Top 3 Solar Generators for Off-Grid Living
Living off-grid is far more complicated than moving to the woods and raising chickens. To still enjoy modern-day conveniences and stay connected to society, you need to have some sort of power source that is not connected to a local electrical grid.
For most people that are attracted to an off-grid lifestyle, solar is becoming the most appealing option. While a traditional residential solar power system with roof-mounted solar panels, a charge controller, power inverter, and a battery bank can work, you may also have need for a portable and self-contained power station. This is where solar generators come into play.
These compact and portable pieces of equipment can act as an all-in-one solar power station, which is why they are quickly becoming one of the go-to options for those that spend time living off-grid. Whether your primary residence does not have access to the grid, or you simply own an off-grid cabin or vacation home, choosing to invest in a high-quality solar generator can be one of the best purchases you ever make.
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With the rising popularity of solar generators, there are now more options available to consumers than ever before. While competition within the industry has led to an increased rate of innovation and more options are almost always a good thing for consumers, it can make it difficult to choose the best solar generator for your specific needs.
This is why we are highlighting and reviewing three of the best solar generators for off-grid living. Each of these solar generators can supply enough power to be considered a practical option for anyone that finds themselves spending a significant amount of time off-grid.
If you are committed to living off-grid, we are here to help!
Why is a Solar Generator is Beneficial for Off-Grid Living?
Before we offer our top three picks for the best solar generators for off-grid living, we are going to explain why a solar generator can be so useful in the first place.
What is a Solar Generator?
As mentioned previously, a solar generator is a self-contained piece of solar equipment that can act as a complete solar power system when it is paired with one or more solar panels.
Essentially, these compact pieces of equipment offer many of the same benefits that you would get with a gasoline-powered generator, but they do not need to burn fuel or emit noxious fumes. Since they do not have any moving parts, they also generate very little noise, which is another reason why they can be used indoors, as well as outdoors.
A solar generator will feature a rechargeable, deep-cycle battery that can store power that is generated by solar panels. They also feature a built-in inverter, which means you can use that stored solar electricity to supply power to your portable electronic devices, as well as electrical appliances. Depending on the specific model, they also tend to have a wide range of built-in output ports, which means you can plug your electronics directly into the solar generator.
Why Are Solar Generators Helpful for Off-Grid Living?
Given that solar generators allow you to supply power to various appliances and electrical devices, they are extremely useful for anyone that does not have access to a traditional electrical grid. The fact that solar generators are also designed for portability is really important, as it means you can take power with you wherever it is required.
Even if you were running a traditional solar power system to satisfy most of your power requirements, adding a solar generator would give you more flexibility. You could bring power with you wherever you needed it around your property. For example, if you needed lights and the ability to run power tools in your workshop, you could use your solar generator as source of power.
Solar generators are so portable that many RV enthusiasts and campers will take a solar generator with them on their off-grid adventures. Not only are they portable, a solar generator can act as your emergency power source in the event that your primary power source fails.
Our Top 3 Picks for the Best Solar Generators for Off-Grid Living
EcoFlow Delta PRO Solar Generator
The EcoFlow Delta PRO is our top pick for off-grid living. This incredible solar generator is incredibly advanced and offers features that align perfectly with living off-grid. Given that EcoFlow designed the Delta PRO as a whole home solar generator, it only makes sense that it can act as an off-grid power source for full-sized homes and cabins.
Where the Delta PRO really shines is its storage capacity. A built-in 3,600Wh LiFePO4 battery means that the Delta PRO can store enough power to reliably keep your electronics and appliances running, but what really puts it in a league of its own is the fact that the battery is expandable to an industry-leading 25kWh!
Simply by connecting the Delta PRO to multiple 3,600Wh Smart expansion batteries, you can store almost double the power you could with a pricey Tesla Powerwall 2! While expandability is certainly exciting, especially if you are hoping to satisfying the bulk of your off-grid power requirements with your solar generator, you do not need to expand the Delta PRO for many off-grid applications. With 3,600Wh of storage capacity and an integrated power inverter that can deliver 3,600W of AC power, a single Delta PRO is still incredibly useful.
The Delta PRO also features unprecedented charging capabilities. Not only can you charge its internal battery in six unique ways, you can even multi-charge the battery, which means you can plug the Delta PRO into more than one power source to charge the battery even faster. When multi-charging, it is possible to charge the enormous 3,600Wh lithium-ion battery in as little as 1.8 hours!
