10 Top-Notch Solar Generators – Reviews and Buying Guide

35 Models Considered
52 Hours of Research
6 Experts Interviewed
252 Reviews Analyzed

Demand for solar generators is continuously increasing. The wreckage so often caused by hurricanes included the interruption of power supply in many affected places. This only made the desire to have a portable, emergency power generator more urgent, especially one that doesn’t rely on fuel and isn’t connected to the grid. Something like a solar generator. You’re already aware of the sustainability and green quality of solar power so we won’t say much about that. We desire to help you find the best solar generator, whether you’re doing it for emergency purposes, for the convenience of carrying it with you whenever you like, or for lowering the dependence on grid electricity.

This review focuses on the features that are important in a solar generator. The type of battery and its capacity, the power output and the outlets it can be connected to top the list. All these are important. For instance, the battery type determines how long you’ll use the generator before requiring a replacement battery. Battery capacity determines how much power you actually get from the generator when it’s fully charged. The output determines what appliances the generator can power. Supported outlets indicate where you can charge the generator and the kinds of power source you can use.

Top 10 Solar Generators Reviews 2018

No research is ever complete until we spend several days analyzing the equipment in the hot seat and trying to unravel its flaws. It’s what makes putting together this information thrilling for us. We are careful to gather only the information you’ll find useful and ask the questions that matter on your behalf. We hope you get enlightened as you pore through the table we’ve included, the in-detail reviews of each product, and our buying guide. All in a good day’s work, trying to identify the best solar generator from the pile of mediocre units.

Name and Features Image Rating Price
1. Goal Zero Yeti 1000 (Editor’s Choice)
This high-capacity generator is ideal for any purpose, powers both small and large appliances and devices, up to 10 at a time, and reaches full power in 4.5 hours with a solar battery
Goal Zero Yeti 1000
2. ECOFLOW RIVER Mobile Power Station (Best Portable Solar Generator)
Lightweight yet powerful power station that keeps charge perfectly and looks cool
ECOFLOW RIVER
3. Goal Zero Yeti 400 (Best Solar Generator for Camping)
Compact and lightweight solar generator that powers other devices while being charged
Goal Zero Yeti 400
4. SUAOKI G500 Portable Power Station (Best Solar Generator for RV)
The power station can be effectively recharged from three possible sources and applies the MPPT for boosting solar charging
SUAOKI G500
5. Paxcess 100W Power Station (Budget Pick)
Affordable power supply for smaller devices, featuring the Battery Management System that optimizes battery performance
PAXCESS
6. Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator
The battery uses the monocrystalline solar panels to store energy, which makes it light and efficient
Renogy Phoenix
7. Suaoki 220Wh Portable Solar Generator
This generator features a battery management system and is compatible with plenty of solar panels
Suaoki 220Wh
8. SereneLife SLSPGN20 Portable Generator (Best Emergency Solar Generator)
Handy small generator easy to carry with you around the house during emergency power cut-offs
SereneLife SLSPG20
9. Suaoki S270
This generator applies both the Battery Management System and Mobile Power Point Tracking technologies and has a flashlight for your convenience
Suaoki-S270
10. SereneLife SLSPGN10 Portable Rechargeable Power Generator (Best Travel Solar Generator)
Extremely small and lightweight generator with a decent output power to charge small devices
SereneLife-SLSPG10
10 Top-Notch Solar Generators – Reviews and Buying Guide
Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 1045Wh
  • Output power: 1500W (3000W peak)
  • Outlets: AC inverter, 3*DC ports, USB port
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Dimensions: 10.1 x 15.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 9.8 out of 10

Does the combo of a compact yet solid power backup, light enough to carry and high-performance sound pleasing to your practical mind? If you’re breathing out an expectant yes, you need a high-capacity portable solar generator, and a model like the Goal Zero Yeti 1000, no less. This small but powerful station has a built-in inverter with a capacity of 1500W in continuous output and will ably connect to 10 devices. With this amount of output, you can comfortably charge larger appliances and devices like refrigerators, medical devices, power tools, and even sump pumps. This makes the Yeti 1000 one of the best generators for off-grid living.

