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2023 Jackery Solar Generator Review In-Depth & Unbiased. Big solar generator

2023 Jackery Solar Generator Review In-Depth & Unbiased. Big solar generator

    Solar Generators for Camping and Van Life

    At Goal Zero, we’re big fans of solar power, but solar is only really useful if you have a way to store and use all that power you collect. That’s why we love solar generators. They combine the clean energy of solar power with the convenient portability of battery power stations so you can do more and stay out longer.

    What is a Solar Generator?

    A solar generator is a combination of solar panels and a power station. You can use solar panels to collect and convert energy from the sun. The power station lets you store the energy you collect and then use it to power your devices.

    Choosing a Solar Generator

    A solar generator is the perfect addition to your next camping trip or van build. And when you aren’t on the go, they’re great for home back up. There are three key factors to consider when deciding which solar generator is right for you.

    Capacity

    Solar lets you recharge more or less indefinitely, but the capacity of your power station will impact how much you can run at a time, how long you can keep things running, and how often you have to recharge. For example, if you’re choosing a solar generator for camping, you can get away with less capacity than you’d need for home backup.

    When considering capacity, you’ll also need to think about the amount of solar input you want. A larger power station has more capacity but requires more solar panels to fully charge it. This increases the cost of your solar generator and means it will take up more space.

    Portability

    Portability is a huge benefit if you’re taking your solar generator camping or on a road trip, but it may not be a priority if you’re installing it at your off-grid or in your home. All of our solar generators can be moved and taken with you, but the smaller solar generators are much easier to carry and move around.

    Versatility

    The beauty of a portable solar generator is that you can use it however you’d like. If you want the option to run high-energy appliances in a power outage and the option to recharge your laptop while camping, versatility will be a priority. We offer solar generators that are light enough to move but powerful enough to run a TV, grill, or refrigerator for hours.

    The Best Solar Generators for Camping

    Our favorite camping solar generators are small and lightweight, making them easy to set up and move around.

    Taking your solar generator camping lets you recharge phones, laptops, camera batteries, and other small devices, but it also gives you enough power to run a portable fridge and power cooking appliances so you can enjoy good meals throughout the whole trip. These solar generators are easy to move so you can set up near your cooking station in the morning, then move things over to your tent while you recharge your phone during a midday nap, and simultaneously also charge your portable speaker so you can listen to music around the campfire in the evening.

    Yeti 200X solar generators for camping

    The Yeti 200X is only 5 pounds, meaning even your kids can carry it as they help pack up the car. We offer it in 3 different solar generator bundles, depending on how much solar power you want to pair with it.

    We think the Yeti 200X Boulder 50 is the perfect solar generator for camping because it’s incredibly portable and easy to set up. The Boulder solar panel comes with a convenient kickstand so you can set it almost anywhere. It can completely recharge your Yeti 200X in 4-8 hours.

    Yeti 500X solar generators for camping

    Upgrade from camping to glamping with a little extra power. Need a few more ports so you can blow up your air mattress and plug in the portable fridge at the same time as your grill?

    Another favorite solar generator for camping is the Yeti 500X Nomad 100. You get the Yeti 500X which comes with more ports and more power plus the foldable Nomad 100 solar panel that weighs just over 10 pounds, making it easy to move around throughout the day to get the best sun.

    The Best Solar Generators for Van Life

    Versatility is key when choosing a solar generator for van life. Space is limited so it’s Smart to get something compact, but since you’re living there long term, you need something robust enough to run lights, fridges, power tools, and more while keeping your devices charged.

    We offer a lot of great solar generator solutions, but one excellent van life option is the Yeti 1500X (4) Boulder 100. This gives you a power station that can run high-energy appliances and four solar panels you can mount to your vehicle roof or set up on the ground when you find a good stopping spot.

    Solar generators can help you get more out of your next adventure whether you’re headed on a weekend camping trip or a month-long van trek. And when you aren’t hauling it around, they provide home backup power for emergencies. Choose from Goal Zero’s wide selection of solar generators to find one that’s best for you.

