Adopting a sustainable lifestyle and preparing for unexpected situations has recently gained popularity. Solar generators have become indispensable for supplying dependable, eco-friendly power. With numerous models and features, finding the ideal portable solar generator for your needs can be challenging. Our comprehensive guide is here to help, providing valuable information on the top portable solar generators and expert advice on choosing the perfect one for your needs.
This guide features in-depth reviews of the best portable solar generators in 2023, meticulously analyzing each model’s capacity, output options, charging capabilities, and more. We’ve also included an FAQ section covering essential subjects like sizing, solar panel choice, and generator lifespan to further assist your decision-making process.
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With the knowledge gained from this guide, you’ll be well-prepared to make an educated decision and invest in a solar generator that satisfies your off-grid power requirements, ensuring a smooth transition to a more sustainable and self-reliant way of life.
Editor’s note: We’ve opted to showcase solar generator packages rather than individual generators. We assume most readers will require compatible solar panels if searching for a generator. In all cases, these manufacturers offer the generator alone, saving you a significant amount if you already possess solar panels! Interested in just panels? Check our reviews.
What Size Solar Generator Do I Need?
The size of the solar generator you require depends on various factors, such as the total power consumption of the devices and appliances you intend to use, the length of usage, and whether the generator is for occasional or more extended periods of use.
Calculate the total wattage of the devices you plan to power to determine the appropriate size for your solar generator. Sum up the wattage of each device and consider their daily usage duration. Multiply the total wattage by the hours you plan to use to obtain the necessary watt-hours.
Next, consider the generator’s capacity, measured in watt-hours (Wh), which indicates the amount of energy it can store. Select a generator with a capacity that meets or exceeds the required watt-hours. It’s also wise to have some extra capacity as a buffer, especially on cloudy days when solar charging may be less efficient.
Additionally, pay attention to the generator’s inverter rating, measured in watts (W). This determines the maximum power it can provide at a given time. Ensure that the generator’s inverter rating can handle the peak power demands of your devices and appliances. Keep in mind that your needs may change over time, and it’s often better to invest in a slightly larger solar generator than initially needed to accommodate future expansion or additional devices.
How to Calculate the Necessary Generator Capacity
To make this concept easier to understand, let’s use an example. Suppose you have a fridge that needs 600W of power, a 5W phone charger, and four 5W LED lights. You’d want enough power to keep the fridge and lights running for six hours, but you’d only need the phone charger for about two hours.
In this example, you’d want a generator with a capacity of at least 3,730Wh. Remember that some electronics, like refrigerators, initially require more power to start up. Called surge power, this number will need to be lower than the peak power requirements of the devices you’d like to power with your solar generator.
The Best Portable Solar Generators
The Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro is an exceptional choice for dependable off-grid power. Its 1002Wh capacity and range of output ports make it perfect for various devices, ideal for long camping trips or emergencies. The lightweight design (25.4 lbs) and built-in handle enhance portability. An LCD screen allows users to monitor power consumption efficiently. The package includes the Explorer 1000 Pro and SolarSaga 80 solar panels.
The Goal Zero Yeti 1500X is an excellent high-capacity power solution with a 1516Wh capacity, capable of powering small to large devices. Its numerous output ports and expandable nature make it a versatile option. The package includes the 100W Boulder solar panel. Although slightly heavier (45.6 lbs), it has a sturdy handle for easy transport.
The Bluetti AC200P is a reliable and powerful option from a trusted solar manufacturer. It can handle various devices or appliances with a 2,000Wh capacity and 17 output ports. The package includes three PV200 200W solar panels, which can fully charge the generator in 4-6 hours. Though heavier (60.6 lbs), its built-in handle and rugged design make it easily transportable.
The Anker PowerHouse 767 is a compact and trustworthy option for off-grid power. Its 2,048Wh capacity is perfect for various situations. The generator has multiple output ports and is heavy (over 60 lbs) but portable with an integrated handle. When paired with the Anker Solar Panel 100W, it can recharge in as little as two hours.
The EF ECOFLOW DELTA Pro is an advanced solution for maximum power and flexibility. With a 3600Wh capacity, it can support high-demand devices and appliances. Its smart, modular design allows for expansion with the optional EF ECOFLOW DELTA Pro Smart Extra Battery. When paired with the EF ECOFLOW 160W Solar Panel, it can fully charge in as little as 4 hours.
The Bluetti EB70S is a versatile option with a 716Wh capacity, ideal for various off-grid situations. It has a range of output ports and a portable design, weighing just 21.3 lbs. The package includes the Bluetti SP120 120W Solar Panel, which can recharge the generator in 4-8 hours. The LCD screen provides real-time information for effective energy management.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions on solar generators.
Do portable solar generators have an advantage over gas-powered generators?