You can charge this Yeti in one of three ways: plug into the AC wall outlet, connect to a solar panel using Goal Zero connectors, or connect to solar panel using Anderson power pole connectors. It’s possible the Yeti can work with other connectors, but the connection with the two types of connectors above is flawless and optimized from what we’ve seen. It wouldn’t hurt to experiment with other connectors, but take precaution before you do and at least get the manufacturer to confirm the station’s compatibility to the connectors. Shooting the Goal Zero support desk an email should do, and their reply is bound to come with a topping of extra free efficiency tips.

When making plans to buy this station, it’s crucial to factor in a solar panel. Because if you rely on AC power to recharge it, the generator may not be of much use to you, particularly if you need to use it on the road or in environments where there’s no DC power source. Another reason why AC recharging isn’t the best option is it takes 25 hours to attain a full charge. Imagine all the tasks you typically accomplish within the same timeframe, which is the industry standard for high capacity generators but crazy to settle for when there are quicker options. Get the solar panel, and full recharge time shortens to about 4.5 hours.

PROS:
  • High-capacity generator
  • Can reach full charge in 4.5 hours
  • True pass-through power capability
  • Connects to 10 devices
  • Battery management system
  • Water-tight battery enclosure
  • Advanced cooling system

CONS:
  • 25 hours to fully charge from wall outlet

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 412Wh
  • Output power: 500W
  • Outlets: 4 USB (2 quick charge), 2 USB Type-C, 2 DC, 2 AC and 12V car port
  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 9.7 out of 10

EF EcoFlow may have jumped into the party late by introducing the EcoFlow River Mobile Station at a time when the market is teeming with competing products. They, however, made a majestic entrance, fully aware they were introducing a new, tantalizing flavor, something different. And there is plenty that is different about the River, as raving fans like to call it.

The first is that it truly does keep the charge. Forget the low-budget buys you’ve used in the past that struggled to get you through two cycles of essential gadgets like your iPhone and laptop. The River keeps going, hurtling forth to keep your devices connected when there’s a disruption in your normal power supply, and blessing you with at least 500 charge cycles throughout its lifespan.

The manufacturer says it can keep charge for up to a year. Well, we haven’t kept ours away for a year yet, mostly because we can’t keep our hands off it, but we’ve picked it up after months in storage and fist-bumped at the amount of charge the station still had. For us, that’s a sure sign of a solid power station.

The teeny-tiny size of this station could fool you into thinking it’s just another poor-output emergency gadget that can power your devices for a few minutes in an emergency. Far from it, the River has been used for field activities in far-flung places, during evening basketball games at makeshift courts, in the home, is a dependable office backup power unit, and is a sound investment for camping and other outdoor events.

With 11 charging outlets and assorted ports, you couldn’t find a better partner for your diverse power needs. Just ensure that none of the items you connect draws more than 500W.

PROS:
  • Solid build
  • Great for outdoor use
  • Runs quietly
  • Can be used while charging

CONS:
  • The USB-C ports on the front don’t charge a MacBook with USB-C

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 428Wh
  • Output power: 300W (1200W peak)
  • Outlets: 3*2.4A USB ports,2*12V ports
  • Weight: 16 lbs
  • Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 11 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 9.6 out of 10

Looking for a true off-grid lifestyle without having to sacrifice all the little devices you love? Connect to the Goal Zero Yeti 400, a lithium-battery powered solar generator that will power your appliances up to 428Wh. It’s a mega-capacity power station for individuals who enjoy the delectable taste of freedom to travel and work anywhere but don’t like to leave their treasured devices behind.

From the heavy-lifting it’s capable of, this power station sounds like a heavy, bulky machine. Not quite. It features solid construction packed in a compact design that makes the generator easy to carry about, with a thick handle for easy lifting.

With the Yeti 400, you have a constant supply of power for a range of appliances that may include laptops, phones and tablets, drones and drone batteries, camera batteries, small refrigerators, CPAP machines, camping lamps, coolers, running lights, speakers, TV, and more. As long as you don’t exceed the 400Wh threshold, the generator will work optimally.

