Solar generators come in several sizes with different battery types. To give a better perspective on which ones last longer than others, I decided to put together different models to reveal how long they actually last.
How long a solar generator lasts depends on its battery cycle life, battery capacity, and frequency of use. Solar generators with lithium batteries usually last longer than lead-acid variants due to a higher cycle life.
A high battery capacity reduces the number of cycles used but this all depends on how often the solar generator is used. If you use your solar generator often to power your devices and appliances, this will affect the cycle life of your system.
In this post, I’ll be sharing some calculations with different solar generator battery types.
How long does a solar generator last?
A solar generator with a cycle life of 500 cycles lasts about 1.37 years after using one battery lifecycle per day. In the same format, one with a cycle life of 2,000 cycles lasts about 5.48 years. A solar generator can last several additional years depending on how often it is used.
Below is a table with some popular solar generator models along with their lifecycle rating and years of use after using one cycle per day.
|Solar Generator||Cycle Life (to 80% Capacity)||Years of Use (1x Cycle/Day)|
|Jackery Explorer 1000||500 cycles||1.37|
|Goal Zero Yeti 1500X||500 cycles||1.37|
|Point Zero Energy Titan||2,000 cycles||5.48|
|Bluetti EB240||2,500 cycles||6.85|
|Bluetti AC200P||3,500 cycles||9.59|
|EcoFlow Delta Pro||3,500 cycles||9.59|
|Bluetti EP500||6,000 cycles||16.44|
As you can see, the number of lifecycles is important to determine how long a solar generator’s battery will be able to function properly. But also note that it is not recommended to fully discharge the battery when in use. This is because the higher the depth of discharge (DoD), the lower the battery cycle life tends to be.
However, the examples given above don’t show how much capacity is in each model’s battery.
Since not everyone with a solar generator uses an entire battery lifecycle every day, I give examples below and estimate how long each system will last after using 1,500Wh per day.
|Solar Generator||Cycle Life (to 80% Capacity)||Battery Capacity||Years of Use (1,500Wh/Day)|
|Jackery Explorer 2000||500 cycles||2,060Wh||1.88|
|Point Zero Energy Titan||2,000 cycles||2,000Wh||7.31|
|Bluetti EB240||2,500 cycles||2,400Wh||10.96|
|EcoFlow Delta Pro||3,500 cycles||3,600Wh||23.01|
Some important factors to consider from these tables are the cycle life and battery capacity of solar generators. The higher these specifications are, the longer they last.
Clearly, the numbers provided above are not exact for everyone because of several factors. Everyone uses their solar generator in a different setting with different charging methods and appliances. The following are some of the scenarios that can affect the cycle life of your battery:
- Proper maintenance
- Temperature monitoring
- Use of pass-through charging
- Consistently using the maximum rated output
How long does a solar generator battery last?
A typical solar generator battery lasts 200-300 cycles for lead-acid batteries, 500-2,500 cycles for lithium-ion batteries, and 3,500+ cycles for LiFePO4 batteries. All of these ratings are based on the number of cycles before reaching about 80% battery capacity.
The first battery type I’ll be going over is lead-acid. These are the least efficient when compared to lithium-ion NMC and LiFePO4 batteries.
Cycle life of solar generators with lead-acid batteries
Below I have some older Goal Zero lead-acid solar generators along with their rated lifecycles.
|Solar Generator||Battery Type||Rated Battery Cycle Life||Typical Battery Cycle Life|
|Goal Zero Yeti 1250||AGM Lead Acid||Hundreds of cycles||200-300 cycles @ 80% DoD|
|Goal Zero Yeti 400||AGM Lead Acid||Hundreds of cycles||200-300 cycles @ 80% DoD|
|Goal Zero Yeti 150||AGM Lead Acid||Hundreds of cycles||200-300 cycles @ 80% DoD|
One of the disadvantages of lead-acid batteries is their usable capacity. It’s suggested to use no more than 50% of a lead-acid battery’s rated capacity.
“DoD” in the above table means “depth of discharge” and this term ties in with a lead-acid battery’s usable capacity.
If you have a full-charged battery and use 80% of it to power your appliances/electronics, this is an 80% depth of discharge. If you use an 80% DoD every time you fully recharge a lead-acid battery, you’ll typically get 200-300 charge cycles before the battery should be replaced.
Cycle life of lithium-ion (NMC) solar generators
The following are some different solar generators with lithium-ion NMC batteries. These types of batteries are usually in-between LiFePO4 and lead-acid in terms of their rated lifecycles.
|Solar Generator||Battery Type||Rated Battery Cycle Life|
|Jackery Explorer 1000||Lithium-ion (NMC)||500 cycles to 80% capacity|
|Goal Zero Yeti 1500X||Lithium-ion (NMC)||500 cycles to 80% capacity|
|Point Zero Energy Titan||Lithium-ion (NMC)||2,000 cycles to 80% capacity|
|Bluetti EB240||Lithium-ion (NMC)||2,500 cycles to 80% capacity|
Out of all the different portable power stations on the market today, the ones with lithium-ion batteries tend to have the most variation in battery cycle life.
Solar generator’s with LiFePO4 batteries – highest cycle life
LiFePO4 batteries are a step up from lithium-ion NMC versions. Their efficiency is shown below.
|Solar Generator||Battery Type||Rated Battery Cycle Life|
|Bluetti AC200P||LiFePO4||3,500 cycles to 80% capacity|
|EcoFlow Delta Pro||LiFePO4||3,500 cycles to 80% capacity|
|Bluetti EP500||LiFePO4||6,000 cycles to 80% capacity|
With the number of cycles being at least 1,000 more than my lithium-ion examples, LiFePO4 batteries are the longest-lasting cell types found in solar generators.
