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Compare prices and reviews of solar providers near you online. Yobolife solar home system

Compare prices and reviews of solar providers near you online. Yobolife solar home system

    What Happens to Solar Power When Batteries Are Full?

    Whether living off-grid or as a full-time RV camper, a renewable energy source makes life easier. It’s an excellent option for environmentalists, survivalists, and pragmatists who know that having an alternative power source isn’t just a luxury—it’s a necessity.

    Solar power generators use batteries to store the electricity they generate for later use. But what happens to that power when the batteries are full? Does it go to waste?

    Here, we look at how solar power systems work and the critical role that their batteries play in storing power. Whether you keep that power on standby, sell it to the grid, or float it to other devices, here’s what you can do when your battery is at maximum capacity.

    What Happens When Solar Power Batteries Are Full?

    Solar power systems use batteries to store solar energy. However, if the power generated exceeds the solar battery’s capacity, it can overcharge the system. An overcharged solar system can severely damage a battery’s life.

    As soon as a solar battery reaches full charge, the inverter and charge controller must step in to mitigate risks by handling excess power. They can do this in three ways: push it back into the panels for power loss, back into the grid for credits, or force a dump load.

    Off-grid systems typically include solar panels, charge controllers, battery monitoring systems, and batteries. Solar panels collect energy, which passes through a charge controller to batteries. Battery monitoring displays the battery bank’s charge level.

    The charge controller protects batteries and solar panels by managing the energy flow. Battery charge controllers stop electricity flow when they signal that batteries are full.

    Many solar power systems incorporate inverters and charge controllers to ensure trickle charging and redistribute excess charges. However, you can also return power to the grid. Surplus energy fed back into the grid is available for use by community members who cannot access solar panels or other renewable energy sources.

    A New Way to Stay Charged—EcoFlow DELTA Pro Smart Battery

    The DELTA Pro Smart Battery from EcoFlow mitigates the risks outlined above by giving you control of your battery charge levels and recharge rate. With this extra Smart battery, not only can you double the capacity of your DELTA Pro Solar Generator from 3600Wh to 7200Wh, but you can also prevent overcharging issues.

    The DELTA Pro Smart battery connects to the DELTA Pro portable power station or solar generator. Connect two, and you can achieve up to 10.8kWh for a robust off-grid home backup or full-time RV living. A sleek LCD screen lets you check the battery’s charge percentage, recharge time, and more. Plus, you can use the EcoFlow app to check the battery’s status, no matter where you are. Once you charge it to maximum capacity, the battery will hold its charge for up to one year after a full charge. Power doesn’t get more convenient or reliable.

    How to Know When Your Solar Batteries Are Fully Charged

    Several options are available to check the charge level of a battery within a solar energy system.

    Intelligent energy storage solutions like the EcoFlow Smart Battery feature display screens that indicate the battery’s charge based on its voltage.

    Some inverters display the battery’s charge level on their screen, so you can tell if it’s charging or full. Inverters without display screens may have a warning or indicator system to tell you the battery status.

    You can also purchase meters to check the charge level. Look for a voltmeter, hydrometer, and multimeter.

    • Voltmeters are instruments that measure electric potential. To check the charge of a battery, connect your voltmeter to the red and black ports. If you want an accurate reading, the battery shouldn’t have delivered electricity for the last few hours.
    • Hydrometers are only used for flooded lead-acid batteries since it requires measurements from the liquid inside.
    • A multimeter can measure voltage, current, resistance, and many other things about your battery’s condition.

    What to Do if Your Batteries Regularly Become Full

    If you find that your solar batteries are regularly becoming full, you can offset that extra power and put it to good use.

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    Sell One of Your Panels

    You may be connecting too many solar panels for your energy needs. You can sell excess panels in many marketplaces and local swap pages. There is no doubt that solar panels hold their value well, and you might be surprised at how quickly people will snatch them up. In many cases, worn or outdated solar panels can be recycled or reused.

    Purchase Additional Batteries or a Higher Capacity Solar Generator

    Purchasing a higher storage capacity solar generator will also help store more power. For example, EcoFlow’s DELTA Pro Solar Generator stores significantly more energy than the generators from EcoFlow’s River 2 series. The River 2 series is intended for camping and other off-grid activities where portability is crucial, while the DELTA Pro is an ideal home backup power solution.

