Portable Generator Power when off grid or emergencies

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Are Solar Generators Noisy?

There are a lot of reasons to choose a solar generator, but noise restrictions are one reason that someone may choose to go solar. 

Solar generators do not make any noise. They are battery banks connected to a solar panel that is collecting power and stores it in batteries. This makes the same amount of noise as charging your phone. It is silent. 

While solar generators beat traditional generators when it comes to noise, there are a few other considerations when it comes to choosing a generator for your off-grid needs. 

Are Solar Generators Noisy?

Why are solar-powered generators quiet?

Solar-powered generators have very little in common with traditional generators. 

Traditional generators burn fuel like gasoline or propane to generate electricity. They pass the energy through an inverter and to your devices that are plugged into the generator. 

Traditional generators do not store power and must be running to power your devices.  

Solar generators use solar panels to collect energy from the sun and store it in batteries. This means that solar generators do not need to be set up and working to charge your devices. 

They are generating electricity from the sun silently and passing it to the batteries where it is stored for future use.  

Why is my solar generator making noise?

Solar generators should make very little if any noise, but if your generator is making noise there are a few things to check. 
The most likely culprit is the fan or ventilation system. There could be something stuck in the fan or it could be vented in a way that is noisy. Check to make sure your fan is turning freely and not smoking or stuck. 

If your fan is not making noise, consider unplugging everything that you are powering with your generator to make sure that the noise is really coming from the generator. 

If your generator is continuing to make noise, be sure that your generator is not heating up. 

If you cannot determine the source of the noise, contact your manufacturer for further advice. Many companies have a helpful service line. 

Pros and Cons of Solar Generators

We love solar power because it can be very sustainable in an off-grid situation and they are very DIY-friendly. 

There are however a few reasons you may choose to go with a traditional generator.

Noise

One of the biggest reasons to choose solar generators is that they run silently. This means that you can run it in any environment without disrupting neighbors or drawing attention to your setup. 

There are campgrounds and neighborhoods that have strict noise regulations. This may make it difficult to run a generator at home outside of a natural disaster. 

I have considered getting a larger solar generator to cut down on our power bills at home, but that requires running a generator at odd times, and if we were to use a traditional generator, the fuel cost would negate any savings. 

Solar is the quietest, most discreet way to have off-grid power. 

Fuel

The biggest reason in my mind for choosing a solar generator. 

Traditional generators require fuel to produce power. I will never forget the bad snow storm that knocked out my family’s power for more than 5 days. My parents were braving the roads every day to get fuel to keep the generator running. 

A solar generator does not require the constant input of fuel for two reasons:

  • Solar generators store energy 
  • Solar generators use the sun to produce energy

Traditional generators do not store any energy. When they stop running, they are useless and they are no longer usable. 

Solar generators collect power from the sun and store it! So, you can use the power that is collected during the day to run your lights at night. 

Environmental Considerations

Solar generators also do not produce exhaust like traditional generators. 

The trend toward banning gas-powered generators is only growing. At the time of writing, California will not allow the sale of gas-burning generators in 2028. 

Solar power is becoming the preferred generator for many full-time travelers as it is not banned and cuts down on your carbon footprint.  

Maintenance

Traditional generators are engines and they require maintenance like a car engine. They require tune-ups, oil changes, and sometimes air filter changes. 

This is particularly important if you are choosing a generator for backup power. If you have a traditional generator that only gets pulled out once a year or less, you may be surprised to find an engine that will not start. 

Gas and diesel generator manufacturers recommend that maintenance be done every 3-12 months on traditional generators. 

Solar generators do not require any regular maintenance besides inspecting your panels to be sure they are clean and intact. 

Power Capability

The biggest concern with current solar generators is that they cannot provide as much electricity as a traditional generator. 

Solar generators are really just large battery banks. These banks have a range of power capacity, but not as many amp-hours. 

There are some very powerful solar generators that have large battery banks and some that are even expandable, but you will need a larger system to power something like a deep freezer. 

If you are curious about how many amp-hours you will need to run your freezer, check the label inside the freezer, multiply the volts time watts, and that is how many amps you will need in each hour to run your freezer. 

Many appliances like air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, water heaters, and fans require a steady flow of electricity, and this is where solar really shows its limitations. 

You can make this better by choosing appliances that are designed to be run off on solar. Things like on-demand water heaters, 12-volt fans, and 12-volt cooler-style refrigerators are much more solar friendly. 

Weather 

Solar generators rely on the sun to collect energy to power your devices. While solar panels can collect a very small amount of power on a rainy or overcast day, the solar panels require full sun to charge batteries effectively. 

If you will be traveling to an area where there will be rain or overcast conditions for several days, you may find that you are out of power. 

In a hurricane or other weather event, it may be difficult if not impossible to charge your solar generator.  

Cost

Solar generators are more expensive up front than traditional generators and they provide less power. 

When we talk about this bottom line, it can seem like this is a simple choice: go traditional and save money. However, you must consider the cost over the lifetime of the generator. 

I read one family say that they spent more than $10 a day to keep the AC running. That was a few years ago and gas prices are only rising! 

Right now the most recommended traditional budget gas generator is around $700 while everyone’s favorite solar generator starts above $1500. 

What is the quietest generator?

Solar generators are the quietest generators currently available. They are almost silent while running. 

Solar generators are not generators. They are large battery banks that connect to solar panels that collect energy and charge the batteries. 

In traditional generators, the energy is produced by the running of a gas or diesel engine. The noise from the generator is the engine noise. 

Solar generators do not have engines, they get their energy from the sun and sunlight is silent. 

I say that they are almost silent because there may be some noise. Solar generators are sensitive to temperature because they are just big batteries, (heat is the biggest enemy of batteries) so they have ventilation fans to keep them cool. 

The vent fans may make some noise. 

The battery type may also impact the noise. We have a lithium battery bank and a lead-acid battery bank and the lithium battery makes a whooshing noise when I am using the battery with high draw items. 

I do not know why it makes noise, but I assume it has something to do with how the lithium battery works. 

If you need a very quiet generator, you cannot do better than a solar generator. 

Do solar inverters make noise?

Solar inverters are part of larger installed solar power systems and they convert the DC energy to usable AC energy in your home. 

Solar inverters can often make a low humming noise, but it should not be loud or noticeable. If your inverter is making loud noises, call your manufacturer or installer right away to get the problem diagnosed. 

Inverters can wear out over time and may need to be replaced. 

I have personally had to replace my inverter in our RV. The process was fairly simple, but the inverter was expensive. 

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All the article on Oofgrid offer help and practical advice for using and purchasing a portable generator. However, We are enthusiasts and not qualified electricians. Always seek professional advice when working with electrical or Petrol appliances.