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solar backup generators

Best Solar Generators For Home Backup [2023]: Top 10 Picks + Buying Guide

Whether you are looking for a viable "off the grid" living option or want a backup power supply in case of total power loss, solar generators offer a green solution that can be just as effective as gas and propane generators.

Backup power for the home has become critical because of our increased reliance on connected devices including phones, and laptops.

Solar backup generators are not just for powering home appliances like refrigerators and air conditioner - more and more, they are being purchased to provide reliable backup power for critical medical devices.

For example, CPAPs are a popular way to treat sleep apnea and other dangerous sleep disorders. Without an adequate supply of power, things can get dangerous.

The Problem With Gas Generators

Gas, diesel and propane generators have been relied upon for years for home power backup and emergency standby power for everything from hospitals to houses.  They are cheap, easy to maintain and widely available.

That said, gas generators suffer from a number of important solar drawbacks that solar backup generators completely avoid - as follows:

Fuel Supply

A gas generator doesn't store electrical energy. Instead, it converts fuel into electrical energy when you start it up.

To keep the lights on, then, you must constantly resupply a gas, diesel or propane generator with fossil fuel.  Doing so costs money to buy the fuel, unlike solar power which is free.

In contrast, solar generators run on the power of the sun - which is 100% renewable, free and reliable. 

Noise

Loud noise is another issue with gas & propane generators. 

In contrast, solar generators are completely silent.

Exhaust & Emissions

Burning fossil fuels emits CO2 and carbon monoxide. And don't even think about using a fossil-fueled generator in an enclosed space – if the noise doesn’t drive you crazy, the CO2 and carbon monoxide emissions can kill you.  

Exhaust and emissions are not a problem with a solar generator -  you can run one on your kitchen counter if you want.

Solar backup generators offer a greener, renewable and more reliable solution to all of these problems.

Solar generators are quiet, lack any harmful fumes and exhaust, and are completely renewable. With a handful of well-placed solar panels, you can provide a FREE supply of backup power for your home.

Today, solar home backup power is within reach of everyone.

Over the past few decades, the steady march of technology has extended battery life and  made solar panels less expensive and more efficient.

As a result, solar generators have gone from a wildly expensive, fringe DIY project, to a user-friendly and affordable solution that anyone can purchase online.

The cost of a solar generator remains higher than a comparable wattage power gas generator, but considering all of the benefits, a lot of people today are choosing to go solar.

Today, you can select from dozens of solar generators designed for home power and standby backup.

Which one stands above the rest?

Read on to learn about the most popular & proven solar generators sold today.

NOTE: In addition to the retail generators listed on this page, you can find more expensive, permanently installed generator solutions from a licensed solar energy installer in your town.


Best Home Backup & Standby Solar Generators

  1. 1
    Best For Electronics & Small Appliances: Jackery Explorer 500

solar generator for tiny house
  • Goal Zero Yeti 6000X

  • Most Powerful
  • Li-ion battery
    6,071Wh Li-ion battery
  • 2000W continuous 3500W surge pure sine wave inverter
  • Output:
    USB, 12V, AC

  • Weight:
    106lbs

  • Warranty
    2yrs

solar generator for tiny house
  • Goal Zero Yeti 3000X

  • Best 3000Wh
  • Li-ion battery
    3,032Wh Li-ion battery
  • 2000W continuous 3500W surge pure sine wave inverter
  • Output:
    USB, 12V, AC

  • Weight:
    69.8lbs

  • Warranty
    2yrs

solar generator for tiny house
  • Goal Zero Yeti 1500X

  • Best 1500Wh
  • Li-ion battery
    1516Wh Li-ion battery
  • 2000W continuous 3500W surge pure sine wave inverter
  • Output:
    USB, 12V, AC

  • Weight:
    45.6lbs

  • Warranty
    2yrs

solar generator for tiny house
  • EF ECOFLOW Delta

  • Fastest charging
  • Li-ion battery
    1260Wh Li-ion battery
  • 1800W continuous 3000W surge pure sine wave inverter
  • Output:
    110V AC, 12V DC, USB-A, USB-C

