What are the pros and cons of a solar generator?
Whether you need to keep your lights on when the grid goes down or you want to charge your phone on a camping trip, solar generators are a great way to have extra energy on hand.
But how do portable solar power generators stack up compared to conventional gas-powered generators? We take a look at how solar generators work, weigh their pros and cons, and discuss if a solar generator is the right investment for you.
What is a solar generator?
Technically, a solar power generator is any system that runs on solar power. But what most people mean when they say ‘solar generator’ refers to a portable power station that uses solar panels, instead of fossil fuels, to provide electricity.
A portable solar generator uses solar panels to capture the sun’s energy and then stores that energy in a battery to be used later. Most solar generators are used for RV camping, boats, and as a backup power source in the case of a grid power outage.
How do solar generators work?
Solar generators have four major components:
The solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity that is then passed through the charge controller. The charge controller regulates the voltage of the electricity into the battery, where the solar energy is then stored for use later. Most solar generators sold today are lithium-ion batteries.
When you need to use the energy stored in the battery, the inverter converts the electricity into alternating current energy, or AC power, which is what most appliances and devices use.
Solar generators typically have USB ports, AC outlets, and 12-volt carports to allow you to charge multiple devices.
How much can you save with solar?
What are the pros and cons of solar generators?
|No fuel||Expensive upfront investment|
|Clean renewable energy||Slow recharging|
|Quiet and low-maintenance||Limited available power|
Free fuel from the sun
Traditional gas-powered generators require you to constantly purchase fuel. With a solar generator, there are no fuel costs. Simply set up your solar panel and enjoy the free sunshine!
Clean renewable energy
Solar generators rely entirely on clean, renewable energy. This means that not only do you not have to worry about the cost of fossil fuels to power your generator, you don’t have to worry about the environmental impact of using gasoline either.
Solar generators release no pollutants when they produce and store energy. You can rest easy knowing that your camping or boating trip is powered by clean energy.
Quiet and low maintenance
Another great thing about solar generators is that they are quiet. And unlike gas generators, solar generators don’t have any moving parts. This significantly reduces the amount of noise they produce while running.
Plus, no moving parts means the chances of solar generator parts breaking is low. This greatly reduces the amount of maintenance required for a solar generator as compared to a gas generator.
High upfront costs
Solar generators require a much higher initial investment than traditional gas generators. The average cost of a gas generator is around 1,000. Solar generators will usually cost about 2,000.
However, solar generators have much lower operating costs. So, you’ll spend less over the lifetime of a solar generator.
Solar generator batteries can only be recharged when the sun is out. And even then, it takes time for the solar panels to charge the battery. A solar panel with a power output of 100 watts would take over 9 hours to charge most mid-sized solar generator batteries.
Generators that run on fossil fuels can be refueled at any time, so you can get more power right when you need it without having to worry about the weather conditions or the time of day.
Limited power supply
The size of the solar generator battery will limit how much the generator can power, as well. A solar generator probably won’t be able to power your entire home. However, it can charge phones and laptops and keep small appliances running for a short period of time.
Gas generators aren’t as limited in what they can power and for how long since they can be refilled at any time.
What are the best solar generators available?
One of the most important things to look for when buying a solar generator is the battery capacity (or how much energy the battery can hold) in order to know if the generator will meet your power needs. This is usually measured in watt-hours (Wh).
The higher the capacity, the longer the battery will last. For instance, a 1,000 Wh solar generator can power a 60-watt lightbulb for almost 17 hours!
Some of the best solar generators on the market include:
|Goal Zero Yeti 1500, 100-watt Solar Kit||1,516 Wh||1,199.95||Buy now|
|Point Zero Titan||2,000 Wh||2,716.00||Buy now|
|Jackery Explorer||1,002 Wh||999.99||Buy now|
|Renogy Phoenix 300 Power Station||337 Wh||399.99||Buy now|
Most solar powered generators have all-in-one designs, so the solar charger and inverter will be included in the battery pack. However, not all solar generators include solar panels. These generators will typically just come with the battery and inverter.
Check out our list of the best portable solar panels that pair great with battery power stations.
What are the best uses for solar generators?
Solar generators are best used for charging devices and running small appliances. They’re a great source of backup power for a boating or RV camping trip because of their portability, plus they’re clean and don’t require you to keep lots of fuel on hand.
Solar generators can power some key appliances in your home in the event of an emergency. But no portable generator will be able to truly power your entire home off-grid.
Instead, you should consider installing a rooftop solar panel system paired with battery storage. Not only will this allow you to have backup power for most of your home in case of an emergency, it will help cut down your electricity bill all year long!
Use our solar calculator to get an estimate of how many solar panels you need to power your home and how much a home solar panel system costs in your area.
See how much solar panels will cost for your specific home
- Solar generators are portable power stations that use solar energy, instead of fossil fuels, to create electricity.
- Solar generators consist of four main parts: the solar panels, the solar battery, the inverter, and the charge controller.
- Some key advantages of solar generators are that they don’t require fuel, they run on clean renewable energy, and they require very little maintenance.
- The biggest drawbacks to solar generators are that they require a big upfront investment, they recharge slowly, and there is a limited amount of power stored and available for you to use.
Written Content Manager
Catherine is the Written Content Manager at SolarReviews. She has been researching and writing about the residential solar industry for four years. Her work has appeared in Solar Today Magazine and Solar Builder Magazine, and has been cited by publications like Forbes and Bloomberg.
Best Solar Generators: Buyers Guide (2023 Updated Review Guide)
This review guide has helped thousands of homeowners save time and money when searching for a reliable, clean source of backup energy that they can use to remain worry free during power outages.
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Written by Josh Hurst
Writer and editor with more than a decade’s experience in journalism. Josh worked for Christianity Today for seven years, and has contributed to special assignments for Apple Music and iTunes. Josh lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Kati, and two sons, Henry and Dylan.While he mainly focuses on musical journalism he is excited to save the earth on article at a time through sustainability best practices articles as well. Learn About This Person
Reviewed by Irma Omerhodzic
Irma joined the EcoWatch team in August 2015. She holds a Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is a member of Kappa Tau Alpha – a national honor society of journalism. Learn About This Person
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What Are The Best Solar Powered Generators In 2023?
