Most people know about or are at least aware of what a gas or diesel generator is. It’s super common for folks who live in disaster prone areas to have one in order to keep the power on when the grid goes down. However, with the rising price of fuel, the exhaust and fumes they produce, as well as the need to go out and get more fuel when you’re running low; gas powered generators are not always the best option in a crisis type situation.
Thousands of people live in areas where they can be affected by natural disasters. From wildfires on the west coast, floods on the east coast or tornados in the heartland, it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this, odds are you’ve been personally affected in one way or another by a natural disaster or know someone who has. How should one prepare for situations like this? Simply picking up and moving is not an option. Your entire life can’t just be uprooted and moved to a new town or state. The reality then becomes how best can you prepare for the inevitability of natural disasters.
A quick google search for tips on dealing with natural disasters will provide you plenty of ideas on the immediate steps to take when mother natures strikes. From signing up for severe weather alerts to buying food and water provisions, you’ve probably done something like this before if you live in an area where natural disasters can be common place. However, what you might not be so well versed on are all the the ways in which a solar generator can be of use when the grid goes down. Even if you aren’t in the direct path of disastrous weather, you can still be without power for days at a time which is where a solar generator can be the answer to your problems.
In this article we are going to cover the major benefits of a solar generator as well as give our suggestions for the top 5 solar generators on the market for 2019 when it comes to natural disaster situations.
- * Feel free to use discount code 'blackout' for most of the products in this article
Benefits of a Solar Generator:
1. No need to procure fuel
2. Clean power
4. Recharges for free
5. Silent operation
No Need to procure fuel:
In a real life disaster situation the ability to run your generator without gas is a huge benefit. After hurricane Maria in 2018, Puerto Rico was without power in some places for nearly 11 months! While 11 months is definitely longer than usual for power to be restored, its not uncommon for people on the continental US to wait huge amounts of time before the power is restored. After hurricane Michael hit Florida in late 2018, parts of the state went multiple weeks without power at all. This is where your portable solar generator will shine. In the aftermath of hurricane Michael it was impossible for people to simply drive down the street and pick up gas for their generators. Unless you have a huge store of fuel (which is dangerous & expensive) odds are you’re going to need to figure out a way to keep your generator running. If you have a solar generator kit (something that comes with panels and all necessary wiring) you can be harnessing power all day when the sun is out. You can keep your essential appliances running and light your house until the grid power is restored. This means your food wont go bad, your lights can stay on, your phones charged up etc.
The fact that solar generators do not produce toxic fumes and gasses is often overlooked when it comes to disaster situations. We all know that solar energy is clean and renewable but in a situation where you need to flee your home or hide in the basement for prolonged periods of time, your gas generator can’t come with you. You may need to charge your phone, power some lights or run a fridge in your hideout and good luck doing that with your gas generator. A solar generator allows you to simply pack up your panels and head inside. If you wanted to keep your generator beside your bed to charge up your phone, laptop and run a light, no problem; the generator is completely safe. This is why people who live a mobile lifestyle (vanlife, skoolies, RV’s etc) love solar generators. You can keep them in a confined space worry free.
What makes solar generators so portable is that wherever you go, your solar generator can go as well. From your car to your basement, you’re free to take them with you and run them 24/7. In real world scenarios, especially after disasters hit, they are much more versatile than a gas generator. The only thing you can count on after a real disaster situation is the sun shining, meaning that wherever you need to go, you'll have power. There is no guarantee that you will be able to find fuel or that the grid will return in a reasonable amount of time. Being able to take advantage of a sunny day can be the difference between life or death, literally. Check out this video where Inergy donates Kodiak Generators to families in need after Hurricane Maria. A perfect example of how a solar generator is your best option in disaster scenarios.
Recharge for free:
Another obvious benefit to a solar generator that extends even beyond a disaster scenario is that it recharges for free. While some of the price points below might seem expensive, especially compared to the price of gas or diesel generators, it’s only the initial cost that is expensive; you have zero upkeep costs over the lifetime of your unit because sunshine is free. As is the case with anything when it comes to solar, your initial investment is big, but it’s in the interest of long term savings. Something like the Inergy Apex can last for 10 years or 2,000 cycles which means you’ll have this system for a long time and not need to buy one lick of gas to power it.
Building off of being a clean source of power, they are also DRAMATICALLY more quiet than their gas counterparts. The cooling fans will kick on once you start drawing significant amounts of power, but compared to loud, dirty and messy gas generators its a welcome change. Thousands of Americans already keep their solar generators in their mobile homes with them when they sleep. The level of noise they produce is similar to a desktop computer or laptop.
