Solar generators are enormously helpful and versatile devices. They harness the sun’s power and convert it directly into energy for you to use throughout your home. They are a convenient way to keep your much-needed devices and appliances going throughout power outages or similar emergency circumstances.
That sounds incredibly impressive, but are they actually up to the task of powering an entire home?
That’s what we’re here to answer.
This guide has the experts weigh in on whether a solar generator can keep your house running during an outage and factors to consider. We’ll also take you through the process of connecting your solar generator to your electrical panel. By the end, you’ll be the expert.
Let’s get into it.
Can a Solar Generator Power a Whole House?
The short answer is yes, they can, but there are many variables to discuss. Not all solar generators are capable of producing enough energy for whole-home systems. Instead, you have to consider the device you want to use as a home backup system and how you want to use it during a power outage.
You first need to establish how much energy your house consumes on average. You need to know this before purchasing a solar generator to ensure they pack enough power to keep your home running when you need it. If you buy a solar generator that doesn’t produce enough energy, it may become a wasted investment and could even put you in danger in an emergency.
You should also consider how much energy your solar generator needs to supply. If you suffer from frequent power outages, you may want to invest in a powerful generator to keep everything in your home running when you’re disconnected.
A whole-home system has a substantial energy demand but isn’t unachievable. On the other hand, if you don’t suffer from power outages very often, you might just want a generator that can keep your necessities going for a few hours. That will drastically change the requirements of your solar generator.
Instead of thinking about how much energy your home produces as a whole, consider what you will need most in an emergency. When choosing your first solar generator, a detailed emergency plan will give you greater clarity and specificity. You might not require something that can power your entire home. Sometimes, you only need a device to keep the necessities going.
What Size Solar Generator Do You Need to Power Your House?
An easy rule of thumb to follow is that the larger the solar generator, the more power it will be able to produce. Most power generators rate their power capacity via wattage. The higher the wattage, the more they can power at any time. Before making an informed purchase, you need to know how much wattage your essential appliances require.
Besides the capacity, you want to look at a product’s peak power and continuous power. Peak power is how much a generator can produce when it first starts up. Continuous power is how much a generator can keep going for an extended period.
When purchasing your first generator, you need to pay attention to both so that your system can generate enough power to run a device or appliance and keep it running.
How Do You Connect a Solar Generator to Your House?
Once you’ve found the perfect solar generator, you need to be able to connect it to your home. Luckily, this process isn’t too complicated.
The best and safest way to achieve this is by using a transfer switch. Several varieties are available, and although they function differently, they all complete the same goal. They are a go-between for your solar generator and home electrical panel circuits.
In addition to connecting your solar generator to your house, transfer switches make power utilisation much more manageable. You are in total control, as you can shut off any unneeded power circuit to further maintain your energy supply. It can prove especially helpful in emergencies, where you will want to prioritise food and light sources.
There are three types of transfer switches currently available for this purpose. To give you a better understanding of each, we’ve broken down everything you need to know.
Automatic Transfer Switch
As their name suggests, automatic transfer switches will automatically detect power outages and use the stored solar power to get you up and running again as soon as possible. This intuitive design makes it highly popular among those who need high reliability from their electrics.
These transfer switches will also turn themselves off once they detect that the power grid is up and running again. They require minimal intervention, so there’s a lot to love. The only potential downside is the price, which can be significantly higher than other options.
Manual Transfer Sub-Panel Switch
If you are looking for something like an automatic transfer switch that doesn’t carry the hefty price tag, a manual sub-panel switch could be the answer. As you probably expect, the drawback is that you must utilise it manually. You don’t have the benefit of automation.
Whether this is a deal-breaker for you or not is entirely personal and largely relies on your individual needs. Manual activation might not be as effortless as automatic, but it might be all you need if you only experience occasional power outages.
Breaker Interlock Connector
Last on our list is one of the most popular options. Breaker interlock connectors are often the most affordable while still championing flexibility.
You have a choice over which home appliances or gadgets you wish to power with your solar generator, alongside a built-in amp meter to prevent overloading. They are easy to use and do the job well, so their popularity is understandable.
How Do You Use a Solar Generator at Home?
You don’t need to do anything too extreme to use your solar generator effectively. That’s part of the attraction. It won’t require much upkeep as long as you keep the device in the sun sufficiently to recharge and connect it properly via the appropriate transfer switch.
The two key areas you need to pay attention to are how to recharge them effectively and maintain them without causing any damage. Follow the steps below:
How to Recharge Your Solar Generator
One of the greatest attractions of a solar generator is that all you need to recharge them is the power of the sun. Given that we have access to the sun every day, this is a significant bonus! Just make sure to position your generator correctly to make the most of the sun’s power. Many solar generators will feature panels to absorb the sun’s energy, so make sure to place the device in a way that exposes it to as much sun as possible.
To maximise how much energy you can receive from your solar generator, you should aim to keep the panels in the sun for anywhere between six and eight hours daily. Some generators have specific input rates that you need to heed. Otherwise, you could end up damaging them.
Additionally, some generators have a dual-charging feature, which is enormously helpful. It means you can charge both via your wall (or even car battery) outlet and the sun. Dual-charging capability vastly increases charging speeds, making your solar generator even more efficient.
How to Maintain Your Solar Generator
In addition to charging your solar generator properly, you also need to know how to maintain it. If you don’t keep it in the right conditions, you could damage it before you even get any meaningful use out of it. Listed below are some of our critical criteria to keep your generator as healthy as possible.
- Charge: You should always aim to keep your generator between 50-70% of its full charge. Additionally, we recommend fully discharging and recharging your generator every six months to keep it in optimal health.
- Cleanliness: Despite providing clean energy, the generator may still get dirty. In most cases, you should only ever need to use a non-abrasive cloth to clean your generator. Don’t use water or harsh chemicals, as this may damage it.
- Ventilation: Even solar generators get hot sometimes, so make sure you place the device in a well-ventilated location. Though it may harness the sun’s power, it will last longer if you avoid overheating it.
- Environment: Though you should keep your solar generator (or its panels) outside so it can absorb the most energy, ideally, it should only be exposed to sunlight. Rain and wet environments may cause damage or shorten the generator’s lifespan. After all, it’s still an electrical product.
- Safety: You should also keep the generator away from flammable or combustible materials. Solar generators can produce a surprising amount of energy; though they are safe, it’s always better to minimise risk as much as possible.
That just about covers it! Everything you need to know about solar generators and their capability to power your home. The truth is, solar generators are a highly versatile and convenient way to keep your house running when you need it most, as long as you pay attention to the critical criteria we’ve listed. If you’re looking for a powerful solar generator to keep your home running in an outage, consider the EcoFlow Delta series. These robust generators use clean energy and exceptional recharge rates. Shop today to outfit your home.