As technology continues to advance, access to green and renewable energy such as solar energy is quickly gaining popularity. This is because green energy is more reliable and cleaner than most of the other power sources available. This makes it environment-friendly and capable of saving you money. Typically, a solar generator converts sun energy captured by solar panels into electrical power and then stores it in a battery. The stored power can later be used through an inverter.
Deciding to purchase a portable solar generator is a noble undertaking. However, choosing the best solar generator for rv is never a walk in the park. This is because you will find different varieties of portable solar generators in the market. To be able to pick the best, you will need to determine what your energy requirements are.
Since you have a price range in mind, consider choosing a solar generator with features that make it more efficient rather than more expensive.
Without keeping you waiting, here are solar generator reviews that you can use to find a reliable solar generator.
Table of Contents
- 1 Compare our Top 7 Best Solar Generators of 2018
- 1.1 #1. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
- 1.2 #2. Kalisaya KP401 KaliPAK 384-Watt Hour Portable Solar Generator System
- 1.3 #3. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station
- 1.4 #4. Suaoki Portable Solar Generator
- 1.5 #5. Wagan (EL2547) Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus
- 1.6 #6. PAXCESS 100-Watt Portable Generator Power Station
- 1.7 #7. Peppermint Energy Forty2 Max All-in-One Portable Solar Power Generator
- 2 Buyer’s Guide to Portable Solar Generators
- 3 How do solar generators work?
- 4 How to choose the Best Solar Generator for your home or RV
- 5 What to Look For in a Solar Generator
- 6 What size solar generator do I need?
- 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Solar System
- 8 Battery Capacity and Power Rating
- 9 Battery Type
- 10 Power Inverter Rating
- 11 Charge Controllers
- 12 Weight
- 13 Convenience Features
- 14 Things to Avoid When Choosing a Solar-powered Generator
Compare our Top 7 Best Solar Generators of 2018
#1. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
Goal Zero is one of the most popular brands in producing portable solar power panels, generators, and accessories. The Yeti 400 Lithium portable power station is one of their powerful and sturdy solar generators.
It has a 396Wh lead-acid battery that can power up to seven 33Ah at 12V devices simultaneously. Moreover, its versatile array of power output such as AC, 12V, and USB makes it more convenient. It features an informative LCD display that allows you to know your power input and output, estimate your runtime, and position your panels appropriately.
The Goal Zero comes with an original integrated design that enables a chainable connection with other 33Ah lead-acid batteries to ensure a long-lasting power. As such, you don’t have to worry about frequent recharging. This makes Goal Zero 400 an impeccable alternative power source for people who don’t want to deal with fumes, noise, and the maintenance issues of a gasoline generator.
- Chainable with other lead-acid batteries
- Easily rechargeable – 5 hours
- 396 Wh
- Sturdy design
Customer Question and Answers
Q: Do you get a cable to charge the Yeti 400 from a wall socket and a car cigarette lighter socket?
A: It only comes with a wall charger but you can get the lighter cord at a cheaper price separately.
Q: Can I use a 180 or 200 Watt solar panel to charge this battery?
A: The Yeti 400 can only take up to 120 Watts. The excess wattage from the panel will go to waste.
Q: How many charges till battery need replacing?
A: The battery is like that of a car, it should last 5-8 years.
While very convenient with its various outputs and inputs, Goal Zero is primarily designed to power small domestic devices and appliances. It can be doubled by chaining extra compatible batteries to create up to 100Ah system. This portable solar generator is perfect for people who would like to power small household electronics.
#2. Kalisaya KP401 KaliPAK 384-Watt Hour Portable Solar Generator System
The KaliPAK 401 is one of the lightweight yet powerful solar generators from Kalisaya. This model will improve off-the-grid power supply experiences with its reliable solar panel and battery power that can charge an iPhone up to 64 times.
It comes with a mini Powerkit, which includes a DC or AC wall charger, a car-lighter adapter, as well as a 40W solar panel. With Grade A, high capacity lithium-ion cells, it is built to last long. Moreover, it features a remote system that allows monitoring and controlling via an Android smartphone app and iOS.
It is also compatible with all Kalisaya accessories while keeping its versatility in one easy to carry unit.