Now that we have addressed some of the major benefits of Solar Generators when it comes to disaster situations, we will outline our top 5 picks. This list is not exhaustive, there are many other great options available, so if you need help selecting a unit that works for your needs, you can reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
Top 5 Solar Generators:
#1. Inergy Apex - Starting from $1449.99
The top of our list for portable solar generators is the Inergy Apex. We have referenced this machine in the article above for good reason. When it comes to power per pound this machine is the best on the market. It weighs only 25 lbs and has an impressive 1500 Watt continuous pure sine wave output with a 3000 Watt surge. For some context, you can run a full-sized fridge on a single charge for over 24 hours, charge your cell phone 150 times, run a chest freezer for 50 hours or run their basecamp LED lights for 183 hours. It comes with an MPPT charge controller installed which means you can recharge your Apex in as little as 2.5 - 3 hours as part of a Gold Kit. You can also use the USB ports without turning on the inverter which helps to conserve energy. We really cant say enough about the Apex generator. This is our #1 pick for an after disaster solar generator kit and you can learn more about the pros and cons of this generator here.
#2. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium - Starting at $1799.95
The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium is a fantastic all around choice when it comes to solar generators. Just like the Apex, it boasts 1500 watt pure sine wave output with a 3000 watt peak surge. It has a 1425-watt hour battery which provides you with 118 hours of charging time for your phone or tablet. You could run an LED strip light for 10 days non-stop or fully charge your laptop from empty around 16 times. You even have enough power to run appliances like a microwave, coffee pot, heater or a fridge, though these appliance will drain lots of energy; which you should be careful about because the only real issue with the Yeti 1400 Lithium is its charge time. It takes significantly longer to fully charge the Yeti than the Apex, which is why we suggest installing the MPPT Charge Controller in your Yeti. This will dramatically increase your charge time and makes this a much better real world option. The Yeti 1400 is also quite portable at 43 lbs.
#3 Point Zero Titan - Starting at N/A
As of the writing of this article, the Titan from Point Zero is still in the prototype phase which is why we are putting it at 3rd on our list. We are super excited for this product to be released as it could shape up to be one of the best solar generators on the market. It has not been tested in any real world situations yet, but if they are able to execute on the machine they are promising, this new generator could change the game. The first thing to note about the Point Zero Titan is that it will be able to output a huge amount of power. 2500 watts continuous with a 6000 watt surge to be precise, and it will be able to stack together with more battery packs which means you’ll essentially be able to run your entire home off the grid. Moreover, it can handle 2000 watts input which should mean you can recharge your Titan super quickly. A 2000 watt input is unheard of in the portable solar generator game. We are still waiting for the final specs, so the weight of the Titan might be of concern for some, however, all the early signs point to this machine being a formidable beast! If you want to be on the list for news about the release date of the Titan Generator, please send us a message with the title "Titan Generator".
#4. Humless Go Mini - Starting at $995
The Humless Go Mini falls right in-between the Inergy Apex and the Goal Zero Yeti 1400. It weighs in at 35 lbs and produces 1500 watts continuous output. When paired with some solar panels in a kit you can look to charge your Humless Mini in between 6-14 hours which makes this unit a great choice. It’s not as big a unit as the ones above, as it has a storage capacity of 640 watt hours, but its cost makes this a useful choice for more price conscious shoppers. If you will only need to recharge laptops, phones & maybe a few LED lights then this is a great option for you.
#5. Goal Zero Yeti 3000 - Starting at $2995.95
The last entry on our list is the Goal Zero Yeti 3000. This unit is last on the list because of its weight and price, not because of its productivity or output. It’s the largest high-capacity portable power station that Goal Zero offers. It's equipped with 3000Wh of lithium battery storage for long runtimes and comes pre-installed with an MPPT charge controller. The Yeti 3000 provides approximately 150+ smartphone charges, 50+ laptop charges, and can even run a mini fridge for over 50 hours. In fact, this generator can be used as a home backup option with the Goal Zero Home Integration Kit. If you combine the Yeti 3000 with a Roll Cart it can even become decently portable. As is the case with the larger Goal Zero generators, charging times are the biggest downside. You will need to purchase multiple solar panels in order to charge this generator in a reasonable amount of time. What you should not discount though is the 3000Wh of battery storage. This can prove to be incredibly useful in a disaster scenario and if price is not as much your concern, this is definitely a fantastic choice for you.