    Many solar generators also allow you to purchase extra batteries to increase your solar power storage capacity.

    Ignore It

    It’s possible to do nothing with your full battery until you need the extra power. Downsizing or upsizing may not be worthwhile if excess power is only available during the sunniest days.

    Compare your power usage with the capacity of your battery bank. It may be best to keep the setup unchanged if they are well-matched. On rainy or overcast days, you may need that extra energy.

    Use Power

    You can use extra power for future needs, such as:

    • Charging tools
    • Cooking food
    • Refrigerating food
    • Dehydrate food for storage
    • Run an AC unit for longer

    Where Does Excess Solar Power Go When Batteries Are Full?

    The direction of the power depends on your setup and whether you have a grid or an off-grid system.

    An on-grid solar system sends AC power to your appliances first. If the home doesn’t have enough load to use all the electricity, it’ll feed the remaining power back into the grid.

    In off-grid applications, the inverter receives extra electricity and converts DC into AC power. Any appliance connected to the circuit can then use this power. With EcoFlow solar generators, the battery will stop absorbing energy once the battery has reached full capacity to prevent any possible damage.

    Where Can I Float Excess Energy?

    There are two ways to handle excess power. You can let it discharge from your battery, wasting the power and potentially damaging your battery in the long run, or you can float it to appliances and devices to reduce your on-grid power consumption.

    Refrigeration

    Typically, solar panels generate power for devices and appliances that require electricity immediately but not continuously. If you’re generating enough solar power that your battery consistently reaches capacity, consider using the excess energy to run ice and refrigeration systems.

    The Electrical Grid

    With many fixed solar power systems, you can send excess energy to the electrical grid if your solar panels have collected enough energy to power your home and charge your battery. For many people, this is a significant reason they use solar energy.

    The electrical grid distributes electricity to homes and businesses. Without solar panels, your home depends on the electrical grid.

    Owning portable solar panels and a solar generator allows you to live on or off the grid. You don’t have to worry about running out of solar power while on the grid. Electrical grids serve as backups when an on-grid solar system fails.

    You can install a net meter on the grid to record your solar energy use. Excess solar energy is directed back to the grid through this meter. Homeowners can earn credits for the extra energy they generate, which can be used on a future bill, saving them some money.

    compare, reviews, solar, home, system

    Air Compression

    Air compression machines are the next dump load for an excess charge. Intelligent on-grid solar panel systems will send excess power to air compression devices to store energy for later use.

    Heating

    Depending on how much additional energy your solar system generates, you can use it to assist with home heating. Both heated air and heated water are ways to expend extra energy. For example, you’ll want to use the heater more frequently in the winter to keep the home warm and cozy.

    Conclusion

    Some solar batteries are at risk of igniting and overheating — or at the very least reducing their lifespan — when overcharged.

    Select a solar system that takes the hard work out of monitoring battery performance, adding additional capacity, and efficiently handling excess energy. Shop EcoFlow today for solar energy that’s Smart and efficient.

    EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

    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?

    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.

    Slow recharging

    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

    Key takeaways

    • 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.

    Catherine Lane

    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.

    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?

    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.

    Slow recharging

    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

    Key takeaways

    • 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.

    Catherine Lane

    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.

    The best solar generators for 2023, tested and reviewed

    Tap the power of the sun to meet your power needs wherever you may roam.

    This is a solid all-around mix of features and affordability.

    This powerful pack is easy to transport to a site.

    This is the pick if you need lots of scalable capacity.

    We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more

    If you’re camping and want to charge up your lantern, phone, or other devices, a solar generator sure would be convenient. Or perhaps you’re van-living your way across the country, and you need to work on the go and keep your conversion electrified—yet another solid case for a solar-powered generator. Whatever the case, few things are as useful in today’s tech-driven world as source of reliable, renewable power. The best solar generators can reliably and sustainably meet various energy needs, and we’re here to help you find the right one for you.