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How Did We Review Each Solar Generator?
There are a number of factors we considered when choosing which solar power generators to recommend, including:
Battery storage capacity is an important ranking factor. A greater battery capacity means the generator can store more energy, which ultimately means it will last longer without requiring a recharge. This is measured in watt-hours (Wh).
When your generator is up and running, it will put out a certain amount of energy, measured in watts. It’s important to select a generator that offers enough watts for you to power your essential home appliances.
The inverter is a critical part of any backup power generator. Basically, this is the component that turns solar energy into AC (alternating current) electricity. Inverter rating, along with battery capacity, determine how much power you can get from your home backup generator.
In order for your backup generator to function, you’ll need some way of charging it. And if you plan to rely on solar energy, that means using solar panels.
Expandability means that you can add solar panels to your generator as needed, making it easier to absorb more sunlight for energy. You will typically need a special solar adapter cable to facilitate this, which may need to be purchased separately.
Number of Outlets
How many devices, power tools, or appliances do you need to plug in? The functionality of your backup generator will be determined by how many outlets are available.
The type of outport ports is equally important. The most common types that buyers check for include mobile device charging ports (USB-A and USB-C), AC ports (the normal household wall outlet), and even 12-volt DC ports (what you probably have in your car).
Of course, as you look for the best home backup generator, one of the most crucial considerations of all is your budget. We’ve sought to emphasize generators that offer maximum value.
Based on these criteria, we’ve determined the solar backup generators that offer the most consumer value. Check out our complete list of recommendations below. You can also read our complete review of the best solar energy companies for rooftop home solar systems. If you’re interested in learning more about going solar, fill out the form below to get connected with a local solar installer in your area.
Our Complete Reviews of Solar-Powered Generators
Best Overall: Renogy Lycan Powerbox
Renogy produces several different power stations and chargers, but we especially like the Lycan Powerbox, a solar power solution that’s only a little bit bigger than a suitcase. It comes with an easy-grip handle and heavy-duty wheels, making it one of the most portable solar generators around while still offering 1200W of output, which is enough power for most electronic devices and some appliances.
Why buy: The Lycan Powerbox can provide 1075 watt-hours of continuous power without the noise or fumes associated with gas generators. It offers great portability and includes an LCD display and easy, intuitive controls that allow you to switch between DC power and AC power as needed, as well USB ports and 12 volt car charger ports.
Best All-Purpose: Goal Zero Yeti 6000X
The Yeti 6000X is actually a portable power station that can be used for off-grid camping or powering an RV. With 6,000 watt-hours and two 2000W AC charger ports, it will give you plenty of power for your home. With a home integration kit, it’s easy to use the Goal Zero Yeti 6000X to power essential circuits.
Why buy: Though it isn’t exactly cheap, the Yeti 6000X power station is a great all-purpose backup generator, including a top-of-the-line charge controller and two robust AC outlets that make it easy for you to keep your household essentials up and running. It can even power a full-size refrigerator or microwave.
Best for Camping: Jackery Explorer 1000
The Jackery Explorer 1000 portable power station is one of the best all-around options, equally suited for outdoor activities and for emergency power readiness. Though it’s rated for 1,000 watts, it can actually get closer to 2,000. The lithium battery pack offers a capacity of 1,200 watt-hours, and Jackery’s professional MPPT technology makes it easy to get your unit fully charged in a relatively short span of time (usually just eight hours if you have two panels going).
Why buy: Jackery is one of the leading names in outdoor equipment and in clean energy products. This portable power station is a great pick for campers and can also be a very effective home backup power solution for small appliances and electronics thanks to its pure sine wave inverter AC outlets.
Most Affordable: Westinghouse iGen600s
Westinghouse Outdoor Power
Westinghouse is another company that specializes in solar powered generators, most of which are more ideally suited for camping trips. Their iGen600s portable generator, however, offers a wattage of up to 1,200 peak watts, which can certainly function as a decent emergency backup for certain household appliances and small devices.
Why buy: For a portable yet still very versatile solar generator, Westinghouse is a company to keep on your list. The iGen600 power system can run a mini fridge for up to 42 hours or a CPAP machine for up to 46 hours thanks to its lithium-ion battery that offers 592 Watt-hours of energy and a long battery life.
Fastest Charging: EcoFlow DELTA
The EcoFlow DELTA power station is a wonderfully rugged, dependable backup generator that can help meet your power needs during a blackout. For one thing, the charging time is incredible; you can potentially go from zero to 80 percent in under an hour with a wall outlet. Should you ever find yourself facing a power outage, this is an emergency energy solution you’ll be really thankful for.
Why buy: The DELTA station from EcoFlow offers a lot of value and usability; in particular, it has one of the fastest recharging times of any solar generator, which may be reason enough for you to choose it over the competitors. The DELTA unit offers 13 ports, meaning it’s compatible with pretty much any device or appliance you could ever need to charge.
Best for Appliances: MAXOAK Bluetti AC200P
For a heavy-duty emergency power solution, look no further than to MAXOAK, and particularly to a product called the Bluetti AC200P. With a 2000 Watt-hour capacity, this is one of the most robust solar generators you’ll find anywhere.
Why buy: MAXOAK’s Bluetti AC200P is the one you’re going to want for really heavy-duty home energy backup. With massive AC inverters that offer up to 4800W surge capacity, it can provide more than enough power to fuel all your most critical home appliances, even some HVAC units. Also note the two-year warranty, a generous consumer protection.
Most Powerful: Point Zero Energy Titan Solar Generator
Point Zero Energy is one of the foremost names in disaster preparedness, and when you take a look at their product specs, you’ll see why. Their Titan model solar generator offers almost twice the storage of similarly priced units with a high-capacity 2,000-watt-hour battery capacity and 3,000 watt high-efficiency inverter.
