The best solar generators to take you off the grid
The Yeti 1000 Core makes Goal Zero’s Yeti 1000X more affordable without cutting corners or compromising on durability.
- Super-tough exterior is ready for adventure
- Enough power for larger tools, devices, and appliances
- Can be charged with one or more Goal Zero solar panels
- Cannot be chained with other Goal Zero batteries
- Performance is slightly limited compared to the Yeti 1000X to compete at this price
- Not worth the upcharge for indoor use
An affordable price and user-friendly interface make this a great option for beginners exploring solar energy for the first time.
- Affordable without being cheap
- Color display is easy to understand
- Variety of AC and DC output ports
- Low capacity compared to the alternatives on this list
- Not weather-resistant
- Charge times seem unnecessarily long
An outstanding balance of power, weight, and price results in a versatile solar generator you can count on.
- Super-fast recharge time
- Can be paired with external River batteries for more power
- Packs 720 watt-hours into a 17-pound package
- Not designed to power a home or RV
- May be a case of too much and too little for some users
- Fewer charging cycles than some of the alternatives
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When it comes to being self-sufficient and prepared for anything, solar generators are one of the best investments you can make. When freak ice storms bombarded Texas in 2021, millions of people suddenly realized how perilous our access to energy actually is.
Even though a full-scale home solar setup might price out a lot of homeowners (and all renters), solar generators like the ones we included on this list present a much more accessible alternative. All the solar generators we picked can be powered from a wall outlet and be used as an emergency reserve, but they can also be paired with solar panels to reduce your monthly electric bill. If you have a beer fridge in the garage or a space heater in a workshop, a small solar setup can pay itself off surprisingly quickly.
A solar generator consists of a solar panel array and a power station. Both components are important; each can be used alone, but they do best as a team. We won’t suggest that it doesn’t matter which solar panels you choose, but most people will do well to decide on the power station first. That’s what we focused on for this gear guide. Once you choose the right one for you, decide how fast you need the battery topped off when you can’t access the grid and find a compatible solar array from that brand.
There’s a lot more to learn before you make this kind of investment, so let’s identify some of the best solar generators and make sense of the technology that powers them.
There was a time when, like most people, we thought solar energy was a simple concept: plug a solar panel into a solar generator and off you go. Enjoy your free electricity. It turns out that there’s a lot more to it than that. Solar energy that’s collected by one of several kinds of solar panels needs to be regulated to ensure safe delivery into the battery. The solar generator needs to convert stored energy into a form that can be used by devices that consume either alternating- or direct-current electricity.
To make sure you got solid information, we spent days researching all of this and found some great resources to pass along. Armed with that information, we sought out solar generators that are adequate for several days of use on a single charge. Every product that made our list had to offer AC and DC charging. The ability to charge via solar panels was obviously a must, but we looked for solar generators that can be purchased individually so you have the flexibility to customize a setup to meet your specific needs. Finally, we gave priority to brands that either had a proven record of success or could provide a product for us to test for ourselves.
Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core
One of the main reasons we buy solar generators is the fact that we don’t know what the future holds. Uncertainty is exactly where Goal Zero thrives, and the Yeti 1000 Core might be the best buy in its product lineup.
Like many of the best solar generators, the Yeti 1000 Core has a storage capacity just 17 shy of 1,000 watt-hours. Where this one shines is performance in the face of the elements. In addition to being one of the oldest and most trusted manufacturers of solar products, Goal Zero has earned a reputation for making solar panels, generators, and batteries that can take a beating without letting you down.
The Yeti 1000 Core can be charged with a maximum input of 300 watts, which is easily attainable with Goal Zero’s chainable solar panels or the standard power cord. From there, the lithium-ion battery can handle coolers, grills, and other camping appliances. At 32 pounds, it’s an easy addition to your car camping setup or bug-out kit.
The Yeti 1000 Core is based on the Yeti 1000X. Goal Zero is a premium brand and usually costs more than others. To close that gap, the company scaled back the Yeti 1000X to get the price more in line with the competition. We think the result hits a sweet spot for anyone looking to upgrade their camping experience and prepare for the worst at the same time.
- Storage: 983 watt-hours
- Maximum input: 300 watts
- Maximum regulated output: 1,200 watts
- Maximum surge output: 2,400 watts
- Battery chemistry: Lithium-ion
- Weight: 32 pounds
A more affordable take on the popular Yeti 1000X
Unflinchingly rugged construction is ready for adventure
Charges in four hours with 300 watts of solar power
Carbon-neutral shipping, headquarters, and warehouse
Slightly less capable than the Yeti 1000x
Cannot be chained with external batteries
GoSun Power 550
There’s a lot to learn about solar power for those who are new to the scene, and some products make getting up to speed easier than others. The GoSun might not have the chops of our other picks, but it’s so accessible and user-friendly that it deserves consideration by solar newcomers.
GoSun doesn’t have the same brand recognition as the other manufacturers on our list, but we were able to get a Power 550 and 100-watt solar panel for testing. Both are about as user-friendly as it gets. The Power 550 includes a variety of AC and DC charging ports that can be used simultaneously. Its compact size and light weight are great for short trips or working off-grid. We used ours to charge household electronics and power things like heated blankets during the winter. The color display is one of the largest we’ve seen, and it makes it easy to monitor input, output, battery life, and the status of all active ports. Someone who has no knowledge of solar generators would be in pretty good shape with this one.
In terms of outright performance, the Power 550 lags behind the other options on this list. It takes quite a while to charge and is not weather-resistant. You aren’t going to find this on any prepper’s gear list. On the other hand, it’s a great way to keep your laptop, phone, and earbuds charged. If vanlife or remote weekend getaways are your idea of a good time — and learning the ins and outs of solar energy is not — this is a solid choice.
- Storage: 550 watt-hours
- Maximum input: 300 watts
- Maximum regulated output: 600 watts
- Maximum surge output: 1,200 watts
- Battery chemistry: Lithium-ion
- Weight: 15 pounds
Affordable way to get into the solar game
Detailed, user-friendly color display
Nice selection of AC and DC power ports
Better suited to small devices
Long charge times for its size
EcoFlow River Pro
For most people, choosing between a 500-watt-hour solar generator and a 1,000-watt-hour solar generator is an easy decision. If you’re the exception to the rule, The EcoFlow River Pro might be just what you need. This 720-watt-hour solar generator offers high-end quality at a more accessible price by cutting down on power you don’t need.
Charging time is the River Pro’s party trick. You can achieve a full charge in about 90 minutes. From there, the River Pro is powerful enough to charge your phone more than a hundred times or run a refrigerator for at least eight hours. Its array of charging ports lets you power 10 devices at the same time and access a maximum regulated output of 600 watts. If that’s not enough, you can add an extra battery to bring the available power up to 1,440 watt-hours. The lithium-ion battery keeps things light, so the whole package weighs in at just 17 pounds. EcoFlow backs up the River Pro with a two-year warranty and 24-hour customer service.
Versatility is this solar generator’s greatest strength, but it can also be a drawback. For some buyers, 720 watt-hours is inadequate; for others, it’s excessive. That’s the price of occupying the middle ground. Still, it’s one of the best solar generators out there if you want something fast and reliable.
- Storage: 720 watt-hours
- Maximum input: 660 watts
- Maximum regulated output: 600 watts
- Maximum surge output: 1,200 watts
- Battery chemistry: Lithium-ion
- Weight: 17 pounds
Recharge time is impressively fast
Add external River batteries to increase capacity
Surprisingly light for its segment
Charging ports for 10 devices
Inadequate power for a home or RV
Shorter lifespan than some of the competition
When it comes to specialized gear, what some see as a disadvantage may be a major selling point for someone else. That’s true of the Bluetti AC300, which corners a unique market with unconventional battery chemistry.
Every other solar generator on this list uses a lithium-ion battery. That’s primarily because lithium-ion batteries can store more energy per pound, making them the go-to battery when weight is a concern. The Bluetti AC300 uses a lithium iron phosphate battery that’s significantly heavier. That’s fine by us because it holds a charge slightly longer, can survive more charge cycles, and is more stable. If you want to power your cabin or super-secret hideout, this is the way to go. We suppose it would also be fine to keep in your garage as a backup power source, even though that’s less exciting.
