how solar power generators work

How Solar Power Generators Work: A Simple Guide

Heard about solar power generators and wondering what they are? 

In this article, we’d explain what a solar power generator is, how solar power generators work, and whether purchasing a solar power generator is the right move for you. 

Also, we help you answer some frequently asked questions about solar generators and solar inverters.

Let’s go!

What Is a solar power generator?

A solar generator is a portable source of electricity that is made up of a solar panel or solar panels, a charge controller, in-built batteries, and a solar inverter.

A solar generator set with the panel and the portable unit.

source:u-buy.com.ng

The solar generator is just like the fuel-powered generator. Only that this time, instead of fuel, it is powered by the sun.

How do solar power generators work?

The diagram below shows how the solar power generator works.

Source: ecotality.com

The solar panel converts energy from the sun into direct current (DC) which is then stored in the battery with the help of the charge controller. 

The charge controller helps to ensure the battery is not overcharged or overused so that the battery lasts long.

To use the DC power stored in the battery for your appliances in your home, office, or outdoor activity, the inverter converts the DC power into alternating current (AC) power so that it can run your appliances.

Note: Appliances like your phone charger, laptop charger, fridge, light bulb, television, etc, cannot be powered with direct current. And alternating current can not be stored in a battery.

Solar generator vs solar inverter

Are solar generators and solar inverters the same?

Short answer. No.

The solar inverter is a part of the solar generator unit. It is built into the portable solar generator and helps to convert the DC power to AC power so you can use it for your appliances in your home or office. 

Solar generator vs solar installation

What is the difference between solar generators and solar installation?

The solar generator is portable. You can easily move it from one place to another. Just like you move a portable fuel-powered generator.

On the other hand, full solar installations are not portable. They are installed in a fixed location and consist of heavy battery banks and other devices that can not be easily moved.

solar generator vs full scale solar installation

Source: cleanenergyreviews.info, u-buy.com.ng

Benefits of solar generators 

What are the benefits of using a solar generator compared to using fuel-powered generators or full solar installation?

Portability

You can move a solar generator easily anywhere. You can charge it and carry it in your car to wherever you want to go. Compared to full solar installation.

Green and eco-friendly

Solar generators do not emit any harmful gas or contribute to global warming. They are quiet and produce clean renewable energy.

Minimal maintenance

Solar generators are small, do not have any moving parts nor use any fluid. So there is almost no need for routine maintenance.

Great future investment

A good solar generator can work for over 25 years without any repairs or maintenance. Whether you’re looking to disconnect from the grid or need a quick power source due to an outage, a solar generator can guarantee you power.

There are however some challenges with using a solar power generator.

Challenges of solar power generator

Here are four challenges with using a solar power generator.

Huge upfront investment

A solar generator can be expensive initially, but you’re set for more than a decade of continuous power supply once you buy it.

Dependence on the sun

No sun, no power.

Solar power generators’ dependence on the sun makes them not very reliable. Compared to petrol generators that you can use any time of the day.

Low capacity

Solar power generators may not be able to produce enough power to run your entire home, but they produce just enough to get your appliances like phones and computers running for as long as the battery can carry. There are also solar power generators that can carry your refrigerators comfortably.

Purchasing a solar power generator

What should you look out for when purchasing a solar generator?

Here are three things to consider when purchasing a solar power generator.

Your power needs

Your power needs will determine the brand of solar generator that you go for. For example, if you just want to power your gadgets then your needs will not be as much as if you need a solar generator that can power your refrigerator.

The inverter

The output rating of your inverter must be able to handle the appliances that you want to use it for.  Inverters are usually rated in watts. Ensure you go for a solar generator inverter with a higher watt rating than the watt rating of the appliances you want to connect to it, combined. 

For example, to run a laptop charger rated 100W and bulb rated 50W you need an inverter that is at least 150W. 

It is advisable to ensure your inverter is higher than the rating of your appliances. So for the example above, an inverter rated 200W will be the perfect fit.

The battery

Batteries in solar generators are usually lithium-ion batteries. 

The higher the battery rating, usually in Wh, the longer it can last. So if you want a solar generator that lasts long, take a look at the battering rating and go for the battery with the highest rating.

Frequently asked questions about solar generators

To help you better understand solar generators, we answer some frequently asked questions about solar generators

Can a solar generator run a refrigerator?

Yes. 

It however depends on the kind of solar generator that you purchase. 

Are solar generators any good?

Yes.

If you need a cheap and portable source of alternate power supply, or you need power in a location not connected to the main national power supply.

Also, solar power generators can come in very handy if you’re a student.

How much power can a solar generator produce?

It depends on the size of the battery and the inverter that comes with it.

What is the price of a solar-powered generator in Nigeria?

For a decent solar power generator in Nigeria expect to pay between #200,000- #1,000,000.

How good are solar generators?

As good as their rating.

How long will a solar generator last?

Solar generators last for 25-30 years.

Can I use a solar generator to power my house?

Solar generators were not designed to power your entire house, but for other quick applications in the absence of a power supply. For a solar power system that powers your entire house, you should consider a full solar installation.

What can I power with a solar generator?

Anything from your electronics to your refrigerator. It all depends on the rating of the battery and the inverter. 

Where to buy the best solar generator in Nigeria

A quick Google search can help you find the best solar power generators from the top solar companies in Nigeria.

Liked this article? You may also like our buyer’s guide for solar water heaters.

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