The best overall solar powered generator is the Goal Zero Yeti 1500x Portable Power Station.
It is the perfect option for most camping situations. It is budget-friendly and easily moved and stored, and can still provide the energy required to operate most devices or appliances that campers take on trips.
However, your generator needs will vary depending on your intended use and overall budget.
In a Hurry? Here's My Top 3 Picks
The Best Solar Powered Generators for Camping
Goal Zero Yeti 1500x Portable Power Station
The Goal Zero Yeti 1500x is a powerful 2000W generator that is, in my opinion, the best solar generator if you have the budget.
It is a pricier option, but it is worth the purchase if you have high capacity power requirements for multiple devices or appliances.
This generator is great for smartphones, tablets, 12V appliances, laptops, power tools, grills, and more!
Also, this generator can charge your device in the same amount of time it would take to plug it into a wall.
It remains relatively portable and features the option to control the power station remotely to optimize the battery life.
The Goal Zero Yeti 1500x contains a lithium-ion battery for safe and clean energy anywhere, indoors or outdoors.
Plus, it has a wide range of port options including USB-C, USB-A, 12V, and AC.
This power station can be charged with solar panels, a wall socket, or a 12V car output.
In addition to camping uses, the Goal Zero Yeti 1500x can be used for home appliances back-up power with the purchase of an integration kit.
If the 1500x version is out of your price range, check out Yeti’s less expensive options with similar features.
Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station
The Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station is reasonably portable, at 22 pounds, and can provide significant power if a situation warrants it.
It is one of the more powerful portable power stations you can purchase at a less expensive price.
It is a great middle-of-the-road option between very powerful and expensive and budget-friendly yet portable.
The Explorer 1000 has multiple outlets that can meet the requirements for larger power consumption appliances, but it is still relatively compact and easy to move.
It comes with a strong handle and a durable design. It can be charged with solar panels, a wall socket, 12V car output, or an electric generator.
Using two solar panels, the Explorer 100 will be fully charged in about eight hours. This powerful station has a rated power of 1000W and a 2000W surge capacity.
This generator is efficient at solar charging with a built-in MPPT charge controller. It can charge a battery in full sun in around eight hours.
Anker PowerHouse 200
The Anker PowerHouse 200 offers 200W and multiple compatible outlets. It is a pretty powerful generator that is very affordable.
The PowerHouse 200 can be recharged with solar energy, a wall outlet, or a 12V carport.
This generator has enough power to sustain energy for any device or small appliance and features added safety with Anker’s MultiProtect system.
Its universal compatibility can supply power to charge mobile devices, emergency equipment, computers, and more.
It can even run a mini-fridge for over four hours.
Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station
The Jackery Explorer 240 is a great option with an affordable price tag and is extremely portable.
It is designed with a durable case and features many ports, all while staying lightweight and compact.
It can be charged using solar panels, a carport, or even a wall outlet. The Explorer 240 will fully charge in roughly 10 hours using solar and sun exposure.
The battery management system features short circuit protection, voltage control, and an LCD display.
The Jackery Explorer 240 is best for shorter trips, but is still a solid choice at 200 watts of power.
Jackery does offer alternate models with similar features if you are looking for something with more power.
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 portable power station is more costly, it is well worth the purchase for the portability and power it can supply.
It charges quickly and retains its charge well. It can be charged from solar panels, 12V, or AC and produces no noise or fumes.
This model can power up to seven devices at once and is great as backup power for small appliances.
It boasts 600 watts of output and is designed by power station experts.
Renogy Lycan Powerbox Solar Power Generator
The Renogy Lycan Powerbox is a reasonably portable generator. It weighs 55 pounds and features multi-terrain wheels.
It has various output options for devices such as USB ports or AC appliances.
The Powerbox has a large storage capacity at 1,075 Wh and handles up to 300W of solar.
It can be charged via solar panels, wall outlets, or a 12V auto socket.
While the Renogy Lycan Powerbox does not have as much power as some generators, the company offers options to significantly improve the charging time if you are willing to invest.
You can purchase Solar Suitcases or more powerful portable solar panels (Phoenix and Phoenix Elite) to boost the charge for a long time.
AIMTom 440 Portable Power Station
The AIMTom 440 is a very portable power station that is lightweight. It weighs only seven pounds!
This generator is a great option if you are looking to avoid adding weight but need a decent supply of power.
