9 Best Solar Generator Reviews of 2020 – (Buyer’s Guide)

When you need extra power, but you don’t want to increase your carbon footprint, a solar generator is the perfect answer. But there are so many questions involved with getting the best solar generator possible. What type of solar panels should you be looking for, what types of batteries are best, and what are the best features? These are all great questions, but getting the best answer can be confusing.

That’s where this solar generator buying guide comes in. We’re going to help you find the best solar generator for your needs. First, we’ve got solar generator reviews that will go over some of the best on the market today. After that, our in-depth buying guide is going to walk you through solar generators from top to bottom. From battery types, to how solar generators work, you’re going to find all the answers. This is all part of our comprehensive guide to the best generators you can find.

Best Solar Generator Reviews

Best Solar Generator Reviews 1
  • 4.5 Customer Rating
  • Jackery Portable Power Station
  • Watts: 167
  • Power Source: AC, Car Port, Solar Panel
  • Dimension: 7.4 x 4.6 x 6.7 inches
  • Weight: 3.84 pounds
  • Warranty: 24-month product warranty

Best Solar Generator Reviews 2
  • 4.5 Customer Rating
  • Rockpals Portable Generator
  • Watts: 250-Watt
  • Power Source: Solar-Powered
  • Dimension: 8.9 x 3.9 x 6.3 inches
  • Weight: 5.95 pounds
  • Warranty: 18-month warranty

Best Solar Generator Reviews 3
  • 4.5 Customer Rating
  • ROCKPALS 300W Portable Generator
  • Watts: 300W
  • Power Source: AC, DC (Solar)
  • Dimension: 6.5 x 3.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Warranty: 18-month warranty

Best Solar Generator Reviews 4
  • 4.5 Customer Rating
  • Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable
  • Watts: 1425 watt
  • Power Source: Battery-Powered
  • Dimension: 18 x 13 x 13 inches
  • Weight: 43.7 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Best Solar Generator Reviews 5
  • 4 Customer Rating
  • Renogy Phoenix Portable
  • Watts: 246.24 watt
  • Power Source: solar powered
  • Dimension: 13.8 x 13.1 x 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Best Solar Generator Reviews 6
  • 4 Customer Rating
  • SUAOKI Solar Generators, G500
  • Watts: 500 watt
  • Power Source: AC, DC Car Charger, Solar Panel
  • Dimension: 11 x 7.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Weight: 22.1 pounds
  • Warranty: 24 months product warranty

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis brand new portable solar generator is great for when you need power but you don’t have a lot of room to pack a full-sized generator. It only weighs 3.84 pounds and measures less than 8 x 5 x 7inches. Despite its small size, this generator’s batteries have enough power to recharge any portable electronic device you can think of multiple times. The battery capacity is an incredible 167 Watt hours, and provides 11.6 amp hours at 14.4 volts. If you’re curious how long this solar generator can charge your device or keep your device running the working time is equal to 167 Watt hours * 0.85 / the wattage requirement of your device.

When it comes to plugs, this small solar generator battery supply has enough to keep you covered. There’s one standard AC outlet which gives you 110 volts with a continuous 100w running and 150 watts of surge or starting power. There’s also one USB-C outlet at 5 volts and 3 amps, and twoUSB-A outlets at 5 volts and 2.4 amps. A single 6 mm DC output Port that provides 12 volts at 7 amps. To give you a general idea of how much power this device has, it can recharge your iPhone 8 to 12 times or your GoPro 16 to 20 times. If you are looking to keep your laptop charged, it can recharge a MacBook Pro 15 1 to 1.4 times and a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 about three times.

Keep in mind that this solar generator does not come with solar panels, so you will need to provide them or an alternate charging supply on your own. It is possible to charge this battery pack via a car adapter an AC adapter by plugging it into your home or even plugging it into another generator.
On an additional note, is that this portable generator is not available to power devices that require over 100 Watts. Make sure that you check the wattage requirement of whatever you’re trying to power before you plug it in and cause the generator to reset.

Read Full Review: Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160

Features:

  • 167 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 46.4 amp-hours @ 3.6V
  • Plug Set:
    • (1) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 150W Peak, 100W running
    • (1) USB-C
    • (2) USB-A
    • (1) DC 12V @ 7A 6mm Port

Rockpals 250W Portable Power Station

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis portable generator is extremely lightweight and portable, weighing in at only 5.5 pounds and measuring 8.86 x 3.94 x 6.3 inches. That’s roughly the size of a paperback book for reference. The body shell has a handle built into the top, so it’s exceptionally easy to carry around. Inside that small body, the generator holds a powerful lithium ion battery that has 64.8 Amp-hours @ 3.7 volts, or 240 Watt-hours.