Why buy: On a purely technical level, this is the beefiest generator on our list, though of course, it’s also one of the priciest. The unit is made with high-efficiency components, meaning it doesn’t waste a lot of energy running the system; instead, it just supplies you with plenty of functional electricity when you need it the most.
How Does a Solar Generator Work?
Solar generators capture energy from the sun using photovoltaic solar panels, and store it in a built-in battery. Note that in order to absorb the sun’s energy, your portable generator will need solar panels.
These are typically sold separately, or as a package with the unit, so you’ll need to factor in this additional cost. Solar panels contain solar cells, which are typically made of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicone that acts as a semiconductor.
Once the sun’s energy is stored in the battery, it is converted into AC energy. This happens via a component known as an inverter. AC power is required for most of your household appliances, as well as for charging devices like your phone, laptop, or tablet that normally require a wall charger or AC outlet.
We’ve included a short video below for a more in-depth look at how they work.
Can a Solar Generator Power My Entire House?
Generally speaking, a rechargeable solar generator won’t be able to power your entire house if you lose power. With that said, even a smaller generator can be used to power key devices or appliances, sometimes for days at a time depending on its power consumption. For instance, you can keep your refrigerator up and running, and/or ensure plenty of sustained use for medical devices, like CPAP machines.
With an especially robust generator, you may also be able to connect to core circuits, running multiple appliances at one time.
So, while having an emergency power supply from a solar generator may not mean that you can go about your life just like you would normally, you can at least keep the lights on at home, run your air conditioner, or ensure your perishable food items remain fresh until your electricity comes back on.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Solar Generator?
There are a number of advantages you can anticipate from an emergency generator, especially when you choose to go solar. Consider:
You can minimize the disruption of a power outage.
Again, inclement weather can cause power outages that last for hours, sometimes even days. During that time, you can use a backup generator to keep your essential appliances and devices up and running. This level of preparedness can offer ample peace of mind.
Solar generators offer a clean alternative to other energy sources.
Most generators are powered by fossil fuels, which means they emit a lot of noxious emissions. If you want a clean power source and a minimal environmental footprint, these solar solutions are just the ticket. They are also much quieter than traditional gas or diesel generators.
They can be very cost-effective in the long run.
While the initial purchase price of a solar generator may seem steep, keep in mind that sunlight is free. You don’t have to worry about buying fuel or any additional expenses associated with your solar unit.
Find the Solar Generator That’s Best for You
Disaster preparedness begins by identifying a reliable power source, and if you want that power source to be clean and renewable, solar generators are ideal. Take a moment to explore the options and find the generator that’s right for you.
In addition to the criteria we used to review solar generators, you may also want to consider the following when selecting a model:
- Charging Options: does it offer fast charging? Quick charge settings are always convenient when you need a full charge
- Durability: if you need a generator for camping, finding a durable one may help to extend its lifespan
All EcoWatch solar companies are pre-vetted for your convenience.
Writer and editor with more than a decade’s experience in journalism. Josh worked for Christianity Today for seven years, and has contributed to special assignments for Apple Music and iTunes. Josh lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Kati, and two sons, Henry and Dylan.While he mainly focuses on musical journalism he is excited to save the earth on article at a time through sustainability best practices articles as well.
Irma joined the EcoWatch team in August 2015. She holds a Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is a member of Kappa Tau Alpha – a national honor society of journalism.
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Inverter mounted on lid or near the top of the housing : Inverters mounted to the top of the solar generator housing with stainless/rubber sealing washers ensures they are the least likely component to get wet.
Solar charge controller with protective potting: The solar charge controllers used in Fortress models are encapsulated in a special flexible material. This material blocks out all water and allows the internal components to expand/contract with weather. In addition, it offers shock protection and distributes heat better to keep the electronics cool.
Special covers for air flow vents: Solar generators need to breathe. This means they need an air inlet and outlet. Fortress models have special covers that block rain or splashing water from entering.
Weep holes: If water enters the housing at any point, or if condensation occurs, weep holes allow water to escape.
All electronics are mounted inside which means there’s no exposed wiring and the sensitive components are protected from the elements. Exterior connections are waterproof and designed for outdoor use. All Cutting Edge Power solar generators arrive fully assembled and only need the battery connectors to be plugged in when it arrives (If batteries were ordered). Batteries are mounted according to the product and quantity of batteries you order.
Being able to supply your own battery, or use our battery makes this solar generator one of the best and least expensive options on the market. Cutting Edge Power solar generators are completely modular with connections to add more batteries in the future.
Featuring our new high performance PWM solar charge controller. these solar generators can be used with virtually any 12V battery on earth. Installing your own batteries is super easy: Just connect the supplied 5/16” ring terminal wires to your battery’s posts.
- Heavy-duty dual industrial grade waterproof solar charge controllers, capable of handling up to 480W of solar panel input (480W @ 12V DC / 960W @ 24V DC). (Eco version: 240W max)
- External weatherproof 120V 3-prong receptacle installed (all models). If the no inverter version is ordered, the receptacle will not be connected to anything so you can install your own inverter.
- Pre-wired and ready to go: 5/16 ring battery terminals / Solar Panel connectors. No crimping, splicing, extra wiring needed.
- Padlock latches to lock the box closed
- Built-in short-circuit protection, open-circuit protection, reverse polarity protection, and over-load protection.
- 12V Socket with 30A circuit breaker.
- Perfect for marine, boat dock, trailer, or any long term outdoor application.
- Premium marine grade 200°C rated silicone insulated wire.
- Assembled in USA, Enclosure made in USA.
