Traditional fossil-fueled home backup generators provide a convenient tool for keeping the lights on and the appliances running when you lose power. Unfortunately, they also tend to be extremely loud, produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide, and pollute the air with particulate matter and greenhouse gases, endangering your health — and our planet.
Solar generators provide a clean, renewable alternative for those who want a backup power source without the issues mentioned above.
You can set up plug-and-play solar generators in a few simple steps.
Let’s go over them below…
What Equipment Do You Need?
Many solar generators come with all the necessary equipment to get up and running, including a portable power station, solar panel(s), built-in inverter and charge controller, and cables to connect everything.
If you’re not purchasing an all-in-one, plug-and-play solution like EcoFlow’s DELTA 2, you may need to buy components separately and be mindful of compatibility concerns.
Portable power stations that feature solar charging from solar panels come in many sizes and capacities, such as EcoFlow’s DELTA Max and Pro solar generators. The Max comes with power output capacities of 1612 Wh or 2016 Wh. The Pro offers 3600 Wh out of the box and is expandable up to 25 kWh with additional smart batteries and other equipment.
For solar panels, you can opt for portable solar panels or rigid solar panels. Rigid solar panels work best for fixed installation where you have a large, flat area to mount the panels — such as a rooftop.
Portable solar panels offer additional flexibility for motorhomes, camping, and homes with limited roof space.
Next, you need an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) from your solar panels into AC electricity, which almost all consumer appliances and electronics use. The inverter is built into EcoFlow’s portable power stations, solar generators, and power kits.
Finally, wiring and mounting equipment will allow you to connect and fix your parts to complete setting up the generator.
Depending on where you install your solar panels, you may need additional accessories, such as a solar extension cable or a parallel connector cable to link multiple solar panels.
How to Set Up a Solar Backup Generator
Power outages are happening more frequently. With extreme weather events more common than ever and an ageing electrical infrastructure compounding the problem, it’s more critical than ever to be prepared with a backup power source.
Setting up a solar backup generator is the surest solution for reliable power, especially during an extended outage.
1. Calculate Your Energy Needs
Before you set up your solar backup generator, you need to know how much energy you use.
The answer to this depends not only on where you live but how you live: the energy ratings of your appliances, the size of your home, and the number of appliances and devices you use. Before making a purchase, you must determine how much electricity your generator will need to provide.
Your electricity bill can give you a good sense of your monthly usage. Add up a year’s worth of bills and divide the total kWh by 12 to estimate your monthly consumption. Your energy consumption will tend to vary significantly from month to month based on the weather and other factors. Looking at just one monthly bill won’t give you a clear picture.
Once you have your average monthly power consumption, divide again by 30, and you’ll have a decent estimate of your household’s daily electricity needs. You can use this to determine how much output and storage capacity your solar generator needs.
If you only need your solar backup generator to power a few essential items, confirm the energy consumption of each device. Add up everything you need to power, and you can determine what the output capacity of your generator must be.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that many appliances require more energy to start up than they need to run. This is commonly known as peak or surge power. Usually, the surge wattage needed will be listed on the appliance’s energy sticker, the manual, or the manufacturer’s website.
EcoFlow’s solar generators feature proprietary X-Boost technology to ensure you have the surge power you need to get your appliances up and running.
2. Purchase Your Equipment
A portable power station is essentially a large-scale battery that stores energy from a variety of sources — including solar panels.
Once you’ve identified how much energy you need to power your home, purchase a portable power station or solar generator with sufficient battery and output capacity.
Consider an EcoFlow Whole Home Backup Power Solution if you want a whole-house backup generator. You can add rigid or portable solar panels to generate the power you need.
Otherwise, you can purchase the power station, solar panels, and other parts separately based on your family’s requirements.
A solar panel or panels charge the portable power station when it’s outputting power or when it’s not. But once your storage capacity is reached, any additional energy captured will go to waste. Make sure you purchase a panel (or panels) with enough rated power capacity to keep your portable power station charged.
3. Charge Your Portable Power Station
You should always begin with a charged battery. You don’t know when you will need your backup energy source. Make sure your battery has a full charge now before setting it up.
Don’t forget. You can quickly charge most portable power stations (usually in about an hour) with AC power from a home electrical outlet — except during a blackout.
4. Position Your Solar Panels
Angle and position your solar panels for maximum sun exposure. For permanent installations, many homeowners choose their roofs. For safety reasons, you may want a professional to perform a rooftop installation with rigid solar panels.
If you want to use more than one panel to charge your portable power station faster, determine whether you should connect them in parallel or in series. You gain more power by connecting in series, but you get higher amperage by connecting in parallel.
Each portable power station will also have a limit to how much solar power it can accept — you can’t just connect an unlimited number of solar panels to meet your needs. For example, the EcoFlow DELTA 2 has a maximum solar input capacity of 500W.
5. Set up the Portable Power Station
Choose the location for your portable power station. If you’re connecting devices and appliances to the built-in inputs, it should be close to the appliances or devices you want to charge.
If you’re installing a whole home backup power solution, connect the portable power station(s) to the home electric panel using a transfer switch or power input. This is usually a quick job, but it requires a professional electrician.
Other Resources To Refer To
If you opt not to use an all-in-one system like an EcoFlow portable power station and solar panes, you can find resources to help you go it alone. For additional details about how to go about setting up the components in your system, the US Department of Energy offers a helpful guide on balance of system equipment. To operate and maintain your solar generator, you might need to purchase other equipment, such as surge protection.
If you opt for an EcoFlow solar generator solution, the EcoFlow Support page will help connect you to someone who can help you get up and running or to professional installers (if required). You can also find EcoFlow product manuals and setup guides available for free online.
A solar generator prepares you for power outages. It reduces your carbon footprint — and your electricity bills. Setting up a solar generator doesn’t have to be complicated if you follow the steps above.If you’re ready for energy independence, consider EcoFlow. We have everything you need, from portable power stations and solar generators to solar panels.