Are you thinking of buying a solar generator? Have you ever wondered: what are the best 7 solar generators? Read on to learn more.
It’s no secret that we need to ween off fossil fuels. Fortunately, our portable and backup power options are an easy first step. Believe it or not, California has already planned a phase-out of gas generators in the coming years.
For these reasons and more, people are turning to cleaner, greener, cheaper, and less toxic options, namely solar generators. Let’s talk about some of the best options on the market and see which solar generator is right for you!
What is a Solar Generator?
Solar generators are large, portable batteries that you can power with solar panels (and other charging methods). These are different from home solar fuel cells, as solar generators are designed to be mobile. They’re great for camping, power on the job site, and even home backup, depending on the models you choose.
While these are relatively new technology, there’s stiff competition in the industry. This has led to quick technological advancements, which is great for average consumers, as they’re now more powerful and affordable than ever!
What to Look for in a Solar Generator
The first solar generators came out in 2012, and the game has changed a lot since then. Here are some important features and metrics to look for before buying a new solar generator.
A gas generator can just keep running and running with enough fuel, but a battery can’t. Storing free energy from the sun is far superior in many ways, but there is a limit. Depending on your needs, you may need to find a solar generator with a high enough capacity.
If you’re tent camping and just want to charge some small electronics, then this isn’t a big deal. You will only need a few hundred watt-hours (Wh) of electricity to last for several days. However, if you need to power an RV or back up your home appliances, you will need a lot more stored energy.
Keep in mind that this directly correlates with the size and weight of your system. Not directly, as different batteries are more efficient (i.e. lead-acid vs. lithium). However, there is a strong correlation.
If you plan on using your battery regularly, then you need one that lasts for a long time. Some solar generators will only last for a couple of years with heavy use, so it’s best to find ones that suit your needs. This won’t be a problem if you only use it on an occasional camping trip (as long as you store the battery properly), but regular users should look for long-lasting systems.
Generally, lithium batteries last the longest. However, there’s still a lot of variety between batteries, which we’ll discuss.
If you’re buying a solar generator for a specific purpose, make sure it is compatible. You may need 3-prong AC outlets to power an air pump or laptop, USB-C chargers to charge your phone, or a special type of outlet for an appliance. If so, look for a solar generator that has these output options.
Whether you plan on using solar panels or not, charging time is important. If you only plan to recharge your system overnight, then a 10-hour charging time may be fine. However, if you will rely on the system for daily use, then you may need a system with a faster charging time.
Everything on this list will have a solar charging option. However, you may want the option to charge your system in the car, at home, or at an EV charging station. If so, make sure you find one that offers these charging abilities.
Gas generators are “portable,” as long as you don’t mind carrying around multiple fuel tanks with them. Some solar generators claim to be portable as well, but you also have to consider the panels and cables needed. For this reason, it’s important to think ahead about your needs for weight and size.
Do you need your system to fit into a small RV closet? If so, some of the larger models may not fit. The same applies to backpackers, construction workers, and more.
At first glance, 30 pounds may seem like a no-brainer over a 90-pound machine. However, carrying 30 pounds is a lot more physically challenging than pulling a 90-pound cart. Remember to factor this into your purchase!
This little-known solar generator brand is quite impressive for its price. While it isn’t as popular as some others on the list, it does live up to the same standards.
Geneverse Specs and Features
The Geneverse offers 1000W of continuous power and up to 2000W surge, which is perfect for any larger appliances. It also has a 1002Wh battery capacity, which is more than enough to power a few LED lights, a WiFi router, and some small electronics throughout the night.
Geneverse’s battery is quite powerful and can last for over 2,000 lifecycles. This is pretty impressive for the price, as you should get at least 5 or 6 years of heavy use from the system.
The system also has multiple AC wall outlets, USB-A, and USB-C ports to allow for any type of charging. This is the perfect option for someone who travels a lot, enjoys camping, or simply wants to bring some extra power to their garage or cabin.
The Jackery Explorer
While Jackery was the first to enter the game over a decade ago now, they seem to have broken the curse. Often, tech companies that launch game-changing products like solar generators are quickly phased out by swift competition. Jackery certainly has no shortage of competition, but that hasn’t deterred them from continuing to produce high-quality products.
Jackery is still a major player in the industry, and they still produce some of the best products on the market every year. While the entire Explorer series is fantastic, we’re going to discuss Explorer 1000. If you want a smaller option, check out our review of the Jackery 300 vs 500 to learn more!
