Best Solar Generator Reviews 2018 – Guide & Chart

Last updated on September 11th, 2018 at 05:48 am

Finding a solar powered generator that fits your needs can be difficult. You want the best solar generator, but every manufacturer claims theirs is the best. With our solar generator reviews, comparison tables, and buying guide; we will help guide you in your search. Showing you different sizes and models from the best solar generator brands. Our unbiased, comprehensive reviews feature only the top rated models in the market. Our information is independent and geared towards helping you find the best product. Here we are showing some of the top solar generator kits, for easy assembly, so you can directly start harnessing the sun’s energy. We are presenting all the information you need, to make the most educated choice. We will also explain in few simple steps how to set up your solar powered generator.

Best Solar Generator Reviews

  • Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium
  • 4.5 Customer Rating
  • 1425Wh~ Capacity
  • Li-ion NMC Battery (132Ah,10.8V)
  • 1500W Continuous - 3000W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • 200W Monocrystalline Boulder200 Solar Panel (Optional)
  • Weight: 43.7 lb.
  • Price: $$$

  • ECOFLOW River
  • 4.5 Customer Rating
  • 412Wh~ Capacity
  • Lithium-Ion Battery (114Ah,3.6V)
  • 300W Continuous - 600W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • 50W Monocrystalline ECOFLOW Solar Panel (Optional)
  • Weight: 11 lb.
  • Price: $$$

  • Jackery Explorer 450
  • 4.5 Customer Rating
  • 440Wh~ Capacity
  • Lithium-Ion Battery (20.4Ah,21.6V)
  • 300W Continuous - 500W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel (Optional)
  • Weight: 12.5 lb.
  • Price: $$$

  • Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium
  • 4.2 Customer Rating
  • 428Wh~ Capacity
  • Li-ion NMC Battery (39.6Ah,10.8V)
  • 300W Continuous - 1200W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • 100W Monocrystalline Boulder100 Solar Panel (Optional)
  • Weight: 16.3 lb.
  • Price: $$$

  • Suaoki 400Wh
  • 4.2 Customer Rating
  • 444Wh~ Capacity
  • Lithium-Ion Battery (35.2Ah,12.2V)
  • 300W Continuous - 600W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • 60W Monocrystalline Suaoki Solar Panel (Optional)
  • Weight: 12 lb.
  • Price: $$

  • Renogy Phoenix
  • 4.2 Customer Rating
  • 210Wh~ Capacity
  • Lithium-Ion Battery (16Ah,14.8V)
  • 150W Continuous - 170W Surge Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • 20W Monocrystalline Solar Panels
  • Weight: 12.8 lb.
  • Price: $$$$

In addition, we also prepared our exclusive multiple comparison tables, to clearly mark the difference in each model. Comparing charging time, battery lifespan, ports, and all the features.

1. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Solar Generator

Best Solar Generator

Goal Zero is one of the leading brands of portable solar power sources. The Yeti 1400 is another new addition to their lithium battery powered machines.

It has a 132Ah battery with 1425Wh capacity. Capable of running your critical appliances including refrigerators, mobile devices, power tools, and home health care equipment like a CPAP machine.

With pure sine wave inverter of 1500 watts continuous, and 3000 watts surge. You can safely charge up to 10 electronic devices at the same time or charge the average laptop over 20 times. It’s actually capable of running a fridge for over 23 hours nonstop.

This machine is easy to use with a smart LCD display. In addition, the Yeti app that allows you to remotely control and monitor your machine through WiFi connection. With almost 10 versatile ports, supporting AC, USB, USB-C, USB-PD, and 12V ports.

The Yeti 1400 can be charged through the mono-crystalline Boulder 200W panels or other compatible panels. They can fully charge the battery in 14 to 28 hours depending on the sun’s visibility. It can also be charged through your AC wall outlet in about 25 hours.

Whether you need a solar generator for emergency situations, outdoor events, or camping. The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium, has a great shelf life, and it’s very easy to use. Making it practical for a lot of situations.

