Portable battery generators are becoming more popular for camping, outdoor and emergency preparedness due to the increase in performance in battery technology. However, it is important to consider the following things to determine if a portable battery generator would suit your situation.
If you are looking to power your campsite, live off the grid, or are just preparing for an emergency situation, having a backup generator is a must have. Traditional gas fuelled generators are noisy, emit fumes and are costly to run. An alternative is a battery generator which is silent to run, emits no fumes and can be recharged by the sun, but which one is right for you?
Battery generators have a much lower power output than their gas-powered cousins. If you only require to power low wattage devices such as smart phones, laptop computers, CPAP machines and small LED televisions then a battery generator might be suitable. However, if you are looking to power household whitegoods, heaters, coolers power tools etc, then a battery generator would not be suitable.
Unlike a gas fuelled generator which only requires an extra gallon of fuel to keep running, battery generators can take several hours to fully recharge and once you have run out of charge you are without power for some time. Depending on the brand and model some can be recharged via AC power in three hours or less, but the larger capacity batteries can take much longer. Most have options to recharge either via AC wall outlet, or DC car charger but in the event of a power outage when you are most likely to be using the unit or in an off-grid situation, your only option to recharge is via solar panels.
With the option to recharge via solar panels, battery generators are quite versatile. However, if weather conditions are not favourable, i.e. increased cloud cover or shaded areas, then recharge times can become very lengthy or not possible at all. Another thing to consider is that rain can stop your charging in its tracks as many portable solar panels are not waterproof meaning you need to bring them under cover while the rain continues.
Some portable solar generators are small enough to be placed in a backpack but these are limited in their power application. Larger systems that have higher power outputs are quite heavy and often are required to be wheeled around on a trolley or require two people to lift.
Larger battery generator systems can have a higher price tag than gas powered generators. With the additional cost of solar panels which can be quite expensive in their own right, battery systems typically are almost twice the cost of entry than the gas powered alternative.
Like all purchases there are many things to consider to sway you in one direction or another. A portable solar battery generator may not have the power output or near continuous run time of a gas-fuelled generator, but with zero emissions, zero noise and the option to rely completely on free, clean energy from the sun a portable solar generator is an excellent choice for camping, outdoor events and emergency situations where only essential power requirements are necessary. Therefor a portable solar battery generator is well worth your consideration.