Goal Zero recommends connecting no more than seven devices. That’s four more devices than a lot of people would need to power at a go even though there are people involved with production work who use this station to charge their machines. This group and others like them obviously have higher usage requirements, but they should manage smoothly even with the 7-device cap.

For devices that use pure sine wave technology, the Yeti 400 has a built-in pure sine wave inverter with a 1200W peak capacity. For smaller devices like phones, use the 2.4A USB ports to charge. Bigger devices like laptops should be charged with the 12V DC ports.

The power station fully charges in seven hours when recharging from the wall. If you charge it using the solar panel, it can take only four hours to reach full charge, although this will largely depend on the size of the solar panel. Best of all, you can carry on using the station as it charges.

PROS:
  • High capacity
  • Simultaneous charging and recharging
  • Solid construction
  • Compact design
  • Quick charging

CONS:
  • Lithium battery needs replacing after a year

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 500W
  • Output power: 300W (peak 600W)
  • Outlets: 1 USB Type-C, 2 USB Type-A, 2 DC, 2 AC, and 1 cigarette socket
  • Weight: 22.05 lbs
  • Dimensions: 11 x 7.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 9.6 out of 10

The SUAOKI G500 is built as a high-capacity power station capable of charging a mini army of electronic devices. From smartphones and laptops to speakers, projectors, mini refrigerators, hair appliances and other small house appliances, this power station keeps your gadgets running when regular power connection isn’t available. Should you wish to run an appliance in the garden or gazebo where there’s no power connection, the G500 can supply the power needed.

One discouraging thing about many portable power stations is that they appear to be designed to work better with some gadgets than others. This isn’t something a manufacturer will loudly proclaim, and it only becomes apparent when you’ve unsuccessfully tried to cajole the power unit into doing what you want. But not the G500. Any appliance that consumes up to 500W can be connected to the station. It even has two sine-wave outputs for technically-advanced modern devices like CPAP machines.

The best of power stations offer variety in both DC output and charging ports, and the G500 does not disappoint. You get multiple DC ports with 12V/3A output, a 12V/10A car port, three QC3.0 USB ports, two USB-A ports, and a USB-C port. A staggering variety that every device, no matter how unique, can connect to the G500.

The G500 comes with built-in power tracking technology, the Maximum Power Point Tracking Technology, which boosts your solar charging efficiency.

At a time when the product warranty is comparable to a rare but potent drug with a low, fast-release dosage, it’s a relief to find a brand giving you a detailed, no BS 2-year warranty.

It takes between 8 and 10 hours for the station to be fully charged, and you can continue to solar-charge it as you use the AC output.

Three ways of charging and a high output make it especially good for camping and RVing, when you can use whether a 2V cigarette lighter socket or a solar panel to recharge.

PROS:
  • Has MPPT technology
  • Pure sine wave output
  • Three ways to recharge

CONS:
  • Non-standard 12V outputs
  • Large and heavy for such a capacity

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity 151Wh
  • Output power: 100W
  • Outlets: 3*DC port, 2*110V AC outlet inverter, 2*USB 5V port
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs
  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.15 x 6.89 in
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10

If our swift-paced life were to slow down enough for us to take leisurely vacations whenever we desired, as often as we liked, and without the stressors of life smudging our blithe lifestyle, the Paxcess 100W Power Station would be our trusted companion across balmy seas.

The Paxcess has a peak AC output of 150W and will conveniently charge your laptop, camera batteries, lamps, and other small home appliances that draw less than 100W. It works just as great with car powered devices consuming less than 180W, such as a 12V fan, car vacuum, car refrigerator, and CPAP machine. Connect these to any of the three 12V DC outputs to power them. For your phones, cameras, and MP3, use the 5V USB ports. There are two of them.

To charge the power bank using solar energy, simply connect it to a solar panel. You need to purchase this separately as it is not included in the package when buying the generator. You don’t need an adapter when using the solar charger, and the power station will be fully charged in 7 to 9 hours. When charging via AC power by plugging directly into the wall, it will take about 8 hours to fully charge. Full recharge using the car 12V adapter takes about 9 hours.

