Harnessing the sun to create backup power is an alternative to fuel-guzzling gas generators or dual fuel generators. The best solar-powered generators are easy to transport, safe to use indoors and outdoors, and nearly silent when in operation.
Though gas generators have more power, the cost of fuel is expensive and not always accessible. Instead of using gas, diesel, or propane, a solar generator gathers energy from the sun and stores it in a high-capacity battery. Read on to learn about some of the best solar generators on the market for a comfortable night at home or your next travel adventure.
- BEST OVERALL: Jackery 1002Wh Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aimtom 155Wh PowerPal X Power Station
- BEST HIGH-CAPACITY: Maxoak Bluetti 1500Wh EB150 Portable Power Station
- BEST FOR SMALL HOMES: Rainier 155Wh R150i Portable Power Station
- BEST FOR LARGE HOMES: Ecoflow 1260Wh Delta Portable Power Station
- BEST FOR CABINS & OUTDOORS: Maxoak Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator With Panels
Before You Buy a Solar Generator
The portability of the best solar-powered generators makes them ideal for traveling, camping, and outdoor events because they are easy to pack, store, and move. The units are also a solid backup source for when emergencies occur at home due to severe weather or blackouts.
While solar generators are a clean energy source, they do have limitations because of a low-wattage capacity and slow recharging. The solar backup generator power they produce can keep the lights on and run portable televisions and electronic devices like smartphones and laptops for hours. However, they don’t harness enough power to run all of the large appliances in a residence at one time or for an extended period.
How We Tested the Best Solar Generators
We researched the most sought-after solar generators in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, power output, weight, ports, and other special features included by select brands.
While searching for the best solar generators available, the portable options proved the most popular among users for their ample power output and versatility. While not as popular, the backup generators available provide enough power for large appliances and are handy in a power outage. No matter the type, the above generators range from 115 watt-hours (Wh) to 2000Wh of power based on power needs.
Select models are lightweight enough to take on camping trips while others may be too heavy to transport, but all of the generators come with ample outlets including USB, alternating-current (AC), direct-current (DC), car, and wall ports. Plus, these solar-powered generators can be charged quickly via wall outlet, car charging cord, or via solar power. While the majority of these options do not include solar panels, many have LCD or touch screens, carrying handles, sine wave inverters, or maximum power point tracker (MPPT) technology.
Our Top Picks
Around the world, the demand for solar energy continues to grow. Now is the time to think about taking steps to secure access to a renewable energy source for recreation and emergency preparedness. The following products represent some of the best solar generators manufactured by reputable brands in terms of size, power, battery capacity, and special features.
The Jackery portable solar generator provides a green power solution for outdoor activities and emergency preparedness. The battery delivers a higher wattage of 1,000 watts (W), with a peak of 2,000W. It features a lithium battery capacity of 1,002Wh in addition to three standard pure sine wave AC outlets for extra capacity to power multiple AC appliances at the same time.
The Jackery solar generator also includes MPPT technology for faster solar recharging rates. Users can recharge the generator with solar panels, a wall or car outlet, or another generator. Recharging time is about 17 hours with a single solar panel and 8 hours with two solar panels but varies depending on location, temperature, and weather.
This solar-power generator provides enough power supply for appliances, medical devices, computers, security systems, and lights. Recreation vehicle (RV) travelers can expect no extra setup to power mini-fridges, portable coffee makers, pellet smokers, and more. Including the handle, the generator measures 13.1 inches long by 9.2 inches wide by 11.1 inches deep and weighs 22.04 pounds. It is fully equipped with an AC adapter, car charger cable, SolarSaga parallel adapter cable, and a user guide. Solar panels are sold separately.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 1,002Wh; 1,000W (up to 2,000W surge power)
- Ports included: 3 AC ports, car-charger port, SolarSaga parallel adapter port
- Has multiple output ports, including 2 USB-C, 2 USB, and 1 DC car port
- Can be charged through solar power, wall or car outlets, or a generator
- Takes 8 to 17 hours to charge fully, depending on number of panels connected
- Safe to use with appliances, medical devices, computers, security systems, and lights
- Some users report difficulty charging some electronic devices using this product
- Pricey; solar panels not included and must be purchased separately
Get the Jackery solar generator at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Jackery.
Its attached ergonomic handle and lightweight nature support the portability of this solar generator by Aimtom. However, at just 3.48 pounds and measuring 7.67 inches long by 6.73 inches wide by 3.54 inches deep, this small solar generator doesn’t sacrifice power, given the generator’s 155Wh lithium-ion battery storage capacity that provides 100W with a maximum of 180W.
A built-in Battery Management System keeps electronics safe from damage while charging the generator and also allows users to charge or power multiple small electrical items at the same time. This portable solar generator can power items like lights, laptops, cell phones, tablets, drones, coolers, fans, and CPAP machines.