 

2. ECOFLOW River 500W Portable Power Station

ECOFLOW River 500W Portable Power Station

I would have thought that the ECOFLOW River 500W would have been a little bigger because it’s fairly powerful. Weighs only 11 pounds, it’s light and very portable.

An 114Ah lithium-ion battery of 412Wh capacity, and pure sine wave inverter with a peak of 600 watt and 300 watt continuous. This little machine can charge any professional camera or a drone up to 8 times, a laptop up to 9 times, and the average iPhone over 30 times. While also being lightweight; it’s a great choice for camping portable power needs.

With four USB, two USB-C, two AC, two DC, and one 12V car port. Allowing you to safely connect up to 11 devices simultaneously for optimum power. In addition, it gives you the ability to charge it through solar panels, a wall outlet, or your car lighter outlet. A convenient way to charge it easily wherever you go.

Not to mention, it holds quick charging time and has a huge LCD display, showing watts in use, remaining hours, and battery charge. Everything about this device is portable; all the parts needed for use can be put into its case and carried along. With as much as you would be on the move, this is an ideal solar generator. Compact yet powerful enough to meet your charging needs.

 

3. Jackery Explorer 440 Solar Generator

Solar Generator Reviews

One of the most important factors when purchasing a solar generator, or any generator really, is ease of use. The new Explorer 440 not only is it powerful, it’s very user-friendly. This machine can be used straight out of the box, no assembly required.

All you have to do is connect it to a Jackery 100W solar panel or other compatible solar panels for a full charge in about 10 hours. You can also charge it through a wall charger in 8 hours.

The Explorer 440 is versatile; it has three USB, two DC, one car outlet, and one AC outlet. Furthermore, it has a LED display, allowing you to see the status of the battery.

It has a 20.4 amp-hour lithium battery with a max capacity of 440 watt-hour. And it’s built-in inverter of 300 watts and 500 watts surge. You can safely charge your equipment during short blackouts or charge your electronic devices on a fishing trip.

Weighs about twelve pounds, can literally sit in the palm of your hands. It also has an easy carry handle on top, it’s easy to transport. To sum it up, the Jackery Explorer 440 is a great solar generator for a variety of uses. Boasting all the features you expect when purchasing a generator of this type and size.

 

4. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Solar Power Station

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Solar Power Station

With advanced features and a new lithium battery, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 portable power station is definitely worth a look. Utilizing the latest battery management technology. Making it an excellent alternative portable power source for extended trips.

Not only does it have a replaceable battery, but it also has an LCD display. So it’s easy to know how much charge it has at any given time, as well as, output and input levels.

The Yeti 400 is your electricity wall outlet in the wilderness. Capable of charging up to 7 devices simultaneously, with battery peak capacity of 428Wh. Safe for charging sensitive electronic devices. Producing 300 watts of clean inverter sine wave energy, and 1200 watts surge energy.

Has a 10.8V, 39.6Ah battery and you can charge it using two different methods. A regular wall outlet in about 7 hours. Or the sun, by connecting it to a Goal Zero Boulder 100 panel or any compatible solar panels for a charging time of 8 to 16 hours.

Supporting three different outputs; two USB, two AC, and two 12V ports. Weighing only 17 pounds, and with its almost nonexistent noise level, the Yeti 400 Lithium is ideal for use indoors and at noise enforced campsites. While maintaining good quality, overall, we would highly recommend this machine to anyone looking for the best solar generator of this size.

 

5. Suaoki 400Wh Portable Solar Generator

Suaoki 400Wh PS5B Portable Solar Generator Reviews

With three ways to charge, the Suaoki 400Wh/120,000mAh can be charged anywhere. Outside via Suaoki 60W solar panel or any compatible panels, in your car via DC input, or anywhere with AC plugs.

A battery of max capacity of 444Wh and a weight of just over twelve pounds. This solar generator is a little powerhouse.

The digital LCD display is probably the best feature. It makes it incredibly easy to monitor the input/output of your devices; it takes out all the guesswork normally required. Everything is clearly marked, making it easy to read and user-friendly.

