In this article I am going to outline why I recommend an 1800 watt solar backup system as the perfect size for a starter system.
One big advantage of system this size is its portability. You can move the system if you’re going camping, or if you have a “grab and go” emergency situation. You will always have your power with you. The system really couldn’t be much larger than the 1800 watts suggested here, because you wouldn’t be able to lift it. The batteries, which are part of your solar backup system, weigh about 55 pounds, and that’s pretty much pushing the maximum for portability.
Cost-wise, I believe that these systems are a logical first step. The systems are typically priced in the $1500 to $2000 range, depending on equipment specifics. They are a cost effective way to get power to your household appliances. Another thing, most individual appliances you would need to plug in are rated for under 1800 watts. So even though you may not be able to run too many appliances at the same time, you will be able to run almost any appliance individually. Notable exceptions, however, include central air conditioners, heat pumps, electric hot water heaters, electric clothes dryers, electric ranges and electric space heaters. These appliances generally draw too much power for an 1800 watt system. Even when an appliance is rated close to the 1800 watt maximum, it will drain the system battery very quickly.
Used conservatively, however, your system will have adequate power to get you through a “typical” power outage of a few hours. This would apply even in darkness, when there is no way to recharge the battery from the sun.
If you were to have a disaster situation, where there is an extended power outage (say, for several days), the solar panel allows your system to be recharged daily, so you’ll have a limited, but continuous supply of power for essential needs. In a situation where the power has been out for a matter of days, this system will show its true merit, quietly absorbing energy from the sun. Keep in mind, with a (noisy) gas generator, you only have power as long as you have gasoline. And then there’s the fact that service station gas pumps won’t work when the power is out either! To make things worse, people tend to panic, buying-up supplies and fueling-up where ever they can find fuel. Shortages are the result. So using a gas powered generator for these situations is not recommended!
With solar power, you can pretty much count on the sun coming-up each morning, allowing you to generate electricity for 12 hours or so, depending on the season. And therein lies the magic of a solar backup system. Add portability to the mix, and you’ll be ready for just about anything, with my solar backup solution.
In future posts, I will cover larger systems and their benefits. I am not going to “pitch” specific equipment right now; at this point, my intention is to educate my readers in solar system basics. Looking forward, however, recommendations and links to specific products will be offered on this site. So until next time, take care and stay safe!