The state-of-the-art battery contained within the Delta PRO also has a life cycle rating of 6,500 complete charges. This means you can fully charge and discharge the battery 6,500 times before you will notice any significant loss of storage capacity. When you are living off-grid and rely on stored power on a daily basis, it is incredibly important to choose a solar generator that has a high life cycle rating.
Part of the reason why the Delta PRO can charge so quickly is its efficient MPPT charge controller. This ensures more of the power your solar panels generate gets stored within the internal battery. When you live off-grid, efficiency is key, as you only have so many hours in the day to generate the power you need.
The Delta PRO’s inverter offers 3,600W of output power, but it can be boosted to 4,500W thanks to EcoFlow’s unique X-Boost technology. What is really exciting about the Delta PRO is the fact that you have the option to pair two of them together to achieve 7,200W / 240V of output power, which is enough to power everything from convection ovens to well pumps!
This level of output power is truly unique for a solar generator, which is why the Delta PRO is the perfect option for anyone that is living off-grid. It is also compatible with EcoFlow’s Smart app, so you can monitor your solar generator from a smartphone or tablet. With 12 built-in output ports and a wide range of input ports, it really is no wonder that we chose the EcoFlow Delta PRO as our top pick for the best solar generator for off-grid living!
- Expandable battery and output capacity
- Fastest charging rate of any solar generator
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled
- Battery capacity: 3,600Wh (Expandable to 25kWh)
- Output capacity: 3,600W (Expandable to 7,200W)
- Output ports: 12
Champion 4500-Watt RV Ready Inverter Generator with Quiet Technology
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The Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Inverter Generator is ultra-quiet and ideal for camping, tailgating, powering items around the RV or providing backup for your essentials.
Champion’s EZ Start Dial makes getting started quick and easy. Featuring Cold Start Technology, Extended Run Time, and an easy to read fuel gauge, the reliable 212cc Champion engine produces 4500 starting watts and 3500 running watts, and runs for 14 hours at 25% load when the 2.25-gallon fuel tank is full.
With a 0.5-quart oil capacity (included 10W-30) and a low oil shut-off sensor, this inverter operates at an ultra-quiet 61 dBA from 23 feet, which is about as loud as normal speech.
The no tool access panel and oil drain tube allow for easy maintenance.
Confidently connect your sensitive electronics since this inverter produces Clean Power (less than 3% THD).
Our Quick Touch Panel offers fast access to all your controls. The Intelligauge with Power Meter monitors voltage, frequency and operating hours with ease, while Economy Mode monitors power consumption in real time to reduce engine wear and tear. As the electrical load is reduced, the inverter reduces engine speed, providing quieter operation, extended engine life and higher fuel economy.
The covered outlets in this RV Ready inverter include a 120V 30A RV (TT-30R), two 120V 20A household outlets (5-20R) and dual USB outlets (5V DC, 2.1A).
The optional Parallel Kit (sold separately), with included standard 50-amp RV outlet, allows you to increase output by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverters. The never flat tires and fold-down handle make transport a cinch.
Buy this EPA certified and CARB compliant generator with confidence – Champion Support and our nationwide network of service centers will back up your purchase with a 3-year limited warranty and FREE lifetime technical support.
|120V 30A (TT-30R), Dual 5V 2.1A USB, 120V 20A Duplex (5-20R)|
DuroMax XP4500iH 4,500 Watt Portable Dual Fuel Inverter Generator w/ CO Alert
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Clean, quiet, and unsurpassed in its class, the DuroMax XP4500iH Digital Portable Inverter can generate 4,500 watts of POWER! This inverter features a digital control center so you can monitor power output, fuel level, and running hours at a glance. Double your power by connecting a second XP4500iH with a parallel kit (sold separately).
Only as Strong as Its Core.The DuroMax XP4500iH Dual Fuel Digital Inverter Hybrid Portable Generator has a Cast-Ironed Sleeved,223 cc Engine delivering a peak of 4500 surge watts / 3600 Constant. This is a sufficient amount of power that can handle high requirement loads as well as multiple small load appliances simultaneously. All DuroMax Generators are user-friendly and are ready to use out of the box within minutes. Simply remove all packaging, assemble the wheels and handles, add Oil and Gas and it is ready to begin producing power.
