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Choosing the Right Portable Solar Generator. Small portable solar generator

Choosing the Right Portable Solar Generator. Small portable solar generator

    Choosing the Right Portable Solar Generator

    Jul 7th 2021

    A portable solar generator can be a life-saver when you’re out on the road, camping in the wilderness or if the power goes out in your house.

    Portable solar generators are a cheap energy option that does require fuel, uses clean, renewable energy, and requires very little maintenance. Sounds great. But is a portable generator the right solution to your energy needs?

    Many people wonder if they can use portable generators for their unique energy needs. This guide will help you choose the best portable solar generator for your use case.

    What is a portable solar generator?

    Solar generators, including portable solar generators, work using solar panels and solar batteries. The solar panels utilize sunlight as a power source, then store it in the battery. The solar power then gets released through a solar inverter, where it gets converted from DC to AC before discharge. This system allows you to store energy for later use, unlike some other solar panel systems.

    Some generators will come as an all-in-one portable solar panel kits, or you can buy the components separately.

    Portable solar generators are both a power source and a storage solution. Portable solar generators are much smaller and more portable than some permanent solar panel installation setups. However, because they are smaller, they also store less energy than a large solar battery bank which some people install permanently.

    When to use portable solar generators

    Portable sоlаr gеnеrаtоrѕ аrе ideal for RVs, vans, and camping. However, they’re also a good energy option as a backup power source in emergencies. Some people will install a permanent solar generator if they are in an area that is prone to electrical blackouts. This situation is common in locations that experience hurricanes, tornadoes, or other inclement weather.

    What are the pros and cons of solar generators?

    Portable solar generators come with both pros and cons, but they’re overall more affordable and eco-friendly than other portable generators that use gas or other fossil fuels.

    Pros of solar generators:

    Quiet

    If you’re a regular camper, you’re probably familiar with the continuous, annoying hum of noisy traditional generators. The quietness of solar generators is one of their biggest pros. Solar generators are blissfully quiet, unlike non-solar portable generators.

    You may not realize how loud and annoying traditional generators can be until you’re stuck with them in a smaller space like an RVs, van conversion, or tiny hometiny home. It may surprise you that a typical = generator can measure noise between 60 and 70 decibels. and that’s when it’s heard from 23 feet away! For context, that’s as noisy as a vacuum cleaner and not easy to ignore while you and your fellow campers are trying to get some sleep.

    Much of the appeal of camping, traveling in an RV, or living off-grid is to get in touch with nature and enjoy some peace and quiet. So the last thing you want is to hear the humming of your gas generator.

    Portable

    When compared to other permanent backup generators, the portability of a portable generator is an obvious pro. However, if you need your generator constantly, you may prefer a permanent installation.

    A portable solar generator is relatively small and lightweight. Some generators are even small enough to carry with you in a backpack while camping. These make a great portable energy supply that you can take anywhere and everywhere. Small portable generators are particularly popular with campers, overlanders, or to use in RVs and van conversions.

    Lightweight

    While the actual generator is small and light, there’s an added benefit to choosing solar power. Portable generators that use fuel may seem light and compact as well, but they require fuel to run. So, if you want to use them regularly, you’ll need to carry around extra gas or fuel. That may be manageable in an RV, but it’s not easy to haul fuel when you’re out camping.

    choosing, right, portable, solar, generator, small

    Low cost

    Because portable solar power generators don’t require fuel, they’re also far cheaper to run than other generators. Your costs are upfront when you buy the generator and any other components; there are no ongoing fuel costs. Additionally, solar generators are low maintenance. Portable solar generators have almost no potential for mechanical problems, so that costs will be minimal in ongoing maintenance. You also don’t have to change the oil or replace air filters.

    Eco-friendly

    Unlike gas-guzzling portable generators, solar generators have low emissions and are a renewable source оf еnеrgу. They’re much more eco-friendly than a conventional diesel or gas portable generator that requires propane or other fuel.

    Unlike internal combustion engine-based portable generators, solar generators don’t require fossil fuels, so they don’t produce pollutants. reducing your carbon footprint.

    Cons of solar generators:

    Upfront costs

    Portable solar generators can be more expensive than traditional gas generators. However, portable solar generators have almost no ongoing operating costs. A solar generator isn’t at the mercy of rising fuel costs and other maintenance costs, so they’re the cheaper option over the lifetime of a generator.

