Ranked: 5 best solar generators that will keep your lights on

Updated

solar generator components
Solar generators are essentially portable solar batteries.

Having a solar generator is one of the best ways to make sure you have power right when you need it. 

If your power goes out at home, or you want backup power for your next RV camping trip - a solar generator will have you covered. 

With their lightweight, portable design, solar generators give you reliable access to energy without having to worry about pollution, noise, or fuel costs like you do with conventional gas generators. 

Editorial note: This is an unbiased review: we have no financial ties with any of the companies mentioned, nor do we earn money from affiliate advertising. The content of this blog is based on research and information available at the time of writing.

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    What is a solar generator?

    Solar generators aren’t really generators at all - they’re portable battery storage systems. However, because they are used for the same purposes as traditional generators, the name stuck. 

    The main components of a solar generator are the solar panel and the rechargeable solar battery. Simply place the solar panel in the sun, and let it do its work! The panel turns the sunlight into electricity that is then stored in the battery. 

    Then, you have stored solar energy ready for when you need it! 

    5 best solar generators ranked

    There are many different solar powered generators on the market. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best solar generators to help you find the right one for your individual needs.

    5. Renogy Phoenix 200

    renogy phoenix 200 solar generator

    The Renogy Phoenix 200 is ideal for shorter camping trips. Image source: Amazon

    Best: Portability 

    Price: $139.99 Buy Now

    Key features: Perfect for charging small devices, small and lightweight

    Capacity: 189 Wh

    The Renogy Phoenix 200 is the smallest solar generator on this list, making it perfect for short overnight camping trips or a movie night in the backyard. At just 4.6 pounds, the Phoenix 200 won’t weigh you down. 

    It’s the perfect solar generator for charging devices like phones, laptops, and cameras. However, the Renogy Phoenix 200’s small size means it isn’t the best choice for whole-home emergency power. 

    The Phoenix Renogy 200 includes a 110 V AC outlet, three USB-A ports, one DC power output port, a USB-C port, and a carport. The battery also acts as an LED Flashlight, making it perfect for outdoor adventures.

    4. Jackery Explorer 500

    jackery explorer 500 solar generator

    Jackery’s Explorer 500 is a great mid-sized solar generator that won’t break the bank. Image source: Jackery

    Best: Value

    Price: $419.99 Buy Now

    Key features: Very powerful despite its small size, ideal for traveling, serves as a great emergency backup power supply

    Capacity: 518 Wh

    The Jackery Explorer 500 all-in-one solar generator will give you the most bang for your buck. 

    It includes a high quality, pure sine wave inverter, as well as an MPPT charge controller to ensure your battery recharges safely. Its compact size makes it great for traveling. 

    Just because it’s small, doesn’t mean it isn’t mighty - the Jackery Explorer has enough energy stored to power a minifridge for 27 hours, change an iphone 53 times, or run a television for 7.5 hours! 

    So, not only is it great for camping and boating trips, it is a great emergency backup power supply, as well.

    When paired with a 100-watt solar panel, the Explorer will charge in 9.5 hours. The portable power station includes three USB ports, an AC power outlet, and a 12 volt car charger. It also has an LCD display to help you monitor the charge and discharge status of your battery pack. 

    3. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station

    Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station

    Goal Zero’s Yeti 400 is ideal for camping and boating because of its compact size. Image source: Goal Zero

    Best: For camping and boating trips

    Price: $599.95 Buy Now

    Key features: Powerful enough to run small appliances, can fully recharge using various sizes and types of solar panels, can be charged with a wall outlet or car

    Capacity: 396 Wh

    Goal Zero’s Yeti 400 is a great mid-sized solar generator that’s perfect for extended off-grid camping and boating trips. It can also serve as a backup power source to charge your electronic devices in case a grid outage occurs. 

    What’s great about this solar power generator is that it can fully recharge in about 8 to 16 hours using a 100-watt solar panel. If you pair it with a higher-wattage solar panel, it may charge faster. It can also be charged by plugging into a wall, or using a 12-volt adapter for your car. 

    The 396 watt-hour (Wh) battery stores enough energy to recharge a smartphone over 20 times, a laptop up to 5 times, or a small television for 3 hours. It also delivers enough power to run small appliances, like minifridges. Larger appliances will not be able to run on the Yeti 400. 

