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A solar generator usually comes with several inputs, outputs, an inverter, charge controller and of course a battery. So the question you are probably asking is, why do I need solar generator accessories? While solar power stations have a lot of features, it’s impossible for a manufacturer to fit everything in it. And there may be instances when you need a specific feature that isn’t built in. That’s what accessories are for.
The following accessories are for large and portable solar generators. Some of them may be built into your power station, but many probably aren’t. As you will see, these components will come in very handy in various situations, whether at home or boondocking.
Solar Panels for Solar Generators
Most solar generators can be charged by a solar panel. But not all of them have panels installed. There is support yes, but the solar panel is sold separately. Solar panels are easy enough to buy, but there are some things you have to consider.
Capacity: solar panels are available in different power ratings or watts. Some solar generators have a limit to how much solar power it can handle. Check the generator’s website for information on the maximum solar panel power it can work with.
Compatibility: some solar generators only work with specific types of solar panels. You can avoid any potential issues by buying from the same manufacturer. This is not always necessary. If the generator offers universal compatibility, you can use any solar panel.
Usage: a home backup solar generator needs way more solar panel power than a portable power station. How you intend to use your generator – and the type you own – determines what kind of solar panel to get.
Our Pick: Rockpals 100W Portable Solar Panel
MC4 connectors are used to connect solar panels, so they are a must. Connectors, wires and cables may be included in solar panel kits. However you might have to buy specific types to work with your solar generator. Because MC4 connectors are universal, you can buy pretty much from any manufacturer. As for cables, it must be the right size for your solar panel and generator.
Our Pick: Yarachel Solar Connector Set
Solar Racking Mounts
These are not for the generator, but for the solar panel. A large solar panel needs a racking mount, but there are complete solar mounting kits available. Once you have chosen the right type for your system, you can connect the generator to the panel to charge it.
Solar racking mounts have several components including rails, attachments, wire clips etc. There’s no need to get confused over this as your mounting kit should have all the required parts. They do require some assembly however, so take your time putting it together.
Our Pick: Magerack Roof Rack
LED Bulbs and Lamp Cords
You will most likely need these two when you are out camping. A LED bulb is an energy efficient solution for those nights you need some lighting in your tent or RV. LED bulbs are affordable, easily obtainable and don’t take up a lot of solar power. It is very useful and you can buy several without spending too much.
A lamp cord is essential for LED bulbs. Connect it as you would any extension cable and you’ll be able to use the lighting more efficiently. These cords can be as long as 10 meters (30 ft.) so you never have to worry about short wiring again.
Our Pick: Lepro Camping Light Bulbs
DC Solar Generator Electric Fan
If an air conditioner is too much for your solar generator (AC units do use a lot of solar power, though a solar generator can run one), why not use an electric fan instead? DC powered electric fans can be plugged into the generator’s DC outlet and it’s ready to go.
DC fans have become more powerful and use a decent alternative to AC units. They are also lightweight and easy to bring along when you go boondocking. These fans are sold in different sizes so you have numerous options.
Portable Solar Generator Protection Case
Do you have a portable solar generator that you take camping? It sure is handy, allowing you to power mobile devices, laptops and other electronics. But you should have a protective case for it. The fact that it is portable increases the risk of it getting bumps and hits.
Portable solar power stations are durable, but don’t expect them to withstand a hard fall. A few bumps during a rough ride – or hike – on the trails could cause damage. With a protective case you can have pace of mind knowing the generator is safe. Think of it as a solar warranty on the road.
Portable Generator Travel Case
Most laptop owners have a laptop bag for storage, and a solar generator case serves the same purpose. A travel case is not as durable as a protection case. Its main function is to make it easier to take a portable solar station while you travel.
Travel cases are designed for handheld solar generators. Yes you can carry a solar power station, but it can be awkward given its shape. It is more convenient to put it in a travel case and carry it like a regular bag. These travel cases come in different sizes so you should have no trouble finding one that fits.
12V Car Charging Cable
Most solar generators have solar, AC and DC charging options, but some portable generators do not have a car charging cable. Having multiple charging options is always a good thing regardless of the generator’s size. Fortunately it is very easy to find a car charging cable for these generators.
Virtually all solar generators work with 12V car chargers, so that is what you should look for. There may be additional features depending on the design, but a basic charge cable is really all you need.
Our Pick: DOCA DC Car Charger
Solar Extension Cable
Have you ever gone camping and wished the charge cable was just a bit longer? It can be frustrating if you want to relocate your generator because the cable cannot reach the laptop. Well that would not be a problem if you have an extension cable.
Extension cables for solar generators have the same function as any extension cable. They are available in different lengths and thicknesses so you just have to pick one that is long enough to satisfy your requirements.
Portable solar generators will do fine with medium sized extension cables. It doesn’t make sense to get an overly long cable, as that could present storage problems when traveling. For home backup generators, you probably need longer, heavy duty types. Since they’re so common and affordable, there is no sense scrimping here.
Our Pick: iGreely Solar Cable Connectors
Some solar generators have a basic display system, but if yours is connected to a solar panel and other components, you need something more advanced. Look for a solar display system that provides information on all the components, including the generator, PV module, inverter, charge controller, battery etc.
It is hard to emphasize how crucial a display monitor is. Keeping track of each solar component is not easy. While you can look for signs of solar panel damage, it can be cumbersome. With a monitoring system you can quickly see what and where the problem is.
Tips For Buying Solar Generator Accessories
It is easy to be overwhelmed by so many accessories, and you might get bewildered especially if you’re new to solar generators. In case you are, here is a guide that explains the basic concepts. Now for some buying tips.
Buy Only Accessories You Need
This may seem obvious, but some might get confused with all the options. You can make things easier for yourself by listing down the features you need that your generator cannot provide. Do you need a travel case for your portable power station? Maybe an extension cable? List them down and buy only what you need.
Buying solar generator accessories is similar to shopping. Before you go to a store you prepare a list of things to buy and stick with it. This saves you time and prevents impulse buys. That rule applies to solar generators as well. The more prepared you are, the quicker you’ll find what you need.
Buy Solar Accessories From Reputable Manufacturers
Where you buy from is just as important as what you buy. A poorly made accessory is not just a waste of money, but it could also be risky. It might for example, damage the solar generator. Always make sure to buy from well known solar companies and avoid stuff that sounds too good to be true.
Solar Accessory Compatibility
This one does not need a long explanation does it? Always make sure the accessory is 100% compatible with your solar power station. The best way to go about this is to purchase from the same manufacturer. If your generator is made by brand X, look for accessories by brand X. At the very least you can be certain it’s compatible.
If the accessory you need is made by another company, ensure it is reputable and that it is compatible with your solar power station. Check the company website for information, but usually that will be stated right upfront.
Solar generators continue to increase in power and features. Whether it is for home power backup or a camping utility, there is a model that fits your needs. And in case the generator does not completely match your requirements, then you can always get any of the accessories here.