This kit combines an AC300 solar generator and a B300 external battery (with more batteries and solar panels available). That combination isn’t cheap, especially considering the solar charger starts with a considerable 3,000-watt-hour capacity. It’s also heavy, as we mentioned. Given all the pros and cons, this is probably the best solar generator to leave unattended, worry-free, for long periods of time.
- Storage: 3,000 watt-hours
- Maximum input: 5,400 watts
- Maximum regulated output: 3,000 watts
- Maximum surge output: 6,000 watts
- Battery chemistry: lithium iron phosphate
- Weight: 48 pounds
One-stop package for an off-grid setup
Add up to two external batteries and three solar panels
Fast charge times improve power capabilities
Lithium iron phosphate battery offers more charge cycles than lithium-ion
Far heavier than lithium-ion solar generators
Not a good portable option
EcoFlow River Mini
If the EcoFlow River checks all your boxes but weighs too much, the River Mini is what you need. This compact, portable solar generator bridges the gap between full-size solar generators and.size power banks.
The River Mini’s 200-watt-hour storage capacity is perfect for keeping your phone, laptop, earbuds, and smartwatch powered up on the go. Instead of targeting homeowners and preppers, EcoFlow built the River Mini for people who want to work (or play) remotely without having to compete for a plug at the local coffee shop or call it a day when batteries start dying. It recharges in 90 minutes and can be controlled with an app. The whole thing weighs just six pounds and costs less than 240 on sale (at the time of writing). A wireless charging option is available if you’re willing to spend a little more.
Unlike the other options on this list, the River Mini isn’t the best solar generator for camping, powering your home during a power outage, or bringing your campsite into the modern era. What it can do is go places the others can’t. Toss it in your backpack (or even your go-bag) for a little extra juice when a handheld power bank doesn’t cut it.
- Storage: 210 watt-hours
- Maximum input: 100 watts
- Maximum regulated output: 300 watts
- Maximum surge output: 600 watts
- Battery chemistry: NMC lithium-ion
- Weight: 6 pounds
Extremely light and portable
Fully charges in 90 minutes
Can be monitored and controlled with an app
Run input and output simultaneously
Low power output cannot support larger devices
Wireless charging option costs 100 more
Goal Zero Yeti 6000X
To a lot of people, Goal Zero represents the best solar generators on the market. If they’re right, the Yeti 6000X might be as good as it gets because this behemoth occupies the top spot on the company’s power station food chain.
The Yeti 6000X goes far beyond what most consumers need by offering more than 6,000 watt-hours of energy, 2,000 watts of continuous, regulated output, and a surge output of 3,500 watts. It can be recharged by up to 600 watts and can handle Goal Zero’s highest-output solar panels. As if all that wasn’t enough, it can be combined with external Goal Zero batteries to stockpile even more electricity off the grid. If you’re looking for a power backup for your home, this is the one to have. It’s a powerful workhorse that can keep power-thirsty appliances up and running when the power lines fail you.
The Yeti 6000X comes at a hefty price, and costs will go up significantly if you want to get the most out of it with premium solar panels and batteries. Even though the power station comes on a rolling cart, 106 pounds is too much for practical camping and outdoor adventure. This is one solar generator that will probably be parked in your garage or basement and left alone.
- Storage: 6,071 watt-hours
- Maximum input: 600 watts
- Maximum regulated output: 2,000 watts
- Maximum surge output: 3,500 watts
- Battery chemistry: Lithium-ion
- Weight: 106 pounds
Incredibly powerful, self-contained home power backup
Can be paired with additional batteries for even more power
Adequate for multiple large appliances like refrigerators and power tools
Extremely durable and well-built
Includes a cart, but not practically mobile
Expensive to supply with maximum solar power
Jackery Explorer 500
If you follow the overlanding and car camping communities, you’ll get the impression that Jackery is the brand to have. These orange solar power stations are becoming increasingly common sights on the trails and roads less traveled because they’re rugged, affordable, and get the job done.
Jackery solar generators seem to be one of the more trusted brands among consumers. Power stations like the Explorer 500 offer the performance people need for off-grid adventures, but keep costs down by eliminating features that aren’t essential. Sure, the housing looks like a plastic lunchbox and the screen could have been made in the 1980s, but you’d rather look at amazing natural views than your power station anyway. The Explorer 500 is built to be thrown in the back of your truck or SUV, taken to a campsite, and used to get the sun’s energy into smaller electronic devices like your camera and laptop.
With a capacity of 500 watt-hours, the Explorer isn’t cut out for larger charging jobs like refrigerators and heaters. For that, Jackery offers the Explorer 1000 and 1500. This one’s just right for overnight trips or car camping adventures where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to recharge the battery.
- Storage: 518 watt-hours
- Maximum input: 100 watts
- Maximum regulated output: 500 watts
- Maximum surge output: 1,000 watts
- Battery chemistry: Lithium-ion
- Weight: 13 pounds
Built to endure hard use outdoors
No-frills approach cuts costs without sacrificing quality
Balance of power and portability
Built-in light helps with after-dark setup
Not as many features as higher-end solar generators
Charge times are on the longer side
Our verdict on solar generators
At the end of the day, choosing the best solar generator for you comes down to capabilities. In most cases, we recommend the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core for its rugged reliability and just-right capacity. Alternatively, you can save a lot of money with a GoSun Power 550, which makes getting into solar energy intuitive and affordable. If you want to take your home off-grid with uninterrupted access to power, go big and hook up a Goal Zero Yeti 6000X with a few extra batteries and some permanent solar panels.
What to consider when buying solar generators
Investing in a solar power station can be a big investment, especially if you’re trying to power your home or RV. Doing a little homework about the types of systems available and their requirements can save you a lot of trouble (and money) in the long run. Hell, it might even make you money.
Types of solar generators
People began using the sun’s energy long before the solar generators we think of today came into being. A lens or piece of reflective material can be used to FOCUS solar energy to create heat. Magnifying glasses can be used to start a fire; reflective panels can boil water in the field. Linear concentration systems like the one found in the Gosun Go camp stove can generate enough heat to cook a meal without any fuel except for daylight. The kinds of solar generators we’ll FOCUS on, though, are ones that turn sunlight into electricity.
Portable solar generators
The easiest and most affordable way to take advantage of solar energy is with a portable system that contains all the components you need. The best portable solar generators are about the size of a lunchbox and have the ability to provide electricity via three-prong wall outlets, 12-volt outlets like the one in your car, and various sizes of USB ports. A display that shows how much power is being delivered and how much remains on tap will let you manage your consumption off-grid. How much power a given generator can store will depend on its size.
Even though you can typically charge your power station from the wall or your car, solar panels are preferable for their free access to solar energy. Be prepared to buy your panels separately from your solar power station, although some vendors do offer complete kits. There is some variety in the efficiency of various panel designs, but bigger is generally better when it comes to power output. Make sure you choose panels that are appropriate for your power station and energy needs.
Solar generators for home use
As of 2020, solar power plants produced a very small portion of the energy used in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean it can’t work (and be profitable) for you on an individual basis. The U.S. Department of Energy lists seven steps to take to equip your home with solar power. Basically, homeowners need to conduct an energy audit to see how much electricity they consume, then compare that figure to the energy potential of their property based on factors like available space, budget, light exposure, and weather patterns.
Solar panels are great at producing power, but they can’t store it. To keep your house operational around the clock, you’ll need batteries to store the electricity and a means of converting it to a form your appliances and devices can use. There’s a lot of important technology and careful math involved in setting up a solar generator for your home, but it can be done and systems are getting increasingly affordable. Many states also offer financial incentives to go solar.
