Why Everyone Should Own a Portable Solar Generator
The sun--that power plant in the sky--bathes Earth in ample energy to fulfill all the world's power needs many times over. It doesn't give off carbon dioxide emissions. It won't run out. And it's free.— SUSANNAH LOCKE, "How does solar power work?", Scientific American, October 20, 2008
Did you hear about the terrible storm the other day? How about the hurricane that hit Texas? Remember the end of winter storms that hit the East coast?
Seems that hardly a day goes by in the news that we don't hear about hard hitting storms that knock power out in some part of the world for days or even weeks. Is it just me or are we experiencing more extreme weather these days? Maybe it just seems like it because we hear so much of it in the news.
Yet despite all this many of us are woefully unprepared for emergencies in short term and most definitely long term situations. How many of us have several days worth of water, food and other emergency supplies like flashlights, batteries, etc.? Not many unfortunately and when an emergency situation comes up like a storm, leaving it to the last minute to get those emergency supplies is too little, too late.
That's why I'm writing this article to show you why you need to invest in a portable solar generator. Read on to find out how you will save time, money and avoid the misery of suffering without power when the next emergency hits.
Do you use solar power in your home?
The Risk of Relying on the Grid for Your Power
Despite the vast technological advances, most cities in North America rely heavily on getting their electric/hydro power from an aging and vulnerable grid system. Here in Canada we don't need a storm to have power outages or blackouts, just a little extra wind. Our power grid here in Canada is practically ancient and has not been updated since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
It's a scary and perhaps sobering thought to realize how much our lives depend on electric power and how in a split second everything can come crashing down. You don't have to be into conspiracy theories to understand how vulnerable we are. While the likelihood of something catastrophic like an EMP is a remote possibility (depending who you talk to) experiencing extreme weather is very likely regardless of where you live. Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes are just the tip of the iceberg.
The question you must ask yourself is: How prepared will you be in an emergency situation? Because it's never a matter of "if" but a matter of "when."
Solar Power as a Priority
I know that in emergency water is usually at the top of most people's list when it comes to being prepared. I understand that and I agree that it is important. However, with regard to the vulnerability of our power grid, the chances of you being without power for a few hours is far more likely than being unable to get water. How many times has the power been out in your neighborhood? For how long?
The most frequent emergency situation you will experience is lack of power.
Considering how dependent we are on electricity doesn't it seem logical to have a back-up supply? How many people have a back-up supply of power in their homes? I'm going to guess... not many.
That is why I consider having an alternative source of power to be a priority in your home when you are starting to prepare for emergencies in your home.
While there are many backup sources of power out there I believe solar power to be one of the better choices. I want to state that it's ideal to have multiple backup sources, not just solar. But when you're starting out, solar power is a great way to go.
Why Choose a Solar Powered Generator?
Here is my list of reasons why a solar powered generator is a better choice than other generators out there:
- You have access to an unlimited fuel source as long as you have the sun and do not need to rely on things like gasoline.
- Most solar powered generators have a shelf life (how long they can sit unused) of up to a year or longer.
- You can chain them with other batteries if need be (depending on your model)
- Portable solar generators are ideal in when you have to leave the house (bug-out situations)
- Ideal for people with ongoing health issues like diabetes to keep insulin cold or to use CPAPs
- They are quiet
- They produce zero fumes
- No maintenance involved like a gas engine
- Can charge items from cell phones to larger kitchen appliances depending on the model you get.
- Affordable for everyone, depending on the model
- You can recharge them at home or anywhere
- Overall, they are more ecologically friendly
Some disadvantages are:
- They can be slow to charge the battery storage capacity. They cannot store a large amount of electricity in their battery if they are using lead acid batteries instead of lithium batteries. Be sure to find models that use lithium batteries instead.
- They are expensive compared to fuel powered generators with the same power output and even compared to a fuel powered generator with 10 times more electricity production capacity. The cost of many solar powered generators do not even include solar panels which are sold separately and at an additional cost.
- They can be larger and heavier
- Can only be charged during the day if you are solely relying on the sun to charge them and can take up to 24 hours to fully charge which is a long time
What is a Solar Powered Generator?
According to the Alternative Energy Inc. website:
"Solar generators use solar panels to capture photons from the sun and charge a battery in the generator. Before the power is extracted, an inverter changes it to alternating current electricity, which is what most appliances use today. From there, the generator can power anything that "regular" fossil-fuel electricity can."
Solar generators usually contain the following components :
- Solar panels
- A battery charger to allow the electricity generated by the solar panels to charge the battery
- Solar batteries
- An inverter to convert the power stored in the battery to AC power that can be used to power the electrical devices you wish to use.
Portable Solar Generator for Cell Phones and Small Electronic Devices
These are great if you're new starting out with solar power generators. While it isn't called a generator, it pretty much works the same as its bigger counterparts. The smaller the generator (and battery) the smaller the device it can charge.
My husband began looking into these for when our power would be down short term. We are able to charge our tablets and cell phones with the one we have and it was reasonably priced.
Most of these smaller chargers are light, and easy to take with you camping or in your bag, backpack, etc.
Personally, I want to have a smaller solar charger that can also charge my laptop besides just my cell phone. The following model from Amazon does just that.
Portable Solar Powered Generator for Your Entire Home
There seems to be two portable solar generators out there that are the most popular and those are the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 and the Inergy Kodiak.
While doing my research I was initially persuaded by the Inergy Kodiak. The specs looked so much better than Goal Zero and the video reviews on YouTube were so positive. Then I realized that many of these "reviews" (which by the way each of the person reviewing it also happened to offer a discount of some kind...highly suspicious) used data that was not entirely accurate in comparing them to the Goal Zero Yeti and therefore skewed the comparison to favor the Kodiak. Not impressive.
Even more interesting is that I looked on Amazon and for all the amazing reviews for the Kodiak, the reviews for it on Amazon were nothing spectacular and the Goal Zero Yeti had much better reviews, especially from people who purchased and used the product. There were more unsatisfied customer reviews for the Kodiak than the Goal Zero and regarding issues that are serious and would convince me NOT to consider the Kodiak.
Here are a few comparisons:
Goal Zero Yeti 1400
How much does it weight?
Can you hook them up to external batteries to charge them?
How many charges can I get out of it?
2000 (500 at 80% capacity)
How many watt hours can they produce?
How long to charge via the wall in your home (the grid)
Is it cool to the touch?
How Many Times Can I Charge My Devices?
These are the number of recharges for the Goal Zero Yeti 1400:
- Smartphone 70+
- POV Camera 230+
- Headlamp 230+
- Tablet 52+
- Laptop 23+
- Fridge 23+ hours
- 32 LCD TV 14 hours
Save Money with a Refurbished Model
Amazon also offers a refurbished version of the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 for hundreds of dollars less if you are looking to save some money but still want a larger solar powered generator for your home. It's a great option and comes with a 90 day warranty.
The Goal Zero Yeti 1400
Build Your Own Solar Generator
The website Modern Survivalists has a detailed 6-part series on how to build your own solar generator for a fraction of the cost of buying one on Amazon.
For those of you who are the DIY kind, this might be a great alternative, a way to save money and be prepared.
It's a well thought out series full of clear instructions, photos and items you need.
You can find it here on his website Modern Survivalists.
Below is the video for part 1, which is also on the website link above.