Embracing an off-grid lifestyle or simply preparing for emergencies has become increasingly popular. Solar generators have emerged as essential for providing reliable, sustainable power. With a vast array of models and features available, choosing the best solar generator for your needs can be daunting. That’s where our comprehensive guide comes in, offering valuable insights into the top solar generators on the market and expert advice on selecting the perfect option for your unique requirements.
This guide will present detailed reviews of the best solar generators for off-grid living in 2023, carefully examining each model’s capacity, output options, charging capabilities, and more. We’ve included a FAQ addressing critical topics such as sizing, solar panel selection, and generator lifespan to further support your decision-making process.
Armed with the knowledge from this ultimate guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision and invest in a solar generator that meets your off-grid power needs, ensuring a seamless transition to a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.
Editors note: We’ve decided to show solar generator packages instead of the generators. We’re assuming that most readers will need compatible solar panels if they’re in the market for a generator. In all cases, these manufacturers offer just the generator, which saves you a lot of money if you already have solar panels! Looking for just panels? See our reviews.
Our Top Picks
This package includes a 1002Wh capacity generator and two 100-watt solar panels.
Power anything, even your entire home!
Best Solar Generators for Off-Grid Living
The Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro Portable Power Station is a top-tier choice for those seeking reliable off-grid power. Boasting an impressive 1002Wh capacity, this generator offers ample energy for various devices, making it perfect for extended camping trips or emergencies. One standout feature is its array of output ports, including three standard AC outlets, two USB-C ports, and two USB-A ports. Additionally, the Explorer 1000 Pro has a 12V DC car output, ensuring that all your devices can be charged on the go.
Its lightweight design (25.4 lbs) and built-in handle make transporting it a breeze. Users can efficiently monitor their power consumption with an intuitive LCD screen displaying real-time charging and discharging information. This package marries the Explorer 1000 Pro with two of the company's SolarSaga 100 solar panels. While higher capacity panels will provide you with more power, they will also significantly increase the price.
The EF ECOFLOW DELTA Pro Solar Generator is a cutting-edge solution for those seeking maximum power and flexibility in their off-grid energy setup. With a remarkable 3600Wh capacity, this generator is designed to support high-demand devices and appliances, making it perfect for off-grid living or as a reliable backup power source.
The DELTA Pro's comprehensive output options include six AC outlets, two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, and a 12V DC car output. This range of ports ensures compatibility with various devices, making it an indispensable resource for any off-grid scenario. A standout feature of the DELTA Pro is its smart and modular design, allowing for seamless integration with the optional EF ECOFLOW DELTA Pro Smart Extra Battery, which can expand the system's capacity up to 7200Wh. This scalable approach ensures you have the power you need when needed.
When paired with suitable solar panels, such as the EF ECOFLOW 160W Solar Panel, the generator can be fully charged in as little as 4 hours under optimal sunlight conditions.
With a 716Wh capacity, the Bluetti EB70S Portable Power Station is ideal for camping trips, outdoor events, or backup power sources during emergencies. The EB70S boasts an impressive array of output ports, including four AC outlets, two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, and one 12V DC car port. This diverse selection of ports ensures compatibility with various devices and appliances, making it a versatile option for off-grid situations.
A notable feature of the Bluetti EB70S is its portable design. Weighing just 21.3 lbs, it is easy to transport and can be conveniently stored when space is limited. The integrated handle and solid build ensure both portability and durability. When paired with compatible solar panels, such as the Bluetti SP120 120W Solar Panel, it can be recharged within 4-8 hours, depending on sunlight conditions. The user-friendly LCD screen provides real-time information on power usage, charging status, and remaining capacity, allowing users to manage their energy consumption effectively.
Regarding high-capacity power solutions, the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station rises to the challenge. With a respectable 1516Wh capacity, this solar generator is primed for powering everything from small appliances to larger devices. The Yeti 1500X's robust selection of output ports includes two AC outlets, two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, a USB-C PD port, and a 12V car output. The 60W USB-C Power Delivery port is an excellent addition and valuable if you have a compatible device.
A key advantage of the Yeti 1500X is its expandable nature. Users can connect it to optional Goal Zero solar panels, such as the Boulder 200 Briefcase, for a renewable power source (this package includes the 100W model). It can also be linked to additional Yeti Power Stations or Tank Expansion Batteries to increase overall capacity. Although slightly heavier than some competitors (45.6 lbs), the Yeti 1500X has a sturdy handle for easy transport.
The Bluetti AC200P Portable Power Station is a solid option from a reliable and trusted solar manufacturer. With a 2,000Wh capacity, it's the largest solar generator yet, but that's not the only impressive feature of this particular model. With 17 output ports, including six AC outlets, one 12V DC car port, two USB-C ports, and four USB-A ports, it can handle virtually any device or appliance you throw at it. Additionally, including a 15W wireless charging pad is a thoughtful touch for those with Qi-enabled devices.