Key features of solar generators
Solar panels are the components of a power system that capture the sun’s energy, to begin with. Underneath a clear, protective outer layer are rows of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon cells that absorb solar energy. A junction box on the back of each panel serves as the connection point between two panels or a panel and your generator and ensures that electricity only flows in one direction. All of your panels together are called an array. If you have a lot of electronics to power, need to recharge in a hurry, or have poor access to sunlight, increasing the size of your array can help you stay on top of your energy needs.
Because solar panels are intended for use outside, they’re built to be very durable. Don’t worry too much about the weather, but be careful not to bend or otherwise abuse your solar panels and risk cracking them. If you want to build a rooftop deck for your RV or overlanding vehicle, something a little more durable is a Smart investment.
If solar panels are the muscle of your off-grid power system, the power station is the brain of the operation. The first component your newly collected energy will encounter is the charge controller, which regulates the in-flow of electricity to your battery and protects it from damage. The battery itself can be a traditional lead-acid battery in some cases (usually in a home or vehicle), but portable systems use more advanced lithium-ion or lithium iron phosphate batteries. Direct-current electronics can use power directly from the battery, but most plug-in devices require alternating current. An inverter inside the power station converts electricity into this form so you can use it with common two- or three-prong electrical plugs.
Power stations come in a range of sizes. As size (and cost) increase, power stations gain the capacity to power larger, more demanding appliances for longer periods of time. isn’t necessarily better; make sure to figure out how much power you really need before maxing out your budget.
When we talk about electrical output, we use watts and hours as a basis for comparison. A modern LED light bulb can provide the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb for an hour on less than 10 watts. The charger on my old laptop is labeled with 45 watts, meaning it can transfer 45 watts from the grid to my laptop’s battery in one hour. My work laptop’s charger is newer and more powerful, so it can deliver 61 watts per hour. The batteries in your various devices just need to charge for a short period of time, but other items require constant power.
If you want a solar generator for home use, you’ll need to take into account all the electronics you don’t usually think about, but have a high electrical draw. Refrigerators, for example, need anywhere from 300 to 800 watts per hour. That’s why it’s important to conduct an inventory of the electronics you want to power in the event you lose access to the power grid and prepare enough capacity to handle the workload.
Once you have a working baseline for your power needs in terms of watts per hour, compare that to a solar generator. Always overestimate your needs, because battery performance is affected by several factors and you shouldn’t expect to extract the full wattage. We found a great video breakdown of this if you want to learn more. Continuous and surge capacity also come into play (meaning varying power needs and the maximum rate power can be extracted from your generator), but those measurements are less of an issue for most people. Keep your draw well below the surge capacity on your generator, and you should be fine.
Pricing considerations for solar generators
Solar generator pricing is directly tied to power capacity. Portable options like the lightweight EcoFlow River Mini cost as little as 240 if you catch the sales at the right time. Most of our picks fall between 500 and 1,000; they’re suitable for car camping and powering your home’s essential electronics in an emergency. At the top end of the market are powerhouses like the massive Goal Zero Yeti 6000X at 6,000. Remember that more isn’t necessarily better. There’s no need to buy more power than you need, and sometimes it’s best to have light, portable gear — especially when it comes to emergency preparedness.
Tips and tricks
Getting a solid understanding of solar power takes a lot of research (ask us how we know) and it’s especially important to get the technical details right if you plan on assembling your own system from scratch. There are a few ways to make life a little easier, so let us grease the skids for you with some helpful tips.
- Test your electronics with a watt meter to identify the right size of portable solar generator for your house or campsite.
- Most solar generators can also charge from a wall outlet. Don’t wait until you need electricity to break out the solar panels; start with a full charge and use them right away to stay charged.
- Electric coolers and camping refrigerators may not need constant power. You might be able to keep food cool with occasional power from your solar generator.
- Solar generators are perfect for bug-out or disaster situations. Keep yours charged and choose a size that you’re capable of transporting easily.
- Batteries don’t respond well to going flat. Check your power station’s owner’s manual and store it within the optimum charge range, if there is one.
- Not all solar generators are built to withstand the elements, so pick one that’s weather-resistant if you plan on using it outdoors.
FAQs on solar generators
You’ve got questions, Task Purpose has answers.
Q: Are solar generators safe?
A: Yes, solar generators are generally very safe. In fact, The Hartford lists falling from the roof during installation as one of the biggest risks of using solar power. As with any electrical system, make sure you understand how everything works and double-check any work you do yourself.
Q: What size solar generator should I get?
A: Off-Grid Home has a good walkthrough for solar generator sizing, but the gist is that it depends on how much power you want. Use a watt meter to see exactly how much power a given appliance or device is currently using, then add up the consumption of everything you want to power.
Q: How many years will a solar generator last?
A: You can expect the best solar generators to last more than 25 years. Proper care is important to getting the most out of this technology, so read the manufacturer’s instructions for use and storage.
Q: Can I run my house on solar power only?
A: Many people power their entire house with solar energy and have electricity leftover that may be sold back to the power company. As technology advances, the time it takes for a solar power investment to pay itself off is getting shorter and shorter.
Scott Murdock is a Task Purpose commerce writer and Marine Corps veteran. Since 2020, he’s selflessly committed himself to experiencing the best gear, gadgets, stories, and alcoholic beverages in the service of you, the reader. Contact the author here.
23 Jackery Solar Generator Review [In-Depth Unbiased]
Here’s an in-depth review of Jackery and its range of portable power stations. Learn what makes them unique and whether they are the right brand for you.
In the last few years, portable power stations and solar generators have exploded in popularity.
With Jackery being perhaps the most recognisable amongst the bunch of companies on offer.
These stations have a lot of practical uses, right through from camping to even powering a home during power outages.
But for us, we were most excited to see whether Jackery is a viable long term solution to providing power within a van conversion.
Below, I want to review Jackery products right through from their smallest Explorer 160, right up to their beasty Explorer 1500.
And ultimately decide whether Jackery is worth buying!
Full Disclosure: We received courtesy product and compensation from Jackery in exchange for our honest review only. All opinions expressed here are our own.
Who are Jackery?
Jackery is one of the best known brands for producing high quality, portable power stations.
We first came across them in 2020 when a number of fellow van lifers started talking more and more about these so-called portable power stations and solar generators.
At the time I knew extremely little about electronics, and was already fully committed to the intricacies of converting our own campervan.
Only afterwards when I started paying a bit more attention did I realize that these Jackery units could be truly viable long term options for many vanlifers.
Compared to the expense and technicalities of building a fully off grid electrical system in a van, a Jackery unit has the ability to provide you with all the off-grid recharging capabilities you need.
And with the ability to recharge units both through solar power, as well as even just plugged into the cigarette outlet while driving, we were interested to see how well they stacked up.
So below I’m going to talk more in-depth about:
- What products Jackery offer
- The difference between solar generators and portable power stations
- How well Jackery stacks up to its competitors
- The overall look and feel of the products
- And ultimately, whether or not they are worth buying
My aim is to be as in-depth as possible, while also making it easy to understand for those who just want quick and easy answers.
Jackery products: quick side-by-side comparison
First up, here’s a look at each of the 6 main units Jackery offers …
The exact range of products, as well as number of ports, does vary depending on the country. There is an in-depth product table, as well as links of where to buy, for every country at the end of this post.
Jackery Solar Generators vs Portable Power Station: What’s the difference
It can get a little more confusing trying to understand the Jackery range when you realize they sell a big range of power stations, as well as a range of solar generators.
Like me, you may at first think … Well, what is the difference between a portable power station and a solar generator?
Are the solar generators more powerful?
Do I need a solar generator or a power station?
Let me quickly clear this up.
A solar generator is simply a portable power station, coupled with one or more of Jackery’s solar panels.
There is no difference at all between the actual units, it is effectively a bundle of Jackery products that makes a solar generator.
They currently offer 6 solar generator bundles:
So, which one should you go for?
Simply put … it depends entirely upon whether or not you need to charge your power station while out and about each day.
For example, if you want a unit that you can take out with you each day to work in order to act as a DIY power tool charging station, and then plan to take it home each night to charge, then no. In this case, just the unit itself will suffice, so long as you buy one big enough to hold the necessary charge you need for each day.
