Tips on How to Build a Solar Generator

Josh Miller

Josh is a contributing writer to the site and former HVAC specialist.

Last Updated on June 11, 2021

Solar energy is currently the cheapest energy source on the planet, and it’s also very environmentally friendly. A solar generator is a mini power plant you can use to power devices or home appliances.

A solar generator is also a helpful tool to have for emergencies. People who live in areas with challenging weather conditions that regularly cause power outages can benefit from a backup energy source.

Building your own solar generator is a rewarding project for anyone interested in renewable energies for their home. It’s not very complicated, but you need to learn a bit about how generators work and their different components.

generator-soaking-sun-at-the-beach
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Table of Contents

What is a Solar Generator?

Essentially, a solar generator is a device that usually works in combination with solar panels to store energy. One of the most common applications of solar generators is to provide backup energy during power outages and other emergencies.

The generators used for this purpose tend to be relatively big and are installed right outside your home. When your main power source goes down, they automatically start working to supply you backup power. Other solar generators are small and portable, making them helpful for traveling or camping.

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Why You Should Build Your Own Solar Generator

The main use of solar generators is to provide backup power in emergencies. People that experience regular power outages, tornados, hurricanes, heavy snowfalls, or extreme temperatures can benefit from having a solar generator. Here are a few other reasons to consider building one of these eco-friendly power sources.

Building your own solar generator is a lot cheaper than buying a ready-made one. If you learn how to build a solar generator, you can easily repair it yourself without hiring a specialist. Solar generators are simpler to understand than generators that work with combustion engines.

You can also use this project to educate your kids. They can learn a lot about renewable energy and electricity by watching you undertake this build.

No Running Costs

After investing in the main parts to build the generator, you will have an additional source of energy that is completely free to use. You might have to do some repairs occasionally, but many companies that sell generator components offer 20-year parts warranties.

They are Safe

Solar generators are safer than generators that run on propane or diesel. With a solar generator, you can avoid leaks or fires and rest easy after the build and installation. Read more about generator safety tips.

They are Environmentally Friendly

Solar energy is one of the cleanest sources of energy. Solar panels and generators do not produce any carbon emissions apart from those produced when manufacturing the panel and generator components. Taking a portable generator on camping trips is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors without polluting the environment.

generator-by-size-requirement

Types of Generators

When learning how to build a solar generator, you should consider the different types. This will help you decide which one is best for your needs and lifestyle.

  • Portable Generator: Portable generator is usually smaller than other types. You can use it for camping, boating or different kinds of travel. This generator needs to be manually turned on.
  • Inverter Generator: A generator and an inverter are two different things. Usually, a generator captures and stores energy. An inverter transforms DC (direct current) back to AC (alternating current) and has the benefit of providing cleaner, more stable energy. Inverter generators are ultra-modern and combine the features of both devices.
  • Standby Generator: This type of generator isn’t portable. It’s directly linked to the home and starts working automatically when there’s a power outage. When the power returns, the generator reverts back to standby mode.

How Much Energy Do You Need?

Something essential to consider when learning how to build a solar generator is the amount of energy you need. You should calculate how much energy your home uses or how much energy specific devices use. For example, an LED light bulb uses about 10W. Calculate the number of light bulbs in the house, and you have the total amount of energy your generator needs to supply.

If you want to power a fridge, a television, a phone charger, and a few lights, calculate the total wattage for all these devices. A fridge consumes about 1000W/hour, a television 150W/hour, a phone charger 20W/hour, and 10 LED lights around 100W/hour. In total, you’ll need about 1270W.

A decent generator should power about 1000W worth of appliances for an hour. In case of a power outage, you’ll have sufficient energy for about 45 minutes. If you want power for a longer period, you’ll need a 2000W or 3000W generator.

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All the Parts You Need

Building a solar generator from scratch is highly complicated. The components of generators are very advanced, and most people buy the parts separately for assembling their generators. You can start by building your solar panel and then connecting it to a solar generator. These are the parts that you need for building a solar generator:

1. Rugged Case

You’ll need a waterproof and sturdy case to hold all the components.

2. Solar Panel

A solar panel captures the energy from the sun, and the generator’s battery stores it. The solar panel is the part that is most exposed to the weather, so it needs to be made of long-lasting and durable materials.

3. AC Solar Power Inverter

This device transforms the DC voltage on your battery to the AC voltage of home appliances.

4. Battery

They come in varying sizes and designs, but lithium-ion or deep cycle lead-acid batteries are the best batteries.

5. Solar charge controller

This device prevents the battery from overcharging, which can be detrimental to the battery lifespan.

You might also need a couple of small devices for your build, such as a battery maintainer and AC power inlet. If you are worried about the compatibility of different pieces, starter kits come with some of the necessary parts. When the battery stays inactive for long periods, a maintainer supplies it with a small amount of electricity. It increases the longevity of your battery.

Final Thoughts: Pros and Cons of Solar Generators

The advantage of solar generators is that they store clean and free energy for future emergencies. They are handy to have at home, and portable models can be useful for RVs and boats. Possible downsides include a high initial cost and the fact that they tend to charge slowly.

saving-money

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