    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.

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    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:

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    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

    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.

    Watt Hours

    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).

    Bottom line

    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.

    Inverter sizes

    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.

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    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.

    Different outlets

    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.

    Ease-of-use

    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.

    Charge time

    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.

    Portability

    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.

    A Full Guide to Portable Solar Generators (With Advice FAQs)

    Renewable energy is the fastest-growing source in the U.S. Many people are even more responsible towards mother nature. So, as the world goes green, you can participate in the movement if you use solar energy. One way to take part is to use a portable solar generator that provides mobile electricity.

    Manufacturers offer various systems with different designs and features to meet your needs.

    This article explains different elements that boost your knowledge and choice of portable solar generators.

    What is a portable solar generator?

    Portable solar power generators produce energy provided by the sun instead of fuel. The generators usually combine portable solar panels, a charge controller, a battery, and an inverter. All the components are combined in a single device to capture, store and use solar energy. Also, unlike traditional generators, solar generators don’t have movable parts.

    The solar panels convert sunlight to electrical energy stored for later use. You can generate power even when the sun isn’t out. So, portable solar generators are excellent for activities like camps, where you may not access fuel. Portable solar generators are also handy during power outages and backyard DIY projects.

    You can choose a generator with several outlets to power different power-dependent devices. That way, you meet all your power needs on demand. For instance, you can plug in your smartphone, camera, and an extension at the same time.

    Further, portable solar generators boast top-notch safety, efficiency, simplicity, and maintenance. If cautious about wildfires and storms, you can use the generator to prepare for emergencies.

    Portable solar generator market

    Critical insights for the portable solar generator market include drivers and challenges, regional analysis, and the impact of the pandemic.

    Market drivers and challenges

    Harsh weather is responsible for a 67% increase in power outages since 2000. Failures usually happen due to storms, floods, winds, and snow. The above disasters break down power grids or cause faults in power supply components. So, more and more individuals rely on portable solar generators with panels to get a continuous power supply. You can run some household essentials like lights and a refrigerator. A portable solar generator is also handy on a job site to operate tools or run appliances during camps.

    Although solar generators are cost-effective in the long run, the relatively high initial cost is a market hindrance. Also, other alternatives, like inverter technology and battery power packs, are cheaper.

    Regional analysis

    Businesses in the U. S continue to embrace solar generators thanks to the cost reduction in solar. Companies, too, may be compelled to convert to solar due to strict CO2 emission laws. So, the market for portable solar generators will likely expand as climatic concerns rise.

    Factors like automation and tech have fuelled the European solar generator market growth. Other top market fuels are the increase in industrialization and urbanization. Besides, the region has greatly emphasized the long-term decarbonization of E.U. energy systems.

    The growth in population in the Asia-pacific region creates market growth opportunities. Also, the increase in per capita energy consumption is expected to boost the solar market. Finally, as urbanization takes root, many people are expected to move to solar energy use.

    The impact of the pandemic

    The pandemic promoted lockdowns and work stoppages in key countries. Most businesses were hurt, and the solar generator market is no exception. A decrease in energy demand happened during the lockdown. Fortunately, demand retrieval will likely quicken the restoration of the portable solar generator market.

    What are the different parts of a solar generator?

    Below are the components of a solar generator and the role of each in the device’s overall function.

    Solar panels

    The solar panel has photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into direct current. Most solar panels connect with the generator via a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) controller. You can find different sizes of solar panels on the market. However, most MPPT controllers won’t allow you to connect panels that exceed voltage requirements.

    Manufacturers usually pair the solar panel and generator. Nonetheless, you can find an MPPT-compatible panel from any manufacturer. What you need is to use the correct adaptors and connector cables. You must also be careful not to exceed the maximum voltage.

    Battery

    A solar generator stores the energy from the sun for you to use later. The battery is the storage unit and usually contains various lithium-based chemical formulations. The most common chemicals are lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and nickel manganese cobalt (NMC).