- All models except Eco:
- (2 pairs) Solar panel connectors. isolated, 240W max each x 2 = (480W max) / 50V DC max
- (1 pair) Solar panel connectors, 240W max / 50V DC max
- (1 pair)12V Post Terminals for connecting external devices or additional batteries
- (1) 12V socket
- Up to 1500W: (1) 3-prong receptacle, connected to inverter (if equipped)
- 2000W and over: (2) 3-prong receptacles, connected to inverter (if equipped)
|INVERTER OPTION||FACTORY INSTALLED LITHIUM BATTERIES THAT CAN FIT (MORE BATTERIES CAN BE ADDED WITH OUR EXPANSION BOXES)|
|ECO VERSION (NO INVERTER OR 150W INVERTER)||4,800Wh|
|500W MOD SINE||6,000Wh|
|1000W PURE SINE||6,000Wh|
|1500W MOD SINE||6,000Wh|
|2000W MOD SINE||4,800Wh|
|3000W PURE SINE||4,800Wh|
An introduction to solar generators and Cutting Edge Power:
Solar generators are an excellent investment for hurricane / natural disaster preparation, backup power for your home, camping, tailgating, medical devices, refrigerators, air conditioners, construction equipment and tools, CPAP machines and more. Future maintenance of Cutting Edge Power products is easy with simple hand tools and off-the-shelf parts, unlike some solar generators that are worthless if one component fails. Designed in America and professionally wired in Houston, TX so you can rest assured you’ll have the best performing solar generator available.
Featuring our new high performance solar charge controllers, these solar generators can be used with virtually any battery on earth. Installing your own batteries is super easy: Just connect the supplied 5/16” ring terminal wires to your battery’s posts.
Cutting Edge Power lithium battery packs are welded, assembled and tested in Houston, TX. Even better, our lithium batteries are factory-installed when purchased with a solar generator. Our lithium batteries provide about 450% lifetime and 100% run time over traditional lead acid batteries. Plus, they’re about half the size.
about our lithium batteries
SAFE. COMPATIBLE. POWERFUL.
Cutting Edge Power’s wind and solar lithium-ion battery modules are the best way to pack more power and run time into a smaller space. Leveraging the amazing performance of our lithium cells and the resulting smaller footprint, our battery modules provide up to 450% lifetime and 100% run time over traditional batteries!
The cells are imported from the most reputable cell manufacturers in the world that also supply Tesla and other high performance companies. Cells are arranged in plastic holders. These plastic holders are a custom in-house design and they’re made in our shop. The cells are then welded together using a special machine designed and built by Cutting Edge Power! The plastic holders are then assembled and mounted inside your solar generator. All of this is done in Houston, TX.
Each cell array is continuously monitored by redundant Battery Management Systems (BMS), not just one like most battery manufacturers. If one module were to go out, you would still have the remaining modules in operation. The multiple BMS systems protect all cells against overcharging, overdischarging, as well as overcurrent. They also equalize all the cell voltages and keep the pack running cool.
PERFECT FOR SOLAR OR WIND TURBINE CHARGING.
Our lithium battery modules will be factory installed in any Cutting Edge Power solar generator when purchased together. Adding a lithium batteries to an existing Cutting Edge Power solar generator is as easy as ordering a pizza with our custom drop downs.
We call them modules, because our entire solar generator product line is modular. We understand sometimes you need testing before you know how many batteries you need. battery modules can easily be added later and it only takes about 5 minutes.
We don’t believe in proprietary connectors or special permanent installations. No other connection or additional assembly on your part is required! Terminals on our battery modules allow you to quickly and easily replace old batteries. You can even replace our batteries with a different type or manufacturer!
Why are they so small, what’s the catch?
Our battery cells were pioneered by the auto industry so they have a high energy density in order to keep cars lightweight and extend their range. This means a smaller battery pack can have up to 2x the run time as a standard SLA battery. Combining the small size and higher energy density, our batteries will maximize your run time in a compact solar generator!
DIYers love our lithium batteries for the small footprint, cool operating temperatures and high energy density!
Only our lithium batteries provide about 450% lifetime and 100% run time over traditional lead acid batteries. Plus, they can do this in about half the size!
Compared with traditional batteries, Cutting Edge Power lithium ion batteries have a higher run time, higher cycle lifetime, better power density and charge faster. They also weigh less than LiFePO4 and a single module can even provide a higher discharge rate than multiple SLA or LiFePO4 batteries! In wind and solar applications, our lithium batteries have proven to be superior against lead acid, NiCd, AND lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries.
The 7 Best Solar Generators for RVs: A Review and Comparison
You’re looking to jump on the solar generator bandwagon, but you’re not sure where to turn. You’ve come to the right place.
If you’re new to solar energy and attempted to read about DIY solar generators for RVs to no avail, or you’ve bought a solar generator but are ready for an upgrade—this post is for you.
Identifying the best solar generator for your RV can be a challenge! With so many plug-and-play options on the market, let’s walk through the seven best solar generators for RVs.
Our Top Picks
Ultimate Expansion CapabilityDELTA Pro by Ecoflow
Best Entry-Level High Output OptionBluetti AC200Max
Best Solar Generators for RVs
Read about each of the generators on our list, and don’t miss our downloadable comparison chart and buyers guide below!
Anker PowerHouse 767
The Anker PowerHouse 767 comes with HyperFlash technology for charging from 0% to 80% in just one hour. It’s our best solar generator for RV enthusiasts because of its record-breaking charging speeds, expansion ability, and low cost per Watt-hour.
When you upgrade to the Expansion Battery bundle, the system cost comes in at just 0.73/Wh which is very competitive and doubles the capacity of this system.
|4096 with 760 expansion battery||2700||0.66|
Anker provides bundled configurations that include their model 531 Solar Panel rated at 200W.
- Five-year full device warranty included
- Power up to 12 devices—2400W includes an exclusive RV port, four AC ports, three USB-C charging ports, two USB-A charging ports, and two car outlets
- Wheels for power to move this solar generator with ease
- Regular firmware updates resolve most issues reported by customers and expect future updates to continue optimizing this solar generator
- Anker is a trusted brand known for its excellent customer support
- AC charging cable, battery-to-host cable, car charging cable, and solar charging cable included with accessories bag
The award-winning DeltaPro Solar Generator is our runner-up best solar generator for RVs, which comes with a mega expandable system that can grow from 3,600 Wh to 25,000 Wh with extra batteries and/or other EcoFlow Smart Generators. You can purchase expansion batteries for less than a dollar per watt-hour!