For powering your electronics, you get two universal household outlets that provide 250 watts of steady power with a 300 watt surge power. The outlets aren’t just made for US plugs either; they are designed to accommodate most European plug sets as well. There are also 2 USB-A cords and 4 DC ports for charging electronics or powering devices, such as a CPAP device.

For some real world examples of this device’s longevity, you can run a 40-watt LCD television for about 7 hours from a full charge. And because this device is providing power from a battery, you can be assured that the electricity it provides is clean and free of total harmonic distortion. It has enough power to charge a cell phone up to 25 times, or charge a typical laptop 5 times. And best of all, the unit is completely silent.

When it comes to charging the Rockpals Portable Power Station, you can either use a solar panel or plug it into a traditional AC or DC power source. Using a 60 watt solar panel and the MPPT controller, you can fully charge this generator in bright sunlight in about 9 to 10 hours. You can also connect it to a 100 watt solar panel for even faster charging.

Read Full Review: Rockpals Rechargeable Lithium Battery Pack Solar Generator

Features:

  • 240 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 64.8 amp-hours @ 3.7V
  • Can charge from a 60-watt solar panel (not included) in 9-10 hours
  • Other charging options include:
    • AC power supply (home or traditional generator)
    • DC power supply (car adaptor)
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Universal Household Outlet 110V, 300W Peak, 250W running
    • (2) USB-A
    • (4) DC 9 to 12.6V @ 5A 6mm Port

Rockpals 300W Portable Power Station

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThe small size and weight of this portable generator hides the huge amount of power inside. It measures 6.5 x 3.15 x 6.89 inches, weighs just 7.5 pounds and has a handle built into the top for easy portability. As a reference, this is roughly the size of two bricks stacked on top of each other with the widest face outward (shiner orientation). The battery inside is a 280 Watt hour model which provides 75 Amp hours @ 3.7 volts.

The charging possibilities with this portable generator include a single standard outlet that can provide 110 volts and up to 300 watts of standard power and 600 watts of peak power. There are also 4 USB-A plugs; two are standard 2.0, and two are 3.0 for faster charging. There is also a car adaptor port that gives 12 volts at 8 amps, and four DC ports for direct power.

According to the manufacturer, this portable generator can power a typical 60 watt bulb for over 70 hours, power a 32-inch LCD for 4 or more hours, and charge a typical phone over 25 times. You can also use this battery pack to run a CPAP for four nights, provided you turn off the heating and humidification features. Again, because this provides power from a battery pack, you know that the power is going to be free of distortion and perfectly safe for delicate electronics.

For charging, Rockpals recommends using the included MC4 solar panel adaptor, which will provide a full charge using a 100 watt panel in about 8 hours. You can also charge the batteries by using the included 120 volt wall adaptor, or you can trickle charge it by using the car charger.

Read Full Review: ROCKPALS 300W Portable Generator Lithium Portable Power Station

Features:

  • 280 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 75 amp-hours @ 3.7V
  • Can charge from a 100-watt solar panel (not included) in about 8 hours
  • Other charging options include:
    • AC power supply (home or traditional generator)
    • DC power supply (car adaptor)
  • Plug Set:
    • (1) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 600W Peak, 300W running
    • (2) USB-A 3.0
    • (2) USB-A
    • (1) DC 24V @ 3A 6mm Port
    • (3) DC 12V @ 4A 6mm Ports
    • (1) DC Car Adaptor 12V @ 8A

Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Portable Power Station

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis Goal Zero Portable Power Station comes with a Wi-Fi app enabled control center to allow you to provide zero-emission and zero-noise power to your appliances and electronics when you need it. This is one of the larger units, weighing in at 43.7 pounds and measuring 18 x 13 x 13 inches. A pair of straps on top provides a way for transporting it if needed.

There are a dizzying number of plugs available for you to choose from. 2 USB-C and 2 USB-A outlets means you can charge multiple personal electronics at the same time, or even just provide power to a speaker There’s also a pair of standard outlets that can each handle 1500 running watts and 3000 peak watts. Best of all, the batteries on board will retain their charge for 10 to 12 months, so you can store this away for when emergency strikes.

That huge wattage load means that this power source can easily handle a high-wattage devices like refrigerators or microwaves. According to the manufacturer, this power pack can provide power to a 2000 watt refrigerator for 26 hours from a full charge. That’s pretty impressive, considering that it does it with zero sound pollution and zero emissions.

When you need to charge this device, you have multiple options. You can use the wall charger to fully charge the device in 25 hours from completely depleted to fully charged. Using a solar panel, you can expect to take roughly 30 hours. Even better, you can use the portable power source at the same time it’s charging, so you don’t ever have to have any downtime.