Supporting four USB ports dispensing 300W pure sine energy for your electronics, two DC ports for lighting, one 12V DC socket for car chargers and similar devices, and one jump starter port for cars.

The downside noticed, was the fact that you can’t charge it using the solar panel and use the AC outlet to charge items at the same time. Meaning, if you have your radio plugged into the AC port, you cannot charge the Suaoki via solar panels simultaneously.

While that oversight was disappointing, it may not be a deal-breaker. As everything else about the Suaoki PS5B 400Wh is impressive. Affordable, lightweight, and has a handle that makes taking this solar generator anywhere an easy task.

 

6. Renogy Phoenix All in One Solar Generator Kit

Renogy Phoenix best Solar Generator Kit

Compact and smart design suitcase of all in one solar generator kit. A 16 amp-hour lithium battery, the Renogy Phoenix has 210 watt-hour, and holds the charge for up to 2 months. It’s also lightweight, weighing only 13 pounds.

Designed for light outdoor adventures and emergency power needs. Capable of charging a laptop for about 5 times, an IPad for 8 times, and the average cell phone for over 20 times.

Allowing you to safely charge your devices with 150W continuous pure sine wave inverter power. Features four USB ports, one AC outlet, and two DC with one car/cigarette port to safely charge a variety of devices. Further, an LCD display and a LED light torch.

It has two 10W solar panels of a total of 20 watts of mono-crystalline built-in panels, that can fully charge the battery in 15 hours. And you can add up to 100W extra solar panels, for a fast charging time in 2.5 hours. In addition, it can also be charged through your car lighter outlet or even a wall outlet in about 5 hours.

Overall, the Phoenix is great for light uses where you can easily charge your electronic devices in your trailer caravan or boat. And the fact that it’s a green energy-powered generator contained in a suitcase. Ready to harness the sun’s energy with Renogy’s efficient solar panels. Makes it very easy to use.

 

Best Solar Generator Comparison Chart

Feature/ProductGoal Zero Yeti 1400 LithiumECOFLOW RiverJackery Explorer 440Goal Zero Yeti 400 LithiumSuaoki 400WhRenogy Phoenix
Battery Storage1425Wh~412Wh~440Wh~428Wh~444Wh~210Wh~
Full Charge by Solar Panel Boulder (200W): 14-28 hrs.ECOFLOW (50W): 10-15 hrs.Jackery (100W): 10 hrs.Boulder (100W): 8-16 hrs.Suaoki (60W): 8 hrs.2 x Renogy10 (20W): 15 hrs.
Full Charge by AC Input25 hrs.9 hrs.8 hrs.7 hrs.8 hrs.5 hrs.
Full Charge by DC InputNot Available6 hrs.Not AvailableNot Available9 hrs.5 hrs.
DisplayLED Indicators + LCD Display + Yeti appLED Indicators + LCD DisplayLED Indicators + LCD DisplayLED Indicators + LCD DisplayLED Indicators + LCD DisplayLCD Display
Battery Life Cycles50050050050010001500
Battery ProtectionAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable
Overload ProtectionAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable
Solar Charge ControllerAvailableNot AvailableAvailableAvailableNot AvailableAvailable
USB Output Port463344
AC Output Port221221
DC Output Port333214
Solar Panelsup to 360W max.up to 110W max.up to 100W max.up to 120W max.up to 100W max.up to 120W max.

How to Choose the Best Solar Powered Generator?

Solar generators are quickly and quietly becoming a mainstream way to create green energy. Green energy is cleaner and more reliable than other sources of power; will save you money and better for the environment, too. A solar generator is a machine that captures the sun’s energy using solar panels. Then converts that power into electrical power then stores it in a battery, to be released later through an inverter.