  • Weight:
    30.9lbs

  • Warranty
    2yrs

portable solar generator for camping
  • Jackery Explorer 500

  • Best for devices & small appliances
  • Li-ion battery
    288Wh Li-ion battery
  • 500W pure sine wave inverter
  • Output:
    110V AC, 12V DC, USB-A

  • Weight:
    13.3lbs

  • Warranty
    2yrs

solar generator for tiny house
  • EF ECOFLOW DELTA Max (2000)

  • Best with solar panels
  • Li-ion battery
    2016Wh
  • 2400W continuous 5000W surge pure sine wave inverter
  • Output:
    AC, DC, USB-A, USB-C

  • Weight:
    48lbs

  • Warranty
    2yrs

solar generator for tiny house
  • MAXOAK

  • Best 1000W
  • Li-ion battery
    2400Wh Li-Po battery
  • 1000W continuous 1200W surge pure sine wave inverter
  • Output:
    110V AC, 12V DC, USB-A, USB-C PD

  • Weight:
    48.5lbs

  • Warranty
    2yrs


What You Need to Know About Backup Solar Generators

solar backup generators

The solar generators on this page can be bought online and are designed for powering home appliances and lighting and for recharging vital electronics.  

That said, there are limitations and other things you need to be aware of when shopping for a home solar generator.

Solar Generators Cannot Power Your Entire Home (Yet)

Some heavy appliances like cloth dryers, water heaters and pool pumps consume a huge amount of energy that will sap any generator - solar powered, or not.  

In general, a solar generator won't power heavy appliances for a very long period of time. For that, you'll need to upgrade to a fully installed home solar power system with at least $10,000 worth of batteries.

That said, mid-range appliances like air conditioners, freezers and electric ovens are far more energy-efficient today than a few decades ago. Most solar backup generators can power these for a single use between charges, but not much more.  

The sweet spot for solar backup generators is powering electronic appliances like LED televisions, toasters, and hair dryers. And, of course, keeping your electronics on and recharged.

That said, newer solar generators are increasingly powerful.

Brands like Bluetti, EcoFlow and Renogy are launching bigger and bigger solar generators such as the Renogy Lycan 5000, Bluetti EP500Pro and Bluetti AC500 + B300S. 

These solar generators produce more than 3000W of power, and in the case of the AC500 + B300S, 5000W. They also come with massive capacity and are typically expandable to over 10kWh. 

They can power heavy appliances like ovens and air conditioners for a few hours.  

Soon, we might have a solar generator that can power an entire house. 

In fact, I think there's already one in the market. See my review of the Hysolis Apollo 5K below. It can produce up to 27kW of power. 

The Apollo 5K is the exception, for now. So you need to have realistic expectations when shopping for backup and standby solar generators.

The most powerful home solar backup generators are capable of keeping your refrigerator on, keeping your computer and electronics running, and powering a handful of lights and other appliances, but they are not yet able to match the full-home power supply of larger backup generators powered by natural gas and propane.

Still, solar generators are very useful backup power supplies in the case of a home blackout, because they offer so many advantages.

To make the right solar generator purchase, you'll want to have an idea of the required voltage and total wattage of the devices & appliances you want to keep alive during a blackout.

Use our handy appliance wattage guide to figure out how many watts you'll need to keep your most important lights, devices and appliances running

Then, look for solar backup generators that supply that level of wattage.  And make sure they have the right type & number of outlets (12V, 110V, 220V, USB, 2A, etc.)

If you are really committed to buying a completely renewable backup generator for your home and want enough backup/standby power to run your air conditioner and refrigerator for days, then you can always purchase multiple generators or get an expandable solar generator.


Best Home Backup & Standby Solar Generators

1. Best For Home Integration (UPS): Renogy Lycan 5000 Power Box 

solar power generator for home

Goal Zero has revamped their Yeti lineup. The new Yeti X solar generators are more capable, offer added functionality, and charge faster through solar.    

