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Recharge Your Car On the Go: The Best Portable Generators and Solar Panels for Electric Cars

The best portable generators and the best solar panels for electric cars are not really designed to fully charge an EV. In terms of an inverter generator, using one can potentially void the warranty on some vehicles, since using the wrong type of generator can damage the vehicle. In order to use solar panels to charge an electric car, you’d need to use several, and in ideal weather conditions. Most EVs are not big enough to accommodate the number of panels needed. Even if these vehicles were large enough, the solar panels would not be able to provide the type of juice needed to get your vehicle to the next charging station. However, with the right kind, the inverter generator could be a true asset in the event of an emergency.

When it comes to buying an electric car, it’s all about the range. Even though the average person drives just forty miles a day, most consumers hesitate to purchase an electric car because they’re worried their car will die in the middle of nowhere. This type of range anxiety is very common and is basically the main reason many people pass on buying an EV, or electric vehicle. But there are some solutions to this issue, especially if you’re traveling across the country. Portable generator for electric car and portable solar panels for electric car are out there, but can they provide your EV with the type of power it needs to keep going before a full charge?

There are many pros and cons to buying an electric car, but with the right type of emergency power source in place, you can have a little peace of mind on your next cross country adventure.

Read on to find out how.

The Future of Electric Vehicles

An EV offers a number of benefits when compared to conventional cars. These vehicles are cheaper to run and maintain. The electric car’s battery contains fewer moving parts compared to a conventional car and doesn’t come with an exhaust system, fuel injection system, starter motor, or even a radiator. In fact, the only moving part in the EV is the rotor. These cars are strong and simply built, which is why they’re much easier to maintain and repair.

The batteries also don’t wear out very easily and have a lifespan of around eight years, depending on how often you drive.

They’re also much better for the environment. Driving an electric vehicle can help to reduce air pollution caused by exhaust emissions. This reduction in emissions can lead to better air quality, and in turn, better health.

But using an electric car does have its downsides, primarily the fact that they need to be charged, a process that can take several hours. Some EVs can be charged in just thirty minutes, while others can take up to twelve hours to fully charge. Typically, the higher priced vehicles are the ones that offer the faster charging times.

Future of Electric Vehicles

Choosing an electric vehicle is often heavily dependent on how far the vehicle can go per charge. Even the best EVs are somewhat limited, especially when it comes to long car rides, making a cross country adventure a real source of anxiety for some electric car owners. But there are some models out there that can run all day long on a single charge. Of course, on the other hand, there are also EVs that can’t go very far at all per charge. Doing your homework and finding an electric car that’s capable of the range per charge you need is a step in the right direction. However, at some point, your EV is going to need a charge. If you’re traveling across the country, then you may be terrified that you’ll end up in an unfamiliar place or out in the middle of nowhere, with no charging station in sight.

So, what’s the solution?

Portable generators and portable solar panels.

There has been some buzz around these emergency power options, but do they really work? How much juice can they supply and is it only enough to get you down the road to a charge station or are you looking at an hour or two of juice?

Can Portable Generators Work for Every Type of Electric Car?

No. Tesla is currently the leading EV manufacturer, especially when it comes to electric cars that offer some real range. One of their models, the Model S sedan, is said to have a range of over three hundred miles. But for most consumers, the Tesla’s high price tag makes it an unaffordable option.

The Bolt EV hatchback by Chevy is a much more affordable option, and it offers around two hundred and thirty-eight miles per charge.

But on average, the EV can offer a range of one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles. This is more than enough for the daily driver, but if you want to take a road trip, then this limited range will be a common source of anxiety for you.

While the best camp generator, like the Westinghouse iGen2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator, can come in handy when you’re out in the backcountry or traveling around the country in your RV, the majority of portable generators on the market won’t work to recharge an electric car. In fact, the Tesla user’s manual specifically says not to try hooking the EV up to a portable generator.

However, using one can definitely be a tempting option in the event of an emergency and there will definitely be some situations in which you desperately need a charge.

What to Keep in Mind When Using a Portable Generator for Your EV

As we mentioned, not all models of portable generators will work to charge EVs and there are some important things to consider before you give it a shot.

When it comes to a Tesla and many other types of EVs, the charging system is able to determine if there’s a lack of pure, clean sine wave, in which case a charge will not work. However, this is crucial since a power surge could result in severe damage. Many of the leading EVs are designed with this type of safety feature, which will not allow a vehicle to charge unless it detects stable power. But basically, most inverters offer pure sine wave energy.  Some models of inverter generators will utilize a modified sine wave, which would cause a car’s system to view the energy as impure. For an EV, you’ll only want a generator that can provide a pure sine wave output.

