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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro Review: Power To The People
The Jackery booth at the Consumer Electronics Show was attention-grabbing, with solar panels and battery power systems laid out in various outdoor dioramas. Each setup was designed to highlight Jackery’s Portable Power System and its Solar Generator line.
A Jeep topped with solar panels and a glistening silver Airstream brought back memories of my camping trips to mountain bike and how I could have used a zero-emission power supply to recharge devices.
Even before COVID, people worked remotely, using technology to get work done from anywhere. Several of the creators I know had already begun living and working in converted Sprinter vans and other vehicles, and COVID only increased the scope of remote work acceptance.
Sure, you can power your gear off your vehicle’s battery, but then you need to run the engine to recharge the battery, which is a non-eco-friendly system.
But YouTubers living in a van down by the river aren’t the only ones that can benefit from a sustainable power supply. I have assisted on many commercial shoots that used gas-powered generators to recharge batteries and power some lights. A solar-based power system would have been better for the environment but easier to use, eliminating the need to carry gasoline or diesel, and could operate entirely silently.
For wedding photographers and videographers, wildlife and landscape photographers, sports shooters, and anyone else who needs to work far from an outlet, a solar-driven power system is an expense that will pay for itself immediately.
Design and Build Quality
Jackery started selling solar panels and battery backup systems nine years ago, and it has since sold more than two million units (according to its public sales data.) The lineup has grown to include nine power stations (the battery system by itself) of various capacities and nine configurations of Solar Generators, which is a power station plus one of the solar panels.
I tested the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro, a combination of its 1500W power system, the Explorer 1500 Pro, and a 200W solar panel. The solar panels can be daisy-chained, providing additional input power. When access is available to a power supply, the unit can be plugged in and recharged via AC power.
All of Jackery’s systems feature fast charging and the 1500 Pro charges from empty to full in under 10 hours from the 200W SolarSaga panel alone. Of course, this charging speed requires a fully-sunny day (and 10 hours of sun at that), but that’s still an incredibly short recharge period.
The SolarSaga panels are segmented and can be arrayed in several ways to maximize access to the sun best. A single weather-proof cable connects to the SolarSaga and plugs into the back of the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro. The rear also has a jack for AC power input.
The 1500 Pro weighs just under 38 pounds, but the attached carry handle makes it feel lighter since it’s unnecessary to grab it by the bottom and hold it in front of you. Jackery claims this unit is 20% lighter than competing systems with the same capacity.
Much of the portability comes down to size. The Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro is only 15.2 inches wide, 10.58 inches deep, and 12.11 inches tall. Back in the 1980s, I had a boom box that was bigger than this.
The front of the unit has an impressive selection of power jacks. There are Dual PD100W jacks, three 1800W AC outlets, two USB-C charging ports, and a 12V car “cigarette lighter” jack.
There’s also a very bright LED light set into the face of the unit, which was helpful but tended to point at my eyes in the dark since it’s on the front of the device.
During the testing of the unit, we had an unexpected blackout, so we had a spontaneous real-world experience of the system. We connected all of our devices to the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro, our Wi-Fi router, and several lights, and we kept everything charged and working overnight.
Jackery also boasts about its safety (important when transporting a high-power battery around you), and the unit has an outer casing of “the highest UL requirements” and fireproof material.
The front of the unit is where the connectors are found, but the highlight of the unit’s design is the bright, clear display that shows both input and output power, charging times, and remaining battery life (at the current usage).
The display is bright enough to be seen in sunlight, and it’s the best interface I’ve seen on a power system. There’s no guessing about how long you’ll have juice or how long it will take to charge back up.
Keeps On Keeping On
One of the things I’ve been doing with the system between outdoor shoots is using the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro as a battery backup system for several 3D printers I’m testing. While the printers take very little power if the power goes out, a job can be ruined, so it’s nice to have a secondary use for the kit.
This weekend my town had a street fair that featured a lot of arts and crafts vendors, and it amused me to think that I could bring 3D printers to a street fair and create output with nothing but the sun.
In addition to our sudden blackout, I’ve used the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro during a video camera test, leaving the unit in the back of my car and powering my laptop and battery chargers. It would be a perfect solution for location shooters.
