How Do Solar Generators Work (a Simplified Guide & Overview)

Generators are essential to those looking for mobile backup energy to power their tools and devices. There are many generators in the market, such as those powered by gasoline, diesel, and solar. 

We should be familiar with gas or diesel generators, but how about solar? Are they expensive? How do solar generators work anyway?

Solar generators convert sunlight into electricity and store it inside its battery. The inverter inside the generator converts the battery power into alternating current (AC) before releasing the electricity to power your devices and tools. 

This article explores how solar generators work to power your devices on the move. We also look into how solar generators differ from gas and diesel generators and the benefits of owning one.

What Is A Solar Generator?

A solar generator converts sunlight into electricity and stores it in its battery pack. The power can be sent out from the battery to power the devices or appliances when needed. Solar generators come in various sizes and ratings and can provide steady power for hours, even days.

A solar generator is a machine that uses sunlight to make electricity. It may be comparable to your typical gas or diesel generator but uses sunlight as fuel instead.

A solar generator absorbs sunlight and uses its solar panels to turn it into direct current (DC). The DC electricity is then sent to the charge controller. The charge controller controls how much power goes into the battery or battery pack.

When there is a need to send power out, the inverter inside the solar generator starts converting the DC electricity in the battery pack to AC electricity. The electricity is then sent out to power your connected devices and appliances. 

Solar generators can be used to power homes, businesses, and places that are not connected to the power grid. They can also be used as a backup or emergency power source if sudden electricity is cut out. 

Depending on its size, solar generators may be able to provide power to keep your things running for hours, even days.

Solar generators are well-loved because they do not use fossil fuels to make power. This means they are clean and renewable sources of energy. They also do not need much care and can last long. 

Issues with solar generators that cause them to not be widely adopted are the cost. Solar generators can be expensive to buy and set up. Solar generators’ performance is also affected by weather and where the solar panels are placed.

How Do Solar Generators Work?

A solar generator uses its panels to convert sunlight energy to direct current (DC), storing them inside its battery pack. An inverter will convert the DC to alternating current (AC) before sending the electricity out to connected devices.

To fully explain how solar generators work, you may first need to figure out the parts that run inside one. 

In general, a solar generator consists of several major parts, which are:

  • Solar Panels
  • Charge Controller
  • Battery Pack
  • Inverter

These parts work in a specific flow to ensure sunlight eventually gets turned into electricity to power your devices and appliances.

Stage 1: Sunlight To Direct Current

As a star, the solar panels take in the bright sunlight and turn it into electricity. Most solar panels are made of silicon and contain what are called photovoltaic cells. The process of converting sunlight to electricity is called the photovoltaic effect (PV for short)

However, the electricity generated here cannot be used directly on your electric or electronic appliances, as they are not the right type and are unstable. The electricity generated here is in direct current (DC).

Stage 2: Processed For Storage In Battery Pack

Instead of sending the DC current directly to the devices (which may fry them), the DC current is sent to a battery pack for storage. 

As the DC current enters the battery, a charge controller monitors the process and controls the amount of electricity entering the battery. This prevents the battery from being overcharged and suffering damage.

Some solar generators use batteries made of lead acid, while others use batteries made of lithium. What kind of battery is used depends on the task and how much power needs to be stored.

Stage 3: Conversion To AC And Sending Power Out

When you plug in your devices to the generator and request electricity, the next stage of the process comes to life. When a request for energy is made, the inverter will take the charges stored inside the battery and convert them into alternating current (AC). 

This ensures the right type of current is supplied to your devices and prevents them from damage. Most electric and electronic devices today use AC instead of DC, as most electricity grids use AC electricity today.

The AC electricity is then sent out to power your devices and helps to run lights, appliances, and other devices.

This process continues until the battery is drained of its energy reserve. When this happens, you will need to recharge your solar generators, by exposing their solar panels to the sun. Depending on the models, you may be able to charge and use the electricity from your solar panels simultaneously.

What Are The Benefits Of Solar Generators?

Environmentally Friendly

Solar generators are clean and environmentally friendly. Solar generators do not use fossil fuels to make power, meaning you do not need to purchase gasoline or diesel.

By not requiring fossil fuels, solar generators do not give off any pollution or emissions. This means solar generators are a much better choice for the environment.

