How to Install a Generator with Existing Solar Panels?

Last Updated on July 12th, 2023

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There are going to be two reasons for adding a generator to a solar panel system, to help charge the batteries or to be the emergency backup generator powered by the batteries charged by the solar panels. 

However, when it comes to adding components to the solar panel circuit/system, the first step will be to shut down the system, preventing the panel inverters from converting any collected photovoltaic power into direct current.  

Otherwise, concerning backup systems, which are powered by generators normally powered by combustion engines, can now be powered by solar panels, through battery power storage circuits, or direct current to inverter to usage. 

How Should You Do it?

As mentioned above, there will be a need to shut down any electrical flow to the system to prevent electrical dangers and hazards. 

The generator should be hooked up to the system through an inverter box to draw power from the batteries or activate the collection process for direct powering systems. 

Remember, do not get ahead of yourself, and be sure to have an expert on hand. The best scenario would be an installer working on your system during installation. 

In addition, you might need to upgrade your inverter box to include ports for additional hardware to plug into the network systems. 


What Do You Need to Know Before You Start?

The first set of items to know starts with the equipment you are going to use and install and what tools are needed to accomplish this task. 

During the research stage, pre-purchase, a solar panel power systems owner will need to find compatible generators, adaptors, cabling, and additional hardware required to hook everything up. 

You will need to decide if the generator will draw power from the batteries or use power directly from the solar panels, cutting the batteries out of the emergency circuit. Next, you will want to have a set of basic tools, along with some electrician’s meters and gear.  


Which Tools Do You Need?

To start with, the best tools for those building a belt will be a carpenter’s hammer, snips, and a tape measure; when it comes to upgrading it for specialized use, such as electricians or IT experts, you will need to upgrade your gear. 

For simplification, here is a list of some tools to make the job doable and easier:

  • Pliers – Needle nose and a good strong pair of standard pliers
  • A rubber mallet – for situations that require a bit of force to encourage components to fit or to place a nail for wiring to run across. 
  • Voltage tester – multi-purpose testers will give you Amplitude, Voltage, and Wattage readings. 
  • Wire stripper


How Long Does it Take?

When it comes to installing a solar panel system from scratch, residential setups will take only one to three days, depending on the size of the home and the pieces of solar power collection equipment being installed. 

However, for larger commercial installations, solar farms, and large-scale solar power stations, installation, calibration, and complete setup can take a week plus to accomplish when you have a good team working on the project.  

As far as a specialized project, or adding a generator to the system, will take some planning and research before executing.

But as far as the installation portion of the project is concerned, a competent crew will give you an estimation of around a day to a week, depending on the scale of the operation. 


Common Mistakes You Need to Avoid

  • Going it alone – There is nothing wrong with being confident in one’s abilities. 


But, unless you are a certified electrician, solar panel installation expert, or a savant carpenter, it would be recommended to have one present during the installation process.

  • Confusing the role of the generator – some systems will require a fuel-powered generator to help charge the batteries, while other setups will require the generator to draw power from the batteries or directly from the solar panels. 
  • Not having the right tools – this may not seem like a big deal right now, but there are some things you need to know first. 


Trying to wire anything electrical circuit is made all the more difficult when an installer cannot tell if the current is one, the voltage is strong enough, or the amplitude is at the correct level. 


Final Thoughts on How to Install a Generator with Existing Solar Panels

When it comes to installing solar panel systems, the best call is to have an expert present; Facetime or video calls count. Most mistakes will be avoided as long as expert knowledge is present during the setup process. 

Solar panel arrays are like a puzzle. Putting everything in the right place and the results may surprise you. 


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