How Long Will a Solar Generator Last?

The acceptability of solar electricity as an alternative to the conventional power grids coming from coal and hydroelectric power is on a steep rise.

However, this trend is not without its own challenges.

Several factors contend with the acceptability of solar electricity. One major challenge is the period of time a solar generator lasts.

This is quite a broad topic because numerous factors determine this outcome for different brands of solar generator systems. We are about to embark on a journey that will help determine how long solar generators last.

How long will a solar generator last?

A solar generator’s life will depend on the following factors:

  1. Lifecycles
  2. Size of battery
  3. How often it’s used

A solar generator will last according to the number of lifecycles it has. A solar generator with a lithium battery usually lasts longer than a lead-acid battery because it has many more lifecycles.

Large solar generators with lithium batteries tend to have 2000+ lifecycles, whereas the same with lead-acid batteries have 500-800 lifecycles on average. Lifecycles coupled with the battery size (in watt-hours) will help determine how long the generator will last. Lastly, the more the generator is used, the shorter the life of the battery.

Titan Solar Generator: How Long Does It Last?

Titan solar generator front view

Known to be one of the most adaptable solar generators on the market, the Titan Solar Generator is quite expandable and at the same time, a powerful piece of equipment. With the power to expand its power capacity with stacking lithium-ion batteries (2,000Wh in each battery), it can run nearly anything. Inside the generator is a 3,000W/120V inverter.

It can easily handle 10,000Wh in battery capacity. It can expand its solar capacity to 2,000 watts, which means it can charge up to 10,000wh in five hours.

The battery setup is a 29.4V arrangement. This is different from the lower 10.8-12V that is found in other units. It uses a Lithium-Ion (Lithium NMC) battery.

Taking a look at the battery life cycle of the Titan Solar Generator, it takes a little over 2,000 charges and discharges before the capacity falls below 80%. The manufacturer attaches a warranty that covers two years. 

The maximum solar power input is 1,000W if the system only has one battery attached. On the other hand, the second battery has a max input of 2,000W. Note: The solar panels, cables, and extra accessories are not directly sourced from Point Zero Energy. The Titan, Titan batteries, panel adapters, and other small accessories are sourced from Point Zero Energy.

User experiences validated some of the manufacturer claims of the Titan Solar Generator. For example, one user* decided to buy a Titan Solar Generator with an extra battery and AC wall charger (two total) amongst other appliances; he uses it to power the main TV, an 1800-watt deep fryer, and a portable refrigerator with ease. On days when the sun is really shiny, he claims to get a nearly full solar power charge from the panels. Even on days when there is considerable cloudiness, he can still generate about 200-300 watts.

*Source: Powered Portable Solar (See April 5, 2020 review just below the end of the article)

Furthermore, the unit has a 3000-watt inverter and can handle up to 2000 watts of solar input (max 145 volts) via two MPPT charge controllers. The good thing about this is that you would be able to connect more than 2000 watts of panels if you want to try to harvest power on cloudy days.

Similar: Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels – What’s the Difference?

Yeti 1400 Solar Generator: How Long Does It Last?

Yeti 1400 front view

The Yeti 1400 is about the size of a small cooler:  10.1” by 15.3” by 10.4” and weighs 45.6 pounds.

The Yeti 1400 has a 1,428 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack with a life expectancy of 500 charge cycles. This means that it is expected to charge fully and go down to zero percent 500 times before it starts to lose efficiency. After the 500th charge cycle, you can expect the battery to start wearing out. The battery is currently not replaceable, but from the image below in the “Q&A” section on Goal Zero’s website, their support team hinted towards having a replaceable battery in the future.

Yeti 1400 replacement battery question Goal Zero

Furthermore, there are other options to charge the Yeti 1400 other than solar panels. You can charge the Yeti 1400 from a standard AC outlet. This requires about 25 hours of continuous charging to fully-charge your solar generator. 

Reviews claim that if you use 30 to 40 percent of the battery power within a 24-hour-period, you can keep it charged with one (1) 100-watt solar panel.

If you want to charge up your solar generator fast, then you can decide to chain-connect several solar panels for faster charging. This has been said to work well for the Yeti 1400. The maximum solar input is 360 watts. You can charge from the wall and solar panels simultaneously. This will hasten the charging process.

How Much Power for Usage?

The Yeti 1400 can charge the average smartphone 70 times; a laptop 16 times, and can power your refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

If you decide to use it for your CPAP machine, those who tried this have claimed that it can last an impressive 14 nights on one charge

Additional Information about the Yeti 1400 Solar Generator

The Yeti 1400 provides its power through several types of outlets, as seen below.

Yeti 1400 inputs and outputs labeled in diagram

Download the Yeti 1400 Manual Here: yeti-1400-lithium-user-guide

Batteries don’t perform well in the cold. It is advised that the solar generator is protected from extremely cold temperatures when being used. This is especially important when it is just getting started with usage. Over time, the unit’s heat generated while in use will work with the cooler to keep the battery warm.

There are two built-in AC ports to plug in your gadgets or appliances. These plugs provide up to 1,500 watts of power with a 3,000-watt surge capability. Also, it includes four USB ports and a 12-volt power port. There is an on/off button for each port; so you can decide to turn off one and power another on.