The most powerful of the new Yeti models, and one of the most powerful home backup solar generators overall, is the Goal Zero Yeti 6000X. 

The massive 6000Wh battery pack can power up to 2000W appliances for hours. In case of a blackout, you can keep the most important electronics running for hours or days. 

Pros

  • High power output.
  • Large capacity that is expandable.
  • Easy home integration.
  • Fast solar and AC charging.
  • Modular and rugged design. 

Cons

  • Limited output options.

Our Review

If you want a solar generator that can keep most of your appliance running during a power outage, the Lycan 5000 Power Box is a great pick. 

With an output of 3500W, it can not only power almost any household appliance, it can power several at the same time. 

In an emergency, you can keep using your fridge, TV, washing machine, and other appliances. 

Renogy pairs the high output of the Lycan 5000 with a huge capacity of 4800Wh. This ensures that even when you power large appliances, the Lycan 5000 doesn't run out of juice too quickly. 

You can keep your home powered for hours or days. Here’s roughly how long the Lycan 5000 can power various appliances.

Portable/window AC (1000W)

6.2 hours

Fridge (135W)

60 hours

TV (120W)

34 hours

Coffee Maker (900W)

90 cups

Laptop (60Wh)

60 recharges

Washing machine (500W)

8 washes

If you need a longer runtime, the Lycan 5000 is expandable to a max capacity of 19.2kWh. Just order additional 48V LiFePO4 batteries from Renogy. 

If you want the kind of uninterrupted backup provided by a traditional home solar system, you can get it with the Renogy Lycan 5000. 

As I mentioned, the Lycan 5000 is designed to be easy to integrate into your home power grid via the 20A or 30A AC outlet. 

To turn it into a UPS system, all you need is an automatic transfer switch. Select which circuits (the Lycan 5000 cannot power every circuit in your home) you want to backup and connect them to the transfer switch, or rather have a licensed electrician do it. 

When mains power goes out, the Lycan 5000 will automatically take over. 

Fast Charging 

With a max solar input of 4400W, the Renogy Lycan is one of the fastest charging solar generators we have reviewed. 

This is important during an extended emergency. It makes it easy to keep your home powered for as long as you need. 

If you max out and set up a 4400W array (60-145V), you could charge the Lycan 5000 in as little as 2.5 hours.  

The Lycan 5000 also has an AC charging option, which you can use to keep it topped up when there’s power. 

AC input is 2400W. You can combine AC and solar input (6800W max) to charge the Lycan 5000 to 80% in just 1 hour. 

Built to Last

The Renogy Lycan is unlike any other solar generator in the market. For one, you can see and access all the internal components. 

In fact, you can replace these components including the batteries, inverter and charge controller. This makes it easy to maintain or upgrade the solar generator. A failed battery or another component won’t force you to chuck the entire system. 

The Renogy Lycan is also a lot more rugged than most other solar generators. It has an IP55 water resistant housing, meaning you can use it outside under a sheltered area. 

Issues & Limitations

Heavy 

The Renogy Lycan 5000 weighs 264.6lbs. Forget about traveling with it; it is a purely home backup solar generator.

If you are looking for a solar generator you can use at home and away, I recommend something smaller and lighter like the Jackery 2000 Pro.

Limited Outlets

The Renogy Lycan 5000 has just two AC outlets. That’s it. No USB or DC outputs. 

That’s why I said it’s designed for home integration. If you want a solar generator you can plug appliances and devices directly into, the Lycan 5000 is not it. 


2. Best 1000W Solar Generator: EcoFlow Delta Mini

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If you are looking for a smaller home backup power station to power small appliances and charge your devices, a 1000W solar generator is adequate.

It’s also versatile, since you can use it at home, take it with you camping, go with it on road trips and so on. 

Our favorite 1000W solar generator for home backup is the EcoFlow Delta Mini. It actually has a 1400W output, so you can power a wide range of appliances.