The built-in Battery Management System (BMS) does a fine job of optimizing battery performance and boosting safety by ensuring temperature, voltage, and current levels are kept under control. The power bank is designed to shut off when devices drawing above 100W are connected. Good news for your safety and the protection of your devices, but the sudden shutdown is undesired when you’re trying to quickly power a device. Just avoid using the big machines with the power bank.

PROS:
  • Super light
  • Runs quietly
  • Battery Management System
  • Meets IATA travel safety requirements
  • 45-day full money-back guarantee

CONS:
  • Powers small appliances only

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 190Wh
  • Output power: 150W
  • Outlets: 1*AC, 1*CiG, 1*DC, 4*USB output ports
  • Weight: 12.8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.8 x 16.1 x 3.9 inches
  • Warranty: 1-year

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

Unlike the majority of solar generators which use a standard solar panel, the Renogy Phoenix uses 20W monocrystalline solar panels to store energy. Monocrystalline solar panels, made from pure silicon, have the highest efficiency of all solar options currently in use. They also take up minimal space, which in part explains why the Renogy is compact and light, not bulky. Their performance and longevity are top-rate too, so it’s two wins for whoever wants a generator for use over a long period.

Though maxing at only 20W, the single crystalline cells are expandable up to 120W. With this capacity, it will comfortably charge all your small appliances and devices, including laptop, phone, camera, mini cooler, mini refrigerator, TV, and CPAP machine. Renogy has equipped the Phoenix with a ton of input and output ports. There is one AC input port, one CiG input port, two solar input ports, one AC output port, one CiG output port, two DC output ports, and four USB output ports – a port for every one of your devices and three recharging options for the generator.

MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking Technology) extracts the maximum charge possible from the battery, providing you with energy for longer. It’s the most advanced technology for improving charging efficiency in solar panels at the moment. Having it built into the Phoenix means more power hours for you.

PROS:
  • Wattage expandable to 120W
  • MPPT solar technology
  • Pure sine wave inverter
  • All-in-one; no solar panels required

CONS:
  • Not for use with high-capacity devices

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 220Wh
  • Output power: 200W (250W peak)
  • Outlets: 2*100V/110V AC, 2*DC (an extra cigarette socket cable), 2*USB ports
  • Weight: 6.7 lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.84 x 6.3 x 3.39 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 8.9 out of 10

The Suaoki generator packs 220Wh, more than enough to keep your laptop powered for up to four cycles. If you’re regularly on the road, this power station will ensure you stay connected on all your devices and provide the power you need to get things done. With the 220Wh, working while on the go means no more tedious hours in hotel rooms and lounges because that’s where the power source. You can now travel with your own power source and do all the other things you fantasize about without restrictions on where you can go. Moreover, there are many solar panel options the generator is compatible with, so you’re not restricted to just a couple of them.

The Suaoki 220Wh features a built-in sine wave inverter, which eliminates the risk of harmonic distortion and power damage in any of your devices. The inverter ensures that any devices that use sine wave technology can run optimally, quietly, and don’t heat up.

This unit is among the in-a-class-of-their-own solid solar generators in the market with a battery management system. The last thing you need when stuck in the countryside is for your single power source to die on you. By building the Battery Management System into this station, SUAOKI seeks to increase battery efficiency and improve utilization. The BMS system helps prevent over-voltage, over-current, over-temperature, and overcharging, soothingly protecting your battery and prolonging its shelf life.

You can always tell when the battery is getting low on power. When fully charged, five LED lights will illuminate to indicate maximum charge. As you use the battery, the lights go off one by one, until only one light is left on. That’s when you know it’s time to recharge the battery.

PROS:
  • Battery Management System
  • Plenty of compatible solar panels
  • LED status lights

CONS:
  • Can’t charge and recharge at the same time
  • Must plug into a charging source to reset

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 155Wh
  • Output power: 120W (180W peak)
  • Outlets: 10V Dual AC outlet, 3*12V DC ports, 3*5V USB ports
  • Weight: 4.7 lbs
  • Dimensions: 3.5 x 6.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 8.8 out of 10

The SereneLife SLSPG20 Portable Solar Generator comes in a neat travel design, which makes it an easy choice for anyone who doesn’t want to tug a heavy power station every time they need to use it out in the backyard or when going camping.

