Solar Generators – The Basics

The term Solar Generator is a relatively new name for a technology that has been utilized throughout the world on a commercial scale since the early 1980’s. Solar has been the primary power source for satellites and space probes since the beginning of space exploration. It is in this environment that solar energy proved to be a reliable long term source of power. Solar panels over 30 years old are still providing usable power in very harsh environments such as arctic regions and mountain tops.
Most of the solar panels we see today are part of a grid-tied solar electric system that is often referred to as a solar generator. These grid-tied systems reduce or often eliminate the monthly electric bill for part of the year and qualify the system owners for various tax credits and special incentives including reduced cost per kilowatt hour charges.
The most common type of solar generator used around the world is often called a stand-alone or off-grid system. In addition to solar panels, these systems also include a set of batteries connected to provide a 12, 24, or 48 volt system or battery bank. The primary purpose of the solar panels in these systems is to charge the battery bank that supplies power to appliances or other electrical “loads” such as lights. For many applications, the battery bank supplies power to an Inverter that converts the DC power from the battery bank to household AC power. These systems can be very small or large enough to meet the energy needs of a typical home. Most often, the solar generator operates completely independent from any utility power. In some cases, utility power is used as a backup source during periods of cloudy weather.
The solar generator of the most basic configuration can be a very useful in many daily tasks or recreational activities. Compact and portable solar generators are becoming popular choices for powering RV’s, Cabins, Workshops, and other small structures with nominal energy requirements. These small solar generators provide a safe alternative to torches, candles, and oil lamps for lighting.
Compact and portable solar generators are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Most of these solar generators are either an Integrated or Modular type system. The most common of these are the integrated type. This solar generator consists usually of an enclosure which houses the battery, inverter, and charge controller, and includes some type of connector for a solar panel. The modular type system includes the same basic equipment as the integrated type, however the equipment is not housed in a single enclosure. Modular systems are most common for remote home or other fixed structures. Integrated systems are most popular for portable applications and are the most convenient to operate for low power requirements like cell phone charging and laptops.
All of the solar generator systems discussed in this article have advantages and compromises when compared to each other. Solar generator performance is dependent on the amount of power anticipated to be used. Best practice is to consult with a solar professional before selecting a system.
For additional Info, feel free to contact Solar Design Concepts at 707-588-9544 or visit


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