In recent years, more and more people are embracing the use of solar power. Luckily, the ever-advancing technology has given us more reliable and safe means to do exactly that.
The introduction of solar generators has not only given ease of power back up but is also a cleaner way to do it. These can be used for various reasons, as emergency power backup to outdoor activities. Whatever the situation, solar generators are immensely helpful should you need a power alternative.
However, solar generators now come in various models and types and from various manufacturers. Trying to figure one from another can be a struggle, but not to worry. We have created this in-depth best solar generator review to help you choose one that best suits your needs.
Having looked at the key components to consider when purchasing a solar generator, below are some of our best solar generators.
The Suaoki 444Wh/120,000mAh Portable Solar Generator is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. It has a capacity of 444Wh/120,000mAh to accommodate most of your electronics and small appliances. The highly compact build makes it ideal for home back up during power shortage or outdoor activities.
The Suaoki’s main source of power is the sun but you can charge the lithium-ion battery inside the generator through other ways. If the sun not strong enough to charge it up, you can use a 12V/24V car or a standard AC power outlet.
The built-in inverter enables the generator to safely handle both AC and DC power. It can both take in and output AC or DC as well.
Note that you will have to buy a compatible solar panel separately as they do not come included.
Suaoki’s flexibility does not stop at the charging options, it also offers various output choices. It has not one or two USB ports but four to charge devices such as smartphones or iPads. It will efficiently charge anything that has a USB charging port.
It comes with two DC ports for devices such as halogen lights. There is a cigarette lighter socket, which you can connect to other appliances like a vacuum cleaner or air compressor. There is also a jump starter port made for 12V batteries on 4l gas vehicles, inclusive of jump starter clamps.
This generator has an LCD screen that helps you keep track of the charge and discharge status. You will also know of the battery consumption and what kind of power input you are getting.
With this generator, you do not need any training, as it is quite easy to use. There is an included user manual that will help you figure out the basics and handle any issues. Everything is also well labeled and is conveniently positioned for ease of use.
The Suaoki generator operates with almost no noise and you can enjoy your camping and RVing without raising your voice.
It is solidly built with a hard aluminum alloy casing to stay in good shape for longer periods of time. The use of a sturdy plastic on the input and output ports also makes it safer to use and run smoothly.
Additionally, a battery management system (BMS) protects the battery from surges and other electrical risks.
The Suaoki is highly portable owing to its compactness and dimensions of 5.5 x 9 x 9” and weighing 12.35 pounds. To add ease when transporting, there is a convenient handle on the unit.
All in all, The Suaoki 444Wh Portable Solar Generator delivers reliable power for your sensitive electronic devices. Its exceptional high performance and versatility make it fit in almost anywhere. With an affordable price, this generator makes a good choice as an additional or primary power supply.
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator Kit is ideal for off-grid adventures or as a power back up for homes. Weighing at 31.5 pounds, it might be heavy for backpackers but small enough to pack in a car when camping.
Its panels come with a tri-fold design enabling it to stand on its own or propped against a rock for maximum sunlight. There are loops around the edges for easy hanging on a tree or your tent.
The Yeti 400 uses mono-crystalline solar pump technology to increase efficiency in their panels. This is made from single silicon crystals that greatly increases their lifespan for up to about 30 years. It is dependent on the use, however.
You will find an input that’s used to charge the Yeti 400 using solar panels, included is an AC adapter and a 12-volt adapter.
The Yeti includes a single 12-volt socket, two USB ports, and two grounded AC ports. These built-in outlets will easily power your gear and cover all of your other power needs. Directly above the outlets is an LED display, which indicates the battery’s charge level and power flow. It basically allows you to monitor your power usage.
The pure sine wave inverter is capable of providing 600W surge max and 300W power output on continuous duty. The quickest way to charge this generator is via the included wall power adapter, taking less than 5 hours.
There’s an optional 12V charger, and also the two included Nomad 20 Solar Panels that will take significantly more time. You can always use a higher rate panel or chain multiple panels to decrease the time taken to charge.
Despite its size, the Yeti 400 can provide enough charge to power a small refrigerator or even an air conditioner.
Another amazing product from Goal Zero is the Light A Life. This is a mini LED lantern connected to the portable solar generator to give you 120 hours of light. A series of these LED lanterns strung together will light up your home or camp until morning.
If not planning to use the Yeti 400 as your main power supply, then it might be okay for your needs. Otherwise, you might want to consider purchasing a higher rated solar panel for reliable electricity.
Having said that, Goal zero maintains high-quality standards in their products and Yeti 400 Portable Power Station demonstrates this well. While a bit on the higher side, it is well worth the price.
The Anker PowerHouse delivers 120,000mAh of power in a portable design, weighing at 9 pounds. Even though the PowerHouse is fairly portable, it is quite large and heavy for any kind of portable use. However, it’s best for setting down and used as a backup generator or energy source at home or while camping.
Anker delivers an incredible 434 watt-hours of power. This is enough for 40 recharges of a phone and even power a mini fridge for seven hours. Exact numbers will naturally differ, just like any other device.