Safe Reliable Operation for Any User.Designed for Safe and Easy Operation, the XP4500iH features a user-friendly push button with a remote that’s as simple as starting your car. It is also equipped with a recoil start in case of the battery being drained. Solid-Fill tires are also standard, they will never run flat, and high leverage handles that make it easy to transport over every terrain. The attached oversized noise reducing Muffler has a built-in Spark Arrestor for safe use in mandated camping areas and jobsites.
Easy Out of Box Operation Peace of Mind.All DuroMax Generators carry a 3 Year Residential Factory Warranty and 1 Year Commercial Factory Warranty so if for any reason your generator gives you problems simply let us know and we will do our best to make it right. As always DuroMax offers its 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee standard on every item we sell. All DuroMax Generators are ready to use out of the box within minutes. Simply remove all packaging, add Oil and Gas and it is ready to begin producing power.
The Best Portable Generators of 2023
We take electricity for granted — until it’s not available. Whether it’s a surprise outage or a planned camping trip, not having power can be a real problem. Fortunately, portable generators provide a versatile option for keeping the current flowing whenever, wherever.
Most generators run on gasoline, some run on propane, and a few can use either. Key things to consider when shopping for one include its power output level (and what you can realistically run from it), noise level in decibels, weight and portability, and of course, its price.
Generators aren’t cheap, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to overpay for an expensive model either.
There are hundreds of portable generators on the market, so which do you choose? We’ve checked out all of the top models on the market right now, and come up with our picks for the best portable generators of 2023.
- Weight: 99.2 pounds
- Power Output: 3800 watts
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
- Runtime: up to 8.5 hours (half load)
- Outlets: 1x 120V TT-30R RV, 2x 120V AC, 1x 12V DC, 1x 5V USB
- Weight: 46 pounds
- Power Output: 1800 watts
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
- Runtime: up to 12 hours (economy mode)
- Outlets: 2x 120V AC, 2x 5V USB
- Weight: 22 pounds (generator), 9.1 pounds (each solar panel)
- Power Output: 1000 watts
- Fuel Type: Solar power/electricity
- Runtime: dependent on attached devices
- Outlets: 3x AC, 1x 12v DC, 2x USB C PD, 1x USB-A QC 3.0, 1x USB-A
- Weight: 162.5 pounds
- Power Output: 5500 watts
- Fuel Type: Gasoline or propane
- Runtime: up to 9 hours (gas), 6.5 hours (propane)
- Outlets: 1x 120/240V 30A RV (L14-30R,) 4x 120V 20A AC
- Weight: 95 pounds
- Power Output: 4500 watts
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
- Runtime: up to 9 hours (gas), 6.5 hours (propane)
- Outlets: 1x 120V 30A RV, 2x 120V 20A AC
Best Portable Generator: WEN 56380i
The WEN 56380i is a medium-sized portable generator that’s well suited to a variety of purposes. Its quiet operation and runtime of up to 8.5 hours (at half-load) make it one of the best portable generators for home use, while its relatively compact size and wheeled design make it appropriate on the go as well. The collapsible handle makes both moving and storing the device easier.
This particular model is 3800 watts, but there are a variety of other versions of the same generator that go all the way up to 8750 watts. The WEN 56380i is EPA and CARB compliant, which means it can be legally used in all US states.
The unit is RV-ready, with a TT-30R RV outlet providing 28 amps of power. It also has a spark arrestor, which qualifies it for use in most national parks and forests.
As well as that 120V RV outlet, there are two three-prong 120V sockets, one 12V DC, and a 5V USB port. A digital wattage meter shows real-time data on voltage, wattage, fuel supply, run-time, and more.
The only real downside of this unit is the weight to wattage ratio. At 99.2 pounds, the generator is fairly heavy for its capacity. With that said, the strong handle and wheels make it relatively easy to transport.
- Moderate size
- EPA III and CARB Compliant for use in all US states
- Handle and wheels for easy transportation
- Runtime of up to 8.5 hours at half load
- Quiet operation
Best Quiet Portable Generator: Westinghouse iGen2200
Generators are useful, but they’re often quite noisy, which can cause issues regardless of where you use them. At campsites, you may get dirty looks; at home, complaints from neighbors. Fortunately, models like the Westinghouse iGen2200 are specifically designed for quiet operation.
