It may not seem like a luxury today, but having access to power on work sites or in tool sheds isn’t guaranteed.
Worksites in remote locations or newly developed areas may not have the infrastructure or internal wiring to tap into the electrical grid. And in sheds, it’s not always easy to install an electrical circuit. Alternative power sources are a must.
Solar generators don’t rely on the grid, and many can run various power tools for extended periods. Whether the electrical system at the site isn’t operational yet, you’re experiencing a blackout, or a plug socket is too far to reach, there are solar generators to solve the issue.
Read on to learn how useful solar power can be to your work and which is the best investment for you.
Can You Run Power Tools off of a Solar Generator?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is it depends on multiple factors, including the generator’s capacity, the power tool you want to run, peak and running wattage, and more.
That’s not to say that a solar generator wouldn’t cut it. It’s possible to run your power tools with solar generators, but not all solar generators will do.
Part of it has to do with how solar works. Solar panels harness energy from sunlight, which they absorb via specialised cells inside the panel. The panels convert the sunlight into energy by creating electric charges that move within the cell. The electricity flows due to the internal electric field within the cell and gets stored in the solar generator.
As the generator converts sunlight into direct current and then alternating current for electrical use, you lose some power. You need a solar generator with high enough capacity to run something like power tools, most of which tend to be high-energy consumption items.
You also have to factor in surge power and continuous power. Surge power is the burst of energy needed to start a power tool. The continuous power is how much wattage you need to keep it running.
For instance, 1500 watts can run most drills, but tools with higher wattage requirements could increase to 3000 watts. Suppose you needed to power multiple tools with varying requirements. In that case, you’d do best to get a high-capacity solar generator like the EcoFlow DELTA Pro, which has a capacity of 3600Wh total and a surge of 7200W.
If you need more capacity, you can pair a solar generator with a smart generator (dual fuel) to maintain power over extended periods.
What Can I Power with a Solar Generator?
As there’s such a variety of power tools you can run, let’s go through some individually and analyse the specifications.
A standard electric hammer has a running requirement of 900 watts. Even a medium-sized generator would be capable of powering an eclectic hammer for long enough to get the job done.
A solar generator with a capacity of 1260Wh, like the DELTA solar generator with a 110watts solar panel, you could run the electric hammer for 1.5 hours.
The DELTA’s diminutive size and impressive capacity make it perfect for powering multiple small devices when you’re experiencing a power outage. Although this model couldn’t power the whole site, it’s a crucial addition as a backup power source.
Sometimes waiting around on the job means lost labour costs, and getting work done despite losing power is only possible with backup power supplies.
Electric Power Drill
The standard electric power drill has a running requirement of 550 watts. Because this is a smaller tool with a lower wattage, generators on the smaller side can run the tool efficiently.
Something like the EcoFlow River Pro solar generator has a capacity of 720Wh. This capacity would be enough to run an electric power drill non-stop for over an hour.
You needn’t restrict a model such as this to only smaller tools. Generators with a capacity of 720Wh can still run a great variety of devices. The portability of the River series makes them an attractive choice, but if you need to put in a full day’s work, the DELTA series is more appropriate.
Electric Handheld Sander
Handheld sanders have some of the lowest running requirements, averaging 250 watts. If you used a solar generator with a 720Wh capacity, the run time would be just under three hours.
Nearly three hours is impressive since it’s unlikely you’d use a sander for three hours straight. But even if you had to, you could. With larger generators, you can easily power smaller tools throughout the day.
Electric jigsaws need, on average, 500 watts to perform. A generator with a capacity of 720Wh could run this equipment for around an hour and a half.
Smaller generators are perfect for backup and portable power supply, making them an ideal addition to at-home DIY projects or remote worksites.
Generally, smaller capacities equal smaller generators, meaning you could easily transport your solar generator wherever you needed to set up shop. Keep an eye on the running time, though!
The usual running requirement of side grinders is 1500 watts, so you’d need a larger solar generator here. A device with 3600Wh capacity could comfortably run a side grinder for around 2.5 hours.
Understandably, you don’t always have room in your budget for higher-capacity solar generators, which tend to be pricier to reflect the extra power. But even something like the DELTA Max solar generator with 2016Wh that expands to 6000Wh would be more than sufficient to operate a side grinder for at least an hour.
Band saws need around 950 watts. A 3600Wh solar generator could continuously run this equipment for up to four hours.
It’s unlikely that one tool would be on consistently for numerous hours. So, in theory, the larger capacity generators could keep your band saw going for far longer.
Heats guns have surprisingly high wattage requirements, averaging at 1500W. Generators with 3600Wh could run a heat gun for a minimum of 2.5 hours.
What Should I Look for When Choosing a Solar Generator to Run Power Tools?
Capacity is necessary for estimating how long you can run a power tool, but it’s not the only spec you need to consider. Here’s what you should look for when choosing the right solar generator for your tool setup.
Not every solar generator on the market is portable, but they’re ideal for working on large work sites where you may need to attend to a task on the other side of the lot. A portable setup means you can easily carry the equipment over with you.
Some solar generators require a stationary setup to recharge, so it’s also essential to look at the portability of the solar panels. Portable solar panels let you recharge the generator no matter where you are. Your whole solar kit can be portable, from the generator to the panels.
From the examples above, you can see already how varied the options are in terms of power requirements. Here’s an easy calculation to help you determine what capacity you require:
Divide the watt hours (Wh) of the generator by the running watts of the tool. The resulting figure equates to the time that the device will run.
For instance, if the solar generator has a capacity of 1260Wh. Divide that by the running requirement of the electric hammer (900w), and your answer tells you the running time is around 1.4 hours.
As noted, it’s essential to factor in some leeway for surge watts. You’d want to lessen the running time to account for surge capacity.
Once you’ve used up all of your stored power, you need to allow time for the solar generator to recharge its battery using solar panels. You can generate and store solar power while using the generator, but if you’re consuming a lot of electricity, you may not create enough energy to keep up.
Recharge time indicates how long it takes to regain full power in a wholly depleted battery. The recharge time depends on the charge speed and the input power from the accompanying solar panels. The manufacturer should list the specifications.
Weather can affect recharge time. The best results take place using direct sunlight.
EcoFlow’s solar generators can also be recharged quickly using a standard AC wall outlet. Many recharge fully in less than 2 hours and charge up to 80% in an hour or less.
You can basically recharge your EcoFlow solar generator for the rest of your work day during your lunch break.
Some manufacturers offer extra batteries, like EcoFlow’s smart extra battery. The addition keeps you powered for longer, even in emergency conditions.
As a last line of defence when you simply can’t afford to run out of power, EcoFlow’s Smart Generator (Duel-Fuel) integrates seamlessly with the DELTA Max and DELTA Pro, allowing you to keep working powered by petrol or propane (LPG).
Solar generators are the answer to sourcing electricity for work sites where on-grid electricity isn’t an option. They’re also invaluable in the event of power blackouts — both at home and on-site. You don’t need to be at the mercy of unreliable (or unavailable) grid electricity.
With high-capacity solar generators, you can run your power tools for hours.