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. Bluetti from MaxOak - Starting at $1299
The Bluetti from MaxOak is a fantastic all around choice when it comes to solar generators. It boasts a 1500wH battery made with high quality LG cells. This is one of the biggest battery banks for a portable generator that is still portable. To give you some context, this can recharge your smartphone over 120 times on a single charge or run a fridge for nearly 24 hours. It only weighs 37 lbs as well! It has a 1000 watt inverter, so running any / all of your important electronics wont be an issue and its a pure sine wave inverter as well so your sensitive electronics are safe. It has a regulated 12V output so you can run your DC appliances like fridges there as well. The Bluetti even comes with MC4 adapters so if you already have solar panels, you can hook them up to the Bluetti right away!
Point Zero set out to make the ultimate generator and we think they have achieved this. As of the writing of this article, the Titan is on pre-sale and the first units have been in use for some time with amazing results. The Titan is an absolute beast with a 3000 watt pure sine wave inverter that peaks at 6000 watts! You can run hair dryers, induction cook tops, space heaters, you name it this unit can power it. You can check out our more in depth article on the pros and cons of the Titan here, but to give you some context, you can add more batteries and more panels to this system as you see fit. Even with only one battery it is large enough to run most home appliances, including a fridge, washing machine, microwave, cook top stove, fans lights, tv, and other electronics. This unit is an absolute beast and the only reason it isn't number one is because its heavy and somewhat hard to move around.
The Explorer 500 from Jackery is an amazing budget and ultra portable option for a disaster type scenario. The best thing that we like about this unit is that it weighs only 13.3 lbs and still manages to sneak in over 500wH of battery life. The Jackery even comes with a car charger in the package so if you run out of battery you can recharge it via 12V outlet. It has a 500 watt inverter which can surge up to 1000 watts which means it can run and recharge all your essential appliances in a disaster scenario from small appliances & smartphones to tablets, laptops, cameras, drones, mini-fridges, and even CPAP machines. This unit wont last as long as some of the other on the list since the battery is only 500 watt hours, but its portability is really what this unit is about.
#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.