How Does A Solar Generator Work? An In Depth Look

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Are you wondering how exactly solar generators work? Perhaps you’d like to know more about this renewable power source if you are considering it as a way to power your home in an emergency.

Essentially, a solar generator uses solar panels to capture the sun’s energy before storing this energy in a battery. The energy is then converted into AC power using an inverter before it is used to run electronic devices around the home or when traveling, in the case of a portable solar generator.

How Do Solar Generators Work?

In this guide, we’ll tell you more about how exactly a solar power generator works and what you can use it for. We’ll also look at the different types of solar generators to help you find the one that is best suited to your needs.

So, if you’re ready to find out more about generating energy from the sun, read on below.

Components of a Solar Generator


A solar generator contains either lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion batteries, which are used to store solar energy. The battery storage capacity varies between different models. Most solar generators you’ll find on sale nowadays contain lithium-ion batteries.

The sun is used to charge the battery during the day, and the electricity can be stored for use at a later time.


In a solar generator, this device is used to convert solar energy, captured as direct current (DC) power, into alternating current power, ready to be used to power devices in your home.

Some generators don’t have this component, so they can only be used to run DC gadgets.

Charge Controller

The charge controller is needed to prevent the battery from overcharging. It does this by regulating the amount of power being transferred from the solar panel to the battery.

Use of Solar Panels

A solar panel is a valuable addition to any home and can be used as an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective power supply system. Solar power can be used in much the same way as any other type of energy – mainly powering household appliances.

Many solar panel users enjoy the sense of security they provide – in the event of a power outage, a solar panel will ensure your home will still have access to a power supply.

Another benefit to going off-grid and using solar energy is the independence you have with this system. You won’t have to face ever-changing prices set by electric companies according to oil and natural gas’s fluctuating costs.

You also won’t be tied into contracts with complicated terms and conditions, but you can still change suppliers just like with any other type of electricity.

You might find your solar panels are producing excess electricity compared to what you use. You can sell this surplus back to the grid, so households that don’t use as much electricity as they produce through their solar panels can actually make money this way.

How Energy From The Sun Is Turned Into Power

So, how exactly does a solar generator work?

As discussed above, a solar generator’s key components are a battery, an inverter, and a charge controller. The solar panel is positioned in such a way as to capture maximum sunlight. In the case of solar panels, this is generally on a south-facing roof.

These panels capture solar energy as DC power. The energy is then passed to the charge controller, which regulates how much electricity is stored by the batteries in the solar generator. When the electricity is needed for use, the inverter converts it into AC form, as this is the type of energy used by the majority of electrical devices and appliances.

Turning solar energy into electricity to power household devices is a reasonably straightforward system. In fact, a solar panel can even capture solar energy on overcast days.

So, if you live in an area where the sun doesn’t always shine, this could still be a cost-effective, clean way to power your home. Or, consider a solar generator, which is a great backup system and is also excellent for travel.

Different Types of Solar Generators

As well as portable solar generators, you’ll also find other types on the market, like backup generators and inverter generators.

As the name suggests, a portable generator is the smallest and most easily transportable type of solar generator. They have to be switched on as and when they are needed and are ideal for short-term use, such as when you are traveling.

These solar generators are sometimes fitted with AC outlets to power your devices any time you are away from the house.

While many generators are portable some of the best solar generators are larger and designed for home use.

A standby generator isn’t portable – it is designed to power your house by automatically starting up if there is an outage. When the electricity is reconnected, the solar generator will switch back to standby until another outage is detected.

So, this type is ideal for those living in areas prone to hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions.

Solar generators like this are more expensive and difficult to set up, but they offer many advantages over other types. They are the best solar generators to run lots of appliances from, and they don’t have to be started up manually every time they are needed – they are very convenient as a source of backup power.

In summary, a solar portable generator is suitable for very short-term use for low-consumption devices. A standby generator is the one to choose if you are looking for a system to run many household devices on should you experience an outage.

Be sure to check the number of watts of power the solar generator can produce to find out if it is suitable for your needs.

What Are Solar Generators Used For?

Most people use portable solar-powered generators for running small appliances around and outside of the house. The inverter rating and battery capacity affect the type and number of devices solar generators are able to power.

Compare the number of watt-hours; a higher number means you’ll be able to run your devices for longer on a single battery charge. Smaller, portable solar generators are not powerful enough to power all household appliances, of course.

A portable solar generator is a great investment for those who frequently take road trips in an RV. And, the portability makes them the perfect accompaniment for camping and boating excursions, too. They also reduce the need to carry fuel – it’s a lot cleaner. So, if you’re looking to power a few low-energy devices, this is a great choice.

Some customers use solar-powered portable generators to power tools outdoors. You can also use them to supply battery power to gadgets such as cameras and computers when working outside.

There’s almost no limit as to what one is able to power with portable solar generators. Most can be used to run devices under 200 watts, so this excludes things like blenders or pressure cookers.

But, other gadgets you might wish to use on your camping trip are no problem! String lights, chargers for your electronics, or even a small heater or electric blanket can all be operated using solar generators.

In fact, anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors is sure to find a use for a solar portable generator.

On the other hand, with a higher-capacity battery, such as those found in backup generators, you can run devices like a refrigerator or drier for several hours. So, this type of generator is ideal for those who frequently experience power outages – you’ll be able to continue running essential appliances until your house is reconnected to the grid.

The battery power and the amount of stored energy in the solar generator will affect the exact number and type of devices it can power and for how long. So, it’s always important to check the information relating to the generator you are buying to ensure you aren’t disappointed.

Final Thoughts

Solar generators are relatively straightforward, with just a few key components. They contain a battery, an inverter, and a charge controller to capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity to power an off-grid system or small appliances.

Solar power is a great alternative to using fossil fuel. Solar generators are the ideal way to get started with this source of electricity if you are not yet ready to commit to installing solar panels on your roof or are looking for something more portable.

Don’t hesitate to get in contact with us if you have any more questions regarding solar generators and their uses.

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Eric Thomas

Eric is the founder of the Simple Solar Living team and serves as our CEO & Chief Solar Officer. He is passionate about solar powered products and DIY solar projects, and took part in the Solar Energy Technician program at Bryan University. Eric is committed to sharing the benefits of going solar and is a steadfast advocate of clean renewable energy.