    • Best overall:Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro
    • Best high-capacity:Jackery Explorer 3000 Pro
    • Best for frequent use:Anker 767 Portable Power Station Solar Generator
    • Best for camping:Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core
    • Best for off-grid living:Bluetti AC200 Max
    • Best for homes:EcoFlow Delta Pro
    • Best portable:Anker 545
    • Best budget:Jackery Explorer 300

    How we chose the best solar generators

    As an avid outdoorsman, I’ve had the opportunity to test an extremely wide range of outdoor gear, including mobile and off-grid electrification equipment like solar-powered generators, as well as inverter and dual-fuel generators. These became particularly essential when the pandemic forced my travels to become domestic rather than international, which prompted me to outfit a van for long-term road-tripping.

    To bring my work along for the ride, I needed a constant power source to charge my laptop, a portable fridge, lighting, and a myriad of devices and tools … even ebikes. As a result, I’ve tried all the leading portable power stations (and plenty that aren’t leading, too), so I know precisely what separates the best from the blah. I’ve written all about it (and other outdoor tech) for publications, including the Daily Beast, Thrillist, the Manual, and more. There were cases when my own opinion resulted in a tie, and I, therefore, looked to reviews from actual customers to determine which solar generators delivered the most satisfaction to the most users.

    The best solar generators: Reviews Recommendations

    The solar generators on this list span a wide range of budgets, from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. They span several use cases, from camping to a backup for your home. Only you know all the factors that make one of these the best solar generator for you, but we think that one of these will get the job done.

    Best overall: Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro

    Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

    Why it made the cut: This Jackery solar generator delivers the best blend of capacity, input/output capability, portability, and durability.

    • Storage capacity: 2,160Wh
    • Input capacity: 1,200W
    • Output capacity: 2,200W (4,400W surge)
    • Dimensions: 15.1 x 10.5 x 12.1 inches
    • Weight: 43 lbs
    • Price: 2,498
    • Fast charging and outstanding capacity
    • Durable and easy to use
    • Plenty of ports
    • Can connect to six 200W solar panels

    The biggest portable power station from Jackery, a leading solar generator manufacturer, the Explorer 2000 Pro offers a tremendous 2,160 watt-hours of power, making it capable of charging a full camping setup for a few days. When plugged into six 200W solar panels, an upgrade over the four-panel setup available on the Jackery Explorer 1500, you can fully charge this portable power station in just 2-2.5 hours. That’s less than half the time of the smaller model.

    On top of all that, it’s extremely user-friendly. Numerous output ports ensure that you can plug in a wide range of devices and electrical equipment. Its functions are highly intuitive, and the digital display is easy to understand. Like other Jackery generators, it’s incredibly durable, too. The one potential downside is its weight: At 43 pounds, it’s a bit heavy for its size. Even so, for all the power you can store, and the Rapid-charging time, the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro will keep the lights on wherever you need power.

    For more on the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro, check out our full review.

    Best high-capacity: Jackery Explorer 3000 Pro

    • Ample power storage for long trips or outages
    • Sturdy handles and wheels make it easy to move
    • Smooth design makes it easy to load and unload
    • High peak output for power-intensive tasks
    • Lots of ports for connectivity

    This is the big sibling to our best overall pick. Inside the Jackery Explorer 3000 Pro, you’ll find 3,024Wh of power storage, which is enough to power even large devices for extended periods of time. It can charge a high-end smartphone more than 100 times on a single charge. It can also power full-on appliances in an RV or emergency situation.

    Despite its large capacity, we learned firsthand that the Jackery Explorer 3000 Pro is relatively easy to move around. Sturdy handles molded into its case make it easy to pick up, while an extending handle and wheels make it easy to roll around at the campsite or any other location.

    It can charge in less than three hours from a standard outlet or, under optimal conditions with the 200W solar panels, it can fill up as quickly as eight hours. That full solar array can get large and unwieldy, but a smaller setup can still provide ample charging if you don’t need to max out the capacity daily.

    This portable power station offers the best of everything we loved about the Explorer 2000 Pro, there’s just more of it. When you’re living the van life, powering an RV, or trying to ride out a power outage, more is definitely better if you can justify the extra cost.

    Best for frequent use: Anker 767 Portable Power Station Solar Generator

    Why it made the cut: High capacity and fast charging make this long-lasting battery a solid everyday driver.