Pros

  • Enough power to run most appliances.
  • X-Boost feature increases output to 1800W.
  • Multiple outlets.
  • Fast AC charging.
  • Remote app control. 

Cons

  • Limited capacity - drains quickly when powering large appliances.
  • Slow solar charging.

Our Review 

If you want to power appliances like a mini fridge, TV, freezer, CPAP, or a fan, the Delta Mini is a great choice. It’s also a lot more affordable compared to high output solar generators. 

With 1400W of output, the Delta Mini can do a lot more than you expect. It can power a full size refrigerator, a microwave, a coffee maker and many other household appliances. 

If you need more power, the Delta Mini has a feature called X-Boost that increases output to 1800W (by slightly reducing voltage). 

That said, you probably don't want to plug in high-consumption appliances. The Delta Mini has a capacity of 882Wh. That’s not much when you want to power a 500W washing machine. The battery will last only 1.5 hours. 

That’s why I recommend the Delta Mini for small and medium size appliances. You can also power larger appliances like a coffee maker or microwave that only run for a few minutes. 

Here are the approximate Delta Mini runtimes you can expect with various devices and appliances. 

Mini fridge (60W)

12.5 hours

CPAP (40W)

18.7 hours

TV (120W)

6.2 hours

Multiple lights (50W)

15 hours

Laptop (60Wh)

12 recharges

Smartphone (12Wh)

62 recharges

As you can see, the Delta Mini actually lasts a decent amount of time when you use it to power small appliances and charge gadgets. 

Versatile Outlets

The EcoFlow Delta Mini comes with all the outlets you need to run different kinds of electronics. 

For appliances, there are five AC outlets with a combined output of 1400W (1800W with X-Boost). Surge/peak output is 2100W. 

For 12V electronics like CPAP, a router or a car fridge, there’s a 12V car port and two 12V DC5521 outlets. 

You can power your laptop or fast charge your phone from the USB-C 100W port. There’s also a Quick Charge 18W USB-A port and two regular 12W USB-A ports.

Fast AC Charging

EcoFlow solar generators all have impressive AC charging speeds. The company calls it X-Stream charging. 

The included wall charger puts in up to 900W of power, which charges the Delta Mini to 80% in just 1 hour. 

Max solar input is 300W (11-75V), which takes 4-5 hours to recharge the Delta Mini on a sunny day. It’s not super fast, but at least you can fully recharge the solar generator in less than a day during an emergency. 

When you travel with the Delta Mini, you can also charge it from your car’s 12V/24V outlet, though this takes a lot longer. But it’s perfect for topping up the solar generator when you are on the move.  

Issues & Limitations

Limited Capacity 

Despite the relatively high output, the Delta Mini is mostly ideal for powering small and medium size appliances as well as recharging devices. 

That’s because of its limited capacity. Large appliances will drain it too fast. 

Another limitation of the battery is that it is lithium-ion. It doesn't last as long as a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery.  

3. Best 2000W Solar Generator: Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro

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It’s hard to choose the best 2000W home backup solar generator because there are so many of them in this range. 

But I think the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro offers the best combination of value, power, capacity, versatility and charging performance. 

Pros

  • Can power most home appliances.
  • Large capacity.
  • Wide range of output options.
  • Fast AC and solar charging.
  • Portable enough for use at home and away. 

Cons

  • Not expandable.
  • Li-ion battery - has a shorter lifespan than a LiFePO4 battery.

Our Review 

Jackery has been upgrading their popular solar generators. The Explorer 2000 Pro has more capacity, better output options, and faster charging than the older Explorer 2000. 

The Jackery 2000 Pro has an output of 2200W (4400W surge). There’s a lot you can do with that. 

You can power your kitchen refrigerator, watch TV, power your microwave, and use your coffee maker. You can also recharge your devices, keep lights on and run other smaller electronics like a fan or CPAP machine. 

With a capacity of 2160Wh, the Li-ion battery in the Explorer 2000 Pro is able to keep up with the consumption of most appliances. 

