As with all major life situations, backup plans are essential. But in the wake of a power failure at home, why don’t you have a go-to backup? Be it any kind of disaster, natural or man-made, you could use a little help from a power generator.
Solar power generators are not just any kind of power generator. They harness energy from the sun. These are a quiet, green alternative to the bulky and, more often than not, noisy fuel generators. As solar technology improves, citizens are shifting their focus to alternative power stations in the market that reduce their carbon footprint by converting solar energy into power.
Apart from at-home use, these solar generators are extensively taken along on outdoor trips, mainly by RV enthusiasts and campers. Plus, an increase in glamping and overlanding has led to excursionists enhancing their time outdoors with some comforts of home—whether it’s a portable air conditioner or something as basic as their laptop.
With solar-powered generators, you not only have an abundance of electricity, but also a ton of options to choose from in the market. So, where do you start looking? Fret not, we’ve got you covered. We’ve scoured the net and collated a buying guide in which you can find the five best solar generators to power up your devices.
Let’s get started.
Solar Power Generator Buying Guide
It’s obvious you don’t want to get your hands on a product that won’t live up to your expectations, considering it’ll be around for a few years. Therefore, before purchasing a solar generator, here are a few questions you must pay heed to.
What Makes a Portable Solar Generator the Best in the Market?
The best portable solar power generators run quietly, smoothly, and reliably without you having to put in any effort. There’s a sense of safety and security that’s automatically associated with renewable energy to run your house or outdoor equipment.
At the same time, the solar power box should be equipped to power all your essential devices for as long as you need. What’s essential is its portability—you should be able to carry it from one spot to another without its weight bogging you down.
The best return on investment is when the solar generator has plenty of lifecycles and sufficient charging options. Couple that with a long warranty period and you’ve got yourself a box of electric treasure.
What is the Lifespan Of a Solar-Powered Generator?
There’s no exact figure as the lifespan of a solar electric generator depends on many aspects, like the battery’s age, type, size, and the number of electronics connected. Taking these factors into consideration, it can typically last anywhere from 3-13 hours on a full battery.
For the first 2-3 years, the power capacity is at its peak before it begins to deteriorate.
How to Choose the Best Solar Generator For You
Before you make a purchase, there are certain factors you must keep in mind to select an appropriate portable solar inverter. These are:
Every user has their unique reasons when selecting the best solar generator, so the first step is to know why you need one. If you’re someone who frequents remote and off-grid areas, you need a generator that’s portable and fairly simple to use. On the contrary, you may just require a backup power system in case a disaster strikes.
It’s normal to have multiple purposes too, and you must keep them in mind before winnowing down on a particular solar generator.
Solar inputs are solar panels connected to the generators to extract solar energy and convert it into power. The amount of solar input dictates the time it’ll take to recharge.
They are smaller in size and have a lower wattage capacity compared to the panels found on commercial properties. They can be bought separately with the generator as a greener alternative to fossil fuels.
Necessary power requirements
It’s crucial that the power output of your solar generator meets your electrical needs. Battery power is measured in watts, whereas battery capacity is measured in watt-hours (stored energy).
For example, a large table fan uses around 44 watts of power and can easily be run with a 500W solar generator. A dishwasher, on the other hand, requires a minimum of 1200W to operate and therefore cannot be plugged into the same generator.
Storage capacity of the battery
Without a battery, a solar generator is nothing more than a box of plastic. The solar energy that has been converted is efficiently stored in the battery for later use. Lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries are most commonly found in these generators and their duration depends on the capacity of the batteries.
The greater the number of devices extracting power from the generator, the faster it will run out.
The two types of electricity are direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). The energy utilized by solar panels is DC while AC power is for usage. This calls for a solid solar generator inverter that converts DC power into AC.
The maximum watts a solar generator can draw at any time is equivalent to the inverter rating. An example would be a 1500W inverter that converts the wattage to AC power.
Over time, you may want to expand the capability of your solar generator. This is made possible with charge controllers, which enable the flow of power from the solar panels to the batteries. Among other functions, its main use is to safeguard the durability of the batteries. But even a charge controller has its limitations and cannot expand beyond its charging ability.
Note that if the battery doesn’t allow for other solar panels to be attached to the generator, expandability is rendered useless.
If your sole purpose of purchasing a solar generator is for your outdoor excursions, portability is at the top of the list when considering different factors. You need to know whether you can carry a heavy-duty generator without a sweat. If not, you can always go for small-sized solar generators that weigh between 3.5lbs to 30lbs. Some generators also come with a wheel kit that you can drag along behind you.
