Best portable solar generator

Gear

In 1839, a 19-year-old Frenchman named Edmond Becquerel was experimenting in his father’s laboratory when he created the world’s first solar cell.

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Which portable solar generator is best?

Whether you need a power source for a planned camping trip or backup for an unexpected emergency, a portable solar generator is a great product to consider. These devices are lighter, cheaper and better for the environment than traditional generators. And since they only need sunlight to gather energy, you’ll save money in the long run.

If you want a versatile, budget-friendly solar generator from a trusted brand, check out the Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station Solar Generator

What to know before you buy a portable solar generator

Benefits of portable solar generators

Solar generators are more environmentally friendly than standard fuel generators, but did you know there are many other benefits as well?

Solar generators are more affordable because they don’t require liquid fuel, thereby eliminating the regular fuel costs incurred by traditional generators. This also makes them more lightweight and portable since they only have a few operating components and don’t require heavy gallons of fuel to run them.

They also don’t have motors, so they typically require very little maintenance. And while most fuel-powered generators make a lot of noise while running, solar power generators are almost completely silent. 

Solar panels also last around thirty years, which means you can rest easy knowing your generator will always be ready to use at a moment’s notice. This is especially important if the power has gone out unexpectedly since you won’t need to leave the house to search for fuel.

Battery power

A larger solar generator will have a bigger battery, which usually results in more power. Look for the watt-hours of the generator and the wattage of the appliances you would need to power before purchasing a particular model. For example, if your generator has 200 watt-hours and you’re planning to plug in a 100-watt device, you can expect your portable solar generator to run for about two hours before it needs to recharge. 

Solar panels

Many portable solar power generators have solar panels integrated seamlessly into their design. Others may require panels you must purchase separately. Either option is fine; just look closely at the details when choosing a product, so you aren’t surprised later on.  

What to look for in a quality portable solar generator

Inverter

Most appliances in your home use alternating current (AC) electricity, while solar devices use direct current (DC). Look for a solar generator that has a built-in inverter, so you can use your appliances without any issues. If the generator doesn’t come with an inverter, you may need to purchase one separately.  

Outputs

Consider the devices and appliances you plan on powering and find a portable solar generator with the corresponding outputs. For example, you can usually charge phones and small fans with a USB port.

Expandable

If you want the option to boost your generator’s power even further, look for a model that lets you add more panels and batteries.

Carrying case

Although most solar generators are tough, having some extra protection doesn’t hurt. This is especially true if you’re taking them on regular camping trips. Look for a model with a durable carrying case constructed from metal or thick, sturdy plastic. 

How much you can expect to spend on a portable solar generator

The price of a portable solar generator varies dramatically depending on the wattage and the size of the accompanying solar panels. Consumers can expect to pay around $100-$2,000. If you’re interested in a mid-tier generator, you can find one in the $200-$500 range. 

Portable solar generator FAQ

Do solar generators qualify for solar tax credits?

A. Most likely, depending on usage. If you plan to use your device as a backup generator for your home, you should qualify for credit come tax season. 

Can solar generators be used when it’s cloudy?

A. Yes! Solar panels gather power from the photons in daylight rather than the light itself. So you don’t need direct sunlight to charge your generator. 

What’s the best portable solar generator to buy?

Top portable solar generator

Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station Solar Generator

Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station Solar Generator

What you need to know: This versatile generator uses 200 watts to power and charge all of your essential devices. 

What you’ll love: Backed by Jackery’s stellar reputation, this portable solar generator is priced decently and has enough outputs for a lot of appliances. The generator can also be used while it’s charging, and it comes with a built-in display screen. 

What you should consider: Solar panels are not included and must be purchased separately. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top portable solar generator for the money

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator Kit with Nomad 20 Solar Panel

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator Kit with Nomad 20 Solar Panel

What you need to know: This budget-friendly generator has a 150 watt-hour battery and a wide variety of port options. 

What you’ll love: This solar generator kit comes with a high-quality solar panel that charges quickly, and many users report a battery life that exceeds eight hours. You could recharge most smartphones up to 15 times with a single generator charge. 

What you should consider: Some users reported that they received a defective or underperforming battery with their solar generator. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Portable solar generator worth checking out

Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station Solar Generator

Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station Solar Generator

What you need to know: While not incredibly powerful, this straightforward solar generator is perfect for camping and emergency situations. 

What you’ll love: Manufactured by the same trusted brand as the top pick, this simplified version is well-suited for small devices, has a built-in flashlight and SOS mode for emergency situations. It also comes with an integrated handle and weighs less than four pounds.

What you should consider: Like the top pick, this generator doesn’t include solar panels, and it’s only strong enough to power and charge small devices. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

 

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