Best Solar Generators Reviews

Updated October 12, 2020

Solar generators are the smaller, quieter, and lighter alternative to portable fuel generators for when you need backup power. Though most solar generators also utilize other means of charging, such as via standard wall plugs, their ability to get their juice from the sun adds to their convenience and reliability.

For the environmentally conscious, solar powered generators’ ability to reduce carbon footprint emissions is a truly compelling reason to buy one. Some people are even using solar generators as a complementary power source to help save on electricity bills.

With the many choices available today, we’ve put together this solar generator review to help you decide which unit will best suit your needs.

Best Solar Generators

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1 Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160
Best Overall
Jackery Explorer 500 Solar Generator
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2 Rockpals 500W Portable Power Station Rockpals Portable Power Station Solar Generator
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3
Best For Higher Budgets
3EcoFlow River Solar Generator
EcoFlow River Portable Power Station Generator
Best For Higher Budgets
EcoFlow River Solar Generator
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4 Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator All-in-One Kit Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator
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Walmart
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5 Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station
Best For Low Budgets
Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator
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Camping World
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1. Jackery Explorer 500 Solar Generator

Highlights
  • Green, clean power
  • Quiet generator
  • Solar recharging
  • Convenient for outdoor activities
Best Overall
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160

What is special about this generator is that it is eco-friendly. There is a lithium-ion battery pack, so don’t worry about polluting the environment. It is practical for charging your phone, tablet, laptop or any other similar device. 

Furthermore, it is easily charged with solar power. User guide will help you if you have any issues with hooking up this small generator. It is safe and simple to use, just plug it into a socket or your car. It is convenient for outdoor activities. 

Built-in led flashlight with SOS mode is another feature that can come in handy on a camping trip.

Specifications

Size:
7.4 x 4.5 x 6.7 inches
Voltage:
3.6V
Wattage:
160W
Noise Level:
Reduced
Power Source:
Solar power/battery

Pros

  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • Portable power station
  • Power saving
  • High-quality design

Cons

  • Can’t support devices more than 100W
  • Solar panels sold separately

2. Rockpals Portable Power Station Solar Generator

Highlights
  • 7 management system safety features
  • High-capacity 540Wh lithium battery
  • Multi-port output
  • SOS function

Not only is this solar powered generator designed for performance, it’s also designed for safety with its multiple security protection features and an SOS light signal function in case of emergencies. Its safety features include voltage and temperature control, low battery alarm, and protection from overcharge, overcurrent, overload, and short circuit. The pure sine wave inverter protects sensitive devices while powering them up. 

The recharge time of this solar generator is 6-7 hours via solar panels, AC wall plug outlet, or 12V car adapter. It can also be used to power CPAP machines for emergency medical use in case of power outages.

Specifications

Size:
10.24 x 6.7 x 6.82 inches
Voltage:
10.8V
Wattage:
500W Continuous, 1,000W Peak
Output:
12V, 4A (DC Output x2), 5V 2.4A each, total 10W max (USB Output x3), 18W (USB Output – Type C), 12V (Car Port), 110V AC, 60Hz, 500W Continuous, 1,000W Peak Surge (AC Output – pure sine wave)
Power Source:
Solar Panel, AC Wall Outlet, 12V Car Adapter

Pros

  • Bright emergency light
  • Automatic shut-off feature
  • Easy-to-read LCD screen display
  • 4 USB ports

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Lacks master power-off button

3. EcoFlow River Solar Generator

Highlights
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Thermal management system
  • Intelligent battery management capability
  • 11 output ports
Best For Higher Budgets
EcoFlow River Portable Power Station Generator

Weighing only 11 lbs., this solar generator is very easy to carry around, which is especially helpful if you intend to use this on your camping trips. Despite its lightweight design, it still packs a punch with its 412Wh lithium battery capable of generating 300W of power, with 600W peak surge. It takes 10-15 hours to charge it via solar panels (dependent on the weather), 6 hours with AC wall outlets, and 9 hours through car adapters.

It features 11 output ports that are capable of simultaneous charging. Its battery management capabilities enable it to sense the optimum level of power supply to connected devices so you can be sure it doesn’t give more or less power than they need.