I also connected the Jackery to my dryer (gas heat, but electricity for the drum and operation) and a fully charged Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro. It would have gotten nearly six hours of runtime from the system.
Jackery provides some other power use estimates on their site, including running a hand drill for three hours, powering a mini-fridge for 10.5 hours, charging an iPhone 63 times, and running a microwave for 70 minutes.
Here Comes The Sun
The Jackery Solar Generator would be an excellent portable-power solution, but coupling it with high-capacity solar panels makes the unit ideal for backup power and power on the go.
The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro costs 2,699 for the power unit and the 200W solar panel. This isn’t inexpensive, but to put it in context, a Honda 1800W gas-powered generator costs 1,200 and spews fumes.
Are There Alternatives?
Jackery isn’t the only company making solar-driven generators. Electronics maker Anker, for instance, has several systems at a lower price: the Anker 767 system is a 2048Wh generator with two 200W solar panels and costs 2,899. Its closest matching unit to the 1500W Jackery is Anker’s 1229 Wh model, which comes with three 100W solar panels and is 2,000.
I can’t compare the build of the Anker system to that of Jackery since I’ve never used the former, though the company is known for its high-quality accessories.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. While I can’t make a decision of every customer, the Jackery Solar Generator delivers on all of it promises.
The 7 Best Portable Generators of 2023
Stay prepared for everything from emergencies to off-the-grid adventures.
Nor’Adila is a contributing writer for Real Simple. Her work has appeared in The Krazy Coupon Lady, Insider, Merriam-Webster, and more.
In This Article
Power outages are never fun, but with a portable generator, you can keep your appliances running and lights on even after a storm or blackout. And a portable generator isn’t just limited to emergency preparation—it can also provide a steady power source for RVs, campsites, and tailgating.
“It is important to understand what you want to power/charge when picking a generator. You should look at the wattage needed and pick a generator that can handle that wattage,” says Daniel Majano, a program manager at the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI). “In most cases, generators should only be used to power essential devices and never plugged directly into a home’s outlet. Make sure to always purchase a generator with a transfer switch or have a transfer switch installed before using a portable generator without one.”
To find the best portable generators, we researched top options and considered factors like type, wattage, fuel, size, and weight. We also spoke to Majano for his expert insight and safety tips.
Best Overall Portable Generator
Honda EU2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
If you want a compact portable generator that won’t take up too much space in the garage or trunk of your car, opt for the Honda EU2200i. This inverter generator has a 2200-watt power output and weighs just 47.4 pounds, making it ideal for camping or RV trips.
Because it’s an inverter generator, it creates stable, continuous power, which is especially beneficial for sensitive electronics like laptops and smartphones. It’s also more fuel-efficient compared to standard generators.
With a decibel range of 48-57, you can expect this generator to run quietly without disturbing your household or campsite. It also can run for up to eight hours on a single tank of fuel. We love the connected app that monitors and controls many functions, including remote shutoff—which comes in handy when maneuvering in an emergency without lights. Just be prepared to pay a premium for this model, as it is one of the more expensive options.
Price at time of publish: 1,199
Type: Inverter | Wattage: 2200 watts | Fuel Type: Gasoline | Size: 16.7 x 11.4 x 20 inches | Weight: 47.4 pounds
Best Budget Portable Generator
Wen 56235i 2350-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
- It has an eco-mode switch that saves fuel by adjusting the engine intensity based on the power output.
The Wen 56235i is a budget-friendly option for emergency backup power at home or on the next family camping trip. At around 50 decibels, the quiet motor is barely noticeable, placing it at about the same noise level as your typical air conditioning unit.
An automatic shutoff system stops the engine once it runs out of fuel, and the built-in carbon monoxide sensors turn the generator off if they detect any harmful fumes. With a gallon of gas, you get about five hours of power on a quarter load—which is slightly shorter than other similar generators. This model has an eco-mode switch that saves fuel by adjusting the engine intensity based on the power output. Because it’s only 2350 watts, it’s probably best if you don’t use many appliances while running it. But if you need more power, you can buy another Wen generator and a parallel kit to connect them.
