Last updated on January 27th, 2021 at 02:38 pm
The advancement of technology is helping people to shift their focus to solar generators. These machines use solar energy to power your appliances. The solar panels convert the sun energy into electric power that later gets stored in a battery. This stored power is then used through an inverter generator to run different items during power outages or at campsites.
Related guide: Generators vs. Solar Panels: Which is Better?
In which circumstances solar-powered generators can be used?
- A solar generator is a reliable power source like a fuel generator that can be used in various circumstances.
- Green energy is more reliable and cleaner, so people can trust these solar-powered generators.
- In those areas where tornadoes and hurricanes are common, people can buy solar-powered generators to run their home appliances.
- People can use a solar generator to power RVs.
- Also, portable solar generators can be used to power campsites and tailgates.
Solar Generator Reviews
Jackery Portable Power Station
Rockpals Portable Solar Generator
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator
Nature’s Generator Gold System Solar Powered
1. Jackery Portable Power Station – Overall Best
Size and Weight: This Jackery power station is a compact-sized solar inverter generator that measures 11.8 x 7.6 x 9.2 inches. And its weight is only 13 pounds.
This size and weight help the users to store and carry the generator easily.
Power Output: It generates clean and stable AC power, 1000 surge (starting) watts, and 500 rated (running) watts. With this power output, you can power multiple AC-relied devices at once.
Versatility: Jackery Explorer 500 can power only those devices that operate at less than 500 watts. It can power laptops, phones, TV, air pumps, drones, pellet smokers, car vacuums, and other small items.
Battery Capacity: It has a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 518-watt hour. This battery capacity is excellent when we compare it with other portable solar-powered generators.
Recharge Time: You have to buy the Jackery SolarSaga 100W solar panel separately to recharge your generator within 14 hours altogether.
Control Panel: The control panel features an LCD that shows the input, output, and battery level. There are three 5Volt USB ports, one 12Volt DC outlet, and one 110Volt AC outlet.
USB ports will help users power their smartphones, tablets, and other small devices charged through USB cables.
Automatic Shutdown: It will shut down automatically within 12 hours when being drawn under 10-watt power. This feature is meant to save power.
Safety and Protection: Jackery 500 is featured with a BMS system that protects you and your attached devices. It manages overload-protection, over-temperature protection, and over-current protection.
Warranty: It comes with a one-year warranty.
2. Rockpals Portable Solar Generator – Lightweight Solar Generator
Size and Weight: Rockpals RP250W portable solar generator is lighter than the Jackery mentioned above the solar generator. It weighs only 5.95 pounds.
And if we talk about its size, then it measures 10(L) x 4(W) x 6(H) inches. It can easily fit in compact spaces, and users will find it relatively light in weight.
Power Output: It produces 300 watts of clean peak power and 250 watts of rated power. This power output is comparatively lower, but still, you can power multiple small devices at once.
Battery Capacity: This solar-powered generator has lithium-polymer batteries with 240 watt-hour capacity.
Versatility: Rockpals RP250W can power a variety of devices. The lithium-polymer batteries can charge your smartphone, laptop, TV, mini car refrigerator, CPAP machine, and others multiple times.
Recharge Time: It is featured with an MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker) controller that helps the generator to get recharged 40% faster. To charge your generator through solar energy, you must buy the Rockpals 60W solar panel separately. The generator will take 9 to 10 hours to get fully recharged.
Control Panel: Its control panel has various power outlets that include two 120Volt AC outlets, four 12Volt DC outlets, and two 5Volt USB ports.
The 120V outlets allow you to power laptops, TV, fan, lamp, and others. 12V DC outlets help users to power car powered devices, and USB ports are there for devices that are charged through USB cables.
Safety and Protection: Temperature control protection, overcharge protection, and surge and short circuit protection.
Warranty: It comes with a two-year warranty.
3. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station – Chainable Solar Generator
Size and Weight: Goal Zero Yeti weighs 29 pounds and measures 8 x 10.2 x 8 inches.