It is smallish and therefore practical and an ideal choice for use around the house during emergency power cut-offs. Although it only has a capacity of 155Wh, this amount is sufficient to power small electronics and most communication devices, ensuring you stay connected to the world at all times.

You can charge it at a standard 3-plug wall outlet or use your car socket (12V). This is in addition to using a solar panel to charge it. Unfortunately, you’ll have to buy the solar panel separately, but this shouldn’t be any trouble as there are lots of affordable compatible solar panels in the market.

SereneLife has included USB, 12V DC and AC outputs to ensure variety and compatibility with diverse home appliances. That means you can charge your smartphones, laptops and tablets, cameras, lights, and even power a small TV. Altogether, there are three 12V DC ports, three 5V USB ports, and a cigarette socket cable.

The manufacturer gives a 1-year warranty, and we have to say they’re responsive to customers with a warmth and sincerity you don’t see very often these days. In case your power bank develops a problem, contact them, and they will happily sort the issue. We’ve seen someone get a new unit from the manufacturer when something broke in the unit they had bought after a month or so of use. However, like with all warranty agreements, make sure you’re not mishandling the power station before dashing off to make a claim.

PROS:
  • Fully charges in 8 hours
  • Plenty of output ports
  • Small

CONS:
  • Can’t be used to power large appliances

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 150Wh
  • Output power: 100W (150W peak)
  • Outlets: 2*AC, 4*DC; 1*QC3.0 USB port; 3*USB ports
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
  • Dimensions: 7.26 x 4.31 x 4.67 inches
  • Warranty: 1.5 years

OVERALL RATING: 8.7 out of 10

The Suaoki S270 Portable Power Station is a tiny 150W powerhouse. Other than its obvious practicality due to its compact design and size, it’s a firmly constructed unit with a solid performance. While it won’t power bigger appliances, it’s efficient in powering smaller devices within its energy capacity. There are three USB ports for your smart devices, two AC outlets, and four DC ports. That’s enough to connect several small appliances at the same time.

Be careful to keep the consumption below 100W. You don’t want the power station to shut down on you just as you’re beginning to get cozy, although this protective measure will safeguard your devices and protect you from a power accident.

To boost safety, efficiency, and performance, Suaoki uses Battery Management System (BMS) and Mobile Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solar technology. With BMS, this intelligent technology is constantly monitoring the voltage, current, and temperature and working to keep it all under control, eliminating the possibility of damage due to surges. MPPT solar technology ensures maximum efficiency during charging, which is what you want when you’re going camping or weekend fishing.

The S270 is equipped to function as a flashlight and will provide the illumination you need when you can’t find your torch or lamp. There are two status lights to indicate when the battery is running low and when you should recharge.

Recharge it using a 13V-22V solar panel, which you have to buy separately, using an AC adapter directly on your wall plug, or using a DC car adapter. It comes with both a DC car charger adapter and a DC cigarette lighter adapter. The best solar panels to use with this for optimal input are the 60W and 100W panels. Many of the panels on sale are compatible, but for no-fail compatibility, you can buy Suaoki solar panels. They have both a 60W and a 100W variety. It takes approximately 8 hours to fully charge the generator from an AC outlet, and you can continue to use the power station while it recharges.

PROS:
  • BMS technology
  • MPPT technology
  • Flashlight

CONS:
  • No regulators indicating when you need to stop charging the power supply
  • Can’t be used to power large appliances

Features
  • Battery: Lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 150Wh
  • Output power: 120W (180W peak)
  • Outlets: 2*AC outlet inverter, 3*DC outputs, 2*USB device charge ports
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs
  • Dimensions: 3.1 x 6.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year

OVERALL RATING: 8.7 out of 10

This unit supports an output of 120W, though when using DC power it has a maximum power of 180W and a modified sine wave output of 100W. This range is all right for normal, regular use. If you regularly need to charge bigger, high-capacity devices, this station may not work for you. A higher-capacity solar generator would be more suitable in that case.

