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How to Set Up a Solar Backup Generator: A Step-by-Step Guide. Solar generator set

How to Set Up a Solar Backup Generator: A Step-by-Step Guide. Solar generator set

    Oupes 1800W Power Station — Solar Generator (CleanTechnica Review)

    Oupes, a company I haven’t worked with before, recently got in touch with me and sent me their 1800W power station to review. It’s one of the most powerful stations I’ve tested, and it’s got a couple of tricks up its sleeve that the others don’t.

    Specifications Pricing

    Here are a few specifications for the unit so you can compare it to other things if you’re shopping:

    • 1800 watt maximum total output
    • 3 US-style 100-120 volt outlets
    • Multi-color display that shows capacity, power usage, estimated time remaining
    • USB A and C (PD) ports
    • Cigarette-lighter style plug and two 12-volt output plugs
    • Lantern light on back of unit, two light levels, flash function
    • Can charge with included 185 watt wall adapter, 12 volt car charger, or up to 400 watts of solar (sold separately, or as a bundle, we got two panels to review)
    • 1699 (normal price), 1399 (sale, at time of writing), 2099 w/ two panels (1799 sale at time of writing)
    solar, backup, generator, step-by-step, guide

    What I Love About The Oupes 1800W Power Station/Solar Generator

    Right off the bat, I need to compare it to the only other station this powerful that I’ve reviewed: The Jackery Explorer 1500. In some ways, it falls a little short, but in other ways, it comes ahead.

    The solar panels fold up very small, and have a footprint very similar to the power station. They have carry handles, a pouch to store cords, and folding legs.

    One of the ways it outperforms the Jackery is by size and convenience of the solar panels. They fold, like the Jackery Solar Saga panels, but they fold up quite a bit smaller. Instead of needing to tuck them behind things in a closet or other storage area, you can set them beside the unit because they have a similar footprint. This could also be quite useful for car camping.

    The Oupes 1800W power station and two Oupes solar panels.

    When deployed, they’re a little wider and not as tall as the Jackery panels we’ve reviewed. Like any folding solar panels I’ve tested, they can struggle to stay standing up in the wind, so sometimes you do need to add some weight to the legs to keep them pinned down. This can be done with scrap lumber as I did here, or you could do it with whatever you have on hand, like rocks or tent stakes.

    The little legs have stretchy support strings, and you can put some weight on those, or a tent stake, to keep it from flying away on a windy day.

    Altogether, these two 100W peak-rated panels put out a respectable 130 watts. That sounds pathetic, but 150 watts is typical in good light and I didn’t have great light today. A dust storm (you can see dust on the panels here) and wildfire smoke in the area cut my power pack. Given the conditions, I think they did pretty good. It would probably take 8 hours or so to charge the unit up completely, but if that’s too slow, you can plug in as many as four panels to cut that time in half.

    The lantern feature lighting up my table.

    Another thing I really liked was the lantern feature. This would be great both for camping and emergencies. The light was bright, but not harsh because the LEDs are hidden behind a diffuser panel. I’m glad to see that they had typical uses for these in mind.

    I was also impressed with the display. It shows not only current power draw or charging power (or both if you’re doing both), but it also shows how long you have left at current power use levels before the unit would be dead. This takes a lot of guesswork and math out of it, and makes it easier to adjust on the fly to make sure you have enough power to get through the night, etc.

    Things That Could Be Better

    Personally, I think the Jackery stations and panels look a little more classy, but that’s only skin deep. They appear to be just as robust and functional, but this is just a matter of personal taste.

    Another small nitpick: The 12-volt output is a little low on voltage. Most power stations output around 13 volts, with a voltage sag closer to 12 volts when under heavier load. This station put out 12.5 volts at a low load, and dropped to either 11.9 volts or 12.0 volts even when loads increased. It never dropped below 11.9, so this shouldn’t be an issue unless you’ve got some very sensitive equipment that has to be above 12 volts. None of my radio stuff had any problems.