EcoFlow’s DELTA series was named in TIME’s Best 100 Inventions of 2021 and won the 2022 Red Dot Design and IF Awards.
|7200 with expansion battery||3500 2800 = 6300||0.88|
EcoFlow sells multiple solar panels compatible with the Pro, including the 400W Portable Solar Panel and the 220W Bifacial Foldable Solar Panel.
- Five ways to charge—EV station charging, solar, wall outlets, Smart Outdoor Generator, or 12 v auto adapter (included)
- Easy-to-read LCD screen or EcoFlow app allows you to view and control charging time
- Can be charged in 1.7 hours with a 3400W EV charging station
- Includes wheels for easy maneuvering
- Regular firmware updates
- Five-year warranty
- AC charging cable, car charging cable, DC5521 to DC5525 cable, and handle cover included
- Level 2 EV adaptor is not included, and you may need an adapter to connect with a mobile EV charger if your EV charger doesn’t have a standard AC plug
If you want to dip your toe in the water of solar generators for your RV with some ability for expansion, we think the Bluetti AC200Max is the best solar generator for you. It can be expanded for less than a dollar per watt-hour.
The solar generator comes with 16 outputs to suit your electrical needs. A 30A NEMA TT-30 port and a 12V 30A DC port are included with RV fans in mind.
|5120 with B300 expansion battery||1700 2000 = 3700||0.72|
Bluetti’s most popular solar panels to pair with the AC200MAX include the 200W PV200 and the 350W PV350.
- Bluetti is known for its excellent customer support
- Easy to set up and run for buyers new to solar generators for RVs
- Mobile app available for reading display
- 24-month warranty
- The solar and cigarette lighter use the same port, which makes the cigarette lighter port unusable while charging with solar
The ALLPOWERS S2000 is our best solar generator for RV for those on a budget because has a significant amount of power for less than a dollar per watt-hour!
It’s an extraordinary budget solar generator for RVs with a 30-A plug-in, and it has 12 outputs. The power station has 2400 wattage with a surge of 4000 wattages.
The ALLPOWERS SP037 400W Portable Solar Panel is an ideal panel to pair with the S2000 for a fast charge or consider the 200W SP033 solar panel if you’re ok waiting a bit longer to charge.
- Five-year warranty
- Fully recharged in 1.5 hours using a wall outlet with included 1500 AC adapter and 3 hours using MPPT 650W max solar input
- Remote control with a phone app
- 10 years of battery life
- The ALLPowers brand regularly has coupons and sales on this product, so keep an eye out for deals to save
Jackery Explorer 1000
You won’t find a Best Solar Generator for RV list without a Jackery model. Jackery has been a fan-favorite solar generator brand for a long time.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is a trusted unit that will allow you to power 90 percent of appliances. This power station can be charged in six hours with 100W solar panels or 5.5 hours via an AC wall charger.
Without a 30A AC plug, this solar generator isn’t ideal for plugging in your entire RV, but you could still plug in directly with a 15A to 30A adapter.
You can mix and match Jackery’s SolarSaga solar panels to match your charge speed and budget requirements. Jackery has multiple panels in the lineup including a 200W panel and a 100W panel. For an ultra-fast 1.8 hour charge, Jackery bundles the Explorer 1000 with four of their 200W SolarSaga panels, and they also offer a lower-cost bundle that includes the Explorer 1000 with two 80W SolarSaga panels.
- Quiet and strong— little to no noise
- Features industry-leading cylindrical batteries that meet UL Safety Standards
- Jackery is a popular and trusted solar generator brand
- Jackery often has coupons available for this product, so keep an eye out for deals
- AC adapter, car charger cable, and SolarSaga Parallel adapter included
- The display backlight does not have the option to stay on permanently, and it is difficult to read without the light
Goal Zero Yeti 500X
Goal Zero is another brand known for its best solar generators for RV. The Goal Zero Yeti 500X is a small option that is suitable to power your laptop or other smaller devices. It’s small size will allow you to tuck it out of the way when not in use.
The Goal Zero 500x pairs well with either the Nomad 50W, 100W or 200W panels.
- Lightweight and portable—only 12.9 pounds
- Trustworthy brand known for its humanitarian roots and giving back to disadvantaged communities
- Compatible with Goal Zero Light-A-Life for bright LED light (not included)
- Long charging time; expect 10 hours with a wall or USB, and 12-14 hours with solar or buy the Goal Zero X 600 W Power Supply to cut charge time down to five hours
- Relatively expensive when considering its cost per watt-hour in comparison to other solar generators for RVs
The Anker 521 is the best solar generator for RV enthusiasts who need a small charge. If all you need to power is your laptop or a lamp, the Anker 521 is a solid choice.
It comes with six ports, including two AC ports, two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and a car outlet. Charge it up in two hours with a wall, or four hours with solar energy.
You can get the Anker 521 bundled with a 100W panel, or mix and match separately.
- Anker is a trusted brand
- Long-lasting battery built to last over a decade
- Smart temperature monitoring control system to prevent the device from getting too hot
- Anker’s worry-free five-year warranty
- Lightweight—only eight pounds
- Solar panels can be purchased as a bundle or separately
- Only 200W output, so definitely not intended for powering large appliances
- Solar panels not included, but they can be bundled with your purchase
Best Solar Generators for RV Buyer’s Guide
Keep reading for details on everything you need to know to make the best buying decision you can.
Comparison Chart of the Best Solar Generators for RVs
The following table compares all the important features you’ll want to consider when buying the perfect solar generator for your RV. Download a copy for further reference.
Amount of Power You Need
The first step in determining the best solar generator for your needs is to make a list of every item you want to power. This will help you determine exactly how much power you need.
