People have become a lot more conscious of their carbon footprint, and through that, where the energy they use to power their homes comes from.
This has resulted in an increased interest in mind-range solar generators, and knowing what a 300-watt solar generator can run will help you decide if one of these is right for you.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what can and can’t be powered using solar energy, specifically at 300 watts.
But first, we’ll need to understand how they work.
What Can a 300 Watt Solar Generator Run?
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are photovoltaic, which means that the electrical energy they produce is converted from solar power. The process is known as the photovoltaic effect, in which metal panels generate electricity through exposure to light.
Solar panels are made up of smaller units called solar cells, which are most commonly made out of silicon. These photovoltaic silicon cells are the key to absorbing solar energy to be converted into electrical energy.
On average, a single solar cell produces around 0.5 to 0.6 volts of electricity. This is not a sufficient amount of energy, which is why solar cells are stacked together to create solar panels. There are typically 60 solar cells in a 300 watt solar panel.
In order for solar cells to transfer electricity, they need to be connected to an electrical circuit. A solar circuit helps to convert solar energy into usable electrical energy, which is then fed into the inverter to send power to the household.
A grid inverter is needed to make use of the electrical energy produced by the panels and circuit. What a grid inverter does is convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), which can then be fed directly into the electrical power grid to power a household.
Converting DC to AC is important because only alternating current is able to travel across the long distances necessary to power households and buildings
The sun produces about 173,000 terawatts of solar power, which is 10,000 times more power than humans use collectively. Looking at it that way, using solar energy would seem to be the most efficient method of producing electricity.
Unfortunately, there are many factors involved which prevent us from making solar power our primary source of energy. One such reason is that solar panels are not 100% reliable, nor are they powerful enough to provide an entire household with electricity 24/7.
A household cannot use solar energy as its primary source of power so it still needs to be connected to the main power grid. At night or in any situation where solar energy is unavailable, the household can still get power through the grid.
What Can a 300 Watt Solar Panel Run?
A solar panel delivering around 300 watts of power would be able to run things like ceiling fans, lights, rice cookers, phone and laptop chargers, a television or computer, and even electric fences.
A solar generator can be used to provide power in cases where neither solar energy nor power from the grid is available.
How Do Solar Generators Work?
A solar generator consists of different parts: the solar panel, the lithium battery, the inverter, and the battery charger.
Unlike gasoline-powered generators, solar generators don’t so much produce electricity as store the energy collected by the connected solar panels.
Your generator stores the energy in a series of capacitors. The quality of these capacitors will determine the lifespan of your solar generator, but a good quality product should last anywhere around 800 full-discharge cycles.
What Can a 300 Watt Solar Generator Run?
While a solar generator can provide power without needing active sunlight, it can only accomplish so much.
It won't be able to power an entire household, but it can still provide comfort during a blackout. Things like small fridges and other appliances, phone chargers, televisions, laptop chargers, and lights, can be powered using a 300-watt solar generator.
A portable solar generator may be better suited for things such as camping or boondocking than powering an entire household, though you’d need to get the portable kind in that case.
Some solar generators can power more than their watt capacity. They do this by employing high-tech charge controllers that allow the device to output upwards of 1,000 watts. While this will deplete your generator’s charge quickly, it can be useful in a cinch when you need to power tools in an emergency.
An average space heater uses 1,300 to 1,500 watts of electricity, and around 700 watts when turned to its lowest setting. This means that most solar generators can’t power a space heater. But even these more power-hungry appliances can be handled with the right equipment.
There are solar generators that could handle it, some can produce as much as 2,000 watts. So being able to power a space heater is just a matter of owning a solar generator powerful enough to do so.
If you think that’s impressive, you can even take it a step further. Solar generators can power a well pump, making them ideal choices for anyone living in remote areas where municipal services can be unreliable.
Can a Solar Generator Be Used While Charging?
The key to using a solar generator while it’s charging is the device’s charge controller. If your generator has a powerful enough controller, you can easily use it even while it’s charging. However, doing this will slow down the charging process.
While there's no danger in using a solar generator while it charges, it can't be expected to last very long, especially if it's being used to power something that takes a lot of energy.
How Do Long Solar Batteries Last?
How long a solar battery lasts depends on which kind of battery it is. In the past, solar batteries were typically made from lead-acid. While lead-acid batteries were affordable, they typically only lasted anywhere from 3 to 5 years.
These batteries were prone to damage from the caustic properties of the capacitors, and they were expensive to dispose of in an environmentally-safe and sustainable way.
Thankfully, modern batteries are composed of lithium are made and able to last much longer, thanks to their higher depth of discharge (DoD).
Depth of discharge refers to the amount of power a battery releases relative to its total capacity. A higher depth of discharge would mean a battery can last longer and has a longer life span.
Lithium batteries have a DoD of around 80% to 95%, which is why most have a minimum lifespan of 10 years. This is great news, as it means that even with heavy use, your off-grid power source will last you for many years.
Is Solar Energy Worth It?
With the cost of energy constantly increasing, switching to solar energy is a good investment.
Using solar energy can help lower a household’s electricity usage from the grid, which in turn lowers the amount of money you spend. Saving money on their electricity bill is only one of the reasons why people switch to solar energy.
Cost Of Solar Energy
The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) offers a 26% discount on solar panel installation if your taxable income is higher than the credit provided. Thanks to this, the amount you need to pay for solar power is somewhat cheaper.
Of course, keep in mind that how much it costs depends on the number of solar panels and the size of the generator you need.
Two decades ago, you would have had to pay for the solar company to come and install the panels on your property. Today, thankfully, that’s no longer the case.
With the advent of portable solar panels and generators, it’s as easy as finding a sunny spot in your yard and unfolding the light and maneuverable panels. With so many solar generators being designed to be portable, you can even pack your setup into your van and take it with you to keep you powered on a weekend camping trip.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Solar energy can help to reduce the amount of electricity used by your household from the grid. This simultaneously reduces the amount of money spent on electricity as well as the household's carbon footprint.
Looking at it this way, solar energy is as much an investment into your household as it is a way to create sustainable energy that's good for the environment.
A 300-watt solar generator can run a multitude of small appliances, from fridges to phone chargers. They’re small and portable, which makes them an excellent option for anyone enjoying the vanlife lifestyle.
While you won’t be able to run your entire household from a 300-watt solar generator, you will be able to keep yourself entertained and well-fed in a pinch. This is one of the many reasons that portable solar generators are becoming so popular with anyone who’s looking to save themselves some money and invest in clean energy.
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