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Opinion

The downsides of a solar generator

I realize that I have been very positive about my solar generator experience. What is the possible downsides of having one?

The biggest one is that it is complex and if it fails it will probably require a repair by a specialized technician. Of course it is also possible that it won’t fail, but I accept it can and might. To me if I can generate several years worth of power I will have paid for the cost of this. Anything beyond that point is saving money.

Secondly the next biggest downside is that it is heavy. The entire weight is 61 lbs which makes it not so portable. Yes I could take it out when I move, but I probably won’t move it otherwise. With the last solar generator which was 11 lbs, it was easy to move from room to room as I needed to.

Probably for most people the biggest one will be the cost. When most people struggle to pay their bills, paying $1200 for something that they pay $100 a month for may not seem possible. I get it. I couldn’t afford it for a long time. However now that I have it, I can save money on my power bill and it will soon pay for itself. I think a positive debt is buying something that will save you money in the future. So to me, getting a loan for a solar generator/solar panel and doing the math is a smart thing to do.

I must admit that it is hard for me to come up with these three downsides. It is a given that things can break, batteries are heavy and investments cost money. I see this all as part of the bigger picture of being prepared for power outages, reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and having a fun new hobby. Obviously the pros outweigh the cons for me, but everyone has to make their own decisions.

RES-Q solar generator came fully charged

The RES-Q solar generator I bought came fully charged. This is completely different from all the other solar generators I have purchased.

Every other solar generator came half charged. I imagine this was done to save money. I can’t think of a good reason otherwise. If the solar generators sit in a warehouse they lose power slowly over time. So the companies that only charged them halfway either expected them to sell quickly or didn’t care if they were discharged to a low state on receipt. Unlike lead batteries a low charge doesn’t hurt the battery in the same way, but it does give a poor customer experience if the unit doesn’t start up.

Since this was fully charged when I connected my solar panel to it, it didn’t accept very much voltage/amps. I figured it had to be in a float mode where it was as full as it needed to be and slowed down the rate it would accept. Charging the last bit of power in a solar generator can take a long time. If you can get it to 80% that is good for most things. I try to top off my solar generator all the time I use it. I don’t need to because I have days where I don’t put the solar power panel out because the battery is full. This happened with my previous solar generator. I expect it will happen with the RES-Q as well.

For the last two weeks I have been charging my iphone/ipad/solar light and I don’t see any indication in the battery icon on the front that it has taken a significant part of its energy. It is hard for me to understand how much energy it has. I intellectually understand it, but now seeing those devices power from it, it is incredible. My first solar generator was only 166WH, then I went to 450WH, and now I am at 1000WH. This is not to brag but rather to say that as I slowly add things to charge, I learn in practical terms what those terms mean.

Right now I can easily see a month or more of usage at my current rate. For an apartment dweller this could power a small 12 volt fridge for a long time. Looking back I should have bought something like this years ago. I didn’t have the financial resources to do so, but I am so grateful to have it now. If you had this, you would love it too.