Solar generators are all-in-one systems that integrate solar panels, a battery, and an inverter to provide a mobile power solution.
When it comes to selecting a solar generator, size really does matter.
Too small, and you won’t have enough power for your essential devices.
Too big, and you’re spending money on capacity you don’t really need.
In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the important question: “What size solar generator do I need?”
We’ll walk you through calculating your energy requirements, considering factors like continuous and peak power, and matching those needs to the perfect solar generator for you.
How to Choose the Right Size for Power Stations
When choosing the appropriate size for your portable solar power station, two key factors to consider are continuous power and peak power.
Continuous power refers to the steady amount of electricity the power station can supply over a longer period.
If you intend to run multiple gadgets at once, you’ll need a power station with greater capacity than if you were powering a single device.
To figure out the total continuous power you’ll require, add up the wattages of all the devices you plan to use simultaneously.
Peak power is the maximum surge of electricity that the power station can deliver briefly.
This is vital for appliances that require significantly more power at startup than during regular operation.
For instance, a refrigerator may need up to 10 times more power to start compared to its constant usage.
To ensure your appliances have adequate power at startup, choose a portable power station that can meet their peak power demands.
By understanding both continuous and peak power needs, you can select a portable power station that’s well-suited to your requirements.
Continuous Power vs. Peak Power
When selecting a solar generator, it’s crucial to understand the difference between continuous power and peak power.
Continuous power is the level of electricity that a device needs to operate over an extended period.
Peak power, on the other hand, is the initial burst of energy required to start certain appliances, like air conditioners or refrigerators.
For example, when you turn on your air conditioner, it requires a high, quick burst of electricity to get going—that’s its peak power demand.
Once it’s running, the AC unit settles into a lower, more consistent energy usage, which is its continuous power requirement.
Many appliances, such as refrigerators, require a power surge that’s 3-7 times greater than their normal operational needs just to start up.
Therefore, your solar generator must be capable of meeting these peak power demands to successfully run these types of appliances.
While peak power is important for initial startup, continuous power is what you’ll need to focus on for long-term operation.
This figure will give you an idea of how much electricity you can expect from a single charge of your solar generator under typical conditions.
So, when choosing a solar generator, be sure it meets both your peak and continuous power needs to ensure you have a reliable energy source.
How Many Watts Do I Need in a Solar Generator’s Power Station?
Deciding on the right wattage for your solar generator is crucial.
To figure this out, you’ll need to sum up the wattage of all devices that your solar generator will power.
Calculate Total Hours for Each Device
Start by finding out the total power hours needed for all your devices.
You can do this by multiplying the hours each device needs by its wattage.
For instance, if you have two fans that each run for 4 hours, then you’ll need a total of 8 power hours (4 x 2 = 8).
It’s essential to consider device compatibility when planning to use a solar generator.
Some household items, like water heaters, are usually hardwired into your home’s electrical system, making them unsuitable for use with a portable solar generator unless you also choose to hardwire them.
Here’s a list of devices that are commonly powered by solar generators:
- Laptops and PCs
- Sump Pump
- Electric Blanket
- Phone chargers
- Small kitchen appliances like blenders or coffee makers
- Portable AC units
- Video game consoles
These are all devices that can be easily plugged into a power station, making them ideal candidates for use with a solar generator.
Always double-check the power requirements of these devices against the output capabilities of your chosen solar generator to ensure they are a good match.
Find the Combined Wattage of All Devices
Next, find out the wattage for each device you’ll be powering.
This information is usually listed in the device’s specs.
If you can’t find it, you can calculate wattage by multiplying the device’s amperage by its voltage.
Determine Total Watt-Hours for All Devices
Say you want to run two 50-watt fans for 2 hours each. To find the total watt-hours you’ll need, first calculate the total hours: 2 hours multiplied by 2 fans gives you 4 hours (2 x 2 = 4).
Then, to get the total watt-hours, multiply these 4 hours by 50 watts (4 x 50 = 200 watt-hours).
Finally, divide this number by 0.85 to account for an estimated 85% efficiency while the devices are charging:
200 Wh / 0.85 = 235 Wh
This means you’ll need a solar power station that can provide at least approximately 235 watt-hours to power your two 50-watt fans for 2 hours each.
Make sure the solar generator you choose can also handle the startup wattage and peak power requirements of all your devices.
How Long Do Solar Generators Last?
Solar generators typically last between 7 to 15 years, depending on the quality of the components and how well they’re maintained.
Can You Use a Solar Generator to Power Your Whole House?
Unless you have a high-capacity model, it’s unlikely that a solar generator can power all the appliances in your home for an extended period.
If your calculated energy needs are higher than what most available solar generators offer, you may need to reevaluate what you truly need to power.
By focusing on essential appliances, you can find a solar generator that suits your needs without exceeding your budget.