There are actually quite a few important things to figure out before you decide which portable solar generator is best for you. In general, it boils down to two main points. 1. What are your needs, how many appliances do you need to power? 2. Do you already have any of the other parts of a solar power system?
It is important to remember that a generator is only one of the parts that make up a complete solar power system. Choosing your solar generator first is a good way to go. Decide what your needs are and find a generator that fits those needs, then look for a solar charger and maybe even a charge controller that is compatible and has the right capacity.
On the other hand, you may already have a solar charger or charge controller. In this case, you need to get a generator that is suitable for the solar charger and hopefully the system can still meet your needs. Below is a compilation of some tips and best practices worth considering before purchasing a portable solar generator.
Tips for choosing the right portable solar generator
To get a basic measure of your needs, you can use a simple formula: Solar Generators Watt Hours / Your Device Watts. That is, a typical power station with 200 Wh and an iPhone charger consuming 5 Watt gives: 200 / 5 = 40 hours. You can add up all your devices and how long each one needs to charge or turn on, then use this formula to estimate how many watt hours you need.
Related to the previous point: You need to make sure your solar panel can fully charge your generator during the day. As a general rule of thumb, 100W panels should be able to charge 250Wh in 8-10 hours. But this also depends on the volts and amps output of the charger. 12 – 18 volts should be enough most of the time.
What is the maximum watt consumption of your appliances? Most solar generators will only be able to charge devices with a maximum of 250W. Of course there are more powerful options, you can find generators up to 500W that are still portable and reasonably priced compared to weaker options.
If you already have a solar panel charger, make sure you can connect it to the generator. Most generators and solar panels use MC4 connectors, but check this out as it is critical for your system to work.