In 2020 alone, utility customers in the US experienced 1.33 billion outage hours. That’s a staggering increase of 73% from the previous year, which only had 770 million outage hours. As a result, millions of consumers throughout the country ended up without power at home.
That’s enough reason to consider investing in a solar-powered generator. Unlike diesel generators, solar generators use the sun’s power to generate energy. You can then convert the stored energy into electricity for later use.
The big question now is, can a solar generator power a house?
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We’ll answer that in this comprehensive solar generator guide, so be sure to keep reading!
Can a Solar Generator Power a House?
Yes, it can.
However, a generator’s battery size dictates what devices you can get the generator to run. Another factor is the amount of solar energy that the generator can store.
At the very least, though, a solar-powered generator is sure to supply enough power to keep your home lit.
How to Tell if a Solar-Powered Generator Is Enough to Power Your Home
The best way is to figure out what exactly you want to power during an outage. You can then make a list of these devices and appliances, together with their wattage. Doing so will give you a clearer idea of your electricity needs if there’s a blackout.
You want to keep your home illuminated, so you should prioritize light bulbs. Fortunately, the typical LED bulb only consumes about 8.5 watts per hour. So, even if you turn on five bulbs around the house, they may only use a little over 40 watts in total per hour.
Desktop PC or Laptop
You most likely want to power your computer, too, such as desktop PC or laptop. The energy consumption of an average desktop ranges from 65 to 250 watts. By contrast, a laptop only uses 15 to 60 watts, so it’s usually a better option during an outage.
Factor in your fridge, too, especially for blackouts that may last for over four hours. That’s the length of time that refrigerators can usually keep their contents cold. Hopefully, you have an energy-efficient unit, which can use as little as 150 kW per year, or 17 watts per hour.
Home Security System
Outages often give rise to crimes, so you want your security system to be working during one. Besides, they don’t use much power; for instance, a standard CCTV camera only needs 4 to 15 watts per hour. Those with recorders consume more, but still just between 10 and 40 watts.
Metrics to Look at When Shopping for a Solar Generator
Once you have a list of your intended solar generator uses, you can now calculate their total watts. From there, use the sum as a guide when comparing solar generators by their watts and watt-hours.
The term “watts” in a solar generator refers to the amount of power the device can output at a time. For example, some solar-powered generators can generate 20 watts of electricity. That allows them to power lights and small electronics for up to 96 hours.
Watt-hours (Wh), on the other hand, is the amount of energy a solar generator can store. For instance, a generator with a 1,000 Wh capacity can provide 1,000 watts of power for an entire hour. That’s more than enough to keep your home lit and electronics powered up in a given hour.
Note that the bigger the generator’s battery, the more solar energy it can store. That translates to more significant amounts of backup power that you can use later. However, that also means they cost more upfront.
Another consideration is the generator’s portability. For example, a solar generator for RV or off-grid use is often enough to supply emergency power for hours. At the same time, you can use the portable generator whenever you travel in your RV or go camping.
Other Crucial Factors Affecting Solar Generator Performance
How much energy a solar generator can supply also depends on the power output of its solar panels. That output, measured in watts, dictates how much energy it can produce. While they tend to be smaller than roof or ground panels, you can find some with outputs of 200 watts or higher.
However, solar generators also rely on peak sun hours, similar to home solar systems. The term “peak sun hour” refers to one hour when the sun’s intensity reaches at least 1,000 W/m². So, it’s during that time when the sun’s energy rating averages 1,000 watts per square meter.
For the same reason, all solar panels generate the most energy during the peak sun hours. Fortunately, most US states get at least 3 to 5 peak hours.
To get the most out of that time, though, your generator’s panels should be in an optimal location. That means positioning them somewhere that gets direct sun exposure. It can be on your home’s or RV’s roof, or you can also place it on the ground, so long as it has an unobstructed view of the sky.
Don’t worry if you miss the peak sun hours for charging up your solar generator, though. That’s because solar panels can still generate power through indirect and reflected sunlight. They can even harness the sun’s energy during cloudy days.
However, expect your panels to have a reduced power output in those cases. Still, that’s better than nothing, especially if your home is all dark due to a blackout.
Solar Generators: The Sustainable Way to Counter Power Outages
There you have it, the guide that answers your question, “can a solar generator power a house?”
Now that you know it can, you should definitely consider getting one for your home. Besides, if you get one that’s portable enough, you can also use it for your RV or camping trips. Best of all, it lets you sustainably keep your home and electronics powered up.
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