If you’re looking for additional solar generators with LiFePO4 batteries, I created a list of the top models in my article found here: 6 Best LiFePO4 Solar Generators (Stats, Pricing, and Analysis).
How many hours does a solar generator last?
A solar generator with a 1,000Wh battery lasts about 100 hours when running a 10W light bulb. To find the number of hours a solar generator lasts, take the wattage of your device/appliance and divide this by the watt-hour rating of the solar generator’s battery.
If you’re running an appliance through the solar generator’s AC inverter, then the amount of running hours with that appliance will be reduced by about 5-15%. This is because the inverter requires power to convert the DC power in the battery to AC.
How long do solar generators hold charge?
Solar generators with a fully charged battery hold a charge for about one year before they need to be recharged again. This is referred to as “shelf-life”. However, it’s recommended to recharge a solar generator every 3-6 months to extend the cycle life of the battery.
This is due to the self-discharge rate of the battery. A lithium-ion battery typically self-discharges at a rate of 1.5-2% per month, which means that it’s important to check on your battery every few months to make sure it’s at a healthy battery percentage.
Goal Zero recommends the following regarding their power stations:
“If unused, power banks and power stations are typically capable of holding a full charge for 12-14 months. However, we highly recommend using and charging the battery every 3-4 months for a healthy lifespan and storing your power bank or power station plugged into the wall or solar panel if possible.”Goal Zero
Calculating the wattage of your appliances and devices
This is one thing the first-time solar generator users are always curious about and shapes their decision of which solar generator to buy. This is actually a move in the right direction, considering the fact that your ability to know how much energy your appliances consume will help you make a more informed decision.
By now, you probably know that the timeframe for which a solar generator can run is mainly a function of the battery capacity. With this in mind, understand that heavy-duty appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners require a corresponding large solar-powered generator.
Smaller electronic devices like mobile phones and rechargeable lamps can charge several times over with a small solar generator. So, away from the sampling of specific generators, let’s conduct the calculation to understand how much energy your devices are going to require. This creates a clearer understanding of what watts and watt-hours are.
The concept of watts, watt-hours, and amps
The power of a solar generator is given in watts and its capacity is measured in watt-hours (Wh) or ampere-hours (Ah).
It is important to note that even though a generator has a great deal of power, this does not necessarily mean it is going to run for a long time. The number of hours or minutes for which it is going to run depends on the load connected to it.
A 500Wh solar-powered generator will drain fast when connected to a refrigerator. On the other hand, it will charge phones and rechargeable lamps from zero to full capacity several times over before its battery is drained.
The difference between watt-hours, watts, amp-hours, and amps
Starting with watts, this is the measure of the battery power of a solar generator. It is the maximum amount of power that the solar generator can provide at any given time. For example, the Yeti 400 Lithium is capable of 300 watts of continuous power and up to 1,200 watts of surge power.
This means that the Yeti 400 can deliver up to 300 watts of power to electronic devices and maintain this amount of power until the battery drains. The 1,200 watts of surge power is only for short bursts of power.
The unit for measuring the battery capacity of electric devices is watt-hours. This is the maximum amount of energy a battery can store. With this, it is also logical to agree that the watt-hours are the total amount of energy you can draw from the battery of a solar generator.
To get the concept in more explicit terms, you may want to mentally picture watts as the rate of power being channeled from the battery to the electrical gadgets at any given time; and watt-hours as the maximum total power it can deliver. So when power is being transmitted via watts, the transmission process will have to stop when it reaches a particular amount of watt-hours.
For example, the Yeti 400 Lithium has 428 watt-hours of battery capacity. This means that I can run 42.8 watts of power for ten hours. Or I can run 100 watts of power for 4.28 hours.
The concept of amps is factored into this discussion to aid further understanding. The link between amp-hours and amps is quite similar to that of watt-hours and watts. This is because amp-hours is the total current that batteries can supply, and the ampere (amp) is the maximum current that flows while power transmission is taking place.
However, you tend to get less information when you stick to amp-hours. This is because you would need to carry out a bit of conversion from amp-hours to watt-hours to know precisely how much power is stored in the battery.
How do I calculate how much power I need from a solar generator?
Here is a step-by-step process for a thorough calculation of how much power you are going to need:
- Identify and list all the electrical devices that you want to be dependent on the solar generator for
- List their corresponding wattage and how many hours they would be running for on average
- In some cases, the wattage may not be mentioned on the device. To rectify this issue, you can still do the wattage calculation by using the given information on amps and volts with this formula:
Watts = Amps x Volts
- That being done, you can now calculate the total wattage and the total running hours.
- Do a multiplication of the total wattage by the estimated total running hours (don’t forget to consider recharge time when obtaining your figures)
For some solar generators, it is possible to continue the recharging process while it is also being used to power electrical devices. However, you should keep in mind that charging a solar generator battery and making use of it to power your devices at the same time will result in a reduction of its functioning capacity.
A few tips to help your battery last longer
Every solar generator user is particular about quality battery life. To achieve this, make a few conscious moves.
- First, you want to take advantage of trickle charging. This means keeping the solar generator connected to a charger when you are not using it. If that is not possible for some reason, you might want to opt for a recharge every 3-6 months to prevent the battery from depletion due to dormancy.
- When not in use, make sure to store the solar generator in a cool, dry place.
- If there is one thing you should avoid, it is the habit of running the solar generator until it is totally drained because this is not good for the battery. It depletes its charge cycle faster than the reasonable depletion rate.