This chart will give you a general idea of how much power electrical items use in RVs.
To understand this chart, you must understand the difference between rated watts and surge watts.
Rated watts, also known as running wattage, are the amount of electricity required to run the electronic continuously. Surge watts, also known as starting wattage, are the additional wattage needed for two to three seconds to start the electric motors normally found in appliances like fans and refrigerators.
|Appliance||Rated Watts||Surge Watts|
|Rooftop Air Conditioner (15,000 BTU)||1,500 W||3,500 W|
|Space Heater||1,800 W||1,800 W|
|Electric Water Heater (6 gals)||1,440 W||1,440 W|
|Heating Pad||250 W||250 W|
|4 Light bulbs (75 W)||300 W||300 W|
|Blow Drier||1,250 W||1,250 W|
|Electric Shaver||35 W||35 W|
|Vacuum||1,100 W||1,100 W|
|Mini Refrigerator||50 W||120 W|
|Blender||350 W||350 W|
|Chest Freezer||450 W||900 W|
|Microwave (635 W Power)||635 W||800 W|
|Slow Cooker||170 W||270 W|
|Toaster||850 – 1250 W||850 – 1250 W|
|Waffle Iron||1,200 W||1,725 W|
|19” Color TV||160 W||160 W|
|Laptop||50 – 200 W||50-200 W|
|Desktop Computer||600 W||800 W|
|Satellite Dish Receiver||30 W||250 W|
|Cell Phone Charger||5 – 25 W||5-25W|
Capacity is expressed in Watt-hours (Wh). When considering the best solar generator for RVs, the cost of a solar generator is generally associated with the capacity of the generator.
Higher capacity solar generators can go longer without charging the unit either in the sun or, if the sun isn’t shining, plugging it in. The power that can be pulled out from the device usually corresponds with the capacity of the device.
This is the capacity you need to power your whole RV successfully without having to charge constantly. The absolute best solar generators for RVs will be in this range or will be able to be expanded to it.
You will find that most of the best solar generators for RVs in this range can be expanded to much larger power ranges using expansion battery systems.
These systems can occasionally power your whole RV, and some of them include a 30A AC output (ideal for plugging in your RV), but you will need to charge more often.
You won’t be able to plug in the whole RV, but this will allow you to run some small electronics like a laptop, a television, lights, or simply charge your phone.
The best solar generators for RVs can be expanded, allowing you to increase your generator’s capacity to power devices and the time needed between charges.
Total Outlets and Ports
If you have many items on your list to power, you need to be certain you have enough outlets and ports (and the right type) to power your devices.
The most common ports are AC outlets (30A and 15A), USB, USB-C, and automobile auxiliary power plugs (car chargers or cigarette lighters).
Weight and Portability
You want to consider the weight and portability of your solar generation for an RV. Think about how easy it will be to pack it up when it’s time to hit the road. Portability is the number one consideration when researching the best solar generators for RVs.
Review the portability features when selecting the best solar generator for RVs. Some solar generators include wheels for easy maneuvering. All of the best solar generators for RVs list their weight in the product description.
If you’re camping solo, you want to make sure you will be able to move your generator on your own. If not, you will need to plan on asking for help or bringing a second set of hands.
Charging speeds vary for RV solar generators and rely on the power source. They can take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 48 hours to charge. The following factors will impact the charging speed of your RV solar generator:
- The capacity of the solar generator
- Number of solar panels
- Sunlight available to convert to solar power
- Solar panel positioning
Note that solar generators can be charged via outlets if no sun is available. Many campers choose to bring a backup generator for this scenario.
When the sun is hidden behind clouds or you need your RV solar generator charged faster than the sun allows it to charge, you want to have plenty of additional charging options. The most common charging method alternative to solar is charging it with the 110V AC output wall plug-in.
12V auto adapters (car/cigarette chargers) are popular accessories the with best solar generators for RV, and USB-A charging is also possible on some solar generators.
Modern charging methods are becoming more popular on newer models of solar generators. USB-C chargers, for example, are lightweight and charge faster than solar energy.
Some new and innovative RV solar generators come with EV hookups, which are becoming more popular as solar energy takes off. Depending on the EV charger, though, you may need to buy a separate Level 2 EV adaptor, like in the case of the DeltraPRO EF EcoFlow.
Some of the best solar generators for RVs are available bundled with solar panels, but not all of them. If your solar generator does not already come with solar panels, you will need to buy some. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Most solar generator manufacturers also make solar panels that are guaranteed to work with your solar generator.
Solar panels can be expanded upon using Y-branch cables. You do want to be careful when mixing and matching solar panels, though.
Carefully consider the electrical parameters of each solar panel. If the panels have different characteristics, you could end up with a performance issue. Solar panels should have the same wattage output for optimal performance.
Lifespan and Warranty
Portable RV solar generators have a lifespan of about 10 years, with the solar panels having a 25-year lifespan. There are steps you can take to increase the lifespan of your investment because if you use your generator often and don’t maintain it, it may fail sooner.
Regular maintenance includes wiping down dust and debris with a soft cloth. Inspect the battery for residue, and always consult your manual for specific maintenance tips.
Store your RV solar generator in a cool, dry area when not in use. Avoid exposing it to extreme cold or heat.
Do not overcharge your battery or float charge your battery. Overcharging the battery shortens its lifespan. Float charging refers to always leaving a charger on your battery so that it’s continuously at 100%.
Cycle your battery to avoid your battery having too low or too high of a charge for a long time by using 25 percent of your battery’s capacity, then charge it back to 50 to 75 percent. Do this at least every six months.
Check to see if your solar generator comes with a warranty before you buy it, and don’t forget to fill out any required paperwork for the warranty to go into effect.
The number one complaint buyers often have for solar generators is they’re difficult, if not impossible, to return. Most solar generators for RV are made from lithium-ion batteries, which opens up a wormhole for those wishing to ship them, either to return them or mail them to someone else as a gift.
