A Detailed Look into Whole House Solar Generators
Updated July 6, 2023
Now more than ever, it is a good idea to have whole house solar generators in the event that utility power becomes unavailable. With wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters shutting down power lines for hours and sometimes days on end, a backup generator allows you to have power when you need it most.
And really, reliable access to electricity is just one of the many great things about whole house solar backup generators. In terms of finances, huge solar energy systems can save you money on long-term electricity costs and can even add value to your home.
So what’s the right solar generator for your full home solution? As experts in renewable energy storage, we’ve assembled this comprehensive resource for whole-house systems, featuring some of the best solar generators and kits for backup power.
How much battery do I need for my house?
When it comes to energy storage, the first question everyone asks is, “how much battery backup do I need for my solar energy system?” Here, the answer will vary, depending on how much battery backup power you will need for both ordinary and emergency circumstances.
For instance, if your home will be completely off the grid (or on the road in an RV), you will need a very large battery backup to ensure you always have daily solar power.
On the other hand, if you plan to limit your home's electricity consumption in the event of a grid failure, a medium-sized solar generator may only be necessary to power your essential items.
Below, we will explore some of the best whole house solar backup generators for small, medium, and large electrical demands. If you’re looking for an even more detailed look at determining the right size battery, you can find all of the information you need and more in our comprehensive solar generator guide.
Small Solar Generators
When looking into solar generators, most products on the market are built for convenience and portability. Small solar generators, such as the Jackery solar generator, rarely weigh more than 30 lbs, but pack enough battery to charge mini-fridges, lights, and electronics for a few hours.
To be considered a “small” solar generator, we are generally referring to power stations with 1000 watt-hours (Wh) of storage or less. On an even smaller scale, handheld solar chargers for phones and cameras can also be considered small solar generators.
So obviously, a small solar generator is not a great option for a whole home backup system, unless your home is actually a recreational vehicle, camper, or van. While it is always handy to have a little bit of portable power around in case of an emergency, we would not recommend a solar generator with less than 1000 watt-hours of battery as a viable option for a full home backup system.
Medium Solar Generators
Medium-sized solar generators weigh anywhere between 30 and 75 lbs, (14 and 34 kg) with battery capacities between 1000Wh and 2000Wh. As a sort of “best of both worlds'' option, a medium-sized solar generator can be both a temporary home backup system and a portable power solution.
The EcoFlow Delta
One of our best-selling products of all time is the Ecoflow Delta Generator, which packs 1300Wh of electricity storage into one easy-to-carry 30 lb. package. Not only does the Delta efficiently maintain its battery with MPPT solar input, but it can also be charged in under 2 hours with traditional AC electricity.
If you don’t want to mess around with hooking a generator into your home’s electrical panel, the Ecoflow Delta has enough storage and output capacity to power essentials anywhere in your home. With 1800W of continuous power to spare, the Delta can handle full-size refrigerators, CPAP machines, power tools, and more, all with the power of silent, clean energy.
The Bluetti EB150
For a little bit more battery capacity at your disposal, the Bluetti solar generator is another great medium-sized power station. The EB150 is one of many great Max Oak Bluetti models, with 1500Wh of battery storage capacity and a 1000W pure sine wave inverter.
So although the EB150 is limited by 1000W of continuous power (the Delta has 1800W), the storage capacity will still be enough to get by when only using electricity for essential items like lights, fans, and food storage.
Large Solar Generators
If you are truly looking to access enough battery backup power for your entire home, we recommend a large solar generator with a minimum of 2000Wh of electricity storage. Large devices such as the Titan Solar Generator, are designed to replace traditional backup home generators with enough battery and inverter capacity to withstand a prolonged grid outage.
The Best Whole House Solar Generators
So although small and medium solar generators are great for emergency power, the best whole house backup systems are not exclusively designed for mobility. If you’re looking for a seamless transition between utility and backup electricity with a fully integrated generator, then we suggest one of the following powerhouses.
The Titan Solar Generator (Point Zero Energy)
As mentioned above, the Titan Solar Generator from Point Zero Energy is one of our favorite high-capacity solar power stations. The Titan is an absolute unit, with 2,000 Watts of lithium-ion battery storage and 3000W of continuous AC power capacity.
Even more impressive, the Titan can handle 6000W of surge electricity, which is perfect for large transferred electrical loads when many devices must start up again. You will also never have to worry about running out of plug space if you choose to use the generator independently, as it is loaded with AC, DC, USB outlets, and even a 30 amp RV plug-in.
Finally, Titan’s are built with modular solar energy storage in mind, and it is very easy to add more batteries to your reserve capacity with a special, stackable design. Only limited by the constraints of your budget, it is possible to charge and store as much solar energy as you need for any prolonged period of time without grid power.
