If you need power that you can rely upon and you have regular access to sunlight, then you should consider looking at one of our top picks for the best solar generators.
They’ve come a long way in the last few years and the chance to generate electricity without the need for gasoline, diesel or propane is becoming increasingly useful.
TOP PICK >> Jackery Portable Power Station
There are three main criteria that you should consider before purchasing a solar generator:
- The capacity of the batteries: this will be measured in “watt hours”, the more watt hours, the longer the supply of electricity from the fully charged generator.
- The maximum power output: this will be measured in watts and is the maximum power that the generator can draw at one point, typically this is higher than the average power output and you need to ensure that your devices never exceed the maximum output and ideally, not the average output either.
- The battery: you will probably find the choice comes down to lithium (the best batteries as they last longer and weigh less) and lead acid (not so good but they are cheaper). This will affect the life cycle of the battery – lead acid typically lasts 1,000 cycles whereas lithium typically lasts 2,000 cycles.
You will also want to examine the solar panels (you can see some of the best portable solar panels here) that you intend to use and then work out how long it will take for your solar generator to charge in sunlight.
You should also see if there are other ways you can charge the generator just in case there’s no sunlight available.
Other things you may want to bear in mind are the weight of the unit – particularly, if you intend to use it in a portable capacity.
Also, whether there’s a charge controller included (this is a good idea as it prevents the battery from become overcharged) and the expandability of the set up.
Some solar power generators will allow you to add additional batteries and solar panels at a later date so that you can increase the output without buying a new generator.
The Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240
We love the Jackery 240. It’s a very economic way to get into solar generators. It is also very portable and weighs in at just 6.6 lbs.
It’s important to note that it doesn’t come with any solar panels and you will need to buy those separately and that is true for all the products in this round-up.
This is a highly portable solar generator with plenty of capacity for the occasional power outage. It doesn’t have endless batter capacity though, like most solar generators in this class, it’s not meant to power off-grid living.
It is based on lithium-ion battery technology which means that it will last longer than a lead-acid equivalent and it can be charged from your car or an AC outlet if there are no panels around or the sun isn’t out.
It offers 240 Watt-hours of solar generator power which means it’s enough to run a laptop or some lights on from the USB ports, you could possibly even rig up a mini-fridge too. In short, it’s the ideal partner for a camping trip. Just don’t forget – buy a solar panel or two.
You can find the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 online.
The Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000
If the Jackery 240 wasn’t enough power for you then its big brother supplies up to 1000 Watts.
You can run more electronic devices on this solar power generator than you can with some gas powered generators.
That means it can happily provide twice as much power as the smaller model but unsurprisingly, it weighs twice as much too at 13.2 lbs. it’s still portable but not quite so lightweight. We tested this to see if it would give us enough solar energy to run power tools with and it worked brilliantly!
Again, if you can’t get access to solar panels or sunlight this will charge using AC outlets or even from the carport if necessary. The battery capacity in this portable solar generator is better than its little brother too.
You can find the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000 online.
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator
One of the top choices for solar generators is the Goal Zero Yeti 400 – it’s 29 lbs. You can plug a few solar panels into this!
This means that it is a substantially larger model than our previous two solar powered generators but it will also happily provide 600 Watts and 300 Watts respectively with up to 7 concurrent devices! How much power?!
It also has an excellent LCD display which lets you set up and monitor the power consumption which is very handy, indeed.
This is much better than the gas generators we’ve worked with in the past and we feel you can rely on this solar powered generator no matter how many power outages you might face as long as the solar panel converts sunlight for you.
However, it’s not the most portable power generator that we’ve tested.
You can find the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator online.
Renogy Lycan Powerbox
The Renogy model is “portable” in that it will happily fit in a car but at 65.3 lbs. you don’t want to have to carry this too far from your car and you will need help to do so.
Most portable solar generators may be smaller but if you want a replacement for an ac wall outlet when you need emergency power? You can’t do much better than this.
It is fitted with lithium batteries and it will deliver up to 1,2000 watts and has a capacity of over 1,000-Watt hours!
If you need to run a lot of equipment outdoors, then this is a great choice to do it from. It also has a ton of ports that can deliver power to a wide range of devices.
You can find the Renogy Lycan Powerbox online.
Goal Zero Yeti 1500x Portable Power Station
Another heavyweight option, tipping the scales at 45 lbs. This is the Goal Zero Yeti’s big brother which can deliver 3000 Watts of surge or 2,000 watts on average to up to 10 devices at a time.
It has a superb range of ports that you can connect a bunch of different devices to easily.
Finally, it’s also capable of taking a charge not just from panels but also from a wall outlet and there’s a full charge controller onboard to ensure that your batteries last for the longer possible period of time before they need replacing.
You can find the Goal Zero Yeti 1500x Portable Power Station online.
Last Word on Solar Generators
Of course, you’ll need to think carefully about which solar generators meet your specific needs but all the solar generators on our list can be relied on to do a great job.
If you intend to use your solar generator off-grid then why not check out our guide to off-grid living? It’s got everything you need to know to get started living a more independent life.
If you’re not sure that solar is going to be enough by itself then we’ve also got a great guide to portable generators here that can provide a backup resource.