A generator is a machine that transforms energy into usable electric energy for either immediate or later use. Typically, a solar generator will have a solar energy collection device (i.e. solar panels) which also converts the sun’s energy into DC electric current. If that electricity is not needed right away it can be stored in the generator’s battery. From the battery, the electricity can either be used in its DC form, or it can be routed through the generator’s inverter for conversion to standard AC electricity. Generating AC power from DC power is the primary function that qualifies the term generator for this type of power supply.
A power station allows you to get everything that you need in order to generate power, from cables to an inverter to a charge controller and beyond. So, you won’t need to buy anything else in order to get this system up and running. The design comes with AC outlets and a couple of USB ports. It also features a handy LCD Battery Status display. Access up to 5000 watt peak and 2500 watt continuous with unit weighing less than135 pounds and it’s packed with power
- Choosing a Portable Power Station
- Solar PV Input
- Balanced system design
- Component Quality
- Battery storage capacity
- Power Required
- Jackery E240: For Camping and CPAP Machine
- Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station for Laptops, Phones and Camera
- Goal Zero Yeti 1400: For Refrigerator, Lights and Power Tools
- Advantages of the Lithium Battery Power Station
- Lighter weight.
- Higher electrical efficiency.
- Longer working life.
- Constant Voltage.
- Faster recharge.
- Definition of Terms Used in Power Stations
Choosing a Portable Power Station
The key details that are very important in a portable solar generator are portability, component quality, battery storage capacity, balanced system design and solar PV input. Here are a few more details that can help in picking the best portable generators for home use:
The mobility factor must be given utmost importance. A portable generator will be a great energy solution for families who love camping or staying outdoors. These handy and small portable generators can be a great choice considering that they can function efficiently and yet they do not take up a lot of space. Get a portable generator that is designed like a briefcase which makes handling and moving a lot easier.
Solar PV Input
A Solar generators biggest advantage is to be able to recharge with Solar Panels. This adds to the portability as you will able to charge wherever you have access to sunlight and this includes the most remotest parts of the world.
Balanced system design
The important combination for a balanced design for the generator system should have the following factors: solid PV input, usable storage capacity and as well as an applicable inverter rating. The components of the solar generator must complement each other so it will function at its best level. Having a balanced system design will ensure that the generator will last for a good amount of time which will give you the best value for your money.
Quality and durability are 2 essential components that you should find in a portable solar generator. The generator must not only be handy but it should also pass all the set quality standards to ensure its efficacy and reliability.
Battery storage capacity
An effective portable generator must have ample battery storage which allows the owner to use it even during times of limited sunlight or at night.
If you are considering a portable solar generator the most important thing to determine first is the total amount of power you will require in order to run everything you intend to. Every electrical device requires a certain amount of watts in order to run. Calculating the size your generator needs to be starts with simply adding up all the wattage requirements of all the devices you intend to power.
To give you an idea, here are some typical household items and their approximate wattage requirements:
|Cell Phone||5 Watts|
|Clock Radio||8 Watts|
|Laptop Computer||20 Watts|
|Table Lamp||40 Watts|
|18 Cubic Foot Refrigerator||120 Watts|
|Desktop Computer||200 Watts|
|Microwave Oven||1000 Watts|
As you can see, the size of device points you in the right direction in terms of wattage requirements most of the time, but some items need a surprisingly high amount of watts to run.
The other thing to keep in mind is how long your devices will run. During sunlight hours there shouldn’t be any problem as your generator will produce what is expected. However, when there is no sunlight you should be aware of how much time you’ll have with your devices if they are running off of solar battery power alone.
As you might imagine, the more watts a device requires, the shorter it will run on battery. If we take an 1,800 watt power station as an example, then the above 40 watt table lamp could run for about 10 hours if it was the only thing drawing energy from the battery. Likewise, the desktop computer could only run for about an hour and a half. And remember, that’s just by itself, with nothing else drawing from the battery. So of course this must also be taken into consideration when comparing generators. You will probably want a more powerful generator than you would normally
expect to use if much of your use will be during non-sunlight hours.
Jackery E240: For Camping and CPAP Machine
Perfect for usage at camp or at home, when power outages occur, this practical model will take you off of the grid and it won’t be noisy or smelly. It’s the perfect modern generator for Eco-conscious consumers and its price is very affordable in light of its high quality and its impressive array of sensible features.
