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Old 10-22-2020, 10:58 PM   #1
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Solar generator

Iím not even a beginner when it comes to understanding solar anything. Iím coming to the community looking for opinions on this solar generator for my mom. She is looking for something simple to run her necessities in emergency situations. Whatís the general consensus?

https://4patriots.com/collections/po...=&utm_content=
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Old 10-23-2020, 12:30 AM   #2
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I'm not sure this opinion will be very helpful, but at first glance that website and that product raise my hackles.


Lots of 'free gifts' lots of 'patriot' and survival themed pictures and marketing, lots of words, a big price tag, but best I can tell from a quick browse, they don't properly list specifications or include a spec sheet.


From what I can tell you get 100W solar, 60Ah LFP battery, 1800W inverter (pure? modified?). I don't follow solar 'generators' much, but this seems like a pretty low value at $2500


The only medium to large solar generator I have a vaguely positive impression of is the Bluetti AC200


From what I recall it has over twice the battery capacity as the one linked above, a similar size pure sine inverter, and option for more solar, along with a few other goodies. I wouldn't go so far as reccomending it, because I don't know enough about it or have any first hand experience. But I think its definitely worth considering, and almost certainly a better option than the one linked above (at a cheaper cost).
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Old 10-23-2020, 03:19 AM   #3
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I tend to concur with _DSL's assessment.
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Old 10-23-2020, 04:12 AM   #4
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Also--at the risk of stating the obvious--remember that a solar "generator" is not a generator in the traditional sense of the term. Sellers usually try to dress it up as such, but in reality a portable power station (no PV input) or "solar generator" (has PV input) is a fancy battery. Basically a Battery + Inverter + Solar Charge Controller, conveniently and compactly packaged, with lots of useful outlets.

How much it can generate depends on how many Watts of PV are hooked up to it, and whether the sun is shining. This is not necessarily a problem, so long as you understand the limitations and the use case.

So a "solar generator" like the one linked above is pretty limited in what it can sustainably power (with its 100W panel). Even given full sun, it probably couldn't power a residential fridge for more than a day or two (basically acting as a battery backup, partially supplemented by a bit of solar if the sun shines). If you could add more PV this would extend your autonomy or achieve sustainable power given adequate sun. Its worth dwelling on this last point, considering that in many parts of the world power outages do not occur at the sunniest parts of the year (though where I live they do).

I think a solar generator or power station would be well suited for short term battery backup of essential small to medium loads like a fridge. But not well suited for longer term or higher power loads (like heating/cooling).
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Old 10-23-2020, 04:36 PM   #5
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I'll second on the positive impression on the Bluetti, but one data point we're missing is what it will be used for - "run her necessities in emergency situations" draws questions like what devices, how long do these devices need to run and for what duration of "emergency" does it need to perform, etc.


It really depends on what the needs are, and the hard facts are that if you _need_ something to continue running without grid power, then you _need_ to design and build a system made to handle those loads. If you just want to power phones, laptops and charge little things, sure most of these will work. Running 120v appliances for long periods, there is no arrangement where you solve the problem without an understanding of the solution.
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Old 10-23-2020, 09:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kazetsukai View Post
I'll second on the positive impression on the Bluetti, but one data point we're missing is what it will be used for - "run her necessities in emergency situations" draws questions like what devices, how long do these devices need to run and for what duration of "emergency" does it need to perform, etc.


It really depends on what the needs are, and the hard facts are that if you _need_ something to continue running without grid power, then you _need_ to design and build a system made to handle those loads. If you just want to power phones, laptops and charge little things, sure most of these will work. Running 120v appliances for long periods, there is no arrangement where you solve the problem without an understanding of the solution.

^ I concur
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Old 10-23-2020, 11:56 PM   #7
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One more thought ... the purpose would be for use in emergency situations. This *usually* means weather-related problems. So, a device like this would have to be deployed all the time just in caseit is needed when the bad weather hits, or a power outage occurs at night. Then it will be running ONLY off battery in which case it may not last long enough to be of use, depending on the use-case.
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Old 10-24-2020, 04:11 PM   #8
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Thanks, you guys are great with your knowledge and thoughts.

Essentially what Iím hearing is itís time I delve into the world of solar and gain an understanding so I or my mom isnít wasting money. I have a 25watt panel and simple charger controller I use on my trailer battery, but itís so basic I donít need to understand it. I might as well get it figured out now and add solar to my bus while Iím at it.
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Old 10-24-2020, 05:20 PM   #9
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I would recommend seeking out a solar "Guru" in your area to bounce her needs off of to get a professional opinion, (or two, maybe???).

While many on here have excellent advise, and successful installs of systems that meet their needs, there is no substitute for a "Professional", someone in the solar field to actually lay eyes on the setup, or bus.

I have enough knowledge of electricity to get myself in trouble, and after I did my electrical install I had a local licensed electrician go over it and give it his "blessing" before hooking up shore power to my rig.

Cheap insurance, and the peace of mind it offers is "priceless", IMO!
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Old 10-24-2020, 06:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
Thanks, you guys are great with your knowledge and thoughts.

Essentially what Iím hearing is itís time I delve into the world of solar and gain an understanding so I or my mom isnít wasting money. I have a 25watt panel and simple charger controller I use on my trailer battery, but itís so basic I donít need to understand it. I might as well get it figured out now and add solar to my bus while Iím at it.

Not necessarily the world of solar, but maybe. Despite their name, 'solar' generators are more often charged by AC (household plug) or DC (car charger) power in practice.



So really what you need to focus on first is energy storage (batteries). Figure out what your mom wants/needs to power power, and when she might need to power it (and for how long). Once you figure this out, its a lot easier to determine how much battery capacity you need, and whether solar would be a useful way to recharge the batteries.


(if your mom lives in California and power outages during late summer fire season are a big concern, and brown outs occur occasionally, Solar might be a great way to keep a fridge a few electronics and a light or two powered indefinitely, but if we are talking the midwest or the south or northeast and power outages occur mostly during storms or hurricanes, its unlikely solar will be of much use until the storm passes) and a solar generator would just be a battery backup



I think its useful to think of a solar generator as a convenient portable 'battery backup' that can also sometimes be charged from solar or supplemented by solar.


You don't need to become an expert in anything, you just need to spend some time thinking through what your moms needs are and what situations you want to plan for, and then it will be much easier to find a solution that meets those needs.
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