SereneLife presents the SLSPG10 in a slick and compact portable design. The wide handle makes lifting and carrying it easy work. Plus, it weighs only about 3.3 pounds; light enough to carry in a backpack. Talking about backpacks, this generator is great for outdoor use, whether that takes you by the ocean or cabin in the mountains. It will power your CPAP, your lights and lamps, a mini refrigerator, cooler, camera battery, and many of the small appliances you take with you traveling or camping.

Most people who have used a variety of solar generators for a considerable period advise that you turn off the humidifier if you don’t want your CPAP to drain all the power from the generator. But in the SLSPG10, connecting a CPAP didn’t seem to eat up a big portion of the power reservoir. Could it be a brand thing? Jury’s still out on that, but we should post an update once we’ve compared a few popular brands on the humidifier effect. Try it both with the humidifier on and off and see if it makes any difference for you. If it does, you’ll want to stick to the option that preserves more power.

PROS:
  • Digital LED display
  • Built-in LED display panel illumination Compatible with most 12-22V solar panels
  • Advanced safety operations
  • Works well with CPAP

CONS:
  • Can’t power through AC and USB outputs simultaneously
  • Can’t be used to power large appliances

Buying Guide

We now get down to the fun part, namely, dissecting what’s myth from what’s real and separating the meat from the bone. Before setting foot at a solar dealer’s or, in keeping with the times, placing your order for a solar generator online, it’s vital that you keep a few things in mind: 1) understand why you need a solar generator; 2) know what to look for in a solar generator; and 3) know how to pick a solar generator that will best serve your requirements. We give all these details below.

Advantages of a solar generator

When we think of the penetration of solar energy in the market, driving in a rough, parched country road with long stretches of rocky terrain, shorter ones with narrow, ditch-like gulleys scattered all across the road, and even longer stretches of dusty terrain disappearing into the horizon comes to mind.

Solar Generator

As precious as solar energy is, as humankind, we’re yet to find a way to tap into its richness and make it widespread and affordable. Still, we’ve advanced quite a bit from where we were 40 years ago, and the increasing popularity of solar generators is all the proof you need to believe this. Solar generators may still be a long, rough way from being mainstream, but they’ve come a long way. Here are some of the advantages of using a solar generator.

1. It’s easy to operate

Unlike electric connections which require adherence to particular connecting patterns, setting up your solar generator for use is comparatively easy. The generator comes ready-to-use, so all you have to do is connect the charging cable to recharge it and later plug in the cables connecting the generator to the devices you want to charge.

Even the process of harnessing the energy from the environment is fairly straightforward. The solar panel does the harvesting and transmits the energy to the generator, which then stores this energy in the battery. When you connect your appliances to the generator, the stored energy (DC) is converted to AC and fed into the appliances to power them up. This is the most simplified explanation of this four-step process you’ll come across, deliberately made so to mimic the easy connection process in a solar generator. There are complex engineering procedures and systems behind the whole process, but for you, the end user, everything’s made easy.

2. Cuts electricity costs

The effect of using solar energy on your finances becomes evident when the electricity bill comes in and it’s less than what you paid on average before you started using the solar generator. Stick to the habit, and you’ll be spending less on electricity over time.

3. It’s virtually maintenance-free

A solar generator doesn’t need special handling or intensive maintenance. It has built-in, automatic processes to safeguard against voltage/current surges and dips and manage battery performance and the charging and discharging process.

Other than the initial cost of purchase and maybe the cost of replacing the battery, there are no other expenses attached to running a solar generator.

4. It’s portable

You can take your solar generator with you wherever you go if need be. It provides easy access to energy anytime, anywhere.

5. It makes it possible for you to access the widely-available solar energy

Having a solar generator gives you ready access to the cheap and clean solar power.

6. It provides steady power backup

A solar generator can offer emergency power backup during outages, providing a reliable way to keep important devices and appliances powered when the grid connection is lost.

7. It’s renewable

Renewable energy like solar power is readily available and does not harm the environment. Double win.

