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
293 Reviews
$199.99 - $60.00 $139.99
See Reviews on 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
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
86 Reviews
$399.99 - $391.00 $8.99
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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.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station, 400Wh Battery Powered Generator Alternative with 12V, AC and USB Outputs
355 Reviews
$459.99 - $10.04 $449.95
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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
Bestseller No. 4
Genex Nature's Generator - Gold GXFSSLV
2 Reviews
$999.99
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Genex Nature's Generator - Gold GXFSSLV

  • Nature's Generator has a built-in 1800W Pure Sine Wave Inverter and Internal 60 AH battery; Helps produce 720 watt hours of total output on a single charge.
  • 1 - 100W Polycrystalline Solar Panel with included Solar Panel Cart for ease of transport and movement
  • Includes 3 - 120V AC outlets , 2 - USB ports that produce 3A of combined power , 1 - 12V DC outlet, 1 - Solar Input (200W charge controller included) and 1 - Wind Input (300w charge controller included)
  • Bluetooth Smartkey for easy pairing with iOS and/or Android devices. Allows you to track system use and run system diagnostics.
  • Built-in 600-Volt/175 Amp expansion port for connecting an unlimited amount of nature's power pods
Bestseller No. 5
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
86 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. 6
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
113 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. 
SaleBestseller No. 7
Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator All-in-one Solar Kit for Mobile, Off-grid Applications and Emergencies
98 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. 8
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
24 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. 9
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
203 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.
Bestseller No. 10
Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Lithium Portable Power Station Wifi Mobile App Enabled, 3024Wh/280Ah Silent Gas Free Generator Alternative with 1500 Watt (3000 Watt Surge) AC Inv, USB, USB-C, USB-PD 12V Outputs
12 Reviews
$2,999.95
See Reviews on Amazon
Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Lithium Portable Power Station Wifi Mobile App Enabled, 3024Wh/280Ah Silent Gas Free Generator Alternative with 1500 Watt (3000 Watt Surge) AC Inv, USB, USB-C, USB-PD 12V Outputs

  • The Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Portable Power Station stores 3,075 watt-hours in a replaceable lithium battery pack with a variety of high-power outputs capable of running 10 devices at once.
  • Features our exclusive patent-pending Pure-Sine Wave AC Inverter rated for 1500 watts continuous power and a 3000 watt surge. Run fridges, blenders, swamp coolers, tools, sump pumps, and more all at the push of a button.
  • It operates with no noise, no fumes, no gasoline - making it perfectly safe to use both indoors and out. Recharge the internal battery by plugging it in at home, or pairing it with solar panels, sold separately.
  • Check power usage and control the Yeti Power Station from any mobile device via the free Goal Zero Yeti App. It's easy to check battery levels, turn ports on and off, and even update firmware from almost anywhere.
  • No additional maintenance or operation costs resulting in a total cost of ownership that's less than half of a gasoline generator

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 2018-12-16 / 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.

2 thoughts on “How does a solar generator work?”

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