Over 18.6 million homes in the U.S. use solar power to keep their power running during outages. It may seem inconsequential but with 1.33 billion outage hours in 2020, it looks like our reliance on solar power will only grow.
The good news is we’re seeing a lot of options in the market for solar generators that provide a renewable energy source. As of 2021, the market was worth $478.1 million!
What most people don’t know is it can do much more than power your light bulbs and fans. A solar generator can also power your kitchen appliances like blender, coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator, etc. Since the average American spends 67 minutes a day in the kitchen, it’s easy to see why solar generators are growing in popularity, especially among eco-conscious folks.
This article explores how solar generators work, their benefits, their main components, and how to tell which appliances you can use them with.
What Is a Solar Generator and How Does It Work?
A solar generator is a clean, powerful, and reliable portable power station that captures, stores, and uses energy from the sun. It has four main parts:
A solar generator has a built-in, high-capacity battery that stores and reserves the energy it collects from solar panels. This means that you can continue using it after the sun goes down and when the power is out. It typically uses a lithium-ion battery, though you may also find flow, lead-acid, and nickel-cadmium batteries among different models.
A portable solar panel collects energy from the sun and converts it into direct current (DC) power which can be used at a later time.
Before power is stored in the batteries, the electric current generated by the solar panels reaches the charge controller, which acts as a regulator, distributing just the right amount of electricity to the batteries. It balances the power dynamic between the solar panels and batteries to prevent overcharging and ensure durability.
Most home appliances use alternating current (AC), which can easily be transported over longer distances. However, solar generators capture sunlight and store it as direct current (DC). That’s why an inverter is required to convert DC output from the solar panels to AC before it can power your devices and appliances.
6 Benefits of Using a Solar Generator for Your Kitchen
Here are six benefits of using a solar generator in your kitchen:
- Sustainability:A solar generator harnesses the power of the sun, which is inexhaustible and renewable. It doesn’t emit harmful greenhouse emissions or fumes, protecting our planet by reducing our carbon footprint.
- Reliability:A solar generator works efficiently in all weather conditions. As long as there is enough sunlight, it will power your appliances just fine.
- Better for Health: Unlike fossil fuels, solar power reduces air pollution and minimizes the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which is better for our health.
- Cost-effective: Solar generators are relatively easy to install. Plus, they have fewer moving parts which keeps maintenance simple and operating costs low, especially compared to electricity and fuel-powered generators.
- Portable: A solar generator is portable. You can use it inside your home or take it with you during camping trips and picnics.
- Quiet: Solar generators do not produce a constant hum in the background — unlike gas generators that create up to 85 decibels of noise! As a result, it’s more pleasant to keep one running in the background whether you’re lounging at home or sleeping.
In addition to these benefits, solar generators don’t present fire hazards since there are no exposed wires or terminals.
Which Kitchen Appliances Can a Solar Generator Power?
The answer depends on the starting and running wattage requirements of your kitchen appliances as well as the wattage rating of your solar generator.
To assess the power requirements of your appliances, look at their energy guide label or use an electricity usage power monitor to learn how many watt-hours the solar generator will need to produce.
Though some appliances, like your refrigerator, work the entire day, they don’t consume energy for 24 hours. Rather, they turn on and off as needed. Another aspect to consider is your calculation won’t account for phantom loads, so remember that it will only be an estimation.
That said, here’s a list of kitchen appliances a solar generator can power with their running watt requirements. It shows how much power an appliance continuously needs to function. However, note that you also need to consider the starting watts or the energy an appliance needs during the first 2 to 3 seconds of operation.
- Blender: 300W
- Coffee maker: 1000W
- Dishwasher: 1300W
- Fridge: 700W
- Microwave: 600Wto 1000W
- Toaster: 900W
- Toaster oven: 1200W
Additionally, a solar generator can also be used to power appliances like juicers, pressure, and electric cookers, as well as sandwich makers.
How Long Can a Solar Generator Power Kitchen Appliances?
How long your solar generator will be able to power your kitchen appliances boils down to its capacity.
Let’s take the Growatt INFINITY 1500 as an example. This solar generator has 1512 watt-hours of capacity. If you want an estimate on how long it will power your kitchen appliance, you’ll have to look at its operating power. Remember that each appliance consumes a different amount of energy unless they’re the exact same product.
Here’s a formula you can use to get a rough estimate: Running time = solar generator’s capacity × 85% (discharge efficiency) / equipment rated power.
If you were to run a 1,000-watt oven on this unit, the running time would be:
1512Wh x 85% / 1,000W ≈ 1.29 hours
Something to remember: This solar generator has a pass-through capacity, meaning you can use it to power your appliances while it’s charging. So, its usage time, in this case, needs to be calculated separately.
What size solar generator will run a refrigerator?
It depends on the power requirements of the refrigerator. Typically a refrigerator runs on 300-800 watts. You can find the operating wattage of your refrigerator in the instruction manual or on the label on the back of the refrigerator. A 1000W solar generator can usually run these small fridges with ease. But if you want to run a large refrigerator, you need to consider choosing a solar generator with higher output power and larger capacity, and it is best to consult a professional before making any purchase or installation.
Can you power your whole house with a solar generator?
Yes, a solar generator can power your whole house — but only if you pick the right one. The average U.S. household uses about 11,000 kilowatthours (kWh) per year, clocking in an average of about 886 kWh per month. The exact amount will be reflected in your electricity bill, so the size of the solar generator you select should have the battery capacity and power output to meet your home energy usage.
You can use a solar generator to power almost any kitchen appliance. Just check your generator’s wattage and energy capacity before calculating your wattage needs to ensure that it can accommodate the appliances you have.