UPS and FedEx have strict rules on lithium-ion batteries, which can make it difficult to ship them. It’s important to do your research first before buying your best solar generator for RVs, and it’s best not to plan on shipping a solar generator to your friend on the other side of the country.
Best Solar Generators for RV Frequently Asked Questions
Can you run an RV solar generator continuously?
It’s possible assuming you have enough sunlight and storage capacity. You must generate and store more electricity than you consume to be able to run an RV solar generator continuously without charging.
Can RV solar generators be used at night?
If your RV solar generator is charged, yes. How long it will last throughout the night depends on the battery length and the amount of time you charged it during the day. Prepare for night hours every day by keeping an eye on what time the sun sets so you can charge your generator accordingly.
Are solar generators noisy?
Solar generators do not have any moving parts, so this allows them to run in silence. Other than being better for the environment, their quietness is something that makes solar generators so appealing to RV owners. The last thing you want to hear while relaxing in the wilderness is a noisy generator.
The best solar generators for RVs are not noisy, though some complaints have been made about the devices used to charge them when not using solar energy.
Do solar generators require much maintenance?
They require very little maintenance to stay in top-notch shape. Other than regular dust removal, checking connections, and removing moisture, there’s not much maintenance required. However, since you are spending thousands of dollars, you want to keep your solar generator in tip-top shape.
The best way to keep your solar generator in excellent condition is to have it inspected by a professional electrician who offers generator services. Corrosion is the number one issue with backup generators, caused by moisture getting into the battery banks.
Do I need to purchase an inverter for my solar generator?
Though unlikely, if your solar generator does not have AC ouptut(s), then yes, you will need to buy an inverter.
Solar panels produce Direct Current (DC) power, and the appliances in your RV run on Alternating Current (AC). An inverter inverts the DC power to AC power, allowing it to power your appliances in your RV.
Note that the best solar generators for RV units come with built in inverters, but should you end up buying a unit that does not come with one or you need to buy an extra one, pay attention to the wattage capacity when selecting an inverter. The Giandel Power Inverter has an integrated solar charge controller, 12V input, and supports up to 1200 Watts output.
Wrapping up the Best Solar Generators for RVs
Now that you know all about the best solar generators for RVs, you’re ready to make the best of solar energy.
The Anker PowerHouse 767 will charge for you in just an hour, though the DeltaPRO EF Ecoflow 3600Wh has some innovative features. One of the solar generators for RV on this list is certain to meet your needs!Before you go, read about the Best RV Heater for Winter Camping.
Posted on Last updated: March 30, 2023
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What Is a Solar Generator
Solar generators are a popular alternative to standby and gas generators. But many people often ask questions like, what is a solar generator, whether it is worth it, etc., before they make their final purchase. In simple words, a solar generator is a portable power station that uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. The electrical energy is stored in a battery called a power station, which is then used to power appliances.
As climate change is impacting the world, people are switching to renewable energy for all their power needs. Portable solar generators emit no harmful gases and are more reliable than their fuel-powered counterparts. That is why many homeowners are switching to solar-powered generators, like Jackery Solar Generator.
The combination of Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels and Explorer Portable Power Station can help you use solar energy to charge appliances for long hours. In this solar generator ultimate guide, we will reveal everything related to the clean power solution, the differences between solar and gas generators, and how to choose the right generator.
What Is A Solar Generator
Technically, a solar generator means a power generator that works on solar energy. It is a term that refers to the combination of portable power stations and solar panels to capture, store, and distribute the sun’s power.
Most powerful and reliable solar generators are used during RV trips, emergency power backup solutions, camping, or other outdoor activities. Unlike gas generators that require diesel, propane, or gas, a solar generator comprises of:
- Portable Solar Panels
- Portable Power Station ( including Rechargeable Battery Solar Charge Controller Solar Inverter)
Different sizes and capacities of solar generators are available, ensuring you can choose the one that suits your needs without overspending.
The Components Of a Solar Generator
Now that you know what a solar generator is, it’s time to explain the critical components of the system.
Also referred to as photovoltaic cells, solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. Solar generators use portable and foldable solar panels to differentiate them from rooftop panels.
When the electricity is generated by the solar panels, the first component it reaches is the charge controller (or regulator). As solar energy is generated at variable rates, the charge controller’s job is to shape and condition electricity to avoid overcharging. The highly efficient solar generators are equipped with MPPT technology that ensures nothing is damaged when power flows through the system.
Another core component of the portable solar generator is an inverter that turns direct current output from solar panels to alternating current. The job of the inverter is to draw energy from the solar system and transport it to appliances.
The electricity generated by solar panels is stored in the solar battery until it’s needed. Most modern solar generators have an in-built lithium-ion battery to store current collected by solar panels.
The Usage Of A Solar Generator
A solar generator can be used in multiple ways, including but not limited to:
- Emergency Backup Supply: Frequent power outages and emergencies are the main reasons homeowners choose solar power systems. A reliable and efficient solar solution can power essential appliances like medical equipment, refrigerators, lights, etc.
- Off-Grid Living: Solar generators with high-capacity batteries can help you enjoy off-grid living. With a high-power solar generator, you can charge small and large appliances and keep them running for hours.
- Outdoor Activities: As solar generators are portable, they are a perfect charging companion for camping, hiking, RV trips, or outdoor activities.
- Sustainable Living: Homeowners wanting to choose a sustainable and eco-friendly power source can switch to solar generators. They can reduce electricity bills, lower reliance on fossil fuels, etc., by harnessing the sun’s power.
How Does A Solar Generator Work
A portable solar generator works when a solar panel converts sunlight into usable energy, which is electricity. Solar panels collect the sun’s energy during the daytime and transfer it to the battery storage system. Compact and transportable solar generators are convenient power solutions that charge appliances anywhere.
Here is the breakdown of the process:
- Solar panels convert sunlight into DC electricity which then passes through the charge controller.