    Stress RF Testing

    To stress-test this unit, I plugged a larger toaster oven into it. When set to the toast mode, this pulled around 1200 watts from the unit. We then used it to cook a small frozen pizza. Ten minutes of cooking took about 10% of the battery, so you could definitely use this for cooking in an emergency as long as you don’t need to do any long bakes. It should have no problem running microwaves and other kitchen appliances, as it puts out as much as any 120 volt wall outlet can.

    It had no problem at all running a larger toaster oven (1100 watts).

    For RF testing, I did what I usually do: use it to power an amateur radio. If an electronic device is putting out nasty radio waves, a sensitive receiver will usually pick it up all over the HF (shortwave) bands. Like other units I’ve tested, this one didn’t make any radio interference.

    The Oupes power station running my computer and a Yaesu 818 HF transceiver to transmit digital signals.

    This has nothing to do with the power station (it provided adequate power), but this evening I was able to get signals out as far as Japan and western Australia, which was fun. Because my radio gear and computer use so little power, I could have done this for 2-3 days using the power station, and probably indefinitely with good sun during the day.

    Final Thoughts

    All in all, it’s a great value, especially if you can catch it on sale like it is right now. It works well in all of my testing, has plenty of features and ports to power just about anything, and has a built-in lantern for emergencies or camping. The solar panels were very convenient to move, store, and put in a car. I’d recommend this power station if it fits your power needs.

    All images by Jennifer Sensiba.

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    How to Set Up a Solar Backup Generator: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Traditional fossil-fueled home backup generators provide a convenient tool for keeping the lights on and the appliances running when you lose power. Unfortunately, they also tend to be extremely loud, produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide, and pollute the air with particulate matter and greenhouse gases, endangering your health — and our planet.

    Solar generators provide a clean, renewable alternative for those who want a backup power source without the issues mentioned above.

    You can set up plug-and-play solar generators in a few simple steps.

    What Equipment Do You Need?

    Many solar generators come with all the necessary equipment to get up and running, including a portable power station, solar panel(s), built-in inverter and charge controller, and cables to connect everything.

    If you’re not purchasing an all-in-one, plug-and-play solution like EcoFlow’s DELTA 2, you may need to buy components separately and be mindful of compatibility concerns.

    Portable power stations that feature solar charging from solar panels come in many sizes and capacities, such as EcoFlow’s DELTA Max and Pro solar generators. The Max comes with power output capacities of 1612 Wh or 2016 Wh. The Pro offers 3600 Wh out of the box and is expandable up to 25 kWh with additional Smart batteries and other equipment.

    For solar panels, you can opt for portable solar panels or rigid solar panels. Rigid solar panels work best for fixed installation where you have a large, flat area to mount the panels — such as a rooftop.

    Portable solar panels offer additional flexibility for RVs, camping, and homes with limited roof space.

    Next, you need an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) from your solar panels into AC electricity, which almost all consumer appliances and electronics use. The inverter is built into EcoFlow’s portable power stations, solar generators, and power kits.

    Finally, wiring and mounting equipment will allow you to connect and fix your parts to complete setting up the generator.

    Depending on where you install your solar panels, you may need additional accessories, such as a solar extension cable or a parallel connector cable to link multiple solar panels.

    How to Set Up a Solar Backup Generator

    Power outages are happening more frequently. With extreme weather events more common than ever and an aging electrical infrastructure compounding the problem, it’s more critical than ever to be prepared with a backup power source.

    Setting up a solar backup generator is the surest solution for reliable power, especially during an extended outage.

    Calculate Your Energy Needs

    Before you set up your solar backup generator, you need to know how much energy you use. The average American household uses about 886 kWh per month, but that figure can vary widely.

    For you, the answer will depend not only on where you live but how you live: the energy ratings of your appliances, the size of your home, and the number of appliances and devices you use. Before making a purchase, you must determine how much electricity your generator will need to provide.

    Your electricity bill can give you a good sense of your monthly usage. Add up a year’s worth of bills and divide the total kWh by 12 to estimate your monthly consumption. Your energy consumption will tend to vary significantly from month to month based on the weather and other factors. Looking at just one monthly bill won’t give you a clear picture.

    solar, backup, generator, step-by-step, guide

    Once you have your average monthly power consumption, divide again by 30, and you’ll have a decent estimate of your household’s daily electricity needs. You can use this to determine how much output and storage capacity your solar generator needs.

