Solar-powered generators are increasingly gaining popularity among campers. This all-in-one portable power station provides essential automatic power backup, which comes in very handy when you want to live off the grid and during camping. In fact, the best camping portable power stations are cleaner and a more cost-effective alternative to conventional fossil-fuel-powered power generators.
While versatility and efficiency are its key benefits, solar-powered generators have a substantial initial investment associated with them. This makes many people wonder if they should purchase this device or not. Here, we take a detailed look at why investing in a solar-powered generator for camping is worth your money.
What is a solar-powered generator made up of?
A solar power generator is technically a misnomer as it works differently than a traditional gas-powered generator. When people talk about a solar-powered generator for camping, they refer to a portable power station that is powered by solar panels instead of fossil fuels. It stores the solar power in a rechargeable battery, which can be used later when required. Solar generators can be used for powering a variety of devices, including RV camping, boats, and as a backup power source in case of a grid power outage.
Solar generators primarily consist of four components.
- Solar panels – collect solar energy and convert it into direct current
- Charge controllers – regulate incoming solar power or DC into the battery, protecting it from overcharging
- Rechargeable solar battery: stores the power from solar panels and charge controllers. Most solar generators today use lithium-ion batteries.
- Inverter – converts direct current into the usable alternating current.
Benefits of a solar-powered generator for camping
- Free fuel
One of the biggest advantages of solar-powered generators for camping is the money you will be saving on fuel. Using free and readily available energy from the sun effectively eliminates the need of purchasing gas that is used to run the traditional power generators, which is a substantial recurring cost given the rising cost of fuel around the world. Moreover, solar energy is not subject to volatile fuel cost fluctuations, which means that the running costs are fairly steady after purchase.
In several areas, solar energy is more readily available than petrol or diesel, meaning you will have a lesser chance of running out of fuel. This feature comes in handy especially during camping as you do not have to carry the gas to charge the power station.
- Clean, renewable energy
Solar generators are also a much cleaner, environmentally friendlier alternative to gas-powered units. These devices rely on a renewable power source, i.e., solar energy, which means you do not have to worry about the environmental impact of using gasoline to power your equipment. Moreover, solar generators release no pollutants when producing energy, allowing you to rest assured that your camping or boating trip is not harming the climate in any shape or form.
- Quiet and low maintenance
Unlike gas generators, solar power generators do not contain moving parts. There are two benefits to this, i.e., solar generators are quiet and do not require rigorous maintenance. If you are purchasing a solar generator for camping, you can rest assured that you will not be disturbing your surroundings by running a generator for powering your RV and other devices. Moreover, there is also a lesser chance of this device randomly breaking down in the middle of your trip, meaning you can rest assured that your camping holiday will not be interrupted due to random issues.
- Lower running costs
With any machine, you need to consider the cost of consumables to evaluate the running costs. Unlike gas-powered generators, you do not have to buy and change engine oil and similar consumables for solar generators, which substantially reduces their running costs. Solar generators also have a considerably longer service lifespan, meaning you will be spending a lot less on repairs and replacements. Moreover, as discussed above, you do not need to purchase oil to keep the solar generators running, which further reduces the running cost of these units.
- No fumes
Another considerable benefit of a solar generator is that it is clean. Traditional gas-powered generators release carbon monoxide fumes, which are detrimental to human health. As a result, these units could not be run close to civilisation as there was a risk of people choking on these fumes. On the other hand, solar generators use a clean source of energy and release no fumes, meaning they can be used inside camps close to people. In fact, you can run a solar-powered generator for camping inside your RV to power your appliances.
Power generators running on solar energy are designed to be portable and durable so that they can be used by campers in rough conditions. These compact units lack the mechanical components that can cause wear and tear in traditional generators. In addition, most modern-day solar-powered generators use a lithium-ion battery, which has a significantly longer lifespan than typical lead-acid or AGM batteries. As a result, you can carry your portable generator on your next trip without worrying about any damage or repairs. When purchasing a solar-powered generator, Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries are generally considered better for camping, so make sure to keep this in mind.
Things to consider before investing in a solar-powered generator
One thing you need to consider before buying a solar-powered generator for camping is that these tools require a significant investment upfront. However, unlike a gas-powered generator, the running costs associated with a solar generator are significantly lower as you do not have to pay for fuel and the maintenance cost is low.
It is also worth considering that solar-powered generators are available in a wide range of sizes. The capacity of the battery will be stated by the manufacturer in Watt Hours (Wh) on the device and you will have to check this before buying one for your needs. Typically, the battery sizes are often much smaller compared to residential power systems. However, you have a wide range of sizes to choose from, meaning you have the flexibility of choosing a battery size that meets your needs.