Using renewable sources of energy is becoming increasingly popular. Solar energy is one of the best sources of renewable energy, and there are many portable options available nowadays that are easy to install. But how effective are they in a typical household?
A portable solar generator cannot power an entire house if used alone. The power generated is insufficient for a typical household. However, several generators combined can produce more than enough electricity to power a typical western house, including all the appliances.
This article will focus on how portable solar generators can power an entire house and the various problems you may face when using this energy source.
How To Combine Portable Solar Generators
Paralleling is a process used to connect solar generators (portable or fixed) to double the wattage generated. The only major problem people face when combining portable solar generators is finding enough space to get sufficient sunlight for all the solar panels. A rooftop or backyard are viable options to consider.
To combine portable solar generators parallelly:
- Ensure that all your generators are operating on the same voltage.
- Calculate how much power you need, and determine how many generators you need to power the entire house.
- Connect the negative wire of one portable solar generator to the negative of the next, and do the same with the positive wires. You can use this Renogy Solar Renogy Male/Female Connector I found on Amazon to connect the wires. It’s durable, long-lasting, and makes the process so much simpler.
Why Portable Solar Generators Cannot Power an Entire House
A portable solar generator generally does not have enough wattage to provide sufficient power for an entire house, no matter how small. You’re probably wondering why you go through the trouble of paralleling your portable solar generators when you can simply buy a bigger generator.
The largest portable solar generator on the market nowadays can provide 2000 watts, which is great for charging your phone and a couple of light bulbs on a campsite for a few days. A house typically has appliances such as a washing machine, fridge, cooling system, etc., and those require a lot more energy.
How Much Energy a Typical Household Uses
Several factors impact the amount of energy your house needs, including (but not limited to):
- Size of the house
- Number of residents
- Number of appliances
- Type of appliances
- Frequency of use
Studies have shown that the average household in America uses slightly more than 10,000-kilowatt hours of energy per year. That means 25-30 kilowatt hours daily—compare that to the 2000 watts that the largest portable solar generator provides.
Reducing your energy consumption below the national average can enable you to use a few portable solar generators to power your house. Otherwise, you would only be reducing your use of non-renewable energy sources.
The Wattage of Typical Household Appliance and Devices
You can get a home energy audit to get an exact analysis of your home’s energy use. However, the following numbers can give you a rough idea based on the devices you run at home:
- Laptop: 50–100 watts
- Phone charger: 5–20 watts
- Fridge: 150–400 watts
- Dishwasher: more than 1200 watts
- Washer: 500 watts
- Dryer: 1000–4000 watts
- TV: 70–115 watts
- Central HVAC: 1000–4000 watts (dependant on area, climate, and construction materials used in the house)
- Window AC: 900–1440 watts (dependant on area, climate, and construction materials used in the house)
- Space heater: 1500 watts
- Electric stovetop: 2000-5000 watts
Why Are Portable Solar Generators Gaining Popularity?
Portable solar generators are gaining popularity because they’re much easier to install and operate and are often also cheaper to purchase than other generators. Also, disconnecting one solar panel for camping trips is a convenient option.
Reducing Energy Consumption
To reduce your overall energy consumption, it is important to note how much energy (in watt-hours) your devices and appliances use. Try to use those devices which are marked energy-efficient, and also try to be efficient in the way you use them. For example, running a full load of laundry is more efficient (energy-wise) than running the washer for a couple of t-shirts.
Here are a few other tips you can use to reduce your energy consumption:
- Unplug all devices when not in use: All appliances and devices use a small amount of electricity when plugged in, which accumulates over time.
- Turn off the lights: Make a habit of turning off the lights in rooms when not in use. You should also invest in energy-saving light bulbs. During the day, use more natural light by opening curtains or blinds.
- Use the eco-friendly (short) cycle in your washer: Most washing machines have a short (15-30) minute cycle you can run for loads of laundry that aren’t particularly soiled.
- Do full loads of laundry: It’s best to do your laundry once a week (or less frequently) when you have a full load of laundry ready, to make more efficient use of the energy running the washer.
- Air-dry your laundry: Skip the spinner and the dryer, and just hang your clothes to dry—it’s a zero-energy method of getting the rest of your laundry done.
- Insulation and draught-free windows: Heating/cooling your home (using a space heater, electric fan, air conditioning, or any other method) will be more energy efficient if the house is insulated properly and the climate in your house can be controlled better.
- Switch to an induction stovetop: Induction stovetops use less energy to heat up pots and pans and do not heat up the room—more energy is saved because your cooling system is less strained.
- Replace filters: The filters in your washer, air conditioner, or even in your dishwasher can get clogged over time and force the appliance to use more electricity to function properly.
While portable solar generators generally cannot power an entire house, there is a workaround that is a convenient and easy fix. Paralleling solar generators involves hooking up two or more generators to provide additional wattage. Finally, because they generate less energy, portable solar generators encourage people to reduce their overall energy consumption.
- U.S. Department of Energy: Home Energy Assessments
- U.S. Energy Information Administration
- Energy.gov: Reducing Energy Use and Costs
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