Typically, lower priced generators will not provide the pure sine waves, only offering the modified waves.

Another important consideration you must take into account before you attempt to use a portable generator to power up your EV is the fact that the generator must first be grounded. In most cases, the frame of the generator works perfectly as a grounding element.

However, if the electric car’s charging system doesn’t detect a ground it will not charge. This is an easy problem to solve. Simply purchase a special adapter plug. Another option is using copper wire in order to connect to the floating neutral and the ground.

Some models of camp generators should be truly grounded by placing a metal rod into the ground and connecting it. You should also only use an inverter generator that has a minimum wattage of fifteen hundred. If you use the smallest camping generator with the lowest wattage, it’s not going to provide much juice.

Charging Your EV

Future of Electric Vehicles

After you’ve found the perfect inverter generator for your vehicle, practice using it to charge your vehicle, before you actually go on your trip and end up relying on a generator that won’t work the way you need it to.

During use, make sure that you begin with the lowest charge rate option and slowly adjust up to thirty amps. Doing so will help to prevent the generator from overheating.

Keep in mind, fully charging your vehicle with a portable generator can take a very long time. However, in a charging emergency, you will probably only need enough juice to get you to the next charging station.

Portable Solar Panels

Many people have also considered using portable solar panels for traveling long distances in an EV. But like the portable generator, this charging option isn’t very efficient and it’s not exactly a method you can rely on for a full charge. In fact, you would need to use several solar panels to power an EV, which, in most cases, isn’t convenient, or even feasible.

Basically, every three square feet of a solar panel is capable of generating around one kilowatt of electricity. There are also other factors to consider if you’re thinking of purchasing solar panels, like the popular WindyNation solar panel kit, which is primarily designed for RV use and considered one of the best RV solar panel kits on the market.

First, these panels must be kept clean in order to absorb energy from the sun’s rays. Second, if you’re caught out on a cloudy day, then these solar panels would be pretty much useless. In the end, most EVs aren’t large enough to accommodate the number of solar panels needed to power an electric car, even in terms of an emergency power source.

The Perfect Portable Generator to Use to Charge Your EV

Not every portable generator will work to charge your electric vehicle. In fact, many won’t provide the type of pure sine wave energy that’s needed.

However, below you’ll find a model we’ve chosen that’s designed primarily for camping, as an emergency power backup source, and for RV use, but it will also work just fine to provide your EV with a little juice to get you to the next charging station.

Our Choice

A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

The A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator offers up to seven hours of runtime when it’s at a fifty percent load. It also features the patented Eco-throttle mode that offers up to nine hours of runtime when at a fifty percent load. Quiet-running, this model also features a low fifty-eight decibels.

What We Love:

  • CARB compliant
  • Parallel ready
  • Seven to nine hours of runtime
  • Runs at fifty-eight decibels
  • One gallon fuel tank
  • No external parallel kit needed

What We Didn’t Love:

  • Price
  • Weighs over forty-five pounds

To learn more about this leading generator, click the button below.

Related Questions

Can a Portable Generator Charge a Tesla?

Yes. Some models of generators can, however, keep in mind that using a generator for this specific vehicle will void its warranty. This is because using the wrong type of generator, one that doesn’t produce pure sine waves, can seriously damage the vehicle. Of course, the Tesla’s built-in safety features may also prevent the generator from even working.

Can an Electric Car be Charged with Solar Panels?

Yes and no. It would actually take several solar panels to charge up an electric car, even for just an emergency supply of juice. Solar panels for vehicles are commonly used for RVs, for the sole purpose of keeping the RV’s battery charged. But as you can imagine, the solar panels on an RV are very large and typically take up all of the space on the vehicle’s roof.

Which Country Has the Most Electric Cars?

Currently, China is the leading country, with 579, 000 electric vehicles, followed by America, with one hundred and ninety-eight thousand vehicles, and Norway with just sixty-two thousand vehicles.

Final Thoughts

The idea behind using a portable generator for electric cars and portable solar panels for electric cars is to make the vehicle more self-sufficient. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to worry about making it to a charging station, instead, you could just juice up your car as you drive around or pull over and switch on the generator. As it stands, solar panels do not have what it takes to power up an electric car, however,  the right type of inverter generator can be a great back up if you need power in an emergency.

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The Best Portable Generators and Solar Panels for EVs
Article Name
The Best Portable Generators and Solar Panels for EVs
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Learn how you can supplement your electric car's power needs when you're on the road and whether a portable generator or solar panels are a good option.
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