How does a solar generator work?

how does a solar generator work
How does a solar generator work

If you are like me, you have probably wondered : “how does a solar generator work ?”.  This post and this info graphic will give you a good overview of what goes into a solar generator. If getting into the weeds about the innards of a solar generator does not really interest you, you might like to read about the different types of solar generators available in the market. Solar Panel kits might also be a solution for your needs. But for those of you interested in the answer to our original question; how does a solar generator work?, we have to ask a  few more questions.

How does a solar generator work : what is a solar generator?

A solar generator is a compact electronic box which has three components integrated together. There is the charge controller, batteries and an inverter. Strangely thought there is no solar component in the solar generator. The solar panels need to be purchased separately. In reality, the solar generator is just a battery powered generator. As long as the battery inside the solar generator stays charged, it will be able to power a slew of devices as a backup generator.  You can charge the battery in the generator using external solar panels, or using a wall outlet ( regular 110 V) or even a char charger. Of course, not all solar generators are created equal and some of them might only allow one or two modes of charging.

The Solar generator is able to provide output power to a wide variety of devices. It can power smart phones, laptops, lights, a small refrigerator, a ham radio etc. They usually provide outlets for 110V devices like your laptop or usb ports for your phones or car charger outlets for devices which runs off them.  This is an excellent calculator which lets you size your solar generator or estimate what you can possible use with your solar generator. And onwards to the next big question.

How does a solar generator work : what is inside a solar generator?

How does a solar generator work - Lithium Ion Battery
Lithium Ion Battery

The three components within a solar generator are the charge controller, batteries and the inverter.  They are not necessarily separate, they are usually well integrated. Some of the more convenient solar generators allow you to swap the batteries. This is really good for longevity as over time batteries tend to degrade and poof there goes your solar generator to the junk yard.

How does a solar generator work - charge controller
Charge Controller

The charge controller is a critical component of the solar generator. It protects and ensures the longevity of the in built battery inside the solar generator. Depending on the type of battery, AGM, Gel or Lithium ion, they will have different characteristics for charging and discharging. The charge controller ensures this is automatically taken care off.

how does a solar generator work - inverter
Inverter

The inverter actually converts the output of the battery into AC power that can be used to power any AC device. Of course Solar generators are not built to power large AC appliances like AC’s, but they do just fine for electronics, TV’s and low powered household devices. To understand what can actually be powered using a solar generator, you will need to read this article on different types of solar generators.

how does a solar generator work - yeti 150
Solar Generator

The three components when integrated together result in a well designed solar generator like the YETI 150 shown above. You can ready more about this generator here as well. And of course to round up this master class on the solar generator, you have the solar panels. Solar panels are mostly sold separately, though there are some rather innovative but smaller solar generators which have built in solar panels like the Renogy Firefly Solar Generator.
how does a solar generator work - solar panel
That should have given you a good overview to answer your original question : How does a solar generator work? Of course if you are hungry for more information, you can read more about the latest solar generators available today in the market right here :

SaleBestseller No. 1
SUAOKI Portable Power Station 150Wh Quiet Gas Free Solar Generator QC3.0 UPS Lithium Power Supply with Dual 110V AC Outlet, 4 DC Ports, 4 USB Ports, LED Flashlights for Camping Travel CPAP Emergency
167 Reviews
$199.99 - $60.00 $139.99
Buy at Amazon
SUAOKI Portable Power Station 150Wh Quiet Gas Free Solar Generator QC3.0 UPS Lithium Power Supply with Dual 110V AC Outlet, 4 DC Ports, 4 USB Ports, LED Flashlights for Camping Travel CPAP Emergency

