In recent years, solar energy has emerged as a generous form of natural power that is not only sustainable and eco-friendly but reliable and long-lasting. Solar powered generators, in particular, are rising in popularity due to their ability to convert sun energy captured by solar panels into usable electrical power that is stored in a battery. That stored energy can later be used through an inverter, allowing you to different power aspects of your home or enabling electronics in the event of a power failure.
Our Top Picks
- Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer Solar Generator
- Prymax Portable Power Station
- Rockpals 500W Portable Power Station Solar Generator
- RAVPower Solar Generator and Portable Power Station
- Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Solar Generator
Deciding to purchase a portable solar generator is a huge undertaking. However, choosing the best solar generator for your home, RV, or trek is never as simple as it seems. There is a myriad of solar-powered generators on the market today. To choose the best of the best, you’ll need to determine your overall energy requirements, as well as your unique wants and needs.
Below, we’ve rounded up our picks for the best solar generators on the market today. We’ve taken into account the features that truly matter when choosing the right solar generator, including price range, features, efficiency, and overall power output. With detailed reviews and a handy buyers guide, let’s take a look at the best solar generators.
List of the 8 Best Solar Powered Generators of 2021
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, 518Wh Outdoor Solar Generator
If you’re looking to power small and medium-sized electronics with relative ease, look to the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer Solar Generator. Unlike similar solar generators, the Jackery holds the ability to charge via the 100W solar panel or through the AC outlet or carport. We found that this solar generator makes it easy always to have an exceptional amount of power when you’re on the go.
Whether you’re camping or looking to pick up a solar generator to use in the event of an emergency, you generally want a machine that is powerful enough to provide enough electricity to sufficiently charge electronic devices or to keep vital medical devices going for at least 13 hours. Jackery has industry-leading innovations with a solar panel that can provide stable power to everything from TVs to small blenders and even CPAP devices.
We were impressed by the Jackery’s ability to charge with a solar panel in full sunlight within 14 hours while outdoors quickly. It is also quite handy to charge the device from a carport, USB port, or AC outlet within 8 to 15 hours. With a Pure Sine Wave Inverter, you can assure that it charges sensitive electronic devices like laptops without damage. It also reduces electrical noise. Additionally, the BMS system provides over-voltage protection, over-temperature protection, and safeguards for you and your devices during use.
Aside from power and safeguards, we love that you can easily store the Jackery in a car, RV, or trailer. Additionally, it could also make a great solar generator for outdoor parties. We suspect it could also power an outdoor movie projector should you want to take the fun from the living room to the patio.
We think this is a candidate for the best solar power generator due to its rugged looks, ample energy output, and true charge versatility.
This is a handy alternative to a regular generator, with the ability to power any device or equipment under 500 watts.
- 100W solar panels that charge in under 14 hours
- Pure Sine Wave Inverter for safe charges
- Ability to power all electronics under 500W
- LCD screen for power updates
- Weights 13.3 pounds which is heavy
- Cannot power devices over 500W
PRYMAX Portable Power Station, 300W Solar Generator
The Prymax Portable Power Station may not yet have the loyal following of Jackery. Still, the brand truly succeeds in offering one of the market’s best solar power generator options for a budget-friendly price. With updated lithium battery cells, this power station offers 298Wh of energy to charge a smartphone 40 times, a laptop 7 to 8 times, or a TV for 5+ hours. We were also impressed by the unit’s ability to power a CPAP machine for at least four nights on a single charge.
Weighing in at just 6.5 pounds, this is a portable solar generator that can easily be packed up for a week of camping or stowed away in a linen closet in the event of an emergency. With a 300-Watt solar generator (much higher than the Jackery), you can get a full charge in just 10 hours. Once ready to go, we found that the portable solar unit can easily power any electronics rated under 600W. The manufacturer claims it can adequately provide power to several devices.
Whether you’re looking for the best solar generators for camping, outdoor adventure, or emergency preparedness, we found that the Prymax has much to offer.
The 2 Pure Sine Wave AC outlets ensure a safe charge to even the most sensitive devices. This is better than a modified sine wave and provides clean power like a utility-supplied electrical current. We felt comfortable plugging in iPads and other devices that can be prone to power hits from less than savvy solar generators.