    If you only need your solar backup generator to power a few essential items, confirm the energy consumption of each device. Add up everything you need to power, and you can determine what the output capacity of your generator must be.

    It’s crucial to keep in mind that many appliances require more energy to start up than they need to run. This is commonly known as peak or surge power. Usually, the surge wattage needed will be listed on the appliance’s energy sticker, the manual, or the manufacturer’s website.

    EcoFlow’s solar generators feature proprietary X-Boost technology to ensure you have the surge power you need to get your appliances up and running.

    Purchase Your Equipment

    A portable power station is essentially a large-scale battery that stores energy from a variety of sources — including solar panels.

    Once you’ve identified how much energy you need to power your home, purchase a portable power station or solar generator with sufficient battery and output capacity.

    Consider an EcoFlow Whole Home Backup Power Solution if you want a whole-house backup generator. You can add rigid or portable solar panels to generate the power you need.

    Otherwise, you can purchase the power station, solar panels, and other parts separately based on your family’s requirements.

    A solar panel or panels charge the portable power station when it’s outputting power or when it’s not. But once your storage capacity is reached, any additional energy captured will go to waste. Make sure you purchase a panel (or panels) with enough rated power capacity to keep your portable power station charged.

    Charge Your Portable Power Station

    You should always begin with a charged battery. You don’t know when you will need your backup energy source. Make sure your battery has a full charge now before setting it up.

    Don’t forget. You can quickly charge most portable power stations (usually in about an hour) with AC power from a home electrical outlet — except during a blackout.

    Position Your Solar Panels

    Angle and position your solar panels for maximum sun exposure. For permanent installations, many homeowners choose their roofs. For safety reasons, you may want a professional to perform a rooftop installation with rigid solar panels.

    If you want to use more than one panel to charge your portable power station faster, determine whether you should connect them in parallel or in series. You gain more power by connecting in series, but you get higher amperage by connecting in parallel.

    Each portable power station will also have a limit to how much solar power it can accept — you can’t just connect an unlimited number of solar panels to meet your needs. For example, the EcoFlow DELTA 2 has a maximum solar input capacity of 500W.

    Set up the Portable Power Station

    Choose the location for your portable power station. If you’re connecting devices and appliances to the built-in inputs, it should be close to the appliances or devices you want to charge.

    If you’re installing a whole home backup power solution, connect the portable power station(s) to the home electric panel using a transfer switch or power input. This is usually a quick job, but it requires a professional electrician.

    Other Resources To Refer To

    If you opt not to use an all-in-one system like an EcoFlow portable power station and solar panes, you can find resources to help you go it alone. For additional details about how to go about setting up the components in your system, the US Department of Energy offers a helpful guide on balance of system equipment. To operate and maintain your solar generator, you might need to purchase other equipment, such as surge protection.

    If you opt for an EcoFlow solar generator solution, the EcoFlow Support page will help connect you to someone who can help you get up and running or to professional installers (if required). You can also find EcoFlow product manuals and setup guides available for free online.

    Conclusion

    A solar generator prepares you for power outages. It reduces your carbon footprint — and your electricity bills. Setting up a solar generator doesn’t have to be complicated if you follow the steps above.If you’re ready for energy independence, consider EcoFlow. We have everything you need, from portable power stations and solar generators to solar panels.

    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.

    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
    solar, backup, generator, step-by-step, guide

    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.

    The 7 Best Solar Generators for RVs: A Review and Comparison

    You’re looking to jump on the solar generator bandwagon, but you’re not sure where to turn. You’ve come to the right place.

    If you’re new to solar energy and attempted to read about DIY solar generators for RVs to no avail, or you’ve bought a solar generator but are ready for an upgrade—this post is for you.

    Identifying the best solar generator for your RV can be a challenge! With so many plug-and-play options on the market, let’s walk through the seven best solar generators for RVs.

