Solar generators are very advanced power sources and effectively replace noisy and polluting conventional petrol- or diesel-powered generators. However, do they provide enough power to supply the house long-term? Can a solar generator power a house?
Sufficiently sized solar generators could power a house. Solar generators were not originally developed to power a home for the long term. The primary design motivation was to replace conventional fossil fuel-powered generators as emergency power sources for offsite usage.
Because you’ve decided to start generating your electricity and move off-grid, you started reading articles and reviews of the various technologies. However, you are still left with a befuddled expression, not knowing where to start or what choices to make. You still need to decide how to scale the system according to your household needs.
Let’s go over and take a look at whether a solar generator can be a good choice for your house.
Can a Solar Generator Power a House?
A solar generator could power a house. However, using the solar generator as the primary long-term power supply for a home is not the most convenient or cost-effective way to move off-grid.
However, a sufficiently sized standalone solar power generator could provide backup electricity if the main power supply to the home is compromised. This device could also be used as a portable unit, making it a worthwhile investment.
What are Solar Generators?
Solar generators come in different sizes and are available in competing sizes to portable and inverter generators.
Solar generators are usually made up of:
- solar panels – to generate the current
- an inverter – to convert the current from DC to AC, and
- a battery – used to store excess electricity.
They are normally portable, contain no moving parts, and operate silently.
As anyone who has had to use a noisy and smelly traditional generator for hours on end will attest. These eco-friendly, silent machines are a paradigm shift in improvement over conventional generators.
Why Choose A Solar Generator To Power Your House?
Before assessing the pros and cons of using solar generators to power a house, let’s look at how a solar generator compares to similar technology and why you would want it to power your home.
There are three types of conventional petrol-powered generators:
- Portable generators
- Inverter generators
- Standby generators
A fossil-fuel-powered engine powers each type and typically includes a fuel tank, a motor, an alternator, and an inverter. The three types of petrol-powered generators have an excellent track record; for solar generators to be viable alternatives, they need to often significant advantages to this old faithful technology.”
What Is The Purpose of Portable Generators?
- Usually smaller and designed to provide emergency power outside the home for camping, fishing, and traveling in an RV.
- Do not generate high electricity consumption and are only useful for keeping the camping lights, cell phones, radios, and the like powered.
- Not suitable for powering a house, and thus more powerful solar generators will automatically beat out portable generators due to their higher power output.
What Are The Benefits Of Inverter Generators?
- Produce DC power converted to AC
- Bigger than portable generators, and
- Have a higher and more stable output.
Anyone who has ever run a generator for extended periods will attest to the high-fuel cost of running these machines. While solar generators are more expensive than inverter generators, the running costs are virtually zero making them more economical long-term than the fuel-hungry inverter generator.
How Do Standby Generators Compare To Solar Generators?
- Standby generators are installed in place.
- They have complex designs that automatically switch on if the main electricity supply is compromised. These are designed to provide a building’s power supply as needed.
- Standby generators are unpleasantly noisy to run.
If you have ever wanted peace, stay far away from these generators. In contrast, to these noisy generators, solar generators are neighborhood-friendly; they produce hardly any noise and will not disturb the blissful silence of your home.
Are Solar Generators Designed To Be A Long-Term Solution?
When people ask, “can they power a house with a solar generator?”, they are often frustrated with the professionals when they answer ” YES, but ….” This evasive answer is based on the following principles guiding the original reason behind the creation of solar generators:
- Solar generators were initially designed as a substitute for an interrupted power supply. A solar generator is also a great portable device when access to a permanent power supply is unavailable.
- A solar generator was not designed as a long-term substitute for a full-time, correctly sized solar power system (comprising solar panels, an inverter, and a sufficiently large and capable battery) that can provide the power needed by a house.
Can A Solar Generator Power An Average House?
Determining whether a solar generator can power a house largely depends on the household’s energy consumption. The household energy usage is dependent on:
- The number of electrical consumers, how many hours they are run for, and their kilowatt/hour consumption
- How many energy-saving practices and consumers have been utilized in the house
How Much Electrical Energy Does An Average Home Consume?
The following analysis explores if a solar-powered generator can power an energy-efficient average-sized home.
Non-viable high-energy consumers have been excluded from the calculations.
- Electricity-powered geyser
- Electric Oven
- Electric Hob
An energy-efficient household should have been converted these high energies, consumers, to gas.
What energy consumers will need to be powered by the solar generator?
- 10 x 3 watt LED Light fittings – 30 watts.
- A microwave – 1200 watts; this is not on all the time, and usage can be staggered with other high consumers.
- A refrigerator – 300 watts
- Cell Phone charger – 20 watts
- TV (you need to stay connected to the outside world to check on the zombie apocalypse ) 65 watts.
- A toaster and kettle ( can’t do without our morning fix) – 2400 watts.
- The family of four has individual laptops – 200 watts.
- The computer network (network routers, modems, and a server) must remain operational – 200 watts.
- A pool motor running for eight hours a day – 1100 watts
Depending on the household, there are other devices such as dishwashers, washing machines, coffee makers, hairdryers, electric lawnmowers, electric garage doors, electric gates, and many more; however, these “optional extras” don’t all have to run together.
Sadly, these calculations do not make any allowance for your future TESLA electric vehicle! Charging these off a solar power system will require approximately 3kw of constant power supply, which is 60% of a typical household’s power needs!
Assuming one of the intermittent high consumption devices is constantly consuming power, this would result in a system that needs to supply approximately 4- 5kwh during daylight hours.
5 kW solar generators are available and can power an average house.
Should You Use A Solar Generator To Power Your Home?
Solar generators can supply a house depending on the household’s electricity consumption. However, the saying “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” applies to solar generator-powered homes.
To make sure the generator continues supplying power, you will need a complete solar panel array installed on the house’s roof. The solar panels should provide at least 3kw of charging power at this power supply level. A system of 8 * 400-watt panels will achieve this.
You will also need a battery to store the electricity for times when the sun is not providing power. A 5.1 kW battery will suit our needs. This is the minimum size battery for this project and will require careful power management to make sure it lasts during the hours when the sun is not shining.
A large enough solar generator could provide the full power a home needs; Our question is, other than in emergencies, would you want it to use a solar-powered generator to power your house?
A more cost-effective system would be to install a conventional solar system that is sized to match our solar generator, would include:
- Solar panels
- A 5kw inverter
- A 5.1 kW battery
Including installation, the conventional solar system for this set-up would cost approximately US$5,500.
The 5kw solar generator, including all the necessary panels and battery, would cost at least US$7,000. US$ 7,000 is significantly more expensive than the conventional solar system described above, which is only US$5,500.
A solar generator could power a house with controlled energy consumption for a limited period; however, this is not economically viable as a long-term power source. A conventional solar system installation is a more cost-effective long-term solution.