Deciding to buy a solar generator is a fine choice, however, finding the best portable solar generator is a daunting task. There are so many different kinds, styles, and features that it can seem like a never-ending list of devices that all look nearly the same. Throughout the rest of this article, we’ll list the key features available in solar generators today, what to avoid, and give you an idea of the differences between some of the components.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Solar Powered Generator

Some parts can make your solar generator more efficient, while others make it more costly. Choosing the right solar generator is very similar to buying a car; you have a price point in mind, you have a list of features or at least a list of uses, and you’ve done your research.

  • Type of Solar Panels

Three primary kinds of solar panels exist; mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline, and thin-film.

solar panels

  1. Mono crystalline panels: offers the most quality, and thus are the priciest. Yielding a 15-20 percent efficiency rate, and operating better in high-temp situations are the two biggest benefits of mono-crystalline solar panels.
  2. Poly crystalline panels: comes in second, yielding a 13-16 percent efficiency rate, and operating slightly less efficiently in high-temp situations than mono-crystalline panels. The differences between mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline are minimal. The difference in manufacture is mono-crystalline is made from one crystal. Whereas poly-crystalline is made from many. Poly-crystalline panels are a bit less expensive, and only slightly lower in quality than mono-crystalline panels; so they are typically the most popular choice.
  3. Thin film panels: are usually less efficient and less convenient than their crystalline counterparts. Yielding a relatively low-efficiency rate of between 7 and 13 percent. They require a significantly more vast area of coverage to compete with mono or poly-crystalline panels. Thin-film panels are, however, the cheapest option. I believe this is one of the occasions where you truly do get what you pay for as far as quality.

Choose wisely, on which panels fits you best for future convenience.

  • Battery Capacity

Battery capacity is a major deciding factor when choosing a solar generator. When looking at the battery capacity of solar generators, be sure to look for watt-hours (Wh). Because that’s the right battery capacity.

For example, the average iPhone uses about 5.5Wh, and an electric blanket is about 200Wh; if your solar generator only has a 200Wh capacity, you won’t be able to charge your phone and use your blanket at the same time for more than an hour.

Some generators have battery capacities ideal for charging your devices on a weekend camping trip. But if you want a generator as a backup power supply for your home. You’ll want something that can withstand the high wattage appliances. Be sure to get a solar generator with a high enough watt-hour battery capacity for whatever your needs may be.

  • Inverter Rating

The inverter rating on a solar generator is a number telling you the maximum amount of watts you can pull from the generator at any given time. Depending on your desired use, you may need a solar generator with a larger inverter rating.

But don’t be fooled; inverter size alone doesn’t determine a solar generators capabilities. A 1500W inverter will do you no good if it’s being used with a 450Wh battery. The best and most usable solar generators have at least a 1.5:1 ratio of watt-hours/inverter rating ratio – i.e., 1500Wh battery to a 1000W inverter.

To sum it up, if you intend to use a solar generator to charge a couple of smartphones on a weekend camping trip. A small 200Wh generator will do just fine. Alternately, if you’re hoping to power your sump pump in the event of a power outage; that size likely won’t be of much use to you.

  • Portability

Many solar generators on the market today combine functionality and practicality; allowing you to have your cake and eat it, too essentially. In any case, you’ll likely find all the features you want and need in a solar generator. Portable enough to easily transport from room to room or lift into a vehicle.

Some of the best portable generators we’ve seen weighed a decent amount, but had handles and wheels; allowing for easy transportation, regardless of weight. If you want your solar generator to be as mobile as you are, then you’ll want to look for generators that are either light or have handles and wheels.

  • Extra Features

I wasn’t far off when I compared purchasing a solar generator and buying a car; there are features that you may not ‘need’ but are especially useful to have. There are solar generators with LCD displays, making it much easier to monitor the charge of your device and the remaining battery life of your generator.

Some generators can wirelessly connect to apps on your phone, allowing you to monitor your generator and devices remotely. Also, some generators allow you to expand your power by connecting extra panels when needed.

You can also check our article about how solar power evolved into the reliable source of energy that we know today.