PowerHouse comes with various charging and powering options. There are four USB output ports, each with 5V/2.4A Output and 2.4 Amps being the Max standard charging speed. The ports will be able to charge most smartphones and tablets at their max charging speeds.
A 12V DC Outlet (120W) which is same as the charging port you find in a car. It can be used for instance, as a car charger, for GPS systems, and certain CPAP machines. The outlet is able to output 10 ampère, enough to charge most laptops at a very quick charging rate.
Another outlet and one of the most useful parts of the PowerHouse is the AC Outlet. This is basically equivalent to a Wall Outlet. The AC Outlet is used to power AC powered devices with up to 160 Watts.
Meaning you can power devices such as Mini fridges, lamps and basically any other devices that don’t go beyond its range. However, the PowerHouse tops out at 160 Watts and will disengage if there's a greater draw of power detected.
This power bank can use solar panels as a source of energy and can also be charged from home.
PowerHouse recharging speed is quite fast because it’s recharged through the DC port, also used as the Input for recharging. When you use an AC Outlet, it is able to recharge at speeds of 16.8V/7.5A resulting in a full charge in just under 6 hours. Included also is an AC adapter for recharging the unit.
There is a Battery Management System (BMS) that undertakes voltage and temperature control as well as other advanced safety procedures. It also ensures active cell balancing to optimize battery performance and extend its life.
For your peace of mind, this product includes a worry-free 18-month warranty and lifetime technical support.
To conclude, The Anker PowerHouse might not be a practical device for regular campers. However, it would be ideal for long outdoor activities as well as for people looking for a generator alternative. Although a bit pricey, you get quite a versatile device with plenty of power for all of your consumer devices.
The Coolis Portable Solar Power Inverter Generator measures 6.9 x 3.1 x 6.5 inches and weighs 4.3 pounds. This is considerably smaller than most other inverter generators available in the market. In fact, it is classified as a multi-functional inverter generator due to its multiple numbers of output powering options.
This device is equipped with a high-quality 40800mAh(150Wh) Grade A lithium polymer battery. It produces enough power to run all your sensitive and important devices such as laptops and refrigerators.
This inverter recharges in various ways. Using a 100W solar panel compatible with the system, you can recharge it via 15 to 20V. This method may take around two to five days to recharge it to full capacity.
There is also an included wall charger, which takes a maximum of 7 hours to charge this generator fully. Lastly, it can be charged by a car charger that takes about seven to nine hours to fully recharge.
It is advised not to completely discharge the generator’s battery, which can shorten its lifespan.
The generator also comes with an LED screen for monitoring charging and power usage. The screen is protected by a thin film covering.
It also uses the Battery Management System (BMS). This is highly effective in preventing over-current, over-temperature, over-voltage, and improving the battery utilization, prolonging the generator’s life.
Overall, The Coolis Portable Solar Power Inverter Generator is a lightweight and compact device, a good choice for casual use.
If you are looking for a power backup in power outages, this might not be ideal for those purposes. However, it will be a good way to power your small devices when outdoor. For that price, it is a device worth looking in to.
The Wagan EL2546 cube can be used in homes as a power back up or in outdoor activities such as camping. It has five solar panels with 16 watts each that are installed and contained within the unit. These panels slide out for charging, an added advantage since you get maximum charging ability.
This cube features 1500-watt AC inverter enough to provide electricity for various appliances such as televisions, small refrigerators, and phones. It will last a day or two without recharging if you only need to power electronics and a few lights.
Another impressive feature with the Wagan cube is that it is expandable. You can add more panels from the terminals if the included 16 watts panels do not provide enough power. You can also add more power storage. There is room for an external battery if needed in the future, which can effectively double up on power storage.
It requires no additional assembly and is ready to use straight out of the box making it extremely user-friendly. This is made possible by the collapsible handle and wheels, a good thing considering the weight of the machine.
The manufacturer promises that the cube will be fully charged in around 18 hours of direct sunlight. Another thing to note is that it is environmentally friendly compared to other generators that run on gasoline. This means there are no fumes and just a little noise when in use.
There are two 115-volt AC outlets, two 12-volt accessory outlets for powering DC appliances, and two 5-volt 2.1total USB ports. There's also a digital LED voltmeter display to check the battery status. The Cube has AC and DC adapters that can recharge the built-in 55AH AGM/gel hybrid battery, ideal for deep cycle application.
This product requires absolutely no maintenance and covered by a 2-year limited warranty.
In conclusion, this is an all-in-one solar generator that gives room for future extra accessories if needed. It also comes with several plug-in options. Despite being heavy to lift, it comes with a pullout handle and wheels for convenient transportation.
The built-in solar panels integrated design make it ideal for uses in both inside and out of the home. If you want a high-quality, reliable generator and don’t mind adding the extra buck, this will probably interest you.
What is a Solar Generator?