On the flip side, if you are going away camping for a week or two, and will have no other way to recharge your unit while away, then yes a solar generator could be a good bet.
You then simply plug the solar panel into the unit and, so long as there is sunlight, the panel will recharge your Jackery unit whilst camping.
Jackery solar panels review
I was actually more blown away by Jackery’s solar panels than I was the unit itself!
And I think that’s simply because I really hadn’t thought much about the panel before it arrived. I kind of saw it as a side product to the main unit that was kind of quirky to have, but maybe wasn’t all that practical.
In reality, I think it’s such an awesome bit of kit!
We have big bulky solar panels on our van that are permanently fixed down to the roof of our van, and they are great.
But from what I had heard about these portable / flexible panels, they weren’t really up to much or really worth buying.
Well, the first thing you notice about the Jackery panels is how surprisingly compact they are. They are extremely well made, and fold down in a really satisfying way.
They are also really light, with the 100W version (that we reviewed) weighing less than 5kg.
Setting them up is crazy simple. There are 2 stands on the back that are held back by velcro, so all you do is unfold the unit, and then stand it on those facing ideally towards the sun. There is a cable attached to the back that you then plug into the Jackey unit.
There is a thing called an MPPT that is necessary for converting solar charge into usable battery storage, and in our van this is a bulky little box that has to be hard wired in.
With the Jackery MPPT, it’s built into the power station itself, so you don’t have to worry about my settings or anything like that.
Plus, the Solarpeak™ technology MPPT is custom designed and tweaked by Jackery themselves, which means it is as efficient as possible at charging the unit.
But honestly, what I was even more surprised about is that you can actually plug your smaller devices (like mobile phones) directly into the back of the unit.
Meaning, if you’re going somewhere warm for a few days, and only have your phones to power, then you could actually get away with JUST having one of these solar panels!
Leave it standing outside your tent, and then plug your phones in the back and you’re sorted.
They can withstand light rain (not heavy rain), so if the weather turns then you have chance to get them in.
In terms of how fast they charge the unit, it does depend on a number of variables, most namely:
If you purchase the 1500W solar generator, then they actually send you 4 panels. Which naturally will mean having more kit to set up, but does mean you can charge your unit from 0-80% in as little as 4 hours, which is impressive!
For most people, if you just have a Jackery 500 unit and 1 x 100W panel (the setup we had) that will be sufficient to keep the unit nicely topped up throughout the day even if you’re charging multiple devices at a time.
Again, it does depend entirely upon how much power you are drawing, and how much sun there is.
Bottom line: Jackery’s solar panels are compact, lightweight, really simple to use, and implement perfectly with the main unit. They provide a useful way to help keep your unit topped up and are well worth the money, even in comparison to hard wired solar panels you can buy.
If you buy a Jackery Solar Generator kit, then they typically send you 1 or more of the 100W variety as a part of your kit (see the table above for exact details).
If you do choose to purchase these separately, then Jackery currently offer 3 different size of solar panel:
Jackery portable power stations review: Key features explained
In this section, I will talk specifically about the 6 variants of Jackery unit and who each one might be better suited to.
I also want to review individual features of the Jackery units.
These are key criteria by which you would compare portable power stations to see how well they stack up.
Understanding each one and how well Jackery performs will help you decide whether they are the right brand for you, and if so, what size to go for.
Watts (W) are a unit of power. With power being the rate at which a device either produces or consumes energy.
In layman’s terms, the higher the Watt measurement on the Jackery device, the more powerful a device you can run off it.
For example, the biggest Jackery unit is their 1500W range. This enables you to run devices that operate at a power level up to 1800 watts.
This includes things like coffee made and microwaves. Each of which typically range from 800 to 1200 watts.
For a full look at Watt levels of each Jackery unit, you can check the list below.
In comparison, Watt Hours (Wh) are a unit of energy. It gives a measure of the total amount of work either generated or performed.
In layman’s terms, the higher the Wh measurement on your Jackery, the more energy you have at your disposal.
For example, running a 500W blender for 3 hours straight will consume 1500Wh of energy. I mean, you’d have to REALLY be addicted to smoothies to use that much energy, but you get my point.
The number of each Jackery unit is how many Watt Hours each unit has (at least roughly).
Here’s the long and short of it. Jackery offers 6 sizes of power station.
- Explorer 1500. 1800 Watts / 1534 Watt Hour capacity
- Explorer 1000. 1000 Watts / 1002 Watt Hour capacity
- Explorer 500. 500 Watts / 518 Watt Hour capacity
- Explorer 300. 300 Watts / 293 Watt Hour capacity
- Explorer 240. 200 Watts / 240 Watt Hour capacity
- Explorer 160. 100 Watts / 167 Watt Hour capacity
So, the larger the unit you go for, the more powerful the appliance you can run, and the bigger the amount of total energy you can use for a fully charged unit.
In the next section, I’ll offer up a few different use cases for each size, in order to help you pick which one is best for you.
How does Jackery stack up?
Now that we understand the different capacities on offer, it begs the question …
All producers of these units are limited by current technological capabilities and, simply put, if you want more power, you have to build a larger and heavier unit.
So I would say the most important thing to look at here is not simply whether Jackery’s units are more powerful than its competitors but whether or not the power-to-size ratio stacks up.
All of their units are designed to be handheld and portable without the need to fit wheels to the bottom.
Sure, they could probably go ahead and produce a 3000Wh unit, or even a 10,000Wh unit like some other brands do.
But if they did, they would be much larger and simply not fit for the type of audience that Jackery goes after.
We gave the Explorer 500 watt generator a good test and found that it was pretty much perfect for everything we need.
Including charging our travel laptops, phones and also Cazzy’s Nintendo Switch.
In reality, if we really wanted to do absolutely everything our existing in-built camper electrical system allows, we would need to use the Explorer 1000.
This is because Cazzy’s coffee machine is 1000W, so the 500 wouldn’t offer enough power to run.
What does set Jackery apart from 90% of its competitors is the huge range of stations it offers.
You really can look at your exact needs and buy a unit that simply does what you need it to. For example, if you are going camping for a couple days and all you need to do is charge mobile devices, you will be fine with the Explorer 160.
But if you are going off-grid for longer periods, and have to power high Wattage devices, then a 500, 1000 or even 1500 would be better.
That large variety of sizes, particularly amongst the lower end of the spectrum, does help make Jackery a more suitable brand for the masses.
Inverters are what allows the Jackery units to supply the larger AC voltage supply necessary to power consumer electronics.
Depending on which country you are from, your household power will be anywhere from 100 to 250V.
In the UK it’s 240V, whereas the actual lithium ion batteries inside of the Jackery are a much lower DC voltage. So an inverter is needed in order to step up the voltage and properly power your devices.
Inverters come in different sizes, and the more powerful the inverter, the higher wattage it gives out.
Above, I have already ran through the different watt sizes of the various Explorer units, so really all you need to know here is that the Jackery inverters are as good as they can be.
They are “pure sine waves”. It’s not necessary to go into any of the technicalities behind pure sine wave vs modified sine wave. All you need to know here is that pure sine wave is the better of the two.
If you read the technical specification for each Jackery unit you will see it mentions a “surge power” rating.
This refers to a peak surge that the inverter can run for, but usually can only do so for a very short period.
Bottom line: Work out what the most powerful device is that you will need to run from your Jackery, and then buy a unit that offers that as standard, NOT based on it’s surge rating.
If you take a closer look at each Jackery Explorer, you will see that they all have different outlets.
Again, the simple principle is that the bigger the unit you go for, the more outlets it will have. I have given a more detailed list of outlets on the full roundup table above.
They all have at least one AC outlet for plugging in bigger devices (with the Explorer 160 it’s on the side, not the front).
For the size of each unit, the variety of outlets is actually surprisingly good.
They could theoretically pack each one with 10 different outlets, but with a small capacity it’s completely pointless as the unit wouldn’t have enough energy to power all 10 at once!
