Imagine if there is a way to “bottle” usable sunlight energy and uncork it on demand.
Solar generators can make that happen.
A solar generator is a backup energy source that can run on the power of the sun, which is renewable and pollution-free.
It’s a handy power supply that can be used to operate certain appliances from TV and chargers to critical medical devices.
There are indispensable components to a solar generator and each plays a role to better understand what is a solar generator and how does it work?
The Anatomy of a Solar Generator
The Paris family in Germany—a 55-year old father, his pregnant wife and their three-year-old daughter— are neither environmentalists nor wealthy.
But the average couple who lives in the cloudy side of Berlin opted to spend $36,000 for a solar panel system convinced that solar energy would pay off within 10 years.
And they are just among the estimated 1 million people in the world who invest in solar units with a costly battery system.
What if you don’t have the budget nor the need for a full solar battery system?
A solar generator can be the green yet cheaper backup power supply.
The underlying principle of a solar generator is simple. In order to generate power where it is needed, two components can work together: the solar panel and the solar generator.
Think of a solar generator like a box that contains a battery and an inverter where you can plug any device directly.
Now, here’s how a solar generator works in detail:
#1. First, Solar panels convert light into electricity.
Solar panels can generate electricity by exploiting the phenomenon of the Photovoltaic effect which means “light into electricity”.
When light energy from the sun strikes the solar cells, it excites the electrons of Silicon knocking them loose from the atoms.
These released electrons create an electric current that flows through the cells which can be harnessed as electricity.
Relying on a solar panel to charge a generator is the greener option, especially when you are preparing for a long-term emergency without any power source.
Although in reality, solar generators can also generate electricity by simply plugging it on any wall outlet or while driving.
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#2. Deep cycle battery stores the electricity for later use
The energy converted by the solar panel passes thru the electrical circuit and gets stored in the solar generator’s built-in batteries.
But we’re not talking about replaceable batteries used in remote controls.
A solar generator can only be powered and charged by a deep cycle battery. While alkaline batteries are designed to be disposable, a deep cycle battery can be repeatedly charged and discharged to provide power over a long period of time, like in the next 10 years or more.
That’s because a solar charge controller regulates the transfer of electric current from the panel to the battery. This prevents overcharging and extends the life cycle of batteries.
Basically, the higher the battery capacity, the longer the solar generator can supply power in between charges.
#3. The inverter converts DC into AC power or vice versa
Finally, the inverter converts the electric current stored in the battery into the voltage that can power different types of plug-in devices.
That said, all you have to do is plug and play your electronic devices into any of the outlets: USB ports, AC, and DC.
Read More: How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel Produce?
What is the Best type of Solar Generator?
Solar generators come in all shapes and sizes.
Small and portable generators can store between 150 and 500 watt-hours of electricity, which works best to power your phone, laptop and medical devices during those weekend camping trips.
Depending on the features of the model, be prepared to shell out $200 to $500 for a portable solar generator.
On the other hand, large capacity solar generators are designed to juice up small to mid-sized appliances from coffee makers to refrigerators.
However, be prepared to spend $1000 to $2000 for a 1000 to 2500 watt-hours capacity. They may be as large as an ice cooler, but still luggable (with wheels and handles).
At the end of the day, the size of your solar generator depends on your energy needs. The best models are durable, reliable and easy to use.
Keep Reading: How Efficient are Solar Panels Today?