Part for part, both the main Titan unit and each battery weighs about 35 lbs., which is a bit heavy, but still very manageable as a mobile power solution.
The Lion Safari ME 3000
As a great Titan alternative, the Lion Safari ME 3000 Solar Generator is another high-quality, large-capacity solution for backup home storage. While the Lion Safari ME base unit is a great, portable 922Wh generator, the 3000Wh package includes one specially designed battery for an extra 2,048Wh of solar energy.
Paired with a 2000W continuous inverter rating, the ME 3000Wh can store and discharge enough power to electrify a full-size fridge for an entire day on one full charge. Plus, the Safari ME features some of the fastest solar charging rates on the market today, which makes it very easy to access continuous power while utility energy is unavailable.
The Hysolis MPS 4,500Wh Power Station
If you’re still unimpressed with 3000Wh of backup solar electricity, please direct your attention to the Hysolis MPS 4500wH / 3000W Solar Generator. With 4500Wh of storage packed into one 120 lb package, the Hysolis MPS power station is perfect for long-term solar backup storage.
Of course, if you are only worried about a few bad storms cutting out the power each year, then the Hysolis MPS might be a little bit of overkill to help keep the lights on. However, this generator is so powerful that it can keep nearly any home off of the grid for extended periods of time with continuous solar power.
For large homes in need of backup energy or permanent off-grid electricity, the Hysolis is a great standalone system to deliver massive amounts of solar power.
The Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator
Last but not least, our friends at MaxOak also manufacture the Bluetti AC200P, which is one of our personal favorite devices for sustained solar energy. The AC200P features 2400Wh of solar energy storage at one of the most affordable prices in the industry for a high-powered system.
Despite its massive battery, the Bluetti AC200P weighs in at under 50 lbs, making it our lightest high-powered option. Together with its stellar reputation and user-friendly design, the Bluetti AC200P is certainly one of the best solar generators to have around when the power goes out.
How to Connect a Solar Generator to a Home
When using a full home solar backup generator, you have two options: Use the device independently or integrate it into your home’s electrical system. We never recommend connecting a small solar generator to your home, and highly advise seeking out professional advice before attempting to connect your own solar generator.
Independent Operation vs. Home Integration
With independent operation, a solar generator is simply brought to wherever power is needed. Along with some extension cords if necessary, you will be able to access your power anywhere directly from the generator’s outlets. While portability is great for power on the go, independently operated generators are still generally limited to a handful of AC, DC, and USB plugs.
Of course with home integration, a solar generator’s battery will become the main source of electricity on your property, rather than grid-supplied power. In case of an outage, solar generator integration allows homes to go completely off of the grid, but continue to operate as normal. In order to seamlessly transfer your home to solar backup power, home integration is entirely necessary.
Using a Transfer Switch
A transfer switch is the safest way to connect a solar generator to a home for battery backup. Although many people look for shortcuts, a high-quality transfer switch is entirely necessary to protect yourself, your home, and anyone in close proximity to your DIY installation. To ensure your safety, we highly recommend using one of our solar generator home integration kits.
With a backup generator, solar panels, and a transfer switch included, our kits are designed to easily transform your home into an off-grid power station in case of an electrical outage. More so, we make it as easy as possible for you to integrate your solar generator system with all of the necessary (and properly sized) wires and electrical components.
Of course, it is technically possible to connect a solar generator to a home without a transfer switch, however, we strongly do not recommend attempting to do so unless you are a licensed electrician. With the right technical knowledge, safety training, and permits, interlocking kits can be used in place of a transfer switch to connect a solar generator to your home.
Installing Kits as Whole House Solar Generators
Before we wrap things up, it is important to understand that solar generators are a relatively new product. In all forms, solar generator systems have been around for decades, but they are now only being developed and released as convenient all-in-one packages.
If you’ve got the DIY gene or you're simply looking for your next home improvement project, it is also possible to install a solar kit as a whole house backup system. Here, the only real difference is that each of the solar generator’s components are purchased and installed separately, which can result in both a space-saving and cost-saving solution.
Below, we will outline the crucial components of a solar kit for whole-house generation, and cover the important things to consider when purchasing and installing each part.
If you are looking to turn your home into an all-in-one renewable energy generator, then you will need a good set of solar panels. Even with a solar generator, your home will only be able to run its electrical circuits so long as there is still electricity in the battery if your power station is not connected to a renewable source of power.
