How Many Solar Panels Do I Need In an Emergency?
How do students feel when the power goes out at school? De-lighted, of course.
Terrible puns aside, most of us don’t feel delighted when the lights go out. It can be downright scary to be in the dark, especially in an emergency situation. The food in the fridge spoils, the heating and A/C go out, and your phone battery seems to go from 100% to 5% in a matter of minutes.
Luckily, improvements in solar technology have made it easier (and more affordable) for anyone to access emergency backup power when they need it most. You can learn more about the ins and outs of solar power by completing our solar power mini-course at The Solar Lab, but if your focus is on emergency backup power there’s our solar power FAQ our Emergency Solar Power 101 guide, and of course we’ll also the solar power equipment you absolutely need to be ready and prepared for the next power emergency.
Why is solar the best for emergency backup power?
So, why go solar when gas generators are cheaper and available at your average hardware store? Gas generators may be cheaper to buy initially, but require fuel to run and are, shall we say, temperamental. That’s not only expensive but also risky.
Gas isn’t just expensive, it’s the first resource to run dry when the power goes down for extended periods of time. You can’t keep a gas generator indoors either, as you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If the storm of the century hits and the power goes out, your gas generator will be outside in the storm. It may keep running…it may not. They’re noisy, they’re smelly, and they’re expensive to run.
Solar is the opposite. Sunlight is free. Solar generators don’t need any running outside into a storm with a jerry can, they don’t make any noise, and they don’t emit any gasses or toxins so you can keep them running anywhere in the house. Paired with some good portable solar panels they can keep you going for as long as the emergency rages. They are maintenance-free, easy to use, and probably a lot more affordable than you think. Of course, you could also go full-on solar and completely go off-grid. You won’t be affected by power outages - and you’ll draw a benefit all year long, whether there’s an emergency or not.
How does emergency solar backup power work?
In a very small nutshell. solar panels use photovoltaic cells that capture the energy from the sun and then turn it into direct current (DC) energy. The energy flows into a solar generator that stores and converts the DC energy into the alternating (AC) energy used by our appliances and electric devices before being sent into various plugs around your home.
You keep the battery inside your solar generator topped up at all times so you’re ready for an emergency any time. As you deplete the stored power, the solar panels automatically recharge it when the sun’s shining. And yes, solar panels really can generate electricity even when the sun’s hiding behind clouds and the stuff that falls from them: rain, snow, hail, whatever.
How much emergency backup power do I need?
To plan your emergency solar backup system you first need to decide what you’d like to run during an emergency and for how long. Bear in mind that the more conservative you are, the longer you can go without recharging. If you have medicine or a fridge full of food you’d like to preserve, you’ll probably need to keep your refrigerator going. If you are worried about the cold, you’ll want to run a space heater. If you’d like to keep working, you should keep your laptop and phone alive as long as possible.
Once you have a list of everything you’d like to keep powered on, you can visit an energy consumption guide to find the wattage of each appliance. Then, multiply the wattage by the number of hours to determine how many watt-hours it needs. Add up all the watt-hours together, and you’ll end up with the Wh you need for your generator.
For example, to keep your laptop charged, you need 50 watts of power. Assuming that the average blackout lasts between 4-6 hours, you’ll need 200-300 Wh from your generator. If you want to keep a fridge using 500 Watts of power going for 6 hours, you’ll need 3000 Wh. If you want to keep three LED lights going, using 7 Watts each, you’ll need 126W. Add all that up, and you know you’ll need 3426 Wh, so you should look at a 3600 Wh generator or more. It’s always a good idea to size your generator slightly bigger than you need.
Or you could just ask an expert. Easy-peasy.
How many solar panels do I need to be prepared for emergencies?
You’ll need to have enough solar panels to meet your daily energy needs, even in an emergency. You want to be able to recharge your battery each day by the same amount as you used the previous day, so your solar panels have to be able to produce that amount when the sun is out.
For starters, you’ll need to take the size of your generator and then divide that by the number of hours you want it to take to fill it. It’s not easy to calculate because there are plenty of considerations to take into account, including the position of the panels, where to set them up, the cost, and so on.
Once again, if you want to do it the easy way then get in touch with a professional who can point you in the right direction or advise you on which emergency solar generator kit would be best for your particular needs.
Solar generator kits: the easy way to prepare for emergencies
If you’re looking for a quick but comprehensive backup solution, the way to go is with a solar generator kit. A solar generator kit contains everything you need to run your solar generator, from panels to cabling. That way, the hard work of researching and figuring out what you need and how much of it has been done for you. Who wants to do math in their spare time, amiright?
Aside from the ease of getting set up there are other benefits too. Solar kits save money. It’ll end up being cheaper than buying components separately, there’s no need to refuel, there’s no hefty installation fee, and once you’ve set up your system you virtually never have to touch it again to do maintenance. Plus you know it’s going to work and that everything in the kit will play well together while matching your requirements. Best of all, you have lifetime support. If something does go wrong, you know who to call.
Which solar generator kit do I need?
There are a number of different solar generator kits on the market, each with its own advantages. At the end of the day, it really depends on what you’d like to use the kit for.
For example, if you just want a cheap and effective way to charge your essentials, like your laptop and cell phone, an EcoFlow Delta 1800w solar generator kit is perfect. It has enough power to run a small fridge, freezer, lights, TV, fan, microwave, toaster oven, CPAP machine, and other medical equipment. At just under $1,500, it’s a steal.
If you live in an area with far longer and more severe outages, you need a lot more power to keep your fridge and freezer going. The EcoFlow Delta Pro is pricier, but it packs enough of a punch to go off-grid completely if you want to. It comes with a ginormous 3,600Wh battery and is fully expandable, so you can add even more battery power if you need to. You can keep all of the basics in your home running for 24 hours without recharging.
If you need emergency power on the go for an RV, or if you live in an area with a risk of flooding that may mean you need to move to higher ground, you should look like an EcoFlow Delta Pro NOMAD kit. It is just as powerful as the Hex Kit but far easier to pack up and go.
If you like using the best, you want to read our article on the top emergency solar kits.
And if you’re really serious and want to eliminate all worries of losing power due to a failure in the electrical grid, it’s time to go off grid entirely with a complete off grid solar kit. With very decent kits ticking at just under $10,000, it’s a carefree, off grid solution that’s way cheaper than having a solar company install your system. It’s plug-and-play, reliable off grid power, which means you never have to think twice about electricity again.
If none of these fit the bill, take a look at the full range of solar generator kits available on the market, take the quiz to get a quick recommendation, or talk to an expert to discuss your needs and receive a personalized quote.
Solar kits take the guesswork out of setting up your backup power by having all the essential solar equipment for emergencies in one package. It’s quiet, effective, safe, and affordable power on demand. You don’t need to whip out your calculator to get all the parts and accessories you need. All you have to do is do a little assembly.
Give shopsolarkits.com a call if you have any questions, need a quote, or just need help making sense of anything related to solar power. Our team of experts is on call to help with setting up emergency backup power in homes, cabins, RVs, boats, vans, and anywhere else human beings like to spend their time.
Don’t like talking to human beings? Prefer researching on your own? No problem! Go deep into emergency solar power with our Emergency Solar Power 101 guide, and visit The Solar Lab to check out our mini-course on solar power to learn everything you need to know about all kinds of solar power and more.