  • AC/DC/USB Outputs: (2x) AC outlet (max 100W, peak power 150W); (4 x) DC port (15A / 180W max); (1x) QC3.0 USB port (18W max); (3x) USB ports (10.5W max); charges or powers products such as laptops, phones, tablets, cameras, drones, CPAP machine, small home appliances and more
  • On-the-Go Power Source: 150Wh (3.7V 40500mAh/11.1V 13500mAh) powerful charging station for camping or emergency backup; probably the most compact power station with a size of 7.3*4.3*4.7 inch, and the weight is only 2.9 lbs; 2 hideable lift handles make it even more portable
  • Efficient Solar Generator: connect a solar panel (not included) and S270 Power Station via DC 3.5X1.35 to MC4 connector (included), it can be a silent and gas-free solar generator; with MPPT solar charge controller inside, the unit can be charged much more efficiently
  • Triple Input Modes: (1) can be recharged by connecting to SUAOKI 60W, 100W solar panel (SOLD SEPARATELY); (2) can be fully charged in 8 hours by being plugged into wall outlet; (3) can also be charged by plugging into your car 12V socket. (Car charger included)
  • Perfect Emergency Tool: battery management system (BMS) enables voltage control, temperature control and more advanced safety operations, ensuring ultra-safety for you and your devices; can also works as a torch for emergency lighting; 18 months warranty and friendly customer service
SaleBestseller No. 2
EasyFocus Portable Power Station 200Wh Solar Generator 300W Pure Sine Wave Inverter Emergency Power Supply Charged by Solar/AC Outlet/Cars
161 Reviews
$403.99 - $385.00 from $18.99
Buy at Amazon
EasyFocus Portable Power Station 200Wh Solar Generator 300W Pure Sine Wave Inverter Emergency Power Supply Charged by Solar/AC Outlet/Cars

  • VERSATILE & PORTABLE POWER SOURCE: comes with 3*100V/110V AC outlets (300W Pure Sine Power Inverter), 4*DC outlets (a extra cigarette socket cable), 4*USB ports. It can charge USB/5V, DC/12V and AC appliance anywhere
  • On-the-Go Power Source: 200Wh powerful charging station for camping or emergency backup; probably the most compact power station with a size of 9.1*4.3*5.2 inch, and the weight is only 5.2 lbs
  • Pure sine wave: Better than modified sine wave, high efficiency, high frequency, stable technology, suitable for all kinds of load, can be connected to many electrical equipments and no interference.
  • With 3 Ways Input Charging- Home wall AC outlet power,Car cigarette DC 12V/24V power and 18v 100W solar power panel(Separately)
  • What You Get:300W Portable Generator,AC Adapter,Car Charging Cable,DC Cable,MC4 Solar Connector Cable,User Manual along with our 18-month warranty and friendly&easy-to-reach customer service.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Aeiusny UPS Backup Battery 500W Portable Generator Parts, Uninterrupted Power Supply for CPAP Mask Home Camping Laptop Emergency Battery Backup 288Wh Charged by Solar/AC Outlet/Car for Outdoor&Indoor
42 Reviews
$399.99 - $391.00 $8.99
Buy at Amazon
Aeiusny UPS Backup Battery 500W Portable Generator Parts, Uninterrupted Power Supply for CPAP Mask Home Camping Laptop Emergency Battery Backup 288Wh Charged by Solar/AC Outlet/Car for Outdoor&Indoor

  • UPGRADE --- Comparing to other similar style, this Power Station is with larger power capacity 288Wh rather than 200Wh, built-in more USB and DC ports. Perfect emergency power generator for home/ travel/ camping/ CPAP machine (Use DC-DC converter from your CPAP would get longer hours)/ RC helicopter/ Laptop/ Phones/ Lights all electronic devices.
  • EASILY RECHARGEABLE VIA SUN,WALL OUTLET AND CAR --- Charged by solar panel(13V-24V,solar charger cable sold separately) Charged by wall outlet(7-8 hours fully charged, power adapter included) Charged by car 12V adapter(car charger included). Easy and Fast! Kindly Notice: The solar panel is not included with the generator, you need to buy separately!
  • On Line UPS -- Battery power supply surge protection for desktop pc,workstations,networking devices and home entertainment systems.Safeguards valuable documents, photos, videos,and music files, playstation from loss or damage due to power outage.
  • Versatile Outputs and Mini Size -- Pure-sine wave inverter,3 three-prong 110V receptacles (for devices up to 500Watt/0.67Hp) ,4 DC 12V ports ,4 USB ports ,1W Led flashlight,Car emergency jump starter,emergency power generator around you!Just weight 7LB!
  • Safety Guaranteed and Warranty -- Battery Management System (BMS) Provide short circuit, Overcharger Overload protection, environmental protection, energy saving and fire-proof ABS materia.Our worry-free 12-month warranty and friendly customer service.
Bestseller No. 4
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240, 240Wh Camping Generator 110V/200W AC Outlet, 12V Car Port, 2 USB Outputs, Optional Solar Panel, Solar Generator for Fishing Vanlife CPAP Picnic
18 Reviews
$299.99
Buy at Amazon
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240, 240Wh Camping Generator 110V/200W AC Outlet, 12V Car Port, 2 USB Outputs, Optional Solar Panel, Solar Generator for Fishing Vanlife CPAP Picnic