    LFP batteries have a higher C-rating than NMC batteries. You also get more charge cycles and less heat from LFP batteries. So, the choice is safer and more suitable for your solar generator.

    Although more common, NMC batteries have slow charge and discharge rates. So, the choice may be less efficient for a portable solar generator. On the upside, NMC batteries are more energy-dense.

    Battery management system (BMS)

    A battery management system regulates how your battery charges and discharges. The unit monitors and balances the current and voltage of all cells in the battery. Also, battery management shuts down the system during over-temperature and overvoltage.

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    For lithium-ion batteries, a battery management system is a crucial safety requirement. Lithium ions have high power density, and an overcharge can result in thermal runaway and combustion. So, a battery management system is handy in reducing the likelihood of fire and explosions.

    Inverter

    The inverter converts the low direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). You can then use the alternating current to power your household items. Appliances that use DC power don’t need an inverter because electricity doesn’t require conversion.

    Inverters also handle the combined input wattage from AC and DC power. So, the inverter’s capacity determines your maximum solar panel capacity.

    How does a portable solar generator work?

    A solar generator transforms solar into electrical energy via a chain of processes. First, when the sun hits your panel, the photons knock the electrons loose from the atoms. Next, the photovoltaic cells convert electrons into DC electricity. Next, the cells continue to collect and trap atoms. Then, when free electrons are ready to flow, they generate an electric current.

    Electric current passes on through a charger controller, which regulates the voltage. As a result, your battery doesn’t overwhelm or overheat. The protection also ensures the battery lasts longer.

    The batteries store electricity in chemical energy until you connect an appliance. Upon plug-in, the charge passes through an inverter which transforms DC into AC electricity. Appliances like cell phones, laptops, and microwaves require DC power. For such devices, you can do without the inverter since the electricity doesn’t need conversion.

    The converter also steps up the voltage rating to the suitable voltage for your appliance. For instance, assume your generator has a standard 48V, and your appliance’s rate is 120V. In such a case, the converter steps the 48V up to 120V. Afterward, the electrical current passes through the generator’s extension cord to run your appliance.

    As seen above, solar generators don’t need internal combustion engines to burn fuel. Instead, the units convert sunlight into mechanical energy. As a result, the process is quieter and cleaner than gas generators. You can also move around your panels to capture as much of the sun’s power as possible.

    Portable solar generators vs. Traditional gas generators

    Below are the pros and cons of portable solar vs. traditional gas generators.

    Solar generator pros

    You enjoy the following benefits when you use solar energy.

    Clean energy

    Most solar materials are made of recyclable materials, e.g., glass, silicon and aluminum. Besides, solar generators don’t use fossil fuels that threaten the environment.

    Portability

    Solar generators are smaller and lighter than gas generators. So you don’t need much space to store or transport solar generators.

    Ease of use

    You don’t need to refuel the generator; instead, you install the components, and you are good. Even without electrical experience, you can operate the devices safely.

    Portable solar generator con

    Although a good choice, solar generators have lower energy storage. Your solar generator may not operate all your household appliances at once. So, solar generators are unsuitable if you have high power demands.

    Traditional gas generator pros

    You experience the following benefits with traditional generators.

    Cost

    Traditional gas generators’ initial price is less expensive. Nonetheless, the fuel costs pile up quickly down the line and increase the operation cost.

    On-demand electricity

    All you need to generate electricity is fuel and operational components. So, gas generators are ideal if instant power is your priority.

    Traditional gas generator cons

    The downsides of traditional generators are:

    Air pollution

    Gasoline and diesel fuel used in traditional gas generators pollute the air. For example, in one hour, a 1.8 kW gasoline generator can generate smog equivalent to a vehicle that has moved 150 miles.

    Noise emission

    Traditional gas generators produce a distinct sound during operations. So, you may have issues if you plan to use your generator in areas where silence is paramount.