    • Charges up to 80% in less than two hours
    • Solid output and storage capacity
    • Optional battery pack doubles capacity
    • LiFePO4 batteries survive more charge cycles than traditional models
    • Plenty of ports
    • Built-in handle and wheels for transport

    Anker has equipped its massive portable power station with LiFePO4 batteries, which stand up much better to repeat charging and discharging over the long term than common lithium-ion cells. Anker claims it can charge and discharge up to 3,000 times before it reaches 80% battery health compared to 500 in a similar lithium-ion setup. While I haven’t had the chance to run it through 3,000 cycles, LiFePO4 batteries have a well-earned reputation for longevity.

    Regarding overall performance, the Anker 767 does everything you’d want a unit with these specs to do. The bad weather has given me [Executive Gear Editor Stan Horaczek] ample chances, unfortunately, to test it in real-world situations.

    The built-in battery offers a 2048Wh capacity and pumps out up to 2,400W. It does so through four standard AC outlets, an RV outlet, two 120W car outlets, two 12W USB-A ports, and three 100W USB-C ports.

    I used it during a blackout to keep our Wi-Fi running while charging my family’s devices. Filling a phone from zero barely makes a dent in the power station’s capacity, and it ran the router for several hours with plenty of juice left.

    In another instance, it powered our small meat freezer for four hours before the power came back on with some juice still left in the tank. It does what it promises.

    There are a few nice extra touches as well. Built-in wheels and an extendable handle allow it to roll like carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, those are necessary inclusions because it weighs a hefty 67.3 pounds. It’s manageable but definitely heavy compared to its competition.

    The Anker 767 is compatible with the company’s 200W solar panels, which fold up for easy transportation. I mostly charged the unit through my home’s AC power, a surprisingly quick process. The 767 Portable Power Station can go from flat to more than 80% charge in less than a half hour with sufficient power. It takes about two hours to get it fully juiced.

    Anker also offers a mobile app that connects to the power station via Bluetooth if you want to control it without actually going over and touching it.

    Best for camping: Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core

    Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

    Why it made the cut: Thanks to its outstanding portability, high storage capacity, and Yeti’s famous durability, the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core is great for packing along for camping or van-living.

    • Storage capacity: 983Wh
    • Input capacity: 600W
    • Output capacity: 1,200W (2,400W surge)
    • Dimensions: 9.86 x 15.25 x 10.23 inches
    • Weight: 31.68 lbs
    • Price: 1,198.95
    • Highly portable
    • Incredible durability
    • Rapid recharge rate
    • Plenty of plugs

    Yeti is long-renowned for making some of the best outdoor gear money can buy, so when the company launched its Goal Zero line of solar generators, it was no surprise that they turned out to be awesome. While the whole line is great, the 1000 Core model’s balance between capacity and portability makes it perfect for taking on the road.

    While the 1000 Core has a third less capacity than our top pick, it charges up faster, making it a great option for Rapid solar replenishment. That said, its capacity is no slouch, offering 82 phone charges, 20 for a laptop, or upwards of 15 hours for a portable fridge (depending on wattage). Suffice it to say, that it’s more than capable of powering your basic camping gear.

    Beyond its charging capabilities, the Goal Zero 1000 Core excels at camping thanks to its hearty build quality. Built super tough—like pretty much everything Yeti makes—its exterior shell provides solid protection.

    The biggest issue it presents is the cost. Like pretty much everything Yeti produces, its price tag isn’t small. While there are other 1000-level solar generators for less, this one offers a great balance of power storage and portability.

    For more on the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core, check out our full review.

    Best for off-grid living: Bluetti AC200 Max

    Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

    Why it made the cut: Thanks to its high solo capacity and ability to daisy-chain with additional batteries, the Bluetti AC200 Max is perfect for bringing power off the grid.