The Yeti 1400 has an LCD display to illustrate usage. With this feature, you’ll see the amount of power coming into or leaving the unit. The display is backlit, so you can easily access the data in the dark.

LCD display of the Yeti 1400

With the Yeti 1400, you’ll see exactly how many watts you are using when you have devices plugged into the generator. If you are charging, you can also select a mode to see how many hours until full or how many hours left for power to be completely exhausted.

One must consider the fact that different appliances consume power at varying rates. Therefore, it is up to the user to monitor the usage over time and infer how much power would be left if a particular gadget or rate of usage is maintained.

Similar: Top 3 Best Solar Camping Lights

Jackery Explorer 160: How Long Does It Last?

This is a small, yet powerful solar generator. It is so light, at 3.84lbs, that a child can actually toss it around. Regarding longevity, the Explorer 160 can keep personal electronics running for two hours or more depending on their energy consumption. For example, the Explorer 160 can charge a 13-inch MacBook Pro a couple of times. Note that this model is definitely not meant for heavy usage.

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium: How Long Does It Last?

Yeti 400 Lithium front

Ever since the big switch to battery-intensive forms of energy, Goal Zero has supplied the market with several innovative models of solar-powered generators. One being the Yeti 400 Lithium, a stand-alone battery that offers portable power on demand. This is one-of-a-kind as there aren’t any batteries like it on the market. So, to the main question, what is the battery performance like?

Battery Performance for the Yeti 400 Lithium

What can the Yeti 400 Lithium power? And how long will it last? These are the two crucial questions. The answers depend on a few factors. The inverter installed in the 400 is rated at 300 watts of continuous power. This means you cannot continuously use anything that requires more than that across both outlets if you’re plugging in gadgets to the 120V AC outlets. Instead, you could use a single 300-watt device or two 150-watt devices, and so on as long as it totals 300 watts.

The inverter also has the ability to surge power up to 1200 watts. This means that if you’re using an appliance like a blender for a short burst of time, you can use it with the Yeti 400. As a reminder, make sure to always check how much power your desired appliances use so you can get an estimate of how long the battery will last.

Similar: Your Next Solar Generator – The Complete Guide

Power consumption over time is measured in watt-hours. For example, if you were to use a one-watt device for 10 hours, you’d have used 10-watt-hours. The Yeti 400 Lithium has a total battery capacity of 428-watt-hours. A phone charger uses 12 watts, so you could charge your phone for 35 hours in total. If you wanted to run something power-hungry, like a 300W desktop computer, you’d only get about an hour and a half with it. Overall, the capacity is enough to last several days if you’re simply charging your laptop, phone, or other small electronic devices. Most of these things only need to be plugged in for an hour or two before reaching a full charge.

How Long Does It Take the Yeti 400 Lithium Solar-Powered Generator to Charge?

The battery completely recharges in seven hours through a wall socket. However, you can charge the battery with additional solar panels. It is important to note that the higher the number of solar panels, the faster the solar generator charges. Also, the charging period depends on the intensity of the sunlight; the same for any other solar panel brands and models.

The maximum input for the 400 is 120 watts. This means that if you have a 200-watt solar panel that is bringing in 140 watts of power, the charge controller in the generator will only allow 120 watts to come in. This is perfectly okay and safe to do, and this allows you to get the full amount of power to your generator from the panels. With a 200-watt solar panel, such as the Boulder 200 Briefcase, you can get a full charge after about seven hours of bright sunlight.

Generator Battery Technology:  What Makes the Lithium Battery so Special?

Orange battery animation

A look into the solar generator market shows that just a few solar generators used lithium batteries before 2017. Currently, lithium batteries are in high demand, and the production is really expensive. So what is the big deal?

The first factor that puts lithium batteries ahead of the pack is battery longevity. Lithium batteries can handle 1200+ cycles before the capacity drops from 100%. Even when the efficiency drops, it still has a relatively high capacity as it stays somewhere between 80% and 65% for a long time. This translates to an extraordinary level of durability.

Another factor is that you can charge and leave it unused for six months without damaging the battery. This is a big difference when compared with solar generators built with lead-acid batteries that only last about 400 cycles, and will self-drain within three months.

The Yeti 400 and 1400 Lithium solar generators use pure sine wave technology. Therefore, the voltage difference between the two wires is digitally adjusted thousands of times within one second. This allows phones, laptops, stereo systems, and almost any other electronic device to work perfectly.

Similar: YETI 500X vs 400 – Goal Zero Comparison Piece

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 the battery is drained. 

Similar: Top 15 Best Solar Generators for Camping (Small to Large)

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 1200 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 1200 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?

After understanding watts, watt-hours, amps, and amp-hours. Then you can calculate the power of a solar generator using the information provided in the product descriptions found online.

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 the 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.

Similar: Inergy Apex vs EcoFlow Delta 1300 – Which is the Superior Solar Generator?

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.

Conclusion

All the above information will clarify and help you determine how long your solar generator will last. It’s time to get to work and do the calculations!

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Max Peters

Hi! I'm Max and I am passionate about off-grid solar technology and adventure! I'm using my knowledge of solar generators, solar panels, and everything in between to provide you with the best tools to keep you powered while off the grid. Read more about me here: About Max Peters."

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