The price of a solar generator is a major consideration since its price range goes from $500 to $10,000. This suggests that price alone shouldn’t be a measure to assess a product. Attention must be paid to the product’s salient features, like weight, wattage, and quality.
Safety Tips For a Portable Solar Generator
Although a solar-powered generator is fuelled by the sun’s renewable energy, that doesn’t always translate to a danger-free environment. If mishandled, the solar generator can cause both electric shocks and battery explosions.
- Avoid using frayed power cables and remember to never run the machine on a wet platform or when it’s raining outside. Ensure your hands are dry before switching it on.
- To prevent untoward incidents, it’s imperative that a professional technician install a transfer switch for a stable connection. The output must not be plugged into a home wall socket when connecting your house to the charging station. This can lead to electricity flowing the wrong way down the line, harming not only you but also utility workers.
- Abstain from storing the portable solar generator in tight, enclosed spaces or spaces with high temperatures. The battery may explode if it overheats. Instead, operate it in an area with plenty of ventilation. Keep curious pets and children away when the generator is running as the parts heat up.
- Always keep these safety precautions in mind to enjoy your summer picnic rather than dealing with a good-for-naught generator.
How to Use a Solar Generator Properly
- Place your solar panels where it is likely to get as much sunlight as possible.
- Connect the solar panel to the DC input on the generator. Most portable generators can also be connected to a wall socket or a car charger to power up the battery.
- Once it’s fully charged, plug in your household appliances and/or electrical device to begin supplying power.
When the solar panel is angled towards the sun and out in bright sunlight, it boosts the panel’s ability to capture sunlight. All you have to do is set it up and let mother nature take it from there.
Review of the 5 Best Solar Power Stations
The Bluetti portable solar power station is a beast in the power generator playing field. The battery is made of lithium iron phosphate which increases the lifespan of the generator enormously to 3500+ lifecycles, as opposed to the usual lithium-ion batteries.
It can deliver up to 2000W and 4800 surge Watts, making it a perfect fit for charging high-power appliances without a hassle. This way, it serves a dual purpose, as you can power heaters, fridges, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and more, during unexpected power outages or when you’re adventuring outdoors.
Unlike other gimmicky ‘solar-powered generators’, this one has truly earned its title as a solar-fuelled powerhouse due to its huge 700W solar input. When this solar generator is bundled with Bluetti’s solar panels, it allows for eco-friendly off-grid charging in 3-3.5 hours.
Another commendable aspect about this robust backup battery is that it gives you 5 charging modes. You can have 17 devices connected to it simultaneously—6*AC outlets, 1*12V/25A RV port, 2*15W wireless pad, 1* PD 60W USB-C, 4* USB-A, 1*12V/10A carport, and 2* 12V/3A. It features an LCD touch screen and a real-time display for ease of use.
To ensure a noiseless environment, the intelligent fans are activated only when the temperature hits 45℃. This means the power station is quiet and won’t be a hindrance to your daily activities.
Looking for a sturdy powerbox for your outdoor activities? The Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000 is just that (and much more). With a 1000W running wattage and a 2000W surge, it’s the perfect solar generator for your outdoor escapades—camping, hunting, fishing, and much more.
It can also power a refrigerator and other powerful appliances in your RV. You can pair this generator with two solar panels for $1400 or buy just the power station at $1000. It’s worth noting that it takes about 6.5 hours with a solar panel of 126 input wattage to fully charge the battery.
What’s commendable about this generator is the well-thought-out design that prevents it from making any noise, so much so that, sometimes, it can easily go unnoticed.
It features multiple ports such as the three 110V AC outlets, two 5V USB-C ports, and a Quick Charge 3.0 outlet. For added convenience, you can connect multiple appliances at the same time.
There are numerous ways to juice up this portable battery station. For instance, you can use car chargers when you hit the road, wall outlets in your home mains, or you can opt to reduce your carbon footprint by charging it up with a solar panel. So, whenever the need arises this robust power brick is ready to use.
The Jackery Portable solar generator not only has a shelf life of three to six months but also has 500 cycles when charged to 80% capacity. It produces a pure sine wave electrical signal to power up sensitive electronics. Plus, it’s quiet and has zero carbon emissions, making it environmentally friendly.
The Delta power station’s one-of-a-kind, enormous batteries have enraptured the market. And, we’re here for it!
Not only is it the most sophisticated-looking solar generator out there, but it also enables ultra-quick charging from 0% to 80% in a single hour with its EcoFlow patent X-Stream technology.