Explorer 1000 Specs and Features
The Explorer was named after its capacity at 1002Wh. This is a great mid-tier capacity for a reasonable price. 1000Wh is more than enough for small electronics, WiFi routers, LED lights, and more for several nights. This makes it a perfect budget option for RV or tent camping!
It can also supply around 1000W of energy at a time, which is perfect for high-demand appliances like hair dryers or cooking equipment. At a mere 22 pounds, the Explorer 1000 is a relatively light and portable power station compared to others on this list.
Also, the lithium-ion NMC battery is efficient, has little to no battery “memory,” and can last for around 500 lifecycles before reaching a 20% drop from its original capacity. It’s no surprise that Jackery is still the top-selling solar generator brand in the world.
EcoFlow River Mini
This is the best option for those in need of a lightweight, ultra-portable power station for the right price. The EcoFlow River is a great model, but we had to mention the Mini for people on a budget, as it is the cheapest solar generator on the list!
River Mini Specs and Features
While it only has a 210Wh capacity, this is more than enough for tent camping or portable power. The best feature is its light weight, at only 6 pounds total.
Offering a 280W output, it’s an impressive system for such a small battery. It’s compatible with solar input, and it charges in just over 3 hours using only solar panels!
Even better, it will last for a long time. This is great for a spare electric bike battery with solar input, backpacking power, or just a cheap way to generate clean energy on the go!
The only downside is the charging limit of 288W. That’s not enough for a hair dryer or cooking range. However, it’s more than enough for laptops or other small electronic devices!
The entire AC series is fantastic, but we’re choosing to discuss the 300 simply because it’s the most powerful. If you want a lighter solar generator, the AC200 or others in the series are also excellent choices!
AC300 Specs and Features
If we were to call this one the best for a specific task, it would either be for a job site or van life. If you’re living in a tiny house with little energy demand or if you need consistent power on the go, this is a great option.
The reason is that the AC300 offers up to 3072Wh of electricity storage, which is quite high for a portable power station. There are plenty of different outlets for charging nearly any appliance, as well.
Even more, it’s incredibly reliable. This impressive battery can last for over 3500 lifecycles before seeing a 20% drop in capacity. This roughly translates to ten years of heavy daily use on the job site or living off the grid!
However, they aren’t giving these away. The AC300 is certainly one of the more expensive items on this list, but at least you won’t have to buy another one for a long time!
Goal Zero Yeti 500X
Okay, yes. The full name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but don’t let that fool you. The Yeti 500X is perfect for those looking for a more portable solar generator.
For camping trips, this has to be the best on this list. It offers more than enough power to charge your electronics like smartphones, laptops, and tablets, as well as electric cooking appliances. If you like dry camping or finding the most remote areas to camp, this is perfect for you!
Yeti 500X Specs and Features
The system overall only weighs 12.9 pounds (5.85 kg), making it one of the most portable options on this list. It can store up to 505Wh of electricity and power up to 300W continuously and 1200W surge. That’s enough to run a hair dryer for a bit if you need it!
It also comes with multiple charging options for different appliances. You will have USB-A, USB-C, 2 AC outlets, and a car charging outlet available. The only downside is that it can take up to 10 hours to recharge, but that’s more than fast enough if you have enough solar panels during the day.
If that isn’t enough power for you, check out the Yeti 3000 for a more powerful power station. The Yeti 500X is essentially just a smaller, more compact version with fewer charging options.
This is a great option for those on a budget who still have a high energy demand. If you need to power a corded drill or saw on the job but don’t want to spend the money on a 3.6kWh solar generator, then this is a great alternative.
Patriot 1500 Specs and Features
The Patriot 1500 uses a lithium-ion battery that can hold a full charge for over 6 months. The name is for the 1500W inverter, but the system’s capacity is only 600Wh. Fortunately, this is reflected in the price, which is why we are ranking it so highly.
It offers 2 AC wall outlets and multiple USB ports, allowing you to charge any device. Also, it’s fairly long-lasting. The Patriot 1500 should last for over 2000 lifecycles with proper care, which means you should have no trouble using it daily for at least 6 years.
EcoFlow Delta Pro
You may know the EcoFlow Delta Pro for breaking the Kickstarter world record for tech funding. Tech junkies and clean energy enthusiasts were very excited about the project, as it was set to be the most powerful portable power station ever. So powerful that it was designed to work for home backup like a Tesla Powerwall, but with the same portability as others on this list.
The Delta Pro is the latest of EcoFlow’s Delta series. There was the Delta, Delta River, and the Delta Max before it. Each was respectable, but none was nearly as ambitious as the Delta Pro.