Price at time of publish: 430
Type: Inverter | Wattage: 2350 watts | Fuel Type: Gasoline | Size: 17.7 x 11.5 in x 17.3 inches | Weight: 39 pounds
Best Large Portable Generator
Ryobi 6500 Watt Portable Generator with CO Shutdown Sensor
During a blackout, storm, or hurricane season, you want a beast of a generator, like this model from Ryobi. Its impressive wattage keeps appliances like refrigerators, TVs, and air conditioning units running smoothly without tripping the power.
This heavy-duty machine has a sturdy handle and 10-inch wheels, so you can move it around more easily—making it especially suited for construction or job sites. Like many other portable generators, it has a built-in carbon monoxide sensor to keep you safe. It also has a range of outlets for small appliances and power-hogging items like furnaces and air compressor units. When full, the fuel tank can hold six gallons, with enough power for 10 hours.
Price at time of publish: 1,099
Type: Standard | Wattage: 6500 watts | Fuel Type: Gasoline | Size: 24.5 x 29 x 35 inches | Weight: 195 pounds
Best Lightweight Portable Generator
Champion Power Equipment 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
If you need a backup power source you can easily lift and move, the Champion 2000-Watt Inverter Generator is worth considering. Weighing just 39 pounds, this model is not only one of the lightest portable generators on our list but also one of the lightest options you can find on the market, period.
If you don’t like loud generators, you’ll appreciate the relatively quiet 53-decibel motor, which is equivalent to running a dishwasher in another room. This generator also has a recoil start button that kicks on quickly in frigid weather.
We appreciate that this pick is EPA-compliant and CARB-compliant, which means it meets regulatory standards that are better for the environment. This portable generator is perfect for your next camping trip, RV adventure, or tailgate party, but is probably too small to be an emergency backup in a storm or blackout.
Price at time of publish: 629
Type: Inverter | Wattage: 2000 watts | Fuel Type: Gasoline | Size: 17.7 x 11.5 x 17.3 inches | Weight: 39.5 pounds
Best Dual-Fuel Portable Generator
Westinghouse iGen4500DFc 4500 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
This dual-fuel Westinghouse portable generator runs on gas and propane, so you never need to worry about being unable to find a fuel source. While you have to pay more for the propane fuel upfront, you get more out of it because it burns longer and won’t degrade as fast as gas.
This 4500-watt model provides up to 18 hours of runtime on a 3.4-gallon gas tank—and because it has an inverter, it kicks into high or low gear as necessary to save fuel. Though it weighs over 100 pounds, it comes with wheels and a plastic handle to move it around. Plus, it has an electric start and a wireless remote to turn it on.
A hard-shell enclosure, cooling fans, and mufflers make this a surprisingly quiet option at 52 decibels. The convenient digital LED screen displays essential data such as runtime, remaining fuel, load, and voltage. While this is an undoubtedly high-quality generator, it’s not the most budget-friendly option.
Price at time of publish: 1,299
Type: Dual-Fuel | Wattage: 4500 watts | Fuel Type: Gasoline, Propane | Size: 20 x 17.5 x 24.5 inches | Weight: 105.8 pounds
Best Solar-Powered Portable Generator
Jackery 1002 Watt Solar Generator 1000 PRO
This generator is an eco-friendly alternative powered by the sun. It delivers 1000 watts of steady power and is best suited for outdoor camping or RVs (or anywhere you’ll be outside). You can plug in up to eight devices, including laptops, hair dryers, coffee makers, or refrigerators. And with a 46-decibel level, it’s much quieter than most traditional portable generators.
The 1000 Pro has two 80W solar panels, an AC power cord, and car charging cables. Charging it is easy—just connect it to the panels or a wall outlet, and it’ll be fully charged in under two hours. It weighs less than 30 pounds and has a foldable handle and carrying case, so you can bring it anywhere you need power.
We also like the LED light on the side with three brightness settings, so if your power goes out, you don’t have to fumble in the dark to turn your generator on. The Jackery has a long life cycle and can last up to 1000 charges. While it isn’t the most powerful option on our list, we still think this pick is handy for camping and RV trips.
Price at time of publish: 1,597
Type: Solar | Wattage: 1000 watts | Fuel Type: Solar | Size: 12.5 x 6.1 x 9.2 inches | Weight: 25.4 pounds
Best Portable Generator for Camping
DeWALT 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
For camping trips, RV journeys, and beyond, this DeWALT model is the way to go. You don’t have to worry about using this generator on your next outdoor adventure because the outlets are covered, so they won’t get damaged in wet or snowy weather. Though, you may need more power if you have many appliances or want to use them at home during big emergencies.
