Solar Generators Versus Conventional Generators

Sooner or later, when traveling in an RV, you’re going to run out of battery power. When your batteries die (unless you have available shore power (a power source you can plug into)), you have two choices. 1 recharge your batteries with a standard power generator; or 2. use a solar generator.

What is the difference between a standard power generator and a solar generator?

A standard generator provides enough power to run everything from lights and small appliances to larger units that will power everything in your RV including the A/C. Standard generators are powered by gas or propane or both.

A solar generator, unless you buy a large unit, will power your lights, small appliances, TV, laptop, etc. But small portable units will not have enough power to run the A/C. As it’s name implies, a Solar Generator has batteries that are charged through solar panels.

What are the pros and cons of a standard power generator and a solar generator?

  1. At the time of writing this article, a 3500 watt inverter generator will be in the $800 to $1200 range. A 800 watt solar generator will be in the same price range.
  1. Operating Cost. Over an 8 hour period, an inverter generator can go through a tank of fuel. A solar generator doesn’t use fuel, so there is no fuel consumption.
  1. A 3500 or more watt gas or propane generator will power everything on the average RV or travel trailer. A similarly priced solar generator will provide about 800 watts of power, so it will not run even a small a/c unit. Also, things like an electric coffee pot, toaster, or other heavy electrical draw will drain a solar generator quickly.
  1. Conventional generators, even inverter generators, are noisy. Solar generators, because they are providing power through batteries, are silent..
  1. A conventional 3500 watt generator is large and weighs around 100 pounds. An 800 watt solar generator is about 12” x 8” x 8” and weighs about 25 pounds (without solar panels).

Our experience

We are full-time RVers, and we live in the high desert of Nevada. 18 months ago, we purchased a 800-Watt Bluetti Solar Generator With Solar Panels. We also have a 4500-watt Champion duel fuel generator that we bought at the same time.

Normally, we run the standard generator at least 4 hours a day. With the Bluetti, we were able to run fans and most days we didn’t use our a/c at all. Over the 6-months that we travelled throughout Nevada, visiting almost all of the State Parks, we spent less than $10 on generator fuel. On a typical day, we would spent $4 to $8 a day running our generator.

Starting our day with a fully charged solar generator, we were able to watch TV all day and into the evening, run 2 laptops most of the day for blogging and designing articles for Etsy and our websites, and running fans, the Bluetti would be almost depleted by 8 or 9 at night.

Our recommendation

If you are a full time RVer, having a fuel powered generator and a solar generator is the best. That’s what we have and love it. For a family that only camps a week or two at a time, I recommend a solar generator.

If you camp in areas that are frequently overcast or where it rains often, a better choice is a fuel powered generator.

For most people, a solar generator is a great choice. It’s silent operation allows for use after park quiet hours. Our 800-watt Bluetti unit has plenty of power to operate the devices we needed throughout the day and into the night. It has 4 outlets for 110 volt appliances, and it has outlets for changing through a USB cable. It will also wirelessly charge cell phones. Because it's light-weight and portable, we used it to run our laptop computers will sitting at park tables. The only drawback to the Bluetti was it could not run our a/c.

With a little creativity, a solar generator provides the power to stay comfortable on even hot days. And it does it at zero cost.

We highly recommend the Bluetti Solar Generators.

One note about solar panels.

To keep our RV batteries charged we used solar panels. When we purchased our solar generator and it’s panels, we thought we could charge the Bluetti and our RV batteries off the same solar panels. That wasn’t possible. The Bluetti solar panels do not have a built in controller which is necessary to charge our RV batteries.

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