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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 🌏【SOLAR GENERATOR WITH PANEL INCLUDED】: Powkey solar generator panel kit includes a 200W portable power station and a 40W solar panel. With a built-in premium lithium battery pack of advanced technology, Powkey 146Wh(42000mAh) large capacity portable generator can work as an ideal battery backup emergency power supply for home power outage or outdoor camping, travel, trip, RV or any other activities, supplying long lasting power or energy for most of your electronic devices, such as cell phone, laptop, camera, speaker, fan, drone, mini fridge and RV electronic accessories., etc.
- 🌏【MULTIPLE 7 CHARGING OUTLETS】: Designed with 3 types of different AC/DC/USB 7 outlets, 2*110V Pure Sine Wave AC outlets(MAX 200W), 4*USB outlets( MAX 5V/3.1A) and 1*DC outlet(MAX 15V/2A), Powkey outdoor generator can deliver stable electricity and power most of your devices at the same time. Usually, a fully charged Powkey portable power station for camping can charge your phone about 20 times(10w) , camera about 13 times(15w) and laptop about 2 times(30~50w), a powerful backup battery for home and outdoor use.
- 🌏【3 INPUT RECHARGING WAYS】: In addition, to meet your power needs on the go, Powkey emergency portable power station solar generator has 3 recharging ways, charging by wall outlet(fully charged in 5~6 hours), charging by car cigar lighter or charging by Powkey solar panel(included), no longer be limited by different situation. Besides, 4 specially built-in LED lights indicator helps monitor the power usage or recharging percentage, helping you utilize or manage the power perfectly.
- 🌏【20.5% HIGH CONVERSION SOLAR PANEL】: 20.5% high conversion efficiency enables Powkey 40W solar panel charger to generate electricity and energy in low-lux outdoor environment(>40000 Lux). The built-in smart chip intelligently identifies your device and maximizes its charging speed while protecting your devices from overloading. With 10*DC adapters, this solar panel kit is compatible with most(almost 98%) solar generators portable power stations on the market.
- 🌏【FOLDABLE&WATERPROOF SOLAR PANEL】: Powkey 40W foldable solar panel for camping can be folded in 4 layers, which greatly saves the space when not in use. And after it is spread out and faced toward the direction of the sunlight, the large area of panel surface will help absorb the most effective solar energy. Made from durable nylon and adopted with IPX 4 technology, the surface of Powkey solar panel is waterproof(the outlet connector box is NOT) that can keep the panel surface from getting wet. It has 3 outlets to power up your devices, 1*DC Outlet 15V/2.66A(max), 1*USB-A 5V/3A 9V/2.5A 12V/2A, 1*Type C 5V/3A 9V/2A 12V/1.5A.
- Leaping Performance: With 2042.8Wh gigantic capacity, Jackery 2000 Plus Power Station is capable of powering heavy load devices up to 3000W, satisfying all the power needs of outdoor exploration or home use. It whispers QUIET AT ONLY 30dB in operation, leaving you complete peace of mind.
- Ultra Fast Charging: Only 2 hours is taken to get the Explorer 2000 Plus fully charged from 0 to 100% battery level by connecting to 6*SolarSaga 200W solar panels or connecting to wall outlets.
- 2kWh – 24 kWh Flexible Expansion: Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus supports up to 5 expandable battery packs with power expanded from 2kWh to 12kWh. 2*Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus Power Stations can be connected in parallel to expand the capacity to 24kWh, voltage to 240V and output to 6000W.
- Prior to Safety: By adopting advanced lithium technology, Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus is highly temperature resistant, ensuring cells operate efficiently and safely. The built-in cooling system improves heat dissipation efficiency by 30%. Different types of protection including shock resistance and fire retardancy, offers complete safe charging.
- Built to Last: Thanks to Jackery’s innovative ChargeShield fast charge technology, the battery life of Explorer 2000 Plus Power Station is boosted by 50%. Safe LiFePO4 battery with up to 10 years of use extends the lifespan to the great extent. Smart shallow charging mode further enhances efficiency and reliability. Moreover, Jackery offers a 5-year warranty with a superb customer service.