    Our Top Picks

    Ultimate Expansion CapabilityDELTA Pro by Ecoflow

    Best Entry-Level High Output OptionBluetti AC200Max

    Best Solar Generators for RVs

    Read about each of the generators on our list, and don’t miss our downloadable comparison chart and buyers guide below!

    Anker PowerHouse 767

    The Anker PowerHouse 767 comes with HyperFlash technology for charging from 0% to 80% in just one hour. It’s our best solar generator for RV enthusiasts because of its record-breaking charging speeds, expansion ability, and low cost per Watt-hour.

    When you upgrade to the Expansion Battery bundle, the system cost comes in at just 0.73/Wh which is very competitive and doubles the capacity of this system.

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

    Solar Panels

    Anker provides bundled configurations that include their model 531 Solar Panel rated at 200W.

    • Five-year full device warranty included
    • Power up to 12 devices—2400W includes an exclusive RV port, four AC ports, three USB-C charging ports, two USB-A charging ports, and two car outlets
    • Wheels for power to move this solar generator with ease
    • Regular firmware updates resolve most issues reported by customers and expect future updates to continue optimizing this solar generator
    • Anker is a trusted brand known for its excellent customer support
    • AC charging cable, battery-to-host cable, car charging cable, and solar charging cable included with accessories bag

    DELTA Pro

    The award-winning DeltaPro Solar Generator is our runner-up best solar generator for RVs, which comes with a mega expandable system that can grow from 3,600 Wh to 25,000 Wh with extra batteries and/or other EcoFlow Smart Generators. You can purchase expansion batteries for less than a dollar per watt-hour!

    EcoFlow’s DELTA series was named in TIME’s Best 100 Inventions of 2021 and won the 2022 Red Dot Design and IF Awards.

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

    Solar Panels

    EcoFlow sells multiple solar panels compatible with the Pro, including the 400W Portable Solar Panel and the 220W Bifacial Foldable Solar Panel.

    • Five ways to charge—EV station charging, solar, wall outlets, Smart Outdoor Generator, or 12 v auto adapter (included)
    • Easy-to-read LCD screen or EcoFlow app allows you to view and control charging time
    • Can be charged in 1.7 hours with a 3400W EV charging station
    • Includes wheels for easy maneuvering
    • Regular firmware updates
    • Five-year warranty
    • AC charging cable, car charging cable, DC5521 to DC5525 cable, and handle cover included
    • Level 2 EV adaptor is not included, and you may need an adapter to connect with a mobile EV charger if your EV charger doesn’t have a standard AC plug

    Bluetti AC200Max

    If you want to dip your toe in the water of solar generators for your RV with some ability for expansion, we think the Bluetti AC200Max is the best solar generator for you. It can be expanded for less than a dollar per watt-hour.

    The solar generator comes with 16 outputs to suit your electrical needs. A 30A NEMA TT-30 port and a 12V 30A DC port are included with RV fans in mind.

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

    Solar Panels

    Bluetti’s most popular solar panels to pair with the AC200MAX include the 200W PV200 and the 350W PV350.

    • Bluetti is known for its excellent customer support
    • Easy to set up and run for buyers new to solar generators for RVs
    • Mobile app available for reading display
    • 24-month warranty
    • The solar and cigarette lighter use the same port, which makes the cigarette lighter port unusable while charging with solar

    ALLPOWERS S2000

    The ALLPOWERS S2000 is our best solar generator for RV for those on a budget because has a significant amount of power for less than a dollar per watt-hour!

    It’s an extraordinary budget solar generator for RVs with a 30-A plug-in, and it has 12 outputs. The power station has 2400 wattage with a surge of 4000 wattages.

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

    Solar Panels

    The ALLPOWERS SP037 400W Portable Solar Panel is an ideal panel to pair with the S2000 for a fast charge or consider the 200W SP033 solar panel if you’re ok waiting a bit longer to charge.

