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Demand for solar generators continue to grow as people realize their power and versatility. It’s a clean energy source, and it’s an all in one solution – solar panel, battery and inputs/output – so no installation required. But the question remains, can a solar generator be used while charging?
A solar generator can be used while charging, as long as there is sufficient power. However, using a solar generator will slow the charging process because energy is being depleted. The device you want to use with the generator must not exceed what energy is left, and it’s unlikely the charge can keep up with the demand.
Why Should You Use a Solar Generator While Charging?
There are many reasons why you may want to use a solar generator or power station while it’s charging. Let’s go over some of them right now.
You should never leave home without charging your portable solar panel, and the same rule applies to solar power stations. Charging portable solar panels is reasonably fast (and we have tips that make charging even faster), but generators take a while. A house size solar generator can take hours to charge actually.
So if there’s a sudden power outage, you may need to run the generator. Suppose you’re camping and need to make an emergency phone call. You see the battery charge is low. What do you do? You plug it in the solar generator and use it, even while the generator is charging.
Another reason is people expect to be able to. Almost all of us have at one point used our mobile phone or tablet while it’s charging, so can’t we do the same with a solar generator like the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer?
You’re out fishing and having fun. then you need to use a phone, laptop, light etc. The generator is charging but there’s still enough power left to run the device. Should you do it? Unless the manual specifically forbids running the solar generator while charging, there should be no issues.
Forgetting to Charge
Nobody’s perfect and we forget things. Suppose you forgot to charge the generator before going out. So now you charge it but something comes up and you need to use the phone. The battery’s low, so you plug it into the generator, let it carry a charge and use it.
You don’t need to fully charge the phone or whatever device it is. You just want to give it enough power to what needs to be done. When there’s sufficient energy, unplug it from the generator and allow the system to continue charging. You can do this with most solar chargers including the BALDR Portable Power Station 330W..
How to Charge a Solar Generator
So we have gone over the many reasons why you need to use a power station while it’s charging. Whether it’s a portable generator for outdoor use or a large power station for home backup, you have a lot of ways to charge and recharge.
No surprise, one of the ways to charge a solar generator is with solar panels. Some generators have a solar panel built in. If so, just point the solar panel to the sun (make sure it’s the right angle) and let the sun do the work.
If your generator doesn’t have an integrated solar panel, it should have an output for it. Get a solar panel that’s compatible with the generator and plug it in. An indicator light will turn on, letting you know it’s charging.
AC Outlet and/or DC Outlet
Solar generators can be charged by an AC wall outlet. To charge on AC power, plug the generator as you would any regular appliance into an electric wall outlet. You can do the same thing if there’s a DC outlet.
There are pros and cons with AC/DC charging. The biggest advantage is it’s faster than solar panel. A portable solar generator shouldn’t take too long to charge. The drawback is you can’t use these outlets outdoors. Unless you’ve got an RV, you won’t be able to do any AC/DC charge in the boondocks. That’s where solar panel charging comes in.
But you don’t have to pick one over the other. Charge the generator at home via AC or DC power. Take it out when it’s fully charged, and use the solar panel to recharge when you’re outdoors. Again, keep in mind that some power stations don’t include a solar panel, so buy one first. Specs vary per generator so make sure it’s the right solar panel size and rating. If the solar panels are too small it won’t be able to recharge the generator.
A 12V lighter is another charging option, though it isn’t as common as AC/DC and solar panel outlets. If it’s available on your power station, you can recharge in your car or any vehicle that has a 12V lighter. Usually however, car chargers are found on portable solar chargers, not generators.
This isn’t technically recharging, but in a way it is, because battery expansion can increase a solar generator’s power.
A solar generator is basically one large battery with hundreds or thousand watt capacity. Some models go further and allow stacking. You can literally stack solar batteries on the generator to boost its power. It’s kind of like building a solar array with several PV modules, but here you do it with batteries.
If the generator is charging, you can stack the system with several batteries. this will boost the systems’ power and let you use the device. Stack up enough batteries and you’ll be able to use the generator and charge without losing speed.
Keep in mind that no all solar generators allow battery linking / stacking. You can do that with the Titan Solar Generator, but other power stations may not have that feature. If you see yourself needing multiple batteries, check if this feature is available. However it’s unlikely that you will need this just to use another device, unless it’s something big like an air conditione. Solar generators can, with the right specs, run an air conditioner.
Is It Safe to Use a Solar Generator While Charging?
If you’re asking, is it safe to use, then the answer is yes. Most solar generators are safe to operate even when it’s being charged. Of course you should always check the manual first. If it says you can use when charging, then there’s no problem. If the manual says do not use while charging, then don’t do it.
if you’re charging the generator via solar panels there definitely won’t be an issue. The worst thing that can happen is a cloud passes overhead and slow or stop the charge. If there’s not enough energy left in the generator, your device will no longer run. But there is no damage to the generator or your device.
You have to be more careful if charging on AC/DC power. As long as the power outlet is stable there won’t be issues. Do not plug the generator on a faulty power outlet as it could lead to damage. The outlet could overheat and that’s dangerous. As long as the power outlet is fine then there should be no problems charging.
Drawbacks of Using a Solar Generator While Charging
Bottom line is these power stations are safe to use while charging. That doesn’t change the fact that it has drawbacks though. That is what we need to look at right now and why some don’t like charging and using at the same time. There are only a couple of issues but for many people it can mean a lot.
Charging Takes Longer
Large solar generators will take hours to fully recharge., especially if it’s by solar panels. if you’re going to use it while charging, the remaining energy will be depleted. This will require more power from the solar panel to replenish the generator. The slow charge becomes even slower.
This wouldn’t be an issue if you only need to use a device quickly. But if you’re going to fully charge a device, expect long wait times. So even if it’s safe, you will have to put up with the long wait. If you really need to do this, it’s best to charge the power station on an AC outlet as it’s the fastest method.
Demand Exceeds Supply
Even the most powerful solar panel won’t be able to keep up with the demands of a refrigerator, AC unit, microwave or other power hungry appliances. If the generator is only halfway empty and you’re not going to use a large appliance, the solar panel can handle it. But you cannot use a powerful appliance with a severely depleted generator. The PV modules won’t be able to provide the supply to meet the demand.
Solar generators, whether it’s portable or for home backup power, will only get better. Their power continues to grow even as prices drop. Using a solar generator while giving it a charge isn’t going to damage it, but be prepared to wait. Unless it’s an emergency, we recommend letting the generator rest while it’s being recharged.