Things to Avoid when Choosing a Solar Powered Generator

solar generator tools

  • Finally, avoid buying solar generators that have the solar panels and battery installed in the same unit – it will shorten the life of your battery due to heat. Batteries hate heat.
  • Avoid making an impulse decision on which solar generator to get; do your research. Solar generators with built-in solar panels are often manufactured in such a way that they cannot be repaired.
  • Solar generator kits, i.e. generator, solar panels, cords, accessories, are more cost efficient not only upfront but also in the long run because they can be repaired and the individual parts can be replaced.
  • Watch out for the snake-oil pitch many companies are using to convince people that their generators are the “best”. Avoid spending big money on low-quality solar generators.
  • Purchasing the parts individually or as a kit is almost always the best choice. You get exactly the quality parts you want, and you can also replace or repair those parts as needed.

Setup of a Solar Powered Generator

How you set up your solar generator system is very dependent on which solar generator you’re intending to use, and for what purpose. Some solar generators require little or no installation, for use when camping, driving, and backup battery use.

Meanwhile, if you’re aiming at running all the electrical equipment in your luxury RV solely on solar energy. You will have a more in-depth installation process. This includes installing the solar panels on the roof, wiring your panels to your generator, installing the regulator. As well as, placing your deep cycle auxiliary battery or batteries and installing your inverter. In fact, inverters are a necessity if you want to use AC (household) appliances; they’re what converts DC power into AC power.

Whether you’re building your system for your home (on-grid), or your mobile vehicle (off-grid). There are some things you’ll need to know.

Setup of an Off-Grid Solar Generator System

off grid solar system

A good off-grid setup will allow you to live without a public electric utility. Whether you’re traveling cross-country in your RV, camping, or just want an emergency backup power source.

Once you’ve decided how much power you will need. Having a bank of four deep-cycle batteries and two or three solar panels. You should have no problem meeting your power needs. You also have the option of installing a huge solar generator system. One that is able to power an average house, complete with full-sized appliances. But that requires a pretty big budget. There are four primary things that you will need to start your off-grid solar system:

  • Solar Panels

You will need enough solar panels to efficiently charge your batteries, so choosing the right ones is important. Mono-crystalline panels are the most efficient (although the most expensive) choice. Poly-crystalline panels are a little less efficient, but a little less expensive and can do a good job.

Pro tip: Aluminum frame solar panels last longer, are more versatile, and carry a longer warranty than flexible solar panels.

Warning: Check the warranty carefully when installing solar panels on an RV or other mobile vehicles. As this use is often not covered by warranty.

  • Charge Controller

A charge controller is a voltage regulator; designed to keep the batteries from overcharging. They are almost always a necessary component of nearly all power systems that charge batteries.

Most charge controllers will work with many high voltage solar panels. Regulating the maximum total input of voltage to not exceed the capacity. However, using a charge controller will cause a loss of power – from 20% to 60% of what your solar panels are rated at.

A solar panel is only capable of putting out a limited amount of amps. So although the voltage is diminished, the amperage from the panel cannot rise above the rated amps. Therefore, a 175W solar panel, rated at 23 volts or 7.6 amps, will only be able to put 7.6 amps at about 12 volts into the battery.

Pro-tip: Use Ohms Law (watts = volts x amps), to find out how many watts your battery is getting.

  • Battery

A high amp-hour deep cycle battery is the best choice for off-grid or strictly solar recharge use. A deep-cycle battery is designed to be able to regularly deeply discharge; meaning using most of its capacity. High power usage appliances mean a shorter life per charge. So if you want to use your solar system without worrying about every light being on or off. You will need a high amp-hour (Ah) battery. Battery options include lithium batteries which are the most expensive. Or lead-acid batteries which are still high quality and more affordable.

  • Inverter

An inverter is a great thing to have in a portable solar system. Because you won’t have to worry about finding a 12V charger or device while traveling. As well it produces sine wave energy that is safe to use with sensitive electronic devices and appliances, such as mobile devices. A 2000W inverter is a good choice; it will run almost anything, except an air conditioner.