- 【288Wh Capacity, 330W Output】330W (600W surge) pure sine wave supports most laptops, tablets, phones, lights, fans, CPAP medical devices, projectors, TV, mini-refrigerator, speaker, camera (rated power less than 330W). 288Wh huge capacity but light weight makes it compact and perfect for camping, car trips and other family outings.
- 【Upgraded Battery Management System】We promise to adopt quality lithium batteries since we found that the use of lower-quality batteries could pose a serious risk to life and should become a crucial part of deciding what to buy. Upgraded BMS provides built-in overload, overcharge (automatically stops charging when the device is full), and short-circuit protection. Dual built-in silent cooling fans help to keep the station’s temperature safe.
- 【USB-C PD 60W, USB-A QC 18W】PD60W fast charging makes it possible to charge Android and iPhone, tablets, and laptops quickly, more than twice as fast as other standard USB-C output, and ultra-high efficiency in emergencies. All USB-A ports are quick-charge 3.0 18W, providing higher efficiency for each device.
- 【Power 8 Device simultaneously】Equipped with 1*AC output, 1*USB-C PD 60W output, 3*USB-A QC3.0 18W outputs, 1*Car port, 2*DC outputs, GRECELL solar generator can power eight devices at the same time (as long as they draw less than 330W combined). Each switch can control each output module.
- 【3 Ways To Recharge, Built-in MPPT Controller】GRECELL power station, can be charged via an AC outlet, a solar panel, or a car outlet. Built-in MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking Control) so it can extract the maximum power from the solar panel, optimizing the utilization of variable power sources like a solar generator.
- Upgrade LiFePO4 Battery: Using LFP battery cells, It will give D600 power station more stable performance and a longer life cycle(at least 3000 times).
- Large Real Capacity: With 550Wh(172000mAh) large capacity, D600 portable power station totally satisfies your essential home and outdoor needs. such as Electric Grill, Coffee Maker, CPAP,Drone, Mini Frage, Microwave, Electric Stove,Electric Blanket. （rated power less than 600W）
- What It Powers: Designed with wireless charging part, it’s convenient for you to charge your phone. D600 portable power station contains multiple types of charging port. (1 110V AC outlet, 2 USB-A Outlets, 2 USB-C Outlets, 1 car outlet, 2 12V DC Outlets). It can easily satisfy your daily charging needs.
- Emergency Backup Battery: In addition to basic charging functions, it features unique LED Light. Switching between strong and weak lights allows you to easily cope with an emergency power outage. SOS mode helps you stay safe outdoors.
- 3 Recharging Ways: D-600W Portable Power Station supports being charged by many modes. You can recharge it from AC wall outlet, car outlet and 120W solar panels(Not Included). With Fast charging technology, it will be fully recharged within 4-7 hours.
- SPEED UP YOUR RECHARGEABILITY: It takes only 2 hours to recharge 80% battery of the power station through the wall outlet and 60W PD USB-C port simultaneously. You can also recharge your power station with an AC adapator when at home, through the car outlet during a road trip or simply use a Jackery SolarSaga 100.
- SAFE & STEADY POWER SUPPLY: Armed with a 293Wh lithium-ion battery pack, the Explorer 300 features 2 Pure Sine Wave AC outlets that deliver stable and safe 300W power. The portable power station weighs only 7.1 pounds. You can simply rest assured in outdoor off-grid activities.
- POWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Featuring 2* AC outlet, 1* PD 60W USB-C port (input/output supported) , 1* fast charge 3.0 port, 1*USB-A port and 1* DC car port, the power station can recharge itself and charge (up to) 6 devices (e.g.Drones, Macbook, Cameras, etc.) at the same time to satisfy your outdoor needs.
- GREEN POWER SUPPLY: The power station is compatible with the Jackery SolarSaga 100 solar panel. The integrated MPPT controller enables the solar generator set to operate at its max power point, so that it speeds up the battery recharge, making them ideal portable power kits for tent camping, overland journey and etc.
- WHAT YOU GET: 1* Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station , 1*AC adapter, 1* car charger cable, 1* user guide
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.
- 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.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.