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Go Power! RV Solar & Inverter Systems. Go power solar generator

Go Power! RV Solar & Inverter Systems. Go power solar generator

    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.

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    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:

    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.

    Go Power! RV Solar Inverter Systems

    If you spend time camping and traveling in an RV, a solar panel setup can be your freedom to explore remote, off-grid locations. Spend weekends worry-free knowing you’re always powered up. Its a quiet alternative to having or lugging around a generator, it can help extend your battery life by 50%. Having a backup power plan for that unexpected parking lot stay or emergencies.

    power, solar, inverter, systems

    Our goal is to help you choose the right solar or Inverter system for your RV needs.

    Please contact us to schedule a solar consultation to get a personalized quote for your unit. Every project varies depending on the RV design, the layout and your needs. The packages below are rough estimates and could run more or less.

    GO POWER! SOLAR INVERTER INSTALLATION

    Go Power! Solar Kits, Inverter Systems

    BETTER – Go Power Solar Elite 5,500

    BEST – Go Power Solar Extreme 7,000.00

    Pricing list above includes labor to install – or less depending on vehicle installed in.

    The Weekender ISW System combines Go Power’s largest single Solar Kit and most popular pure sine wave inverter, for a complete RV power package. The result is an economical yet powerful way to have most of the comforts you need wherever you dry camp.

    GO POWER SOLAR ELITE 4-7 DAYS

    5,500 Installed.

    • Installation varies 8 hours more or less.
    • 2 – 380 watt, 18.6 amps (2x 190w panels)
    • 30 Amp PWM Digital Controller with Bluetooth
    • Pair with 4 batteries (Required – Batteries not included)
    • 2000 Pure Sine Wave Inverter / charger with built-in 100-amp battery charger and 50-amp transfer switch.
    • Inverter Install Kit and remote.
    • Freight charges and shop supplies not included.
    • DOESN’T INCLUDE BATTERIES, BOXES OR CABLES.

    GO POWER EXTREME 7-10 DAYS

    7,000.00 Installed.

    • Installation varies 12 hours more or less.
    • 3 – 570 watt, 27.9 amps (3x 190w panels)
    • 30 Amp PWM Digital Controller with Bluetooth
    • Pair with 4 batteries (Required – Batteries not included)
    • 3000 Pure Sine Wave Inverter / charger with built-in 125-amp battery charger and 50-amp transfer switch.
    • Inverter Install Kit and remote.
    • Freight charges and shop supplies not included.
    • DOESN’T INCLUDE BATTERIES, BOXES OR CABLES.

    0Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate Solar Battery

    Lithium technology offers a lightweight, safe alternative to traditional batteries, giving almost double the usable capacity of Lead Acid. The GP-LIFEPO4-100 provides 100 amp-hours of DC power. Use on its own or connect up to four together to build a powerful battery bank.

    Volt Sun Cycle AGM Solar Battery

    Specifically designed for solar, the AGM deep-cycle batteries offer maintenance free, sealed construction and integrated carrying handles. Ideal for upgrading lead-acid battery banks.

    Talkin’ RV Tech: Can I keep my RV plugged in while not in use?

    GO POWER RV SOLAR VIDEOS

    Link picture below so you can estimate the size of your system that’s right for you.

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    Solar Generators: A Guide to Portable Solar Power

    A solar generator is a portable power station that uses portable solar panels to charge a battery, and the stored electricity can be used to charge or operate other devices.

    As climate change continues to impact our planet in the form of extreme weather, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and more, we must look for sustainable solutions to more parts of our day-to-day life. This includes the move to using portable solar power generators to create and store renewable energy for all your backup power needs.

    Not only do solar generators create reliable clean electricity from the sun, but they also reduce the emission of harmful greenhouse gasses associated with traditional portable generators. As a result, manufacturers are working hard to make solar backup generators better and more reliable than their fuel-powered counterparts. This mirrors the growth and popularity of home solar power systems as an alternative to powering your home with fossil fuels.

    With this article, you will better understand what a solar generator is, why solar generators are worth an investment, how to shop for a portable solar generator that’s right for you, and why solar-powered generators should replace traditional gas-powered generators.

    What Is A Solar Generator?

    The term solar generator usually refers to the combination of portable solar panels, battery, battery charger, and inverter into a single device that allows you to capture, store, and distribute power from the sun.

    Solar generators are popular for camping trips, boating, RV trips, and as emergency backup power.