Here’s how long the Jackery 2000 Pro will power various appliances and electronics. 

Refrigerator (150W)

11 hours

TV (120W)

14 hours

Washing machine (500W)

3 cycles

Laptop (60Wh)

28 recharges

Microwave (1000W)

1.7 hours

3 Smartphones (36Wh)

16 recharges each

5. Best For Electronics: Jackery Explorer 500

solar power generator for home

If you just need to keep your devices charged and power some small appliances during a blackout, we recommend the Jackery Explorer 500. 

Pros

  • Perfect for charging devices.
  • Lightweight and compact - ideal for use at home and away.
  • Multiple outlets.
  • Display screen lets you monitor power and battery.

Cons

  • Not ideal for most appliances.
  • No USB-C port.

Our Review

The Jackery Explorer 500 will not power your fridge or coffee maker during a blackout. It’s far too small for that. 

But it’s perfect for mini appliances like a fan, CPAP or personal cooler as well as devices and gadgets. 

It has a 518Wh lithium battery, enough to charge your smartphone, laptop and other devices many times over.  

What Can The Jackery Explorer 500 Charge/Power?

The Jackery Explorer 500 is suited to devices and small appliances. 

With four USB ports, you can plug in multiple devices at once such as a smartphone, camera, tablet, Bluetooth speaker and so on. 

As for appliances, it’s limited to low power ones like mini coolers, portable refrigerators, a fan, or a mini projector. 

How long the Jackery Explorer 500 lasts depends on the capacity or power draw of whatever you’ve plugged in. 

For instance, you can charge a smartphone 50 times, recharge a laptop almost 5 times, and run a small TV for almost 8 hours. 

Outlets

  • (3) 5V 2.4A USB-A ports 
  • (1) 110V 500W AC outlet
  • (2) 12V 7A DC outlet
  • (1) 12V car DC outlet

Charging Options  

solar power generator for home

When there’s power, you can charge the Jackery Explorer 500 from a wall outlet using the included charger. It takes about 7.5 hours to recharge.

In a blackout or when you are outdoors, connect a solar panel (a 100W max) or charge it from your moving vehicle. 

Issues & Limitations

The Jackery Explorer 500 is limited in what it can power. 

You cannot plug in high-wattage household appliances like a coffee maker and most blenders. It also cannot power a space heater or even a window or portable AC unit. 

The other issue is the lack of a USB-C port, something that virtually all portable solar generators have. The Explorer 500 doesn't even offer a quick charge port. 

Summary

The Jackery Explorer 500 is a great choice if you need a lightweight and compact solar generator that can keep your devices charged and power some small appliances. 


Buying Guide for Solar Powered Backup Generators for Home

How Do Solar Generators Work?

Setup of a Solar Generator

Solar backup generators provide a portable solar power supply. Instead of having a permanent solar installation in your home, complete with roof panels and a large battery bank, a solar generator packages everything in one relatively small unit.

Solar backup generators have five main components:

  • Solar panels to capture sunlight. These may or may not be included with the main unit. If they are not included, you can buy them separately.
  • A built-in battery bank to store power.
  • An inverter that converts DC power from the battery to AC power that you can use to power appliances.
  • A built-in solar charge controller to monitor and control current from the solar panel to the battery.
  • Multiple output ports allow you to charge or power devices and appliances.

Solar Generator Calculator: What Size Solar Generator Do I Need?

It’s important to properly size your solar generator. There’s no harm buying one that’s too big for your power needs, but a too-small solar generator won’t last beyond a couple hours after a blackout.

The best way to determine how many watt-hours you need in a backup solar generator is to determine how many things you need to power and for how long.

For example a 50” LED TV uses 100 watts an hour. Watching TV for two hours a day consumes 200Wh. If you have a 10W bulb that stay on for four hours a day, total lighting consumption is 40Wh daily.

Add the two and you have a 240Wh consumption. A 1,000Wh solar generator will last about 4 hours (1,000/240) before the battery runs out.

