A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a man by the name of Dustin Denkins of Suburb Solar wherein he introduced himself and told me about a really cool product that he has designed and manufactured called the EasySun 1500 Solar Generator.
Dustin and his family also live in the boonies but they are off grid’n it in Upper Michigan. He said that he found out about BooneyLiving.com while researching quiet backup generators and thought that I might be interested in writing about his company’s silent solar powered generator.
I’ve been meaning to get around to building a portable solar power station for a while now. I’ve got lot’s of ideas in my head but we just haven’t gotten around to actually building one yet.
As luck would have it, Dustin’s email came at the perfect time. I was just talking with my husband Jeff about my vision for a portable solar generator that could be wheeled around like a regular generator. It seems that Dustin’s company has built something that is very similar to what I had in mind. I was envisioning something that could be wheeled around a campsite so that campers could have the luxury of electricity without the noise of a gas generator.
Let’s Take a Look At the EasySun 1500 Solar Generator
Just like I was envisioning, this product is on wheels and completely portable to make it easy to move around. It has a 45 watt solar panel that is set at an angle to maximize charging efficiencies. Inside this solar powered generator is a 130 amp hour battery as well as a power inverter for powering regular household electronic devices. The inverter operates at 1,500 watts continuous or 3,000 watts surge and there are two 110 volt outlets. It also has two 12 volt power outlets. It’s no lightweight weighing in at 125 pounds with a footprint of 29 inches wide x 24 inches deep x 36.5 inches high. You’ll need a couple of people to load and unload it from your truck if you plan to take it camping with you. Suburb solar offers a 1 year warranty on everything but the solar panel. The solar panel has a 20 year manufacturers warranty.
My Thoughts On This Product
I haven’t had the chance to see one of these units up close but I really like the concept and the overall design seems to be well thought out. At the moment, Suburb solar only has one model and it’s priced at $1,999. Since I haven’t had the chance to test one of these units and really put it through its paces, I can’t really comment on whether I think that is a fair price point or not. Maybe someday our paths will cross and I’ll get to have a closer look at this product. Until then, I can only share my opinions which are based on the technical details that I have access to.
I think it’s important to point out that while Dustin has given this product the name “solar generator”, with its stock configuration it’s only equipped with one 45 watt solar panel and a 130 amp hour battery. This means that it’s not the type of product that can effectively be used as a primary power source for an off the grid cabin.
With the solar panel only being a 45 watt unit, I imagine that under peak sunlight conditions, it will only produce about 2.5 charging amps. The website for this product doesn’t specify whether they are using a deep cycle battery but I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t. If they are using a deep cycle battery, let’s assume that the battery is drained to 80% depth of discharge; theoretically that would mean that 26 amp hours would be remaining in the battery. To charge it back up to full, the solar panels would need to produce roughly 104 amp hours. At my estimated charging rate of 2.5 amps per hour, according to my calculations, it would take nearly 42 hours of good sunlight to fully recharge the battery.
Depending on what you were using this product to power, you could burn through that 130 amp hour battery pretty quickly. The manufacturer of this product will sell you an additional 45 watt solar panel that can be connected to the existing panel to increase the charging output to a total of 90 watts. Even with the extra solar panel, if my estimations are correct, that would mean that you would be able to charge the battery at a rate of 5 amps per hour. Using the same scenario of a 130 amp hour deep cycle battery that is 80% discharged, it would take around 21 hours of good sunlight exposure to fully recharge the battery.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like what they’re doing at Suburb Solar and I applaud them for manufacturing this product. I just want people to be sure that they understand that a product like this won’t be able to keep pace with a gasoline powered generator. If you only need a small amount of power and you use it conservatively, this product might be perfect for you.
Let’s Hear From The Designer of This Product
I recently emailed Dustin to get some clarification on how accurate my predictions were in terms of the amount of time it would take to recharge the battery. I just heard back from him and he was kind enough to provide me with the answers to my questions. I specifically asked if my estimated charge times were accurate, what kind of battery is included, what brand of inverter is included, and how the product regulates the charge to the battery. I’ve included his response below:
Thanks for the email. The article looks great! I appreciate the honest feedback, as I’m sure your readers do.
We use a long-life, heavy duty, sealed, AGM, deep cycle battery. It has very thick lead plates designed to provide a long life in extreme environments. In fact, it is the most expensive, and heaviest, component in the solar generator. The battery is 90 of the total 125 pounds of the product. We continue to look at lithium batteries, because of their reduced weight, but the price is too prohibitive. Your estimations for recharge time on the current battery are accurate. It was a balance choosing the right solar panel. We wanted the most power, but also the smallest size. The 45watt solar panel is the best compromise, but does limit the recharge time. We find it ideally suited for intermittent power use (like camping), or for backup power. The large battery gives the opportunity to power larger appliances (like a full size fridge, sump pump, or furnace) for a day or two, then slowly recharge with the sun over a few days.
However, since we manufacture these solar generators in an off-grid shop, we designed them to be very expandable. We designed each of the DC ports to handle up to 300 watts of additional solar input (600watts total). This allows the solar generator to recharge in a few hours, yet still be portable by unplugging the larger solar panels. We use this feature when building generators, since we can use the solar generators to run most of our shop tools (drill presses, band saws, etc) We sell these additional solar charging panels directly They come in various size and consist of a solar panel with charge controller wired in, mounting brackets, and a 10′ cord connected to a marine grade plug designed to plug into the EasySun Solar Generator.
The EasySun Solar Generator does include a built-in charge controller, to regulate the charge to the battery. Our focus is a high quality product, so the components we use are from reputable manufactures. Our inverter, for example, is from Xantrex/Schnieder. One thing I probably forgot to mention earlier is the fact that these solar generators are built to handle any type of weather. They can be placed outside in ice, snow, rain, hail, or the desert.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. It is an honor to receive honest feedback from another off-gridder!
Suburb Solar Inc.
If you’re in the mood to read about some other cool solar technology, I highly suggest that you take a minute and read my article called: The Advantages Of Thin Film Solar Panels.