But as you get up to the Explorer 1500 you find yourself with 3 AC outlets, a DC outlet, and 3 different USB ports.
Meaning you can charge/power up to 7 devices at a time!
Pretty impressive compared to other top brands like GoalYeti, who’s comparable 1500W unit only has 2 AC outlets.
Honestly though, the bottom line here is that each unit has plenty of outlets for what you should realistically need to use.
They are also all very straightforward to use. For example, to get power to your plugged in AC devices, all you need to do Is toggle ON the little button shown as “AC”.
One thing we did notice is that, as you start running more powerful devices, you will hear the Jackery make noise.
This is presumably the inverter kicking in, though it isn’t unnecessarily large and does go off as soon as you stop requiring that higher level of power.
We noticed it most when running our blender.
The only real world comparison I can make is between the noise of the Jackery and the noise given off by the large 1500W inverter we have connected up as a part of our campervan’s permanent in-built electrical system.
In reality it is no louder at all.
Let’s not beat around the bush.
A monkey could use a Jackery power station.
In reality you don’t really need to know much about technical electronics beyond looking at the charger for your devices to see how many watts it requires.
Beyond that, you input your plug or USB into the corresponding hole on the Jackery and then flick the button on.
Every device has a nice little display screen which permanently shows you how much charge is left in the device, so you can monitor how fast you are using power and when it will next need a charge.
Plugging in a solar panel (more on that below) is very straightforward as there is one (or 2 if you go for the 1500 model) inlet there that fits it.
And when plugged in the display screen will tell you how much power supply is going into the Jackery.
So if you’re out camping with devices charging, as well as solar going in, you can easily see whether or not you are drawing more power than is going in.
There are 3 different ways you can recharge your Jackery units. These are:
- Mains charge. plugging in at home/on a campsite
- Solar charge. with one of Jackery’s solar panels
- Car charge. plugging into the cigarette outlet while driving
The exact time taken to add charge to a unit will depend on which of these you choose to use, how big the unit is, and of course how much current charge the unit has.
As a simple rule of thumb, here’s how long it takes to recharge each Jackery unit from 0-80% if using mains charge:
- Explorer 1500. 6 hours
- Explorer 1000. 7 hours
- Explorer 500. 7.5
- Explorer 300. 4.5
- Explorer 240. 5.5
- Explorer 160. 5
Yes, those numbers raise some interesting points. Such as that it is actually quicker to charge the 1000Wh than the 500Wh unit. Due to the fact that it is paired with a larger adaptor.
So if speed of recharge is important for you, it may actually work out better in the long term for you to buy a more powerful unit. But be aware that this is only the case with mains charging; under solar or car charging, it will take longer to charge the larger units.
Overall, the Explorer 1500 is probably the most impressive there, actually charging faster than the Explorer 500, despite being 3 times the size!
The recharge time under solar will vary depending on the amount of sunlight there is, as well as how many solar panels you link up.
For example, the Explorer 1500 can be recharged in just 5 hours if you have good light and all 4 panels synced up.
Or with just one panel on the 500 unit, it will take you 9 and a half hours.
Here’s what I really like about Jackery, and I think makes them stand out amongst the competitions.
For their comparative capacity levels, the Jackery units are extremely portable.
They are light enough that you can carry them for long periods without the need of having wheels or anything like that.
I mean, by the simple nature of physics, the larger the unit you go for, the more battery cells are inside, the more it will weigh.
The Jackery Explorer 500 that we used is just 6kg, which I found to be very easy to carry around for long periods without having any strain.
The handle is comfortable to hold and the unit isn’t bulky at all, so I didn’t find it bumping into things.
Overall build quality
If you opt for a cheaper portable solar station, then you will find that in order to keep costs down they will have had to sacrifice build quality to some extent.
That’s the nature of any consumer electronics.
But I can honestly say that Jackery’s stations are extremely well put together.
They have nice thick pieces of rubber on the base to give it grip and protect the housing when standing still.
And the unit feels very solid, made of great quality plastic that you don’t feel is going to suddenly crack after a little bump.
I have already spoken about the solar panels above, but again I was probably most impressed with the design and function of those than anything else.
They seamlessly fold together with magnets, and are really lightweight and easy to carry.
You can also pick up a carry case for your Jackery which, let’s face it, is probably worth getting.
It adds another layer of protection to your unit that is well worth having if you’re already spending hundreds on a fancy new station.
We found ours to be really well made and comfortable to hold. They have different size cases available, each one custom made for the size of the unit, as well as any necessary cables and chargers you will need to carry.
There is a full list of these in the product table below.
Jackery models: 1500 vs 1000 vs 500 vs 300 vs 240 vs 160
Okay, so if you’ve made it this far in our review, you can tell that we are big fans of Jackery.
There are certainly cheaper brands out there, but there are also ones that are much more expensive.
But when you bring everything together, such as build quality, ease of use and aftercare support, Jackery is arguably the best in the business.
So all that’s left to decide is which size is best for you to go for.
And really, it does depend entirely upon your circumstances, including:
- How long you plan to take the unit away for
- Whether you have the ability to solar charge
- What types of device you need to charge
- How many devices you need to charge at any one time
Getting rid of any technical jargon, Jackery actually provides some straightforward examples to help you know how long each unit can be expected to last.
Jackery’s Explorer 1000 Power Station Makes Off-Grid Living Easy
Power your way through next overlanding adventure (or power outage at home) with this handy power pack.
Power stations imbue flexibility and security into our electricity-driven modern world. Traditional gas-powered generators have done their duty, but the portability and convenience of the rechargeable power station goes unmatched. Additionally, solar panels have become easier and more available to add into the mix and provide a very accessible source of power: the sun. A power station, combined with a solar panel or two and the right weather, can provide seemingly endless power.
Jackery is always a name that comes up when talking about portable power stations. They claim they’re “the number one producer of portable power, and one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of outdoor solar utilities, which is a hefty title to carry in a space that is growing faster than the weeds in my backyard. Its products, including the Explorer line, cater to the needs of the overlanding crowd, vanlifers and family campers with a variety of power options and price points available.
I tested the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station in conjunction with the SolarSaga 100 Solar Panels. This set together is sold as the Jackery Solar Generator 1000, but if you already own either of the pieces separately, you can add the other to complete the setup. Here’s what I liked (and didn’t) about the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 system.
What’s Good About the Jackery Solar Generator 1000
After unboxing the Jackery, you are instructed to fully charge the device before using it. Although it’s faster to plug it into the wall, I decided to dive headfirst with the solar panels. Connecting to the panels was super easy, as the proper cords were included and well labeled in the instructions. This first charge test was conducted in my backyard as it provided a controlled environment. The Texas skies were blue and the UV index was at an 11 according to the ol’ reliable Weather Channel app.
My biggest concern initially was the battery overheating. There are obviously ways to set up your solar panels while still keeping the power station out of the sun, but the number on the thermometer gave me some daring ideas when I initially charged up. It was a searing 107º Fahrenheit outside, and the recommended charging temperature on the Jackery is 104º F. It has a fan that kicks on when the unit reaches 131º F, so you most likely won’t have an issue as long as it’s not sitting in direct sunlight for hours on end. While it is not good for the battery long term (or really any amount of time), I can confirm that there are no immediate malfunctions at the top end of this limit.
The screen is easy to read and the glare from the sun is no match for the LCD illumination. It provides all the valuable information you need, including real-time input and output power numbers, charge level and a variety of other warnings that come in handy.
The solar panels fold up and are easy to store. They have a 23.7 percent max efficiency, which tops the competition. The panels seem highly responsive, and properly setting them definitely provides the best results. Even if a small shadow from the branch of a tree shades a part of the panel, you will see the input number affected immediately. The fold-out kickstands are easy to pull out and make adjusting to the sun effortless.
If you are car camping with a long drive ahead, you can also charge the unit in your car while traveling to your destination. Remembering to charge up could become one of those forgotten checklist items when packing the car, so this is a convenient alternative.