Recharge the generator via a wall outlet, car port, or a solar panel (not included), noting that the recharging time depends on location, time, and weather. It also comes equipped with a 12V DC cigarette lighter adapter, car charging adapter, user manual, and a wall outlet charging power adapter.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 155Wh
- Ports included: 110V AC outlet, 3 USB ports, and 3 12V DC outputs
- Ergonomic handle and nature support, with built-in Battery Management System
- Can be charged with solar power, a wall outlet, or a car port
- Cigarette lighter, wall, and car-charging adapter are all included
Get the Aimtom solar generator at Amazon or Aimtom.
Weighing 37.9 pounds, the Maxoak Bluetti EB150 portable solar generator has a lithium-ion battery capacity of 1,500Wh with a 1,000W maximum. The massive power output of this generator makes it an indispensable green and clean energy source for home use, camping, boating, and off-grid traveling. Users can rely on it to charge higher power devices like microwaves, hair dryers, and blenders.
Recharge this portable solar generator in around 8 hours with a wall outlet and around 5 to 10 hours with a solar panel (sold separately). It measures approximately 14.6 inches long by 6.5 inches wide by 14.4 inches deep and provides four USB outputs, two AC outlets, a car port, and carrying handle. It also includes an AC wall charger, PV solar charging cable, and user manual.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 1,500Wh; 1,000W
- Ports included: USB port, 2 AC output ports, and 12V car port
- Green energy source that’s great for those who want an eco-friendly option
- Suitable for use with large appliances, including those for the kitchen, and other household electronics
- Has a built-in carrying handle; is suitable for outdoor use
- Some users say the unit abruptly stops registering wattage usage
- Intended for light use; unit may stop working if overused
Get the Maxoak Bluetti EB150 solar generator at Amazon or Maxoak.
Rainier’s R150i is a great solar generator for household use, able to power small appliances, laptops, power tools, tablets and smartphones, drones, cameras, lights, speakers, and headlamps. Measuring approximately 10 inches long by 6 inches wide by 4 inches deep and weighing 3.75 pounds, it’s lightweight and portable, with a built-in carrying handle and flashlight.
Since this battery generator for home use is a clean energy source, buyers won’t need to fill it with gas, propane, or diesel. This means they can expect no noise or fumes in smaller residences. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery and has a 155Wh capacity.
The control panel for the generator contains a traditional household outlet and three USB ports, combined with three 5.5 millimeter 12V outputs. The solar generator includes both a wall outlet and car charger and provides solar-panel capability, though compatible panels are sold separately. Recharging time varies depending on location, temperature, and weather.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 155Wh
- Ports included: 3 DC ports, 1 wall port, and 3 USB ports
- Suitable for small appliances and electronic devices, including smartphones, drones, GoPros, cameras, and speakers
- Lightweight and compact; portability makes it a great choice for outdoor use
- Affordable price point compared to other similar portable power stations
- Solar panels not included and must be purchased separately; not suitable for large appliances
Charging time varies depending on environmental conditions and device type
Get the Rainier solar generator at Amazon.
The Delta solar portable generator from Ecoflow features a 1,260Wh lithium-battery capacity and 1,800W pure sine wave AC power (with a surge to 3,300W), which uses six AC outlets to power up to 13 devices simultaneously. It creates enough energy to keep lights, televisions, freezers, toasters, coffee makers, hair dryers, electric frying pans, laptops, and medical machines running for hours. If users live in a large home and the electricity goes out, their appliances and devices should remain functional.
The generator uses X-Stream Fast Charge technology to offer an accelerated recharge rate. Recharge to 80 percent power in just 1 hour and a full charge in around 90 minutes by plugging it into a wall outlet or another generator. Additional recharge times are 4 to 8 hours via a solar panel or 13.5 hours via a 12/24-volt car port. While the solar panels aren’t included, the generator is compatible with most solar panels on the market.
Three types of charging cables (AC plug, car charging cable, and solar panel cable), a bag, and a user guide are part of this solar generator package. The generator measures about 15.7 inches long by 8.3 inches wide by 10.6 inches deep and weighs 30.9 pounds. A handle helps with transporting.
- Type: Backup generator
- Wattage: 1,260Wh; 1,800W (up to 3,300W surge power)
- Ports included: 6 AC ports, 4 USB ports, 2 USB-C ports, and a car port
- Extremely versatile product; can power up to 13 devices simultaneously
- X-Stream Fast Charge technology ensures accelerated device power-up
- Carrying bag and handle included; suitable for portability and maneuvering
- Pricey; battery power may deplete when not in use or charging
Get the Ecoflow solar generator at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Ecoflow.
