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The Best Solar Generators

Have a backup power source for your home with these sustainable generators.

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Robert Laswell
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solar generator
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A solar generator can be your saving grace when the power goes out in your house. Imagine a few hours without electricity; what would you do? With one of these generators, you’ll never have that problem. Working alongside solar panels, you’ll have power in times of need. Each solar generator varies in size, style, and function, and some are even portable.

Instead of your typical generator, you’ll be using the sun’s rays to power what you need. This sustainable product is usually made up of an inverter, solar panel, battery, and charger. The sun’s energy is stored in the battery and is converted into AC power when you need it. It’s like a mini power station that will provide energy for anything ranging from large household appliances to smaller electronic devices.

If you’ve been thinking of leading a more sustainable life, a solar generator could be a useful product to buy. (Unless, of course, you fancy trying your hand at building a DIY solar generator from scratch!)

Editor’s Picks

After extensive research of all solar generators, we’ve found our 3 favorite products:

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000
Best Overall
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000

This solar generator has a faster recharge rate allowing you to power what you need in half the time compared to other generators. This is especially useful for outdoor use as you don’t need to spend too much time waiting on your generator to charge before going on your adventures. And with less charging time plus a high capacity of 1000W wattage, it’s no wonder the Jackery Explorer is our best product and overall!

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240
Best Budget
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240

Rated as the best portable power station for outdoor use in a budget, the Explorer 240 has enough power to keep your electronic devices such as phones, laptops, and lights going when you’re out and about enjoying a camping trip over the weekend. It can even be used as an emergency backup power in your home in case of a power outage. Either way, there’s no need to worry about your devices running out of battery when you have this portable generator with you.

BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC200P
Best Performance
BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC200P

With a huge battery capacity of 2000 Wh and an output power of up to 2000 W (4800 W peak load), you can depend on this reliable power station to keep various power appliances going. The best part about the BLUETTI AC200p is the various charging methods to ensure your backup power is always ready to be used. This portable power station can be recharged by an AC wall outlet, solar panel, vehicle, lead-acid battery, or a generator. This power station can charge an impressive amount of 17 devices simultaneously!

How Do Solar Generators Work?

The concept behind conventional gas or diesel generators is pretty straightforward, right? Put the fossil fuel into the generator’s fuel tank, turn the generator on, and the motor inside starts guzzling that fuel to turn itself and thus produce electricity. It’s similar to the operation of a car’s battery or lawnmower – something we can all understand without much difficulty. Of course, fossil fuel generators are loud, dirty, and emit hazardous carbon dioxide, which poisons both us and the environment. Moreover, in the case of a power outage fuel is not necessarily on hand, or easy to come by.

That’s where solar generators come in. Taking their ‘fuel’ directly from the free, infinite natural resource that is sunlight, they are entirely silent, free of carbon-emissions, and are always reliable, since sunlight is almost always around to draw power from. But how exactly do they work? How do the solar panels which power them actually turn sunlight into electricity? How is that DC electricity turned into the consumable AC electricity which our appliances and devices require to run? How is the electricity stored? These are the questions which we are here to answer.

First, the solar panels. Solar panels are frames comprised of many individual solar cells, which themselves are made of many thin layers of polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon. This silicon has a pretty remarkable property: when it is exposed to direct sunlight, it undergoes a physical and chemical reaction known as the ‘photovoltaic effect’. Essentially, sunlight forces the displacement of electrons from one silicon layer to another, during which volts of electricity are produced. This process happens over and over again, for as long as each cell is exposed to sunlight. All of the electricity produced by these cells, comprising a significant amount over the surface of an entire panel, is then sent from the panel, via an MPPT charge controller, to the battery (or batteries) housed in your solar generator.

Next, the MPPT charge controller. An MPPT (which stands for maximum power point tracking) controller is the brain of your solar array. It maximises the efficiency of the solar panels’ output by ensuring that the voltage of electricity they produce is the same as that required by the generator’s battery/batteries. It also ensures that your solar panels function as efficiently as they possible can, with whatever lighting they have; furthermore it makes sure that your generator’s battery is not damaged by over- or undercharging.

