You need a generator if you have a solar panel in some cases. Although you can set up solar panels to work independently from other energy sources, there are still instances in which you can benefit from adding a generator.
You might need a generator if you have solar panels to prevent remaining without power in case of outages (if you have a grid-tied system). Or if you can’t get solar energy due to the weather or system damage (with an off-grid system) and if you run out of battery energy.
But, it is not all. This article goes over all the instances in which it is better to have a generator despite a solar panel setup.
What Is A Generator?
A generator is a piece of equipment that provides electricity to your home if power outages occur. It is not connected to anything and provides electricity through energy sources such as fuel and propane.
There are two types of generators:
- Backup generators (or portable generators)
- Standby generators (or whole house generators)
A generator will start working when power is out, allowing electricity to flow to things such as the refrigerator and other essential parts of the house. Portable generators utilize propane or gasoline to generate electricity.
Some can work on solar energy and have an internal battery bank system charged through solar panels.
Many generators do not start to function automatically when the power goes off. They need to be started or connected manually, and they do not require professionals to come to install them.
Instead, standby generators (or whole house generators) are designed to start automatically when the power goes out.
They generally use gas or propane to generate electricity. Typically, standby generators or whole house generators are placed outside the house and require technicians to install them.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 above is a good solar generator when combined with solar panels. Click the image to view it on Jackery’s web site. Or see the full package link below.
Do You Need A Backup Generator If You Have Solar Panels?
You still need a backup generator if you have solar panels when you have a grid-tied system. Suppose you are connected to the grid to draw power when there are power outages. In that case, your panels will stop working automatically.
A grid-tied solar system sends the energy surplus to the grid during the day, so homeowners get credit for it. They can use those credits later in the night to draw power from the grid when the solar system doesn’t get enough sunlight.
When there is an outage, security measures established by the power company stop any electricity flow on their lines to allow maintenance safety for their workers. As a result, solar panels will stop working when an outage is detected.
If you have a backup battery system, you could use them in an emergency, and you would not need a generator. However, it is always possible that you find yourself with a power outage and your batteries empty.
A generator will be necessary if this happens, and knowing you have one can give you so much peace of mind.
When Could You Be Using A Generator With Solar Panels?
You could be using a generator with solar panels even if you have the following solar systems:
- Grid-tied system
- Hybrid system
- Off-grid system
Generators can add extra security and independence to those deciding to live using alternative energy sources. Try to be genuinely independent and create your own energy supply. A generator can save your day in case things go wrong.
For example, even if you have solar panels and they connect to the grid, you can still use a generator to make electricity in the case of blackouts. However, it is typically a better option if you have solar batteries as a backup system.
But if your solar panels did not manage to charge them to full before the outage or if the blackout goes on for a long time, you can still run out of power. It is an extreme scenario because it is rare to lose power for a long time.
However, those living in areas where it is common to lose power can consider having a solar system combined with a battery bank (powered by solar energy) and a generator.
An off-grid solar system backed up by batteries (as a primary energy source in case there is no sunlight) can still benefit from the addition of a generator. Although batteries are sufficient most of the time, a malfunction and other unpredicted events can leave you without power.
The Jackery 1000 Solar Panel and Generator package can power everything you need for a camping trip or on a job site without power. Check it out on their website at that link, or view on Amazon below.
Do Solar Panels And Generators Work Together?
Solar panels and generators cannot work together on the same electrical system. The house grid is either powered by solar energy or a generator, but not from both.
Both functioning simultaneously can only create problems and damage the generator and the solar panels.
But, it is possible to have two separate electrical systems, each powered differently. For example, the solar system can power a side of the house, and a generator can power another side or specific appliances.
However, if the purpose of having a solar system is to lower utility bills, using a generator regularly can be expensive since it requires quite some gas. Therefore, the best course of action is to choose a solar system setup, weather grid-tied, off-grid, or hybrid, and use generators as a backup solution.
Solar Batteries Vs. Generators, Which Is Better?
Solar panels constantly charge solar batteries until they are full. Homeowners do not have to do anything more than installing the batteries and use them when needed as long as they can last.
Here are the benefits of using batteries:
- You can easily access them in case of a blackout
- You can use them during specific hours to reduce energy costs
- Are easy to maintain
- They can last for ten years
Generators need to be constantly fueled and are more expensive to use for an extended period. Here are some of the benefits of using generators:
- Portable generators can be easy to install and maintain
- They provide a reliable source of energy
- Many types of generators exist that can operate with different kinds of fuel (and you can choose which one is best)
Batteries are a better choice because they constantly recharge through renewable solar energy. At the same time, you have to pay to refuel a generator. But, depending on individual goals and situations, it could be better to use generators.
For example, generators are perfect in those areas where the sunlight is not constant and the grid is not available for use. A generator can provide energy through gas, fuel, or other energy sources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Charge My Solar Batteries With A Generator?
It is possible to charge solar batteries with a generator. However, you have to have a specific type of generator compatible with the batteries you wish to charge.
It is possible you would need a developed generator and an inverter. Although this is possible, it is best to use solar batteries when charged by solar panels.
Can You Use A Portable Generator With Solar Panels?
You can use a portable generator with solar panels, providing you have a generator that is suitable for solar charging.
Typically, you can find generators sold together with compatible solar panels. Solar panels and solar generators paired together need only sunlight to generate and store energy.
Can A Solar Generator Run A Refrigerator?
Solar generators can run a refrigerator without problems, providing a powerful enough generator. Solar generators are used in camping and outdoor scenarios and are purposely built to power appliances, camping tools, etc.
- Energy.gov, “ Using Backup Generators: Choosing the Right Backup Generator”,https://www.energy.gov/ceser/using-backup-generators-choosing-right-backup-generator-homeowners, accessed March 27, 2022
- Wikipedia, “standby generator”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standby_generator. Accessed March 27, 2022
- Enlightened Solar, “A Homeowner’s Complete Guide for Choosing Generator Sizing for an Off-Grid Solar System”, https://enlightenedsolar.com/generator-off-grid-solar-systems/, accessed March 27, 2022
- Solar Calculator, “How do solar batteries work?”, https://solarcalculator.com.au/battery-storage/how-solar-batteries-work/, accessed March 27, 2022
- Good energy, “How do solar panels work?”, https://www.goodenergy.co.uk/how-do-solar-panels-work/, accessed March 27, 2022