A long-term trip requires ample power supply, durability, and reliability, which is why the Maxoak Bluetti AC200P solar generator is our top pick for camping and the outdoors. With its lead-acid battery, it offers 2,000W of power with a 4,800W surge and has a 2,000Wh capacity for ample power provided for charging small appliances, phones, and power tools. For ease of use, this model also has a built-in touch screen.
Included with this generator is a user manual, an AC adapter and six AC ports, an MC4 solar charging cable, car charging cable, an aviation plug, two USB ports, a DC port, and built-in carrying handle. Plus, this option comes with a 1,200W scratch-proof foldable solar panel made of monocrystalline silicon cells, making this option 5 percent more efficient than comparable solar panels. These solar panels are also easy to transport and set up with their 9.8-pound weight and built-in kickstand.
With the advantage of having the panels included with purchase, this set is ready to use out of the box. Charging times depend upon environmental conditions, and the generator weighs a hefty 60.6 pounds.
- Type: Portable
- Wattage: 2,000Wh; 2,000W (up to 4,800W surge power)
- Ports included: 6 AC ports, 1 car charging port, 2 USB ports, 1 DC port, and 1 aviation port
- Scratchproof and lightweight solar panel included along with a built-in kickstand
- Quick charging times; suitable those those who need to recharge devices while on the go
- Some users report that the solar panels randomly stop charging the unit
- Item may fail to recognize its solar panels and not recharge the battery
Get the Maxoak Bluetti AC200P solar generator at Amazon or Maxoak (without panels).
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Generator
While shoppers search for the best solar-powered generators available for home or travel, they will want to consider the intended use. How and where they plan on using a solar generator will determine the size, power, and capacity of the unit they’ll need.
Purpose and User Activity
The reasons for purchasing a solar-power generator may be different for everyone, so it’s important for shoppers to zero in on their purpose for purchasing a solar generator and the activities they hope to accomplish with it. Solar generators are useful for anyone who travels and stays in remote places that are off-grid. Conversely, shoppers may simply desire a reliable backup source of energy for their home to prepare for the occurrence of a natural or man-made disaster.
If the primary purpose is travel, look for solar generators that help make traveling simpler. RV connectivity allows users to power appliances when they’re on the road. Car-charging capabilities make it convenient for travelers to drive and charge their solar generators without having to stop and set up solar panels.
Size and Solar Input
Shoppers choosing the appropriate size solar generator for their needs will need to keep in mind battery capacity and power requirements so that they avoid overloading it. Most solar generators can keep portable electronics, smartphones, tablets, power tools, small appliances, and cordless tools powered up for hours. However, buyers may need a separate generator, say, to keep a refrigerator running for an entire day.
Solar input refers to the solar panels. The solar panels collect and convert sunlight into energy that is stored in the generator’s battery. Ample solar input controls a generator’s operating time and how long it takes to recharge.
The solar panels used in conjunction with a portable solar generator are mobile and easy to manipulate. Unlike the panels found on residential or commercial properties, they are smaller in size and have a lower wattage capacity, which means less solar input than their larger counterparts.
The output of power from a solar generator should match shoppers’ electrical needs. Battery power is measured in watts, which is the maximum amount of power a generator provides when it’s running. Battery capacity—referred to as watt-hours—is the total amount of stored energy.
When the generator is in operation, the watts represent the rate of power flowing from its battery to an electrical device, and the watt-hours are the maximum level of energy it can deliver. For example, a solar generator with 500Wh can store a total of 500W when it’s fully charged. Thus, a 500W solar generator is only able to power electrical appliances and devices that don’t exceed 500W to run.
Battery Storage Capacity
The battery in a solar generator is where the energy captured from the solar panel is stored for later use. Solar generators usually have lithium-ion or lead-acid batteries. Battery storage allows users to run the generator at night or on days with limited sunlight.
The capacity of the batteries determines the duration of the generator. The more power an electronic device requires, the faster the battery charge will run out. The length of the battery charge is also based on the number of devices drawing power from the generator at the same time.
A larger battery capacity is necessary to power electrical appliances that require higher watts. Lower capacity is sufficient for lights, cell phones, and laptops. For instance, a 500W solar generator can power an LED light for 100 hours, while it will only power a mini-fridge for about 10 hours.
Direct current and alternating current are the two forms of electricity. DC is electricity that flows only in a forward direction. AC is electricity that flows both forward and backward. The energy harnessed by solar panels is DC. A solar generator inverter converts low DC power from the batteries to AC power for usage.
The inverter rating translates to the maximum watts a solar generator can extract at any time. For example, a 1,500W inverter can draw up to that amount of wattage in AC power. Keep in mind that the inverter size or rating doesn’t always correlate to a solar generator’s overall firepower. Battery storage is also important.
Expandability of Power
Eventually, users may want to expand the capability of their solar generator, especially if they find they need more power. However, upgrading a solar generator is not always feasible.