Let’s look at the battery inside the generator. If you are looking to buy a static, home backup solar generator, then it’s likely that your generator will house not one, but many high-capacity batteries. These batteries – preferably Lithium-Ion – are designed to store the DC electricity generated by your solar panels, and to do so for as long as is necessary (essentially until you need it).

Finally, you have the inverter, also housed within the generator. Because the electricity produced by solar panels is of the DC variety (which cannot conventionally be used to power household or portable devices and appliances), it needs to be converted to AC before it can be used. A DC current is uni-directional, and looks like a straight line. An AC current moves in two direction, and takes a waveform. Thus, an inverter changes a DC current by oscillating it to create the dual-directional wave. Next, it takes this newly formed AC sine wave, and amplifies it to be more powerful. Lastly, an inverter adjusts the voltage of the AC current to match it to the required output voltage of your connected appliances.

And that’s the full breakdown of how a solar generator works. You can buy static backup solar generators for homes and offices, which are generally quite large, very heavy, housing batteries, and designed to power an entire household or business in the event of a power outage. Alternatively, you can buy portable solar generators, which are much smaller, lighter, housing one battery only, and designed to power small appliances and personal devices in an outdoor setting such as on road trips or camping trips. Both versions work essentially the same, however while backup solar generators can produce high enough voltages and wattages to power most home appliances, portable solar generators can only power devices such as laptops, mobile phones, mini-fridges, and the like. You will find mostly the portable kind on this list.

Pros and Cons of Solar Generators

As with all technology on which you’re looking to spend your hard-earned money, we think it’s important that you are aware of both the positives and negatives associated with the products in question. As such, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of solar generators.

Pros:

  1. Free electricity. Surely one of the overarching benefits to solar power in general is the fact that the electricity it generates is, essentially, free. Since solar panels convert the limitless, omni-accessible power of sunlight into consumable electricity, you can power your home (or camping trip) with a solar generator without paying a single dime for the electricity it generates.
  2. Noiseless operation. Unlike conventional fossil fuel-powered generators, solar generators make next to no noise when running, meaning that you can keep them in your home if you like, and enjoy peace and quiet whilst they do their thing.
  3. Green energy. Again, unlike fossil fuel-powered generators, solar generators produce no carbon emissions, and are non-damaging to the environment. With the world in climate crisis, and society on the brink of eco-disaster, switching your energy supply from fossil fuel or nuclear to renewable sources (like solar) is not just conscionable, but savvy.
  4. Versatile. Since you can purchase portable as well as static backup solar generators, you have access to a wide, versatile range of uses to which you can apply your generator. Whether you want to power grills, lighting, entertainment systems or laptops whilst out on the road or in the wilds, or are looking for a reliable, sustainable free energy source to power your home in a blackout, solar generators are there for you.
  5. All-in-one. If you’re familiar with solar technology (or any other renewable tech for that matter), you’ll know that the costs of establishing your own array can be high. Now, whilst solar generators tend to be expensive, too, the advantage is that you get everything you need all in the one package. Instead of having to buy an MPPT controller, battery, and inverter all separately, on top of the solar panels, you get all three in the one unit (which is the generator).

Cons:

  1. Expensive. This is not something we can overlook. Compared to the old-school fossil-fuel alternatives, solar generators are noticeably more expensive. However, it’s really worthwhile doing a bit of cost calculation, before you decide against the steep initial investment. Think about the fact that you’re never going to have to pay a cent to fuel your generator (whereas you’d be paying for gas/diesel every time you used a conventional generator – the prices of which can fluctuate dramatically and in an instant); you may just realise that ultimately a solar generator is still the most cost effective option.
  2. No solar panels. Unfortunately, most solar generators are not sold with the solar panels required to run them. What this means for you is not only an additional cost at the outset, but also the additional work required to research and search for solar panels compatible with your generator.
  3. Sunlight dependent. This is true for any solar powered product, but is an especially sensitive issue when it comes to something as integral to your daily life as a backup generator. Solar panels require direct and fairly constant sunlight in order to achieve their maximum potential for electricity production. If you live in an area with consistently low light, or which is often overcast, you’ll likely find that your solar generator takes much longer than advertised to acquire a full charge. Even in areas with plenty of bright, direct sunlight, you’re looking at minimum 3-4 hours of sunlight to fully charge a generator.
  4. Portable is not powerful. Whilst this doesn’t apply to static backup solar generators, a portable solar generator is simply too small to power anything large. This means you are severely limited in what you can charge and power with a portable solar generator. Most likely, you’ll not can charge anything much larger than a laptop, grill, or music system for anything more than a couple of hours.

