There are a few similarities between an inverter generator and a solar-powered generator, including portability and creating pure sine wave AC power. The main difference between the two has to do with how each of the units produces their energy.
Let’s take a look at how an inverter generator and a solar generator produce their power, and then we will look at some great portable solar generator kits available today.
What is an Inverter Generator?
An inverter generator is a type of portable generator that uses some kind of fuel, usually gasoline or diesel. They are much smaller and easier to pack than traditional fossil fuel generators, producing cleaner energy more efficiently.
How Does an Inverter Generator Work?
Using the combustion of fossil fuels, an inverter generator runs an internal engine that rotates an electronic alternator to generate electricity.
The alternator produces alternating current (AC) power that is initially too distorted to be used. So, the AC power is sent to a rectifier circuit that converts it into direct current (DC) power. Since most of our household appliances, tools, and other gadgets require AC current, the inverter then converts it back to stable AC in the form of pure sine waves that are free of harmonic distortions and can be used to power our devices with the various outlets located on the generator.
Compared to traditional fuel-powered generators, these provide more consistent voltage with fewer fluctuations, making them better for sensitive equipment like laptops. They do all that using less fuel than traditional generators because they can adjust their output based on energy needs rather than running on maximum all the time. This means they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a traditional fuel-powered generator.
Inverter generators are also lighter, more compact, and quieter than traditional generators, making them much more portable and popular with people who like to go camping, RVing, or on other outdoor adventures. However, since they still rely on fossil fuels, they can never be brought inside your tent or RV because they still produce toxic emissions like carbon monoxide.
However, inverter generators are no match for the clean energy you can produce using a solar-powered generator that produces clean zero-carbon energy by harnessing the sun’s energy. Let’s take a look!
What is a Solar-Powered Generator?
A solar-powered generator uses solar panels instead of fossil fuels to create energy. This means it comprises two devices instead of a single all-in-one like the inverter generator; it has a portable power station accompanied by one or more portable solar panels. However, both are portable and once your generator is charged, you can unplug it from your panels and bring it with you wherever you need power.
How Does a Solar-Powered Generator Produce Energy?
So, how does a solar-powered generator produce energy? It produces energy when electromagnetic radiation from the sun hits the solar panels and is absorbed by the panel’s silicon semiconductors. This creates an electrical charge that causes the energy to flow as DC into the portable power station.
Then, the DC power is converted to pure sine wave AC power via a built-in inverter so that you can use it to power your devices directly, including sensitive devices like laptops.
These are the best options for camping, RVing, and other off-grid adventures because you don’t have to pack bulky, smelly, and expensive fuels with you. They are even quieter than inverter generators because they don’t need to run an alternator and are completely clean with no toxic emissions. This means you can bring them right inside your tent or RV to power your devices at night and not have to worry about noise or fumes.
Since the sun’s energy is free and limitless, you no longer have to limit your off-grid activities to as long as your fuel supply lasts, allowing you to be completely self-sufficient with your energy needs. This means you can go as deep into the Canadian wilderness as you want for as long as you want and never have to worry about running out of power.
Clearly, since solar-powered generators perform the same function of producing pure sine wave AC current to run all your tools and devices but using clean, renewable energy from the sun’s unlimited supply of electromagnetic radiation, these are the way of the future.
Let’s take a look at some of the solar-powered generator options available to you.
What's the Difference Between Inverter Generator and Solar Powered Generator？
So, the difference between an inverter generator and a solar-powered generator is simply how they produce their energy. An inverter generator produces energy using fossil fuels to turn an alternator and uses an inverter to convert that energy into pure sine wave AC.
A solar-powered generator uses the sun’s energy to create energy and also uses an inverter to turn that energy into pure sine wave AC.
In addition, different fuel usage is also one of the differences between inverter generators and solar powered generators.
Which Generator is Best For Travel?
Since solar-powered generators produce no toxic fumes and require no bulky fuels to pack around, they are the best option for both home and travel use. They are completely safe to pack inside your tent, RV, or home. All you need is your generator and a portable solar panel, and you will have all the energy you need.
Inverter generators were meant to be portable units that were easier to travel with than the older fossil fuel generators that were too big and bulky to carry around and produced AC energy with too many distortions. However, both still burn fossil fuels, producing toxic and potentially lethal fumes like carbon monoxide and others. They should never be brought inside a home, RV, tent, or any other enclosed space under any circumstances.
Let’s take a look at some great solar-powered generators that are perfect for traveling with, no matter what your energy needs are!
3 Best Solar-Powered Generators For Travel
BLUETTI EB55 + 1*PV120 Solar Generator Kit
If you are looking for a highly portable entry-level option to replace your fuel-powered traditional or inverter generators, then the BLUETTI EB55 + 1*PV120 Solar Generator Kit is an excellent affordable choice. It comes with a highly portable and versatile power station and a solar panel, so you can have unlimited clean, free energy whenever and wherever you need it!
- 700W AC pure sine wave inverter (1,400W Surge)
- 537Wh capacity
- LiFePO4 battery with 2,500+ life cycles to 80%
- 12 AC, DC, USB-A, and USB-C outputs for charging multiple devices
- 6 ways to recharge (AC/Solar/Car/Generator/AC+Solar/Dual AC)
- 200W Max. solar input
- Comes with 1 x 120W solar panel
- 400W Max. fast dual charging (Solar + AC Adapter Simultaneously)
- 537Wh capacity and built-in 700W (surge 1400W) inverter, it will run most of your essential outdoor appliances and electronics.
