So you’re on a lookout for the best solar generator on the market capable of powering up your laptop, smartphone, drone, or GoPro camera while you enjoy the great outdoors.
Or perhaps you need an indoor generator to run a CPAP machine.
An excellent portable solar power generator can help you accomplish this.
In this guide, we are going to focus mainly on small portable solar generators designed for camping trips, RV, and CPAP machines.
You will see our recommendations for the best portable solar generators and learn how to choose the right generator for your specific needs.
If you are interested in a complete solar solution for your home instead, make sure to check out our free solar quotes!
Table of Contents
10 Best Solar Generators Comparison Chart
|Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160||100||167Wh|| Lithium-Ion |
11.6Ah @ 14.4V
|Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator||300||396Wh|| Lithium-Ion |
33Ah @ 12V
|Renogy Phoenix All-in-one Solar Kit||150||210Wh||Lithium-Ion||12.8 lbs|
|Aeiusny 288Wh 500W Portable Solar Generator||500||288Wh||Lithium-Ion||7.05 lbs|
|Rockpals 300W Portable Solar Power Station||300||280Wh|| Lithium-Ion |
75Ah @ 12V
|Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator||160||168Wh|| Lithium-Ion |
14Ah @ 12V
|Ecoflow Portable Power Station||500||412Wh||Lithium-Ion||10.8 lbs|
|SUAOKI Portable Power Station||300||400Wh||Lithium-Ion||12.35 lbs|
|Rockpals 250-Watt Solar Generator||250||240Wh|| Lithium-Ion |
64.8Ah @ 12V
|Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Power Generator||1200||1200Wh||Lithium-Ion||103 lbs|
Top 10 Solar Generator Reviews
Jackery Explorer 160 is an awesome little portable power generator. It is a compact unit weighing only 3.84 lbs. You can easily carry it with one hand. It is an ideal choice for camping trips and other outdoor uses.
It takes 8 hours in full sun to completely recharge it. One full charge is enough to provide enough energy to recharge:
- A laptop (twice)
- GoPro (20 + times)
- Smartphone (12 times)
- Drone (twice)
As you can see, one full charge gives you quite a lot of power to charge the portable electronics belonging to you and your camping buddies.
It has one AC 110V Outlet accompanied by 2 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C and 1 x DC Port.
The generator produces pure sine wave power – the same you get from the wall outlets.
It’s 100% safe for running sensitive electronics.
You need to purchase solar panels separately.
These foldable panels from the same manufacturer do the job well. They weigh only a little bit more than 8 lbs.
On the other hand, you don’t have to rely solely on solar energy to recharge this power station. You can also easily use the AC wall plug or a car outlet. By doing so, you would shorten the charging time to around 5 hours.
Bear in mind that you can’t plug in any device which requires more than 100 watts of power. You can’t power-up your portable fridge or freezer.
One thing I didn’t like is that you are not allowed to take it on board the plane. However, this is just a generic safety regulation issued by TSA rather than anything wrong with this particular generator.
Overall, if I had to spend a few days in the wild totally off the grid and get some great footage from my GoPro and the drone – I would go with Jackery Explorer 160. It’s a very convenient power station and does its job extremely well. That’s why I put it on top of the list of my favorite solar generators.
2. Goal Zero Yeti 400
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is a compact portable solar generator that is strong enough to run things like laptops, CPAP machines, lights, mobile devices, and even some smaller appliances.
It includes a 1.5 amp USB port, a 12V outlet for plugging your devices into, and a built-in 300-watt power inverter, which converts the solar energy into an AC electricity.
The 396Wh lead-acid battery can power up to 7 devices at once.
The generator produces a pure sine wave suitable for charging sensitive portable electronics.
In addition to using solar panels to charge, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 can also fully charge through a standard AC wall outlet or car charger (not included in the solar generator kit). The best solution is to go for the dedicated Yeti solar panels to increase the charge capacity. Connecting them to the unit is very simple.
At 29 pounds, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 is hefty enough to feel durable, yet not too heavy to move it around. It is a bit too heavy for multi-day trekking. However, for those mainly travel by car, it is a viable solution.
The pop-up handle and stackable shape make it an excellent choice for camping trips. The futuristic design incorporates a metallic bright green that we like.
It’s also nice that this kind of portable solar generator can be used indoors because it doesn’t create any fumes or bad smells. Seeing what people who bought this generator have to say about it on Amazon, it’s apparent that most people agree it’s a great option.