Easy Maintenance

In many cases, solar generators do not require as much maintenance as other types of power generators. In many cases, you only need to regularly clean the solar panels and check the battery occasionally. 

This is because most parts are electronic, which means they are not mechanical. Electronic parts generally do not require much maintenance or break down much.

If you compare this to other generators, such as diesel or gasoline, these generators need more care. You must frequently top up the tank to ensure enough fuel. You must also clean the carburetors and occasionally replace parts such as spark plugs or pulleys. 

Never Run Out Of Fuel

The best thing about solar generators? They do not need fuel. If you are traveling out to rural areas, you only need to carry your solar generator. This is because the fuel is the sun, which travels with you wherever you go. 

You will never run out of fuel if you can charge your solar generator during the day.

Suppose you compare this to those carrying a gasoline generator. In that case, they need to bring the generator and also an ample amount of gasoline. They need to carry more things to travel. 

Once you have arrived at your location, you only need to ensure the panels get good sunlight and should be ready to power your devices. With a gas or diesel generator, you need to add fuel, power the generator up, and frequently top up the fuel to ensure enough electricity.

Stable Power

Another benefit of using a solar generator is that it can power devices and appliances sensitive to power fluctuations. These may include but are not limited to plasma TVs, computers, or modern heating, ventilation, and air conditioning devices (HVAC.)

This is because the charge controller regulates the power going into the battery, ensuring it is not overcharged or damaged. This can help to protect devices and appliances from damage caused by power surges.

Solar vs. Gasoline vs. Diesel Generator – Full Comparison

MaintenanceLeastMostMore than solar, less than gasoline
Power OutputLower than dieselLower than dieselHigher power output
EmissionsNo emissionsHas emissionsHas emissions
CostExpensive up front, almost free after thatLow up front, requires constant purchasing of gasolineLow up front, requires constant purchasing of diesel


Solar generators run on sunlight, generating electricity during the day. Suppose you need to use the solar generator at night. In that case, you will rely 100% on the battery pack, which means you may need to budget your electricity usage a bit. 

You do not face this issue with gasoline or diesel generators, as they run on fossil fuels. When you need power, top up the tank with the right fuel, and let the generators run away.


Generally, solar generators require the least maintenance. This is because most parts are electronic, so you get mostly wires, circuit boards, and batteries. 

The most you need to do with solar generators is probably to clean the solar panels and check the battery’s performance once in a while.

With gasoline or diesel generators, you may have more maintenance work waiting. At the most basic, you need to constantly top up the fuel tank to keep the generators running. Between the two, gasoline generators may need more maintenance work than diesel.

This is because of the nature of the engine world. Gasoline engines are more complicated, meaning you must spend time cleaning the carburetor and occasionally cleaning or replacing the spark plugs.

Power Output

In general, diesel generators may be able to provide you with the highest output or power compared to gasoline and solar generators. 

This makes sense, as you can see that most big vehicles or machinery use diesel engines, while smaller ones may use gasoline. Solar energy-powered vehicles and large machinery are rare.


When it comes to carbon emissions, solar generators win hands down. This is because solar generators convert sunlight to electricity and do not produce any waste byproducts.

This cannot be said about diesel or gasoline generators. After burning the fuels, some gases are emitted as waste. That means by using these generators, you are contributing to the pollution of the environment.

On top of that, you will also need to purchase gasoline and diesel, which means you are spending money to support industries that contribute to the greenhouse effect. This is something you need to consider before you make your decision. 


Solar energy seems to be better compared to diesel or gasoline generators. But why are they not as popular? The answer is cost. 

Solar generators are the most expensive to purchase. However, the upside is that the cost will become much lower over time, as you do not need to purchase fuel to power the generator. Sunlight is free, after all!

With diesel or gasoline generators, they are cheaper to purchase upfront. However, since you need to purchase fuels constantly to top up the generators, you will be spreading the cost long term. 

You are also exposed to fluctuations in gasoline and diesel prices in the international market, which means you may have to, at times, purchase fuels at a much higher price than usual.

Final Thoughts

Solar generators first convert sunlight into electricity and then store it in a battery pack. When needed, the power is converted to AC before being sent to the devices. 

Solar generators are generally much better for the environment and are easier to maintain.

However, they may be expensive to purchase. The good thing is that since you do not need to purchase fuel for it, you will make back the investment after some time. 

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