When connected to suitable solar panels, such as the three PV200 200W solar panels included in this package, the generator can be fully charged within 4-6 hours, depending on sunlight conditions. Though it's a bit heavier than some competitors (weighing in at 60.6 lbs), the AC200P's built-in handle and rugged design make it easy to transport and use in various environments. The informative LCD touchscreen ensures users can easily monitor power usage and charging status.
The Anker Solix 2400W (formerly the Anker PowerHouse 767 Portable Power Station) is a compact and reliable option for those seeking a dependable power source in off-grid situations. With a 2,048Wh capacity, this solar generator is perfect for camping trips, outdoor events, or as a backup energy source during emergencies.
The Solix features various output ports, including two AC outlets, two USB-A ports, and one USB-C port, catering to multiple devices and appliances. Additionally, a 12V DC car output ensures compatibility with devices that require a car adapter. It weighs over 60 lbs and is a heavy generator, but the integrated handle and durable build make it portable and resilient. When paired with compatible solar panels, such as the Anker Solar Panel 100W, it can be recharged in as little as two hours, depending on sunlight conditions.
What Size Solar Generator Do I Need?
The size of the solar generator you need depends on several factors, including the total power consumption of the devices and appliances you plan to use, the duration of use, and whether you want a generator for occasional use or more extended periods.
Calculate the total wattage of the devices you plan to power to determine the appropriate size for your solar generator. Add up the wattage of each device and consider how long you’ll be using them daily. Multiply the total wattage by how many hours you plan to use them to get the needed watt-hours.
Next, consider the generator’s capacity, measured in watt-hours (Wh), which indicates the amount of energy it can store. Choose a generator with a capacity that meets or exceeds the required watt-hours. It’s also a good idea to have some extra capacity as a buffer, particularly for cloudy days when solar charging may be less efficient.
Additionally, pay attention to the generator’s inverter rating, measured in watts (W). This determines the maximum power it can deliver at a given time. Ensure that the generator’s inverter rating is sufficient to handle the peak power demands of your devices and appliances. Remember that your needs may change over time, and it’s often better to invest in a slightly larger solar generator than you initially require to accommodate future growth or additional devices.
How to Figure Out How Much Generator Capacity You Need
Since this might be difficult to understand, let’s illustrate this with an example. Say you have a fridge that requires 600W of power, a 5W phone charger, and four 5W LED lights. You’d like enough power to keep the fridge and lights running for six hours, but you’d only need the phone charger for about two hours.
In this example, you’d want a generator with a capacity of at least 3,730Wh. Remember that some electronics, like refrigerators, initially require more power to start up. Called surge power, this number will need to be lower than the peak power requirements of the devices you’d like to power with your solar generator.
Why Are Solar Generators So Expensive?
It’s a matter of perspective. Yes, you can pick up a gas-powered generator for as little as $500, although you’re more likely to pay $1,000 or more for sufficient power for your appliances and some lights during an outage. But that’s not the only cost. There is also the cost of fuel to run the generator, which will use about 1-2 gallons per hour for home backup power use for a 5-10Kw unit. Using a price of $3.50 per gallon, you’ll spend anywhere from $85 to $170 per day on gas. That can add up very quickly.
With solar generators, all the cost is up-front, and the energy to power it is free from the sun. While weather conditions will play a role in recharging your generator, the only costs you will have are for the hardware if you decide to upgrade or it breaks (which it shouldn’t). If you’re in an area prone to extended outages, you’ll want to purchase a larger capacity generator so you’re less prone to variability in available sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions on solar generators.
Are solar-powered generators better than gas-powered generators?
Solar-powered and gas-powered generators have advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Here’s a comparison of the two types of generators:
- Fuel source: Solar generators rely on sunlight, a renewable and free energy source, while gas generators require gasoline or other types of fuel, which can be expensive and may not always be readily available, especially during emergencies or natural disasters.
- Noise level: Solar generators operate silently, making them ideal for use in residential areas or during outdoor activities where noise may be a concern. Gas generators produce noise during operation, which may be disruptive in some situations.
- Maintenance: Solar generators typically require less maintenance than gas generators, as they have fewer moving parts and do not need regular oil changes, spark plug replacements, or fuel refills. However, solar panels may need periodic cleaning to maintain their efficiency.
- Environmental impact: Solar generators produce no emissions and have a lower environmental impact than gas generators, which produce emissions and contribute to air pollution.
- Power output and runtime: Gas generators often have a higher power output and can run longer, making them suitable for powering larger appliances or providing backup power during extended outages. Solar generators are generally more limited in power output and runtime, depending on the battery capacity and available sunlight.
- Initial cost and long-term expenses: Solar generators may have a higher upfront cost than gas generators. However, their long-term operating costs tend to be lower, as they do not require fuel purchases and have lower maintenance expenses.
Which solar panels do I need for the solar generator?
The solar panels you need for your solar generator depend on the generator’s input specifications, your energy requirements, and the amount of sunlight available in your location. Investing in high-quality solar panels will improve charging efficiency and overall performance, making selecting panels from reputable manufacturers with a proven track record crucial.