3. Renogy Phoenix All-in-one Solar Generator Kit
This model is of the most interesting portable solar generators I have seen so far. Most of the generators and power stations come separately with the solar panels. Renogy Phoenix has got them integrated inside its body. The whole thing looks like a suitcase you can easily carry from one place to another. You’ll certainly agree that this is a truly awesome idea. But how does it work in practice?
First – with its 150 running watts of power, it is certainly powerful enough to recharge most of your portable electronic devices. These include laptops, iPhones, cameras, drones, etc.
Since it produces the pure sine wave power, you can rest assured knowing that your portable electronics are safe.
Fully charging Renogy Phoenix only once is enough to provide enough electricity to recharge things like smartphones multiple times.
You and your friends can quickly leave it in your camp for charging during the daytime and come back later at night to charge all electronics at once. This solar generator kit has got multiple power outputs to make it possible.
The built-in solar panels work just fine. These are excellent constructions, not some cheap plastic foldable gadgets made in China, which do not work when you need them most.
One question you might have is – isn’t it too heavy to carry around? Well, since it weighs a little bit less than 13 lbs, it is certainly not something you would like to carry around on longer hikes continually. However, it is lightweight enough to make it possible to move it on short distances, such as between the tent and the car, etc.
In case your power demands are a bit higher – you do not have to rely only on the built-in solar panels. Nothing is preventing you from charging this power kit at night by, e.g., plugging it into the car or RV socket.
Another solution is to buy separate solar panels. Since it is an expandable construction, they’re going to work with this model, adding to the total charge capacity.
Overall this is a very interesting and versatile portable solar powered generator. If you need an all-in-one solution for your outdoor uses I could honestly suggest you give it a chance.
4. Aeiusny 288Wh 500W Portable Solar Generator
Here is the solar-powered generator for whose need something a bit more powerful. While most of the portable solar kits operate in the 100-200 wattage range, this beast can provide up to 500 running watts. It allows you to charge things most of the small solar gens can’t handle, such as a 32″ LCD TV.
I found it an excellent solution for most of the outdoor power needs.
Since this portable power station delivers pure sine wave power, charging multiple small electronics such as MacBooks or iPads is not an issue at all.
On the other hand, note that this generator is still NOT suitable for job sites or for powering kitchen appliances. You won’t be able to use it to run things like drills, cookers, kettles, or induction cookers.
I am genuinely impressed by how light this solar generator is, given its higher wattage. 7.05 lbs is not a lot. You could easily lift it with one hand and move it around without problems. Of course, the dedicated solar panels have to be purchased separately.
Overall it’s a reliable and powerful solar generator that can be used both for things like camping and as an emergency backup source for the office.
Since solar energy is 100% clean, unlike in the case of conventional generators, you can use it indoors. For example, if one of your relatives, friends or patients requires CPAP, this kind of generator could be used to provide the power for it in case of a sudden power outage.
5. Rockpals 500W Portable Solar Power Station
Rockpals Lithium Portable Power Station is IMHO, one of the best solar generators money can buy. What’s so special about it that makes me think so?
First – it’s lightweight. 12 lbs is not a massive figure and makes it easy to use and carry around. It has a nice sturdy red handle that makes it even simpler. It’s a great treat, especially for people going camping but also for pretty much anyone else.
Second – it provides quite a decent amount of running watts.
Three hundred watts of pure sine wave power is more than enough to run your laptop, mobile phone, Ipad, and a portable camping light – all at once.
Third – it comes with several different types of cables and charges, which make it more versatile and decrease your reliance on solar power only. These include a 12V car charger and a 110V wall charger. By plugging it into your car or a wall outlet, you can fully recharge this generator in less than 7 hours.
It is 100% safe for indoor use. Patients who rely on CPAP could massively benefit from having such a generator in place in case there’s a sudden power outage. In the event of a weather disaster such as a hurricane, you can plug into the wall outlet to provide power for the CPAP system. You can then set up a conventional portable generator outside to provide power for the house.
Overall I like this generator just as much as some other models I’ve mentioned here. It serves its purpose well as long as you do not try to plug in any higher demanding appliances into it. It is certainly not a suitable solution for powering things like AC or refrigerators for which you would ideally need an inverter generator.
6. Goal Zero Yeti 150
Goal Zero Yeti 150 is a versatile solar powered generator.
It is a small “plug-and-play” generator designed for camping, emergencies, or any time you need an emergency backup generator for phones, lights, laptops, or other compact electronics.
The power station is straightforward to set up and use. You won’t need any technical knowledge to run it.
The system includes a 12V 396Wh lead-acid battery with a charge capacity of 150WH/14,000 mAh, which you can charge via the included solar panel or a traditional socket.
I like the fact that the Goal Zero Yeti 150 unit can be used inside the household or in the vehicle because it doesn’t put off any fumes and its light and small enough to take anywhere.