This portable option has a motor enclosed in a hard case for a noise level of just 60 decibels—plus it can run for 11 hours straight on one gallon of gas, which is more than enough for a night in the great outdoors. And because it’s an inverter, it has an extra economy mode that saves fuel by automatically adjusting engine speed and noise level based on the energy load.
You can easily control the power with a knob rather than a cord pull, and it comes with LED indicator lights to alert you when the generator is overloaded, the oil is low, or if it’s ready to use. This portable generator is safe for devices like computers and phones and even has a USB outlet on the body to charge them.
Price at the time of publish: 699
Type: Inverter | Wattage: 2200 watts | Fuel Type: Gasoline | Size: 19 x 13 x 21.5 inches | Weight: 52.5 pounds
Our top pick is the Honda EU2200i Super Quiet Inverter Generator for its compact size, fuel efficiency, and moderate noise level. If you want a more affordable portable generator that’s priced under 500, the Wen 56235i Super-Quiet Portable Inverter Generator is lightweight with a quiet motor and built-in carbon monoxide sensors.
How to Shop for Portable Generators Like a Pro
Portable generators fall into three general types: standard, inverter, and standby. Standard portable generators—also known as conventional generators—are the most common. They typically use a gas or diesel-powered engine to power an alternator and generate electricity.
An inverter generator is typically smaller and lighter than portable generators. These models don’t require gasoline and are electric, with a rechargeable battery inside. However, inverter generators may have lower power output than other types of generators. This makes them ideal for powering sensitive electronics like laptops, smartphones, and TVs.
Standby generators connect directly to your electrical system and automatically start when the power goes out. They can run for thousands of hours and are common outside large homes, businesses, and hotels. “A standby generator is a permanently installed generator that instantly turns on during a power outage,” says Daniel Majano, a program manager at the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI). “These generators are rated to power a house.”
If you want an eco-friendly alternative, opt for a solar generator, which harnesses the sun’s energy and converts it into electrical power.
The wattage on portable generators varies depending on the size and model—the selections on our list go from 1,000 to 6,500 watts. Consider what you need to power and how much wattage is required to fuel it. Smaller generators like the Champion Power Equipment 2000-Watt Inverter Generator (which has 2,000 watts) are ideal for RVs, camping, or fueling a few appliances, but don’t have enough power to be an emergency backup generator. If you want a generator for your entire household, opt for a high-wattage, heavy-duty model like the Ryobi RY906500VNM 6500 Watt Generator With CO Detect.
Portable generators typically run on fuels like diesel, gasoline, and propane. However, some portable generators don’t need fuel—they rely on rechargeable batteries or the sun instead. Factor in how long the fuel will last when buying a portable generator. If you want a fuel-efficient generator, opt for an inverter, because they can adjust their engine power based on power requirements.
The size and weight of your portable generator largely depends on its type, fuel source, and dimensions. Small portable generators with a power output of 1,000 to 2,000 watts usually weigh between 30 and 60 pounds, making them perfect for powering small appliances and electronics.
Mid-sized portable generators can weigh between 100 to 200 pounds and have a power output of 3,000-5,000 watts. Though heavy, many of these models come with wheels and sturdy handles so you can lift and move them if needed.
If you’re concerned about the noise produced by your portable generator, be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications before making a final decision. Portable generators typically have a noise level ranging from 50 decibels, which is comparable to the sound of a running refrigerator, to 60 decibels, which is about as loud as a normal conversation between two people. The WEN Portable Inverter Generator and Jackery Solar Generator 1000 PRO are some of the quietest portable generators on our list and won’t disturb your household or campsite while running.
To ensure safety while using a portable generator, follow these tips from Majano:
- Never operate a generator inside your home or in a fully or partially enclosed area, including garages.
- A generator should only be used for temporary power.
- Always use a transfer switch and never plug a generator directly into household wiring without a transfer switch.
- Make sure to always have GFCI protection.
- Make sure to have proper carbon monoxide alarms.
- Keep generators at least 20 feet from doors, Windows, and vents to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home.
Questions You Might Ask
How big of a generator do you need to run a house?