The noise output on this unit is as low as 52dBA. That’s about the noise level that a household refrigerator might make, according to data from Yale University. Of course, this is the quietest it can run. Noise output may be higher, depending on what you’re using the generator for and how hard you’re pushing it.
The Westinghouse is rated at 1800 running watts and 2200 peak watts. This is enough to run kitchen and other home appliances, but is insufficient for power-hungry activities like running an RV. It has two 120V outlets and two USB ports, which is somewhat limited. Combined, these two factors mean that the Westinghouse iGen2200 is best used as a home backup or lightweight camping generator.
This model is also quite fuel efficient. It has a small tank of just 1.2 gallons, but that can still give a runtime of up to 12 hours in fuel-efficient “Economy Mode.” It’s also compact and portable, at just 46 pounds, and comes with a three-year limited warranty.
The downsides of this unit include that lack of outlets (it only has 120V outlets and USB ports), and a few more quality control issues than we’d like to see. There are several reports of issues with a sputtering or rattling noise, which obviously disrupts the “quiet” operation of the unit.
- Quiet operation as low as 52 dBA
- Up to 12 hour runtime from 1.2 gallon tank (gas-powered)
- Can be paired with select other Westinghouse generators to boost wattage
- 3-year limited warranty
Best Portable Solar Generator: Jackery Explorer 1000 SolarSaga Solar Panels
Most generators are gas-powered, while some run on propane. But what if you’re off-grid, or simply trying to be more eco-friendly? The Jackery Explorer 1000, paired with the Jackery SolarSaga 100W solar panels, may be your solution.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 (our full review here) isn’t really a true generator (unless paired with the solar panels). It’s more like a huge power bank, storing an impressive 1002Wh of juice with an output of up to 1000W. The Jackery can recharge from a normal AC outlet in around seven hours or a vehicle accessory port in ~14 hours.
For off-grid use, though, it’s best when paired with solar panels. When using two 100W panels, the Jackery can charge in around eight hours with good sunlight. Charge time jumps to 17 hours when only one panel is used, and inclement weather will slow things down as well.
Even so, this is quite fast for a solar charger, helped by the use of high-end MPPT technology to maximize power generation in all conditions.
The output is up to 1000W, which is adequate for most smaller devices and appliances, but insufficient for powering an RV, or even for running a microwave oven, hair dryer or induction cooker. This lower output is one disadvantage of this unit; the other is the cost. The Jackery isn’t cheap, and to really utilize it fully, you’ll want the solar panels which are sold separately or as part of a bundle.
If you can spring for the higher price tag, though, and want near-endless, silent power while off-grid, the Explorer 1000 is an excellent choice. If price is holding you back, keep in mind that Jackery also has a variety of cheaper models available, albeit with lower capacity and output.
- Easy to set up and use
- High power storage capacity
- Silent operation
- Power small appliances, TVs, CPAP units, and more
- Fast charging time from solar panels
- Can also recharge from AC outlet (7 hours) or vehicle accessory ports (14 hours)
- Solar panels come at additional cost
- Lower output than others on this list
Best Portable Dual Fuel Generator: Champion 5500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator
Most generators run on gas or propane, but the Champion 5500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator can run on either. This provides more flexibility, letting you quickly switch over to propane if you run out of gas, and vice versa.
A patented fuel selector switch allows you to safely switch between the two fuel sources, while the “Intelligauge” keeps track of voltage, hertz, etc. That said, the display shows less information than many others on this list.
Cold-start technology allows this unit to fire up quickly even in chilly conditions. It’s a manual (recoil) start, but is efficient and doesn’t take too much muscle. Moving the generator, on the other hand, just might: it weighs 162.5 pounds. Fortunately it’s on wheels, but the lack of a long handle does make it a bit tricky to move around.
Outputs on this unit include one 120/240V 30A locking outlet (L14-30R) and four 120V 20A outlets. The generator comes with a three-year warranty, plus lifetime technical support.
The downsides to this generator are its noise level (it’s listed at 74dB, but tests as high as 81.5dB when using gas), and its weight and difficulty of transport. The noise level may be an issue for use while camping, as might loading, unloading, and moving it around.
- Can run on gasoline or propane
- 3-year warranty and lifetime technical support
- Intelligauge display keeps track of voltage, hertz, etc
- Display lists total hours used, which is useful for keeping up with maintenance recommendations