5 Marketing Lies About Your Solar Generator That Just Might Kill You In A Blackout
With the rising interest in solar energy, many people are turning to solar generators to provide backup power during emergencies. This is exciting to see! Like many of you, we understand the countless advantages solar backup systems have in emergency situations.
However, because many people don’t understand the fundamentals of solar backup systems (including solar generators), and how their various components should work together to provide a reliable system, we’ve witnessed some erroneous beliefs regarding solar generator performance due to the insane amount of false claims in solar generator marketing. These marketing lies have come from a variety of sources: solar salesmen, affiliate marketers, even manufacturers of solar generators marketing their own product!
Don’t get me wrong, there are several good solar generators on the market that, for the most part, are capable of providing reliable backup power for basic temporary emergencies (power outages lasting less than a day) or simple outdoor activities (running a mini fridge, lights, and charging a cell phone).
However, the problem that we’re seeing are consumers buying these basic solar generators for the sole purpose of providing power during serious emergency situations that could result in more long-term power loss such as a major disaster, terrorist attack, or even economic collapse. When in reality these small systems are sorely lacking in this regard.
What will happen then, if a person chooses to buy a solar generator system based on the “claim” that it will provide enough power for their family: to preserve and cook their food, heat their home during freezing months, and provide some sort of security, when in reality, is completely inadequate in regards to these essential energy needs?? What will happen when the system they have been “sold” is only enough to power some lights, a little bit of technology and a cell phone- which in reality is absolutely useless when it comes to a real disaster like an EMP blackout or a complete economic collapse?!
I’m sorry to say, but when this realization comes, it will be too late.
In this post I will address 5 of the most common marketing lies I have seen in solar generator marketing and set the record straight.
Lie #1: “Get off grid with a 1,500 watt (or less) solar generator”
Just when I think I’ve seen it all, I see an ad promoting a 20 watt solar kit claiming it can be used for “off-grid applications”. Yes, off-grid for your phone, and maybe a few lights. However, for those who are unfamiliar with how to correctly size a system for actual off grid living, the term “off grid applications” can be very misleading. Normally, when you use the term “off grid”, it’s implying that you have the ability to live independent from the power grid. However, advertisers these days are using the term “off grid” so broadly that their headlines imply that a 1,500 watt generator will get you off the grid. And let’s face it, 1,500 watts just doesn’t cut it.
Simply put, generators are rated by the maximum watts it’s inverter can pull at any one time. The inverter is just one component of your solar generator, and is usually not upgradeable (meaning this is the limit of your generator, and you can’t increase it without buying a new, larger generator). Because of this, it’s recommended that you get a generator with an inverter big enough to run whatever you plan to run at any one given time, and consider appliances you may want to run in the future.
Another important aspect to consider is the amount of solar panels that can be used with these smaller solar generators. Usually, a 1,500 watt solar generator will have a maximum solar capacity of 200-400 watts (mainly due to it’s charge controller limitation and small battery capacity). Although sales representatives may tell you that you can take your home off grid with this, or at least imply that you can, this isn’t enough power to run much at all. An average home will need about 6,000 watts of solar to go completely “off grid”.
However, if you want to backup a refrigerator and maybe a freezer, and power a few lights, then 1,500 watts might be sufficient to handle that, depending on the quality of inverter, and if you have enough solar panels and batteries. If you have any large electrical appliances such as a range, electric water heater, electric dryer, or an air conditioner (these appliances use 4,500 watts or more just to run), a 1,500 watt solar generator won’t even come close. 1,500 watts will barley run a microwave, if it’s a small one.
I’m not even going to get into what would happen if you tried to heat your house with your 1,500 watt solar generator. Suffice it to say, it wouldn’t even heat a small room. But it could run an electric blanket for a couple hours per day, if that is all you used your generator for.
Lie #2: “Get off grid with an 1,200 watt-hour (or less) battery bank”
The most important aspect of a solar generator’s actual usability is its battery storage capacity. Battery storage allows you to use the generator at night, in periods of limited sun, and when your energy needs exceed the amount of solar input coming in. So the question you should be asking to determine a reliable size of battery bank is what do you need to run during these times?
A general rule that I recommend to everyone is to have at least 3-5 days of battery storage, because having several days of rain or cloudy weather is a real possibility, especially in an emergency situation like a natural disaster! If you’re using this solar generator for survival in emergency scenarios, you need to ensure you have enough power in any situation. Also, having 3-5 days of battery storage you won’t be draining your batteries continually. If you drain your batteries 10% each night, they will last a lot longer than draining them at 90% each night.
So let’s say you want to power your refrigerator during a blackout. If an average refrigerator will take 1,500 watt-hours per day to run, you’ll need at least 4,500 watt-hours for a reliable size battery bank. Unless you don’t need power all of the time, and in that case, why are you buying a solar generator?
Lie #3: “A 1,500 watt-hour solar generator will power your refrigerator”
This is probably the most common misconception I see: the capability to run a home refrigerator with a 1,500 watt (or less) solar generator. It will. But the question you need to be asking is for how long? These same solar generators will also run an electric heater, but it can’t heat your house because it will drain your battery long before the house, or even a small room, is heated. The same thing happens with a refrigerator. Sure it will run it for a few hours, but your fridge will stay cool for several hours, even without power, unless the door is opened.