    Safety concerns

    The flammable fumes of gas generators can cause fires upon contact with combustible materials. Gas generator accidents or misuse can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The bottom line is; solar generators have the upper hand unless you have high power needs.

    Portable solar generators vs. Larger solar generators

    Portable solar power generators are small and lightweight, which makes movability simpler. You can form a larger generator from some stackable, scalable generators. You need to connect several battery storage modules to get more size and capacity.

    You can use portable solar generators if you prefer an easily movable solution. For instance, if you are always on the go, you need a solution that takes up less space and is simple to carry. You can also use a solar-powered generator in a small home when the time of use rise.

    Larger solar generators are big and have more weight than solar generators. So, you can’t easily move around larger generators. Fortunately, the generators have more storage capacity and a higher power rate. So, if you have higher energy demands, a larger size is crucial to provide enough power.

    Larger solar generators are more suited for industrial and commercial uses. For example, warehouses and government institutions can use large generators for backup. Besides, some large generators have wheels to enhance movability.

    The size of the solar generator to use depends on your needs. Commercial applications need a large size, while residential applications can do with either. For instance, if you want a generator to power the whole home, you’ll need a large one. Conversely, a small solar generator is ideal if you want a backup solution for a boat trip.

    The uses of solar generators

    Here are some ways to use solar generators.

    To power outdoor equipment

    Appliances like washing machines, pool pumps and filters, and clothes dryers make work simpler. Yet, you need a lot of power to run outdoor appliances, which translates to high utility bills. An alternative to save money spent on electricity is to use a free energy source.

    Solar generators can power the appliances above and save you money. Nonetheless, large equipment consumes a lot of power, so you’ll need a high initial investment. The good part is that you won’t have to pay for electricity or high maintenance costs again.

    To power indoor home appliances

    Electric cookers, dishwashers, water heaters, and other indoor appliances are essential. Failure to use the devices due to power outages disrupts your home’s smooth operations. So, a good recommendation is to get a solar generator to ensure you get the needed services.

    A regular-sized power generator can power your home if you have moderate size appliances. However, opt for a larger size if you have a big family or many electrical devices. Otherwise, you won’t be able to power all the machines simultaneously. Instead, you’ll have to plug in a few appliances and only power a few devices.

    To power tools

    Drilling and other backyard tools are vital for home DIY projects and events. You can get a medium solar generator to power the smaller devices. Portable generators are also important when you must work with power but lack outdoor sockets.

    You can also use solar generators for commercial tools like those used in construction. Commercial devices consume high power, so you’ll need high storage capacity batteries and high capacity panels.

    To offer a stable power supply for businesses

    Electronic devices are a crucial part of communication, work, and business today. Also, with more remote work comes the need for a stable power supply. You also need continuous power to ensure you don’t face business downtimes during outages. Also, a backup keeps your items fresh even during blackouts for the perishable food industry.

    Ways to charge a solar generator

    Here are three charge options for your solar-powered portable generator.

    Charging with solar panels

    The main point of solar power generators is to be able to recharge the unit via the sun. So, the most common way to charge a solar generator is through solar panels. The panels convert the energy from the sun into electricity. For an RV road trip or camping, the use of portable solar panels is recommended since they are very lightweight.

    You will need a special adapter cable, which some manufacturers include in the generator kit. The charge speed depends on the solar input power of your generator, battery size, and the number of panels.

    Grid electricity

    You can use grid electricity if the sun isn’t enough and you want to keep your batteries full for emergencies. To charge with electricity, plug the generator into a wall outlet like any regular appliance. It’s recommended to remember to fix the charge time once you connect the generator to the local grid.

    Further, the power grid uses AC and not DC power. So, you’ll need to use a solar inverter charger when you recharge the batteries. Unfortunately, you defeat the purpose of solar panels if you still have to recharge with electricity.

    Shopping for the best portable solar generator: What to consider

    The best portable solar generator for you depends on your needs and preferences. The factors below guide you in choosing your ideal generator.

