In recent years there has been a growing demand for portable power solutions that are both reliable and sustainable. When exploring these options, as a customer or retailer new to this market, you may often encounter the terms "portable solar generators" and "portable power stations." While they are sometimes used interchangeably, there are variations in their design and capabilities. Let's find out.
Portable solar generators: Embracing the sun's energy
Portable solar generators are designed with the purpose of providing "on-the-go" power generation in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly manner. They are particularly favored by modern outdoor enthusiasts like RVers (FYI: over 11% of US households own an RV) and campers who value eco-friendliness and self-sufficiency on their trips.
These generators typically consist of a rechargeable battery, solar panels, input and output ports, and other electronic modules, including an inverter, charge controller, cooling system, etc.
The soul of the generators lies in the solar panels, which capture and convert sunlight into clean electricity to be stored in the built-in battery. Whether they are used to charge smartphones, laptops or run small appliances like LED camping lights or mini-fridges, portable solar generators provide a clean power source on the go, contributing to combating climate change.
Portable power stations: Versatility and multi-charging options
On the other hand, portable power stations are comprehensive mobile power solutions that offer a wider array of recharging options. Apart from being charged with solar energy, these power stations also support wall charging with an AC adaptor connected to wall sockets and car charging through the car outlet during a road trip.
Some latest portable power stations even incorporate state-of-the-art USB-C Power Delivery (PD) technology to offer bi-directional flexible and fast charging. It is also exciting to note that the latest standard hits the 240 W level and is expected to take much shorter time to charge batteries.
Comparing the two
Except for the slight difference in charging methods, portable solar generators and portable power stations are essentially the same.
In regards to similarities, their battery storage modules usually adopt reliable lithium-ion-based battery technologies. They come with a variety of AC and DC outlet options, making it easy for customers to access electricity both outdoors and indoors.
Now, let's talk about the literal and marketing stuff.
The term "portable solar generators" is derived from regular stationary solar generators, which are installed on rooftops or mounted on the ground, whereas "portable power stations" originates from regular power stations or power plants.
In a sense, portable solar generators can be referred to as one type of portable power station, as they are designed with the ultimate goal of supplying electricity to electronic devices as well.
In reality, however, the term "portable solar generators" are somehow misleading. This is because many vendors or retailers sell these products without solar panels. But without the panels, how can the photovoltaic mechanism occur? Not to mention converting the sunlight into electricity.
The use of the term "portable solar generators" is largely attributed to the need to highlight "solar," an eye-catching feature that an increasing number of customers value—not just for flexibility but also as a means to fulfill their social responsibility.
Take a short break here; let's recap the composition of a regular solar generator with energy storage: charge controller, inverter and battery are essential beyond the solar panel—these parts can also be found in a portable power station. Consequently, to put it simply, when a portable power station connects with solar panels and the station supports the power voltage and amperage coming in, it becomes a portable solar generator!
You may also be confused since you never find a proprietary port provided on the power stations for solar panel connection. Easy enough, you can use an adaptor to do the job. Most solar panel connectors utilize the MC4 standard. Hence, you can use an MC4 to DC adaptor to achieve the connection, with the DC plug inserted into a DC outlet, such as a DC 8mm input port.
Now you know the "difference"?
Any suggestions for wholesalers and retailers?
Above, it seems like we're just playing a "word game," but in reality, we wholesalers or retailers are somehow doing similar things.
If you are new to this market, it's unethical to advertise and sell portable solar generators without including solar panels. These are simply portable power stations, right?
But you can pack portable power stations into portable solar generators by including a solar charging kit with your products, consisting of a solar panel and adaptor. Moreover, you can market the kit or accessories as a selling point to raise the value of the power station products. That also means you can sell both portable power stations and portable solar generators, two types of products, simultaneously.