Best Solar Generators Reviewed

The Best Solar Generators In 2021

Jackery Solar Generator 1000, 1002Wh Portable Power Station

  • Brand Jackery
  • Style: 1000W+2X100W Solar Panel
  • Fast Solar Recharging
  • MPPT Controller
  • 3 Ways of Recharging
  • Multiple Outputs for Different Devices Simultaneously
Jackery Solar Generator 1000, 1002Wh Portable Power Station

This portable solar generator is a top-of-the-line product with a 1000W wattage capacity and 3 AC outlets. This means you can power more than one appliance at the same time. You can use the generator for any function, whether it’s for an RV, outdoor party, or your home in case of a power outage. The size of the appliance doesn’t matter as it can power both small and large appliances. You do not have to worry about a long charging time either as it can recharge in as little as 8 hours. All you need to do is ensure the two solar panels are attached to the generator. All adapters are included, and you can even charge them with your car.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Can power multiple devices simultaneously

Cons:

  • Expensive

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240

  • Brand: Jackery
  • Color: Explorer 240 Power Station
  • Multifunctional outputs
  • Large Capacity with small size
  • Safe Stable Output
  • Power Outdoors and Care Families
  • Convenient Recharging
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240

With multifunctional outputs, this portable solar generator features 1 AC outlet (110V 200W 400W Peak), 2 USB-A ports, and 1 DC car port to power many types of equipment. So you can have many appliances/devices on the go without a worry as it comes with a great charge capacity of 240 watt-hours (16.8Ah, 14.4V) lithium battery pack. This portable solar generator has no bulky add-ons and has a handle making it easy to carry and operate wherever you go.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Solar panels not included

BLUETTI AC200P

  • Brand: Bluetti
  • Durable & Safer LiFePO4 Battery
  • Fast Recharge
  • LiFePo4 battery/Higher Safety & More Stable
BLUETTI AC200P

With a  6 x 2000W AC inverter (4800W Surge) & 2000wh huge capacity, the power station AC200P is extremely powerful. Due to this, larger appliances such as microwave ovens, refrigerators, heaters, etc. can be easily powered. You can even use this power station as backup power in case of power outages. The Bluetti AC200P has various outputs ranging from USB-A, USB-C PD (60 W), Wireless Qi, 12V – 10A (regulated) & 12V – 25A to 230 volts AC. The 12V – 25A output is suitable for the caravan, boat, or camper, wherein multiple 12V devices can be connected to 1 single input (up to 25A).

Pros:

  • Smart Touch LCD display
  • 24-month warranty

Cons:

  • Expensive

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500

  • Brand: Jackery
  • Color: Black
  • Higher Wattage, Larger Capacity
  • Convenient Recharging
  • Power Outdoors and Care Families
  • Multiple Outputs for Different Devices
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500

The Jackery Explorer 500 is a lithium-ion portable solar generator with a capacity of 518Wh. It’s one of the most lightweight and compact rechargeable lithium battery generators available. It has 1 AC outlet (110V 500W 1000W Peak), 3 USB-A ports, 2 DC ports, and 1 car port to power a variety of appliances from low to high power with a pure sine wave inverter, such as a mini-fridge, air pump, and TV. This solar generator was built with your comfort in mind. Its lightweight size makes it ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities.