Of course, your home electric consumption is more complicated than this. You likely have several bulbs, multiple appliance and lots of devices to charge.

You don’t need to be super accurate. Focus on the appliances that use most power. Add up their consumption and get a solar generator with enough watt-hours to last several hours or days.

For certain appliances like fridges, it’s hard to calculate daily consumption since they keep turning on and off. In that case, check online for approximate daily power consumption for that type and size of appliance.

Some manufacturers also state daily or annual power consumption in the user manual or product label.

It’s a good idea to get a solar generator with more power than you need just in case you experience a longer than expected blackout.

If you are on a budget, you can get a lower capacity emergency backup solar generator, but make sure you also buy solar panels to keep the battery charged when there’s no power.

With the right solar kit, you can outlast a prolonged blackout.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Solar Powered Generator

Solar Generator

1. Solar panel output 

The first thing to consider is your PV (photovoltaic) output. That’s the amount of power your solar panels generate.

You need to make sure that the voltage and amps are within the limit of what the battery can handle.

You also need to check that your solar panels can charge the batteries quickly enough.

If it takes days to fill up your battery, your solar generator won’t be of much help, especially if you rely on it often.

If you want a powerful solar powered generator, get high-wattage solar panels as well.

But if you want a smaller standby generator to charge small devices like smartphones, a basic 100-watt solar panel will do.

2. Battery Capacity and Type

Battery capacity is expressed in amp-hours (Ah) or watt-hours(Wh).

Generally, for most applications, you want a solar generator with a battery capacity of at least 1,000 watt-hours.

This lets you power small gadgets as well as some appliances.

You can go lower to around 600-800Wh if you are only charging your smartphone or laptop.

But if you want something that can power a fridge or mini AC, look for a 2,000+ watt-hour generator.

A higher battery capacity not only lets you power more gadgets and appliances, but it also provides backup power for longer at night and in bad weather.

Note: The Wh rating of a battery is not its actual usable capacity. With most lead-acid batteries, you should discharge no more than two-thirds of the battery. So a 1,000Wh battery has a usable capacity of around 666Wh. Keep this in mind when selecting the right capacity for your needs.

It’s a good idea to get a bigger battery than you need.

As you consider what battery capacity suits your needs, also think about the type of battery.

Most solar generators use sealed lead acid batteries. They are inexpensive; they last relatively long and are reliable.

Solar backup generators with lithium batteries are more expensive. But they provide more power, higher charging efficiency, and a longer lifespan.

3. Inverter Rating 

Capacity doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the battery’s capability.

In addition to how much charge it can store, you also need to know how much power you can draw from it.

This determines what kind of gadgets and appliances you can power.

The inverter rating tells you how much power the battery can produce at any given moment. It’s given in watts.

The inverter is the part that converts DC power from the battery to the AC power you use to power appliances.

For small appliances and gadgets, a 1,000W-1,500W inverter is good enough.

For bigger appliances, look for a solar generator with an inverter rating closer to 2000W or higher.

Remember also to check the peak or surge rating. This is the maximum amount of power the battery can supply for a limited time, typically a few seconds.

Some appliances such as refrigerators and pumps require more power during startup.

In most solar generators, the surge rating is double the standard/continuous power rating. But check the specs to be sure.

4. Type of Inverter 

Don’t just check the inverter rating; also check what kind of inverter it is.

There are three types: pure sine wave, modified sine wave, and square wave inverters.

I won’t bore you with the technical explanation behind each type. Here’s all you need to know.

Pure sine wave inverters are the best but also the most expensive. They are more efficient, and most appliances work best and at full power when connected to a pure sine wave inverter.

Some timers, lights, and digital clocks will not work properly unless connected to a pure sine wave inverter.

Square sine wave inverters are the cheapest and the least efficient. They can only run basic appliances with universal motors. You are unlikely to find a solar generator with a square sine wave inverter.

Modified sine wave inverters fall somewhere between the above two types of inverters, though they are much closer to the square ones.