Read Full Review: Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station

Features:

  • 1425 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 132 amp-hours @ 10.8V or 396 amp-hours @ 3.7V
  • Can charge from a solar panel (not included) in 30 hours
  • Other charging options include:
    • AC power supply (home or traditional generator)
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 1500W Peak, 3000W running
    • (2) USB-C
    • (2) USB-A
    • (2) DC 12V @ 7A 6mm Port
    • (1) DC 12V Car Adaptor Port

Renogy Phoenix All-in-One Portable Solar Generator

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis Renogy Portable solar generator is amazingly lightweight and portable. It is about the size of a small briefcase, measuring 13.8 x 13.1 x 3.9 inches. It also only weighs 12.8 pounds as well. The battery is an impressive 246.24 Watt hour model, providing 17.1 amp hours at 3.6 volts.

There are a lot of ways for you to plug your devices in and charge them. Whether you’re plugging your cell phone into the USB port or using the car adaptor to power up your tablet, none of your personal electronics will need to suffer while the Renogy Phoenix is on the case. There is also a standard outlet that can handle 150 watts of peak output as well.

This is truly an all-in-one kit, as it contains an integrated solar panel that allows you to charge the internal battery in 15 hours in optimal sunlight. You can also attach additional panels to the unit to reduce the charging time. For example, attaching a 50 watt solar panel drops the charging time down to 4 hours. Here’s a complete chart:

Additional Solar Panel Wattage Charging Time
10 Watts 10 hours
20 Watts 6 hours
30 Watts 5.5 hours
40 Watts 5 hours
50 Watts 4 hours
60 Watts 3.5 hours
70 Watts 2.5 hours

As you can see, with the right solar panel accessory, this briefcase can rapidly charge. The manufacturer does warn that when solar charging, not to leave the battery pack in direct sunlight as excessive heat can damage the battery.

Read Full Review: Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator

Features:

  • 246.24 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 17.1 amp-hours @ 3.6V
  • Includes 20 watt Mono-crystalline Solar Panels expandable to 100 watts; charging time varies from 15 hours using only the integrated panel to 2.5 hours with an attached 100 watt panel
    • Can also charge using the included AC adaptor in about 5 hours
  • Plug Set:
    • (1) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 150W Peak, 100W running
    • (4) USB-A
    • (2) DC 12V @ 7A 6mm Port
    • (1) DC 12V Car Adaptor

SUAOKI G500 Portable Power Station

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis portable power pack has a fold down handle to make carrying it around easier. Not that you really need the help, as it only weighs 22 pounds. It also measures 11 x 7.5 x 8.3 inches, or about the size of two reams of paper. The internal battery is a 500 Watt hour beast that can provide 137.7 Amp hours at a standard 3.7 volts.

There are 8 different options for plugging in to this power bank. Of course, because you’re getting power directly from the power bank’s batteries, the electricity is completely distortion free, so your modern electronics are perfectly safe to charge. You get 2 USB-A ports that are 3 amps with a variable 5 to 12 volts. There is also a single USB-C port that has the same charge capability. You also get two standard household plugs that have 300 watts of running power and peak up to 600 watts.

Using the AC side, you can power a Samsung 55 inch LCD television for about 3 hours, or an 80 watt floor fan for 4 hours. You can also charge your iPhone over 40 times if need be or run your MacBook for 6 hours or more. There are also DC ports that you can use to provide power, and those are a little more efficient, allowing a 40 watt device to be powered for over 9 hours.

Charging the SUAOKI is extremely easy. Using the included car charger, you can charge the batteries to full in six to eight hours. A wall charger will charge the battery pack to full in eight to ten hours. And of course, you can attach a 100 watt solar panel to this portable pack for full charge in six to eight hours.

Read Full Review: Suaoki Portable Power System

Features:

  • 500 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 137.7 amp -hours @ 3.6V or 45.9 amp-hours @ 11.1V
  • Can charge from a 100-watt solar panel in 6-8 hours
  • Other charging options include:
    • AC power supply (home or traditional generator)
    • DC power supply (car adaptor)
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 600W Peak, 300W running
    • (1) USB-C
    • (2) USB-A
    • (2) DC 12V @ 7A 6mm Port
    • (1) DC 12V Car Adaptor

Nature’s Generator Complete Power Pod Kit

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis portable generator power kit comes complete with three solar panels and a single power storage pod to get you power on the go. This portable power unit isn’t exactly portable, as the generator alone is 90 pounds. Each power panel is 28 pounds as well, so using the cart is advisable. The battery pack has 720 Watt hours which can push out 46.4 amp hours at the standard 3.6 volts.

There are three standard outlets on the front of the power pod, each providing 1500 watts of standard power and peaking at 1800 watts. There are also two USB-A ports for charging portable electronics and a DC car adaptor port that will provide 12 volts.

