Pros and Cons of Using a Solar Generator in The Van Life

There is nothing in the world like off-grid living. You can take it to the next level by adding a solar generator to the experience. When people think of living on the road in a van or being a "nomad" in their RV's, they believe that almost all of life's basic luxuries, like WiFi, refrigeration, and even basic lighting will need to be sacrificed. Little do they know that a solar generator completely changes the landscape.

power supply for van life - Growatt

Of course, just like living the van life, there are some pros and cons to using a solar generator as your main power source for your off-grid life. In the end, you will see that the positives far outweigh any negatives. This is why you need to invest in the best solar generator for van life.

Why should you invest in the best solar generator you can find so you can live your dream van life?

Let's face it. Trying to go off-the-grid without some kind of portable power would be an unnecessary challenge, especially with the quality and options available to you via solar generators. Even though solar generators aren't perfect, they certainly come the closest in regards to setting yourself up with the convenience of having a power supply. Let's take a look a the positives and perhaps the not-so-positives when it comes to solar generators.

best solar generator for van life - Growatt

Here are the biggest pros for having a solar generator at the ready.

Clean Energy

One of the most attractive features for using a solar generator is how incredibly eco-friendly they are. Since these generators are powered by the sun, there's no need to use expensive and volatile gasoline, which is difficult to transport and to store; the fear of fire always lurking in the background.

As the solar generator runs, there are no fumes or exhaust so the unit can be set up practically anywhere, inside and out. Tapping into the power of solar is the cleanest way to power your devices for van living.

Portability

Solar generators can be carried anywhere. This versatility is priceless, especially if you want to park the van and set up camp further into the woods. You can simply bring your power with you! And since vans have a smaller living area and footprint, a portable solar generator won't take up a ton of real estate. Larger gas powered units are a bear to move around. And having all that gasoline sloshing around as you do so is a bit scary.

Less Maintenance

Purchasing a solar generator can be considered a wise investment since they require very little maintenance or upkeep. There aren't any friction points that you need to keep oiled and there's no worries about gas spillage since there's no gas tank to fill.

There are a lot less moving parts to worry about, too. Simply setting up and tearing down your solar panels to recharge your solar generator is your biggest worry--and not a worry at all compared to fuel-powered generators.

Cost-effective

Not only is a solar generator a wise choice, it is also a fabulous one-time investment. Once purchased, your running costs will be much lower than a fuel-powered generator. With gas prices always fluctuating (and usually to the higher end!) you'll save a lot by taking advantage of the free solar recharging that the sun provides. You will find that solar generators come with a higher up-front price tag, but it won't take long for the cost-effective equation to total up in your favor.

Safety

With no toxic fumes from gasoline or exhaust, you can rest assured that you won't be overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning. Solar generators are widely considered the safest option for generating electricity--so safe that they can even be used indoors. And remember that fear of fire from the volatile fuels needed for gas powered generators mentioned earlier? That's completely eliminated when using a solar powered generator. Finally, having a solar generator means power is always available, even in an emergency.

No Noise

Finally, if one of the reasons you've opted for van life is to escape the noise pollution of cities and neighborhoods, you'll find the quiet and solitude provided by a solar generator just what the doctor--and your mental health--ordered. There aren't any cams, rods, or shafts getting pushed around from gasoline explosions (I mean, we all know that's how gas engines work, right?) This process needs to constantly be in use to produce the electricity. All that noise has been eliminated with a solar generator. Quiet, clean, and inexpensive is a beautiful way to power.

Now lets take a look at a few of the cons for solar generators.

The Up-front Cost of Solar Generators

On average, solar generators do tend to cost a bit more than your standard gas powered generators. Of course, the old saying, "You get what you pay for" certainly can be strongly applied here. You can always find "cheaper" but would you trust your need for power--your ability to run lights, charge your phone, keep your food fresh and safe--to "cheaper?" That's the key: A solar generator is an investment, and this investment pays for itself quickly. Besides all of the above positives, the amount of savings from not having to purchase fuel compounds rapidly. Also, the low-maintenance of solar generators will save you a lot in terms of money and headaches and worry.

Solar Charging Not An Option In Extreme Weather

Of course, without the sun, using your solar panels to charge your solar generator is not an option. Thankfully, these generators have several ways to charge them up. Of course, pre-charging from your home's power is the smartest first step. If you're 100% living the van life, most solar generators can hook up and charge directly to your van. Again, the sun is always going to be your main (free) source of recharging, but in certain dire circumstances, you have options to keep the power on.