- 4X solar panels
- Daisy chain connector
Customer Questions & Answers
Q: If it were fully charged, how long would it power a 60-watt laptop?
A: It’s a 384-watt-hour divided by 60. Therefore, it can power the laptop for about 6 hours
Q: Is there a wall outlet adapter for powering home devices when or if the power is out?
A: No, there is not.
Q: Is the battery user replaceable?
A: The battery is inbuilt.
Everything about KaliPAK 40 is portable. All its accessories can be placed in one kit unit and easily carried around. The solar generator is lightweight, compact, yet very powerful to meet your devices’ charging requirements even during the winter.
#3. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station
Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium is an ultra-high-capacity power station that is battery-powered. It provides portable on-demand power just by the press of a button. The 1425Wh lithium power station is able to power up to 10 devices at once. The devices can be connected to its flexible high-power USB, AC, USB-C, 12V, and USB-PD outputs.
With its ultra-high-capacity battery-powered generator, it can run your high-power devices such as sump pumps, fridges, and power tools among others. It weighs less than 44lbs, thus portable; you can take it along with you to a camping party and run TVs and sound systems without any noise.
You can redefine your power with a smart, easy to use Goal Yeti App. This App can also allow you to monitor and control this solar generator flawlessly with your WiFi router for an extraordinary experience. You can check the battery level, power output, power input, as well as turn on/off ports from the palm of your hand.
Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium’s battery pack is sealed off in a waterproof casing that keeps it from water elements making it durability. Moreover, it features a technologically advanced cooling system to regulate its temperatures.
- Goal Zero Yeti App with WiFi connectivity
- 1425 watt-hour capacity
Customer Questions and Answers
Q: Is it possible to charge this unit faster by hooking it to a 30A or 50A circuit?
A: It won’t charge faster since it will only draw 60W regardless of the capacity of the circuit
Q: Can 24-volt solar panels be connected to 1400?
A: It can be connected as long as they are chained parallel
Q: Does it include a car charger or only AC?
A: It does not include a 12V car charger, only AC. You can buy 12V separately
This is an excellent product from Yeti that can power both your small and bigger devices in your house. It is also portable, making it possible to transport it with ease to serve you as long as your food lasts during your camping. It is easy to set up, thus recommendable for people going for longer camping adventures.
#4. Suaoki Portable Solar Generator
The Suaoki model is the best solar generator that comes at a great value, and it is easy to set up. It features three ways to charge, making it easy to charge it outside via Suaoki 60-W solar panel or with any compatible solar panel, at your house with AC plugs, or in your car with a DC input.
With a battery capacity of 444Wh, this portable solar generator is a small powerhouse. It weighs slightly above 12 pounds and can supply you with power at your campsites, farm, fishing, and hunting adventures as well as at your job sites.
- Digital LCD display
- USB ports dispensing up to 300W
- Battery Management System to prevent over-current, over-voltage, and over-heating
- Three-way charging
Customer Questions & Answer
Q: Can you use the 12V cigarette socket while charging at the same time?
A: You can recharge it and charge other electronic devices with a cigarette socket at the same time. However, to prolong the battery life do not recharge while charging other devices.
Q: How long will it take to charge with a cigarette lighter?
A: It may take 5-6 hours to charge.
Q: Does it consist of any solar charge controller to protect the battery from overcharging by solar and efficiently charge by solar?
A: It does not consist of any solar charge controller; however, it comes with a battery management system for that purpose.
While it is disadvantageous not to use while recharging the Suaoki portable solar generator, it is impressive. It is easy to set up, lightweight, and features a handle to make it easy to carry to any place you may wish to camp.
#5. Wagan (EL2547) Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus
Wagan Tech’s Solar e Power Cube Plus portable solar generator is certainly an ultimate portable power source. It features an all-in-one renewable portable solar generator that is ready as soon as it is out of the packaging box. It is exceptionally user-friendly and no connections are needed.
It is extremely adaptable and convenient because additional solar panels and batteries can be connected for more power. For this purpose, it has two more terminals for solar expansion if need be. It also provides an instant access to AC power.