To power an entire house, including large appliances, you will need anywhere from 5,000 to 9,000 watts of electricity. If you want a generator that turns on instantly during a power outage, Majano recommends standby generators, which are rated to power a household.
How many hours a day can you run a portable generator?
“We recommend checking with the manufacturer to see how long a generator can run,” says Majano. Most portable generators can run anywhere from six hours to 18 hours, depending on their power source, size, and type. We also recommend allowing your generator to cool off at regular intervals.
What is the lifespan of a portable generator?
The lifespan of your portable generator largely depends on its type, maintenance, and amount of use. Some models, like gas-powered portable generators, may last for only a few years, while battery-powered generators can last for over 10 years. “We recommend inspecting your generator before and after every use and have a qualified electrician inspect your generator if you notice anything wrong,” says Majano.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Nor’adila Hepburn, a contributing writer for Real Simple. To compile this list, she spent hours researching portable generators, comparing their wattage, noise level, fuel type, size, weight, and price. She also received expert insight and shopping tips from Daniel Majano, a program manager at the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
The 7 Best Solar-Powered Generators of 2023
Heidi Wachter was a senior editor at Experience Life magazine for 10 years. She has written for publications like Experience Life, Shondaland, and betterpet.
Our top pick is the Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station. However, if you want a smaller, less expensive option, consider the Jackery Explorer 500W.
It’s always good to have a backup in life, especially when the power goes out. Gas-powered generators can do the trick, but they’re loud, emit smelly fumes, and require a place for storing gasoline safely. They also contribute to climate change.
Solar generators, on the other hand, are clean, easy to use, don’t require fossil fuels, and are becoming more and more affordable as solar technology improves. They can be particularly useful in emergency situations where other fuel supplies are cut off or difficult to access. Solar generators typically capture the sun’s energy via stationary or portable solar panels that are sold separately, convert it into electrical power, and store it in a battery for later use.
What’s the best generator for you? First, estimate how much power you need to run appliances, laptops, and televisions in your home should a power outage occur or for whatever you’ll need to power up while you’re camping, living off the grid, or traveling in an RV.
Once you know how many watts you’ll need; consider the other features you want such as USB charging ports and rechargeable batteries. You can avoid blowing your budget by selecting a generator with features that make the unit more efficient rather than more expensive.
We researched the market to recommend the best generators that are compatible with solar panels.
Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station
Need to power your laptop, phone, power drill, coffee maker, and refrigerator all at once? The Goal Zero Yeti 1500x is a high-capacity power station that supplies electricity with the touch of a button or the Yeti 3.0 app. Weighing in at 43 pounds, it’s a solar option for those living the van life or to provide back-up energy when power lines go down.
The lithium battery supplies 1500-watt hours, so you can charge your phone a hundred times or run a refrigerator for up to a day. Its industry-leading 2000-watt AC inverter is one of the most powerful on the market, making it our top overall pick. The integrated MPPT charge controller increases efficiency by 30% when recharged with a compatible Goal Zero solar panel. Everything is backed by a two year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 1,800
Output: 2000 watts | Weight: 43 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 14 x 14 inches | Output Ports: 2 USB-A ports, 1 18 watt USB-C, 1 60 watt USB-C PP, 1 6mm port, 1 12 Volt (regulated), 1 12 volt HPP, 2 120 Volt AC inverters
Jackery Explorer 500 Solar Portable Generator
Weighing in at a relatively light 13.3 pounds, the compact, durable, and affordable Jackery Explorer 500 lets you take solar-powered electricity along on every adventure. The 500-watt inverter provides enough juice for charging multiple devices in any either of the AC or DC ports or one of the three USB ports.
It comes with a car charging cable and an AC adaptor. Like many of the solar generators in the Jackery family, the unit can be recharged from an AC wall outlet or with a Jackery SolarSaga solar panel (sold separately). The 518-watt rechargeable battery will need replacing after about 500 uses, but that’s after a lot of camping trips.