Specifications

Size:
9.8 x 6.3 x 8.2 inches
Voltage:
14.48V
Wattage:
500W Total AC/DC Output
Output:
12V, up to 8A (DC Output x2), 5V, up to 2.4A (USB Output x2), 5V/9V/12V, up to 2.4A (USB Output – QuickCharge x2), 5V/9V/12V, up to 2.4A (USB Output – Type C x2), 12V, up to 8A (Car Port), 110V AC, 60Hz, 300W Continuous, 600W Peak Surge (AC Output – pure sine wave)
Power Source:
Solar Panel, AC Wall Outlet, 12V Car Adapter

Pros

  • Mobile power source
  • Can hold positive charge for a year
  • Surge protection while charging
  • Sleek and stylish design

Cons

  • Not ideal for power-intensive devices
  • Not waterproof

4. Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator

Highlights
  • Built-in solar panels
  • Options for capacity expansion
  • Multi-modal 3W LED light
  • MPPT Charging Technology

This all-in solar generator with panels is designed with convenience and mobility in mind. The sleek dustproof casing makes it look like a briefcase on the outside. Inside, it reveals 2 mono-crystalline solar panels capable of generating 20W that can be expanded up to 120W with additional panels. Its 246.24Wh lithium battery can generate up to 150W continuous power, which you can use to charge your portable devices.

The Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Charging Technology aids in locating the ideal position and location for charging the panels. Depending on weather conditions, the built-in panels can be fully charged in around 6 hours.

Specifications

Size:
16.14 x 13.77 x 3.89 inches
Voltage:
14.4V
Wattage:
150W Continuous, 170W Peak
Output:
12V, 6A (DC Output x2), 5V 2.4A (USB Output x4), 12V 12.5A (Car Port), 110V AC, 60Hz, 150W Continuous, 170W Peak Surge (AC Output – pure sine wave)
Power Source:
Solar Panel, AC Wall Outlet, 12V Car Adapter

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Easy to set up and pack
  • Universal charging station
  • Charges quickly

Cons

  • Heat-sensitive, must be stored away from the sun when not charging
  • Not ideal for power-intensive appliances

5. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator

Highlights
  • Travel-friendly design
  • Thick plastic casing
  • Easy-carry pop-up handle
  • Overcharge protection
Best For Low Budgets
Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station

This small and portable solar powered generator’s 150Wh battery can generate 80W of continuous power, which is good for charging phones, laptops, and other smart devices. Capable of supplying current in 5V DC, 12V DC, and 110V AC, it can power 3 different sets of appliances. Charging takes 6-12 hours on solar, 6 hours via AC outlet, and 4-6 hours through car adapter.

The generator’s weatherproof casing protects it from sun and dust while the legs can absorb minor shocks. It features a quiet cooling fan to help control the temperature of the unit and prevent it from overheating.

Specifications

Size:
7.75 x 5.75 x 6.75 inches
Voltage:
12V
Wattage:
80W Continuous, 160W Peak
Output:
12V, 10A (DC Output - 6mm), 5V 2.1A each, total 10W max (USB Output x2), 12V 10A (Car Port), 110V AC, 60Hz, 80W Continuous, 160W Peak Surge (AC Output – modified sine wave)
Power Source:
Solar Panel, AC Wall Outlet, 12V Car Adapter

Pros

  • Convenient port placing
  • Display screen for battery percentage
  • Solid, compact build
  • Wide compatibility

Cons

  • May take some time to charge via solar
  • Lacks water resistance

Solar Generator Buying Guide

What Is a Solar Generator? 

Solar generators, also sometimes called portable power stations, are energy systems that collect energy from the sun’s rays and store it for when you need it. They’re becoming increasingly popular both as a cleaner, greener, and more reliable alternative to fuel generators, and as a handy piece of equipment for when you want to go off the grid. They’re also quieter compared to their gas counterparts and easy to use with many models featuring a plug-and-play setup.

Though you might be shelling out more upfront, solar generators are also more cost-efficient in the long run, since you will be utilizing the sun’s energy and the generator can last you for decades.

How Does a Solar Generator Work? 

Solar generators work by converting the sun’s energy captured by the solar panel into electricity, which is then stored in the battery. The built-in inverter then allows this stored energy to be used later or whenever you need it. 

Solar generators have 4 vital components: the solar panels that capture the sun’s rays and convert it into electric current, the charge controller that controls the current flow going to the battery, the battery that stores the energy, and the inverter that converts the stored power into power that appliances and devices use.

Uses

Solar generators are used as indoor backup power or as an outdoor power source. Determining the primary purpose of your solar generator will help you decide which unit to go for.

Solar Generator For Home

You can set up your own on-grid solar-powered generator system for a reliable source of electricity for your home. This can guarantee a continued power supply even during outages, and it can lower your electric bills as you use this alternative way to power your home.

Solar Generator For Camping

Solar generators can also be used to provide power during outdoor trips. Whether you want to keep your mobile devices charged or you want to keep the lights on at night, solar generators provide a safe, quiet, and clean power source while you’re out communing with nature.

