A solar generator is a highly convenient and versatile power source. You can use one to access power while on the go or as a backup source of energy for your home. Before buying one, you might be asking yourself, what size solar generator do I need?
This is certainly an important question. Buying the right size solar generator will ensure that you have an optimal source of power without paying more for one than you have to.
But perhaps the real question you should be asking is, what size power station do I need for my solar generator?
This is because a “solar generator” can technically refer to a solar solution that combines two (or more) components. A Jackery Solar Generator consists of:
1. The solar panels – which collect the solar energy from direct sunlight.
2. The power station – which stores the electrical power converted by the solar panels.
In this article, we will help you figure out what size power station is most suitable for your solar generator goals. Keep reading to learn how to calculate the right power station size, along with other information about solar generators, so that you make the best choice.
How Power Stations Are SizedPower stations are typically sized in watts (W). This is a measure of power that’s used to calculate the rate of energy transfer. But what you really need to know is that the greater watts a power station has, the more power it can provide you in a single charge.
That being said, there are different watt measurements to pay attention to when deciding on a power station.
The first measurement is usually called continuous power. This is the amount of power that a power station can provide consistently.
The second measurement is usually called peak power. This is the maximum amount of power that a power station can provide in a short burst.
Continuous Power vs. Peak Power (An Example)
Here’s an example. Think of when you turn on your air conditioner. It needs a quick burst of power to get started. That’s peak power. But the amount of power needed to continuously run the AC unit is generally lower. That’s continuous power.
Some appliances, such as refrigerators, need a burst of 3-7 times their normal power needs to get started. Keep in mind, your power station needs to be able to accommodate this peak power requirement to run the appliance. So, if you are looking for a solar generator to run a refrigerator, simply meeting the continuous power requirements won’t be enough.
Continuous power will likely be the more impactful number for you to think about. It’s what tells you how much power you will get from a single charge of your power station under normal conditions.
How to Calculate Your Optimal Power Station Capacity in 4 Steps
Jackery sells power stations to meet a wide variety of power consumption needs. Our products range from 167Wh of capacity to as high as 2,060Wh of capacity.
How Many Watts Do I Need in a Solar Generator’s Power Station?
To figure out which Jackery product offers the right power capabilities for you, you’ll need to perform the following calculations:
Step 1: Select What You Want to Power With Your Power Station and For How Long
The first part of picking the right power station for your needs is understanding what those needs are. This means selecting the specific devices that you want to power with your solar generator, and setting a rough estimation of how long you’d like for its power station to provide that power.
Tip: Be sure to only pick devices that you can plug into your Jackery Power Station. For example, things like water heaters are often hardwired into your home. So, the chances are you wouldn’t be able to power one with a power station. (Unless you also hardwire that device to your home.)
Here are some common devices that people power with solar generators:
- Laptops and PCs
- Phone chargers
- Kitchen appliances
- Air conditioners
- Video game systems
Step 2: Find Out How Much Energy Each of Your Selections Uses
Once you know what you want to power, it’s time to figure out how much energy you need to do so.
The starting point towards calculating this is finding out how many watts your devices need to run. This number is often listed somewhere on the device itself. But if you only see a measurement for amps, you can multiply that number by the item’s voltage to convert into watts.
Next, you need to pick how many hours you want to be able to use each of your devices. Then, multiply the number of hours that you’ve selected by the watts of each item. This will give you the total watt-hours you require to be able to power each device.
Here’s an example:
You want to power two 60 watt lightbulbs for two hours each. To find the total amount of watt-hours of power you need:
- Get the total hours: Multiply 2 hours of power by 2 light bulbs. (2 x 2) = 4
- Get the total wattage: Multiply 2 light bulbs by their 60 watts. (2 x 60) = 120
- Multiply them together to calculate the total watt-hours. (4 x 120) = 480
Then, divide your answer by 0.85 to account for a constant energy consumption rate of 85% when the device is in charge.
- 480 watt-hours / 0.85 = 564 watt-hours
This results, in you needing a power station that can provide at least approximately 564 watt-hours to meet your goal of being able to power two 60 watt lightbulbs for 2 hours each.
Step 3: Add All Of Your Watt-Hour Answers Together
You need to perform the calculation shown in the previous step for each item you want to power with your Jackery Solar Generator.
Then, simply add all of the answers together to get the total amount of watt-hours that you need the power station to provide and reach the goals you have for it.
For example, let’s say you need 400 watt-hours to power your lights, 300 to charge your phone, and 300 to charge your laptop. Your total watt-hour requirement would be 1,000 (400 + 300 + 300).
Step 4: Determine the Watt-Hours of the Power Station You Want
At this stage, you have all the information that you need to pick the right portable power station.
Simply take your answer from Step 3 and compare it to the wattage offered by each power station that you look at. Just make sure that you pick a power station that has a higher wattage than your total watt-hour requirement calculated in Step 3.
Can a Solar Generator Power a House?
Note that unless you purchase a large Jackery Solar Generator (such as Solar Generator 1500 with an portable power station with 1,534Wh capacity), you likely won’t be able to power everything in your house for multiple hours with a solar powered generator.
If you find that the answer you got in Step 3 is higher than almost every power station you look at, then you may need to go back and reassess what you really need to power with it. If you can lower yourself down to just the essentials, then you will find a solar generator that works for you without having to break your budget to buy it.
The Benefits of Buying a Portable Solar Generator
Portable solar generators are a dynamic backup power option. You can use them both in your home and when you’re on the go. They’re purposefully made smaller than dedicated home backup solar generators to offer this flexibility.
As they feature a power station that you charge with portable solar panels, you essentially plug the portable solar panels into the power station until it’s charged. Then you can use the power that you’ve created on almost any appliance or electronic device that you want.
Many people purchase portable solar generators to get access to clean power while enjoying the outdoors. Then, as an added benefit, they can use the generator as a backup source of energy for their homes whenever they need one. It’s this versatility that’s made portable solar generators so popular.
Jackery Power Stations can power a wide variety of consumer devices since they feature USB ports, a DC carport, and pure sine wave AC outlets.
Your device will need to be powered with one of these methods and use a level of power that is compatible with the Jackery Power Station you select.
No, you cannot jumpstart a car with a Jackery Power Station. But you can charge a car’s battery with a power station. So you can use your Jackery product to get the battery charged enough so that you don’t need to jumpstart it.
This is entirely dependent on the amount of power that your device uses. You need to perform the watt-hour calculation (shown above) and compare that figure to the wattage of the Jackery Power Station model you select. Doing this will give you the answer you are looking for.
This will depend on how much power you want to get out of your portable solar generator. If you want to maximize the amount of power you get, then you should consider either our Explorer 1,500 Portable Power Station or our Explorer 1,000 Portable Power Station.
Jackery provides a wide variety of power stations to make it easier for you to find one that fits your needs. We’ve put together a chart to help you figure out which is right for you.
Check out this table to get a better sense of the type of power you can expect to get from several popular Jackery Power Stations:
Solar generators provide clean, renewable energy as a low-maintenance power source for wherever you need it. Whether that’s in the home, the outdoors, or both. They can be a very worthwhile investment. However, it makes sense to buy the right size for your energy needs.
That’s why Jackery offers solar generators equipped with power stations of various sizes to ensure you find the one that suits your goals and budget. Always keep in mind what devices you are looking to power and for how long.
If you are unsure how much power you need, we hope this article helps you to calculate the right size power station, and consequently, the right size solar generator for you.
For more information on Jackery Solar Generators and the various size power stations they come with, take a look at our solar generators* page.