Price at time of publish: 500
Output: 500 Watts | Weight: 13.3 pounds | Dimensions: 11.8 x 7.6 x 9.5 inches | Output Ports: 1 AC outlet (110V 500W 1000W Peak), 3 USB ports, 2 DC ports, 1 car port
Best for Emergencies
ITEHIL LiFePO4 500W 500Wh Solar Generator
If you’re looking for source of backup power that’s cleaner than a diesel generator, the ITEHIL power station is an excellent option. With high-speed charging, you can get your devices back up and running when the power goes out, as well as a built-in light. You can charge it via solar panels (ITEHIL separately sells panels that fold into a suit-case style envelope), a car charger, or a wall plug. There are both U.S. and international AC plug versions of the device.
At nearly 19 pounds, it’s heavier than our Best Portable pick, but is still light enough to be moved around fairly easily, and has built-in handles. Our tester notes that it’s not big enough to power most full-size refrigerators, but could power a small electric cooler. It has an intuitive display that shows how much battery capacity is remaining.
“It seems to be well-designed for safety, and includes warnings like ‘do not stick fingers directly into the power port.’” ~ Lloyd Alter, Treehugger Design Editor
Price at time of publish: 500
Output: 500 Watts | Weight: 18.74 pounds | Dimensions: 14.17 x 13 x 13.4 inches | Output Ports: 2 AC outlets (100-120V 500W), 2 USB-A ports, 1 QC USD-A Poert, 1 Type C, 1 DC ports, 1 car port
Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station
While many of the budget generators still cost over 200, this affordable option from Jackery comes in at under 150 and has a two-year warranty. It’s also one of the lightest option on the market at just under 4 pounds, making it another great pick for camping or even backpacking.
It can be charged using a solar panel, wall outlet, car outlet or electric generator. It’s great for charging your phone or camera, or running small appliances like a fan or laptop. It has a surge capacity of 150 watts, but you should avoid using it with any device that has a 100 watt or higher rating.
Price at time of publish: 150
Output: 100 watts | Weight: 3.97 pounds | Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.5 x 6.7 inches | Output Ports: 1 100 watt AC outlet, 1 USB-C, 1 USB-A
Best High Capacity
Bluetti AC200P 2000WH/2000W Portable Power Station
With just as many watts as our Best Overall pick, the Bluetti 2000W Portable Power Station can be charged five different ways and has 17 different output ports, each of which is covered by a high-quality dust cap. You can charge it using solar panels (not included), a via a wall outlet, car plug, using a generator, or lead acid battery.
You can hook up a number of smaller devices, at the same time, like a laptop, camera charger and several phones. Or you can use it as back-up power for larger appliances—according to the manufacturer, you can power an 800 watt wall refrigerator with this power station for over two hours.
A nice feature is the LED touch screen, which can tell you how much energy you’re drawing down and how much battery charge is remaining. You can also set it to an Eco mode, which will shut the device down if it senses you’re not using it after several hours. It has rubberized feet, so the unit won’t slip around on smooth surfaces. It’s also quite heavy so it’s not ideal for camping situations where you’d need to carry it, but it is compact enough to fit into a car trunk.
Price at time of publish: 1,599
Output: 2000 watts | Weight: 60.6 pounds | Dimensions: 16.5 x 11 x 15.2 inches | Output Ports: 6 110 Volt AC outlets, 1 DC 12 Volt/10A, 1 DC 12 Volt/25A, 2 DC 12 Volt/3A outlets, 4 USB-A ports, 1 USC-C port, 2 wireless charging ports
Best for Home
Point Zero Energy Titan Solar Generator
True to its name, the Titan is packed with power. Its 3000-watt inverter has enormous output capacity for powering up household appliances like refrigerators and portable AC units with ease. Are you in heavy Cloud cover? No problem. The Titan includes a stackable battery bank, which can be combined with additional batteries (sold separately). You can recharge the generator via solar panels, an AC outlet, or a DC car charger.
In addition to extra batteries, you can also add on USB adaptors or a car charger. THE MPPT charge controllers allow it to reach full battery capacity in about four hours making the Titan a versatile, efficient, and reliable backup plan.
Price at time of publish: 2,716
Output: 3000 watts | Weight: 67 pounds | Dimensions: 18.5 x 12 x 12 inches | Output Ports: 6 AC outlets, 4 DC 12 Volt outlets, 1 NEMA TT-30
MAXOAK Bluetti Portable Power Station
During extreme weather events, generators like the ones on this list can sell out quickly. So, if other options aren’t available, there’s a lot we like about this one. The Bluetti stores plenty of power at an affordable price. It’s 1500-watt-hour lithium-ion battery is quick-charging and ample for powering up most home appliances during a blackout.