Look for panels with an efficiency rating of at least 18-22%. Higher efficiency panels will generate more power in a smaller area, making them ideal for situations with limited space or less sunlight. You’ll also want to ensure your panels have the necessary connectors and cables to connect to your solar generator.
What size solar generator do you need to run a house?
Running an entire house on a solar generator can be challenging, as the energy requirements vary significantly depending on the size of the house, the number of occupants, and the types and quantities of appliances and devices used. We recommend using them as backup power sources, not your primary ones. However, powering a small living area like a tiny home might be possible. Follow the steps from the answer to the first question to determine what you need.
How long do solar generators last?
The lifespan of a solar generator depends on the quality of its components, usage patterns, and maintenance. On average, a solar generator lasts 10 to 15 years or even longer. Most solar generators use lithium-ion or lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, typically lasting between 2,000 and 5,000 charge cycles or more, depending on the quality and usage patterns. A high-quality battery can last up to 10 years or longer with proper care and maintenance.
A solar generator’s inverter and other electronic components have varying lifespans. Inverters typically last 10 to 15 years, while other components like charge controllers and wiring can last even longer with proper maintenance. Panels can last even longer, in some cases up to two to three decades.
Is it difficult to maintain a solar generator?
Maintaining a solar generator is generally not difficult, but it does require some regular care and attention to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here are some basic maintenance tips:
- Keep the solar panels clean: Dust, dirt, and debris on the solar panels can reduce their efficiency and power output. Regularly clean the panels using a soft cloth, mild soap, and water to remove dirt and grime. Be gentle and avoid using abrasive cleaning tools or chemicals that may damage the panels.
- Inspect for damage: Inspect the solar panels, cables, and connectors for any signs of damage or wear. Address any issues promptly to ensure continued efficient operation.
- Charge the battery regularly: Most solar generators have built-in batteries that should be charged periodically to maintain capacity and prolong lifespan. Ensure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for charging and discharging the battery to avoid damaging it.
- Store the solar generator properly: When not in use, store the solar generator in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. This will help prevent damage to the battery and other components.
- Check the charge controller: The charge controller is an essential component of a solar generator, as it manages the power flow between the solar panels and the battery. Ensure the charge controller is functioning correctly and compatible with your solar panel and battery specifications.
- Update firmware and software: Some solar generators have built-in software or firmware that may require occasional updates to ensure optimal performance. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for updating the software or firmware as needed.
Can you charge your generator using just the solar panels?
Yes, but with some important caveats. Your ability to recharge your solar generator using just solar panels is highly dependent on available sunlight, the size of your generator, and the power output of the solar panels. To estimate the charging time for a solar generator, you can use the following formula:
Charging time (hours) = Generator’s battery capacity (Wh) / Solar panel output (W) * Efficiency factor
The efficiency factor accounts for energy losses during the charging process and variations in sunlight conditions. It typically ranges between 0.7 and 0.9, depending on the solar panel technology, charge controller efficiency, and other factors.
For example, if you have a solar generator with a 1000Wh battery capacity and a 200W solar panel with an efficiency factor of 0.8:
Charging time (hours) = 1000Wh / 200W * 0.8 ≈ 6.25 hours
How to Shop for Solar Generators for Off-Grid Use
When shopping for the best solar generator, it’s essential to consider several factors that will ensure you select the right model to meet your off-grid power needs. Here are some key aspects to look for when choosing a solar generator:
- Purpose and energy requirements: Determine the primary purpose of the solar generator, whether it’s for camping, RV trips, backup power during emergencies, or off-grid living. Consider your energy requirements and choose a generator with a capacity and output that can handle your specific needs.
- Output ports: Look for a solar generator with a diverse range of output ports, including AC outlets, USB-A and USB-C ports, and a 12V DC car port. A wide variety of ports will ensure compatibility with multiple devices and appliances, making it more versatile and practical.
- Charging options: A solar generator with multiple charging options, such as solar panels, an AC wall outlet, and a 12V car outlet, offers flexibility and convenience. This ensures you can recharge the generator efficiently, even when sunlight is limited.
- Portability and weight: If you plan to use your solar generator for outdoor activities or travel, consider its portability and weight. A lightweight generator with a built-in handle and compact design will be easier to transport and store.
- Quality and durability: Choose a solar generator from a reputable manufacturer with a proven quality and durability track record. Look for models made with high-quality materials and components that can withstand the wear and tear of regular use and harsh environments.
- Expandability and scalability: Some solar generators offer expandability options, such as connecting additional batteries or solar panels. This feature can be beneficial if you anticipate your energy needs growing over time or if you want the flexibility to adapt your system to different situations.
- Warranty and customer support: A solid warranty and responsive customer support can give you peace of mind when investing in a solar generator. Look for manufacturers who stand behind their products and offer reliable assistance.
Find more great green content like this on our new site, Green Living Insider!
An off-grid generator and battery system is the perfect way to ensure power at all times. However, you’ll need to do some homework before buying one. These are considerable investments: it’s best to purchase a solar generator with more power than you currently need. The best solar generators for off-grid living right now, in our opinion, c