Additionally, the Prymax does offer a smart cooling fan. It turns on automatically turns when the unit is hotter to maintain the device at a constant temperature without running a fan at all times. This is a low-noise and gas-free design. It is great for small spaces or those who are a bit more eco-conscious. Unlike other brands, it is safe to run this portable generator in RVs, tents, cabins, and even basements. We found it is a solid choice for those who need to power medical equipment while hiking or camping.
With 2 USB ports, 2 AC, 1 Type-C, 112 V, 1 24V, and one 18V/8A charging port, you can power various tools and meet unique needs with a reliable and lightweight power option.
- 3 Unique ways to charge, including a compatible solar panel
- Steady 300W output, capable of 600W surges
- 2 Pure Sinewave outlets for charging
- Large flashlight and SOS emergency signal
- Can overheat with heavy-use
- No quick-charge ports
ROCKPALS 500W Portable Power Station Solar Generator
Not familiar with the Rockpals name? Well, it is time to get to know this online brand. Rockpals offers high-quality lithium battery solar generators without the thousand-dollar price tag.
We found the Rockpals 500W Portable Power Station Solar Generator to be a great candidate for the best solar power generator during our review process. An upgraded 500W output and 100W solar panel offer continuous power to phones, iPads, tablets, GPS units, walkie-talkies, cameras, drones, and CPAP machines under 500W. With power and portability, this is a great unit for outdoor use or simple emergency preparedness.
This three-way rechargeable device can quickly be recharged with the 100W solar panel in just 6 to 7 hours in full sun. There is also a battery pack that you can fully charge from any standard wall outlet in about 6 to 7 hours. IThis power station also comes with a camping battery supply that can be charged with a 12V car charger.
This is a high-capacity lithium power pack that weighs around 12.13 lbs. Though not quite as lightweight as the Prymax, it is still quite easy to tote around and store. We found that the unit was more than capable of charging smartphones about 58 times, laptops about eight times, and other small appliances for about 6-7 hours. It could be a great little solar generator for your RV camper or emergency kit.
Unlike similar budget-priced bands, the Rockpals do boast an efficient LED display, and ultra-bright emergency light should avoid a disaster strike. It is the only power station of its kind that comes with a display that offers up battery operating status, AC output, battery capacity, temperature, and battery failure safeguards. Pure Sine wave inverters work to ensure that all sensitive devices are charged without damage safely. It also works to reduce electrical noise, something other devices don’t do well.
While we can’t say that the Rockpals beat out the Jackery in terms of power/performance, we did find the unit to be lighter weight and easier for those unfamiliar with solar generators to use. The solar panels could reach a full charge in both partial and full sunlight without compromised power.
- Pure sine wave power for a safe charge
- Ten different charging ports and plugs
- 100W solar panel with a 6-hour charge
- Included emergency light
- Not waterproof
- No included USB-C port
RAVPower Solar Generator Portable Power Station
For a lightweight, easy-to-use solar generator, look to the RAVPower Solar Generator and Portable Power Station. We found this unit to be a solar generator that is well-equipped to handle smartphones, laptops, small appliances, and emergency medical devices during our testing process. In addition to a 100W solar panel with a colossal battery capacity of 252.7 Wh/70200mAH, you’re also getting a compact size that is easy to transport or store. While many portable solar generators boast some serious heft, this little unit offers the same power without the bulk.
In terms of being a solar generator, the 100W solar panel can charge in as little as 5 to 8 hours in full sun. Once the unit is charged, a might 60W PD input//output can meet the supply needs for all of your devices.
We found that you can fully charge a MacBook pro in as little as 3 hours. In contrast, more expensive devices can take up to 5 or 6 hours. In addition to the solar outlet, you also get powerful Pure Sine Wave AC outlets. The two 110V AC outlets can deliver a stable 250 W when using on and 300W when using both. This is ideal for small appliances.
You can charge the generator itself via the solar panels (our recommendation) or through a standard wall outlet or a 12-24 car charger. This versatility makes it a solid option for those looking for a device that works well for outdoor activities or emergency preparedness. Speaking of emergencies, we were impressed that the unit has several different modes of lighting, including solid, SOS, and flashing in case of emergency or when camping in the woods. We recommend this if you live in an earthquake-prone region.