When taking the power station out for a real spin, I went to a lakeside campsite that didn’t have any power hookups, but I was still able to live a bit on the luxurious side as I powered all my modern amenities. The unit is almost completely silent, so it was quickly forgotten once hooked up. We were able to charge devices easily and connect small appliances that were not battery-powered. I even chose to work remotely for a day with my laptop plugged in. Once it was time to pack up, this model only weighs 22 pounds, so it feels solid, but moving it is no issue, especially with the carrying handle.
The unit is equipped with various output sources, including three AC outlets, two USB-C, two USBs and one DC car port. These cover pretty much any typical item that needs to be plugged in. Additionally, the solar panels have a USB-C output port and a USB-A output port, so you can hook up directly for some power if need be.
What’s Not Ideal About the Jackery Solar Generator 1000
Confusing Charge Times
The recharge times listed are calculated for the time it takes to get to 80 percent charged. Granted, this is specified in the fine print, but if you are not looking close enough, you may just assume your battery is taking longer than it should. I admit that I was initially worried about the pace of the charge time but soon realized my mistake when I took a closer look.
Solar Panel Stability
When using the kickstands on the solar panels, I found them to be a bit flimsy. They got the job done just fine, and allow for the panels to be light for carrying, but I was hoping to have a bit more of a stable base. With an expectation that the solar panels will last for years to come, I think my only worry would be the kickstands getting worn out and becoming unsupportive over time.
This is not necessarily an issue I have run into, but something to think about depending on your use. The power station will turn off automatically in 12 hours if under 10W of power is drawn from the device. Not many devices I use run on such a low power pull for that amount of time, but this is definitely something to keep in mind.
Whether you are out on an overlanding trip and need your fridge powered, or working remotely out of your van, I think it is safe to say that you will be pleased with your experience with the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station. The SolarSaga 100 Solar Panels do sweeten the deal, and I think they are worth the additional investment. Knowing the battery’s capacity is ready to take on what I plug into it provides great peace of mind.
Additionally, I could see the unit coming in handy during emergency situations involving power outages. If you see the unit as a backup for emergencies, Jackery says you can always keep it plugged in with no damage to the battery, so it’s always charged and ready for use.
Portable solar generators are a quiet, green solution to powering up during electrical outages or off-grid excursions. The best generators vary in size, power, and battery storage capacity.
By Donna Smith | Updated Mar 2, 2023 5:36 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Harnessing the sun to create backup power is an alternative to fuel-guzzling gas generators or dual fuel generators. The best solar-powered generators are easy to transport, safe to use indoors and outdoors, and nearly silent when in operation.
Though gas generators have more power, the cost of fuel is expensive and not always accessible. Instead of using gas, diesel, or propane, a solar generator gathers energy from the sun and stores it in a high-capacity battery. Read on to learn about some of the best solar generators on the market for a comfortable night at home or your next travel adventure.
- BEST OVERALL:Jackery 1002Wh Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Aimtom 155Wh PowerPal X Power Station
- BEST HIGH-CAPACITY:Maxoak Bluetti 1500Wh EB150 Portable Power Station
- BEST FOR SMALL HOMES:Rainier 155Wh R150i Portable Power Station
- BEST FOR LARGE HOMES:Ecoflow 1260Wh Delta Portable Power Station
- BEST FOR CABINS OUTDOORS:Maxoak Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator With Panels
Before You Buy a Solar Generator
The portability of the best solar-powered generators makes them ideal for traveling, camping, and outdoor events because they are easy to pack, store, and move. The units are also a solid backup source for when emergencies occur at home due to severe weather or blackouts.
While solar generators are a clean energy source, they do have limitations because of a low-wattage capacity and slow recharging. The solar backup generator power they produce can keep the lights on and run portable televisions and electronic devices like smartphones and laptops for hours. However, they don’t harness enough power to run all of the large appliances in a residence at one time or for an extended period.
How We Tested the Best Solar Generators
We researched the most sought-after solar generators in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, power output, weight, ports, and other special features included by select brands.
While searching for the best solar generators available, the portable options proved the most popular among users for their ample power output and versatility. While not as popular, the backup generators available provide enough power for large appliances and are handy in a power outage. No matter the type, the above generators range from 115 watt-hours (Wh) to 2000Wh of power based on power needs.
Select models are lightweight enough to take on camping trips while others may be too heavy to transport, but all of the generators come with ample outlets including USB, alternating-current (AC), direct-current (DC), car, and wall ports. Plus, these solar-powered generators can be charged quickly via wall outlet, car charging cord, or via solar power. While the majority of these options do not include solar panels, many have LCD or touch screens, carrying handles, sine wave inverters, or maximum power point tracker (MPPT) technology.
Our Top Picks
Around the world, the demand for solar energy continues to grow. Now is the time to think about taking steps to secure access to a renewable energy source for recreation and emergency preparedness. The following products represent some of the best solar generators manufactured by reputable brands in terms of size, power, battery capacity, and special features.
Jackery 1002Wh Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station
The Jackery portable solar generator provides a green power solution for outdoor activities and emergency preparedness. The battery delivers a higher wattage of 1,000 watts (W), with a peak of 2,000W. It features a lithium battery capacity of 1,002Wh in addition to three standard pure sine wave AC outlets for extra capacity to power multiple AC appliances at the same time.
The Jackery solar generator also includes MPPT technology for faster solar recharging rates. Users can recharge the generator with solar panels, a wall or car outlet, or another generator. Recharging time is about 17 hours with a single solar panel and 8 hours with two solar panels but varies depending on location, temperature, and weather.
This solar-power generator provides enough power supply for appliances, medical devices, computers, security systems, and lights. Recreation vehicle (RV) travelers can expect no extra setup to power mini-fridges, portable coffee makers, pellet smokers, and more. Including the handle, the generator measures 13.1 inches long by 9.2 inches wide by 11.1 inches deep and weighs 22.04 pounds. It is fully equipped with an AC adapter, car charger cable, SolarSaga parallel adapter cable, and a user guide. Solar panels are sold separately.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 1,002Wh; 1,000W (up to 2,000W surge power)
- Ports included: 3 AC ports, car-charger port, SolarSaga parallel adapter port
- Has multiple output ports, including 2 USB-C, 2 USB, and 1 DC car port
- Can be charged through solar power, wall or car outlets, or a generator
- Takes 8 to 17 hours to charge fully, depending on number of panels connected
- Safe to use with appliances, medical devices, computers, security systems, and lights
- Some users report difficulty charging some electronic devices using this product
- Pricey; solar panels not included and must be purchased separately
Get the Jackery solar generator at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Jackery.
Aimtom 155Wh PowerPal X Power Station
Its attached ergonomic handle and lightweight nature support the portability of this solar generator by Aimtom. However, at just 3.48 pounds and measuring 7.67 inches long by 6.73 inches wide by 3.54 inches deep, this small solar generator doesn’t sacrifice power, given the generator’s 155Wh lithium-ion battery storage capacity that provides 100W with a maximum of 180W.
A built-in Battery Management System keeps electronics safe from damage while charging the generator and also allows users to charge or power multiple small electrical items at the same time. This portable solar generator can power items like lights, laptops, cell phones, tablets, drones, coolers, fans, and CPAP machines.
Recharge the generator via a wall outlet, car port, or a solar panel (not included), noting that the recharging time depends on location, time, and weather. It also comes equipped with a 12V DC cigarette lighter adapter, car charging adapter, user manual, and a wall outlet charging power adapter.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 155Wh
- Ports included: 110V AC outlet, 3 USB ports, and 3 12V DC outputs
- Ergonomic handle and nature support, with built-in Battery Management System
- Can be charged with solar power, a wall outlet, or a car port
- Cigarette lighter, wall, and car-charging adapter are all included
Get the Aimtom solar generator at Amazon or Aimtom.
Maxoak Bluetti 1500Wh EB150 Portable Power Station
Weighing 37.9 pounds, the Maxoak Bluetti EB150 portable solar generator has a lithium-ion battery capacity of 1,500Wh with a 1,000W maximum. The massive power output of this generator makes it an indispensable green and clean energy source for home use, camping, boating, and off-grid traveling. Users can rely on it to charge higher power devices like microwaves, hair dryers, and blenders.