    Unlike a traditional generator, which is normally powered by gas, diesel, or propane and includes an engine, fuel tank, and alternator, a solar generator lacks any moving parts. They’re essentially comprised of four elements:

    • Portable Solar Panels. Captures energy from the sun
    • Rechargeable Battery. Stores the energy captured by solar panels
    • Solar Charge Controller. Manages how much energy goes into the battery
    • Solar Inverter. Converts the sun’s energy into usable electricity

    Thus, a solar generator is basically a portable battery with some photovoltaic (PV) panels attached to collect sunlight.

    A portable solar generator turns out to be a great power supply, whether you’re on the road, camping, or needing electricity during a power outage. Depending upon your situation, you might want a solar generator with a variety of outlets, especially in emergencies where you have multiple power-dependent devices and appliances.

    Typically, solar generators have 12-volt sockets, AC outlets, and USB ports to allow you to charge different devices. The beauty of having several charging options with your portable generator is that you can get the power you need on your terms. For example, you can plug a smartphone directly into the USB port to charge, and then connect an extension cord to the AC outlet to power a set of string lights.

    In most cases, you will have the option to buy components like solar battery storage and panels separately, though you can also buy them as a complete all-in-one kit. We recommend purchasing the accessories you need to generate and store enough electricity for your intended use.

    How Do Solar Power Generators Work?

    A solar battery generator works by creating electricity from sunlight and storing it in a battery for future use. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the process:

    • Solar panels convert sunlight to DC electricity and pass it through the charge controller.
    • The charge controller regulates the voltage of electricity before storage, ensuring the right amount of current goes to the battery.
    • The battery stores all the solar energy for later use.
    • The inverter converts the stored energy from the battery to the AC power that most appliances and devices use.

    Who Benefits From Using Solar Generators?

    Solar generators don’t burn fuel to generate electricity, making them ideal for anyone looking to reduce reliance on gas-powered generators, combat blackouts and other power outages, and have a reliable backup power source option in case of emergencies.

    You can use the energy stored in a solar generator during a power outage, to charge your devices when camping, and as source of energy on an RV or boating trip. Essentially, a solar-powered backup generator is ideal for a range of real-life situations, meaning it’s useful to have around for more than just emergencies.

    People Who Want to Make Eco-Friendly Choices

    Traditional generators run on fossil fuels that pollute the environment. If you’re conscious of the danger these fuels possess, then a solar backup generator is ideal for you.

    People Bothered by the Sounds and Smells of Traditional Generators

    Traditional generators are noisy and stinky because they’re combustion engines running on fossil fuels. Over time and even with proper maintenance, they can become noisier and smellier. If you’re looking for a generator that creates zero sounds and smells, a solar power generator will not let you down.

    People Who Enjoy Spending Time Outdoors

    You will find solar power generators are helpful if you enjoy being outside, yet still want to bring along a few modern perks. For example, during a camping or boating trip, solar batteries come in handy to ensure you have continuous power access. You could string up lights after sundown, charge your phones, run small kitchen appliances, and any number of conveniences you had to do without in the past.

    Key Factors When Shopping for a Solar Generator

    Solar generators come in different sizes and shapes, so picking one that will address your personal needs should be your priority. Choosing a solar generator can be challenging, especially when you are presented with different options, so we created this shopping list as a good starting point.

    Since not all portable solar backup power generators are the same, people need to know what the generator can and cannot do. Knowing how you intend to use your generator should help guide you to the right solution.

    Some of the top brands to compare include Jackery, Goal Zero Yeti, Bluetti, EcoFlow, Point Zero Energy, Renogy, and Tacklife. Each company makes its products unique, so a closer look at what each one offers can help you make a sound decision.

    Your Energy Requirements

    The amount of electricity you need should be your top consideration for determining the size of your solar powered generator. For example, if you plan to use it outdoors, you should calculate how much energy your devices and appliances use when comparing the storage capacity of potential solar generators.

    How Much Electricity The Solar Generator Can Provide

    The longer a generator can provide power, the better. (This is usually calculated in watt hours.) Considering you don’t always know when you will have an opportunity to recharge it, it is best to have one that can run efficiently for a long time. That way, it will be easier for you to go about your daily activities or complete what you were doing, knowing you have enough backup power.

    How Long The Solar Generator Takes To Charge

    In addition to comparing the battery capacity of a solar generator, you should also pay attention to how long it takes for the battery to achieve a full charge. Some even have the ability to quick charge from a home AC power outlet. This will help with planning how much time you’ll need to be without power in the event a recharge is necessary.