  • JACKERY PORTABLE POWER STATION, POWER OUTDOORS!
  • JACKERY EXPLORER 240: one of the Jackery Explorer family, is a Portable Power Station, features an AC-outlet, CarPort and USB-outputs. With its 240Wh Capacity, it's capable of charging/powering multiple portable device to fulfill your needs on power when living an outdoor life.
  • EASY OUTDOOR LIFE: light and compact, it's easily portable and lightest in its class at just 6.6 lbs and 5'' wide and 8'' tall, with an easy-carry handle for easy travel. It's noise-free without vibration. And it hazes zero emissions, therefore does no harm to personal health, nor to the nature.
  • RECHARGED ANYWHERE: recharged under the sun with the Jackery 50W Solar Panel (sold separately) within 10-hrs (in full sun) while living outdoors; recharged from a CarPort within 8-hrs while living a van life; or from an AC wall outlet within 8-hrs.
  • POWER OUTDOORS: Plug in a mini coffee maker, mini-fridge, portable cooler and much more. Now you can keep food fresh in coolers for a family cook-out at the campsite. Or keep your drinks cold and plug in a TV/Projector for tailgating before the big game or camping with friends. Or power your GoPro/camera to film your adventures when fishing, hunting, car-traveling, boating etc? Take Jackery Explorer 240 with you to power all your outdoor fun.
SaleBestseller No. 5
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator Rechargeable Lithium Battery Pack Solar Generator with 110V AC Outlet, 12V Car, USB Output Off-grid Power Supply for CPAP Backup Camping Emergency
49 Reviews
$599.99 - $440.00 from $159.99
Buy at Amazon
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator Rechargeable Lithium Battery Pack Solar Generator with 110V AC Outlet, 12V Car, USB Output Off-grid Power Supply for CPAP Backup Camping Emergency

  • UPGRADED 250-WATT POWERFUL AC, USB ADN 12V OUPUTS: Comparing similar battery powered generators, Rockpals portable generator has upgraded the AC output to 250W continuous (300W surge max) dual AC outputs, built-in 2x USB 2.1A and 4x DC 12V ports. Perfect emergency backup power for home/ travel/ camping, charging up your tablets, iPhone, iPad, laptops, fans, TV, lights and CPAP machine (*Use DC-DC converter from your CPAP would get longer hours)
  • HIGH CAPACITY LIGHTWEIGHT LITHIUM POWER PACK: 222WH(3.7V 60Ah/12V 18.5Ah) lithium polymer batteries and weights 5.5lb. powerful enough to charge smartphones 25 times, laptops 3-5 times, 32" TVs 2-3 hours, mini-refrigerator or other small appliances, lights, and more (AC output). This solar generator is also very handy to be put on your RV, camper and perfect for emergencies, camping or wherever you need power
  • EASILY RECHARGEABLE VIA THE SUN OR WALL: 1)The solar generator can be recharged from the sun with any compatible 50W or 100W solar panel (SOLD SEPARATELY). 2) This battery pack can be fully charged in 8 hours by being plugged into wall outlet.
  • PURE SINE WAVE INVERTER: Better than modified sine wave and clean power like utility supplied electricity. Inductive loads like microwaves and motors run faster, quieter and cooler. Reduces audible and electrical noise in fans, fluorescent lights, audio amplifiers, TV, fax and answering machines. And it is a gas-free source of portable power supply, it runs quiet (The cooling fan on the side of generator will make a slight sound when working), no exhaust fumes.
  • WHAT YOU GET: Rockpals portable generator (222Wh Portable Power Supply), 6.5ft / 2m AC adapter, 3.3ft / 1m car charger cable, DC to Cig Socket adapter, user guide, our worry-free 18-month warranty and friendly customer service. 
SaleBestseller No. 6
100-Watt Portable Generator Power Station, CPAP Battery Pack, Home Camping Emergency Power Supply Charged by Solar Panel/Wall Outlet/Car with Dual 110V AC Power Inverter, 3 DC 12V Ports, USB Ports
386 Reviews
$339.99 - $200.02 $139.97
Buy at Amazon
100-Watt Portable Generator Power Station, CPAP Battery Pack, Home Camping Emergency Power Supply Charged by Solar Panel/Wall Outlet/Car with Dual 110V AC Power Inverter, 3 DC 12V Ports, USB Ports