The durable design features a smart screen and well-spaced AC outlets.
One of the best features of this power station is its fast recharge capabilities. It can be fully charged in less than five hours. It can be charged with solar panels, a carport, or a generator.
The AIMTom 440 is versatile in that it can be used indoors or outdoors and will easily power anything from a phone to a refrigerator.
Rockpals 250w Portable Solar Generator
The Rockpals 250w portable solar generator is another lightweight option for campers.
This one weighs in at only 5.5 pounds, making it extremely portable.
The Rockpals 250w is also an affordable choice, although it is not as powerful as other alternatives.
This generator is reliable, with 300W, and features an AC adapter, car charger, and lighter plug. It has enough power to get the job done for shorter camping adventures.
Westinghouse IGen 160s
At a significantly lower price point, the Westinghouse IGen 160s is very affordable.
It’s a compact power source with the ability to power up mobile phones, speakers, drones, and tablets.
It is easily moved from location to location, at only 3.75 pounds.
Despite the small design, you are not missing out on outlets. You can charge nine devices at one time.
To recharge this machine, you will need solar panels, a wall outlet, or a carport. It takes about seven hours to fully recharge.
Anker PowerHouse II 800
The Anker PowerHouse II provides the right amount of continuous power with a size and weight that make it easy to transport.
It is an excellent choice among portable solar generators for cell phones, electronic devices, and outdoor activities.
It is a unique generator in that it features a built-in floodlight, making it available as a nighttime power source.
A drawback of the Anker PowerHouse 800 is that it has a lower battery capacity.
It is also not meant to charge anything over 500W.
Ecoflow Delta 1300M
The Ecoflow Delta 1300M is a powerful and fast-charging backup power station.
It is exceptionally versatile and can be used for RVing, as a home backup generator, or for off-grid living needs.
There are 13 different charging ports on this machine, which boasts a battery capacity of 1260Wh.
One of the greatest features of the Ecoflow Delta 1300 is that it is fast charging and can be charged from solar panels or a wall outlet in a short time.
You can even run power tools and home appliances on this generator, making it suitable for emergency situations and power outages.
The Nature’s Generator is a full system for an RV’s energy needs.
You can easily expand your power capacity by adding compatible solar panels and a power pod.
The generator itself has the capacity for 720Wh and hosts AC outlets, a USB-A port, and a car outlet.
You can charge the generator through 110v AC, solar panels, or even Nature Generator’s wind turbines.
The Nature’s Generator provides clean energy as a power source while still being portable.
The design includes an expandable suitcase-style handle and multi-terrain wheels. As a user, you can control the generator from a mobile device app as well.
A drawback of the generator is that it weighs close to 90 pounds and requires multiple components to obtain all the benefits it offers, so storage can be a challenge if you are limited on space.
Bluetti EB 240
The Bluetti EB 240 is an excellent option if you are living the van life.
It powers up to 1000 watts at a time and provides enough energy to run small devices and a computer at once.
It is conveniently compact and includes all the cords and adaptors you will need to optimize use.
With multiple output options, it is worth looking at more closely for a solar powered generator.
Solar Powered Generators Buying Guide
When deciding on which solar powered generator you need, you want to consider several important things.
Ultimately, your budget and intended use will determine the right fit for your specific camping needs.
Here are a few things to review when purchasing a solar powered generator.
Surge Power Capacity
The maximum power the solar generator can provide at one time is the surge power capacity.
This is important because if you exceed the capacity, your appliances and devices will no longer be powered.
Most solar generators store their energy in lithium-ion batteries. The battery capacity is measured in watt-hours.
The amount of battery capacity affects how long appliances can be connected to the battery and also how long devices take to charge.
One of the simplest ways to determine how much battery life is left is with an LED display or mobile app.
Many solar powered generators now have these features.
Two main types of batteries are used for solar generators: lithium-ion and lead-acid.
A lithium-ion battery is very mobile. It is compact and lightweight. Plus, it can typically last longer than a lead-acid battery.
Similar to batteries found in cars, lead-acid batteries are still used in some solar generators.
They can be inexpensive, but unfortunately do not have the longevity of lithium-ion batteries.
Solar powered generators will have either a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controller or a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) charge controller.
An MPPT charge controller collects solar energy more efficiently, but can be costly.