The positives of the EF Delta are numerous. The power station delivers up to 1800 running watts, and peaks at 3300 surge watts. This is a boon when you need to run high power consumption tools like drilling and sawing machines.
What’s more, its control panel features six AC ports, two type A&C USB ports, two fast-charge ports, and a 12V DC car charger outlet. All in all, it can support up to 13 devices at once.
This power generator comes with solar-efficient charging. A 160W solar panel will have the lithium battery pack charged in 3 to 7 hours, while a 100W panel will take between 4 to 8 hours. It’s recommended that you don’t buy the solar panels from the same manufacturer you got the power generator from. So, when you’re out camping on a bright, sunny day, you know what to lug along.
Apart from solar charging, it has a traditional AC wall outlet (takes about 100 minutes for a full charge) and a car charging outlet ( takes about 11 hours to charge fully). When you’re RVing or on a road trip, car charging is particularly convenient to keep your campsite powered.
The EcoFlow brand empowers its customers with a stylish powerhouse that doesn’t emit gas or fumes. With that comes the promise of a quiet, peaceful environment, and of course, clean energy.
With the mindful thought that “a lack of resources should never limit human potential”, Goal Zero set out to uplift people from their dire life circumstances. Along the course of this empowering journey, they engineered with precision numerous products, among which, was a thoughtful and high-powered portable power station that embraced this very belief.
Sure, their power stations are slightly on the expensive side, but only on purchasing the product will you realize how it’s worth every penny invested. On the 1500X Yeti, you can pull 2000W continuously which can then be cranked up to a surge capacity of 3500W.
The 1500X is a part of Yeti’s ‘X series’. It comprises improved batteries and inverters that allow for higher power output. This way, you can run heavy-draw appliances like heaters, ovens, dryers, drills, etc. Equipped with 1500Wh of lithium power, it can charge your phone 127 times over and keep your full-sized fridge running for up to 28 hours.
Finally, a power station that can be operated remotely. You can make use of the Yeti’s Wi-Fi connectivity feature and 3.0 app to optimize and control the unit from anywhere.
At the core of Goal Zero’s business lies cutting-edge solar power technology. They’re renowned for their seamless solutions for powering appliances with solar energy. Not to mention, their use of the Maximum Power Point Tracking charge controller that improves solar charging ability by 30% with the same Goal Zero solar panels.
When you buy a 1500X, you’re also buying into the product’s longer lifespan, greater capacity, versatile charging options, and an all-around well-engineered solution.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, there’s no reason you should be deprived of clean, portable energy. With the budget-friendly Rockpals 500W power generator, you too can escape the everyday grind and behold the beauty of mother nature.
If you’re a lover of outdoor experiences, this unit is a perfect pick for you. A 505Wh lithium battery can meet all your essential power needs. It can charge your mobile phone about 60 times and can keep a mini-fridge running for around 6 hours.
For convenient operation, it boasts a comparatively large display and an efficient LED light. The display makes the system data and battery status easy to read, while the LED emergency light bar is a lifesaver when you’re wandering in the dark wilderness. It can run for about 100 hours, equivalent to nearly 4 days worth of uninterrupted lighting. It’s also equipped with an SOS feature if you need to call for help.
As for solar charging, Rockpals has a superb 100W foldable solar charger, which is easy to carry around. It also has compatible DC chargers, letting you charge your devices directly under the sun. What makes the solar charger especially reliable is its high durability and water resistance.
The bottom of the power generator houses two oversized air vents that increase ventilation throughout the device. This keeps the internal circuit cool while giving you peace of mind with a noiseless environment.
The Bluetti AC200P solar generator is the best in the market because of its enormous 700W solar input that makes vacationing off-grid convenient. The advanced LiFePO4 battery allows for quick and efficient solar charging. Added to that, the manufacturer guarantees 3,500+ charging cycles.
A larger solar generator provides an effective whole-house solution when a disaster comes your way. But a larger generator comes at a premium price.
Depends on the size of your house, the number of devices to be connected, or how many extra pounds you’re willing to take with you while traveling. During power outages, a small generator will usually cover indispensables, like lights and refrigeration.
Based on the brand, quality, wattage, and size, a solar generator can cost anywhere between $500-$10,000.
The solar panels connected to the solar generator capture energy from the sun and store it in the generator’s in-built battery. The inverter then converts the energy from DC to AC power before releasing it. During a power failure, you can power different household appliances and/or electronic devices whenever needed.
Not at all. They’re nearly silent. This gives solar generators an edge over their fuel-powered counterparts. Fuel generators are designed to have moving parts that may cause your ears to bleed, quite literally!