    Storage capacity

    Portable solar-powered generators have very diverse capacities. The capacity of portable solar generators is measured in watts (W) but translates to watt-hours when applied to power usage. One watt-hour means the generator can supply one watt continuously for 60 minutes.

    Watt hours help you estimate how much power your generator will deliver before the need to recharge arises. A higher watt-hour means more extended periods of service or more power supply. The best portable solar generator offers enough power to meet all your energy needs.

    Recharge time

    You need to understand how long your exhausted generator takes to recharge. The time usually depends on the power input from the solar panels and charging speed. Your manufacturer’s documentation usually indicates the estimated recharge time.

    The expected recharge time is an approximation and varies based on available solar input. During cloudy days, your portable solar generator panel doesn’t get enough direct sunlight. Factor the gray days, especially if you need power for several devices for several days. Ensure the capacity and charge rate will give you enough power for all your needs.

    Efficiency

    A portable solar generator kit’s efficiency determines how much you get out of your device. Find a panel that generates the most power from the available sunlight.

    One way to measure efficiency is to examine the panel’s solar cell efficiency. The higher the rating, the more effective the solar panel and the more power you get under the identical radiation condition. For instance, a solar cell with an efficiency of 20% converts 20% of the sunlight that hits the panel into electrical energy.

    Availability of ports

    You may want to connect several devices simultaneously in the current charged-up world. Yet, not all portable solar-powered generators have more than one outlet. Shop around for a generator with more outlets if you have many appliances.

    If unsure of your needs, opt for a generator with several outlets to be on the safe side. For example, you’ll need at least two outlets to charge your phone and computer. Whereas you can connect an extension, you don’t need to carry extra items in cases like boat trips.

    Durability and additional features

    Portable solar generators have various qualities, with different abilities to withstand stress. Durability is critical, especially if you plan to use your generator on camps and road trips. The best portable solar generator for camping is sturdy enough to endure road rigors. Even if you want a portable solar generator for your house, durability ensures long service periods.

    Consider what additional features a solar generator offers that others don’t. For instance, some portable solar generators have an integrated charge controller. However, others need you to buy the controller separately. Other unique features include a flashlight, surge protection, and BMS protection. While you don’t mean to find all the special features in one product, look for a generator with desirable uniqueness.

    Portable solar generators FAQs

    Here are answers to common concerns about portable solar-powered generators.

    Can I use my generator while it is being charged?

    Yes, solar generators allow internal batteries to charge and discharge simultaneously. So, you can charge your electronics as your portable solar generator recharges. Nonetheless, the charging process will slow because energy runs out of the generator.

    How many years can a portable solar generator last?

    The expected lifespan of portable solar generators depends on quality and maintenance. Nonetheless, portable solar generators have few maintenance needs. For instance, protect the panel from rust and remove cobwebs in good time. Besides, the battery management system prolongs the device’s lifespan and cost-effectiveness.

    Can I replace solar generator batteries?

    The battery is one of the most expensive components of your solar generator. Nonetheless, since solar generators are durable, even the batteries last a long time. Nevertheless, due to the high cost of batteries, you may not want to replace older batters. In short, you can replace the battery, but a whole unit replacement is more cost-effective.

    Final word

    Portable solar-powered generators are effective and good for the environment. You also save funds you would otherwise use to buy fuel continuously. So, solar is the way to go if you want a backup power solution for emergencies.

    The 7 Best Solar-Powered Generators of 2023

    Heidi Wachter was a senior editor at Experience Life magazine for 10 years. She has written for publications like Experience Life, Shondaland, and betterpet.

    Our top pick is the Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station. However, if you want a smaller, less expensive option, consider the Jackery Explorer 500W.

    It’s always good to have a backup in life, especially when the power goes out. Gas-powered generators can do the trick, but they’re loud, emit smelly fumes, and require a place for storing gasoline safely. They also contribute to climate change.