A solar generator is a system that gathers sunlight through solar panels. This energy is in the form of direct current (DC). An inverter is then used to convert this power into alternating current (AC). It is then deposited into a battery bank and used through a standard plug-in outlet.
Benefits of Solar Generators
- Using solar generators saves money that could have been otherwise spent on fuel or electricity.
- The energy used is clean and renewable, offering free power.
- These generators have low maintenance costs and are built to last for years.
- Solar generators don’t require fuel hence don’t produce fumes making them completely eco-friendly.
- There is completely no noise produced during operation.
- Owing to their noiseless and fumeless ability, they can be used indoors.
- Solar generators are highly portable.
Types of Solar Generators
Solar generators are classified into two categories.
- Solar back-up/Home generators.
These generators are generally used as a power back up in homes in case of power outage. They are stationary and will typically sit outside the house ready to automatically go on when power is out.
Home generators have quite a high wattage capacity, and will usually feature more than one battery to increase power storage.
- Portable Solar Generators
Portable solar generators as the name suggest allows moving and having the power of renewable electricity from one place to another. These generators are often lighter than home generators and are also easy to pack and store. They are useful for outdoor activities, camping, or even as smaller backup power sources.
Unlike home generators, portable solar generators have lower wattage capacity but are still able to power and recharge small items.
What are the key components to look for in a Solar Generator?
Each generator comes with various key elements that could greatly affect their effectiveness. We shall look at these elements for a better understanding of their importance and how they affect the overall performance.
- Battery storage capacity
Battery storage capacity is the first thing you want to put into consideration when choosing a solar generator. Battery storage provides power at night or when your energy needs are more than the solar input.
Knowing a solar generator’s usable watts (not total battery rating) helps determine how long specific applications can be run. It is recommended to look for 1000+ of usable watts-hours to have great usability and reliability. It is also advised to use only 70% of the full capacity of traditional lead-acid batteries for longevity and preservation.
That said, however, not all solar generators come with built-in batteries. If that is the case, you will need to buy separate batteries for your power storage.
- Solar PV Input
A portable solar generator or one with separate PV panels will allow solar tracking. This is the ability to move your panels according to the sun’s arc to capture the best solar input continually.
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Solar PV input is interconnected with the storage capacity of a solar generator. Meaning, if the solar generator is in use while recharging, the time taken to reach its full capacity will also increase.
- Power Inverter rating
Inverters perform the task of converting DC power from the panels into AC power for standard plug-in appliances. They also rate the actual wattage you can pull from the generator at any one time.
Lower inverter rating means you are not able to power devices and appliances that require higher wattage.
However, be watchful for big inverters but with little battery storage and those without inverter external charging capabilities. However, generators with inverter chargers can acquire battery power from other sources besides solar panels.
- Component Quality
Having a solar generator either for off-grid usage or as an emergency backup means that it has to be reliable. In this case, it is important to know the component warranties and their projected life spans.
The quality of these components will in turn directly affect the durability of the generator.
It is also very important to look for a durable generator casing such as one made from metal. These will withstand stringent use as opposed to plastic that will quickly wear off in rugged situations or from sun exposure.
The wattage of a solar generator could range from as low as 4 watts to as high as 1,500 watts. A point to note is, the higher the wattage of a generator, the longer it will take to charge. Don’t purchase a low watt generator just because it is cheaper. The cost shouldn’t compromise on quality and the delivery of the power that you need.
- Charging Times
The amount of time it takes for a generator to charge is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Therefore, it would be good to compare the generators’ charging times when plugged into an outlet and when placed under direct sunlight.
- Balanced System Design
Balanced system design is yet another important factor to consider. This refers to how well the key and components fit in together to give ratings that support end usability.
In other words, a balanced system design is pared by proper usable storage capacity, solid PV input, and appropriate inverter rating.
Integrating high-quality components and balancing the system design will give a reliable solar generator that works with various applications.
- Portability and Compactness
A solar generator’s weight, size, and shape will be dependent on where you intend to use it. For outdoor activities, a unit that is compact but not heavy might be idea
When it comes to the shape, solar generators come in various shapes. Some can be easily folded and stored while others come in heavier models and on wheels for easier transportation.
When searching for a solar generator, consider how and where the power is stored. You might need to purchase separate accessories such as USB plugs or wall sockets. Some generators might just need the basic alligator clips and an external battery.
We all love the idea of free electricity from the sun. Owning a generator that isn’t releasing dangerous emissions like gas generators will be a welcomed idea any day. As we have seen in the best solar generator review above, there are plenty of great generators to choose from.
In our reviewed list, however, our best pick has to be The Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator Kit. it is extremely quiet to operate in comparison to traditional gas-powered generators. We love that the Yeti 400 is very portable and the panels fold up nicely, protected inside a canvas sleeve.
Another impressive feature of this generator is the use of Lithium battery technology that triumphs over older battery backup systems. While it may seem pricey, the Yeti 400 is highly versatile and durable to last many years.
With this in-depth review, we hope you can now make an informed decision as you embark on your solar generator hunt. Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section.