Solar Generator For RV

Mobile homes like RVs can also be powered by solar generators. You can opt for a fixed installation, where the solar panels are attached to the roof of your camper so that you can charge the generator while you drive. You can also go for a portable solar generator that you can set up during the day when you’re taking a break from the road. If you are on the lookout for an RV generator specifically, you should definitely check our RV generator reviews that should give you more than enough options with lots of information to make a smart decision. 

Emergency Solar Generator

Providing power during outages is the most common application for solar generators. Standard units can power up your essential appliances and devices for a couple of hours. If you want more power for longer periods, you can opt for larger, higher-powered units.

Size

The size of a solar generator correlates with its capacity to store and generate electricity. Small solar generators are advantageous for short outdoor trips, when all you need is enough power to keep the lights on or to keep your phones and laptops charged. Medium-sized solar generators are good for when you’re looking to power a few simple appliances. With large solar generators, you can power up larger appliances, even a small house or a mobile home.

Portable Solar Power System

Portable solar generators are a convenient way to keep your devices powered while you’re on your camping trips. Besides phones and laptops, these can also keep your DSLR cameras charged. They can even keep CPAP machines powered for medical use in case of emergencies. 

The best portable solar generator is one that combines portability with performance, and ideally, one that has solar panels built in so that you have everything you need in one unit. The best portable solar generators can also enable simultaneous charging and usage through trickle charging. This is especially useful if you’re going to use your generator over a period of days. 

Wattage

Wattage is important when choosing a solar generator as this determines how much power you can use at a given time. Ideally, you choose one that can deliver more power than you actually need so that there’s little danger of you running out. Solar generators have two types of watt ratings: continuous and peak surge. 

Continuous watt rating is the average constant wattage that the generator can produce while running, while peak surge is the highest wattage it can briefly accommodate. To match your needs with the generator’s wattage capacity, calculate the average daily wattage consumption of the appliances you want powered and check it against the watt ratings of the units you’re considering.

10- to 250-Watt Solar Generator

Low-powered solar generators are good for quick charges for mobile devices like phones and laptops, as well as small house appliances. These generators are small and portable and can be carried around anywhere, making them the ideal companion for trips outdoors. They can also be used as indoor backup power but only for critical and less power-intensive appliances.

250- to 1,000-Watt Solar Generator

These generators are good for when you need more appliances to be powered for longer periods of time, or when you need more power for certain devices. They are still quite easy to transport, either solo or by tandem. These generators can power houses with low power consumption, or even a log cabin.

1,000- to 10,000-Watt Solar Generator

These high-powered solar generators are for powering larger homes or more power-intensive appliances for extended periods. They are generally larger and bulkier but are helpful for when you want to reduce your electric bills by using them as a complementary power source. 

Solar Generator Kit

Solar generator kits are the all-in-one units that don’t need any assembly. They usually come with multiple options for charging besides solar, such as via AC outlets and car adapters. Some of them come with solar panels, but most would require a separate purchase, which gives you more options to choose the panels of your choice. They’re also very convenient to use as they come with multiple outlets and a plug-and-play setup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Much Does a Solar Powered Generator Cost?
A:

A solar generator can cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the capacity and built-in features. The higher the wattage, the more expensive it can get but also the more power it can generate. You can have the small solar generators that can generate 5W on one end, and the larger units that can generate at least 3,500W on the other end.

Q: How Big of a Solar Generator Do I Need?
A:

That would depend on the number of appliances and devices that you intend to power using your solar generator and for how long you intend to run them. Solar generators are commonly expected to power critical devices and appliances in case of outages, such as phones, laptops, lights, and refrigerators. Of course, the bigger the generator, the more power it generates and the more devices it can juice up.

Q: How to Hook a Generator Up To Your Solar System?
A:

When setting up an off-grid solar-powered generator system, you should first have the 4 vital components ready: the solar panels, the charge controller, the battery, and the inverter. Once you have these ready, set up the solar panels at a location that’s ideal for absorbing the rays of the sun, preferably facing south at an angle of 30 degrees. 

Most portable power stations with built-in charge controller, battery, and inverter have a ready cable to connect the solar panels to the unit for charging. You simply need to connect them together and your generator is ready to go.

For on-grid solar systems, you simply need to set up the solar panels on the roof of your house or your yard, then connect them to the grid inverter or the charge controller system, which you then connect to your electrical network.

Q: Can a Solar Generator Power a House?
A:

Yes, a solar generator can power a small house with simple appliances, or mobile homes like an RV. For larger houses with power-intensive appliances, you would need to put multiple solar power generators together or customize a setup.

Our Verdict

When choosing a solar generator, one of the primary factors to consider is the main use you have in mind for it, whether as a backup power source for your house in case of outages, or as a power source for your outdoor trips. This will help determine if you should opt for more power or for portability.