With a solar generator, it is very easy to know exactly how many solar panels you can use for optimal efficiency. Most solar generators are clearly rated with a maximum solar input wattage to safely produce electricity. Medium-sized solar generators can typically efficiently charge with 100 to 500 watts of solar input, while massive devices like the Titan can handle up to 1000 watts.
In a standalone solar kit, solar panels are usually permanently installed, although some can be stowed away and only used in case of an emergency. When determining the size of your solar array, it is important to consider your potential electrical load and spatial constraints, with a close eye on panel efficiency and warranty periods.
The reason why the Titan generator can accept so much solar electricity input is that it contains two solar charge controllers. While most solar generators and small standalone systems only have one charge controller, full-home off-grid solar storage may necessitate two regulators between the panels and the battery bank.
MPPT vs PWM Solar Charge Controllers
Charge controllers come in two main technologies: Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). While MPPT charge controllers are the more advanced option, a PWM controller can be sufficient enough to maintain a battery bank reserved only for occasional use.
For more information, feel free to read more about MPPT vs PWM solar charge controllers.
As the lifeblood of your home’s backup system, solar batteries are the most important part of a reliable off-grid generator. And when it comes to being prepared for an emergency, the general rule of thumb is that there is no such thing as having too much power.
For off-grid home backups, it is very important to consider your system’s voltage before purchasing battery storage. 12V solar panel arrays can charge 12V batteries, just as 24V systems share the same charge amongst components.
Aside from voltage and chemistry, storage capacity is the other most important specification to know before purchasing a solar battery. Measured in watt-hours or amp-hours, one or more batteries should be purchased to accommodate your approximate electrical demand while temporarily independent of grid power.
What is the best type of battery for a whole house solar backup generator?
In the 2020s, lithium-based batteries are without a doubt the best chemistry for storing a home’s solar energy. As an affordable, high-efficiency, and widely available technology, lithium batteries are truly the premium choice for maximum solar potential. In fact, every one of the backup solar generators that we’ve mentioned in this article feature a large lithium-ion battery.
Flooded and Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
As the tried and true battery chemistry, both flooded and sealed lead-acid batteries are still a popular way to store solar energy. Although they are cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, lead-acid units are limited by a lower discharge capacity and a shorter overall lifetime.
Between the two technologies sealed (or gel) lead-acid batteries are a massive improvement over traditional flooded technologies. Like a lithium-ion battery, a sealed lead acid battery will not require any ongoing routine maintenance, as a flooded battery would.
By utilizing a lithium-ion battery, solar backup generators can provide more daily and lifetime power than a lead acid alternative. Lithium-ion batteries are also significantly lighter and continue to become increasingly affordable each day.
With an expanded depth of discharge and extra watt-hours to spare, lithium-ion batteries are typically going to be a better investment for backup and ongoing solar energy systems. For more information, see our lithium vs lead acid battery guide.
Let’s Talk About Inverters
Finally, your solar-powered inverter will determine exactly how much of your electricity you can use at any given time. Rated at both continuous and surge wattage capacities, inverters’ specifications help clarify safe ongoing and temporary electrical loads.
Depending on the voltage of your system, independent whole-home solar inverters generally carry a capacity of 4000 continuous watts and above. When evaluating your purchasing options, it is very important to understand whether or not an inverter will be able to seamlessly switch to battery power when grid electricity is unavailable.
Grid-Tie Inverters vs Off-Grid Inverters
If you have a grid-tied solar energy system without a battery backup, then the panels will not be able to safely produce energy when utility power is down. Instead, a backup generator with a battery and specially designed inverter will be necessary.
In the wide world of solar inverters, there are strictly grid-tie inverters, hybrid inverters, and exclusively off-grid inverters. For backup emergency power, a hybrid inverter will be necessary to safely transition from grid-tie power to your battery backup reserve. If you are building an independent backup power generator, then it is possible to install a fully off-grid inverter to create your own microgrid.
Kits: The Best Whole House Solar Generators
If you’re looking for the easiest way to integrate backup solar energy into your home, then we highly recommend an all-in-one solar generator. However, if you would like to invest the time and energy into a DIY solar backup generator, we recommend our whole house solar generators.
As with a solar generator home integration, it is still very important to take the necessary safety measures when installing a modular backup system. In most areas of the country, any home solar backup generator tied to your property’s electrical box will be legally required to abide by local building and electrical codes.
For safety and ease of use, we recommend solar generator-based systems, nine times out of ten. Although they may cost a bit extra upfront, solar generators are quickly becoming the best fully electric home backup system to combat grid power outages.
Even if you never use your home’s backup solar generator, there is no harm in being prepared. We hope that this article has helped you understand the role of a solar backup generator and has pointed you in the right direction for the perfect power station to suit your needs.
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