The built-in cooling fan is quiet and non-disruptive, making it ideal for situations where a child or baby could be in the room. The brand has also included a handy carrying bag. Our only real gripe with the RavPower Portable Power Generator is that it does not have the numerous wall outlet options of the Jackery.
- 3 Total Ways To Charge the Unit
- Pure Sine technology for charge safety
- Integrated emergency lighting with flash modes
- 100W solar panels with 5 hour charge time
- Fewer outlet options than other models
- No LCD options
5. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station Solar Generator
The first thing you’ll notice about the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Solar Generator is that it offers the option to charge up to 10 devices at a time with a generous 1425Wh capacity. Not only does this make it a top contender as the best generator, but it means that you’ll never have to pick and choose which devices cut when it comes to charging time. We discovered that one could easily power household appliances from TV to a tablet or phone with this solar generator in tow.
With AC, 12V, and USB outputs, you can easily charge the device in many ways. However, we recommend going the solar route for efficiency. The large-sized 100W solar panels can charge in as little as 4.5 hours, depending on solar conditions and the composition of the array. The panels allow for pass-through power, meaning the unit can recharge from the solar panels while actively being used. That is something the Jackery and Prymax cannot boast.
We found that the 1425 watt output of the panels can offer a whopping 118 hours or charge for USB-powered devices. You can even charge a laptop from 0% to 100% up to 16 times.
The solar generator also comes with multiple wall outlet options, which allow you to charge any device you please. With an added LCD, you can quickly adjust your generator, check on battery life, or alter lights that just don’t seem very bright. If you want to charge your battery without the use of solar, you can connect the charger to a 120V outlet. You can also use your car as an adequate charging device. However, we found that with the solar panels, you’ll garner plenty of power and control. Keep in mind. You will need to purchase the panels in addition to the unit.
The only true downside we found of the Goal Zero Yeti is that the device comes in at a whopping 43 pounds. Though the Yeti 1400 does include helpful handles, the overall weight will make it difficult to transport long distances and for storage. Overall, we wouldn’t recommend this unit for long backpacking trips or anywhere where you’ll need to carry the unit for a long time. However, if you’re car camping, using an RV, or simply looking to prepare for an emergency, we do recommend the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Solar powered generator to meet your power needs.
- 1425 W of power to keep all devices charged
- Several charging options
- Large-sized LCD screen for monitoring
- Solar panel array for efficiency
- Solar panels are sold separately
- LCD is not very bright
How to Choose a Solar Powered Generator
Too often, people are prone to buying generators on a whim. Either they just go with the first unit they find, or they’re not even sure what separates the powerful solar generators from a run-of-the-mill Amazon choice. Below, we’ve crafted a buyer’s guide to help you get started on your buying journey. What factors should you consider when choosing the best solar-paneled generator? Let’s take a look.
The first factor you’ll want to consider is a panel type. Generally speaking, solar generators utilize three main types of solar panels: thin-film, mono-crystalline, and poly-crystalline. Mono-crystalline panels are of the highest quality, but they tend to come with a rather high price tag. However, they do boast the greatest efficiency rate and perform well in high-temperature situations.
Poly-crystalline panels are just a notch below in terms of quality and efficiency, with an overall rate between 13 and 16 percent. Between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells, you won’t notice much difference, but the poly-crystalline panels do make them a much more popular choice.
Film panels are of the least efficient type and require a much larger surface area to generate the same amount of power output. However, they are the least expensive option, which can make them seem lucrative to some. Just note, with solar panels, you do get what you pay for most of the time.
For solar panels in a solar-paneled generator, the battery storage capacity is measured in watt-hours. This represents how much power your generator is going to produce to charge or operate what you plug into it; when evaluating overall battery capacity, judge how you expect to use your generator.
If you are mainly using the unit for campaign or tailgating, you can get away with a smaller battery. Still, you need to learn how much battery capacity you will need. If you plan to use the generator as a backup power source or to handle medical devices in a power outage, you may want a unit with a larger battery. Units with a larger battery will cost more, but they tend to be well worth the extra expense.
Another thing you’re going to want to look for in your generator is the overall inverter rating. This rating reflects the maximum amount of power that can be gleaned from a single generator at one time. If you plan on powering a large home or major household appliances, you’ll want a unit with a very significant inverter rating. Keep both battery capacity and inverter rating in mind when rating key metrics on your device.