    2. Point Zero Energy Titan 1000 solar briefcase generator kit

    titan briefcasePoint Zero Energy’s Titan 1000 briefcase solar generator kit is one of the most powerful solar generators on the market, making it great for home power backup. Image source: Point Zero

    Best: For home power backup

    Price: $5,295 Buy Now

    Key features: Very powerful, includes built-in inverter and charge controller, foldable solar panels, high-powered AC output charger allows for quick charging

    Capacity: 2,000 Wh 

    Point Zero Energy's Titan 1000 briefcase kit is a top choice among homeowners looking for home backup power due to its large size. 

    With 1,000 watts of solar panels and a battery capacity of 2,000 Wh, this is one of the most powerful portable solar generators on the market. It also includes a built-in inverter and charge controller. The Titan solar generator system can be paired with more batteries if needed.

    The Titan solar generator has enough power to run even your largest appliances, like your fridge or washing machine. When the sun is out, the 1,000-watts of solar panels can run your electronic devices without draining the battery, and it’s able to charge in as little as 4 hours thanks to its high-powered AC output charger. 

    The Titan 1000 battery weighs in at 35 pounds and includes five foldable monocrystalline solar panels, so it can be used on the go but is also well suited as a home power backup system.

    Does solar-plus-backup battery storage make sense where you live?

    1. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium with WiFi + Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Kit

    Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium with WiFi + Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Kit

    The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 and Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Generator Kit’s versatility makes it our pick for best overall solar generator. Image source: Goal Zero 

    Best: Overall

    Price: $2,199.95 Buy Now

    Key features: Lightweight, can be charged by solar panels or wall outlet, includes an app that helps you monitor your energy use

    Capacity: 1,425 Wh 

    Goal Zero is one of the most popular solar generator manufacturers around. 

    Their Yeti 400 is a great choice if you’re looking for something to back up your home in the event of a power outage. It has 10 total ports that guarantees you’ll be able to power all of your devices. It can even power a fridge for 32 hours!  

    Despite having 1,425 Wh of storage capacity, the Yeti 1400 lithium ion battery weighs just 43.7 pounds. So besides being a great source of emergency power, it’s portable enough to be brought on long camping trips.  

    The Yeti 1400 can be charged using solar panels or with a wall outlet. A 100-watt solar panel is recommended if you will only be using about 10-20% of the energy stored within the battery. If you anticipate your power consumption to be more than 20%, consider getting additional panels. 

    You can monitor exactly how much energy you use from the battery with the Goal Zero app when you are connected to WiFi. 

    How to pick the right solar generator for you

    There are a few key things to consider when shopping for a solar generator. The most important thing to think about is what the intended use for your solar generator is. 

    If you want a solar generator for extended camping trips, mid-sized solar generator battery banks like the Goal Zero Yeti 400 and the Jackery Explorer are great choices. They have enough storage capacity to charge devices multiple times while having a high enough continuous power output to run small appliances for a few hours. 

    If you want to be able to power entire areas of your home in the case of a power blackout, you’ll probably want a larger battery to meet your power needs, like the Titan 1000. Not only does it have enough battery capacity to charge devices, but it delivers enough power to run your refrigerator, as well. 

    Also keep in mind what size solar panel you need. Larger solar generator batteries can oftentimes be paired with solar panels that have a higher wattage than those used for small batteries. Small to mid-sized batteries can be paired with 100-watt solar panels for a charging time between 8 and 9 hours. 

    Final thoughts on solar generators

    Solar-powered generators are a great alternative to noisy, gas-guzzling conventional generators. The days of being tied down by wires and plugs are over - you can head out on your next camping trip anywhere with solar powered generators. 

    Solar generators can also give you peace of mind in emergencies. Even if the grid goes down, when the sun comes up, you’ll be able to run your devices and appliances. 

    However, the best way to keep your lights on in the event of a power outage is to install a rooftop solar power system paired with solar battery storage. Not only will the battery keep your lights on when the grid goes down, but the solar system will power your home and save you money every day of the year. 

    Find out how much you can save by switching to solar
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Catherine Lane

    SolarReviews Blog Author

    Catherine is a researcher and content specialist at SolarReviews. She has strong interests in issues related to climate and sustainability which led her to pursue a degree in environmental science at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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