Again, the problem is that consumers are getting information, from a variety of sources, that claim these small generators will run a refrigerator for days. But lets take a REAL look at this.
An average refrigerator will take over 1,500 watt-hours per day to run. This means it will fully drain your your battery in 24 hours. If you look at the specs of any honest company it will tell you this. Here are direct numbers from the spec page of a 1,200 watt-hour solar generator:
“Refrigerator (400-800W) 12-24 hours”
Now you may be thinking that 12 hours is all it will need to run, because the sun will come up, recharge the batteries, and you’ll be ready for another night. But there are three problems with this theory.
#1: Your fridge is still using power during the day, so if you have a 100 watt solar panel, it will put out about 500 watt-hours during the day (which is about as much as you used during the day). So when night comes the solar panel did no more than keep your battery at near empty, and it will not last through the night. It’s impossible to run a fridge that takes 1,500 watt-hours per day with a solar panel only putting in 500 watt-hours.
#2: You may have cloudy days when you’re not getting full sun. So even if you did have enough solar to recharge your batteries every day, on the first cloudy day you would run out of power, and your fridge would shut off. Again, weather is not always perfect, and you should expect days without sun, especially in an emergency situations.
#3: It’s not healthy for your batteries to cycle them to 100% every single day. It doesn’t matter what kind of battery you have (lithium AGM, etc), this kind of use will shorten the life of your batteries.
Lie #4: “A Modified Sine Wave solar generator is just as good as Pure Sine Wave”
Some solar generators come with a “modified sine wave inverter”. Many marketers will tell you these will work without any problem, and are just as good as the “pure sine wave inverters”. This really depends on what you are running and what you mean by “just as good”. All appliances we use are designed to run off of pure sine wave power. Using modified sine wave power will inevitably shorten the life of your appliances, make them less efficient, and require even more batteries and solar panels to do the same thing you could do with a pure sine wave inverter. It’s also important to know that there are some appliances that simply won’t run using modified sine wave. Some electric motors in older refrigerators, compressors, sensitive electronics, and medical equipment, will not start up using modified sine wave and will burn up if you leave them on.
For something that you will need in an emergency, it just makes sense to have something you know will work with every appliance, and work efficiently.
Lie #5: “Our batteries are superior than any other solar generator on the market”
It seems like every person you talk to that is selling a solar generator will tell you why their batteries are the best and why you should buy their generator because of it. I’ve heard it all, and I’m sure you have too: This battery will work at every temperature, even down to -20 deg. Another will say their batteries will last 10-20 years, when their competition lasts only 5 years. Another will tell you their’s are super light, making it the lightest, most compact system. And so on.
The truth is, there is no perfect battery, period. There are perfect batteries for certain types of scenarios, but no perfect battery for every single condition. There is no battery in existence that is cheap, lightweight, lasts 20 years, and will work at every temperature. When you choose a battery for a specific property, you will sacrifice in other areas, so it’s important to know your batteries and what you’re getting!
To determine what battery would work best for you, you need to know what you’ll be using your solar generator for, or in what conditions. If you know you’ll never be using your generator in conditions below freezing, or if you have an insulated space such as in a garage, or in your home, lithiums can give you benefits that AGM’s can’t provide such as lightweight, and longer life cycles. If you are unsure how you will be using your generator, the safest battery would be an AGM.
Our Titan solar generators are built for true long-term emergency backup power and can be expanded in both solar and batteries. Check out our systems here.
Does a portable solar generator exist whereby you can attach solar panel to INSIDE of house window (ie) can the solar panel absorb the sun’s energy through a normal double glazed window?
As long as the solar panel is in direct sunlight, it will produce power through the window.
I need to run a large refrigerator, a big flat screen tv, a couple of lights and a 5,000 BTU air conditioner. Tell me exactly what generator I need and how many solar panels. I checked out GENERAC to many complaints. Thank you
Yes we can tell you exactly what you would need to run your refrigerator, tv, lights and air conditioner. However to get a more accurate system, can you tell me where you are located, how many watt hours does your refrigerator use each day (you can get a watt meter from walmart, lowes, or amazon to measure it)? Also will you run your air conditioner 24/7, or how many hours per day do you estimate it will run? And finally, is this for a full time off-grid use, or just emergency outages? And if it is just emergency outages, how long do want the backup to last?
With that additional information, we can get a much more accurate idea of your power usage, and recommend a system for you.
Why don’t you have wind and solar combo. How can someone get hurt or killed that you mentioned using a solar generator on a long blackout?
You can connect wind and solar up to our generator, but we only sell solar panels, you would need to get a wind generator separately. You could die in a long blackout if you are counting on electricity for something that you need to keep you alive, such as a refrigerator to keep food/medicine good, a well pump for water, electric blanket to stay warm in the winter, oxygen concentrator, etc, and your generator does not last through the blackout.