For example, a 1500-watt inverter won’t generate enough power you’re going to need with a low 400-watt battery. For the most part, find a generator with a battery to an inverter rating of at least 1.5 to 1. That means you should match a 1500 watt battery power with a 1000 watt inverter for the most power.
With a solar generator, portability most definitely matters. Of course, this depends on where and how you’re planning on putting your generator to use. If you’re going to use your generator primarily for camping, tailgating, or powering an RV, then portability is paramount. You want something lightweight and that comes equipped with either a handle, wheels, or a comfortable carry bag. If you’re planning on simply stowing your generator away in case of an emergency, portability may not matter as much to you. Instead, you may want to opt for a larger unit to power your entire home.
Finally, you’ll want to consider any optional appliances that may be important to you. Like any electronic device, many features can make your unit more convenient or enjoyable to use. For example, the best solar generator options tend to have an LCD screen that can provide data into the generator’s overall operations. Some even offer companion apps for smartphones or tablets. Others have features such as emergency flashlights or even radio functionality in case of an emergency. These things aren’t necessarily made or break features, but they can be nice to have, depending on how you want to use your unit primarily.
Advantages of a Solar Powered Generator
If you’re on the fence as to whether or not a solar power generator is right for you, we thought we would outline some of the unique strengths these units bring to the table. In our review process, we found that there are five key advantages of owning a solar generator.
Reduced carbon footprint
Let’s face it, reducing your carbon footprint matters (consumption of fossil fuels). While you can run gas powered generators, solar-powered generators reduce the amount of fossil fuels you consume, given that the average household processes around 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Simply using a solar generator can reduce that number by 3,000 pounds.
Solar generators offer a long list of unique strengths with very few weaknesses. Consider the five most compelling advantages of owning a solar generator:
Reduced utility costs
Even with a traditional generator, you’re not doing much to help with your electric bill. With growing power consumption, a powerful solar generator can save you hundreds of dollars on utility bills if you often need to use a generator multiple times a year.
Safe for indoor/outdoor use
A traditional generator cannot be used indoors because it can generate toxic and deadly fumes such as carbon monoxide. In contrast, solar-generators are safe to use indoors/outdoors and in small spaces. This is ideal during power outages. Additionally, you’ll never have to worry about running out of fuel or gas shortages during true emergencies.
Have you ever heard of gas generators? They can produce noise levels up to 85-decibels. That’s not exactly kind to your ears or your neighbors. Solar generators are stealth-quiet during use, meaning you won’t disturb your family when putting them into use.
Simple to use. Once you get your generator up and running, it requires little in the way of maintenance. You can leave it alone and let it do its thing without having to keep a watchful eye, refuel, or change the oil. The panel arrays automatically soak up the sun and charge the batteries powering multiple devices uninterrupted.
Solar Generator FAQ
Q: Are there different types of solar generators?
Yes, there are two general types of solar generators. There is a portable generator version, and there’s a version that is static and stays at home. Portable solar generators are ideal for use when camping or traveling. They’re easy to transport and are cheaper to buy than at-home alternatives. If you have equipment that will need to be powered while on the move, portable solar generators are ideal. However, if you’re looking to only use a solar generator during an emergency or as a backup power supply, you’ll do best with a static at-home generator that stays put.
Q: What makes up a solar generator?
A solar generator may sound complicated, but they are relatively simple in terms of components. Generally, a solar generator is made up of a high-capacity battery, an inverter, a voltmeter, and either an AC outlet or USB ports, depending on the unit size. The function of a solar generator is to adequately provide various items or devices with the enough power they need to run efficiently without utilizing the grid. Solar generators do not need gas or fuel to keep going. All they need is adequate sunlight. This is amazing when camping, traveling or dealing with a true power outage.
Q: How long do solar generator batteries last?
As is the case with any batteries, how long a battery lasts depends on how they’re used in the first place. Constantly solar charging and recharging batteries weaken them as time goes on. A solar generator that sits in a linen closet only being used sparingly will last a very long time, maybe even your entire life. However, a solar generator that is used daily or weekly will likely need a battery replacement within a few years, as the batteries will weaken much more quickly.
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