Power Output: It is a solar inverter generator that gives a clean sine wave. It can produce 600 surge watts and 300 rated watts. This output power is higher than the Rockpals RP250W generator.
Versatility: If we focus on what it can power, then we have six to seven items. These items include smartphones, tablets, laptops, digital cameras, headlamps, lights, and fans. The users can power up to 7 devices at once.
Battery Capacity: This Goal Zero Yeti model has a lead-acid battery with a 400 watt-hour capacity.
For longer runtimes, it is chainable with other 33 ampere-hour lead-acid batteries. It will help the users to get more runtime than average.
Recharge Time: Its battery can be recharged within 8 hours with Goal Zero’s monocrystalline solar panels.
Control Panel: This unit’s control panel has an informative LCD that shows how much power you are utilizing. Also, we have three 12 Volt outlets, two USB ports, and two 110 Volt AC outlets that allow the users to connect different devices simultaneously.
Safety and Protection: Overload protection and overcharge protection are included in its safety features.
Automatic Shutdown: The automatic shutdown feature at low charge levels keeps the battery safe.
Warranty: It has a two-year warranty.
4. Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator – Solar Generator with PV Terminal
Size and Weight: This Renogy Phoenix portable solar generator measures 13.8 x 13.1 x 3.9 inches and weighs 12.8 pounds. Its lightweight allows you to easily carry it from one place to another.
Power Output: It can provide 150 watts of continuous power.
Versatility: You can power a variety of small electronic items with this generator. This generator can be used during power outages, road trips, and camping.
Battery Capacity: It is powered by a lithium-ion battery with 246 watt-hour capacity.
Recharge Time: Renogy Phoenix takes around 15 hours to get fully recharged. The users can accelerate the solar charging time by utilizing the PV terminal. This PV terminal allows users to attach up to 100W of external solar power.
The best part of this solar generator is that you don’t need to buy solar panels separately. It comes with 20W solar panels.
Control Panel: We have four USB ports, two DC ports, and one AC outlet. All these power outlets allow users to connect different electronic devices.
Safety and Protection: Safety features include overload and temperature-control protection.
5. Nature’s Generator Gold System Solar Powered Off-Grid Generator – Powerful Solar Generator
Size and Weight: Its dimensions are 23 x 22 x 17 inches. And its weight is 128 pounds. It is bigger and heavier than all the mentioned above solar generators. But the generator has wheels and a long handle that make transportation easy.
Power Output: Nature’s Generator Gold system is a powerful machine that gives 1800 watts maximum clean AC power. This output power is enough to run multiple small and big appliances at the same time.
Control Panel: The front panel of this generator has three 120 Volt AC outlets, one 12V DC outlet, two USB ports, one solar input, and one wind input. Also, an LCD screen displays the output usage, battery level, and charging status of the generator. Moreover, its back panel has a 600-volt expansion port that can be used to connect Nature’s Generator power pods.
Versatility: You can use this generator to power your small homes and RVs or use it during your outdoor trips.
Battery Capacity: It comes with a 60 ampere-hour battery having 720 watt-hour capacity.
Recharge Time: The 100 Watt polycrystalline power panel is included in the package with a frame and wheels for easy movement. This power panel will recharge your generator within 10 to 15 hours.
Smartkey Dongle: To keep track of the system use and battery level, the Smartkey Dongle comes in handy. Use Bluetooth to synchronize the generator with Nature’s pulse app to monitor your unit remotely.
Safety and Protection: Built-in low battery protection and charge controller
Warranty: It has a one-year warranty.
What factors must you consider when buying the best solar generator? Here in this part, we are going to highlight them.
The first factor to consider is the power capacity of a generator. Not only the surge power is required to check, but also the rated power needs consideration.
First of all, find out what devices and appliances you are going to power through the generator. This will help you to know how much power capacity your generator should have.
Surge power is the starting power that generators generate to run motor-driven appliances, and rated power is the continuous power that your generator provides.