While it serves as a great home power supply during an emergency, the MaxOak Bluetti is also portable enough take along on fishing or a road trip. It includes two AC ports and five USB outlets and a 12-volt DC outlet that can handle a mini-fridge. There’s also a nifty LCD display to help you track the generator’s performance.
Output: 1000 watts | Weight: 37.9 pounds | Dimensions: 14.6 x 6.5 x 14.4 inches | Output Ports: 2 110 Volt AC outlets, 1 12 Volt regulated DC, 45 watt USB-C, 4 USB-A ports
If you’re looking for something high powered to help you weather a storm, the Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station is our top choice. If you need something portable for a camping trip, then the Jackery 500W might be your best new travel buddy.
What To Look for in a Solar Generator
When deciding what solar powered generator is right for you, consider which types of appliances, tools, and devices you need to charge and how often you’ll be without a traditional power source. Here are some other tips to help guide your decision-making.
There are three common types of solar panels—monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline solar cells, and thin film, or amorphous crystal panels. They each offer different efficiency levels. Monocrystalline panels are most common and slightly more efficient than polycrystalline cells. Thin film panels are a newer technology and are light, flexible, durable, and more affordable than the others, but about half as efficient as the other types. Sometimes they’re included with the generator and sometimes they’re sold separately.
Battery Capacity and Power Rating
Solar generators run on stored energy so you’ll want to consider the battery’s capacity (the total amount of electricity stored). You’ll also want to know the power rating (how much power is delivered at a time). A battery with a high capacity, but low power rating typically delivers less electricity for a longer period of time.
Lead-acid and lithium-ion are the most common options. Lead acid are used to power things like automobiles, while lithium-ion options are often used to run power tools. They’re increasingly used in solar-powered generators because they’re lightweight. While they tend to be more expensive than lead-acid varieties, they typically have a longer lifespan which saves money on replacement batteries and keeps them out of landfills.
In order to regulate the current between the solar panels and the battery, the simplest controllers cut the power when maximum voltage is reached. This isn’t as efficient as models that use three- power point tracking (MPPT).
Converting direct current (DC) from solar panels to alternating current (AC), inverters carry a watt rating to show the maximum output of power they can generate. Pure sine wave inverters are more expensive, but more efficient. But they’re not necessarily a cost-effective option if you only plan on using the generator occasionally.
Will you be using your solar generator in your home or on the go? For portability, look for units that are easier to carry and maneuver, and that house parts in a sturdy box rather than as separate pieces.
Note the presence of multiple USB ports and AC outlets, replaceable batteries, and LED panels that help you monitor your system when it’s dark. Finally, consider the length of a unit’s warranty, or any other manufacturer grantees.
When determining the size of generator, you’ll want to look at output measured in watts, as well as storage capacity measured in watt hours (Wh). As a general rule of thumb, generators with under 1000 Wh can keep electronics charged, and are great for camping. To power many devices in your home for longer, you’ll want a large generator with around 1500 Wh capacity.
If you want to keep those devices charging and in use for five hours:
So, in this case you’d want a generator with at least 85 watts of output and 425 Wh of capacity. When in doubt, round up. For another way to calculate your needs, you may find this explainer from the manufacturer Jackery helpful.
Keep in mind that most solar generators do not connect to your home’s electrical panel, so they won’t power hard-wired devices like your hot water heater or ceiling lights; for that type of power you’ll want to consider a home battery system.
Solar generators should last at least 20 to 25 years. Many manufacturers offer warranties that cover repairs and replacements should anything malfunction within the first few years of use.
Most high-capacity solar generators cost between 1000 and 2000. Generally speaking, larger generators cost more than smaller, portable devices. The generators on the list range from between 140 and 3,400 without taking into account sales or discounts.
Why Trust Treehugger?
Treehugger is committed to helping our readers transition away from fossil fuels, and we deeply researched the market to find the best generators compatible with solar panels.
A travel and adventure writer for many years, author Heidi Wachter knows how handy the sun’s rays can be for keeping her phone and camera charged.
Maggie Badore is an environmental reporter and editor based in New York City. She started at Treehugger in 2013 and is now the Associate Editorial Director.