  • POWERFUL AC, USB AND 12V OUTPUTS KEEP ALL YOUR DEVICES CHARGED UP: Whether you're looking to keep iPhone, iPad, laptop, DSLR camera charged up, or running lights, CPAP machine and small appliances in an off-grid or power outage, the Paxcess portable power station features a variety of outputs, including 3* 12V DC port(max 180W,with an extra cigarette socket cable) / 2* 110V AC outlet inverter(modified sine wave, max 100W) / 2* USB 5V port, to ensure you have the power you need at any time
  • EASILY RECHARGED FROM SUN, WALL OUTLET OR CAR: No matter where you go, keep Paxcess portable generator charged through 3 easy ways: Simply use the included AC adapter from wall outlet to charge up the Paxcess generator in 7-8 hours. On the go, use Paxcess 50w solar panel to charge it from the power of the sun and works as a portable solar generator(The compatible solar panel is sold separatly). Lastly, charging while on-the-road is easy with the included 12V car charger cable.
  • CLEAN ADN PORTABLE POWER, NO GASOLINE REQUIRED: Since there's no gasoline required and no toxic fumes, the Paxcess generator is completely safe to use inside your house, tent, and car. It's also silent which makes it the perfect generator alternative to have on hand for any event; Only weights 3.3lbs and ideal size for traveling, fits perfectly in the backpack or backseat on long road trips.
  • SAFETY GUARANTEED: Battery Management System (BMS) undertakes voltage control, temperature control and more advanced safety operations, ensuring complete protection for you and your devices.
  • 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: At Paxcess, your satisfaction is our first priority, that's why we offer you 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your purchase within 45 days, you can return with 100% money back. No hassles, no question asked. If your generator failed within 1 year time, we will send you brand new replacement. 100% Risk Free.
SaleBestseller No. 7
Portable Solar Generator with Solar Panel,Included 3 Sets LED lights,Solar Power Inverter,Electric Generator,Small Basic Portable Generator Kit,Solar Lights for Home & Camping,Power for Solar Fans
59 Reviews
$179.00 - $99.11 $79.89
Buy at Amazon
Portable Solar Generator with Solar Panel,Included 3 Sets LED lights,Solar Power Inverter,Electric Generator,Small Basic Portable Generator Kit,Solar Lights for Home & Camping,Power for Solar Fans

  • Portable Solar Generator Kit: A rechargeable & replaceable battery solar generator system with solar panels, storage solar generator power to battery and supply power to LED light and mobile phone. Widely applicable to home, camping, rv.
  • Multiple Outports: 6 watt 6V solar panel, 9Ah 3.7V battery, 2 USB 5V DC Output for your tablets, iPhone, iPad, usb fans and small TV charged up, or lights. 4 Ports 3.7 V output to LED light.
  • Compact: portable, small size, outdoor.6.9*6.5*3.0 inch, weight:3.3Lb(4.2Lb with all accessories). Widely applicable to camping, hiking, fishing, expedition, hunting, outdoor activities and home as emergency power supply.2 way charging- by solar energy, or by AC Power.
  • Durable: Use rechargeable & replaceable battery and high quality solar panels, with lifetime more than 10000h.
  • Package content: 1* Portable Power Generator ,1* Solar panel,5* Rechargeable battery,1* Power cable,1* Multi function USB cable,3* LED Lamps,1* Remote Control,1* User Manual.
SaleBestseller No. 8
SUAOKI 222Wh Portable Generator Power Source CPAP Lithium Battery Pack Power Supply with Silent 110V/60Hz, Max 200W AC Power Inverters, DC 12V & USB Ports, Charged by Solar Panel/Wall Outlet/Car
163 Reviews
$358.99 - $170.00 $188.99
Buy at Amazon
SUAOKI 222Wh Portable Generator Power Source CPAP Lithium Battery Pack Power Supply with Silent 110V/60Hz, Max 200W AC Power Inverters, DC 12V & USB Ports, Charged by Solar Panel/Wall Outlet/Car

