattage by the number of hours to calculate the daily energy consumption for each device.

Example:

  • Laptop (100 watts) used for 4 hours: 100 watts x 4 hours = 400 watt-hours (Wh) per day

3. Total Daily Energy Consumption:

Add up the daily energy consumption for all your devices to find the total daily energy requirements. This will give you an estimate of how much energy your solar generator needs to produce in a day.

Example:

  • Laptop (400 Wh) + LED TV (300 Wh) + Refrigerator (1200 Wh) = 1900 Wh or 1.9 kWh per day

4. Account for Efficiency and Extra Capacity:

Solar generators are not 100% efficient, and you should account for losses due to conversion and storage. A good rule of thumb is to add about 20-30% extra capacity to your daily energy consumption estimate to ensure your generator can meet your needs, especially on cloudy days.

Example:

  • 1.9 kWh + 30% = 2.47 kWh per day

5. Consider Your Location:

Your location plays a significant role in determining the size of the solar generator you need. Sunlight availability varies by region and season. Use tools like solar irradiance maps or consult local solar experts to understand how much sunlight you can expect in your area.

6. Battery Capacity:

The battery capacity of your solar generator is critical. It should be large enough to store the excess energy generated during sunny days for use during cloudy or nighttime periods.

7. Portability vs. Stationary:

Consider whether you need a portable solar generator for outdoor activities or a stationary system for backup power at home. Portable generators are typically smaller in capacity.

8. Examples of Solar Generator Sizes and What They Can Power:

Small Portable Generator (300-500 Wh):

  • Charging small electronics (phones, tablets).
  • Powering LED lighting.
  • Running small household appliances such as:
    • Desk fans.
    • Electric razors.
    • Cordless phone chargers.
    • CPAP machines for sleep apnea patients.
  • Providing power for outdoor activities, camping, or picnics.
  • Running a portable speaker or radio.

Medium Portable Generator (1000-1500 Wh):

  • Charging multiple devices simultaneously (phones, tablets, laptops).
  • Running a LED TV and a laptop.
  • Providing backup power for a mini-fridge or small chest freezer.
  • Powering a microwave for quick heating of meals.
  • Running small power tools like drills and saws.
  • Keeping a fish tank or aquarium running.
  • Running small space heaters in cold weather.
  • Charging electric scooters or e-bikes.

Home Backup System (5-10 kWh or more):

  • Powering essential appliances during an outage:
    • Refrigerator.
    • Lights throughout the house.
    • Televisions and entertainment systems.
    • Heating or cooling systems (depending on capacity).
    • Washing machines and dryers.
  • Running power tools for home improvement or DIY projects.
  • Charging electric vehicles (EVs) overnight.
  • Powering water pumps for wells or irrigation.
  • Running larger space heaters or air conditioners.
  • Running a home office with multiple computers and printers.
  • Charging power-hungry devices like electric lawnmowers.

Off-Grid Cabin or Remote Area (10-20 kWh or more)

  • Providing power for an entire off-grid home or cabin.
  • Running heavy-duty appliances like large refrigerators, freezers, and ovens.
  • Powering a water heater for showers and cooking.
  • Operating well pumps for a water supply.
  • Running large power tools for construction or workshops.
  • Charging multiple electric vehicles or a fleet of electric tools and equipment.
  • Supporting a home with a full complement of electrical needs, including air conditioning and heating, without reliance on the grid.

Remember that your specific needs may vary, so it’s essential to customize the size of your solar generator to match your individual requirements. Regularly monitor your energy consumption and adjust your setup if necessary to ensure it meets your needs effectively. Investing in a solar generator that suits your needs will provide you with reliable and sustainable power for years to come.