When it comes to providing power, the power pod has two options. You can use it for on-demand power, using the battery to power lights, mini-refrigerators, or even televisions on camping trips or while working outdoors. On the other hand, you can use it as an uninterruptible power supply for your medical devices or for more critically important appliances.

Charging the Power Pod can be done in three different ways. The first way is through the solar panels that are included. These are 100 watt panels and can take up to 15 hours to fully charge depending on the strength of the sunlight. You can also attach multiple panels as well, up to 200 watts of them. The second method of charging is from AC power. You just plug the power cord into the wall and let it charge. The final way is through wind power. A wind turbine (not included) plugs directly in and the wind strength determines the charging time.

Read Full Review: Nature’s Generator Solar Powered Generator

Features:

  • 720 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 46.4 Amp-hours @ 3.6V
  • Can charge from included 100-watt solar panel in 10-15 hours
  • Other charging options include:
    • AC power supply (home or traditional generator)
    • Wind turbine (not included)
  • Plug Set:
    • (3) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 1800W Peak, 1500W running
    • (2) USB-A
    • (1) DC 12V Car Adaptor

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis portable generator is perfect when you need power inside where a traditional generator would be lethal to run. With the small size of 9.05 x 5.24 x 7.87 inches and weighing only 6.61 pounds, there’s really nowhere that you can’t take it. It has a powerful 240 Watt hour battery inside that delivers 16.8 Amp hours at 14.4 volts.

This portable power pack has a minimal plug set, with only four total outlets, but they deliver enough power so that you’ll never be without for your most sensitive electronics. And because this is a battery powered generator, the power is completely free of distortion, so you can feel secure in plugging anything in. The standard outlet gives you 200 watts of AC power, with a peak starting capacity of 400 watts. There are also 2 USB ports that allow for more efficient charging of your cellphone or your tablet, and a 12 volt DC car adaptor plug can power devices that are more suited for DC like your CPAP.

Keep in mind that the outlet does have a running wattage rating of 200 watts. That means that higher demand items will not run properly and may even cause this portable solar generator to shut down into caution mode. There is also an auto-off function if the draw from the outlets is less than 10 watts. So if you have a low-draw item plugged in, the portable unit will shut itself off after about 3 hours.

Charging this portable battery pod can be accomplished in one of three ways. The first is through a solar panel. Depending on the power of the solar panel and the sun conditions, this can take up to 9 hours. The second method is via AC power and plugging the generator into your wall or into another generator. The final method is via a car charger, but this will be a low power trickle charge.

Read Full Review: Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station

Features:

  • 240 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 16.8 amp-hours @ 14.4V
  • Can charge from a 60-watt solar panel in 9-10 hours
  • Other charging options include:
    • AC power supply (home or traditional generator)
    • DC power supply (car adaptor)
  • Plug Set:
    • (1) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 400W Peak, 200W running
    • (2) USB-A
    • (1) DC 12V Car Charger Port

NusGear Portable Power Station

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThis portable generator weighs in at only 3.52 pounds and measures at 7.32 x 4.21 x 7.08 inches. Despite its small size, it holds a powerful 155 Watt hour battery that can provide 42 Amp hours at a standard 3.7 volts. For carrying this portable power station around, you can use the integrated handle, which makes carrying this book sized solar generator a snap.

There is one standard household plug that provides 100 watts of running power with 155 watts of peak power. That’s enough to power most small appliances that you’d want to power when you’re out in the wilderness. For charging your cell phone or tablet, there are three USB ports; two of them are standard A type, and one is a C type. You can also use a 6 millimeter DC port to power medical devices or other appliances.

This portable generator has a built in LED flashlight which will provide powerful spotlighting on demand. You can also set it to flash if you desire. An LED display on the portable generator displays output voltage, current, and the current state of the power supply.

Charging this portable generator is fairly easy. You can use either the included car adaptor, the ac adaptor, or use a solar panel (not included). Charging time takes about 7 to 8 hours at maximum input. If you are using a solar panel and it’s cloudy, it could take longer to charge than normal.

Read Full Review: NusGear Portable Solar Generator

Features:

  • 155 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
    • 42 amp-hours @ 3.7V or 14 amp-hours @ 11.1V
  • Can charge from a 60-watt solar panel (not included) in 9-10 hours
  • Other charging options include:
    • AC power supply (home or traditional generator)
    • DC power supply (car adaptor)
  • Plug Set:
    • (1) Standard Household Outlet 110V, 155W Peak, 100W running
    • (1) USB-C
    • (2) USB-A
    • (1) DC 12V @ 7A 6mm Port

How to Choose the Best Solar Generator Buying Guide

Best Solar Generator ReviewsNow that you’ve read some reviews of the best solar generators available on the market, you’re probably anxious to see what you should know when shopping for a solar generator on your own. First we’ll cover how they work, and some of the key benefits of solar generators compared to traditional fossil fuel generators. Then we’ll help you figure out what you should look for in a solar generator and what you should avoid.