  • VERSATILE & PORTABLE POWER SOURCE: comes with 2*100V/110V AC outlets (200W Pure Sine Power Inverter), 2*DC outlets (an extra cigarette socket cable), 2*USB ports, 5 LED lights indicator. It can charge USB/5V, DC/12V and AC appliance anywhere
  • HIGH CAPACITY: 11.1V, 20,000mAh/ /3.7V 60,000mAh high capacity, powerful enough to charge smartphones 20+ times, tablet, power bank, laptops, TVs, mini-refrigerator, camping CPAP, drone, holiday lights or other household electronics
  • PURE SINE WAVE: better than modified sine wave, cleaner current in your hands; it prevents crashes in computers, reduces noises in fans, TV and other devices and it is compatible with more gears
  • SAFETY GUARANTEED: we use the Battery Management System (BMS) to improve battery utilization, prevent over-current, over-voltage and over-temperature, prolong battery life; a convenient handle and aluminum alloy shell make it safer and take it along for the ride during your day-to-day needs
  • RECHARGING OPTIONS: quickly refuel from home wall outlet or sun with any compatible solar panel (Especially the Suaoki's 40W, 60W, 50W, 100W Portable Solar Panel); a high-density lithium-ion battery allows a more compact build than the lead-acid power ones
SaleBestseller No. 9
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station, 400Wh Battery Powered Generator Alternative with 12V, AC and USB Outputs
343 Reviews
$459.99 - $10.04 $449.95
Buy at Amazon
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station, 400Wh Battery Powered Generator Alternative with 12V, AC and USB Outputs

  • 396Wh lead acid battery portable power station can power up to 7 devices at once (33Ah @ 12V)
  • Continuous 300W, 600W surge pure-sine wave inverter, 2.1A USB ports, 120W 12V ports
  • Charge phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, and most small devices. Backup power for small appliances, lights, and more
  • Recharges from AC, 12V or solar panels (sold separately). Gas-free generator alternative with no noise, no fumes, no maintenance
  • Chainable with other 33Ah lead acid batteries for longer runtimes
SaleBestseller No. 10
SUAOKI Solar Charger 60W Portable Solar Panel Foldable High Efficiency 5V USB 18V DC Dual Output Charger for Laptop Tablet GPS iPhone iPad Camera Other 5-18V Device
21 Reviews
$239.99 - $80.00 $159.99
Buy at Amazon
SUAOKI Solar Charger 60W Portable Solar Panel Foldable High Efficiency 5V USB 18V DC Dual Output Charger for Laptop Tablet GPS iPhone iPad Camera Other 5-18V Device

  • HIGH CONVERSION EFFICIENCY: charge with the power of the sun; the solar charger generates 60W output with up to 20% high conversion efficiency under 3.8W Lux, providing enough power to charge two devices simultaneously
  • PORTABLE POWER SOURCE: 5V USB and 18V DC dual output keep your USB/DC devices full of juice, without having to rely on a wall outlet, or a power bank, and brings you an unplugged lifestyle
  • FOLD UP AS A BRIEFCASE: when folded, the solar charger looks like a briefcase (11.5 x 6.3 inches) easy for transport; when unfolded (11.5 x 65.7 inches), it can hang on your RV, tent, or just spread out on the beach to gives you instant charge from sunlight
  • SUAOKI TIR-C TECHNOLOGY: built-in smart IC for the USB port; the charger can automatically and quickly identify the current of your equipment and speed up the charge process with our advanced TIR-C technology
  • 10-IN-1 CONNECTOR INCLUDED: the connector features 10 connectors for most laptops on the market (MacBooks excluded); charge your laptop directly without any AC adapter, AC outlet involved

Now that you are educated and have a good idea about “how does a solar generator work ?, there is a lot more you can do with solar. Check out these articles. Thank you for visiting MySolarHome.us.

Last update on 2018-08-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Author: Michael Bennet

A solar energy professional with eight years of marketing and installation experience. Avid and passionate about the adoption of solar and related technologies in all homes. Blog about all things solar at mysolarhome.us.

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