- 1500 Watt power inverter
- Two 115V AC outlets
- Self-contained Unit
- 20A Solar controller
- 100Ah rechargeable battery
Customer Questions & Answers
Q: Can I use this unit to connect washer, dryer, refrigerator, and microwave at the same time on emergency?
A: No, it only runs on 1500 Watt
Q: Is it Waterproof?
A: It is not
Q: Is it expandable?
A: Yes, Wagan comes with a manual to guide you on how to use and wire extra solar panels
When it comes to portable solar generators’ performance, this device boasts of convenience and portability courtesy of its all-terrain wheels and a heavy-duty handle. It is also simple to operate because it comes in an all-in-one unit and can roll out from either side.
#6. PAXCESS 100-Watt Portable Generator Power Station
The PAXCESS 100-Watt Portable Generator Power Station is a convenient, versatile, and large capacity pack that is designed for emergencies, camping, trips, and whenever you need urgent power. It features adaptable outputs that can charge up to 18 devices such as small laptops and phones among other devices.
It is easy to recharge from an AC outlet while at home in a maximum of 8 hours, from a solar panel in up to 8 hours depending on the solar size and conditions, or up to 13 hours from a 12V outlet. With only 3.3 lbs weight, it can be carried easily because it fits perfectly in the backseat.
- Three-way charging system
- Warning led flashlight
- 18 power outlets
- Battery management system
Customer Question & Answers
Q: Does it require extra equipment to be solar powered?
A: Yes, it does not come with a solar panel
Q: Does it come with the case or do I have to buy separately?
A: No case
Q: What is the brief surge power?
A: Operates 150 surge watts for 2 seconds
PAXCESS 100 watt is the best solar generator you can’t miss taking for a long weekend trip. Although it is not waterproof, it is relatively small and light, has lots of power, and is very silent when in operation. It can be a power source for many electronic devices such as smartphones, notebook PCs, and tablets.
#7. Peppermint Energy Forty2 Max All-in-One Portable Solar Power Generator
The Peppermint Energy Forty2 is the best portable solar generator for your money. It is an all-in-one system that features inbuilt heavy duty elements. All its components come in one suitcase. Its industry-leading battery capacity of 2000 watt-hours can hold power up to six months.
With a 2000 Watt of surge power and 1000 watts of continuous sine wave energy, this portable solar generator can power your important appliances during power outage situations such as a laptop, TVs, and fridge. In fact, it can rival a fuel powered generator capacity.
- In-built solar panels
- No setup
- 2000 Watt-hours
Customer Questions & Answers
Q: Will this unit charge my devices during cold winter days if the sun is out?
A: The Forty2 Max is designed to run on both cold and hot days
Q: Are the batteries replaceable?
A: The batteries will last for many years under normal operation after which they can be replaced with the newest version by the factory.
Q: Is the inverter pure sine wave?
A: The standard inverter is modified sine wave
Q: Can you charge 100% with just the sun?
A: Yes, you can. In fact, it is designed to be powered by the sun.
With 85 pounds of weight and no wheels, it can be a bit heavy to carry while camping. However, the Peppermint Energy Forty2 Max is the most practical generator with many years of utility without signs of fading. It is self-contained, a quality that allows it to be carried around like a briefcase since it comes with no separate solar panels. It is the best solar generator for rv.
Taking the initiative to buy the best portable solar generator for either home use or camping is an important yet daunting undertaking. With many brands and options in the market and the conflicting features they come with, it is hard to make an informed decision about a product you will wish to have. However, the above solar generator reviews can help make your purchase easier. Check them out and choose the product that best suits your needs.
Buyer’s Guide to Portable Solar Generators
When the lights go out, a portable generator can meet critical household energy needs. A gas-powered model is an option, but it’s loud, dirty and when you run out of gas, you’re out of luck.
Solar generators harness energy from the sun to make electricity. They’re clean, easy to use and require no dependence on fossil fuel. If you’re considering one as a backup power supply, but find the technology intimidating, keep reading to learn more about how they work and how to choose the best portable solar generator for you and your family.
How do solar generators work?
Solar generator technology isn’t new, but the idea of putting compact components in a portable unit is. These models are similar in construction to large systems, but are small enough to take on the road or to just have on hand for emergencies when an expensive backup power supply isn’t an option.