    What Features and Benefits are Included

    You can do a lot with a solar generator that has helpful features. For example, more USB ports and power outlets give you the freedom to charge multiple devices at once.

    Weight is another essential consideration, especially if you plan to use your generator for outdoor activities. Batteries can be heavy, so you might want to look for a solar generator that has focused on keeping the weight down if you plan to move it around a lot.

    What the Warranty Covers

    We recommend examining any benefits you might enjoy from the product warranty. The larger and more reputable the company, the more perks you will likely receive to support your solar power generator. The top options include replacement parts for any necessary repairs, as well as a longer length of time your solar generator is covered by the warranty.

    Comparing Portable Solar Generators with Traditional Gas-Powered Generators

    The Pros of Solar Generators

    Investing in a portable solar generator is a good way of reducing your environmental impact and enjoying numerous other benefits:

    Portable

    Generally lighter than traditional gas-powered generators, solar generators are ideal for outdoor events, camping, emergencies, and general on-the-go activities. Some of them are even equipped with a luggage-like pull handle to enhance portability.

    Low Maintenance

    Wear and tear due to moving parts in traditional emergency generators can lead to high maintenance costs. Solar generators have no moving parts and don’t rely on gas to generate electricity. This design helps lower the possibility of having to pay for repairs.

    Clean Energy

    Solar generators generate clean, renewable energy that doesn’t hurt the environment when running. Traditional generators run on fossil fuels which contribute to air pollution and climate change. As an added benefit, you can access solar energy freely instead of paying for pricey fossil fuels.

    Easy Operation

    Solar generators are easy to use as they don’t require fueling, oiling, starting, and maintaining. Just turn it on, connect your devices, and draw power from it.

    The Cons of Solar Generators

    There are a few disadvantages to using solar generators that you should consider before making a purchase:

    Higher Upfront Cost

    Solar generators typically require a higher initial investment than traditional generators. However, the costs of operating are lower than traditional options, so you’ll save money over time.

    Lower Energy Storage

    Solar generators aren’t ideal if your power demands are too high. For instance, during a power outage, your generator may not be sufficient to operate all devices and appliances in your house. In most cases, they are best for operating a few devices at a time, such as lighting, a television, or a refrigerator.

    Slower Energy Generation

    Compared to traditional gas-powered portable generators, solar generators are not the best option when you need instantaneous power. If your battery runs out of power, you have to wait for it to recharge to get power to your appliances and devices, which can vary depending on the weather conditions. With a traditional generator, you simply need to add more fuel to generate additional power.

    The Pros of Traditional Generators

    Generators powered by fossil fuels do have some advantages, including:

    Portability

    Traditional options are available in different sizes, and there are smaller sizes that you can bring with you when traveling. Just remember that you also have to carry gasoline, so they aren’t quite as portable as solar generators.

    Familiar Technology

    Having been on the market for years, traditional generators are more familiar to some people. However, that market dominance also means the technology hasn’t been dramatically improved because of the lack of competition.

    Electricity On-Demand

    Traditional generators produce electricity as soon as they receive fuel, while a solar generator must be recharged to provide electricity. Hence, gas-powered generators are more convenient when you need instant power.

    The Cons of Traditional Generators

    Despite their popularity over the years, traditional generators have their shortcomings. Here are some of the reasons why people are ditching them:

    Fuel Costs

    Traditional generators rely on costly fossil fuels to run, which increases their long-term costs over the initial purchase price. You may also have to pay more to access that fuel if you aren’t near a gas station or other fuel source.

    Toxic Gases

    Traditional generators are notorious polluters. Each gallon of gasoline contains about 20.35lbs of carbon dioxide, and the average camping generator emits around 1-2 lbs of carbon dioxide per hour, even when running at 1/4 of the max rated load.

    In addition to carbon dioxide, gas-powered generators can also release other harmful gases into the atmosphere, including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and sulfur oxides.

    Noisy Operation

    Because of all the moving parts that make up a traditional gas-powered generator, they produce a lot of noise when operating. This is especially true for smaller portable generators, which are designed to prioritize size and weight over noise prevention.

    Ongoing Maintenance

    You have to continuously pay to take care of your traditional generator if you want to keep it in good working order. That regular maintenance occurs because the generator uses moving parts to process fossil fuels into electricity, and those moving parts need to be cleaned, oiled, and replaced over time. In addition, the fuel can go bad if it sits unused for a long period of time. Those routine costs definitely impact the total price of owning a gas-powered generator in the long run.