    • Five-year warranty
    • Fully recharged in 1.5 hours using a wall outlet with included 1500 AC adapter and 3 hours using MPPT 650W max solar input
    • Remote control with a phone app
    • 10 years of battery life
    • The ALLPowers brand regularly has coupons and sales on this product, so keep an eye out for deals to save

    Jackery Explorer 1000

    You won’t find a Best Solar Generator for RV list without a Jackery model. Jackery has been a fan-favorite solar generator brand for a long time.

    The Jackery Explorer 1000 is a trusted unit that will allow you to power 90 percent of appliances. This power station can be charged in six hours with 100W solar panels or 5.5 hours via an AC wall charger.

    Without a 30A AC plug, this solar generator isn’t ideal for plugging in your entire RV, but you could still plug in directly with a 15A to 30A adapter.

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

    Solar Panels

    You can mix and match Jackery’s SolarSaga solar panels to match your charge speed and budget requirements. Jackery has multiple panels in the lineup including a 200W panel and a 100W panel. For an ultra-fast 1.8 hour charge, Jackery bundles the Explorer 1000 with four of their 200W SolarSaga panels, and they also offer a lower-cost bundle that includes the Explorer 1000 with two 80W SolarSaga panels.

    • Quiet and strong— little to no noise
    • Features industry-leading cylindrical batteries that meet UL Safety Standards
    • Jackery is a popular and trusted solar generator brand
    • Jackery often has coupons available for this product, so keep an eye out for deals
    • AC adapter, car charger cable, and SolarSaga Parallel adapter included
    • The display backlight does not have the option to stay on permanently, and it is difficult to read without the light

    Goal Zero Yeti 500X

    Goal Zero is another brand known for its best solar generators for RV. The Goal Zero Yeti 500X is a small option that is suitable to power your laptop or other smaller devices. It’s small size will allow you to tuck it out of the way when not in use.

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

    Solar Panels

    The Goal Zero 500x pairs well with either the Nomad 50W, 100W or 200W panels.

    • Lightweight and portable—only 12.9 pounds
    • Trustworthy brand known for its humanitarian roots and giving back to disadvantaged communities
    • Compatible with Goal Zero Light-A-Life for bright LED light (not included)
    • Long charging time; expect 10 hours with a wall or USB, and 12-14 hours with solar or buy the Goal Zero X 600 W Power Supply to cut charge time down to five hours
    • Relatively expensive when considering its cost per watt-hour in comparison to other solar generators for RVs

    Anker 521

    The Anker 521 is the best solar generator for RV enthusiasts who need a small charge. If all you need to power is your laptop or a lamp, the Anker 521 is a solid choice.

    It comes with six ports, including two AC ports, two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and a car outlet. Charge it up in two hours with a wall, or four hours with solar energy.

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

    Solar Panels

    You can get the Anker 521 bundled with a 100W panel, or mix and match separately.

    • Anker is a trusted brand
    • Long-lasting battery built to last over a decade
    • Smart temperature monitoring control system to prevent the device from getting too hot
    • Anker’s worry-free five-year warranty
    • Lightweight—only eight pounds
    • Solar panels can be purchased as a bundle or separately
    • Only 200W output, so definitely not intended for powering large appliances
    • Solar panels not included, but they can be bundled with your purchase

    Best Solar Generators for RV Buyer’s Guide

    Keep reading for details on everything you need to know to make the best buying decision you can.

    Comparison Chart of the Best Solar Generators for RVs

    The following table compares all the important features you’ll want to consider when buying the perfect solar generator for your RV. Download a copy for further reference.

    Amount of Power You Need

    The first step in determining the best solar generator for your needs is to make a list of every item you want to power. This will help you determine exactly how much power you need.

    This chart will give you a general idea of how much power electrical items use in RVs.

    To understand this chart, you must understand the difference between rated watts and surge watts.

    Rated watts, also known as running wattage, are the amount of electricity required to run the electronic continuously. Surge watts, also known as starting wattage, are the additional wattage needed for two to three seconds to start the electric motors normally found in appliances like fans and refrigerators.