- With AC, DC, USBA-A, USB-C outputs, and a wireless charging pad for wireless charge-compatible smartphones, you can run up to 13 devices simultaneously.
- It even has a wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones.
- Weighing only 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs), it is highly portable and can easily be moved wherever needed. It’s even light enough to bring it backpacking on a picnic or to the beach!
- Eco-friendly and gas-free with no toxic fumes means you can bring it right inside your tent, RV, or home.
- Very affordable, cost-effective entry-level model.
- Not powerful enough to run devices that require more energy like a space heater or a refrigerator
BLUETTI AC180 Solar Portable Power Station + PV200 Solar Panel
If you still want a highly portable unit to replace your old inverter generator, but you have higher power needs than can be supplied by the BLUETTI EB55 + 1*PV120 Solar Generator Kit, then look no further. The BLUETTI AC180 Solar Portable Power Station + 1*PV200 Solar Generator Kit has the extra power you need but is still a highly portable unit.
- 1800W AC output with 2,700W Power Lifting Mode
- Capacity: 1,152Wh (AC180) / 1,440Wh (AC180P)
- 11 AC, DC, USB-A, and USB-C output ports for charging multiple devices
- Flexible 4 ways to recharge (AC/Solar/Car/Generator)
- Smart control & monitor with BLUETTI App
- 0-80% Recharging in 45Mins with 1,440W AC Input
- Comes with 1 x 200W solar panel
- Weighing 16 kg (35.27lbs) this unit is still light enough to conveniently pack with you on your next off-grid adventure
- With AC, DC, USBA-A, and USB-C outputs you can run 11 devices simultaneously
- Eco-friendly and gas free with no toxic fumes and quiet operation mean you can safely bring it right inside your tent, RV, or home.
- With 800W AC output and a 2,700W Power Lifting Mode, you can run more energy-intensive devices like space heaters, electric kettles, fridges, hair dryers, and more.
- It comes with a 200W portable solar panel so you can power your devices no matter where you are
- Not enough power to run heavy-duty appliances like air conditioners
BLUETTI AC200MAX + 3*PV200 Solar Generator Kit
For those with large RVs, serious campers who go off-grid for extended lengths of time, or those looking for a small home backup system, the BLUETTI AC200MAX + 3*PV200 Solar Generator Kit might be the perfect fit for you! With lots of power to run more heavy-duty devices and three 200W solar panels, you will never have to worry about running out of power again!
- 2,200W AC pure sine wave inverter (4,800W Surge)
- 2,048Wh capacity
- LiFePO4 battery with 3,500+ life cycles to 80%
- Expandable up to 6,144Wh with 2×B230, or 8,192Wh with 2×B300
- 7 ways to recharge (AC/Solar/Car/Generator/Lead Battery/Dual AC/AC+Solar)
- 900W Max. Solar Input
- Comes with three 200W solar panels
- 1300W Max. fast dual charging (Solar + AC Adapter)
- Smart control & monitor in the BLUETTI App
- With 2,048Wh capacity and 4,800W powerlifting mode, you can run almost any outdoor appliance, including an RV air conditioner
- Weighing in at 28.1kg (61.9lbs), it's still light enough to pack it up for your outdoor adventures
- This expandable unit means that when you’re not using it on your outdoor adventures, you can purchase expansion batteries to provide you with whole home backup in the event of a power outage.
- With flexibility in recharging using AC, solar, DC, batteries, generators, and dual-charging options, you will never have to worry about running out of power
- Clean, quiet, and fuel-free, it produces no toxic fumes, so it's safe to bring inside your tent, RV, or home.
- Too heavy to bring backpacking.
- Costs more than the smaller models
What Else Can You Do With A Solar-Powered Generator?
A solar-powered generator can be a versatile and eco-friendly power source for various applications. Here are some additional things you can do with a solar-powered generator:
Emergency Backup Power: Use it as a reliable backup power source during power outages at home to keep essential appliances and devices running, such as refrigerators, lights, or medical equipment.
Camping and Outdoor Activities: Bring the generator on camping trips or outdoor events to power lights, small appliances, electric stoves, fans, or charge electronic devices.
Remote Work: Power laptops, mobile devices, and other small office equipment, allowing you to work remotely in locations without access to traditional power sources.
Recreational Vehicles (RVs): Power appliances and devices in your RV, making your travels more comfortable and self-sufficient.
Boating: Use a solar-powered generator to charge batteries, run small appliances, or power navigation equipment on boats.
Off-Grid Living: For those living in remote areas or off the grid, a solar-powered generator can serve as a primary or supplementary power source for daily activities.
Entertainment: Power small entertainment devices such as radios, speakers, or portable projectors for outdoor movie nights.
Hiking and Backpacking: Charge devices or power small electronic gadgets during extended hiking or backpacking trips.
When considering a solar-powered generator, it's essential to assess your specific power needs and choose a generator with the appropriate capacity and features for your intended applications.
Despite inverter generators once being very popular as portable power stations with stable, reliable power, they still rely on dirty fossil fuels to generate their power. This is unsustainable and leaves us dependent on fossil fuels, so we may have to limit our off-grid adventures to how long our fuel supply lasts.
On the other hand, having a solar-powered generator, you are no longer dependent on anything. After the initial purchase cost, you will have clean, quiet, unlimited free energy for years to come! Why not look into affordable, portable solar power systems like those produced by BLUETTI? Then, all you have to worry about is where you will go on your next off-grid adventure!