How solar generators work

Solar generators are powered by solar panels, which get the energy directly from the sun in a photovoltaic process. This energy is passed to the generator where it is stored in a battery. A built-in converter in the generator then converts the energy into AC for your end uses.

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Features to consider before buying a solar generator

Several factors should always guide your decision to purchase any solar generator. Below are the most important ones.

Battery capacity

The size of the battery determines how much energy is stored and subsequently available for use. A small battery will keep a correspondingly small amount of energy. Likewise, a large battery will store more energy.

Check the battery capacity as indicated by the manufacturer and cross-check this figure with the specific applications such a battery can support. The goal is to choose a generator with a big-enough battery for your requirements.

Wattage

Wattage refers to the maximum output the generator can handle. A 100W-generator can only connect devices that draw less than or up to 100W either singly or combined. So if you’re connecting five devices, the total draw should be 100W or less for the generator to work.

Manufacturers usually include a wattage safeguard that shuts down the generator when a high-capacity device is connected to it. This is done to protect the generator, and your device too, from electric damage.

Outlets

Generally, a solar generator can be charged by a solar panel/panels, an AC wall outlet, and a 12V DC car charger. Confirm if this is the case with any solar generator you’re interested in buying. Check also the type of adapters (both AC and DC) that need to be used with the generator and ensure that you get the right one.

Most manufacturers will include adapters and charging cables in the generator package, so this won’t be a problem. In case you chance upon a generator that doesn’t come with these, confirm that the manufacturer has indicated what adapters/cables/solar connectors are needed.

Size and weight

Size

Some solar generators are small; some are large. All of them are portable. Size does not necessarily indicate performance, and a large generator may only have a medium capacity. Similarly, you may have a small generator with a high capacity. It’s best not to get stuck up on size and falter on the more important property: performance and capacity.

However, if this is your traveling power source, you want it to be light enough to carry around with you. If you are hauling it in the car, then you can make do with a slightly heavy generator. But bear in mind that you’ll probably need to carry it to and from the car, distances which may not be very small. Make sure you can lift it and carry it with ease, either on your own or with help. If it’s too heavy to carry, it will become more of a liability than the convenience you hoped it would it would be.

Price

Solar generators range in price from the downright affordable to the mind-bogglingly-expensive. Like with size, the price is not an indicator of quality. Some low-priced generators deliver quite a punch, while some exorbitantly-priced models have little to offer.

The gold is in the details. Before looking at the price tag, confirm that the generator has the capacity to deliver what you want.

Warranty

Out of all the solar generators we’ve checked out, only a few reach the 2-year warranty period. Many manufacturers give a 1-year warranty, with a few others extending it to a year and half.

A longer warranty on your generator means your peace of mind in using the generator lasts a lot longer than what someone with a short warranty period has. Still, the warranty period shouldn’t be a deal-breaker because solar generators are generally solid and can be used for a long time without malfunctioning.

Try and buy from a manufacturer who also offers a separate warranty for the battery. This is the one part that you’ll eventually have to replace no matter how careful you are with your generator.

The battery wears out naturally, and if the manufacturer can guarantee it for a given period, you’d have nothing to worry about if the battery suddenly dies before the warranty expiration.

What else should you buy to use your solar generator?

You need a solar panel to charge your solar generator. Charging through a solar panel is swift and takes 4–5 hours on average. Contrast this with charging via a wall outlet where it can take up to 25 hours to get a full charge, and getting the solar panel makes sense.

Unfortunately, most solar generators don’t come with a solar panel. You must buy one separately. Good thing is: these generators are compatible with most solar panels. Many small-sized generators are paired with a 13V–22V solar panel. Bigger solar generators can use 24V and 48V solar panels.

Solar panel

Always ensure that you pair the generator to the recommended solar panel voltage to eliminate the risk of short-circuiting it or other related electrical faults. A lot of manufacturers also make solar panels to go with their generators.

If it makes you feel more reassured, buy the same brand of solar panel as the generator. But when it comes down to the practical bit of it, the brand doesn’t matter.

How to connect and set up a solar generator?