Bestseller No. 1
Jackery Solar Generator 1000, 1002Wh Capacity with 2xSolarSaga 100W Solar Panels, 3x1000W AC Outlets, Portable Power Station Ideal for Home Backup, Emergency, RV Outdoor Camping Black, Orange
  • Clean and Unlimited Solar Energy: 100% green energy with smart MPPT controller for optimal charging efficiency. The power station can be fully charged with 2 Jackery SolarSaga 100W solar panels within 8 hrs(0-100%) or only 5.5 hrs (0-80%) via AC wall outlet charging. Ideal for your camping or home backup.
  • Easy to Use: The ergonomic shape of the handle grants an ease grip. And use in one touch with simple and speedy setup within 60s to enjoy outstanding charging efficiency.
  • Safe & Reliable for Outdoor Camping: Features industry-leading cylindrical batteries (popular with manufacturers of Electric Vehicles) that meet UL safety standards. Certified with Impact-Resistance Class 9, passing the UL drop test (withstanding 3 drops from 0.9m height on any surface). The pure sine wave inverter delivers constant voltage that protects equipment from damage.
  • Power Pretty Much Anything: Power 90% home appliances with 1002Wh (1000W AC output power) and 8 outlets (3*AC outlet, 1*USB-A , 1*USB-A quick charge 3.0, 2*USB-C PD, 1*Car outlet).
  • Quiet & Strong: At a such large capacity, this Explorer will make virtually no noise, giving you the peace and power all at once. Extra bonus for the built – unlike most other portable generators, this supports pass-through charging while its battery life is protected.
Bestseller No. 2
Takki 88Wh Solar Generator Camping Portable Power Station with Solar Panels 21W Included, 120W Peak Solar Charger Power Bank AC DC USB Ports for Camping Emergency Tent Outdoor Trip
  • 【Solar Powered Generator】The combination of Takki portable power station S81 with Takki 21W solar panel is ideal for outdoor camping activities, off-grid or power outage where charging is not possible. Portable solar power bank kits is your great choice for tent camping, backpacking, hiking, camping essentials, camping gear, survival gear, emergency supplies, backpacking gear and etc.
  • 【Solar Power Bank with Panel】The large capacity solar charger power bank(88.8Wh, equivalent to 24,000mAh) can work as an ideal battery backup emergency power supply for home or outdoor activities, power for most of your electronic devices, such as phones, camping lights, small fan, laptop, mini car fridge.
  • 【High-Efficiency Solar Conversion】Takki 21W foldable solar panel charger with a high-efficiency conversion up to 23%, with 10 DC different size of connectors, perfectly compatible with the S81, a portable power station with AC outlets, 12V DC output, multiple USB ports and Type-C output. Help you deal with unexpected power run out to meet your needs.
  • 【Compact and Portable】Takki solar generator and 21W solar panels are designed for mobility, both are compact in size. The power station is ‎5.7 x 4.13 x 3 inches and weighs 2.29 lbs. The solar panel is only 1.46lbs, when unfolded (17.2 x 12.6 in), when folded(12.6 x 8.6 in), combination packs can be packed into your backpack for travel or hiking.
  • 【Camping Flashlight】This portable generator is built with a 3-level brightness LED flashlight and 2-level brightness light panel, press the LED flashlight switch to change the brightness and SOS mode, and the light switch to change the brightness. This battery generator with light is a great choice for camping essentials, power failure, emergency kit, office supplies, hiking gear and cool gadgets gift to meet your different needs.
Bestseller No. 3
Portable Solar Generator, 300W Portable Power Station with Foldable 60W Solar Panel, 110V Pure Sine Wave, 280Wh Lithium Battery Pack with DC AC Outlet for Home Use RV Outdoor Camping Adventure
  • 🌍【Portable Generator with 60W Solar Panel Included】with a 280Wh superior lithium-ion battery pack, ZeroKor 300W power stations are powerful enough to charge smartphone,tablets,laptops,headphones or other outdoor Small Camping supplies (Tips:Using electrical appliances over 300W may damage the portable generator, especially some devices that are prone to heat or built-in air compressor such as coffee maker,Hair dryer, water pump etc )
  • 🌍【Multiple Charging outlets for camping gear with SOS Flashlight】With 2* 110V/300W Max AC outlets(pure sine wave ) , 1* DC port (9V-12.6V/10A max ), 3* 5V/3A MAX USB ports, 1*quick charge USB port (5V/3A 9V/2A Max), Flashlight with reading mode and SOS mode for your outdoor RV Adventures
  • 🌍【Multiple Charging Optional, Solar Panel 60W Included】ZeroKor portable laptop charger power bank can be recharged by wall AC outlet, DC5521 Solar Panel (Portable Power Station built-in MPPT), Carport. Take the portable generator with you on-the-go and never worry about power shortage,the portable AC outlet design makes it more suitable for Tent camping OFF-Grid life
  • 🌍【Configure Multiple Protection Mechanisms】Built in BMS, ZeroKor portable power station features short circuit protection, over-current protection, over-voltage protection, overload protection and overheating protection. The built-in cooling fan system will automatically start and stop according to the portable battery pack internal temperature during use
  • 🌍【HIGH CONVERSION EFFICIENCY】ZeroKor solar panels 60W monocrystalline solar cell have a high conversion efficiency of 20.5%, and its performance is better than that of polycrystalline solar panels under the condition of insufficient light
Bestseller No. 4
EF ECOFLOW Solar Generator DELTA2 with 220W Solar Panel, LFP(LiFePO4) Battery, Fast Charging, Portable Power Station for Home Backup Power, Camping & RVs
  • Clean, Green Charging. With up to 500W of solar panel input, DELTA 2 is a solar generator that can be charged while camping, on an RV trip or off-grid. Includes a 220W Bifacial solar panel to capture up to 25% more energy.
  • Built to Last 6x Longer. Its LFP battery chemistry makes for a portable power station with a 3000+ cycle life. Enough for years on end of use. With a sophisticated BMS, you can go easy knowing its an auto-regulating portable battery to keep you safe.
  • Power Almost Anything. Solar powered generator have come a long way. Power all your appliances with 1800W output, that’s on par with outdoor generators without the fumes or noise. With 15 outlets and its huge output, you can power 90% of your appliances.
  • Expandable Capacity from 1-3kWh. With the standalone portable power station sporting 1kWh, you can add on extra batteries to reach up to 3kWh. Ideal for camping, RVs or home backup power.
  • What you Get. DELTA 2 Power station, 220W Solar panel, Adjustable kickstand case, AC charging cable, Car charging cable, Solar charging cable, DC5521 to DC5525 cable, User manual, and an exclusive 5 customer service.
Bestseller No. 5
BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC180, 1152Wh LiFePO4 Battery Backup w/ 4 1800W (2700W peak) AC Outlets, 0-80% in 45 Min., Solar Generator for Camping, Off-grid, Power Outage
  • [Charged in 1 Hour] – The AC180 packs a 1152Wh LiFePO4 battery, which can be fully charged in just 1 hour at 1440W AC input – always ready to go when you need it.
  • [Power All Your Needs] – The AC180 boasts 1800W output and 11 outlets to handle almost anything you plug in. With a tap on the BLUETTI App, you can give it a boost to 2700W for your higher needs.
  • [Solar Fast Charge] – Built-in MPPT charge controller for up to 500W solar input. Fully charge AC180 solar generator in 2.8-3.3 hours with clean, environmentally friendly, renewable solar energy.
  • [Reliable UPS] – More than an outdoor power source, the AC180 can also be used as a rugged home battery backup – providing emergency power to your essentials in 20 ms.
  • [What You Get] – BLUETTI AC180 portable power station, AC charging cable, car charging cable, solar charging cable, user manual.