How Do Solar Generators Work

Now that you have read reviews of some of the best solar generators available, you’re probably wondering how solar generators work. Essentially a solar generator works just like a generator that runs from fossil fuels, except it derives its power from the sun instead of from a combustion motor. The solar generator gets its power from solar panels, which are photovoltaic cells that absorb energy from sunlight and convert it into current. That current then charges the batteries that are at the heart of a solar generator. When you go to use a solar generator, you aren’t actually using energy generated directly from a motor or from the solar panels; you are using energy from the batteries. That is why many solar generators are unable to power extremely high wattage items such as air conditioners, hair dryers, or heaters. That’s because the batteries are unable to provide that high of a flow.

Now what if it’s cloudy? Does that mean that your solar generator won’t work? Well, if you only use your solar generator and charge it from your solar panels, then yes a cloudy day will reduce the amount of charge that your panels will produce, thus reducing the speed at which your solar generators batteries will charge. Thankfully, you can usually use other methods to charge a solar generator battery. Some of these include plugging it into your wall, plugging it into your car, or even plugging it into another generator. That is right; you can charge a solar generator’s batteries using a regular fossil fuel generator.

What Can You Power with a Solar Generator?

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThere really is no limit to what you can power with a solar generator. If you can plug it into a power source, you can usually power it with a solar generator. The only thing you need to watch out for is the wattage output of the solar generator compared to the water requirements of whatever you’re plugging in. Sometimes a portable solar generator does not provide enough wattage to power some items. For instance, an outlet that only provides a hundred Watts with 150 watts peak power would not be able to provide adequate power to a hair dryer which requires nearly 1500 watts.

In general, as long as you keep in mind what the wattage draw of the appliance you are plugging in is compared to the wattage output of your portable solar generator; you shouldn’t have any problems powering whatever you like.

What Size Solar Generator Do I Need?

When you’re thinking about the size of a solar generator that you might need, you’re probably wondering if you need something that could power your refrigerator like the Nature’s Generator Complete Power Pod Kit.

The key thing to think about is what you’re going to be using your solar generator for. They are very small and lightweight units for the most part, so most people use them for backpacking or camping. They make for a perfect generator on the road when you essentially want a larger power pack that can charge your laptop when you’re miles away from the nearest outlet. On the other hand if you are looking for a solar generator that can act as an emergency backup for your home then you would want to research and find one with a much higher output then the smaller portable models.

Benefits of Solar Generators

Best Solar Generator ReviewsSolar generators have a great many benefits over the traditional fossil fuel power generators. These go beyond just going green. Here we’re going to talk about the six most mentioned benefits of solar generators and how they can help you.

• Quiet

solar generators are the perfect silent generator. That is, they make absolutely no noise other than the occasional home from the LCD screen. That’s because the power they produce to power your electronics come strictly from batteries. Fossil fuel generators rely on an internal combustion motor which is noisy and rattles a lot. So if you’re looking for a generator that if his super quiet, a solar generator will definitely fit that bill.

• Emission Free

Solar generators are also completely emission-free, as long as you use a solar or other renewable fuel source to power them. They aren’t exactly emission-free if you plug them into a wall outlet that provides power generated from a coal plant. I was however, when it comes to actually using them at the point of connection, they are completely emission-free. That is they do not generate any carbon monoxide carbon dioxide or any other fumes because there is no combustion to create the power.

• Limited Maintenance

Because solar generators don’t have a lot of moving parts, there’s not a lot of maintenance involved. Essentially a solar generator is a giant battery pack. With no moving parts, there’s nothing to wear out. You don’t ever have to change the oil on a solar generator and you don’t ever have to worry about seals breaking down or vibration causing things to loosen. About the only maintenance that you need to do on a solar generator is to wipe it down to keep it free of dirt, and maybe change the battery once every 10 years.

• Perfect for Using Indoor

Because solar generators are perfectly quiet and release no carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, that makes them perfect for using indoors. And not just in your house, you can also use them in your RV, you can use them in your tent when you’re camping, you can even use them in your car to power a portable heater if you get stuck by the side of the road in a snowstorm. There are multiple places and situations where you can use a solar powered generator where you would never dream of using a traditional fuel generator.

• Long Term Savings

The initial entry cost for a solar power generator can be quite high, especially if you purchase solar panels to go with your solar generator. But in the long run, they are going to pay for themselves. Because you’re not buying gas, propane, diesel, or natural gas, you don’t have to pay for any of the energy that your generator produces. You’re making energy strictly from sunlight, which is completely free.