While modified sine wave inverters will power most appliances and gadgets, they are less efficient and can cause some devices to malfunction.

On the upside, a modified sine wave inverter is cheaper than a pure one.

But if you want a powerful and efficient solar generator, look for one with a pure sine wave inverter. The extra cost is worth it.

5. Output Options 

This is something many people forget to check when buying a solar generator only to discover they cannot plug in their fridge or charge their phone.

A good solar generator should have three output options: an AC outlet, a 12V DC outlet, and USB ports.

The number of each type of output varies. Some generators can have as many as 4 USB ports, maybe a couple of AC outlets and one 12V socket.

6. Portability 

Most standby solar generators require a degree of portability. This makes it easy to use them at the point of need, whether it’s in a specific room, outdoors or out in the wild.

Portability is also important in solar tracking, where you move the solar generator and panels to maximize sun exposure.

The lightest standby solar generators weigh about 30-40lbs. These are relatively easy to move around, albeit with some help.

Powerful generators can weigh close to 100lbs. Many come in heavy-duty casings with wheels for easier portability.

If your chosen solar generator doesn’t have wheels or is hard to move, consider buying a cart.

7. Extra Features 

Here are some additional features to look for.

Multiple recharge options: A solar generator you can recharge from a home wall outlet or out of your car’s cigarette lighter socket can be useful at night or in bad weather. Additional recharge options are also handy when you need to quickly recharge the battery (solar panels can take several hours or days to fill up the battery).

Stackable: Check whether you can connect multiple batteries for extra capacity. Some solar generators even come with ports you can use to daisy-chain several batteries.

LCD display: An LCD display lets you monitor how much power the solar panels are producing and how much charge you have left in the battery.

Fast charging USB ports: The USB ports found in most solar generators are the standard types. Some generators come with fast-charging USB ports that juice up your devices in less time. This is especially handy if you want to charge multiple devices.

Wireless connectivity: A solar generator with WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity allows you to monitor power consumption and PV input easily on your Smartphone. But with Bluetooth, you need to be in range. If the generator uses WiFi, you can monitor the system from anywhere.

Things to Avoid when Choosing a Solar Powered Generator

solar backup generators

Here’s what to avoid when shopping for a solar generator.

1. Square-Sine Wave Inverters 

We’ve already discussed the three types of inverters.

Avoid square sine wave inverters; it unlikely you’ll find them anyway.

2. Very Low Capacity Solar Backup Generators

Even if you are charging gadgets like your smartphone, tablet, and camera, it’s still a good idea to get a decently sized solar generator.

Don’t go below 600Wh.

If you plan to power an appliance like a CPAP machine, a coffee maker or a fan, don’t go below 1,000Wh.

You want a generator that can last at least a full day and night even on cloudy days.

3. Very Low-wattage Solar Panels 

The solar panels that come with some generators feel like tokens rather than a genuine effort to provide customers with a complete system.

A 50W solar panel will take days to charge a 100Ah battery.

Check that the solar generator comes with solar panels that can charge the battery in at most 6-8 hours.

One 100W panel or two 50W panels are good enough for most standby solar generators.

4. Low Quality or Suspiciously Cheap Solar Generators 

‘You get what you pay for’ holds up well when it comes to buying a solar generator.

Despite the potential savings, you are better off avoiding cheap off-brand solar generators, especially if they boast a high wattage and capacity.

Buy from a trusted brand with a reputation for high-quality products.

Setup of a Solar Powered Generator

setup of solar backup generators

Installing an Off-Grid Solar Generator System

If you are going off-grid whether it’s camping, boating or living in a cabin somewhere in the woods, it’s essential that you harvest enough solar energy to meet your needs.

Solar Panels 

The first thing is to make sure you have the right number and capacity of solar panels. Your solar array should fill up your battery with a day’s worth of sunshine (at least 6 hours).

Monocrystalline solar panels are the best though they can be a bit pricey. If you are on a budget Polycrystalline will do.

Set up the solar panels where they will receive maximum exposure.