So, did it live up to its expectations? Let’s find out.
EcoFlow Delta Pro Features
The Delta Pro is, without a close second, the strongest portable power station on the market. With 3.6kWh of battery life (up to 10.8 with additional batteries), 7.2kWh of surge output, and a long-lasting LFP battery, it’s hard to beat.
Well, that lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery can last for over 6,500 lifecycles. That means you can fully discharge and recharge the battery every day for up to 20 years before seeing a 20% drop from its original capacity. Compare that to a lead-acid battery, which depletes by around 40% after only 500 to 800 lifecycles.
Also, 3600Wh is enough to power most home appliances, especially with so many charging options. The system comes equipped with several AC, USB, and USB-C chargers, as well as an Anderson port and a DC5521 outlet. You can even power an electric dryer for a full cycle with one battery, which no other portable solar generator can boast.
On top of that, you can easily charge your system with one or a combination of the 4 available charging methods. The Delta Pro allows for AC charging, car charging, solar charging, and fast EV charging. With a combination of these, you can charge your system fully in as little as 1.8 hours.
Once fully charged, you can store your Delta Pro for over a year without having to charge it. That’s right. It can hold a full charge for over 12 months and last for 20 years with proper care.
You can compare that to some 720Wh batteries that require between 5 and 8 hours to bring to a full charge, even with AC charging. However, that’s not all there is to the Delta Pro.
Delta Pro Accessories
While the Delta Pro is uniquely powerful on its own, its compatible accessories really help it stand out from the crowd. Again, you can compound this system with up to two additional Smart Batteries, effectively tripling the capacity. You can also add up to 1600W of solar panels using up to 4 MC4 cables, which can charge your system in as little as 2.5 hours.
More importantly, the EcoFlow Smart Home Panel is one of the best inventions on this list. It allows users to connect their systems directly to their home circuits for home backup and more. This will use your stored energy during peak hours when energy rates are the highest, which will save you money each month.
On top of that, the Smart Home Panel offers a 20-millisecond switchover time, providing uninterrupted power during an outage. If you have freezers filled with meat or life-saving medical equipment at home, this is the product for you! All of this makes the Delta Pro the best solar generator for off-grid living.
What Makes the EcoFlow Delta Pro the Best?
In the beginning, we discussed what to look for in a solar generator. Well, the EcoFlow Delta Pro wins on everything except portability. Even with the system weighs 99 pounds, it does come on a wheeled cart for easy transportation.
However, it’s by far the most powerful, fastest charging, durable, and has the highest output. Therefore, it has earned the top spot on our list.
Solar Generator Tips
Finally, we want to leave you with some tips on how to get the most from your solar generator. Here is a helpful solar generator guide for owners!
Determine Your Needs
It may be easy to look at the price tag and think, “that’s the cheapest one, so I want it.”
Still, we all have different needs for our products. Don’t rush into buying one if it isn’t going to do enough for you. It’s better to buy the right solar generator once than to have to buy it after you buy another.
Take a look at what you’ll use it for and determine your energy needs. For example, 8 hours on a construction job site will need at least 2000Wh with heavy power tools, but a car camper may only need 300Wh. Figure out what’s right for you before shopping!
Take Care of the Battery
Regardless of the type of battery you have, there are some general best practices to follow. Always store your battery at least at half capacity (never fully discharged) and away from extreme temperatures. Direct sunlight, too much heat, or frigid temperatures will harm the battery over time.
Also, don’t make fast charging a regular habit. Try to stick to the 20% rule and only charge it with 20% of its intake capacity. For example, the Delta Pro can handle 1600W of power, so aim for 320W or less most of the time.
Overall, these small differences will add up over time, allowing you to get the most out of your system.
Buy the Right Panels
Solar panels offer free energy, so it would be silly to buy a solar generator and use it as a battery. Sunlight is free, but if you’re spending $0.15 per kWh to power your system, you may as well have bought the solar panel after a few hundred charges. Just make sure you buy enough to charge your system in a reasonable amount of time.
Also, make sure you angle your solar panels for optimal power. Otherwise, you may not charge your system sufficiently during the day.
Choose the Right Accessories
Depending on the system you purchase, make sure that you have what you need. If you need extra long MC4 cables, a home circuit conversion kit, or something else, make sure you purchase it along with your system! Check out our buying guides for more information!
Buy a Solar Generator Today
Now that you know about the best solar generators on the market for every type of consumer, you can make an informed decision about which is right for you. Everybody’s needs are different, so choose the system that meets your energy needs and your budget.
Stay up to date with our latest solar generator reviews, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!