The central unit has a convenient pop-up handle, and the shape makes it easy to stack multiple units atop one another. The Goal Zero Yeti 150 also includes a single USB outlet (2 amps) as well as a built-in 80 watt AC inverter.
Given its limited capacity (as it is the case with most solar generators, I found this device ideal mainly for light intermittent use while traveling, or as a go-to emergency backup generator for a power outage. Aesthetically, the colors and materials have a very modern and polished look, and the device feels lightweight and durable with a comfortable grip.
7. EF ECOFLOW River Portable Solar Generator
This lithium portable power station is a bit stronger than some of the other models presented in this guide. At 500 rated watts, it has enough power not only to run the small gadgets like smartphones but also to power slightly larger electronics or appliances.
For example, you can use it to run a mini-fridge for nearly half a day.
If you need an indoor generator producing pure sine wave power for your sensitive electronics – this can also be a good fit for you.
Electric guitar players who make money busking or simply like to have an opportunity to practice when there’s no steady source of power available should also have a look at this generator. One single charge is enough to provide a constant supply for an electric guitar for nearly 24 hours. It’s also noiseless, so nobody will have to listen to the sound of the electric motor while you impress them with your licks and solos.
It comes with 2 USB ports, two DC ports, two AC power outlets, and a 12V carport allowing you to charge it while driving. As you can see, plugging multiple devices is not a significant deal as long as you don’t exceed the total running wattage.
The EF Ecoflow portable power station has got a beautiful digital display showing clearly how much battery you have left.
The only minor issue with this model is that it’s a bit heavy. While 10.8 lbs are not the heavyweight category, there are other solar generators rated at the same wattage that are more lightweight such as Aeiusny 500W. On top of that, do not forget to add the weight of the solar panels.
I would recommend this generator for like the road trips in more remote areas and do not plan to carry it around too much. It’s best used when either charged in the car or in a very sunny area.
8. SUAOKI Portable Power Station
Suaoki is a trusted manufacturer of portable solar generators and this model does not disappoint. It has all the necessary usual features you would expect from a portable power kit. These include several USB ports catering for portable electronics as well as 2x DC ports.
It delivers 600 surge watts and 300 running watts of power.
While this is certainly more than enough power to supply most of the electronic equipment you would want to use during a camping trip, I wouldn’t recommend it for this particular purpose. Why? That’s because, at 12.35 lbs, it’s a bit too heavy. Add the weight of the solar panels, and you’ll quickly realize that this is not the ideal hiking companion. Lighter models are offering the same wattage and excellent price/quality ratio.
On the other hand, Suaoki can prove useful in other circumstances such as office and office. Unlike typical portable gas generators, y indoors as it doesn’t release any potentially toxic fumes. I of the best features of solar generators, and this model is no exception.
If you don’t want to rely purely on solar power, you can also plug this generator to the wall socket.
Charging it via a car outlet is also a viable choice.
Overall it is a very reliable portable power station.
While seasoned campers might find it to be slightly on the heavier side, most users should be satisfied with this solar generator.
9. Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Solar Generator
Rockpals is one of my favorite manufacturers of solar generators. The stuff they make is top-notch quality, and a lot of people who had the opportunity to use their solar kits would agree with me. It is almost unbelievable how lightweight their generators are and how much wattage they can deliver at the same time.
This particular portable solar generator can deliver up to 250 running watts of continuous power. To put things into perspective – you will find it strong enough to power all the usual electronics you take with you when traveling. Laptop, smartphone, camera – you name it.
Unlike the conventional gas generators that produce the so-called modified sine wave – Rockpals power station delivers 100% pure sine wave suitable for charging sensitive electronic equipment.
You might wonder if it is not potentially harmful to a solar generator to leave it for charging for long hours in the scorching sun. Well, while you should give it a break from time to time, this model comes with built-in temperature control and the protection system, which prevents overheating.
It takes slightly less than 10 hours to recharge it in full sun. That is if you buy the solar panels from the same manufacturer. Results might differ if you use the ones made by another company. Since you might need to purchase an adapter if using solar panels from other manufacturers, I would suggest to save yourself some hassle and go with the Rockpals solar panels, mainly since they usually sell for a very similar price as in case of their competitors.
Overall it’s a good solar generator for a variety of uses, traveling being probably the most attractive one of them thanks to its low weight and small size.
10. Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Powered Generator
This Goal Zero solar generator differs significantly from others reviewed in this article.
That’s because it is a much larger model offering more power at your disposal.
The 1250 running watts is a lot for a portable solar generator.