Appliances That You Need to Charge
Not every solar-powered generator can power all your appliances. Different models have different power outlets that allow you to connect different small appliances and devices.
So, there are various questions that you have to ask yourself before selecting a particular solar generator.
Which devices do you want to charge? How many devices may you need to charge at once? And how many times you may require charging your particular electronic devices?
The answer to these questions will help you to find the right product according to your needs.
Type of Battery
The most common battery types that come with solar-powered generators are lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.
Lead-acid batteries are the least expensive and the most common type of batteries. Their lifespan is short, but some styles use a particular type of gel to improve the lifespan.
On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are light in weight and have a comparatively longer lifespan. These batteries are commonly used in portable solar-powered generators because of their small size and lightweight.
Battery or Storage Capacity
The storage capacity of the battery is measured in watt-hours. It tells the amount of time your devices or small appliances can stay active. Also, it indicates the number of times your device can charge fully.
Type of Solar Panel
It is also necessary to check the type of solar panel included in the offering. The two common types of solar panels that you can use are monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.
The most common type is monocrystalline. These solar panels are quite efficient but expensive and made up of single-crystal silicon wafers.
The polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient than monocrystalline and they are made from melted fragments of silicon.
It is not always possible to charge your solar-powered generator with a solar panel. Therefore, make sure your generator has the option of getting charged from an AC source.
Look for a generator with full options on the control panel. A fully functional control panel will give you power outlets/inlets, display, on/off buttons, and options to control other features.
A generator with a display is easier to use. The more options a display has, the better. Some generators come with a full-fledged display, whereas others show only battery percentage. Please keep in mind that the display feature has no link with the performance of the unit.
If your generator has the feature of adding extra batteries, it is a cherry on the top. You may need more power in the future, so it is better to look for this feature before buying a solar generator. Additional batteries will help you use your generator RVs, tiny homes (full home), and camping with more power and an enhanced backup time.
Portability and Weight
Having a generator with less weight has its perks. Your solar generator must be highly portable so that you can take it outdoors without any hassles. Weight and power have a direct relationship in most of the models. As the power output increases, the weight also increases. It would help if you looked for a generator with a moderate weight and power according to your needs.
If you own an RV or plan to get one for your outdoor adventures, then look for a generator that is RV ready. It will benefit you in the long run and help you run necessary appliances in your RV.
Solar generators with a warranty are always better than ones without a warranty. The device may stop working due to some issues. We don’t want you to spend a significant amount on repairs, so you must lookout for a warranty. Make sure you read all the terms and conditions as well.
Expect to pay a high price if you are looking for a solar generator with a solar panel. We suggest you look for the best option under your budget as solar panels will pay you a high return in terms of zero running cost. It is also wise to spend a little extra and get the best generator.
Solar Generators vs. Gas Generators
Before making the final decision, it is essential to read a comparison between solar and gas generators. We don’t want you to spend your hard-earned money on a generator and make you regret it later on. Solar generators have some advantages over gas generators but have some limitations as well. A solar generator is costly to purchase compared to a gas generator and cannot deliver high power output than a gas/propane generator. It is also dependent on solar energy to work and will not work when the conditions are overcast.
On the other hand, gas and propane generators are independent of weather conditions. A solar generator is a clear winner when it comes to the quality of electricity produced. They produce a clean current, perfect for sensitive appliances like a CPAP machine, mobile/laptop chargers, and other medical equipment. Solar generators are quiet and eco-friendly as compared to conventional fuel generators. Their maintenance needs are also less, but when you have to replace the solar cells, the cost is high compared to replacing any gas generator component. Solar generators also take a clear lead when portability and storage are concerned. They are compact, lightweight, and easy to carry around. You can’t use a gas/propane generator inside your home or a camp, whereas a solar generator can be used anytime and anywhere. Another big difference is the running cost. Solar generators have zero running cost compared to the high running cost of gas/propane generators.