    • Storage capacity: 2,048Wh standalone, expandable up to 8,192Wh
    • Input capacity: 1,400W
    • Output capacity: 2,200W (4,800W surge)
    • Dimensions: 16.5 x 11 x 15.2 inches
    • Weight: 61.9 lbs
    • Price: 1,999
    • Massive capacity
    • Daisy-chain capability
    • Lightning-fast input capacity
    • 30A RV plug and two wireless charging pads
    • Surprisingly affordable for what it offers

    You’ll be hard-pressed to find a solar generator better suited for living off the grid for an extended period than the Bluetti AC200 Max. It boasts a substantial 2,048Wh capacity, allowing you to power your whole life off it longer than most portable generators. Even better, you can daisy-chain multiple Bluetti batteries, expanding its capacity to a massive 8.192Wh. That’s flat-out enormous and translates into the ability to power a full-sized fridge for over a day or several hours of air conditioning. For the more modest needs of people who are used to living off a generator, it will last for a very long time.

    At the same time, the AC200 Max has an outstanding input capacity of 1,400W. That means you can plug in a pretty hefty array of solar panels to replenish its stores quickly. This allows you to keep your off-grid setup going with little to no interruption. It also features some specialty charging options, including a 30A plug, which lets you plug it directly into an RV, and multiple wireless charging pads for smaller devices.

    Best for homes: EcoFlow Delta Pro

    Why it made the cut: The EcoFlow Delta Pro delivers the standalone and expandable power capacity necessary to power your entire home.

    • Storage capacity: 3,600Wh standalone, expandable up to 25,000Wh
    • Input capacity: 6,500W
    • Output capacity: 3,600W (7,200W surge)
    • Dimensions: 25 x 11.2 x 16.4 inches
    • Weight: 99 lbs
    • Price: 3,699
    • Enormous capacity
    • Daisy-chain capability
    • 30A RV plug
    • Lightning-fast input capacity
    • Wi-Fi and Smartphone connectivity

    If you’re looking for the best solar generator for home backup in the event of a power outage, the EcoFlow Delta Pro stands apart from the pack, thanks to an unrivaled power and output capacity. The Delta Pro alone packs a 3,600Wh wallop, and you can expand that to 25,000Wh by chaining it to extra EcoFlow batteries and generators. That’s a ton of power and it has the substantial output capacity necessary to power an entire house worth of electronics when you need it to.

    The Delta Pro also offers a companion app for iOS and Android that allows you to monitor energy usage, customize its operation, and monitor and manage a number of other elements.

    While it’s not overly large for what it does, the Delta Pro is a heavy piece of equipment. It has wheels, so it is technically portable, but this is meant to be put down in a home or other semi-permanent site. Given its size and power, it’s also a much more expensive device, especially if you’re springing for the add-ons. As the best solar power generator to provide backup power for your entire home, however, it’s worth every penny.

    Best portable: Anker 545

    Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

    Why it makes the cut: If you’re looking for highly portable power, the Anker 545 delivers.

    When portability is a priority, the Anker 545 offers the compact size and reduced weight you’re looking for and packs fairly substantial power to boot. Roughly the size of a shoebox and lighter than a case of beer, it’s easy to pack along with camping gear and move around without too much effort.

    To get something so light, though, you have to compromise on power. The Anker 545 has a capacity of 778Wh and an output capacity of 770W, which is plenty of power for keeping your devices charged. Specifically, that should provide about 55 phone charges, 10 for a laptop, or 38 for a camera. Unfortunately, the outlets only output at up to 500W, so it cannot power more demanding devices like hair dryers or electric stoves.

    That said, the Anker 545 has some bells and whistles, including an integrated flashlight and ambient light. All told it’s a solid option if you need a highly mobile generator.

    Best budget: Jackery Explorer 300

    Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon

    Why it made the cut: With its reasonable capacity, compact size, and solid build quality at a low price, the Jackery Explorer 300 is a great budget pick.

    Though it isn’t quite as impressive as our top picks for best overall and best high-capacity, Jackery’s smaller Explorer 300 solar generator is super compact and lightweight with a decent power capacity for its price. Less a mobile power station than an upscale power bank, the 7-pound Jackery Explorer 300 provides plenty of portable recharges for your devices when you’re camping, on a job site, driving, or just need some power and don’t have convenient access to an outlet. Its modest 293Wh capacity isn’t huge, but it’s enough to provide 31 phone charges, 15 for a camera, 6 for the average drone, 2.5 for a laptop, or a few hours of operation for a minifridge or TV. A built-in flashlight would have upped its camping game somewhat, but at 300 (and often considerably less if you catch it discounted), this highly portable little power station does a lot for a little.