    Solar generators, on the other hand, are clean, easy to use, don’t require fossil fuels, and are becoming more and more affordable as solar technology improves. They can be particularly useful in emergency situations where other fuel supplies are cut off or difficult to access. Solar generators typically capture the sun’s energy via stationary or portable solar panels that are sold separately, convert it into electrical power, and store it in a battery for later use.

    What’s the best generator for you? First, estimate how much power you need to run appliances, laptops, and televisions in your home should a power outage occur or for whatever you’ll need to power up while you’re camping, living off the grid, or traveling in an RV.

    Once you know how many watts you’ll need; consider the other features you want such as USB charging ports and rechargeable batteries. You can avoid blowing your budget by selecting a generator with features that make the unit more efficient rather than more expensive.

    We researched the market to recommend the best generators that are compatible with solar panels.

    Best Overall

    Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station

    Need to power your laptop, phone, power drill, coffee maker, and refrigerator all at once? The Goal Zero Yeti 1500x is a high-capacity power station that supplies electricity with the touch of a button or the Yeti 3.0 app. Weighing in at 43 pounds, it’s a solar option for those living the van life or to provide back-up energy when power lines go down.

    The lithium battery supplies 1500-watt hours, so you can charge your phone a hundred times or run a refrigerator for up to a day. Its industry-leading 2000-watt AC inverter is one of the most powerful on the market, making it our top overall pick. The integrated MPPT charge controller increases efficiency by 30% when recharged with a compatible Goal Zero solar panel. Everything is backed by a two year warranty.

    Price at time of publish: 1,800

    Output: 2000 watts | Weight: 43 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 14 x 14 inches | Output Ports: 2 USB-A ports, 1 18 watt USB-C, 1 60 watt USB-C PP, 1 6mm port, 1 12 Volt (regulated), 1 12 volt HPP, 2 120 Volt AC inverters

    Best Portable

    Jackery Explorer 500 Solar Portable Generator

    Weighing in at a relatively light 13.3 pounds, the compact, durable, and affordable Jackery Explorer 500 lets you take solar-powered electricity along on every adventure. The 500-watt inverter provides enough juice for charging multiple devices in any either of the AC or DC ports or one of the three USB ports.

    It comes with a car charging cable and an AC adaptor. Like many of the solar generators in the Jackery family, the unit can be recharged from an AC wall outlet or with a Jackery SolarSaga solar panel (sold separately). The 518-watt rechargeable battery will need replacing after about 500 uses, but that’s after a lot of camping trips.

    Price at time of publish: 500

    Output: 500 Watts | Weight: 13.3 pounds | Dimensions: 11.8 x 7.6 x 9.5 inches | Output Ports: 1 AC outlet (110V 500W 1000W Peak), 3 USB ports, 2 DC ports, 1 car port

    Best for Emergencies

    ITEHIL LiFePO4 500W 500Wh Solar Generator

    If you’re looking for source of backup power that’s cleaner than a diesel generator, the ITEHIL power station is an excellent option. With high-speed charging, you can get your devices back up and running when the power goes out, as well as a built-in light. You can charge it via solar panels (ITEHIL separately sells panels that fold into a suit-case style envelope), a car charger, or a wall plug. There are both U.S. and international AC plug versions of the device.

    At nearly 19 pounds, it’s heavier than our Best Portable pick, but is still light enough to be moved around fairly easily, and has built-in handles. Our tester notes that it’s not big enough to power most full-size refrigerators, but could power a small electric cooler. It has an intuitive display that shows how much battery capacity is remaining.

    “It seems to be well-designed for safety, and includes warnings like ‘do not stick fingers directly into the power port.’” ~ Lloyd Alter, Treehugger Design Editor

    Price at time of publish: 500

    Output: 500 Watts | Weight: 18.74 pounds | Dimensions: 14.17 x 13 x 13.4 inches | Output Ports: 2 AC outlets (100-120V 500W), 2 USB-A ports, 1 QC USD-A Poert, 1 Type C, 1 DC ports, 1 car port

    Best Budget

    Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station

    While many of the budget generators still cost over 200, this affordable option from Jackery comes in at under 150 and has a two-year warranty. It’s also one of the lightest option on the market at just under 4 pounds, making it another great pick for camping or even backpacking.

