Solar Generators vs. Solar Systems: Here’s What You Need to Know

Solar Generators vs. Solar Systems Here’s What You Need to Know
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Posted On: August 19, 2022
  • Updated On: July 10, 2023

Solar is one of the fastest-growing sources of renewable energy to this date. In fact, California has a law that all new construction family homes must be equipped with solar panels. Regardless of the latter, there’s still huge hype surrounding this form of energy, and many voluntarily opt for it.

Whether you’re required to install solar, want to save money, or want to do something positive for the environment, you probably have some questions before jumping on the bandwagon. A good place to start is, what’s the difference between solar generators and solar systems?


Both a solar generator and a solar system provide energy via solar power. However, their uses vary.

For instance, a solar system offers a stationary installation. Once installed, you leave the system on your home, building, etcetera for continual use. However, a solar generator offers portable use. This way, you can take your solar on the go with you.

While both a solar generator and a solar system can be removed at any given time, a solar generator is easier to get rid of if and when it comes to that point.

Battery Size

The greater the battery capacity, the more energy you’ll be able to store. The capacity makes a big difference as it can impact how much energy you’re able to use.

Solar systems offer a much larger battery capacity than solar generators. While this might seem like a bummer for those interested in a solar generator, the great thing about its smaller battery is that it’s also more portable. But, of course, energy capacity is also more limited.

How they Recharge

The installation differences of solar generators and solar systems makes the way they recharge a little different.

While both recharge when they’re out in the sun, when you have a solar generator, you’re going to be responsible for placing it in the sun when it needs a recharge. Of course, when you have your generator stowed away, you can’t expect it to recharge on its own as it has no source of sunlight.

Solar systems, since they’re already installed in an area where they’d receive sunlight, don’t require you to be responsible to transport them out in the sun for recharging purposes.

Upfront Cost

Money makes the world go ‘round. And, well, money doesn’t grow on trees. Regardless of your budget, though, you’re going to want to get the most for your money and likely won’t mind spending a little more to get the best deal.

If money is tight, a solar generator is the way to go. Their price ranges from several hundreds of dollars to $1,000 or more. It all comes down to the type of generator you opt for. The more you spend on a solar generator, the more wattage you’ll typically get.

Solar systems, on the other hand, will cost several thousands of dollars. Buying solar panels and getting them installed can cost well over $10,000.

Fortunately, there is financing available for solar systems in the form of a solar panel, personal, or home improvement loan. Some might be able to roll the costs into their monthly mortgage payment.

When opting for a solar system, you also have the option to rent your panels. This is often the route many homeowners wish to go as it’s significantly cheaper, and liability on the homeowner is lessened. Plus, leased solar is generally easier on the pocket to replace.


The lifespan of a solar generator and a solar system will vary greatly. It all comes down to the generator or system you opt for, how often it’s used, and how it’s cared for over the years.

Solar generators last anywhere from about five to 20 years. Some manufacturers claim they will last longer. Solar systems, on the other hand, are designed to last 25 years or longer.

While both solar systems and solar generators have quite a long lifespan, one thing to consider is that because solar generators are portable, this is one aspect that might make them less likely to last as long as their solar system counterparts. The more it’s transported, the more of a risk there is.

Care & Maintenance

In a dream world, solar wouldn’t require any care or maintenance. However, for a solar generator or system to work efficiently over the years, regularly maintaining such is a must.

Maintenance is much easier and less tedious with a solar generator, primarily because it’s portable and easier to access.

As for solar systems, their more permanent installation, which is often on top of a roof, makes them hard to get to. This makes their care and maintenance more difficult. But to keep a system top notch over the years, you’re definitely going to want to keep it free of debris, dust, and cracks.

In the end, both require maintenance but only, say, once or twice a year. A little care can go a long way and can surely help make your generator or system last longer and more efficently over the years.

How They Ultimately Stack Up

The truth is, in most cases, a regular solar system works better than a solar generator. However, it all comes down to the application.

For those with lower use needs and a tighter budget, a solar generator is the best pick. Application-wise, solar generators are great in terms of portable power or short backup use. Solar generators are applicable for RVs, for instance.

Installation for solar generators is also incredibly easy. Just pick up the best diy solar generator kit you can find within your budget, and you’ve got yourself some solar energy.

On the other hand, while a full solar system is going to be more costly and require a pro to install, it has the capacity to store a greater amount of energy and has a longer expected lifespan. Not to mention, it works best in cases where energy use is going to be higher, like in your average home.


It’s apparent that solar generators and solar systems are not one in the same. While they both use solar to provide energy, they have quite a few differences from their initial cost for installation to how they’re maintained. In the end, it’s up to you to decide which is best for your application.

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Author: Mohsin Khan

Mohsin has worked as one of the experienced editors with ConstructionHow since 2020 with a total span of 5 years of experience in business PR, boasting a remarkable professional trajectory, he has collaborated with entrepreneurs and startups, and certain publications over the last few years. His unwavering interest lies in the construction industry and related materials. He believes in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings, and homes that fall under the right budget. With a wide range of experience in construction, he also tapped into DIY and home improvement projects based on his extensive set of knowledge in the industry.