    We tested this portable power station for several months, and it came in handy numerous times, especially during the winter when power outages abound. At one point, we had it powering two phones, a MacBook, and a small light.

    The built-in handle makes it very easy to lug around. It feels like carrying a lunch box. The screen is easy to read, and the whole package seems fairly durable. Our review unit hasn’t taken any dramatic tumbles yet, but it has gotten banged around in car trunks, duffle bags, and other less-than-luxurious accommodations with no issues. If you catch one of these on sale, get it and stick it in a cabinet. You’ll be extremely glad to have it around when the need arises.

    What to consider before buying the best solar generators

    Over the past few years, solar generators have exploded onto the market. There are now dozens of different brands that largely look more or less the same at a glance. The fact is there are only a few standouts amidst a sea of knockoffs. Here’s what to look for to ensure you’re getting a great one:

    How much power can it store?

    A portable solar generator comes in an extremely wide range of sizes, but a generator’s size doesn’t automatically make it capable of storing a lot of power. In fact, most are disappointingly limited and unable to store much more juice than a portable charger.

    To properly check a generator’s storage, you must look at its capacity, measured in watt-hours (Wh). One watt-hour is the equivalent of 1 watt flowing over the course of an hour. The best solar generators offer capacities of several hundred and sometimes several thousand watt-hours. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will provide power for several hundred or several thousand hours. Any generator will ultimately last a different amount of time, depending on what’s plugged into it.

    It’s easy to predict how long a generator will last when you use it to power one thing. For example, if you were to power a 100-watt bulb using a power station with a capacity of 500 watt-hours, it would stay lit for five continuous hours. Add a portable fridge that requires 50 watts per hour, your phone which uses 18, a mini-fan that uses three … you get the picture. The more capacity, the better.

    Charging capability

    No solar generator will hold a charge forever, so you want one capable of charging as quickly and easily as possible. This is where we put the “renewable” into “renewable energy.”

    All of the power stations included in this roundup can be charged by connecting them to solar panels (hence the designation “solar generators”). Still, you also want to look for the ability to charge via other sources like wall outlets and your vehicle’s 12-volt plug. This ensures that you can charge up whether you’re off-grid in the sun, plugged in while preparing at home, or using your dash socket on the go.

    You must also monitor a model’s charging input capacity, measured in watts (W). For example, a solar-powered generator with a max input of 100W can take in a continuous flow of up to 100 watts, which is about the minimum that you’ll reasonably want to look for. Most of the generators below have input capacities of at least a few hundred watts when charging via solar, so a few 50- to 200-watt solar panels will max them out.

    Output capability

    Solar generators need to keep the power coming in and going out. The best solar generators can simultaneously charge all your intended devices via whatever plugs are necessary.

    Any portable power station worth your money will have a high output capacity so you can charge many devices, even if they require a lot of juice. A generator’s maximum output should be much higher than its max input. While a particular model might only be capable of taking in a few hundred watts at any given moment, it will usually put out exponentially more. At a minimum, you’ll want a generator that can put out 300 watts at a time, though you’ll want at least 500 for larger tasks.

    The best solar generators should also offer a variety of output plugs, including AC outlets, USB-A, USB-C, and even 12-volt DC outlets like the one in your vehicle dash. This ensures you can charge several devices simultaneously regardless of their plug. The number of ports you’ll need will vary depending on how many devices you need to power, but it should have at least a couple of AC outlets and a few USB-A ports.

    Portability

    While portable battery sources have been around for a while now, over the past several decades, they’ve been pretty heavy, unwieldy things. One of the most exciting aspects of the latest generation of solar generators is that they’ve become much more physically compact.

    Suppose you plan on taking a generator camping or working it into a van conversion where every square inch matters; well, size and weight become major considerations. All of the products we’ve recommended are about the size of one or two shoeboxes—three at the most. The lightest is about the weight of a 24-pack of soda, while the heaviest is 100 pounds. Most fall somewhere between 30-60 pounds.