    Key Takeaways

    Solar generators are growing in popularity, and with advances in solar technologies, people who like clean energy are increasingly picking them over gas-powered generators. Solar generators offer low maintenance, portability, clean energy, and sustainable living to combat climate change. The numerous benefits of owning a solar generator make it worth the investment.

    Before you buy a solar-powered generator, make sure you analyze the key features of different brands to pick one that will address your power needs. Brands like ​​Jackery, Goal Zero Yeti, and Bluetti make a wide range of different solar generators to match your needs.

    If you want to store even more backup solar power than even the best solar generator can provide, you should consider solar battery storage that connects to your home solar panel system. While your home solar panels can definitely charge your portable solar generator so you have on-the-go power whenever you need it, solar generators are not designed to act as a home standby generator for your entire home.

    If you’re shopping for backup power options, the experts at Palmetto can help you understand the long-term solutions that are right for your electricity needs and system requirements. Get started today with a Free Solar Savings Estimate, and then speak with one of our solar professionals on how you can always have the energy you need when you need it most.

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    GoPower! Duralight 100 solar suitcase review

    Today’s RV gadget review is of GoPower’s Duralite 100 watt portable solar kit. I have had a GoPower portable solar kit since I got my RV new in 2016 and our second camping trip was on the beach over Christmas where the only power we got was from those solar panels.

    Since then I have been hooked on free power from that ball of fire in the sky. Even my original solar panels, a GoPower 80 watt solar suitcase, showed me how much better camping is when your awning isn’t in danger of touching your neighbor’s RV. While that original panel was 80 watts and served us well, these new Duralite panels are 100 watts each and GoPower sent us that panel plus an expansion panel as well for a total of 200 watts.

    I’ve been writing about a number of power-consuming devices lately and stating that they’re great for boondocking without telling the whole story. somehow you have to get the power to the devices. There has been the Jackery 1500 that I reviewed but there’s a much better way and these panels are part of that story.

    What is the GoPower! Duralight solar suitcase?

    The GoPower Duralite 100 watt solar kit consists of two 50 watt monocrystalline panels in a folding case that delivers 100 watts of solar at 5.06 amps and 19.8 volts. This whole kit weighs far less than my tried-and-true older GoPower kit at just 8.4 pounds yet has a very high quality feel.

    To keep the folding halves together there are magnets in the handles and the panels also have legs that form stands in the back to keep the panels pointed to the sky.

    There are two panel “kits” that formed what we were sent, the main kit which includes a charge controller and cables to accommodate a variety of connections. Among the connectors included are the standard connector that’s on the side of many, many RVs nowadays. But there are also connectors to attach directly to the batteries of the RV via both terminal screws and alligator clamps.

    Further, the expansion kit includes a second solar suitcase and 12 feet of wire fitted with standard Anderson connectors on each end. All the connectors for this are industry-standard types so these do work well with other systems.

    How they work

    These almost couldn’t be easier to operate. As long as there’s sun solar panels provide power which a device called a charge controller manages. This controller manages the flow of power so you don’t damage the battery being charged.

    You simply open the panel up to the sun and pop the leg out the back to aim the panels. Connect the included charge controller and then tie the other end to the RV as appropriate.

    As mentioned the number of connectors included in this kit should accommodate anything I can imagine in the RV space.

    You then use the Menu and Set buttons on the controller to tell the system what sort of battery you have in the RV. for example AGM batteries or lithium. and it uses its own internal smarts to make sure everything operates as it should.

    The controller not only controls the power delivered to the battery in such a manner that it’s ideal for the type of battery (lithium batteries charge differently than lead acid batteries) but work so they don’t over charge the battery and damage it (or them).

    Yes, you can use this if you have multiple batteries tied together. For a good long while we had two six volt “golf cart” batteries in our travel trailer until we switched to a single AGM thin plate battery. That same type of battery is in our vintage trailer.

    The panels have two openings on the side covered by rubber covers, one of those is the connectors to the charge controller and the other covers two USB ports and an LED. That LED lights up when the panels are getting sun and ready to send it your way.

    The connectors deliver 19.8 volts to the charge controller.

    Who these panels are for

    Many RVs nowadays are beginning to see the light of solar. In fact, Keystone has made a lot of noise by including 200 watts of solar on every RV they make and many others in the industry are not far behind on this. The reason for this is that there are half a million RVs being built every year but not many new campgrounds.

    power, solar, inverter, systems

    However roof-top solar has its challenges, among those is the circumstance where camping under the trees means the solar panels are pretty ineffective. This is one of the reasons I like portable solar systems or “solar suitcases” as they are sometimes called.