Take for example a comparable gas-powered generator. On average you might have a 1 gallon tank that lasts for roughly eight hours at half load. The current cost for a gallon of gas is $2.78. If you ran your generator for 24 hours every week that would mean that you would use 156 gallons of gas per year. That is a total of $433.68. On the other hand, if use your solar generator over that year, it cost you nothing more than the initial cost of the generator and the solar panel. It’s easy to see how eventually the cost of fuel will overtake the increased cost of the solar generator.

• Easy to Use

Solar generators are extremely easy to use. They are essentially plug-and-play. When you need to charge them you plug one end into the solar generator and you plug the other end into whatever you’re charging it from. That could be your wall outlet, your car, or a solar panel. When you want to use your portable solar generator, you simply plug whatever it is you want powered into the generator. There’s no oil levels to worry about, no cords to pull, no fuses to check, and no fuel tanks to fill. Solar generators are extremely easy to use.

What to Look For in a Solar Generator

Best Solar Generator ReviewsNow that you know some of the benefits of solar generators you’re probably curious about what you should be looking for when you shop for one. Here are 11 things that you should be aware of when you are shopping for your next solar generator.

• Battery Types

When you’re looking at what type of battery your solar generator should have, there are typically two different kinds you will find in portables and one that is only found in home units. Lead acid and lithium ion are the two major battery types for portable solar generators.

o Lead-acid batteries – Lead acid batteries are similar to your traditional car battery. They are very inexpensive but have a relatively short life and are extremely heavy. For long-term energy storage in a home unit however, they are a good option. But when you’re talking about portable, you should definitely be looking elsewhere.

o Lithium-ion batteries– Lithium ion batteries are a rechargeable battery that have been commercially available since 1991. These batteries have extremely long lives, they are extremely energy-dense, and they’re extremely easy to recharge. They also tend to have a lower memory effect than other types of batteries. Memory effect is when you completely discharge a battery, your battery compensates by building a buffer which effectively reduces the charge capacity that that battery has. As memory builds up the overall capacity the battery gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, the battery has such a small storage capacity that it will completely discharged almost immediately.

• Battery Capacity / Storage Capacity

When talking battery capacity on a portable solar generator, you don’t just want to look at how much it can hold. Capacity will tell you how much electricity your generator can hold just like if you look at a water tank the volume will tell you how much water that tank could hold. You should also look at how much power that your battery can deliver at one time.

That’s usually measured in kilowatts. Going back to the water tank analogy, if you have a water tank that only has an opening the size of a pinprick, that tank will provide water for a very long time but at a very low flow which may not be enough to water all your plants. On the other hand, if you get a water tank that has an opening the size of a pickup truck, it’s going to provide too much water and could potentially damage your garden. The point is, don’t just look for the biggest battery, look for a battery that delivers the power that you’ll need in an amount that you need it.

• Size and Portability

Portable solar generators tend to be smaller and lighter than your other traditional generators, however you can also find solar generators that are big and bulky. We reviewed a solar generator that weight over 90 lbs. and required a carrying Dolly to move it around effectively.

Look at what you’re going to be using your solar generator for, and then you can figure out how big of a generator and how heavy you can deal with. If you want to take it out to the woods, you don’t want to be pulling it behind you. On the other hand, if you want to power your refrigerator during a power outage, you don’t really want a little 6lb solar generator.

• Weight

The weight of a solar generator will determine again, how easy it is to move it around. If you plan on taking your solar generator camping, then look for one that’s lightweight, small, and has a handle to make it easy to move. On the other hand, if you are using your solar generator to power your backyard movie marathon, you might not need one that is as easy to slip into your hiking backpack.

• Type of Solar Panels

Best Solar Generator ReviewsWhen it comes to solar panels, there are three types that are currently used. They are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film amorphous panel. Crystalline solar panels are the most common type of solar panels used in the industry today. They rely on crystalline silicon to attract and generate power. Thin film solar panels are less efficient than crystalline solar panels but they are more efficient when it comes to lower light conditions. Here we are going to take a deeper dive into the three types of solar panels, and talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

o Monocrystalline panels – Monocrystalline solar panels are created from slices of solid Crystal silicone that are referred to as wafers. You can tell that a solar panel is monocrystalline when the solar cells all have a single uniform color. Because they are made out of the highest grade silicone, they have the highest efficiency rate. Monica selling solar panels are also extremely space efficient because they are so efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, they don’t require as much space as other types of panels. Monocrystalline panels are also extremely long-lived. Because they are made from a single piece of Crystal, and crystalline silicon is very stable, solar panels made from this material can expect to have a life of 25 years or longer. These types of panels are also extremely efficient in warm weather.