To set up your solar generator, follow these simple steps:

  1. Plug the charging cable to the input port and connect the charging cable to the wall AC outlet to charge the generator. If using a solar panel, use the indicated connectors to connect the generator to the solar panel.
  2. Leave it for the indicated duration to get a full charge.
  3. Connect any device you want to charge to the generator. Most generators come with three or more output ports for this purpose.
  4. Once the device is full, disconnect and turn off the generator and store it away. The generator will probably still have some charge left in it. You can store it with the charge. Anytime you want to power an appliance, connect it to the generator.
  5. Once the charge is depleted, recharge the generator as in Step 1 and repeat the process to charge appliances.

Many solar generators can be used while they are charging, meaning they can charge and discharge at the same time. Some models do not support this and will only either charge or discharge. Be sure to confirm if the generator you want to buy can charge other devices while it’s charging or not. The ECOFLOW River is an example of a solar generator that supports discharging and charging at the same time. A generator like the Suaoki 220Wh does not support simultaneous charging and discharging.

FAQ

It depends. With some solar generators, this is possible. With others, you cannot. The manufacturer will usually indicate whether the generator can be used while charging, and it’s important for you to find out this information before making the purchase. For a lot of people, the inability to support use while charging is a deal-breaker because it limits the timings during which they can use the generator. For other, it’s not really important.

The capacity or size of appliances you can power with the solar generator is determined by the capacity of the generator. Some generators are meant to power medium to large appliances, but low-capacity generators can only power devices with a low wattage draw. As a general rule, the connected devices should not draw more than the indicated maximum output of the generator. A 100W-generator can only power devices that draw less than 100W. A higher-capacity solar generator, say a 500W-model, can power devices drawing as much as 400W or more, but won’t power devices with a draw that exceeds 500W. Solar generators hardly exceed the 1500W capacity, which disqualifies them from powering the really large appliances.

The solar generator is more than a battery and therefore cannot be referred to as a simply a ‘battery’ because in a way, it generates energy. When solar power comes in from the solar panels, it is stored in the battery contained within the generator in the form of DC current. To make this energy usable, the built-in inverter converts it into AC and passes it out through the generator’s output system and into the devices that need to be powered. The solar generator as a unit is made up of the battery, battery charger, and inverter, and when you connect the solar panel, it becomes a constituent component too and, therefore, isn’t just a battery. So yes, the solar generator, through the inverter, generates the AC current needed to power devices.

A tough one, since there are several high-capacity generators we feel are suited for RV use, but we pick the Suaoki G500 because of its sturdy build, high output, high number of output ports, and versatile DC outputs. When you’re running everything from an RV, there’s greater demand for energy. The higher output in the G500 ensures that you can conveniently charge all the basic appliances that need to be powered. And, with its many ports, you’ll easily charge multiple devices at once.

Small appliances draw few watts. Generally, with a 100W worth of battery power, you should be able to enjoy between 120 and 250 charge cycles for a smartphone, for instance.

Our Verdict

We had immense fun trying out all the different solar generators in the market. If it were up to our pockets and bank balances, we’d each walk away with two or three solar generators. Frankly, they have some powerful stuff in these solar shops. And now, the part we usually enjoy the most, debating for and against each model and choosing a winner, isn’t so enjoyable today because it’s quite hard to pick just three units from nearly a dozen that are above the mark in our judgment line. But it has to be done, so here it goes.

Coming in in first position is the Goal Zero Yeti 1000. It’s the priciest item on the list, but you get what you pay for – plenty of power for almost any need and quick recharging are the advantages of this one. It’s also sturdy and safe.

At number two is the ECOFLOW River, an elegant, tough piece that every natural energy user should aspire to own. It’s more on the portable side compared to Yeti 1000 and easy to take with you.

The Goal Zero Yeti 400 won the third place because of how it’s balanced overall.

And there was one little unit that pulled at our hearts from our first encounter with it: the Paxcess 100W Power Station. It’s efficient, well-built, and has the capacity to charge multiple small devices.

We hope you have an easier time choosing a generator than us, but more importantly, we hope this information helps you make the right choice.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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