    It can be charged using a solar panel, wall outlet, car outlet or electric generator. It’s great for charging your phone or camera, or running small appliances like a fan or laptop. It has a surge capacity of 150 watts, but you should avoid using it with any device that has a 100 watt or higher rating.

    Price at time of publish: 150

    Output: 100 watts | Weight: 3.97 pounds | Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.5 x 6.7 inches | Output Ports: 1 100 watt AC outlet, 1 USB-C, 1 USB-A

    Best High Capacity

    Bluetti AC200P 2000WH/2000W Portable Power Station

    With just as many watts as our Best Overall pick, the Bluetti 2000W Portable Power Station can be charged five different ways and has 17 different output ports, each of which is covered by a high-quality dust cap. You can charge it using solar panels (not included), a via a wall outlet, car plug, using a generator, or lead acid battery.

    You can hook up a number of smaller devices, at the same time, like a laptop, camera charger and several phones. Or you can use it as back-up power for larger appliances—according to the manufacturer, you can power an 800 watt wall refrigerator with this power station for over two hours.

    A nice feature is the LED touch screen, which can tell you how much energy you’re drawing down and how much battery charge is remaining. You can also set it to an Eco mode, which will shut the device down if it senses you’re not using it after several hours. It has rubberized feet, so the unit won’t slip around on smooth surfaces. It’s also quite heavy so it’s not ideal for camping situations where you’d need to carry it, but it is compact enough to fit into a car trunk.

    Price at time of publish: 1,599

    Output: 2000 watts | Weight: 60.6 pounds | Dimensions: 16.5 x 11 x 15.2 inches | Output Ports: 6 110 Volt AC outlets, 1 DC 12 Volt/10A, 1 DC 12 Volt/25A, 2 DC 12 Volt/3A outlets, 4 USB-A ports, 1 USC-C port, 2 wireless charging ports

    Best for Home

    Point Zero Energy Titan Solar Generator

    True to its name, the Titan is packed with power. Its 3000-watt inverter has enormous output capacity for powering up household appliances like refrigerators and portable AC units with ease. Are you in heavy Cloud cover? No problem. The Titan includes a stackable battery bank, which can be combined with additional batteries (sold separately). You can recharge the generator via solar panels, an AC outlet, or a DC car charger.

    In addition to extra batteries, you can also add on USB adaptors or a car charger. THE MPPT charge controllers allow it to reach full battery capacity in about four hours making the Titan a versatile, efficient, and reliable backup plan.

    Price at time of publish: 2,716

    Output: 3000 watts | Weight: 67 pounds | Dimensions: 18.5 x 12 x 12 inches | Output Ports: 6 AC outlets, 4 DC 12 Volt outlets, 1 NEMA TT-30

    Also Great

    MAXOAK Bluetti Portable Power Station

    During extreme weather events, generators like the ones on this list can sell out quickly. So, if other options aren’t available, there’s a lot we like about this one. The Bluetti stores plenty of power at an affordable price. It’s 1500-watt-hour lithium-ion battery is quick-charging and ample for powering up most home appliances during a blackout.

    While it serves as a great home power supply during an emergency, the MaxOak Bluetti is also portable enough take along on fishing or a road trip. It includes two AC ports and five USB outlets and a 12-volt DC outlet that can handle a mini-fridge. There’s also a nifty LCD display to help you track the generator’s performance.

    Output: 1000 watts | Weight: 37.9 pounds | Dimensions: 14.6 x 6.5 x 14.4 inches | Output Ports: 2 110 Volt AC outlets, 1 12 Volt regulated DC, 45 watt USB-C, 4 USB-A ports

    If you’re looking for something high powered to help you weather a storm, the Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station is our top choice. If you need something portable for a camping trip, then the Jackery 500W might be your best new travel buddy.