When you look at solar panels, you will see that as temperature goes up, electrical production will always fall. However with monocrystalline panels this fall off is much less and slower than with polycrystalline solar panels. The primary disadvantage to a monocrystalline solar panel is that it is extremely expensive compared to other types of solar panels. They are considered a premium solar panel, so while in actual practice you might not notice much more than a 1 or 2% difference in output between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panel, the some people want the recognition of having monocrystalline solar panels.

o Polycrystalline solar cells– Polycrystalline also starts as a small silicone Crystal that is placed in a vat of molten silicon. However rather than draw the seed up to create a single long ingot from which wafers are sliced, the vat of silicon simply cools around the seed.

Polycrystalline solar panels are less expensive than monocrystalline solar panels, and the amount of silicon that is wasted during the manufacturing process is much less. When it comes to disadvantages of polycrystalline solar panels they tend to be less efficient than monocrystalline simply because of lower silicone purity. That means that they take up more room and they are not as space efficient. And finally if you care about looks then polycrystalline silicon will have a speckled blue color rather than a solid uniform color of monocrystalline and thin-film solar panels.

o Thin film, or amorphous crystal panels– Thin film solar panels are made by depositing a photovoltaic substance onto glass or a similar surface. This substance can be amorphous silicon, copper indium gallium selenide CGIS, cadmium telluride, or even dye-sensitized solar cells. While these are all technically considered different types of solar panels they are all thin film. Many people consider these to be the worst of the three types of solar panel simply because they have a low sufficiency.

However they are much less expensive to produce than either of the silicone panels. Mass production of a thin film solar panel is extremely easy. Additionally because they are mass-produced they have a rather uniform appearance which means people find attractive. During the manufacturing process when they are bonded to the substrate, they can be made to be flexible, which means you can have solar panels that are circular in shape or wavy or in many different shapes which can be very interesting.

Additionally, thin-film panels do not react to high temperatures and cloudy days as much as crystalline solar panels. When it comes to thin-film solar panels they do have a much shorter life than silicon panels simply because the materials are made out of are not as stable as crystalline silicon. They also require more space to produce the same amount of energy as an equivalent poly or mono crystalline solar panel.

• Size of Solar Panel

Best Solar Generator ReviewsWhen it comes to the size of the solar panel that you are purchasing for your solar generator, you really want to look at how you’re going to be using your solar generator again. If you’re going to be taking it when you go camping, you don’t want to be lugging around a 3-foot by 4-foot panel that you have to open up and put out every morning. On the other hand, if you are getting a solar generator as a whole home backup generator, then installing an array of solar panels on your roof that provide power to your home and charge your solar generator makes sense. There are also flexible solar panels that you can get that store in tubes that you can roll out and have a larger surface area for charging your solar generator.

• Watts

When you’re looking at solar generators, and solar panels, you also need to look at the wattage rating of your solar panel. This is also called solar PV input. For example a 100-watt PV panel will generate a hundred watts of power in full sun. Generally full sun records from 10 a.m. to 4 pm. At times outside of this, the sun is still up but the PV input is going to be much less.

• Power Inverter Ratings

A power inverter is used to convert DC to 120 volt AC power that means that if your solar panel is only providing a trickle charge, you can still get usable electricity out of your solar generator. That’s why it is important to look at the inverter that your solar generator comes with.

Inverters are rated according to how many watts they can pull at any given moment from a solar generator. For example, if you have a two kilowatt inverter, you can pull two kilowatts in AC power. In general you want your solar generator inverter to have a 1.5 to 1 ratio between Watt hours to inverter rating. That way you get the perfect generator with built-in inverter.

• Surge Power Capacity

When you look at a solar powered generator, you also want to look at how much power it can handle in surges. That’s because you may plug something into it that requires higher power consumption for a few moments. Consider a refrigerator, or a freezer. When the compressor turns on, it will demand a higher wattage than normal. Make sure that your power generator can handle that increase load. That will ensure that you are not going to suddenly be sitting in the dark because your refrigerator overloaded your solar generator. This rating is often called peak wattage, or starting wattage.

• Charge Controllers

Best Solar Generator ReviewsCharge controllers are white controls the flow of electricity from your solar panel to your solar generator. It is important that your charge controller is effective to avoid overloading or overcharging your battery. A good controller will have a battery voltmeter and solar amp meter built-in so that you can see that the battery is really getting charged. A battery temperature sensor is also nice so that you can see if your battery is overheating when it’s charging. A charge controller should also be able to handle about 115% to 125% of a z rated apps that your solar panel can produce. That is because on an extremely bright day solar panel can produce up to 15% more power than normal. Also ensure that your charge controller can handle your batteries voltage.