    You can put the panels out in the sun even when the RV’s under the shade of trees. Further, if the place you’re camping isn’t placing the roof of the RV in the ideal position for capturing that wonderful sunlight, portable panels can augment that power as well.

    Further, if you have no solar at all a portable panel can be your solution as it was with our RV for so many years. We did fine with 80 watts, the 200 provided by the main and extension panel in this set are like a super luxury.

    What do portable solar panels do?

    Do know that all any solar panels do is charge a battery, or a series of batteries. From there the battery powers the things in your RV. If you have a lot of power demands, such as a 12 volt refrigerator or inverted outlets, then you’re going to have higher demand. This will likely mean you’ll have more than just a single lead acid battery, although that’s what most RV dealers include in towable RVs.

    Motorhomes often have banks of batteries but also tend to have generators. But it’s becoming more common that some motorhomes have solar and advanced battery systems and I’m sure that this will become more common as time marches on.

    Towable RVs have really changed a lot in just the past year as it seems that demand for advanced battery systems and solar have exploded and there are a number of RV manufacturers that have given me sneak peeks at what’s coming and you can bet that all those promised systems include advanced batteries and solar.

    It used to be that powering an air conditioner with batteries was almost impossible but RV AC systems are growing more efficient. In fact our own 2023 Rockwood Mini Lite 2205S with the Power Package can operate the air conditioner for hours for two reasons: 1,000 watts of solar and a 400 amp hour battery plus a more efficient air conditioner.

    What’s included

    Include in the main kit is a 30 amp charge controller which is necessary to take the power generated by the panels and convert it to be able to be used by the batteries in the RV. GoPower suggests that one of these kits is good for two AGM batteries or a single lithium battery.

    Not only are all the connectors industry-standard connectors but GoPower included a 12 foot extension cable as well so, really, you’re ready to go right out of the box.

    The panels stay closed when not in use via a magnet in the handles and the whole build quality of these really feels good. As with all electronic gizamawhatsits, portable solar panels have come a very long way in the past five years since I got my first set.

    Not only are the panels included along with a variety of connectors, but there is also a bag into which it all fits. The panels slot in to the top of the bag and there’s a zippered on the side for all he cables and the charge controller. It’s really a nice package.

    Tips

    The first thing I’ll tell you is that I have left our portable panels out in the sun while we’ve gone on adventures. What I do is use a long dog lead and tie the panels to the RV. I know this isn’t going to stop a determined thief but it’ll certainly keep honest people honest and we haven’t had any issues in all the years and with all the camping we’ve been doing.

    Since these panels have so many connectors with them they’re not just limited to charging your RV’s battery. There are two USB ports on each panel so you can charge a variety of devices with the sun’s power. Since the panels tilt back the device can be in the shade while the sun does the charging.

    Since there are alligator clamps included you could also use these to charge boat batteries, car batteries and all sorts of other things.

    One set of panels can easily keep multiple vehicles in good shape depending on how you use the vehicles, of course. And, portable panels are also good if you have multiple RVs. For example, we have one set of connectors on the battery on our vintage travel trailer and one on the modern trailer.

    In summary

    My original GoPower 80 watt solar suitcase really served us well and we included it in the travel trailer when we sold it to a walnut orchard to become a guest cottage.

    These new panels that were sent to us are just light years ahead of the old ones in terms of ease of use, connectivity and convenience. I was very happy with the whole build quality of these panels along with the variety of industry-standard connectors that came with them as well as the high-performance charge controller.

    I’m sure there are cheaper options but the lack of frustration, the fact that everything’s included in the kit and the bonus of being able to add a second and even third panel to the system should you need that really make this a logical choice.

    As mentioned, even if you have solar on the roof of your RV these might be a great addition to the picture. The MSRP on the main kit is 735 with the expansion panel kit carrying a list price of 490.

    You may also be able to buy just the expansion panel depending on the charge controller in your RV, if you have one. The expansion panel may also be a good pairing if you have a solar generator or portable power station, unless it’s the Jackery which does not use industry-standard connectors which is one of my principal issues with it.

    In fact, GoPower just announced their own portable power station in the GP Duracube-500 that does pair with these panels and uses a better battery chemistry (Lithium Iron Phosphate or LiFePO4) than the Jackery which means it’s able to support far more charge cycles. that translates into a much longer life.

    Overall I couldn’t be happier with this portable solar kit. It’s light, very well made and flexible enough that I can’t imagine camping without it, quite frankly. And now you see where I’m getting the power for all those little electrical goodies I’ve been writing about lately.

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