Yes, you can charge a solar battery with a generator, especially during seasons when solar energy is less reliable. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to help you understand how to use a generator as an alternative power source for charging your solar batteries. The process involves using a small inverter and charging cables to convert the AC power from the generator into DC power that charges the battery.
During winter or cloudy days, solar batteries may not charge adequately due to insufficient sunlight. In such cases, a generator can be a lifesaver. Knowing your battery specifications is crucial for controlling the charging process effectively.
Safety is paramount when using a generator for charging. The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to connect your solar battery to a generator safely. It takes approximately 5-8 hours to fully charge a drained battery using a generator. However, this time can vary depending on factors like the size of the battery and the state it’s in.
While a generator is an effective alternative, it should be used only during emergencies due to the associated risks. The article also briefly discusses using electricity as another alternative for charging your solar battery.
Can I charge a solar battery with a generator?
Having an alternative power source in your home would save you during desperate times. Sometimes your battery might be too drained for the sun to charge it. The solar battery cannot charge properly during the winter. A generator can be of much help during these times. You will only need to learn how to connect the generator to your battery and then charging automatically starts. Knowing your battery specification will also help determine how you can control the charging process.
A generator provides the required voltage used to charge the solar batteries. However, you cannot connect the solar battery directly. You will need an effective inverter to convert the AC power provided by the generator into DC that charges the battery. With the right equipment and a functioning generator, your battery will be reading fully charged. The guide below explains how you can successfully connect the solar battery to the generator.
How do I charge my solar battery bank with a generator?
Step 1: Check the fluid level of both the solar battery and the generator
- Ensure the fluid in both devices is enough.
- Add distilled water to the solar battery until you get to the marked line.
- Do not fill the fluid as it might spill.
- As for the generator, check if the fuel available is enough to charge a battery.
Step 2: Connect the inverter to the generator
An inverter will help regulate the current that reaches the solar battery. A high current might damage the battery permanently.
- Most generator inverters come with a plug-in cable.
- Attack the inverter directly to the generator.
Step 3: Connect the charger to the solar battery
- Ensure you can differentiate the negative and the positive of the battery.
- Clamp the charger to the battery terminals.
- Do not touch the terminals.
Step 4: plug-in the charger to the inverter
- After connecting the charger to the solar battery, you can then plug in the charger directly.
Step 5: Start the generator
The last step before your battery starts charging is starting the generator.
- If it is an analog generator, start it by pulling the cord.
- Alternatively, Start the battery using the starter switch.
Step 6: Leave the battery to charge.
- Before switching the battery charger, let the generator run for a few minutes. This is to allow the engine speed and voltage to stabilize.
- Switch on the battery charger to start charging the battery.
- Let the battery charge till it’s full then reverse the process and disconnect the generator.
Charging a battery with a generator is risky. It should be done during emergencies
only. You should follow these safety tips to avoid accidents. Keep checking the level
of charge until it’s full then switch off the battery. If the solar battery has a solar battery maintainer, then it will automatically stop the charge from reaching the battery. So how long do you wait until the battery is fully charged?
How long does it take a generator to charge a solar battery?
The time taken to fully charge a solar battery using a generator is impacted by various variables. The size of the battery, the voltage allowed to reach the battery, and the state of the battery.
It takes 5-8 hours to fully charge a drained battery. If a charge controller is used during the charging process, it allows only 20% of the current to reach the solar battery. This means it will take more hours to charge a battery with a charge controller.
If you do not have a generator, electricity is another alternative power source that you can use to recharge your battery
Steps of charging a solar battery with electricity
If you notice your solar battery is almost drained and you do not have a generator, you can connect your solar battery to electric power output sockets. The process of connecting is simple but you should practice safety tips. Below we have discussed how electricity charges a solar battery.
- Check the battery specifications. This will be helpful to know the rated current and voltage of the battery.
- Connect the solar battery to the power supply.
- To monitor the flow of current from the power source to the solar battery, a working ammeter is connected to the battery.
- Connect the battery with a variable voltage output.
- Raise the voltage until it is 20% below the rated battery current.
- Check the battery temperature constantly and adjust if it is too high.
- You might decide to charge the battery until it’s fully charged. You can also revive the battery and connect the battery back to a solar panel.
Do not get used to charging your solar battery with electricity. This is because electricity produces a high current which might damage the battery permanently. Ensure you do not stay closer to the battery when it’s charging. The battery might have conditions that you might not be aware of and explode.
Will a generator overcharge a solar battery?
Any power source if not set up correctly might lead to an overcharge. To prevent the generator from overcharging the battery, use an inverter as a link between the battery and the generator. Keep checking the level of charge until it’s fully charged.
What size of generator will charge a solar battery?
A generator should be at least two times the size of the inverter. For example, a 6000-watt generator can be used with an inverter with 3000 watts. The minimum size of a generator is 8kW and is enough to charge a solar battery.
Can you use both a solar panel and a generator to charge a solar battery?
No. you cannot use two power sources to charge a battery. Solar batteries require a low current to charge. Using a generator and a solar panel might lead to an overcharge.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as a Solar Electrical Engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.