• Charging Modes

When talking about charge controllers, you will run into two different types: PWM and MPPT. PWM, or pulse-width modulation controllers are essentially a switch between your solar panel and the battery. The switch flex on and off to hold your battery voltage constant it turns on when it needs to charge and then turns off as your battery is fully charged and then will flicker on and off again to hold the charge constant.

An MPPT controller is a smart converter in which it will automatically drop the voltage coming from the panel down to the voltage required to charge your battery. That means that as the vault requirement increases the mppt controller will increase the incoming voltage and adjust as necessary.

The PWM controller is a good cheap option especially when you are using a smaller solar powered portable generator. It’s also not bad because if your trickle charging your batteries in your solar generator then you not really worried about the overall efficiency. On the other hand, if you have a whole-home backup solar generator then you want an mppt controller because the solar array incoming voltage will be significantly higher than the voltage for your battery. In general, if you have more than 32 cells, you want an MPPT controller.

4 Features to Look Out for in a Solar Powered Generator

Best Solar Generator ReviewsThere are sometimes nice features that you should look for whenever you’re purchasing something like a solar generator. These are quality of life features that just make having your solar powered generator nicer to use.

• Multiple AC Outlets

Multiple standard household outlets are extremely nice to have because it’s nice to be able to plug more than one thing in at a time. If you have two or three outlets that means that you can charge two or three laptops or two or three cell phones. It’s not something that is necessary to have, but it is something that is nice to have. Additionally, if your solar generator is a whole home backup, having the ability to plug in multiple appliances means that when they peak, they aren’t pulling extra wattage at the same time. It also helps that you don’t have to run extension cords, which you should never do, no matter what the generator you have is.

• Integrated USB Ports and 12V Output

USB ports and a car adapter, are also extremely nice to have because they free up your household outlet for charging. You can charge your cell phone in your tablet using the USB ports instead of having to rely on a single outlet. Look for generators that have multiple USB port types. After all, you may have a C-type charger and that will give you faster charging than an A type. Also look at the voltage and amp output of the USB charger to ensure that it is compatible with the device you’re charging.

• Replacement Batteries

When looking at your solar generator, your battery is may not need to be changed for 5 or 10 years under optimal conditions. But what happens if something is not optimal? Being able to replace the batteries means that you are only responsible for a fraction of the cost that it would take to replace the entire unit. An easily replaceable battery also means that you can have spare fully charged batteries that you can hot swap into your generator if one battery runs out. This is comparable to having a dual fuel generator that operates on both propane and unleaded gasoline.

• Back-lit LED Panels

A backlit LED panel means you can see the information displayed in the dark. That means no fumbling for a flashlight or some other light stores so you can see how much charge is left on your generator. In a pinch, a backlit panel can also serve as an auxiliary light source, when you’re trying to find something.

Do I Need to Buy Solar Panels As Well?

Most solar generators don’t come with solar panels, so you’ll need to purchase them separately. Make sure that when you do, you choose the right kind of panel. We discussed the three types of solar panels earlier, and gave you the advantages and disadvantages of each. Another important thing to consider when you’re looking at solar panels is to ensure that the wattage output is compatible with your chosen generator. If you have any doubt, check your user manual to see what the recommendations from your manufacturer are.

Solar Generator Comparison Chart

GeneratorWattsPower SourceWeightRating
Jackery Portable Power Station167WAC, Car Port, Solar Panel 3.84 pounds 9
Rockpals Portable Generator250-WattSolar-Powered 5.95 pounds 9
ROCKPALS 300W Portable Generator300WAC, DC (Solar) 7.5 pounds 9
Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable 1425 wattBattery-Powered 43.7 pounds 9
Renogy Phoenix Portable246.24 wattSolar powered12.8 pounds 8
SUAOKI Solar Generators, G500500 wattAC, DC Car Charger, Solar Panel 22.1 pounds 8
Nature's Generator1800WSolar Powered 266 pounds 9
Jackery Portable Explorer 240100W AC, Car Port, Solar Panel 6.61 pounds 9
NusGear 155 wattsSolar Powered 3.52 pounds 9

Conclusion

Solar Powered Generators are a great alternative to a gas-powered generator, especially if you’re looking for something that is both green and efficient. If you aren’t completely sold on a solar powered generator, and you want something quiet, we have a buying guide focused on the quietest generators here. If you’d like to see all of the reviews and buying guides to help you make a decision, you can find them here.

Hopefully, with our help, you can find the generator that suits your needs. Whether it’s a whole home backup generator with an automatic transfer switch or a generator that you can take with you to your son’s birthday party at the park, we’re here to help.