    Slow recharging

    Portable solar generators rely on sunlight to charge. That means in bad weather, such as overcast or rainy days, they can be slow to recharge. If you want to use a generation in a location with low sunlight, then solar power may not be the best option.

    Limited power supply

    Some portable solar generators have a limited power supply, especially if you opt for one of the smaller and most compact options. Portable solar generators are easy and light to transport, but this pro can also be a con because the size of the solar battery will ultimately limit how much power you can store.

    How to pick the best solar generator for you

    The right portable generator for you will be the model that best suits your use case; before you start looking for the best portable solar generator, you should consider how you plan to use it. If you want to power all your household appliances in an emergency, you’ll need a bigger battery. If you just want to charge your phone and small electronics while camping, you can choose a small solar generator.

    Other factors you should consider include:

    Battery Capacity

    A portable solar generator runs on its stored energy, so the battery’s capacity is an important consideration. The capacity, or the total amount of electricity the generator stores, needs to be enough for your specific use case.

    choosing, right, portable, solar, generator, small

    Power Rating

    You should also consider the power rating of a solar power generator. The power rating is the amount of power delivered at a time. A solar battery with a high capacity but a low power rating will typically produce less electricity from the generator but will last for a longer time.

    PV Input

    Whether a solar panel is part of your generator or within a solar power kit, you’ll need to consider its PV input. The PV input of a solar panel impacts how long it will take for your generator to charge. The higher the panel’s PV input, the quicker your solar generator will charge. A high PV Input can be a significant factor in your purchase if you need a portable generator that’s fast charging.

    Battery Type

    Your battery choice is another important consideration when choosing the right portable solar generator. Lithium-ion and lead-acid and batteries are the most common solar battery options.

    Lithium-ion batteries are frequently used to run power tools. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming more common in solar-powered generators because they’re very lightweight. They are usually the more expensive option but typically have a longer lifespan. This battery choice can save money in the long term on replacement batteries.

    Lead-acid batteries are good at powering things like vehicles and are typically the cheapest battery option. However, they don’t last as long as lithium-ion batteries.

    Charge Controller

    A charge controller regulates the electric current between a generator’s solar panels and the battery. The simplest solar charge controllers will cut the power when they reach the maximum voltage. sophisticated and expensive options will instead use three- power point tracking (known as MPPT).

    Inverter

    Most portable solar generators are equipped with inverters. However, in some cases, you may purchase this component separately. An inverter is responsible for converting the DC power generated by the sun into AC power which most appliances and electronics can use. An inverter will also determine how much solar energy you can get out of your solar generator when it’s fully charged.

    When considering different portable solar generators, you should compare the inverters. Look for an inverter proportional to the generator’s power, so you get the maximum system efficiency. Pure sine wave solar inverters are arguably the best inverter types on the market, but they can be more expensive than lower-quality inverters.

    Weight

    The weight of your portable solar power generator is a significant consideration for anyone who is traveling by foot or bike. Even those traveling in RVs will want to be mindful of their generator’s weight.

    Portability

    All portable solar generators are portable by nature, but some models are easier to transport than others. The purpose of the solar generator will determine how mobile you need it to be. Some solar batteries are bulkier or heavy, so they’re not suitable for camping. Other portable solar generators might come with built-in wheels, which can be handy in some situations but adds weight. You may have to compromise on the generator’s storage capacity if you need increased portability.

    What size portable solar generator do I need?

    Your end-use case will determine what size generator you need. Smaller generators, for example, those under 1,000 watts, can power small electronics and appliances such as laptops, cell phones, and small lights. Larger generators which are between 1,000 watts and 3,000 watts can effectively power much larger devices and appliances, such as a microwave, freezer, or refrigerator. If you want to power your entire house using solar power it would require much larger solar generators with more than 5,000 watts of power. You can use our Solar Calculator to help work out how much energy you would need.

    Conclusion

    Portable solar generators are a much more eco-friendly option than traditional gas generators. A compact and small generator allows you to quickly head out on a road trip or camping adventure with portable solar-powered generators. Portable solar generators also bring peace of mind that you have a backup power source in an emergency.

    Remember that no portable solar generator will be able to power your entire home off-grid effectively. If this is the solution you’re looking for, you should instead consider installing a permanent solar power system paired with adequate battery storage.

    Solar Generator

    Growatt solar generators deliver infinite green energy to power your devices, from off-grid adventures to home backup power during power outages. all while requiring no additional fuel as the gas generator.

