How Long Does a Solar-Powered Generator Run?

Every hour of every day, the sun is beaming down the cleanest, greenest energy on earth. As long as there is daylight, a solar generator can harness this renewable energy for you to use. But how long does a solar generator run? 

The answer to this question depends on the type of solar generator and panels, the battery’s storage capacity, your energy consumption, and more. This article will explore the multiple factors that affect solar generator run time.

Power Consumption vs. Solar Energy Generation

The most crucial factor determining how long your solar generator will run is actually two-fold:

A. How much solar energy can you generate and store?

B. How much electricity do you consume?

Unless you have an additional backup power source — such as a duel-fuel generator — your solar generator will stop running if you consume more power than you generate by an amount that exceeds how much energy you have stored. 

If you’re on the grid, EcoFlow solar generators allow you to recharge using AC power quickly — in under two hours. EV recharging stations and your car adapter are viable options if you’re on the road. 

Adding additional solar panels or batteries can also increase your energy generation and storage capacity. Calculating your average power consumption is an essential step toward helping you decide what solar power system is the right fit for you.

How Long Will a Solar Generator Hold a Charge?

This question is a great one to ask, but there are many different factors to consider when you ask this. What is the storage capacity of your solar battery? What type of battery is it? How often do you use your solar generator? What kind of solar generator are you using?

Generally, solar generators with a fully charged battery that isn’t in use hold a charge for about one year before they need to recharge. The battery’s cycle life indicates how many times you can fully discharge and recharge it before its storage capacity diminishes. A solar battery with 500 cycles will typically last a year before performance deteriorates. 

The most advanced solar batteries, like the lithium iron phosphate LiFePO4 batteries in EcoFlow DELTA Pro solar generators, have a lifespan of 6500 cycles before storage efficiency begins to diminish. That means your DELTA Pro’s solar battery will last for years without any reduction in performance.

Can You Run a Solar Generator Continuously?

One of the biggest misconceptions about solar generators is that you can run them continuously without recharging them. It is possible if you have enough sunlight and battery storage capacity. But, as mentioned above, your ability to generate and store electricity must exceed your consumption. Otherwise, your solar generator will eventually run out of power.

Running a solar generator continuously can also put additional strains on the battery. Due to buildup around the battery poles, continuous use can lead to overheating and slower processing speeds. Giving the generator an occasional break lessens the drain on the battery.

Portable Solar Generators

Portable solar generators are becoming more popular among people who want energy independence — freedom from costly utility providers and freedom to go off-grid with all the comforts of home.

The key benefit of portable solar generators is that you can take them virtually anywhere. Their compact design makes transporting them from one location to another effortless without relying on external power sources such as grid or shore power. 

They’re also more versatile than traditional generators because they don’t require fuel. You don’t need to worry about running out of gas (or decimating your wallet) if there’s a shortage or about noise and toxic fumes during operation.

Ecoflow River 2 Max Portable Power Station - EcoFlow Official

River 2 Portable Solar Generators

River 2 Solar Generators are portable, lightweight, and powerful generators that run on the sun’s energy. It has a built-in battery that can store the energy generated by the sun with the simple addition of solar panels. This generator can power up to ten devices for hours, including cell phones, laptops, and even up to 80% of home appliances.

DELTA Portable Solar Generators

DELTA Solar Generators are the ultimate portable solution for any situation requiring reliable power. The EcoFlow Delta has enough power and fast charging speeds to run your home in an emergency or off-grid environment.

This generator supports indoor and outdoor applications, so you can use it virtually anywhere — from camping trips to long-term emergencies—without worrying about running out of juice.

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What to Consider When Choosing a Solar-Powered Generator

When it comes to choosing a portable solar generator, there are a lot of factors to consider. 

Energy Consumption

As mentioned above, the first thing you need to consider is your energy consumption and how much you plan to use your generator. 

A small generator will do if you only use it a few times a year to power small devices like phones and laptops. However, if you want to power your entire home or larger loads like refrigerators or air conditioners, you’ll want to consider a larger unit.

EcoFlow’s Power Kits are a potential solution, and there’s even an online calculator to estimate your energy consumption. Or, you can do the math yourself and tally the wattage for every appliance and device you plan to use. Multiply the wattage by the run time in hours to get the total watt-hours you’ll need.

Power Output

Wattage is the output power of your system measured in watts (W). The wattage you need depends on how much energy your device(s) require and how many devices you plan on running or charging simultaneously. Also note, some devices have a higher surge power requirement to switch on than their running wattage. Be careful to check that the generator you’re looking at has the surge power capacity required to start your essential appliances.

Battery Capacity 

No matter how much power your solar system can generate, how much it can store plays an equally important role. If your solar panels and generator capture more energy from the sun than used during operation and your battery is full, that valuable electricity will go to waste.

Many EcoFlow solar generators offer the option to add additional solar panels and solar batteries to expand your storage capacity.

Battery Type and Cycles

When choosing a solar-powered generator, you should look at the type of battery it uses. 

The three main battery types found in solar generators are lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries, and LiFePO4. Each type has different battery cycle lives and capacities. 

A lead-acid battery, for example, is cheap but inefficient and has a limited life span of about one to three years. 

Lithium-ion batteries have a longer life and are more efficient but costly. 

Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries have a longer cycle life, and much greater efficiency than lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries but are also more expensive. Solar generators like the River 2 series and DELTA Pro use an LFP battery that lasts between 3000-6500 cycles, meaning you won’t need a replacement for years.

Cross Compatibility

There’s no such thing as a solar generator without a solar panel. Without solar panels, a portable power station is essentially a giant battery. It can store energy — but it can’t create it.

Some portable power stations — such as EcoFlow’s — allow you to purchase solar panels separately at a later date and use them to recharge the battery. You can also use EcoFlow’s solar panels with other brands’ inverters and battery storage systems. You just need to ensure the panels are compatible. 

EcoFlow’s portable solar panels are compatible with all the brand’s portable power stations, meaning you can customize the solar panel wattage to suit your energy needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Extend the Lifespan of My Solar Generator?

Keeping the energy storage level between 20-80% reduces wear and tear on the battery. If you constantly let the battery drain to zero and recharge it to full capacity, that will shorten its lifespan.

Final Thoughts

Solar generators are an excellent option for people who want to be more sustainable and less dependent on fossil fuels. Solar power is clean, affordable, and abundant — and simply the best energy solution for a wide range of applications. 

With the right solar generator, you can obtain an off-grid power solution that could last you for many years. Not only will you be doing your finances a favour, but you’ll also be helping to preserve our planet.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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