Hi, thanks for the comments. I’m confine in a hospital bed. Electric company have shut off power twice a months and alternates back and forth sometime in the day. I’m concern about the refrigerator. I live in the desert, with heavy storm and 120 degree in summer and my bill goes to $295 even with state discount programs. I considerate to buy a solar generator in Home Depot by credit. Which generator you recommend me for a two beds house and 2 evaporate cooler (no a/c). Thank you and God bless.
Lots of good comments here. However, I believe your 6KW estimate is not sufficient to go off grid. We have had 9.9 KW on our roof for several years, and almost a year ago, added 5 KW to charge our EV. Theses two arrays are connected to a power company net-net meter. We are charged $7.99 per month transmission charge, regardless of KW use or generation. This charge is $96 per year, and though it varies, our total power bill runs $200 to $400 per year. That powers our EV about 15,000 miles per year, and keeps our all electric 3,000 sq ft home running and comfortable. There is no expense for batteries, but we cannot use the solar during a power outage. We take care of that with a 12.5 KW generator.
the 6kw is just an average across the country at the time this article was written. Some homes can go off-grid with 1kw, when others will need 20kw or more. So it is very possible that you would need more than 6kw to go off-grid, and from the sounds of it, you would probably need much more, specially since you are all electric, and have an EV.
Interesting been wondering in can be plugged in to sockets when proper sign wave available and do it several times I have 6 windows with sockets beside them, would be giving feed back power when everything ok,???
Appreciate the objective information. Still trying to do all this math in my head…
This is very helpful information. Thanks!
I am trying to calculate the amount of solar panel capacity I need for a 2,000 watts inverter. Let’s say I will be using the full 2,000 watts and I will have 6,000 watt-hours of battery storage. How many solar panels do I need to end up with my batteries fully charged at the end of each day? I am from Long Island, NY.
It depends on how many hours you will run the 2,000 watts. Obviously with only 6,000 watt-hours of battery storage, you could not run 2,000 watts for very long without sun (less than 3 hours). Here is a calculator to help you figure it out: https://pointzeroenergy.com/off-grid-size-calculator. Probably the easiest thing to do is to just put this in the lights section. Put the number of hours of lights you will run, and the watts (2000). For example when I put in 6 hours, and 2,000 watts in those section and hit calculate, it says you need 13,561 watt hours of batteries (you can use only 6,000, but you will be limited to running only when there is sun), and 2,855 watts of solar.
You can get more accurate results by putting in your address (in the advanced options at the top).
I hope that helps.
Is a 12.2kw solar generator enough to keep 2 fridges and 2 upright freezers running all night
while being charged during the day with 2400 watts of solar??
It depends on the battery size, the efficiency of the inverter, how much power the fridges and freezer uses, and your location.
Based on a typical fridges and freezers, a generator that uses 15 watts idle power and 90% efficient, and are in a typical location in the US, you would need a minimum:
5,000 watt hours of batteries
1,095 watts of solar
You can use our calculator here: https://pointzeroenergy.com/off-grid-size-calculator
To calculate based on your location, and generator efficiency (using the advanced options).
If I have solar panels on my house will it keep my house running in a power outage? Does it have a battery that will help run your house when the electricity goes out?
You will need more than just solar panels to keep your home running in a power outage, You will need batteries, and inverter, charge controller, etc. You also need to make sure it is sized correctly or you will also run out of power. You can use our calculator here: https://pointzeroenergy.com/off-grid-size-calculator
If you have more questions, I suggest contacting us via phone or ticket system so we can explain more.
Can you you give advice on the best powder all solar generator also the wind harnessing equipment as well? Thank you
I am not sure what you mean by “power all solar generator”?
What would a 6000 watt solar generator run?
It depends on the generator and it’s efficiencies. In theory it should be able to run up to 6,000 watts, however depending on the efficiency, battery storage, and solar storage it may not run it for very long.
What would a 6000 watt solar generator run?
What do you guys think of Litium iron Fosfate batteries ?
Lithium Iron Phosphate are a very good battery. They are much heavier than the NMC battery, but if it is for a stationary system they last longer.
Would you offer a wind turbine option that could effectively produce a source of power for your 5000 product????? The wind blows in the winter when it is cold or summer when hot (the solar collectors do not work well in very hot or cold settings but the wind can blow 24 hours a day in the western regions like Dallas, Laramie, Denver, etc. If you would combine the BEST wind product so that simple folks like me could believe your offering would work most of the year rather than just during perfect temperature days. All the solar panels purchased will not function to the maximum if it is 120 or 0 degrees.
Solar panels work great in cold temperatures as long as there is sun. Ours have worked great at -20 deg F. If fact at cold temperatures they will put out well over there rated power. I have never heard of anyone having problems due to it being too cold. They will not be as efficient when it is hot though, but will still put out power, just not as much as when it is cooler. If you live in a place that is constantly 120 deg, then you would want to increase your solar panel array to make up for the lower efficiency.
A bigger issue is if you live in an area that does not have sun very consistently. If you usually have rain, or snow, but also have wind, then the windmill may be a good option for you. However we don’t have any wind products.
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it on my facebook page.