    If you’re using your generator as a more or less stationary source of backup power at home, portability isn’t a huge issue. Still, we generally recommend keeping weight and size in mind; You never know when you’ll need it for something other than a backup. (Plus, who wants to lug around something heavy and awkward if they don’t have to?)

    Another consideration regarding portability involves the necessity for accessories, which can impact how easy it is to move and use your generator. Some generators, for example, require a lot of removable battery packs, which can be a hassle when you’re on the go or packing a vehicle. All of the inclusions on our list require some accessories—you can’t get solar power without connecting cables and solar panels—but they work well with minimal add-ons.

    Durability

    As with any product you expect to last, durability and all-around quality craftsmanship are essential. This is especially true if you plan on lugging your generator around on camping and road trips. Many subpar power stations are made from cheap components and flimsy plastic that doesn’t feel like it will hold up under the rigors of the road.

    Durability isn’t something you can determine by reading a spec sheet off the internet. You’ve actually got to take the generator out, use it a bunch, and see how it holds up. I’ve verified the durability of these recommendations via a combination of my own actual field tests and reviews culled from countless real product owners.

    FAQs

    Q: What size solar generator should I get?

    It’s easy to underestimate how much capacity you need. A 1,000 watt-hours might sound like a lot, but if you’re going to power a converted van with a portable fridge, lights, and occasional phone and laptop top-off, that 1,000 watt-hours will go faster than you expect. I used a setup like this and know from personal experience that you should always overestimate how much power you’ll need.

    A generator with a capacity under 1,000Wh can keep electronics charged. A larger one with 1000-1500Wh should be the minimum for road trips where you’ll need it to last multiple days between full charges. For a house or worksite where you expect to use some serious energy—like a full-sized refrigerator or power tools—you’re going to want to start looking at the biggest possible power stations that can be daisy-chained to external batteries.

    If you want to get precise, there is an equation:

    compare, reviews, solar, home, system

    Estimate how many hours you’ll need to power various devices. For example, if you want to power two light bulbs for 2 hours: you need 4 hours of operation.

    Add up the total wattage necessary: the two bulbs are 60 watts each, so you need 120 watts.

    Multiply these together to find the total watt-hours needed: 4 x 120 = 480. So, in this case you’d need at least a 500Wh solar generator.

    That might sound like a lot for two lightbulbs, but remember that, in most situations, you won’t really be powering 60-watt light bulbs for hours on end. You’ll be charging phones and laptops for an hour here or there, cooling a fridge that kicks on and off every once in a while, using power tools in short bursts, and whatnot.

    Q: How many years will a solar generator last?

    Most modern generators are rated to last upwards of 25 years. The best-designed power stations are pretty sturdy, with few to no moving parts, so they should likely keep kicking for a long time, provided that you care for them properly. I’ve been pretty rough with a few of mine, and they show no signs of stopping.

    Q: Can I run my house on solar power only?

    Yes and no. While it’s absolutely possible to power your house with solar power, you’re unlikely to do so with a portable solar generator unless you use several at once while limiting your power usage. The largest of our recommendations—the EcoFlow Delta Pro—will come fairly close when bolstered with extra batteries. If the power goes out, you’ll be able to keep your fridge cold and use basic electronics for a couple of days without recharging. With quality solar panels, good sunlight, and Smart energy usage, your power should theoretically go uninterrupted.

    Final thoughts on the best solar generators

    We’re living in a “golden age” for portable solar generators. When I was a kid, and my family was playing around with solar gear while camping in the ‘90s, the technology couldn’t charge many devices, so it wasn’t all that practical.

    By contrast, the solar generators we’ve recommended here are incredibly useful. I’ve relied on them to power my work and day-to-day needs while road-tripping nationwide. They’re also great when the power goes out. When a windstorm cut the power at my house for a couple of days, I was still working, watching my stories, and keeping the lights on.

    We haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of the potential offered by portable, reliable, renewable, relatively affordable power. What we can do now is already incredible. The potential for what may come next, though, is truly mind-blowing.

    Why trust us

    Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

    Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

    Nick Hilden writes reviews and recommendations coverage of fitness, outdoor and tech gear for Popular Science. He’s spent over a decade writing about lifestyle and culture topics for a slew of publications, including Scientific American, the Los Angeles Times, Vice, and Men’s Health, among others.

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