Many Solar Generators on Today's Market Charge Slowly

Slow charging is always the first concern for those unfamiliar with solar generators. Is it too slow? That depends, of course, on which model of solar generator you purchase. A lower priced model will most likely charge a lot slower than a more professionally priced unit. Keep in mind that this is an investment. Really consider what features are most important to you. Fast-charging is certainly an important option that can't be taken lightly. This is why it is important to spend time assessing your power needs and the quality of your potential solar generator.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons when comparing solar generators to other power solutions for van living. The use of clean energy, the fuel savings, the safety, the portability, and with how quiet solar generators run are just a few of the positives. They certainly make up for the larger up front costs and other slight inconveniences you might encounter. Now, if you'd prefer not to spend hours researching online to find the best solar generator for van life, I've got you covered.

So, what is the best power station for van life?

With all the units available from a small group of dependable generator manufactures, the best solar generator for van life is the Growatt Infinity 1500 portable power station.

solar power for camping Infinity 1500 portable power station - Growatt

Here is why it is the best power station:

Power 95% of van life devices

The Growatt Infinity 1500 is one of the most powerful units for it's size on the market today. It will provide more than enough power to handle 95% of your van's devices. This is surprising compared to the size of the generator. You will have no issues charging your mobile devices, using lights and small powered speakers, recharging your drone, and even using your hair dryer. Having the ability to power almost anything you'll need living out of your van is priceless peace of mind.

Light weight

Weighing in at just under 37 lbs. you can rest assured this unit is easy to move. Having such portability with that much power is incredibly convenient. This is crucial if you want to run power away from your van. Suppose you want to cook up some fish in your electric skillet and you don't want those odors lingering around your campsite. Simply take your Growatt Power Station a good distance away and get cooking.

Fast charging

It's shocking how fast the Growatt Infinity 1500 charges. Most portable solar generator owners are used to waiting 4, 5, even 8 hours or more to fully charge their power stations. Using solar, this one can fully recharge in only 2.5 hours. You can't put a price on the time-savings that goes along with that fast charging time.

This fast charging feature is especially valuable if you are expecting cloud cover later in the day. You can bring the unit up to full charge before lunch--and before your fuel source, the sun, gets covered. If you plan on charging from an outlet, you'll reach full capacity in even less time: Just 3 hours.

So many outlets, so much power

The Growatt Infinity 1500 Power Station provides you with twelve diverse outlets. Yes, you heard that right. Twelve. This will enable you to use all of your electronic devices at the same time. Most people have over three devices that will need charging at any given time. And that's just devices like phones and tablets. If you're still earning a living from your van, items like portable fans, laptops, a Wi-Fi router, maybe even a portable printer can all be powered together. It's incredibly convenient to have so many options when it comes to outlets.

When looking at them side by side, there's no other solar generator and power station that compares to the Growatt Infinity 1500 Power Station. Like we said earlier, you get what you pay for and the wise decision is to get the best value for your investment. This is why this unit is the first choice when it comes to a solar generator solution.

Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Solar Generators:

You might still have questions about solar generators in general. Here are the three most common questions people have as they search for the perfect solar generator for their needs.

1. Are solar generators for van life worth it?

Looking at the pros and cons of owning a solar generator--and how life would be in your van without one--this question is sounding like a no-brainer. As demonstrated earlier, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Living the van life without power would be extremely challenging. Adding power via a fuel-type generator can be of some help, but you'll be adding some new issues. How often will you have to purchase fuel? Where will you store that fuel and keep yourself and anyone else in your van safe? Where will you run the gas powered generator so it doesn't overwhelm you with fumes and noise? The answer is obvious.

2. Can I charge a solar generator for van life with a gas generator?

Since a gas generator provides power, there's no reason why you could not charge the power station part of your solar generator with a fuel-run generator. The question becomes, "Why would you?" the point of investing in a solar generator is to take advantage of the clean, free solar energy coming from our sun and not to burn more fossil fuels. You would only need to charge your solar generator with a gas generator if there was a dire emergency. Also, you can check the differences between them here.

3. How long does a solar generator last?

Since there is very little maintenance and no parts that experience heavy wear and tear like gas generators, your solar generator should last, well, for "generations!" More and more people are coming to the realization solar power is an outstanding answer to many power problems, and mobile power stations utilizing solar technology is a step in the right direction. Treating your solar generator like any other valuable tool or piece of equipment is key. Take care of your solar generator and it will take care of you, for all the years you're living the van life.