Recharge this portable solar generator in around 8 hours with a wall outlet and around 5 to 10 hours with a solar panel (sold separately). It measures approximately 14.6 inches long by 6.5 inches wide by 14.4 inches deep and provides four USB outputs, two AC outlets, a car port, and carrying handle. It also includes an AC wall charger, PV solar charging cable, and user manual.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 1,500Wh; 1,000W
- Ports included: USB port, 2 AC output ports, and 12V car port
- Green energy source that’s great for those who want an eco-friendly option
- Suitable for use with large appliances, including those for the kitchen, and other household electronics
- Has a built-in carrying handle; is suitable for outdoor use
- Some users say the unit abruptly stops registering wattage usage
- Intended for light use; unit may stop working if overused
Get the Maxoak Bluetti EB150 solar generator at Amazon or Maxoak.
Rainier 155Wh R150i Portable Power Station
Rainier’s R150i is a great solar generator for household use, able to power small appliances, laptops, power tools, tablets and smartphones, drones, cameras, lights, speakers, and headlamps. Measuring approximately 10 inches long by 6 inches wide by 4 inches deep and weighing 3.75 pounds, it’s lightweight and portable, with a built-in carrying handle and flashlight.
Since this battery generator for home use is a clean energy source, buyers won’t need to fill it with gas, propane, or diesel. This means they can expect no noise or fumes in smaller residences. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery and has a 155Wh capacity.
The control panel for the generator contains a traditional household outlet and three USB ports, combined with three 5.5 millimeter 12V outputs. The solar generator includes both a wall outlet and car charger and provides solar-panel capability, though compatible panels are sold separately. Recharging time varies depending on location, temperature, and weather.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 155Wh
- Ports included: 3 DC ports, 1 wall port, and 3 USB ports
- Suitable for small appliances and electronic devices, including smartphones, drones, GoPros, cameras, and speakers
- Lightweight and compact; portability makes it a great choice for outdoor use
- Affordable price point compared to other similar portable power stations
- Solar panels not included and must be purchased separately; not suitable for large appliances Charging time varies depending on environmental conditions and device type
Get the Rainier solar generator at Amazon.
Ecoflow 1260Wh Delta Portable Power Station
The Delta solar portable generator from Ecoflow features a 1,260Wh lithium-battery capacity and 1,800W pure sine wave AC power (with a surge to 3,300W), which uses six AC outlets to power up to 13 devices simultaneously. It creates enough energy to keep lights, televisions, freezers, toasters, coffee makers, hair dryers, electric frying pans, laptops, and medical machines running for hours. If users live in a large home and the electricity goes out, their appliances and devices should remain functional.
The generator uses X-Stream Fast Charge technology to offer an accelerated recharge rate. Recharge to 80 percent power in just 1 hour and a full charge in around 90 minutes by plugging it into a wall outlet or another generator. Additional recharge times are 4 to 8 hours via a solar panel or 13.5 hours via a 12/24-volt car port. While the solar panels aren’t included, the generator is compatible with most solar panels on the market.
Three types of charging cables (AC plug, car charging cable, and solar panel cable), a bag, and a user guide are part of this solar generator package. The generator measures about 15.7 inches long by 8.3 inches wide by 10.6 inches deep and weighs 30.9 pounds. A handle helps with transporting.
- Type: Backup generator
- Wattage: 1,260Wh; 1,800W (up to 3,300W surge power)
- Ports included: 6 AC ports, 4 USB ports, 2 USB-C ports, and a car port
- Extremely versatile product; can power up to 13 devices simultaneously
- X-Stream Fast Charge technology ensures accelerated device power-up
- Carrying bag and handle included; suitable for portability and maneuvering
Get the Ecoflow solar generator at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Ecoflow.
Maxoak Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator With Panels
A long-term trip requires ample power supply, durability, and reliability, which is why the Maxoak Bluetti AC200P solar generator is our top pick for camping and the outdoors. With its lead-acid battery, it offers 2,000W of power with a 4,800W surge and has a 2,000Wh capacity for ample power provided for charging small appliances, phones, and power tools. For ease of use, this model also has a built-in touch screen.
Included with this generator is a user manual, an AC adapter and six AC ports, an MC4 solar charging cable, car charging cable, an aviation plug, two USB ports, a DC port, and built-in carrying handle. Plus, this option comes with a 1,200W scratch-proof foldable solar panel made of monocrystalline silicon cells, making this option 5 percent more efficient than comparable solar panels. These solar panels are also easy to transport and set up with their 9.8-pound weight and built-in kickstand.
With the advantage of having the panels included with purchase, this set is ready to use out of the box. Charging times depend upon environmental conditions, and the generator weighs a hefty 60.6 pounds.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 2,000Wh; 2,000W (up to 4,800W surge power)
- Ports included: 6 AC ports, 1 car charging port, 2 USB ports, 1 DC port, and 1 aviation port
- Scratchproof and lightweight solar panel included along with a built-in kickstand
- Quick charging times; suitable those those who need to recharge devices while on the go
- Some users report that the solar panels randomly stop charging the unit
- Item may fail to recognize its solar panels and not recharge the battery
Get the Maxoak Bluetti AC200P solar generator at Amazon or Maxoak (without panels).
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Generator
While shoppers search for the best solar-powered generators available for home or travel, they will want to consider the intended use. How and where they plan on using a solar generator will determine the size, power, and capacity of the unit they’ll need.
Purpose and User Activity
The reasons for purchasing a solar-power generator may be different for everyone, so it’s important for shoppers to zero in on their purpose for purchasing a solar generator and the activities they hope to accomplish with it. Solar generators are useful for anyone who travels and stays in remote places that are off-grid. Conversely, shoppers may simply desire a reliable backup source of energy for their home to prepare for the occurrence of a natural or man-made disaster.
If the primary purpose is travel, look for solar generators that help make traveling simpler. RV connectivity allows users to power appliances when they’re on the road. Car-charging capabilities make it convenient for travelers to drive and charge their solar generators without having to stop and set up solar panels.
Size and Solar Input
Shoppers choosing the appropriate size solar generator for their needs will need to keep in mind battery capacity and power requirements so that they avoid overloading it. Most solar generators can keep portable electronics, smartphones, tablets, power tools, small appliances, and cordless tools powered up for hours. However, buyers may need a separate generator, say, to keep a refrigerator running for an entire day.
Solar input refers to the solar panels. The solar panels collect and convert sunlight into energy that is stored in the generator’s battery. Ample solar input controls a generator’s operating time and how long it takes to recharge.
The solar panels used in conjunction with a portable solar generator are mobile and easy to manipulate. Unlike the panels found on residential or commercial properties, they are smaller in size and have a lower wattage capacity, which means less solar input than their larger counterparts.
The output of power from a solar generator should match shoppers’ electrical needs. Battery power is measured in watts, which is the maximum amount of power a generator provides when it’s running. Battery capacity—referred to as watt-hours—is the total amount of stored energy.
When the generator is in operation, the watts represent the rate of power flowing from its battery to an electrical device, and the watt-hours are the maximum level of energy it can deliver. For example, a solar generator with 500Wh can store a total of 500W when it’s fully charged. Thus, a 500W solar generator is only able to power electrical appliances and devices that don’t exceed 500W to run.
Battery Storage Capacity
The battery in a solar generator is where the energy captured from the solar panel is stored for later use. Solar generators usually have lithium-ion or lead-acid batteries. Battery storage allows users to run the generator at night or on days with limited sunlight.
The capacity of the batteries determines the duration of the generator. The more power an electronic device requires, the faster the battery charge will run out. The length of the battery charge is also based on the number of devices drawing power from the generator at the same time.
A larger battery capacity is necessary to power electrical appliances that require higher watts. Lower capacity is sufficient for lights, cell phones, and laptops. For instance, a 500W solar generator can power an LED light for 100 hours, while it will only power a mini-fridge for about 10 hours.