It is already the threshold at which you may use it to provide power, for, e.g., a refrigerator.
The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 power station would also be an excellent choice for RV camping.
It has enough power to be used as a supplementary energy source for a travel trailer.
You can use it to run a 10,000 BTU air conditioner.
Just like the inverter generators, the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 produces a pure sine wave.
You can safely use it to charge sensitive electronics such as laptops, tablets, and audio systems.
The control panel features a large number of power outlets capable of charging up to 10 multiple devices at a time.
Not surprisingly, the power station this large needs a long time to recharge fully.
It takes around 18 hours to charge it via a wall plug fully.
One full charge should get you through a short power outage.
If you need to extend its runtime, you can try chaining to other 12V 100Ah lithium batteries.
While, of course, much bulkier than most portable solar generators, it is still not that hard to move around.
It has built-in handles and wheels, allowing you to pull it behind you without significant difficulties.
If I were you, I would consider getting this generator if you are not satisfied with how much power most of the portable solar generators can deliver and want something much more robust.
Otherwise, your money would be better spent on smaller models.
Especially since that this one doesn’t come cheap either.
Why Should You Invest in the Best Solar Generator?
The most apparent advantage solar generators have over fuel-powered generators is that they’re the “green” eco-friendly alternative. The ability to harvest power without fuel is not only better for the environment, but it also equates to no ongoing costs associated with purchasing gasoline, propane, or any other fuel source.
You would not only save a lot of money on electricity bills in the long-term but also have access to a reliable source of power that relies merely on sunlight and the proper functioning of its parts.
In addition to cost-effectiveness, reliability, and eco-friendliness, here’s a more comprehensive list of 10 reasons why most people find it advantageous to invest in the best solar generator:
2. Decreases utility bill and grid reliance – Even if your panels only produce enough output to cover 25% of your home’s electricity needs, that would still be a sizable chunk of the energy bill each month.
3. Smaller portable solar generators are perfect for camping – There is a wide range of portable power generators being especially useful for camping.
4. Neutral carbon footprint – Solar generators won’t produce any greenhouse gases or byproducts that are harmful to the environment.
5. Suitable for summer use – Solar generators thrive in the summer sun, and since they do not emanate heat, y in hot climates without causing discomfort or heat-related fire hazards.
6. More compact and portable – Even the smallest fuel-powered generators are bulky in comparison to the slender panels and flexible setup of the best solar generator.
7. No potentially deadly fumes – Fuel generators need to be used in well-ventilated areas to prevent a buildup of potentially fatal carbon monoxide fumes. Solar generators carry no such risks.
8. More reliable when fuel is not available – In times of emergency, when fuel is not easily accessible, solar generators will still be in use.
9. You can store the power for later usage – The system’s battery pack can store power, whereas a fuel-powered generator can only provide power while running.
10. Utility companies will pay for your excess electricity. If you expand the setup by adding enough panels, you can route the excess power to your city’s grid and receive a check from the utility company every month instead of having to pay them.
What Do You Need to Know Before Buying One?
Most solar generators generate just enough electricity to power household appliances for several hours at a time. However, some of the more powerful systems can be used continually and are expandable, allowing you to add more panels to increase your solar energy production capabilities.
The main job of a solar generator is to harvest radiation from the sun’s rays, process it through an inverter to produce an AC output, and store the captured energy in a deep-cycle battery setup.
While not all models include all of the above components, this list describes an optimal feature set for a well-equipped solar generator. Aside from the main components, several additional features vary greatly depending on the model.
Any model that comes with all of the features listed below would be an ideal choice, as long as it meets your wattage requirements. These perks are what distinguish the different solar systems from each other.
By taking the above features into account before conducting your final comparison, you’ll know what you’re looking for beforehand. Be sure to note the overall quality of the materials used in each component and see if there are any complaints regarding functionality or durability by reading our solar generator reviews.
Researching each component individually to determine which type you’d prefer can also help you prepare for the shopping around process. After learning about the above components, you’ll be knowledgeable enough about the system to make an informed decision.
How To Buy The Best Solar Generator For Your Needs?
Aside from perks like extra USB ports and other conveniences, the main features that might make one solar generator preferable over another include:
- number and wattage of panels
- total solar photovoltaic output level
- battery capacity
- inverter power rating
- included components – Note that you will rarely find the solar generators which come with the panels included. You have to purchase them separately in most cases.
The output wattage of the solar panels is what determines how much electricity you’ll be able to capture at one time. Be sure to check the maximum power rating of the inverter as well; a higher power rating means the system can deliver more electricity at once.