Every solar generator has these basic components:
- Solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity
- A battery to store power
- A charge controller to control the flow of current to the battery
- An inverter that converts power from the battery into the kind of current needed to power household appliances.
How to choose the Best Solar Generator for your home or RV
It takes more than a price comparison and reading solar generator reviews to make the best choice. Since everyone’s needs are different, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. The first step to choosing the best portable solar generator is to determine how much power you need to run the devices that are important to you in an outage.
The average American home uses about 25,000 watts of energy daily or 1000 watts each hour. Most solar generators can produce 900 to 5,000 watts of electricity per hour, making them appear capable of running everything from your freezer to your pool, but unlike gas-powered generators that produce a steady supply of electricity as long as the tank is full, solar generators can’t produce power that fast. They run on energy stored in batteries that must be recharged between uses.
The key to choosing the best generator is figuring out how much power you need, what you can afford and which features are the most important.
What to Look For in a Solar Generator
Whole home solar systems with multiple roof-mounted panels and large battery banks can keep things running around the house without a hitch. The panels collect more energy to start with and as some of many batteries are drained, others are being charged, providing a consistent power supply that can run everything a household wants—at a price.
No portable generator can realistically store enough electricity to run every appliance in your home, but for on-the-go power or emergency use, portable solar generators are inexpensive, easy to store and can take care of at least your most basic needs.
What size solar generator do I need?
Solar generators have two critical watt ratings – continuous watts and surge watts. Continuous watts is the power the generator can consistently produce. To figure out how many watts of continuous power your generator needs to meet your needs, add the total number of watts per hour your essential devices use and multiply it by how many hours, or fractions of hours, you’ll need to use them daily. Using a chart of appliance power consumption averages, let’s look at a few examples.
A full-size refrigerator uses about 500 watts of power daily. If your generator produces 1000 watts daily, keeping things cold will cost you half your backup power supply in twenty-four hours. A coffee maker uses roughly 1500 watts of power daily, but to use for ten minutes (1/6th of an hour) each morning, will only use a measly 10 watts.
The surge watt rating, however, reflects how your generator can handle the high initial burst of power needed to start electric motors. The surge lasts less than a second, but if the same refrigerator that uses 500 watts of continuous power takes 2000 watts of power to start, you’ll need a solar generator with at least a 2000 watt surge rating just to restart it in an outage.
Realistically, most portable solar generators will struggle with high-draw appliances like air conditioners, well pumps, and clothes dryers, but by managing power needs and using compact, energy-efficient devices, they’re enough to power the basics without fuel.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Solar System
Solar panel energy production is also measured in watts. The watt rating on the panel multiplied by the number of hours of sun exposure it gets daily gives you the total number of watts it can produce each day. For example, a 100 watt solar panel that receives 6 hours of sun produces 600 watts of power for that day, but things are never simple with the sun. Day-to-day and seasonal sun exposure changes are significant and even the best solar panels make only limited power on cloudy days.
There are three types of common solar panels and their efficiency determines how many watts they make for their size.
1. Monocrystalline panels are the most common. Made from single-crystal silicon wafers, they’re somewhat more efficient than their polycrystalline counterparts, but a little more expensive.
2. Polycrystalline solar cells are made of melted fragments of silicon. Because electrons move less freely between fragments, these panels have a good, but slightly less efficient rating. For most systems, the difference between mono and polycrystalline panels is statistically insignificant.
3. Thin film, or amorphous crystal panels, use relatively new technology. They’re light, slim, flexible, cheap and durable, but only half as efficient as monocrystalline panels and require twice the footprint to produce the same amount of power, making them less useful for small portable generators.
Battery Capacity and Power Rating
Capacity is the total amount of electricity a solar battery can store, but it doesn’t reflect how much power it can provide at a given moment. For that, you’ll need to check the battery’s power rating.
In general, a battery with a high capacity and a low power rating will deliver less electricity, but for longer periods and vice versa.
Remember that solar generators run on stored energy. A system can have enough panels to make a thousand of watts of energy, but if the battery stores only 500 watts, that’s the most power you’ll have without adding more capacity.
It’s critical to note that only the best portable solar generators have batteries that can be simultaneously charged while being used. This is called trickle charging and unless you have multiple batteries to cover your power needs over several days, this is an important feature.