Direct current and alternating current are the two forms of electricity. DC is electricity that flows only in a forward direction. AC is electricity that flows both forward and backward. The energy harnessed by solar panels is DC. A solar generator inverter converts low DC power from the batteries to AC power for usage.
The inverter rating translates to the maximum watts a solar generator can extract at any time. For example, a 1,500W inverter can draw up to that amount of wattage in AC power. Keep in mind that the inverter size or rating doesn’t always correlate to a solar generator’s overall firepower. Battery storage is also important.
Expandability of Power
Eventually, users may want to expand the capability of their solar generator, especially if they find they need more power. However, upgrading a solar generator is not always feasible.
Expanding power is based on the sustainability of the charge controller, which sends power in one direction from the solar panels to the batteries. As the integral component of the solar generator, the primary job of the charge controller is to protect the durability of the batteries.
The charge controller can only process the maximum number of watts and voltage that it’s built to manage, so users may not be able to expand beyond its charging ability. If battery capacity doesn’t support additional solar panels, power expandability is unachievable.
Types of Solar Generators
For individuals who live in areas with frequent power outages, a generator allows them to have an interim source of electricity. Two types of solar generators are available for at-home use: solar backup generators and portable solar generators. Both generators provide solar power but differ in terms of wattage capacity, energy storage, and cost.
Solar Backup Generators
Solar backup generators are designed to power up when the electrical grid fails and are an efficient alternative to installing a complete system. These generators use several batteries to store energy for high-wattage output. They provide sufficient backup power to turn on lights, televisions, computers, and small to midsize appliances.
Typically, it takes less than 48 hours to charge a solar backup generator to full capacity, but the time can vary depending on the size of the solar panels and the amount of sunlight. Buyers can keep these generators either indoors or outdoors. The disadvantage of solar backup generators is their weight, making them somewhat difficult to move. Additionally, a generator that is large enough to power an entire residence is expensive.
Portable Solar Generators
Portable solar generators are lightweight, so users can take them anywhere. They are ideal for homes, cabins, campsites, RVs, cars, and boats. Some generators are equipped with a pull handle or attached handgrip for effortless transporting. Solar panels recharge the battery in a portable solar generator.
Portable solar generators do have drawbacks. They may either have inadequate wattage capacity to power larger appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, hot water heaters, and sump pumps, or may not be capable of powering multiple devices at the same time.
If they use low-wattage solar panels, it may take a long time to recharge the generator. On the plus side, portable solar generators don’t emit noise or carbon dioxide, are affordable, and are low maintenance, unlike gas generators.
Tips for Using a Solar Generator
With a multitude of solar generators from which to choose, shoppers may find it difficult to decide which one fits their requirements. To begin, they will want to pinpoint how and where they plan to use it.
Solar generators are available in a variety of sizes with various wattage and storage capacities. They are primarily for powering homes during electrical outages or for outdoor activities like camping, hunting, sailing, fishing, and traveling. Solar generators are also an ideal power source for outdoor events, such as parties, festivals, craft fairs, and farmer’s markets.
How much shoppers want to spend on a solar generator is another important consideration. As solar generators increase in size and capacity, so does the price. Keep in mind that most solar generators don’t include solar panels, so that extra purchase will add to the expense.
- The solar generator should match shoppers’ intended purpose.
- It’s important to select the appropriate size, wattage, and storage capacity for usage.
- Focus on the features that suit an individual’s plans for the generator, such as the number of plug-in ports, charging speed, portability, carrying handle, flashlight, expandability, and weight.
The Advantages of Owning a Solar Generator
Owning a solar generator frees users from dependency on fossil fuels when they want a back-up system for emergencies, traveling, or camping. Plus, solar generators are portable and compact, so they are easy to store and move, unlike huge gas-powered generators.
Solar generators are also quieter, safer, and require minimal maintenance since they don’t have motors, moving parts, or emit harmful carbon dioxide. This alternative kind of generator is a green solution that collects energy from the sun to store in its battery and then produces power when it’s in operation.
The charging rate and power capability of a solar generator depend on its size, so shoppers will want to consider carefully where they’ll want to use it and how many electrical devices and appliances they want it to power.
- No fuel is needed to operate a solar generator.
- It’s a clean, renewable source of energy.
- A solar generator is low maintenance.
It makes sense to own a solar generator so you’re not left without source of power either during an electrical outage at home or simply while enjoying outdoor activities and travel. The portability of solar generators makes them ideal for packing and toting on trips, and they’re especially handy for stowing and using in RVs, cars, boats, and cabins. If you still have some questions about which solar generator power option might be best for your needs, check out some of the most frequently asked questions about solar generators and their corresponding answers.
Q. How does a solar generator work?
A solar generator works when a solar panel converts sunlight into DC electricity that passes through the charge controller. The solar energy is stored in the battery, and thus a solar inverter generator turns the electricity into usable AC power.
Q. Can a solar generator power a house?
A solar generator most likely won’t power every item in your house at once. Depending on the size of the generator, it can charge and power a variety of large and small appliances, electronic devices, and medical machines.
Q. How do I choose a solar generator?
To choose a solar generator, think about your intended use and budget as well as how much battery capacity and wattage you need to power your appliances, electronic devices, and other equipment.
Q. What size solar generator do I need?
The size of the solar generator you need depends on the amount of wattage you require to power your devices and the duration time for charging.
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This Bluetti solar generator is one of the best Black Friday deals of 2021
As Black Friday arrives this year, everyone is searching for the biggest savings and value wherever they shop. For homeowners, campers and road trippers, the deals on Bluetti’s solar generators are sure to impress.
Bluetti’s complex lineup of solar generators can be controlled by an easy-to-use smartphone app via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and this Black Friday, Bluetti is offering the biggest discounts ever for their whole product line. But these three deals are the best of the best!
For the homeowner looking to never run out of power:
The Bluetti AC300 B300 Portable Power Station
Starts at 2,999 (originally 3,698) — save up to 4,000 with bundles
The Bluetti AC300 and B300 battery modules make up a 100% modular power system. Each AC300 can accept up to four B300 external batteries, adding up to a total of 12,288 Wh — that’s A LOT of power! The benefit of being completely modular means that people can transport vast amounts of power relatively easily. Altogether, the machine weighs too much to transport, but individually, each part is highly portable.
The B300 battery modules use top-of-the-range LFP (lithium ferrophosphate) cells, which have 3,500-plus life cycles, leading up to 80% of the original capacity. In other words, its service life is much longer than other generators on the market.
While connected to two B300 battery modules, the AC300 can be charged with both solar and AC simultaneously. The AC300 also allows for the connection of the new Bluetti Fusion Box Pro, which will double the voltage, power and capacity up to 6,000W, 240V, and 24,576Wh.
For the unexpected power outage:
The AC200MAX B230 Portable Power Station
Starts at 1,899 (originally 2,099) — save up to 2,600 with bundles
The Bluetti AC200MAX is the all-round evolved version of Bluetti’s long-loved classic model AC200, originally launched on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The AC200MAX is packed with a 2,048Wh LFP battery, but can take up to two external batteries including the B230 or B300.
The AC200MAX can also be quickly charged up to 80% by prime sunshine in about 2 hours.
For the perfect camping trip:
The Bluetti PV120 and PV200 Portable Solar Panels
Up to 20% off — save huge with bundles
Portable solar panels are great partners for portable battery power stations when wall outlets are out of reach. The Bluetti PV120 and PV200 are foldable solar panels specially designed for campers, van dwellers and small and medium-size off-grid power systems.
Bluetti’s PV120 and PV200 solar panels are made with monocrystalline solar cells that are arguably the most effective solar cells in the world due to their ability to produce a high amount of power even when sunlight is lacking. With greatly improved shading performance, the PV120 and PV200 won’t significantly lose efficiency when part of the solar cells are blocked by shadow, leaves or other covers.
Additional Bluetti Black Friday Deals
|Black Friday Offer
Check out all the Bluetti Black Friday deals at bluettipower.com.