The choice between solar and gas generators depends on your individual needs and preferences, as each has pros and cons. Here’s a brief comparison:
- Fuel source: Portable solar generators utilize sunlight, a free and renewable resource, while gas generators need gasoline or other fuel types, which can be costly and not always available, especially during emergencies or natural disasters.
- Noise level: Portable solar generators work silently, making them perfect for residential areas or outdoor activities where noise is a concern. On the other hand, gas generators generate noise during operation and can be disruptive.
- Maintenance: Portable solar generators usually require less maintenance than gas generators, as they have fewer moving parts and don’t need regular oil changes, spark plug replacements, or fuel refills. However, solar panels may require occasional cleaning to maintain efficiency.
- Environmental impact: Portable solar generators produce no emissions and have a lower environmental footprint than gas generators, which emit pollutants and contribute to air pollution.
- Power output and runtime: Gas generators often have a higher power output and longer runtime, making them suitable for powering large appliances or providing backup power during extended outages. Portable solar generators are generally more limited in power output and runtime, depending on battery capacity and sunlight availability.
- Initial cost and long-term expenses: Portable solar generators may have a higher upfront cost than gas generators. However, they tend to have lower long-term operating costs since they don’t require fuel purchases and have reduced maintenance expenses.
What type of solar panels are needed for a solar generator?
Your solar generator’s required panels depend on the generator’s input specifications, your energy demands, and your location’s sunlight availability. Choosing high-quality solar panels from reputable manufacturers is crucial for enhancing charging efficiency and overall performance.
Opt for panels with an efficiency rating of at least 18-22%. Higher efficiency panels generate more power in a smaller area, making them ideal for situations with limited space or less sunlight. Ensure your panels include the necessary connectors and cables for your solar generator.
What size solar generator is required to power a house?
Powering an entire house with solar is challenging due to varying energy requirements based on house size, number of occupants, and types and quantities of appliances and devices used. We recommend using portable solar generators as backup power sources, not primary ones. However, powering a small living space like a tiny home might be feasible. Refer to the answer to the first question for guidance on determining your needs.
How long is the lifespan of a portable solar generator?
A solar generator’s lifespan depends on component quality, usage patterns, and maintenance. Typically, a solar generator can last 10 to 15 years or more. Most portable solar generators use lithium-ion or lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, which usually last between 2,000 and 5,000 charge cycles or more, depending on quality and usage. Proper care and maintenance ensure a high-quality battery lasts up to 10 years or longer.
The inverter and other electronic components in a solar generator have varying lifespans. Inverters generally last 10 to 15 years, while other components like charge controllers and wiring can last even longer with proper maintenance. Solar panels can last even longer, sometimes up to two to three decades.
Is portable solar generator maintenance challenging?
Portable solar generator maintenance is generally not difficult but does require regular care and attention to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here are some essential maintenance tips:
Clean the solar panels: Dust, dirt, and debris can reduce efficiency and power output. Clean the panels regularly using a soft cloth, mild soap, and water to remove dirt and grime. Be gentle and avoid using abrasive cleaning tools or chemicals that could damage the panels
How to Shop for Portable Solar Generators
When searching for the perfect solar generator, it’s crucial to consider various factors to ensure you select the right model for your off-grid power needs. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind:
- Purpose and energy requirements: Identify the main purpose of the solar generator, such as camping, RV trips, emergency backup power, or off-grid living. Assess your energy requirements and select a generator with the capacity and output to meet your needs.
- Output ports: Seek a solar generator with a diverse array of output ports, including AC outlets, USB-A and USB-C ports, and a 12V DC car port. A broad range of ports ensures compatibility with numerous devices and appliances, increasing its versatility and practicality.
- Charging options: Opt for a solar generator with multiple charging options, like solar panels, an AC wall outlet, and a 12V car outlet. This provides flexibility and convenience, enabling you to recharge the generator efficiently, even when sunlight is scarce.
- Portability and weight: If you intend to use your solar generator for outdoor activities or travel, consider its portability and weight. A lightweight generator featuring a built-in handle and compact design will be more accessible to transport and store.
- Quality and durability: Select a solar generator from a reputable manufacturer known for quality and durability. Look for models made with high-quality materials and components that endure regular use and harsh environments.
- Expandability and scalability: Some portable solar generators provide expandability options, such as connecting extra batteries or solar panels. This feature is advantageous if you expect your energy needs to grow over time or want the flexibility to adapt your system to various situations.
- Warranty and customer support: A robust warranty and responsive customer support offer peace of mind when investing in a solar generator. Look for manufacturers that stand behind their products and provide reliable assistance.
Portable solar generators offer a clean, renewable, and versatile power source for various off-grid applications, including camping, RV trips, emergency backup power, and off-grid living. By considering factors such as purpose, energy requirements, output ports, charging options, portability, quality, expandability, and warranty, you can find the ideal solar generator to suit your needs. Investing in a high-quality portable solar generator reduces reliance on traditional fuel sources and contributes to a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.