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
231 Reviews
$199.99 - $60.00 $139.99
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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
Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator All-in-one Solar Kit for Mobile, Off-grid Applications and Emergencies
90 Reviews
$474.71 - $4.72 $469.99
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Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator All-in-one Solar Kit for Mobile, Off-grid Applications and Emergencies

  • The Phoenix is an all-in-one portable solar power system specifically designed for mobile, off-grid applications and is ideal for emergencies
  • This compact, lightweight back-up system combines highly efficient Renogy 20W Monocrystalline Solar Panels and can expand up to 100 watts with additional PVs
  • The Phoenix can be charged by solar, AC power, or car power and comes with a 16Ah Li-ion(NMC) battery
  • The included 16Ah Li-ion(NMC) battery , giving the capability of limitless power
  • Minimum Inverter Efficiency: 80 percentage, Max Continuous Output Power: 150W, Output AC Frequency: 60 Hz
SaleBestseller No. 3
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
17 Reviews
$179.00 - $99.11 $79.89
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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. 4
EasyFocus Portable Power Station 200Wh Solar Generator 300W Pure Sine Wave Inverter Emergency Power Supply Charged by Solar/AC Outlet/Cars
167 Reviews
$403.99 - $385.00 from $18.99
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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. 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
65 Reviews
$599.99 - $440.00 from $159.99
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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. 
Bestseller No. 6
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
56 Reviews
$299.99
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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. 7
AIMTOM Portable Solar Generator, 42000mAh 155Wh Energy Inverter Supply, Emergency Backup Battery Box with Flashlights, Power Station for Camping, Home, CPAP, Car (110V AC Outlet, 3x12V DC, 3x USB)
40 Reviews
$199.97 - $46.00 $153.97
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AIMTOM Portable Solar Generator, 42000mAh 155Wh Energy Inverter Supply, Emergency Backup Battery Box with Flashlights, Power Station for Camping, Home, CPAP, Car (110V AC Outlet, 3x12V DC, 3x USB)

  • AIMTOM SPS-155 GENERATOR, POWER YOUR LIFE: The AIMTOM SPS-155 Portable Generator is a perfect portable power solution, with 42000mAh larger power capacity, whether you are looking for an emergency power supply for your home or you need to power a campsite, tailgate party, or your latest home improvement project.
  • POWERFUL AC/USB/DC OUTPUTS & MULTIPLE RECHARGING: Power Source with 110V/ 100W AC outlets provide power for small home appliances (max 100W), laptops, CPAP etc; 3* 5V USB output for phones, iPad, gps, mp3, camera, rc helicopter etc; 3* 12V DC output (max 180W, with an cigarette socket) for car devices and more. 3 Ways Recharging support solar panel (Not included), car charger and AC wall charger.
  • HIGH CAPACITY LIGHTWEIGHT LITHIUM POWER PACK: The solar power station with 42000mAh 155WH large capacity is only 3.48LB with an easy-carry handle. Designed to be a travel-friendly power station for powering up most devices less than 180 watts, very lightweight and compact, easy to take around when you go around to put into your bag. Take and use it pretty much anywhere.
  • QUIET SILENT GENERATOR: This power source was build-in power inverter, it runs super quiet, silent when you use in the night. Extremely quiet operation is comparable to the sound of a normal conversation according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
  • SAFETY GUARANTEED AND WARRANTY: Battery Management System (BMS) prevent over-current, over-voltage and over-temperature, prolong battery life, ensuring ultra-safety for you and your devices; Solar charging with MPPT; Built-in cooling fan to avoid over-heating when charging; It can also works as a torch/SOS for emergency lighting; 12 months warranty and Aintek Support Team lifelong friendly customer service.
SaleBestseller No. 8
SUAOKI G500 Portable Power Station Portable Lithium 500Wh Rechargeable Solar Generator with 300W Pure Sine Wave AC, 12V DC, 12V Car, USB/Type-C Quick Charge for Emergency Camping Outdoors
105 Reviews
$899.99 - $300.00 $599.99
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SUAOKI G500 Portable Power Station Portable Lithium 500Wh Rechargeable Solar Generator with 300W Pure Sine Wave AC, 12V DC, 12V Car, USB/Type-C Quick Charge for Emergency Camping Outdoors

  • 500WH MEGA-CAPACITY: ultra high-capacity of 500Wh (137,700mAh), G500 can charge a regular smartphone, or power a laptop, small appliances (mini refrigerator, speaker, projector) and more
  • 300W PURE SINE WAVE AC: equipped with 2 pcs 110V / 300W AC outlets generating pure sine wave output for sophisticated devices like modern computers, speakers, and CPAP machines
  • QUICK CHARGE USB PORTS: features 3 pcs QC3.0 quick charge USB ports; 2 USB-A ports (5~12V/3A), 1 USB-C port (5~12V/3A) for mobile devices and modern computers like the new Macbook
  • VERSATILE DC OUTPUT: each DC port supports 12V/3A output; also has a 12V/10A car port to power up your in-car devices when you're not around your car
  • 3 WAYS FOR RECHARGING: you can use AC wall outlets, 12V cigarette lighter socket on your car, and solar panel (not included) to charge this lithium power station when wall outlet is not available
SaleBestseller No. 9
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
195 Reviews
$358.99 - $170.00 $188.99
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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. 10
346WH Portable UPS Battery Backup Generator,Rechargeable Power Source Inverter with 110V/500W AC Outlet,12V Car,USB Output,Car Jump Starter for Camping -Orange
191 Reviews
$599.00 - $139.01 from $459.99
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346WH Portable UPS Battery Backup Generator,Rechargeable Power Source Inverter with 110V/500W AC Outlet,12V Car,USB Output,Car Jump Starter for Camping -Orange

  • 🔥 Portable Power Supply: Build-in High Capacity 12V / 31AH / 346WH Lithium-ion Battery,Off-grid power supply for camping CPAP or emergency backup,cameras,lamps,phones,laptops,TVs,mini fridges,scoorter,quadrotor, filming photography lighting,playstation etc.
  • 🎄Versatile Outputs: 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!
  • 🎉 On line UPS: Backup battery ups 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
  • 🎅 Rechargeable Battery,No Gasoline Required: Recharge from included wall AC outlet,12V Car cigarette charger cable( included ) and 40W-100W solar panel(sold separately)
  • 🎁 Safety Guaranteed and Warranty - BMS Provide short circuit,Overcharger Overload protection,environmental protection,energy saving and fire-proof ABS material and our worry-free 18-month warranty and friendly customer service.

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 2018-10-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Author: Michael Bennet

A Solar energy professional with ten years of marketing and installation experience. Avid and passionate about the adoption of solar and related technologies in all homes. Blogs about all things solar and sustainable at MySolarHome.us.

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