    Appliance Rated Watts Surge Watts
    Rooftop Air Conditioner (15,000 BTU) 1,500 W 3,500 W
    Space Heater 1,800 W 1,800 W
    Electric Water Heater (6 gals) 1,440 W 1,440 W
    Heating Pad 250 W 250 W
    4 Light bulbs (75 W) 300 W 300 W
    Blow Drier 1,250 W 1,250 W
    Electric Shaver 35 W 35 W
    Vacuum 1,100 W 1,100 W
    Mini Refrigerator 50 W 120 W
    Blender 350 W 350 W
    Chest Freezer 450 W 900 W
    Microwave (635 W Power) 635 W 800 W
    Slow Cooker 170 W 270 W
    Toaster 850 – 1250 W 850 – 1250 W
    Waffle Iron 1,200 W 1,725 W
    19” Color TV 160 W 160 W
    Laptop 50 – 200 W 50-200 W
    Desktop Computer 600 W 800 W
    Satellite Dish Receiver 30 W 250 W
    Cell Phone Charger 5 – 25 W 5-25W

    Capacity

    Capacity is expressed in Watt-hours (Wh). When considering the best solar generator for RVs, the cost of a solar generator is generally associated with the capacity of the generator.

    Higher capacity solar generators can go longer without charging the unit either in the sun or, if the sun isn’t shining, plugging it in. The power that can be pulled out from the device usually corresponds with the capacity of the device.

    2000 Wh

    This is the capacity you need to power your whole RV successfully without having to charge constantly. The absolute best solar generators for RVs will be in this range or will be able to be expanded to it.

    You will find that most of the best solar generators for RVs in this range can be expanded to much larger power ranges using expansion battery systems.

    1000-2000 Wh

    These systems can occasionally power your whole RV, and some of them include a 30A AC output (ideal for plugging in your RV), but you will need to charge more often.

    250-750 Wh

    You won’t be able to plug in the whole RV, but this will allow you to run some small electronics like a laptop, a television, lights, or simply charge your phone.

    Expandability

    The best solar generators for RVs can be expanded, allowing you to increase your generator’s capacity to power devices and the time needed between charges.

    Total Outlets and Ports

    If you have many items on your list to power, you need to be certain you have enough outlets and ports (and the right type) to power your devices.

    The most common ports are AC outlets (30A and 15A), USB, USB-C, and automobile auxiliary power plugs (car chargers or cigarette lighters).

    Weight and Portability

    You want to consider the weight and portability of your solar generation for an RV. Think about how easy it will be to pack it up when it’s time to hit the road. Portability is the number one consideration when researching the best solar generators for RVs.

    Review the portability features when selecting the best solar generator for RVs. Some solar generators include wheels for easy maneuvering. All of the best solar generators for RVs list their weight in the product description.

    If you’re camping solo, you want to make sure you will be able to move your generator on your own. If not, you will need to plan on asking for help or bringing a second set of hands.

    Charging Speed

    Charging speeds vary for RV solar generators and rely on the power source. They can take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 48 hours to charge. The following factors will impact the charging speed of your RV solar generator:

    • The capacity of the solar generator
    • Number of solar panels
    • Sunlight available to convert to solar power
    • Solar panel positioning

    Note that solar generators can be charged via outlets if no sun is available. Many campers choose to bring a backup generator for this scenario.

    Charging Methods

    When the sun is hidden behind clouds or you need your RV solar generator charged faster than the sun allows it to charge, you want to have plenty of additional charging options. The most common charging method alternative to solar is charging it with the 110V AC output wall plug-in.

    12V auto adapters (car/cigarette chargers) are popular accessories the with best solar generators for RV, and USB-A charging is also possible on some solar generators.

    Modern charging methods are becoming more popular on newer models of solar generators. USB-C chargers, for example, are lightweight and charge faster than solar energy.

    Some new and innovative RV solar generators come with EV hookups, which are becoming more popular as solar energy takes off. Depending on the EV charger, though, you may need to buy a separate Level 2 EV adaptor, like in the case of the DeltraPRO EF EcoFlow.

    Solar Panels

    Some of the best solar generators for RVs are available bundled with solar panels, but not all of them. If your solar generator does not already come with solar panels, you will need to buy some. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Most solar generator manufacturers also make solar panels that are guaranteed to work with your solar generator.