Pros:

  • Quiet and convenient
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Solar panel not included

MILIN 622Wh Portable Power Station

  • Brand: MILIN
  • Big Capacity with 622Wh
  • Ideal Backup Power for Outdoors
  • Recharge Everywhere
  • LCD display screen
  • Super Safe Protection
  • Efficient Heat Dissipation
MILIN 622Wh Portable Power Station

With its compact size (smaller than a mini toaster over) and lightweight form factor, this portable solar generator can be used as an emergency backup in your home or for use outdoors. It can be packed easily for any outdoor activity and you will never have to worry about your devices running out of battery. Featuring 2 standard pure sine wave AC outlets, 100W USB-C port, 3 USB-A ports, a car socket, and 2 DC ports, it has a large capacity of 622Wh and a high 600W wattage. MILIN has a lot of outlets and has enough power to charge up to 9 devices at a time, including laptops, phones, tablets, fans, drones, car fridges, radios, LED lights, MP3 players, compact cameras, and so on. MILIN 622Wh Power Station can be charged anywhere, whether it be by a wall outlet or USB C at the same time in just 4 hours, and completely recharged by car outlet in 7 hours. It can also be charged in 10 hours in the sun by adding a 100W solar panel (not included). Furthermore, the LCD display screen aids in understanding the charging status.

Pros:

  • Quick recharge
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Solar panel not included

Anker Portable Power Station

  • Brand: Anker
  • Massive Cell Capacity
  • Fast and Furious
  • Ensuring the fastest possible charge
  • Power nearly all of your smart devices
Anker Portable Power Station

This portable power station is clean, quiet, and reliable; it’s everything a generator should be! This useful travel companion serves its function both indoors and outdoors, with a powerful capacity of 777wh. The PowerHouse II 800 has two AC outlets, two USB-C ports, four USB-A ports, one vehicle-class socket, and two DC outlets, making it compliant with almost all essential devices, including medical equipment.

Pros:

  • 18-month warranty
  • Quick recharge

Cons:

  • Cannot power anything over 500W

BLUETTI AC50S 500Wh Portable Power Station

  • Brand: BLUETTI
  • Color: Blue
  • Charge and Discharge (Pass-through) Function.
  • Multi-outputs for Various Power
  • Solar Recharge Mode: MPPT
BLUETTI AC50S 500Wh Portable Power Station

This solar power generator is ideal for power outages. The AC50S is small and portable, but when it’s needed, it certainly gets the job done. It has a 500Wh battery that can last many hours and keep your devices going. Two 12V/3A sockets and a 12V/10A lockable port are available on the DC out ports, while two 5V/3A USB Type-A ports and two USB Type-A ports are available on the DC-in ports. There’s also a PD45W USB form C port for charging USB notebooks like Macbooks at full speed. Other notable features of this power station include its durability, scratch resistance, and ease of cleaning, as well as its lightness and portability.

Pros:

  • 24-month warranty
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Weather conditions can impact recharge time

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300

  • Brand: Jackery
  • Higher Wattage, Larger Capacity
  • Convenient Recharging
  • Power Outdoors and Care Families
  • Multiple Outputs for Different Devices
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300

Because of its small size and functionality, Jackery Explorer 300 is the perfect power station for short camping trips and power outages. It has a lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 293Wh which includes 2 AC outlets (110V 300W 500W Peak), 1 PD 60W USB-C port, and 1 quick charge port. It has also three USB ports, one USB-A port, and one DC car port, allowing it to power small appliances and charge up to six smart devices simultaneously. The great thing about this generator is that it recharges in 2.5 hours when plugged into a wall outlet and 5.5 hours when using the SolarSaga 100W solar panel.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Charges quickly

Cons:

  • Solar panels not included

MAXOAK Power Station

  • Brand: MAXOAK Power Station
  • Super Long Lasting 2400Wh Power Station
  • LCD Screen to Monitor the Remaining
  • Battery Management System (BMS)
  • Intelligent Fan Start-up Cooling Control
MAXOAK Power Station

This highly durable solar generator will provide you with all the power you need. A built-in lithium battery means you don’t have an extra item to carry around. It can power any household item under 1000W, which is a lot more than what most other generators offer. 4 USB ports means you can charge everyone’s devices simultaneously. The charge time depends on the solar panel but roughly equates to around 12 hours. An attached LCD screen will tell you everything you need to know about the battery’s life or any malfunctions. In addition, you will save any extra electricity from the auto shut-off feature when it’s not being used.

