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Social isolation is bad enough these days with COVID-19 on our minds. It gets worse when the power goes out! A lot of people are thinking about emergency prep needs and how to manage connectivity should one be forced off the electrical grid for a period of time. Turning to a solar + stored energy solution can have multiple benefits over gas generators. For one thing, sunshine is free and relatively easy to come by most of the time. And oh the noise and smell of gas? No thanks.
Gas generator alternatives are regularly referred to as portable solar generators, or electric generators. But, let’s call it for what it is. A giant battery, solar charged, typically with a built-in solar charge controller, solar inverter, and battery management system. Lithium-ion is the go-to choice for longevity and stability.
We’ve put together some basic quick calculations to help you estimate the best sized portable power station you would need to power basic necessities each day.
Assuming a 5V/2.2A plug, you will draw 11 watts per hour and need approximately 3 hours per full charge on a smartphone. That would be 33 watt hours. Another way to look at this is to know that most smartphones have internal battery size of about 3,500 – 4,000mAh. To account for energy transfer inefficiencies, you will need at least (3,500 x .25) + 3,500 = 4,375mAh to reach a full charge.
You will need a portable power bank of at least 2,000mAh (2AH) similar to Hypergear to charge your smart phones on the go. You can charge this with either a standard AC outlet or a portable solar panel.
By the way – have you ever seen one of these goofy hand-held sized solar power banks? It doesn’t matter what brand it is – take it from us, and don’t bother. The solar panel on these units never exceeds 2 watts. It will take a minimum of 40 peak sunshine hours to recharge this power bank while off grid! They look something like this:
Most laptops will draw less than 70W when plugged in, or while charging. Internal battery sizes vary considerably, and can be over 5,000mAh. If you would like to use your laptop for 3 hours a day, you will need at least 210Wh.
Trying to keep your food cold without standard electricity gets tricky. Actual power needs for refrigeration vary greatly based on the model, size, temperature settings and frequency of use. Most mini-fridges draw 50-100 watts, with double or more power required during initial surge and start-up cooling. Older models that lack energy star ratings are far worse. You could easily be looking at several thousand watt hours.
We highly recommend the GoSun Chill portable cooler as the best alternative to mini-fridge units while off grid. The GoSun Chill can run for about 8 hours at a 25 degree temperature setting using GoSun’s 144Wh portable power bank. That’s a need of 432Wh a day. Keep your food cool and minimize your off grid power needs.
Can You Run Fans or AC on Solar?
Heating and AC units require an obnoxious amount of energy draw, and are almost never recommended paired with solar + stored energy unless you have a very large solar setup, such as with a small cabin or tiny home. Household fans will draw around 120W and if you need to run them 12 hours a day, that’s 1,440 watt hours per day. Consider cutting this usage to the bare minimum.
Solar LED Lights
LED lights are amazing and require very little energy draw. You can easily stick with a 5 watt LED x 5 lights for a nicely lit space using only 25 watts an hour. That’s only 125Wh per day. Even better – use MAXSA Solar Lights. Each solar light has its own solar panel.
Your estimated one day grand total: 5,281 Watt hours! WOW!! What portable power station can handle THIS?
You are looking at needing something like the HUMLESS 5 kWh LiFEPO4 Solar Energy Storage Solution. Except that it weighs about a 100 lbs. It’s great for around your house or installed in an RV, cabin or tiny home. But it isn’t exactly camper - mobile friendly.
Don’t despair. Where there is a will, there is a way! A combination of portable solar panels and power stations can get you through your emergency. First things first. Reset your expectations and let's get creative.
Plan to charge mobile phones and use laptops during the day when you can run directly off of a portable 100W solar panel, such as the NITECORE FPS100, which has 3 USB output ports – more than any other foldable portable solar panel on the market. Use the PowerBank+ that can be purchased with the GoSun cooler and have a dedicated power source to keep your food cold. Finally, choose either the NITECORE NPS600 Bundle, with 594Wh stored energy or the ECOFLOW DELTA1300 Bundle, which has 1260Wh. Both are solid choices for short term off grid power needs.
Both the NITECORE and ECOFLOW off grid solar panel kits are bundled with top-of-the-line foldable portable solar panels that can consecutively charge mobile devices and solar power stations.
Choosing a solar + stored energy combination is serious business. We believe that we source the best of the best - NITECORE, ECOFLOW, and HUMLESS are all top of the line choices for temporary - or in the case of HUMLESS, longer term off grid power supply needs.
By the way, Solar Sporting Goods also carries a wide selection of freeze dried emergency food kits and done-for-you emergency go bags. One-stop shopping for all your emergency prepper gear is right at your fingertips.
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