- The charge controller regulates electricity voltage before storage, ensuring the proper current flow to the battery.
- The built-in battery stores all the power to charge the electrical devices later.
- The inverter converts DC to AC power to power most appliances and devices for hours.
The Types Of Solar Generators
Below are the three main types of solar generators.
On-Grid Solar Generator
This type of generator connects to the power grid to charge appliances. Solar panels capture sunlight to transform it into electricity in the form of DC. Then, the direct current is converted to AC in the power board. The board transfers electricity to power homes and buildings.
Also referred to as standalone or autonomous solar generators, they involve using batteries powered by solar panels. They are portable solar generators that can be carried during leisure travels, RV trips, etc.
Hybrid Solar Generator
This new-age solar generator is a combination of traditional generators with a controllable power source. The environment-friendly and fuel-efficient power supply source is preferred in areas where there is little access to petrol, LPG, or diesel.
Why Choose Solar Generators
Many benefits are available when you choose solar generators, especially compared to fuel-powered or traditional gas-powered generators. Here are some key benefits of solar generators.
Solar generators are lightweight and more portable than non-solar generators. It is a convenient power solution that allows you to supply power anywhere and everywhere. Portable generators are popular when living off-grid, traveling in an RV, or camping.
Another best thing about solar generators is that they are quiet. Traditional gas generators are often noisy and can be particularly annoying in small spaces like RVs, tiny homes, etc. Alternatively, solar generators are quiet and ideal for indoors.
Unlike conventional diesel or gas generators that require fossil fuels, solar energy is a low-emission, renewable energy source. As no pollutants are emitted from a solar generator, it is an eco-friendly and low-cost option.
Solar generators need little to no maintenance. You can just remove dust to enhance photon absorption. Furthermore, there are no moving components, so you don’t have to FOCUS on machine part replacement.
Solar Generator Vs. Traditional Generator
Solar generators and traditional generators are two widely popular power solutions available. However, they are entirely different from each other.
Let’s quickly compare solar and gas generators in the table.
– Low maintenance and quiet solution
– Lightweight and sleek design
– Cannot generate electricity at night
– High maintenance required
Here we compare both generators in detail, so you can make an informed decision.
Pros and Cons of Solar Generator
Below we have explained the pros and cons of solar generators.
- Compared to traditional gas generators, solar generators are portable. They are ideal for camping, emergencies, outdoor events, and general on-the-go activities.
- They are even equipped with easy-to-carry handles to enhance portability and convenience.
- Solar generators do not have any moving parts like gas generators. Therefore, they have fewer chances of repair and require low maintenance.
- They generate clean, renewable energy that does not hurt the environment while running.
- Solar generators typically require high upfront costs.
- Solar batteries can be recharged only when solar energy is available.
Pros and Cons of Traditional Generator
Generators powered by fossil fuels are technically known as traditional generators. Below we have mentioned some of the main advantages and disadvantages of conventional generators.
- Traditional generators produce electricity on demand. That is, you can produce electricity as soon as they receive fuel.
- Different sizes of gas generators are available in the market, making them a little portable. However, you’ll need to carry gasoline, making them less convenient than solar generators.
- As they have been on the market for years, traditional generators are more familiar to people and have high market dominance.
- Traditional generators require costly fuel, which increases long-term costs.
- They emit toxic gases like carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and sulfur oxides, leading to pollution.
- Because of the moving parts in the gas generators, they are extremely noisy. Thus, they are not suitable indoors or in small places like RVs.
- Gas generators require regular maintenance as they have moving parts. You need to clean, oil, and replace them over time, leading to high maintenance costs.
As you see, solar generators have more advantages compared to gas generators.
How To Choose a Solar Generator
Understanding “what is a portable solar generator” is not enough; it’s essential to understand the factors to consider while choosing a solar generator. Since not all portable solar generators are the same, you must check out their features to select the ideal generator.
Battery Storage Capacity
No matter your use case, choosing a solar generator with a high battery storage capacity is vital. When the solar generator has a high capacity, you can store more power for later use. This, in turn, ensures that you have easy access to solar power during emergency blackouts or outdoor trips.
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
These devices transform power from a battery into energy that resembles that of the wall outlet. The primary aim of the sine wave inverter is to convert the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). A solar generator equipped with pure sine wave inverter supplies exact voltage, ensuring that the sensitive electronic devices are safe.
Portable electronic devices like solar generators should have lithium-ion batteries. Choosing a solar-powered system with a high-quality lithium-ion battery ensures you can charge appliances safely and without overheating.
No matter what your reason is behind choosing the solar generator, a little bit of research ensures that you spend your money on the right product.
Why Jackery Solar Generator
Portable solar generators are the best way to use the sun’s energy and power your gear. Jackery is a leading brand that manufactures high-quality SolarSaga Solar Panels and Explorer Portable Power Stations.
You can select from a vast range of solar generators available, depending on the number of appliances you wish to charge. Jackery Solar Generators are quiet, portable, and affordable, ensuring maximum sunlight is converted into electricity.
Here are a few main benefits of Jackery Solar Generators over other similar products on the market.
Reliability: Jackery offers the most reliable solar generators with advanced features. Equipped with a high-capacity battery, they are powerful enough to support RV, van, and cabin life.
Ease of Use: Even if you are using a solar generator for the first time, you won’t regret investing in Jackery Solar Generators. The plug-and-play operation helps you pair Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels with Explorer Portable Power Station in a few clicks.
Lightweight: All the Jackery Solar Generators are portable, making them ideal for outdoor activities or off-grid living. Whether you plan to go camping or RV, you can take your solar generator with you.
Cost-Efficient: Jackery Solar Generator offers excellent value for your money. Furthermore, the wide range of sizes available makes them excellent options for those having different budgets.
Efficient Panels: Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels have the highest efficiency. That is, the panels can absorb maximum solar energy in less time. In addition, they feature adjustable kickstands that help you adjust the panels and generate maximum power output.
Now that you know the pros of solar generators, here are the most popular bundles available.