Meanwhile, a PWM charge controller draws power without overcharging the battery, but doesn’t maximize power generating capabilities.
You likely won’t always have sunshine when you are camping. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your generator has multiple ways to recharge.
Some of the most common options are an AC outlet, a car outlet, or wind turbines.
Having different ways to charge is beneficial when the weather is cloudy for days.
How you plan to use the solar powered generator is probably the most important factor when deciding which one to purchase.
It will also affect the other above-listed items to consider. If you plan on using it for a refrigerator or coffee pot, you’ll need much more power than if you are looking only to run a laptop and charge small electronics.
It’ll also make a difference if you want the capability for backup home use or a large RV.
Larger generators will take up more space and be less portable than small generators, but generally they provide a more powerful source of energy than the smaller variety.
You’ll want to consider power needs, storage, and portability when choosing the perfect generator.
You will see three common types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.
It is important to research and understand the efficiency and limitations of each of these varieties.
Many companies sell generators that are specific to the generator, but you can purchase a universal adaptor to attach with almost any solar panel brand.
The type of panel you purchase will impact the amount of power that can be collected and stored throughout the day.
All power stations have some form of safety feature built-in.
You will want to ensure that you are protected against overheating, electrical surges, overcharging, and short-circuiting as a minimum safety precaution.
The range of charging speed for solar generators is very different from unit to unit.
Some generators can be fully charged within a few hours via a wall outlet, but take significantly longer if you are using solar panels.
Each generator will have a specific timeframe for being fully charged, and even that will vary depending on the type of battery, solar panel, and method of charging used.
Other Features to Review
- Battery monitor- LCD screens are helpful in monitoring battery usage and charge. Some generators even have mobile device capabilities for remote monitoring.
- Inverter size- This is important when using AC appliances.
- Replaceable batteries- If things go awry in the future, you may want this feature for continued use of the unit.
- Weatherproof- If you plan to use the unit outdoors, review the generator for whether it is waterproof or, at a minimum, weatherproof.
Pros and Cons of Solar Powered Generators
There are advantages and disadvantages to using solar powered generators for camping.
Here’s a list of pros and cons you should consider when purchasing a solar generator.
- Noise-free or quiet operation
- Eco-friendly energy source
- Easy to maintain
- No fuel costs
- Portable and flexible
- Some generators can be slow to recharge
- Limited power output
- Some generators are costly
Can a solar generator run a refrigerator?
Yes, a refrigerator can run on a solar powered generator. While not all generators have the capacity for appliances, many do.
The amount of time a refrigerator can be run on a generator will also depend on the size and capacity of the machine.
What will a 1000-watt solar generator run?
A 1000-watt generator will work great for smaller appliances like coffee pots, laptops, and lamps. Such generators even have enough power for small refrigerators, power tools, and some TVs.
What is the difference between a solar generator and a solar power station?
A solar generator is more versatile. With a solar generator, you have access to multiple sources of power. It can also be charged by alternate power sources besides solar energy.
Additionally, it produces the same type of AC electricity that you would obtain from a wall outlet.
Will a solar generator power an RV?
Yes, a solar generator can power an RV. However, you will need a generator that is powerful enough to do the task.
With the right setup, you should be able to power everything you want or need in your RV.
How long do solar generators last?
The lifespan of a solar generator depends on the type of battery you use and the number of times it is charged and discharged.
You should also consider the individual components and whether it’s designed for durability.
Typically, a solar generator will last for a few thousand charging cycles.
What size solar generator do you need?
The size of the solar generator you need depends largely on how much power you intend to use, the length of trip you are taking, and the appliances or devices you will be powering.
You will want to determine the amount of wattage needed for daily power usage.
You can use a battery capacity calculator to assist in this process.
Can you use a solar generator while charging?
Yes, you can use a generator while it is charging. However, using it during that time will slow the charging process.
How does a portable solar generator work?
A portable solar generator is a way to store energy that is generated by solar panels and regulated by a solar charge controller. It operates similarly to a battery and stores energy instead of producing it.
The Best Solar Powered Generators
Here´s a recap of what I recommend when it comes to solar powered generators for camping.
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Brandi Jangula is a writer born and raised in the Midwest. The Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota provide some of her favorite locations to hike and camp with her three adventurous boys. Brandi also enjoys cooking, reading, and attending her children's sporting events in her spare time.