If you need a reliable power source for your adventures or as a backup for power outages, solar generators can be a great choice.
They harness sunlight to generate electricity, providing a sustainable and eco-friendly solution.
The rise in popularity of solar generators can be attributed to the growing demand for renewable energy solutions that are both environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
As concerns about climate change and the depletion of fossil fuels increase, more people are turning to solar generators as a sustainable alternative to traditional power sources.
To help you find the best one for your needs, we’ve carefully reviewed various models and compiled a list of the top solar generators available.
Check out our selections to ensure you have power wherever you go.
Jackery is a reputable solar company, its solar generator model Explorer 1000 is highly regarded among those who enjoy car camping, remote work, and overlanding.
It proved its worth on a media trip, reliably charging multiple camera batteries throughout a week-long adventure.
With a maximum capacity of 1,002 watt-hours, it may not have the highest storage capacity, but its performance exceeds some larger units, especially for extended periods.
Though not suitable for powering large appliances, it’s perfect for smaller electronics and off-grid camping trips.
During the trip, the device efficiently charged camera batteries while itself being recharged via solar panels on a sunny winter day.
Equipped with eight versatile ports, including two AC outlets, two USB-Cs, a 12-volt carport, and two USB-As, it can recharge a laptop up to eight times or keep a compact refrigerator running for over 15 hours.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 can be recharged using solar panels or a car’s 12-volt outlet, both methods were utilized on the trip.
It offers decent charging times: approximately 11.5 hours via a car outlet, 6.5 hours with solar panels, and only 5.5 hours with a wall outlet.
A minor drawback was the difficulty of using it in the dark without built-in lights, necessitating the use of a phone’s flashlight for visibility.
Beyond that, there were hardly any issues.
Anker is well-regarded for its backup power solutions, including solar-powered phone chargers and various home electronics.
The Anker 757 solar generator stands out with a smart design, sturdy build, and good value. Its lithium iron phosphate battery charges to 80% in under an hour from a wall outlet.
With a 1,500-watt output, it’s designed for moderate energy needs, like powering home electronics during a blackout, but not for larger appliances.
It offers a good range of ports and can handle up to 300 watts of solar input, making it a solid, if not the most powerful, option for solar charging.
The Jackery 3000 Pro solar generator, launched in spring 2023, is a bit heavy at 63 pounds but comes with wheels and a telescopic handle for easier movement.
This makes it suitable for use at home, for outdoor activities, or on construction sites.
The unit boasts a powerful 3,000-watt output, five AC ports, and four USB ports, plus a rare 25-amp AC outlet capable of running high-load devices like air conditioners or electric grills.
However, it lacks some features found in other models, such as an LED light and a place to store cords.
The BLUETTI EB3A is a lightweight and compact solar generator, comparable to an old-school box radio, and easy to carry at just 10 pounds.
It’s ideal for travel and can power small devices like personal electronics for a few hours with its 268-watt capacity.
It has a fast-charging lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery, reaching full charge in less than two hours via either a wall socket or a 200-watt solar panel (which is sold separately).
This model comes with two AC outlets, two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and a wireless charging pad for phones.
It stands out for its durability, boasting a 2,500-cycle lifespan.
An additional feature is an LED light with a strobe function for emergencies, like signaling for help if your car breaks down.
The GB2000 is a top choice for a portable solar generator thanks to its sturdy build and user-friendly design.
Our experts respect Generac for their reliable gas generators, which have a history of excellent performance in tests, and they anticipate the same quality from Generac’s foray into solar generators.
This generator has a 2,106-watt-capacity lithium-ion battery that manages to pack a significant amount of power in a small frame.
A unique feature is its “parallel ports,” which allow two units to link up for double the power.
It is equipped with three ACs, two USB-A, and two USB-C ports, plus a wireless charging pad for cell phones and other gadgets.
A convenient storage pocket at the back to hold charging cables makes it practical for travel.
However, the lithium-ion battery’s 1,000-cycle lifespan is somewhat less compared to other leading models we’ve evaluated.
How to Shop for Portable Solar Generators?
If you anticipate needing more power, look for a system that allows you to add batteries for increased capacity.
Think about your daily power requirements by considering which devices and appliances you’ll need to run, then match a solar generator to your total power usage.
The charging time of the generator can vary based on input limits, the number of solar panels, and available sunlight, but many can also be charged via a wall socket or car outlet for convenience.
Lastly, if you plan on moving the generator frequently, like for camping trips, focus on finding one that’s not only tough but also light and compact enough to transport easily.
What Are the Pros & Cons of Solar Generators?
A solar generator captures energy from the sun to provide a portable power source, which can be a green alternative to traditional fuel generators.
The benefits include:
- Eco-Friendly: Solar generators produce no emissions, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and have a smaller carbon footprint.
- Quiet Operation: Unlike gas generators, solar units operate quietly, making them ideal for use in residential areas or campsites.
- Low Operating Costs: Once purchased, the energy from the sun is free, and there are minimal ongoing costs.
However, there are some drawbacks:
- Initial Cost: The upfront cost of a solar generator can be higher compared to traditional generators.
- Dependence on Weather: Solar generators rely on sunlight, so their effectiveness can be limited in cloudy or rainy conditions or at night.
- Slower Recharge Rate: Charging a solar generator using solar panels typically takes longer than refueling a gas generator.
How Do We Pick These Portable Solar Generators?
Our specialists engaged with over a dozen brands at prominent trade events, such as CES and the National Hardware Show, gathering initial insights.
Armed with this knowledge, our experts conducted a comprehensive technical examination of more than twenty solar generators.
They called in samples for testing. The weeks-long evaluation process involved validating each device’s advertised charging durations using both solar panels and AC outlets.
We gauged the true capacity of the generators by powering devices appropriate for their output capabilities, like space heaters for higher-capacity models and laptops for those with smaller capacities.
Our consumer testers provided practical insights by examining solar charging times and capacities under everyday conditions at home.
Meanwhile, our engineers scrutinized technical specifications to confirm the generators’ shelf life and cycle life—the number of recharges a battery can endure.
We also scrutinized overall usability, such as the number of outlets, which reflects a generator’s ability to charge multiple devices concurrently.
Points were awarded for consumer-friendly features, including portability enhancements like handles and wheels, LED lights for visibility, and integrated storage solutions for charging cords and other accessories.
Lastly, we evaluated the durability of both the generators and their accompanying solar panels to estimate the longevity of the equipment.
What Can a Solar Generator Power?
Solar generators are versatile devices that cater to a range of applications, offering eco-friendly and portable power solutions. Here are some of the primary applications for solar generators:
- Emergency Power
- Camping and Outdoor Recreation
- Remote Work
- RVs and Boating
- Well Pump
- Residential Solar Solutions
- Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Aid
- Sustainable Living
- Charging Stations
- Business Continuity