  • Installing of Solar Panels

Which position to set your solar panels can be a little tricky. Because you will want to generate as much power as you can during the daylight hours. When positioning your solar panels, be sure to place them facing south (if possible), and angle them at about 30 degrees. This will give you optimum efficiency throughout the year. If you live in a house that only has East and West facing rooftops. You can install solar panels on both; allowing you to get maximum coverage throughout the day.

Setup of an On-Grid Solar Generator System

on grid solar system

An on-grid setup is very simple. You simply install a solar panel(s) on your roof or in your yard. Then connect them to a grid inverter. Then connect the inverter to your existing electrical network. This is a great way to reduce your electric bill, as well as go green using renewable energy. Allowing it to serve as a standby generator.

Pro-tip: A great option would be to install as many solar panels as you can within your budget. Then simply wire the panels into a micro-inverter, and plug the inverter into any standard 3-pin plug in your home. Power will always take the shortest route; therefore your appliances will use the available solar power before any power from the grid. However, remember that you will need an inverter or charge controller system to convert all the solar panels to household 120V/60Hz before plugging the solar arrangement into your electrical system.

5 Advantages of Owning a Solar Powered Generator

Whether you have decided to become more eco-friendly. Are looking for a less dangerous backup power source to replace your fuel-powered generator. Or you want to go off-grid; there are many benefits, and no foreseeable downsides, to owning a solar powered generator. In fact, there are too many benefits to list in one article. So here are 5 great advantages of owning a solar generator.

  1. Eco-Friendly

The average 5 person, 2 car family produces 58,109lbs of CO2 per year. As a matter of fact, by using solar power to run your home just 25% of the time. You can decrease your households’ CO2 output by nearly 6% per year. That’s the equivalent of 175 gallons of gas.

  1. Investment in Long-Term Savings

Using solar energy just 25% of the time can save you as much, or more, than 400$ a year. Moreover, that’s if the only energy-saving action you take is using solar power. Therefore, no matter how much your home solar generator system costs. It will save you money over time. Everyone likes the idea of saving money.

  1. Great for Indoor Use

As opposed to gas-powered generators. Solar generators are unbelievably convenient for use indoors due to them not using fuel. Producing no toxic fumes, consequently, solar generators are completely safe for use indoors. No moving parts is another great safety feature. Being able to use your backup power source indoors is significantly more convenient in a power outage situation. Rather having to gas up and maneuver a gas generator outside in the dark. You can easily transport your solar generator from room to room in the safety and warmth of your own home.

  1. Noiseless Operation

Not only is it easy to use indoors it’s also a silent generator. Many campgrounds have a quiet time or noise regulation, as a result effectively limiting the usefulness of many fuel-powered generators. Charging your camera, or flashlight in the middle of the night isn’t going to work if you can’t run your generator. Most gas powered generators range from 50 to 85 decibels (dB) of noise. Every 10 decibels is about 10 times louder to the human ear. Therefore, making an 80-decibel noise rating nearly unbearable.

  1. Ease of Use and Convenience

Lastly, once a generator is properly installed and or set up, it will run 24/7 with no maintenance from you. During the day, the sun’s rays will charge your battery. And at night the battery powers your electronic devices. For as long as there’s enough sunlight during the day. You’ll never have to worry about your solar generator. If you’ve ever used a gas-powered generator, you know that between changing the oil, managing the gas, and in addition to making sure it’s not being too loud for anyone around. You’re perfectly aware of the many inconveniences they can have. However, that’s not to say that gas generators don’t have a good use. But, in many cases, the benefits of a solar generator greatly outweigh the benefits of a fuel generator.

Bottom Line

Choosing to own a solar generator, whether for home or travel, is a great choice. Furthermore, it can and will save you money. Will also make emergency power outages, long camping trips, and cross-country RVing easier, more convenient and more fun. With so many brands and options, not to mention conflicting or absent information. It’s hard to make an educated and informed decision about a product. We brought you solar generator reviews and guide to make your search for the best solar generator a little easier. Whether you were trying to figure out the difference between solar panels, or you wanted to know what an inverter is. We hope we covered all the information you would need to make an informed decision.

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