Expanding power is based on the sustainability of the charge controller, which sends power in one direction from the solar panels to the batteries. As the integral component of the solar generator, the primary job of the charge controller is to protect the durability of the batteries.
The charge controller can only process the maximum number of watts and voltage that it’s built to manage, so users may not be able to expand beyond its charging ability. If battery capacity doesn’t support additional solar panels, power expandability is unachievable.
Types of Solar Generators
For individuals who live in areas with frequent power outages, a generator allows them to have an interim source of electricity. Two types of solar generators are available for at-home use: solar backup generators and portable solar generators. Both generators provide solar power but differ in terms of wattage capacity, energy storage, and cost.
Solar Backup Generators
Solar backup generators are designed to power up when the electrical grid fails and are an efficient alternative to installing a complete system. These generators use several batteries to store energy for high-wattage output. They provide sufficient backup power to turn on lights, televisions, computers, and small to midsize appliances.
Typically, it takes less than 48 hours to charge a solar backup generator to full capacity, but the time can vary depending on the size of the solar panels and the amount of sunlight. Buyers can keep these generators either indoors or outdoors. The disadvantage of solar backup generators is their weight, making them somewhat difficult to move. Additionally, a generator that is large enough to power an entire residence is expensive.
Portable Solar Generators
Portable solar generators are lightweight, so users can take them anywhere. They are ideal for homes, cabins, campsites, RVs, cars, and boats. Some generators are equipped with a pull handle or attached handgrip for effortless transporting. Solar panels recharge the battery in a portable solar generator.
Portable solar generators do have drawbacks. They may either have inadequate wattage capacity to power larger appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, hot water heaters, and sump pumps, or may not be capable of powering multiple devices at the same time.
If they use low-wattage solar panels, it may take a long time to recharge the generator. On the plus side, portable solar generators don’t emit noise or carbon dioxide, are affordable, and are low maintenance, unlike gas generators.
Tips for Using a Solar Generator
With a multitude of solar generators from which to choose, shoppers may find it difficult to decide which one fits their requirements. To begin, they will want to pinpoint how and where they plan to use it.
Solar generators are available in a variety of sizes with various wattage and storage capacities. They are primarily for powering homes during electrical outages or for outdoor activities like camping, hunting, sailing, fishing, and traveling. Solar generators are also an ideal power source for outdoor events, such as parties, festivals, craft fairs, and farmer’s markets.
How much shoppers want to spend on a solar generator is another important consideration. As solar generators increase in size and capacity, so does the price. Keep in mind that most solar generators don’t include solar panels, so that extra purchase will add to the expense.
- The solar generator should match shoppers’ intended purpose.
- It’s important to select the appropriate size, wattage, and storage capacity for usage.
- Focus on the features that suit an individual’s plans for the generator, such as the number of plug-in ports, charging speed, portability, carrying handle, flashlight, expandability, and weight.
The Advantages of Owning a Solar Generator
Owning a solar generator frees users from dependency on fossil fuels when they want a back-up system for emergencies, traveling, or camping. Plus, solar generators are portable and compact, so they are easy to store and move, unlike huge gas-powered generators.
Solar generators are also quieter, safer, and require minimal maintenance since they don’t have motors, moving parts, or emit harmful carbon dioxide. This alternative kind of generator is a green solution that collects energy from the sun to store in its battery and then produces power when it’s in operation.
The charging rate and power capability of a solar generator depend on its size, so shoppers will want to consider carefully where they’ll want to use it and how many electrical devices and appliances they want it to power.
- No fuel is needed to operate a solar generator.
- It’s a clean, renewable source of energy.
- A solar generator is low maintenance.
It makes sense to own a solar generator so you’re not left without a source of power either during an electrical outage at home or simply while enjoying outdoor activities and travel. The portability of solar generators makes them ideal for packing and toting on trips, and they’re especially handy for stowing and using in RVs, cars, boats, and cabins. If you still have some questions about which solar generator power option might be best for your needs, check out some of the most frequently asked questions about solar generators and their corresponding answers..
Q. How does a solar generator work?
A solar generator works when a solar panel converts sunlight into DC electricity that passes through the charge controller. The solar energy is stored in the battery, and thus a solar inverter generator turns the electricity into usable AC power.
Q. Can a solar generator power a house?
A solar generator most likely won’t power every item in your house at once. Depending on the size of the generator, it can charge and power a variety of large and small appliances, electronic devices, and medical machines.
Q. How do I choose a solar generator?
To choose a solar generator, think about your intended use and budget as well as how much battery capacity and wattage you need to power your appliances, electronic devices, and other equipment.
Q. What size solar generator do I need?
The size of the solar generator you need depends on the amount of wattage you require to power your devices and the duration time for charging.
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