The Jackery E240 can give a power output of 8-12 W over more than 12 hours which is more sufficient for cpap machines with consumption of around 3-4w (with humidifier turned off). This means you can be confident enough of using it off grid to power your cpap machine for more than 3 days without needing to recharge it.
Another advantage of the Jackery e240 is that you can easily recharge it by plugging it into the 12V DC Car port, using a solar panel or using the 110 V AC power charging cable at home.
Its LCD display provides input wattage, output wattage and current battery charge level. It has two 5 V DC (USB), 12 V DC and 110 V AC outputs.
Compact, yet powerful enough to offer plenty of power when you need it most, this dependable unit is also very simple to use.
- Easy to Carry
- DC and AC outlets
- You can power and charge at the same time.
- Not pricey
Slow Charging: Whether on Solar, Car or AC it takes its time to charge.
Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station for Laptops, Phones and Camera
Equipped with outputs which power up your devices this portable unit weighs in at twelve pounds. With the Yeti 150, you’ll access 150Wh capacity with 14 aH and you’ll be able to re-charge the via AC, 12V or Solar power. With a 80W modified-sine wave AC inverter is perfect for small laptops and DSLR camera batteries.
Up to 15 recharges on most phones, like iPhone and Android through the 2.1A USB port. Get 1 to 2 recharges on small laptops and up to 8 recharges on most DSLR camera batteries
- Light and Easy to Carry
- Multiple Ports for different Devices
- Chainable with other 14Ah lead acid batteries for longer runtime
Runs on a Lead Acid Battery
Goal Zero Yeti 1400: For Refrigerator, Lights and Power Tools
If you’re in the market for a high-end solar generator with all of the “bells and whistles”, you’ll likely find this Goal Zero-brand design appealing. The Yeti 1400 is crafted with an attractive silver-and-black finish and it’s big enough to offer significant power at camp.
This design features the right system for powering up an array of items, from lights to tools to fridges to freezers to medical equipment and beyond. In addition, it provides the ultimate in whisper-quiet performance, without any fumes.
You may use this model inside or outside and choose from three power sources (solar, wall or auto). This design is very portable as it comes with a convenient rolling cart which makes moving it from place to place so simple.
While it’s more expensive than many generators, it offers a great deal of bang for the buck, so it’s a great investment for those who want more power via a solar-style generator.
It is a good option for backup power in your home and you could combine either two or with another option and put them in separate rooms to power all your devices.
- Easy to Carry
- DC and AC outlets
- You can power and charge at the same time.
- Not pricey
Slow Charging: Whether on Solar, Car or AC it takes its time to charge.
Advantages of the Lithium Battery Power Station
Power Station can either come as Lead Acid or Lithium Powered. These batteries are referred to as rechargeable deep cycle batteries are used in most Solar Power Systems setups. However the new Lithium battery is becoming the battery of choice for many reasons and it is also why we have a biased towards lithium battery power stations:
When it comes to weight, the Lithium battery wins hands down. It is typically half to one third lighter than the original lead acid battery weight (for an equivalent run time/capacity lead acid battery bank).
Higher electrical efficiency.
The Lithium battery has a much higher electrical efficiency compared with lead acid batteries. LiFeTech lithium batteries are typically 98% charge efficient compared to between 70% and 85% with the lead acid batteries. They also have significantly faster charging times than lead acid batteries.
What this means is the Lithium battery will charge not only more efficiently, but more quickly than a lead acid battery. This can be particularly important in situations with limited charging methods available, such as from solar panels.
For example, camper van owners have reported that their LiFePO4 batteries are fully charged from solar panels by midday compared to 4 to 5pm using their old lead acid batteries.
Longer working life.
While good quality Lithium batteries such as C&C Power Supply batteries are far more expensive to buy and set up initially, the actual cost of ownership is considerably cheaper than lead acid batteries (calculated in terms of cents per charge cycle).
In a lead acid battery, voltage will continue to drop over time as the internal circuit within the battery will self discharge. This forces the connected electrical device to eventually shut down at its minimum operating voltage. In the Lithium battery, however, voltage tends not to drop under load until the battery is almost depleted. For example, an ignition coil in a motor vehicle will have a consistent spark due to the battery’s ability to delivery a consistent voltage. This means electrical equipment tends to run more efficiently as they are receiving constant voltage. Ultimately, using Lithium batteries gives electronic equipment a longer working life before failure than the lead acid battery option.
Expect to spend much less time recharging Lithium batteries than lead acid batteries.
Lithium batteries are the safest batteries for consumers and the environment. Internally, they do not contain corrosive sulfuric acid or any toxic heavy metals such as lead or cadmium which can be environmentally harmful if leaked.