If it’s an off-grid house, roof mounting is the best. For RVs and camping, use a solar panel ground mount that you can move around to keep up with the sun’s position.

If possible, the solar panels should face south at an angle of about 30 degrees.

Charge Controller 

Most standby solar backup generators come with the charge controller built in or included separate from the main unit. So you don’t need to worry about buying a charge controller.

If your generator doesn’t have a charge controller, look for one that is rated for your solar array’s total output voltage and current.

It should also be compatible with your battery’s voltage.

Battery 

The battery will also be integrated into the solar generator. It can be lead acid or lithium.

As I mentioned, a high ampere-hour or watt-hour battery lets you power more stuff for longer.

Inverter 

As with other components, there is no setup for the inverter. It’s integrated into the system.

You need to remember to turn it on when using the AC socket. This converts the DC power from the battery into usable AC power.

Installing an On-Grid Solar Generator System

For on-grid homes, you need to install the solar panels on the roof or ground, connect them to an inverter than connect the invert to your mains.

The inverter converts DC power from the solar panels to AC power that is compatible with your home electrical system.

Your home will use free solar energy during the day and seamlessly switch to grid power at night or when it’s cloudy.

If you don’t want a whole house backup system, you don’t have to do all this.

You can connect your solar panels to the solar generator. Then when utility power goes out, you can plug in your essential appliances and devices into the solar generator.

Pros and Cons Of A Solar Generator For Home Backup

The Good 

Solar generators offer a clean backup power solution compared to gas generators. Solar generators can be charged using renewable solar energy. 

Another big advantage is the ease of setting up a solar generator. Unlike a wired home backup system, solar generators don’t require any wiring. You simply plug in devices and appliances since all the components are built into a single compact unit. 

You don't need to spend more money on an electrician to install solar panels and wire your home. 

The compact all-in-one design also makes solar generators portable. You can take it where you want to use it, and even go with it camping or in your RV. This makes it much more versatile compared to a wired solar backup system. 

The Downsides of Solar Generators For Home Backup

The biggest downside of using a solar generator for home backup is that you are limited in storage capacity. 

Unlike a wired solar system, you cannot create a large battery bank that stores enough power to last days. Most solar generators have smaller lithium batteries that are good for a few hours to a couple of days. 

It’s hard to find a solar generator you can use for whole house backup. You have to choose which electronics you want to run in an emergency. 

You are also limited in terms of output. Many solar generators have sub 600W inverters that only power smaller appliances. 

You can get a high-output solar generator (1000-2000W), but they are pricey. 

The other big downside is that power is located in just one place. It’ll be tricky trying to plug in the TV and the kitchen fridge at the same time. 

You have to keep plugged in appliances close to the power station.


Solar Generators For Home Backup: FAQs

Can a solar generator power my entire home?

Probably not, unless you get a large solar generator and you have a tiny home. Solar generators are meant to power and charge just a few electronics, not the entire house. 

If you want to backup your entire house, go with a wired system complete with solar panels on the roof and a high-capacity battery bank. 

Can I use a solar generator at night or when it’s cloudy?

Yes, you can. Solar generators have a built-in battery, usually a lithium battery. 

When it is sunny and you’ve connected solar panels, energy is stored in the battery and you can use it at any time. 

You can also charge the solar generator from a wall outlet or a moving vehicle. 

Can I use a solar generator without solar panels?

You certainly can. Most solar generators can be charged via a wall outlet or a vehicle’s 12V port. So when it’s not sunny, you have other options. 

How long can a solar generator power appliances?

It depends on its storage capacity and how much power the appliances are using. Because you’ll likely be plugging in different kinds of electronics including gadgets and devices, it can be hard to estimate the battery run time. 

But generally, solar generators can power a few electronics for several hours. 

If you want a solar generator to power appliances for longer when there’s no power, get a solar panel to recharge it daily.   

About the Author David Roberts

I'm a Mechanical Engineer who's obsessed with solar energy and sustainable living.

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