    What To Look for in a Solar Generator

    When deciding what solar powered generator is right for you, consider which types of appliances, tools, and devices you need to charge and how often you’ll be without a traditional power source. Here are some other tips to help guide your decision-making.

    2023, jackery, solar, generator

    Solar Panels

    There are three common types of solar panels—monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline solar cells, and thin film, or amorphous crystal panels. They each offer different efficiency levels. Monocrystalline panels are most common and slightly more efficient than polycrystalline cells. Thin film panels are a newer technology and are light, flexible, durable, and more affordable than the others, but about half as efficient as the other types. Sometimes they’re included with the generator and sometimes they’re sold separately.

    Battery Capacity and Power Rating

    Solar generators run on stored energy so you’ll want to consider the battery’s capacity (the total amount of electricity stored). You’ll also want to know the power rating (how much power is delivered at a time). A battery with a high capacity, but low power rating typically delivers less electricity for a longer period of time.

    Battery Type

    Lead-acid and lithium-ion are the most common options. Lead acid are used to power things like automobiles, while lithium-ion options are often used to run power tools. They’re increasingly used in solar-powered generators because they’re lightweight. While they tend to be more expensive than lead-acid varieties, they typically have a longer lifespan which saves money on replacement batteries and keeps them out of landfills.

    Charge Controllers

    In order to regulate the current between the solar panels and the battery, the simplest controllers cut the power when maximum voltage is reached. This isn’t as efficient as models that use three- power point tracking (MPPT).

    Inverter

    Converting direct current (DC) from solar panels to alternating current (AC), inverters carry a watt rating to show the maximum output of power they can generate. Pure sine wave inverters are more expensive, but more efficient. But they’re not necessarily a cost-effective option if you only plan on using the generator occasionally.

    Weight

    Will you be using your solar generator in your home or on the go? For portability, look for units that are easier to carry and maneuver, and that house parts in a sturdy box rather than as separate pieces.

    Other Features

    Note the presence of multiple USB ports and AC outlets, replaceable batteries, and LED panels that help you monitor your system when it’s dark. Finally, consider the length of a unit’s warranty, or any other manufacturer grantees.

    When determining the size of generator, you’ll want to look at output measured in watts, as well as storage capacity measured in watt hours (Wh). As a general rule of thumb, generators with under 1000 Wh can keep electronics charged, and are great for camping. To power many devices in your home for longer, you’ll want a large generator with around 1500 Wh capacity.

    If you want to keep those devices charging and in use for five hours:

    So, in this case you’d want a generator with at least 85 watts of output and 425 Wh of capacity. When in doubt, round up. For another way to calculate your needs, you may find this explainer from the manufacturer Jackery helpful.

    Keep in mind that most solar generators do not connect to your home’s electrical panel, so they won’t power hard-wired devices like your hot water heater or ceiling lights; for that type of power you’ll want to consider a home battery system.

    Solar generators should last at least 20 to 25 years. Many manufacturers offer warranties that cover repairs and replacements should anything malfunction within the first few years of use.

    Most high-capacity solar generators cost between 1000 and 2000. Generally speaking, larger generators cost more than smaller, portable devices. The generators on the list range from between 140 and 3,400 without taking into account sales or discounts.

    Why Trust Treehugger?

    Treehugger is committed to helping our readers transition away from fossil fuels, and we deeply researched the market to find the best generators compatible with solar panels.

    A travel and adventure writer for many years, author Heidi Wachter knows how handy the sun’s rays can be for keeping her phone and camera charged.

    Maggie Badore is an environmental reporter and editor based in New York City. She started at Treehugger in 2013 and is now the Associate Editorial Director.

    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.

    Product Specs

    • 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.

    Product Specs

    • 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.

    Product Specs

    • 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.

    Product Specs

    • 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.

    Product Specs

    • 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.

    Product Specs

    • 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.

    Power Requirements

    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.

    Inverter Rating

    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.

    FAQs

    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.

    Why Trust Bob Vila

    Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

    Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

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