If your battery needs less than eight hours to recharge, an average portable generator with trickle charging capability should provide consistent power, replenishing itself on sun power alone. Without trickle charging capability, you’ll be out of power for as long as it takes to recharge the battery.
Most portable generator components are sized to maximize the capacity of each for the sake of efficiency. Expanding one component usually means you’ll have to upgrade others, but the important part is that better systems can be expanded to meet changing needs.
Batteries come in different styles, but the two most common are lead-acid and lithium-ion.
Lead-acid batteries, like those used in cars, are the most common and the least expensive. They have a shorter life span, but are a cost effective choice for home use. Some styles use special gel to improve their lifespan and safety, but the power performance is similar. Deep-cycle batteries that can handle repeated heavy discharges last longer and under most conditions, are worth the extra cost.
Lithium-ion batteries, the type that powers most cordless tools, are lightweight, compact, and have a longer lifespan than lead-acid batteries. They are increasingly popular in portable solar generators because of their size and weight despite their higher price.
Power Inverter Rating
Power inverters convert the direct electrical current (DC) that comes out of your solar panels to the alternating current (AC) that your appliances need. This is the same type of electricity that comes from a wall outlet.
Inverters carry a watt rating to show the maximum power they can handle and it should always be at least the maximum amount of power the system can generate.
Pure sine wave inverters are costly, but more efficient and cause less wear on select devices including microwaves, televisions and CPAP machines, but at double the cost of modified sine wave inverters, may not be cost-effective for occasional use.
A charge controller regulates the current from the solar panels to keep batteries from overcharging.
The simplest controllers just cut the connection between the battery and the panel when maximum voltage is reached. They’re reliable, but not particularly efficient. Models that use 3-stage or maximum power point tracking (MPPT) handle current flow more effectively and can squeeze more power out of your system.
For optimal performance, look for controllers that are waterproof and have an LED display that gives basic information about the efficiency of your system. As you learn more about solar power, it will help you get the most out of your generator.
The weight of a portable solar generator ranges from as little as 20 to as many as 200 hundred pounds and comes primarily from the panels and the battery. Panel weight is hard to change significantly without opting for lightweight frames and other components that compromise durability and lithium-ion batteries are much lighter than lead acid, but are costly.
The key to portability more often lies in the way the weight is distributed rather than the individual components. Parts layered in a sturdy, wheeled box are easier to manage than separate pieces. Solar panels that fold like suitcases decrease bulk, making them easier to handle at the same weight.
If your system will be remaining fairly stationary, weight is always a consideration, but less of an issue. If you’ll be moving it daily, lightweight systems will spare your back and be at less risk of being damaged during moves.
The last thing anything generator should be is hard or time consuming to use. For a true plug-and-play solar generator, consider these top convenience features:
- Multiple AC outlets
- Integrated USB ports and a 12V output
- Energy efficient accessories that maximize power savings
- System expandability and adapters that make connecting multiple panels and batteries easier
- Replaceable batteries
- Back-lit LED panels that let you monitor your system’s function in the dark
- Panels with handles and frames to facilitate repositioning
Things to Avoid When Choosing a Solar-powered Generator
Early portable solar generators were made mostly with proprietary components that didn’t allow the system to be expanded or upgraded with off-the-shelf components. Even today, some systems are made with batteries that aren’t replaceable and if a part gets damaged, you’ll need to buy a replacement directly from the manufacturer — not exactly what most people want in emergency equipment. Proprietary systems can be a great option, but their risk versus benefits should always be clearly weighed.
Avoid these things when purchasing a portable solar generator:
- Incomplete kits that require purchasing costly additional components
- Proprietary systems for which replacement parts are no longer being made
- Electronic components that are not completely waterproof
- Generators with minimal warranties or made by companies without a solid industry presence
Our final thoughts:
Choosing the best solar generator not only offers convenience during power outages, it can save your life. Gas generators are powerful, but will fuel be available when you need it? Do your homework and expand on what you’ve learned here. Read solar generator reviews and talk to people who own them. Ultimately, when the lights go out, a portable solar generator may be the perfect solution, but only if it’s reliable and powerful enough to meet your energy needs.