    In general, a solar generator technically refers to any energy system being powered by the sun. Growatt solar generator bundles typically include portable power stations with high-efficient solar panels. Such solar generator kit is an ideal portable and sustainable power solution to give you clean solar energy, lower your carbon footprint, and reduce your reliance on the grid.

    A solar powered generator works by collecting energy from the sun via solar panels, storing the energy in its built-in battery (lithium battery), and converting the energy into AC power through an inverter before being used in household appliances and other electronic devices.

    Growatt Solar Generator VS. Generator

    Solar generators are ideal for both short-term and long-term power shortages. Traditional generators, on the contrary, do not last long unless they are constantly refueled.

    Growatt Solar Generator Buyer’s Guides

    Solar Generator VS Gas Generator. Choose the Best One for You

    Solar Generator: The Best Choice for Your Next Camping Trip

    FAQ

    Yes, Solar generators are worth the money. Because they are portable and simple to use, which requires zero maintenance and no extra fuel costs. They are reliable power source and backup power for home power outages and also works well for most outdoor activities.

    Size here usually refers to capacity. Firstly, decide how many devices you want to power and how much total power you need. Secondly, you must consider how long you want to supply these devices and how much power you require each day before deciding which solar power generator to purchase.

    Yes, safety is always our top priority. Our portable solar power station’s built-in battery management system regulates key battery parameters to keep the batteries safe, secure, and built to last. It belongs to clean green energy and renewable energy, whether it is charging or using, it will not produce harmful gases like fuel generators.

    Yes, but it must be based on the number of appliances in your home as well as the output power and capacity of the solar portable generator.

    It depends on the wattage of your refrigerator and the capacity of your solar generator. For example, the Growatt INFINITY 1500 portable solar generator has a capacity of 1512 Wh, which can power a 150W refrigerator for approximately 8.5 hours. The reference calculation formula used is:

    Working time (hour) = solar generator capacity (Wh) 0.85 / refrigerator operating power (W)

    Yes! But not all. This is a relatively new technology, and manufacturers often state in their owner’s manuals whether or not their portable solar generators are UPS capable. Both Growatt INFINITY 1500 and INFINITY 1300 solar generators are equipped with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) of less than 20 milliseconds, so you no longer have to worry about power outages at home or failure of important work during power outages. Everything from lights in heavily used rooms and refrigerators to medical equipment, computers and more will never fail.

    Generally speaking, it is 5-15 years, but it mainly depends on the quality of the battery and how often you use it. For example, the Growatt INIFNITY 1300 solar powered generator uses a LiFePO4 built-in battery, which can have 3000 life cycles and can be used for at least ten years. Its built-in battery management system can also better optimize battery efficiency and help extend service life.

    The equipment and appliances you can run depend on the capacity and output of the generator. A lower wattage generator like the Growatt VITA 550 (538Wh Capacity 600W Output) can power small devices like your laptop, phone, and fan. Higher wattage generators such as the Growatt INFINITY 1500 (1512Wh Capacity 2000W Output) can power your large appliances such as TVs, refrigerators and microwaves for longer.

    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.

    Capacity (Wh)List Price (at time of writing)Cost per Wh
    2048 2000 0.98
    4096 with 760 expansion battery 2700 0.66

    Solar Panels

    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

    DELTA Pro

    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.

    Cost per WhCost per WhCost per Wh
    3600 3500 0.97
    7200 with expansion battery 3500 2800 = 6300 0.88

    Solar Panels

    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

    Bluetti AC200Max

    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.

    Capacity (Wh)Typical Price (at time of writing)Cost per Wh
    2048 1700 0.83
    5120 with B300 expansion battery 1700 2000 = 3700 0.72

    Solar Panels

    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

    ALLPOWERS S2000

    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.

    Capacity (Wh)Typical Price (at time of writing)Cost per Wh
    1500 1000 0.67

    Solar Panels

    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.

    Capacity (Wh)Typical Price (at time of writing)Cost per Wh
    1002 900 0.90

    Solar Panels

    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.

    Capacity (Wh)Typical Price (at time of writing)Cost per Wh
    505 550 1.09

    Solar Panels

    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

    Anker 521

    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.

    Capacity (Wh)Typical Price (at time of writing)Cost per Wh
    256 220 0.86

    Solar Panels

    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

    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.

    2000 Wh

    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.

    1000-2000 Wh

    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.

    250-750 Wh

    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.

    Expandability

    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 Speed

    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.

    Charging Methods

    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.

    Solar Panels

    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.

    Shipping

    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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    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.

    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.

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