    Solar panels can be expanded upon using Y-branch cables. You do want to be careful when mixing and matching solar panels, though.

    Carefully consider the electrical parameters of each solar panel. If the panels have different characteristics, you could end up with a performance issue. Solar panels should have the same wattage output for optimal performance.

    Lifespan and Warranty

    Portable RV solar generators have a lifespan of about 10 years, with the solar panels having a 25-year lifespan. There are steps you can take to increase the lifespan of your investment because if you use your generator often and don’t maintain it, it may fail sooner.

    Regular maintenance includes wiping down dust and debris with a soft cloth. Inspect the battery for residue, and always consult your manual for specific maintenance tips.

    Store your RV solar generator in a cool, dry area when not in use. Avoid exposing it to extreme cold or heat.

    Do not overcharge your battery or float charge your battery. Overcharging the battery shortens its lifespan. Float charging refers to always leaving a charger on your battery so that it’s continuously at 100%.

    Cycle your battery to avoid your battery having too low or too high of a charge for a long time by using 25 percent of your battery’s capacity, then charge it back to 50 to 75 percent. Do this at least every six months.

    Check to see if your solar generator comes with a warranty before you buy it, and don’t forget to fill out any required paperwork for the warranty to go into effect.

    Shipping

    The number one complaint buyers often have for solar generators is they’re difficult, if not impossible, to return. Most solar generators for RV are made from lithium-ion batteries, which opens up a wormhole for those wishing to ship them, either to return them or mail them to someone else as a gift.

    UPS and FedEx have strict rules on lithium-ion batteries, which can make it difficult to ship them. It’s important to do your research first before buying your best solar generator for RVs, and it’s best not to plan on shipping a solar generator to your friend on the other side of the country.

    Best Solar Generators for RV Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you run an RV solar generator continuously?

    It’s possible assuming you have enough sunlight and storage capacity. You must generate and store more electricity than you consume to be able to run an RV solar generator continuously without charging.

    Can RV solar generators be used at night?

    If your RV solar generator is charged, yes. How long it will last throughout the night depends on the battery length and the amount of time you charged it during the day. Prepare for night hours every day by keeping an eye on what time the sun sets so you can charge your generator accordingly.

    Are solar generators noisy?

    Solar generators do not have any moving parts, so this allows them to run in silence. Other than being better for the environment, their quietness is something that makes solar generators so appealing to RV owners. The last thing you want to hear while relaxing in the wilderness is a noisy generator.

    The best solar generators for RVs are not noisy, though some complaints have been made about the devices used to charge them when not using solar energy.

    Do solar generators require much maintenance?

    They require very little maintenance to stay in top-notch shape. Other than regular dust removal, checking connections, and removing moisture, there’s not much maintenance required. However, since you are spending thousands of dollars, you want to keep your solar generator in tip-top shape.

    The best way to keep your solar generator in excellent condition is to have it inspected by a professional electrician who offers generator services. Corrosion is the number one issue with backup generators, caused by moisture getting into the battery banks.

    Do I need to purchase an inverter for my solar generator?

    Though unlikely, if your solar generator does not have AC ouptut(s), then yes, you will need to buy an inverter.

    Solar panels produce Direct Current (DC) power, and the appliances in your RV run on Alternating Current (AC). An inverter inverts the DC power to AC power, allowing it to power your appliances in your RV.

    Note that the best solar generators for RV units come with built in inverters, but should you end up buying a unit that does not come with one or you need to buy an extra one, pay attention to the wattage capacity when selecting an inverter. The Giandel Power Inverter has an integrated solar charge controller, 12V input, and supports up to 1200 Watts output.

    Wrapping up the Best Solar Generators for RVs

    Now that you know all about the best solar generators for RVs, you’re ready to make the best of solar energy.

    The Anker PowerHouse 767 will charge for you in just an hour, though the DeltaPRO EF Ecoflow 3600Wh has some innovative features. One of the solar generators for RV on this list is certain to meet your needs!Before you go, read about the Best RV Heater for Winter Camping.

    Posted on Last updated: March 30, 2023

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