Choosing Between a Solar Generator and a Gas Generator:

When it comes to selecting a power generator, whether it’s for backup power, outdoor activities, or off-grid living, you’ll often have two primary options: a solar generator and a gas generator. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and your choice should be based on several key factors:

1. Environmental Impact:

  • Solar Generator: Solar generators are environmentally friendly as they harness energy from the sun, a renewable resource. They produce no greenhouse gas emissions, noise, or air pollution during operation.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators, on the other hand, run on gasoline or propane, emitting small amounts of carbon dioxide. They sometimes can contribute to air and noise pollution.

2. Fuel Availability:

  • Solar Generator: Solar generators rely on sunlight, making them suitable for locations with ample sunshine. They are particularly ideal for sunny regions and off-grid setups.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators require a steady supply of fuel (gasoline, propane, or natural gas). Access to fuel can be challenging during emergencies or in remote areas.

3. Noise Level:

  • Solar Generator: Solar generators are virtually silent during operation since they have no moving parts. This makes them suitable for quiet environments, camping, and residential areas.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators can be noisy due to their internal combustion engines. This noise can be a concern in quiet settings or neighborhoods.

4. Maintenance and Longevity:

  • Solar Generator: Solar generators have minimal maintenance requirements. Solar panels can last for 25 years or more, and other components have a long lifespan with little wear and tear.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators require regular maintenance, including oil changes, air filter replacements, and fuel stabilization. They also have a finite lifespan and can experience mechanical failures.

5. Portability:

  • Solar Generator: Solar generators come in portable options, making them suitable for outdoor activities and camping. However, their portability may be limited by the weight and size of the solar panels and batteries.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators are available in portable and stationary versions. Portable gas generators are typically heavier and noisier than their solar counterparts.

6. Cost Considerations:

  • Solar Generator: Solar generators have higher upfront costs due to the purchase of solar panels and batteries. However, they have lower operating costs since sunlight is free.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators generally have lower upfront costs but higher operating costs due to fuel expenses. Additionally, the price of fossil fuels can be volatile.

7. Backup Power Needs:

  • Solar Generator: Solar generators are suitable for providing backup power to essential devices and appliances during short-term power outages. Their capacity may be limited by the size of the solar array and battery storage.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators can provide higher power output and longer runtime, making them suitable for extended power outages and running multiple appliances simultaneously.

8. Location and Grid Connectivity:

  • Solar Generator: If you live in an area with unreliable grid power or want to go off-grid, a solar generator can be an excellent choice for sustainable energy independence.
  • Gas Generator: Gas generators are typically used as backup power sources in areas with frequent power outages or where grid power is essential.

In summary, the choice between a solar generator and a gas generator should be based on your specific requirements, environmental considerations, and location. Solar generators are more environmentally friendly and require less maintenance but have limitations in terms of power output. Gas generators are versatile and can provide higher power levels but come with maintenance drawbacks. Assess your priorities and circumstances to determine which generator type best suits your needs.