In most cases, you can expect to charge only one small device at a time, such as a laptop, smartphone, or GoPro camera. Don’t expect to use most of the portable solar generators mentioned in this guide to power up larger appliances unless you go for a larger generator such as Goal Zero Yeti 1250.
Types of Portable Solar Generators
Now that you know exactly how much solar energy you’ll need to achieve your goals, a basic comparison will help you choose from one of the types of solar-powered generators below:
* Compact portable solar generator (perfect for camping, travel, boats, RVs, etc.)
* Car-compatible solar generator systems (able to charge via sun or car)
* Miniature device charging sets (for smartphones and tablets)
Do solar panels need the sun or just light?
This is a very commonly asked question.
The reality or the answer to this is that solar panels can operate in many kinds of lights.
The reasoning behind it is like that of a radio. The fact that your radio has access to multiple FM signals, you can tune to one of them with ease.
In the same way, you can modify your solar panel according to the incident light, and this will work well with it.
The materials used in solar panels create current under exposure to natural daylight. This current is then utilized as standard electricity within properties. This type of energy is renewable and green.
The most critical thing that you should know is that the best solar generators utilize energy from natural daylight and not necessarily sunlight. The panels do need generally require sunlight to generate an electric current. Sunlight heat does not affect the production of electricity.
Direct sunlight provides typically the best conditions for solar panels to harness energy. However, even in cloudy areas, daylight rays will diffuse through the clouds and reach the solar panels.
There are modern designs of solar panels (like the ones here) that have included things like concentrators that generally use a set of mirrors and some special kind of lenses to maximize any all the rays of light that will get to the cells. In a clouded area, these devices will be 40% as useful as it would in an area that receives direct sunlight. The clearer the sky is, the more electricity the solar panels will produce.
Despite some mythical beliefs that solar panels will only work under direct sunlight, the truth is that they do not require sunlight to be operational. Simply being exposed to daylight alone is the most critical thing for solar panels to generate electricity. If you’re considering installing them on your home, RV or boat, we recommend you have a look at these Renogy 100 Watts Monocrystalline Solar Panels. They are some of the most popular in the market and continuously get stellar reviews from users who have also used them on cloudy days.
How many solar panels do you need to power a home?
Right solar panels are very efficient at harnessing the sun’s energy and a perfect alternative to supplying your home with power. However, depending on how you intend to use the solar energy like full or supplementary power source, there are various factors to consider before installing solar panels in your home.
1. The Amount of Power You Use in your Home
Knowing the amount of power you use in your home is a significant factor determining the number of panels you will need. Most people get it wrong by considering the size of their houses. You can never have the same energy usage as another person with the same house size as yours.
Because you may live alone while the other with a family, energy usage habits may differ, like keeping the air conditioning for a long time or energy-saving lights installed, among others.
The perfect approach is checking your utility bill to get accurate figures on your energy consumption.
2. Your Solar Goals
Motivations behind the installation of solar panels differ from one person to another. Knowing your specific energy goals will help you in deciding how many panels to install. They may include:
- Full power – You may need the system to supply 100% of your home solar energy.
- Partial power – You may need to use solar energy partially to compensate for the entire energy consumption in your house. You may be interested in a system that will generate power to be used during the day or at night to avoid paying more for utility-generated electricity.
- Clean power – You may be interested in minimizing environmental impact by decreasing your dependence on non- renewable energy.
3. Amount of Sunlight to Expect
Solar insolation is a term used widely in matters relating to solar energy and simply refers to the amount of sunlight in a particular area at a specific time. You will find charts indicating solar insolation in your area to determine how many solar panels you will need to install to be able to harness enough solar energy to meet your requirements. For instance, people living in areas like California will receive more direct sunlight compared to people living in Seattle.
The more sunlight you are likely to receive, the fewer panels you will need and vice versa.
4. The Number of Panels that you can fit
After determining the amount of power you need to generate to sustain your home, you also need to calculate the number of solar panels that can fit on your roof. You should place them strategically to be able to access maximum sunlight. Some factors to consider include:
- The direction of the roof – Depending on your geographical location, there are specific regions on your roof that are hit more by sunlight than others.
- Shade – It’s not all about the amount of roof space you have, but again you need to locate spots on your roof that are not affected by shade from like other buildings and trees. The shade-less areas receive maximum sunlight.
5. Solar Panel Size
Solar panels generate different amounts of energy, mostly based on their sizes. With the knowledge of how much solar energy you need, you will be able to calculate the number of solar panels to install based on the maximum power they can generate.
Installing solar panels in your home will be beneficial as they will save you money, are durable, free of pollution, among others. Keep in mind that the more panels you install, the more energy you generate.