Pros:

  • Powers high-wattage appliances
  • Long lifespan

Cons:

  • Expensive

NEXPOW Portable Power Station

  • Brand: NEXPOW
  • Color: Black
  • Multiple Charging Outputs Provide More Options
  • High Capacity And Handy Power Source
  • Triple Rechargeable Modes Efficient Solar Generator
  • Four LED lighting
NEXPOW Portable Power Station

This portable solar generator comes in a perfect size fit for traveling as it can easily be tossed in your backpack with no worries of its bulky size taking up precious space. The NEXPOW Portable Power Station has AC/ PD/ DC/ USB OUTPUTS: two 110 AC output (300W), 1 DC output, 2 QC 3.0 quick charge USB port and 2 USB ports (2.5A auto), 1 USB-C PD 3.0 quick charge to power your smartphone, tablet, laptop, camera, light, drones, fans, in-car appliances, CPAP machine and more at any time. USB-C PD 60W can be used to power all the latest devices including new versions of iPhones and Macbooks. The power station also comes equipped with LEDs functioning as an emergency flashlight and four modes: White Light Often Bright, White Light SOS, Yellow Light Often Bright, Yellow Light SOS.

Pros:

  • 12-month warranty
  • Emergency lights

Cons:

  • Can’t be used as home power backup

Solar Generator Buyers Guide

When shopping for the perfect solar generator, there are some factors to consider:

Generator Capacity

The capacity of your solar generator will determine how much electrical energy the device is capable of storing. This will impact the length of time it will last and how long it will power your devices and appliances.

PV Input

The whole aim of a solar panel is to change solar energy into a direct current, which is what’s used to power your solar generator. Most of the time, you’ll have to purchase a solar panel separately. You’ll need to consider the PV input of the solar panel when purchasing it. The higher the input, the less amount of time it will take for your solar generator to charge.

Inverter

Most solar generators will come already equipped with an inverter. These are responsible for converting DC power into AC power. They also determine how much energy you’ll be able to get from your solar generator when fully charged. When shopping, you’ll need to ensure the inverter is proportional to the generator’s power for maximum system efficiency. The best to go for is pure sine wave inverters, but they can be quite expensive.

Portability

Depending on the purpose of the solar generator, you’ll need to consider how portable you want it to be. Sometimes, batteries can be bulky and heavy. Some solar generators come with built-in wheels, but otherwise, look for a lighter one. You may have to give up on storage capacity if you want increased portability.

Final Verdict

There are many amazing solar generators out there, but our personal favorite is the BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC200P. It has a great power output alongside portability and a quick charging time. And its flexibility to power various electronic appliances is definitely a plus.

However, there are more than enough generators to choose from. If this one doesn’t meet your requirements, then another one will. You’ll find your perfect solar generator kit for any purpose, with your preferred battery level and power output. There’s a large range of prices, so find one with a price that fits your budget. All the hard work and research has already been done for you, so go ahead and choose!

Pinterest Board

Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best solar generators:

FAQs

What’s the average cost of a solar generator?

A good-quality solar generator will cost you a pretty penny. However, you can find some that are as cheap as $200. Others can be in the thousands but will most likely be able to power larger appliances.

Will it come with a solar panel?

The chances of your solar generator coming with a solar panel included are slim. A lot of them recommend the best solar panel that suits it, so you’ll easily be able to find a compatible one. However, it will come at an extra cost.

When is best to charge my solar generator?

The best time to charge your solar generator is during the day when the sun is bright. If it’s cloudy, you’re less likely to get as much solar power. It’s best to plan if you have a trip coming up and make sure it’s charged beforehand.

What is the average recharge time of a solar generator?

The time taken to recharge your solar generator depends on the method you choose to recharge it with. When a solar generator is charged through a wall outlet, the average recharge time should be within 2-6 hours, while charging through a solar panel can take 6-12 hours as recharge times vary depending on weather conditions.

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Author Bio

Robert is a renewable energy and sustainability specialist with 10+ years of experience in the solar and renewable energy space.

With experience in different organizations in the industry, he operates semprius as a passion project promoting sustainable renewable energy ideas and products.

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