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What is a solar generator?

A solar generator is a device—usually working alongside solar panels—that provides essential automatic backup power to your home when you need it the most, like during power outages.

But it can be confusing because there isn’t just one type of generator. They range in type, style, brand, size, and function. Generators have a huge lineup that offers a wide range of coverage to suit your needs, so let’s talk about them and see if we can’t give you a little clarity about solar generators, how they differ from other generators, and some key information that may help you decide whether or not to buy a solar generator.

What are the different types of generators?

Good question. There are three main types of generators that we feel are the most prevalent to residential homes, and those are:

  • Portable generators
  • Inverter generators
  • Standby generators

What’s the difference between each type of generator?

Portable generators are exactly what they sound like—a generator that’s portable, meaning one you can use on the go. Normally powered by gas, diesel, propane, or a hybrid of each, portable generators are basically made up of an engine, a fuel tank, and alternator. The benefit of a portable generator is that you can take it around with you when you need to power your electronic devices outside of your home (camping, tailgating, boating, or social distancing at a park). This doesn’t mean you can’t use a portable generator to backup power to your home—you can do whatever you want—it just means you can also use a portable generator for times when you’re not at home as well. If you do use it at home, the downside of the portable generator is that you have to manually turn it on when you need to use it, but that’s pretty easy to do.

Portable Generator

Inverter generators are similar to portable generators in their core components (engine, fuel tank, and alternator), except they are also connected to an inverter. Just like with a solar energy system, the inverter takes the DC current and changes it back to AC current. Inverter generators also have the benefit of generating more stable, cleaner energy, and (here’s the kicker) some are even portable. So, an inverter generator can also be a portable generator, but they’re usually meant to help you provide backup power to your home during times when you need it most, like when the power goes out.

Inverter-Generator

Standby generators are not portable. Usually, run on propane or natural gas, standby generators are installed outside of your home and will automatically kick on once your power goes out. When the power is back on, your standby generator will detect the reinitiated power and automatically return to standby mode until it detects the next power outage. Standby generators are more permanent and require a more complicated set up than an inverter generator or a portable generator, but having one means you don’t ever have to manually set up your generator to cover your power needs when an outage occurs.

Standby-Generator

So, what is a solar generator?

Solar generators are also portable but don’t include the moving components. They are essentially made up of an inverter, solar panels, a solar panel battery, and a battery charger. The solar panels on a solar generator capture energy from the sun and store that energy in a battery that is built into the generator. The inverter then takes that energy and converts it from DC power to AC power before releasing it. Once released, you can use the energy to power various household appliances and/or electronic devices when they need them most, such as during a power outage.

Solar-Generator

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How do I know if I need a solar generator?

We actually can’t tell you if you need a solar generator, but here are some things to consider that may help you decide whether or not to get one.

If you regularly experience:

  • Power outage
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • High winds
  • Heavy snowfall
  • Extreme heat/cold
  • Fear of the rapture (yes, we’re serious)
  • The need to be prepared for doomsday or the like (which is completely understandable)

You may want to consider getting a solar generator. They can help combat power outages during those times of extreme weather, or they can give you peace of mind knowing you have some sort of defense against the difficult times if, and when, disaster strikes.

How long does a solar generator last?

Depends on what you mean by the term “last.” If you’re talking about the overall lifecycle of a solar generator, remember that the technology is still pretty new, so there really is no definitive answer to that question. But the current general consensus in the solar community is anywhere from 25-35 years.

If, however, you’re talking about “last” in terms of how long a solar generator will last throughout the day, our answer is simple: a solar generator will last you as long as either the sun is out or until all the power is drained from the internal battery. If you leave your solar generator out in the sun all day and allow the power to build up in the battery, your generator could last you anywhere from 1-10 hours, depending on the size of your solar generator, the number of devices/appliances you’re attempting to power, and whether or not you’re continuously running your solar generator. We know that’s kind of a vague answer, but the next question may help clear that up a bit.

How much power will a solar generator produce?

Like we said before, it really depends on the size and quality of the solar generator you’re using, the number of appliances/devices you want to power, the amount of time you’ll be powering them, and the amount of energy stored in the internal battery at the time of use.

But, let's try and proactively answer those questions for you to see if we can’t get a sense of production output, shall we?

Hypothetically speaking, let’s pretend that we know the following:

  • In your area, the power has gone out due to extreme weather.
  • You have a 3,000Wh solar generator.
  • You want to power your refrigerator (915W), one cell phone charger (20W), and one light fixture (65W).
  • You’ll only be using the solar generator for as long as the power is out.
  • The internal battery in your solar generator is completely full.

Generally speaking, a decent quality generator should power 1,000W worth of appliances/devices for one hour. So, based on the hypothetical information listed above, your solar generator should power your devices for at least 3 hours.

How loud is a solar generator?

Not loud at all. (Which is nice because we love giving good news.) Not only are solar generators a more environmentally-friendly option than their counterparts (see top of article) they’re way quieter as well. Generators powered by fossil-fuels include engines with moving parts, which makes them a bane on the eardrums. Solar generators have little-to-no moving parts, making them an ideal companion for you, your home, and your grateful (hopefully) neighbors.

What impact will a solar generator have on my yard?

Little-to-none. Because most are portable, a solar generator doesn’t take up much space. All they really need is access to the sun. We also recommend that you place them in a spot where they’ll be protected from the elements (just in case). Otherwise, they don’t require much maintenance.

Will a solar generator increase the value of my home?

No, because it doesn’t require installation, solar generators aren’t permanently affixed to your home. Think of it more like a BBQ grill—something you’ll probably take with you when you move. However, home standby generators (mentioned at the top of this article) may increase the value of your home because they are installed directly into your electrical system and are thus a more permanent fixture.

What does it take to install a solar generator?

Nothing. Solar generators don’t require installation because the majority of them are portable solutions. This also makes them very easy to maintain because they require little-to-no maintenance on your part.

What size solar generator should I get?

Depends on the size of your home, how much you want to cover during a power outage and the average times of power outages in your area. Essential circuit coverage from a smaller generator provides cost-effective solutions that cover the indispensables, such as lights and refrigeration. An effective whole-house solution plan from a larger generator covers everything. When there’s a power outage and everything goes out, with a premium generator everything comes on and stays on.

How much does a solar generator cost?

Depending on size, wattage, quality, and brand, solar generators can range anywhere from $500-$10,000.

Why should I go through Vivint Solar to get a solar generator?

At Vivint Solar, we’re partnering with a few different companies to provide industry-leading backup power solutions to your home. The quality in the generators is second to none and it is matched with Vivint Solar’s installation performance giving you reassurance when a power outage occurs.

See how much solar could save you!

To get a free quote, call 877.987.5591 or fill out the form below.

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