Definition of Terms Used in Power Stations
Alternating Current (AC) – The type of electrical power supplied by utilities or made when a generator is run. The unique characteristic of this form of electricity is that it reverses direction at regular intervals. For example, 120 Vac 60 Hz. power reverses flow 60 times a second, hence the rating 60 Hz. (cycles).
Amp – A measurement of the flow of electrical current. One amp is equal to the electric force of one volt acting across the resistance of one ohm.
Amp Hour – One amp of electrical current flowing for one hour. Expresses the relationship between current (amps) and time. (OHMS law I =V/R)
Current – The rate of flow of electrical charge. The flow of amps is often expressed as current.
Direct Current (DC) – The type of electricity stored in batteries and generated by solar electric devices. Current flows in a single direction.
Grid – When used in reference to utility power, it refers to a system of electrical transmission and distribution lines.
Ground Fault Protection (GFP) – A circuit protection device that prevents the flow of electrical current to earth if a short circuit is present. Usually required in wet locations-e.g. for outdoor, kitchen and bathroom circuits.
Hertz (Hz.) – The frequency, or number of times per second, that the flow of AC electricity reverses itself. Also referred to as cycles (see alternating current).
High Battery Protection – A control circuit that disconnects charge current flowing to a battery when voltage reaches a dangerously high threshold. Prevents damage created by excess gassing (or boiling) of electrolyte.
Idle Current – The amount of electrical power required to keep an inverter ready to produce electricity on demand.
Kilowatt (kW) – One thousand watts of electricity. Ten 100-watt light bulbs use one Kilowatt of electrical power.
Kilowatt hour (kWh) – One kW of electrical power used for one hour. The most common measurement of electrical consumption, most grid connected electrical meters measure kWh for billing purposes.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) – A device used to display various status functions.
Load – Any device that consumes electricity in order to operate. Appliances, tools, and lights are examples of electrical loads.
Low Battery Protection – A control circuit that stops the flow of electricity from batteries to loads when battery voltage drops to dangerously low levels.
Modified Sine Wave – An AC wave form (generated by many inverters) that is a pulse width modified square wave. It consists of a number of very small on/off steps rather than a fully smooth wave.
National Electric Code – A consistent set of electrical wiring and installation standards used in the United States.
Off Grid – An electrical system that is not connected to a utility distribution grid.
Oscilloscope – A device that displays the wave form created by an electrical generating device such as a generator, inverter, or utility.
Overload/Over-current Protection – A control circuit designed to protect an inverter or similar device from loads exceeding its output capacity. (A fuse, for example, is an over-current protection device.) All Trace inverters have internal circuitry to protect themselves from overload/over-current conditions.
Parallel Wiring – A group of electrical devices, such as batteries or PV modules, wired together to increase ampacity, while voltage remains constant. (Two 100 amp hour 12 Vdc batteries wired in parallel will form a 200 amp-hour 12 Vdc battery bank.)
Photovoltaic System – The components that form a solar electric generating system, usually consisting of PV modules, charge controller, circuit protectors (fuses or breakers) and batteries.
Series Wiring – A group of electrical devices, such as batteries or PV modules, wired together to increase voltage, while ampacity remains constant. (Two 100 amp hour 12 Vdc batteries wired in series form a 100 amp hour 24 Vdc battery bank.)
Sine Wave – The output wave form of an electric generator or utility. A smooth wave going above and below zero is created. This wave form is also produced by sine wave inverters such as the Trace SW and CO-Sine series.
Surge Capacity – The amount of current an inverter can deliver for short periods of time. Most electric motors draw up to three times their rated current when starting. An inverter will “surge” to meet these motor-starting requirements. Most Trace inverters have surge capacities at least three times their continuous ratings.
Volts – A unit of measure of the pressure in an electrical circuit. Volts are a measure of electric potential. Voltage is often explained using a liquid analogy-comparing water pressure to voltage: a high pressure hose would be considered high voltage, while a slow-moving stream could be compared to low voltage.
Watt(s) – A quantitative measurement of electrical power. Watts are calculated by multiplying volts times amps. Using a liquid analogy, watts are similar to liquid flow such as liters or gallons. (watts = volts x amps)
Watt Hour (wHr) – Electrical power measured in terms of time. One watt hour of electricity is equal to one watt of power being consumed for one hour. (A one-watt light operated for one hour would consume one watt hour of electricity.)