Will you have power when you need it? When the lights go out, or when you need a backup? Finding the best solar generator is a necessity. In fact, you might need several.
Which is the lowest cost, most dependable, with the most features… for your home? For the next RV or camping trip? Or even a small solar charger for your backpack?
You’ll find the best answer for each of these questions below.
Solar power for emergencies is a no-brainer: there’s no pollution or noise like those generators back in the old days. When the lights go out, it’s stressful. You don’t want to be near a loud engine. Or worry about carbon monoxide or other pollutants.
With the old style generators, you have to store fuel. How much should you store? What will you really need? Running out of fuel is inevitable. Then your generator is useless.
Storing fuel is always dangerous. Plus you’re not guaranteed that the type of emergency won’t leave you without the fuel you stored. In addition, when a crisis begins, fuel for your generator can be very scarce, very hard to get.
A solar generator avoids all these problems.
Prices are going down as technology keeps improving. So the best models keep changing. Prep To Live is committed to keeping track of these changes and giving you the most current info.
How do they work? Solar panels capture the sun’s energy, convert it to electrical power, and store it in a battery, ready for you to use when you need it.
First, consider why you’re getting the generator. You’ll want a large capacity unit to power your home during a crisis. A large, medium or smaller unit works well for camping or your RV. (It all depends on the devices you want to power.) While a tiny solar charger is mission-critical for your go bag or your get home bag.
Second, guestimate how much power (how big of a solar generator) you’ll need. Here’s a handy calculator that gives ballpark numbers for various appliances. But it’s not just about the watts of power…
Third, what other features will you want? For example, some have different or better AC outlets, inverters and USB ports. Some charge faster or come with better solar panels. Others are built more durable.
Fourth, it may be worth paying a bit more for a more trusted brand. However, sometimes you can find units with just as much field testing, but at a lower cost.
You can trust only a few power stations to give you about 2000 watts of power for about $2000. Of these, the Bluetti AC200P and Goal Zero Yeti 1500X stand out above the others.
These may not power your entire home, but they’re certainly big enough to keep all your important home appliances running in an emergency. And they’re more than enough to power your RV and camping gear.
The Bluetti is slightly better than the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station. For example, Bluetti gives you 6 AC outlets, each 2000W (4800W peak). The Goal Zero unit gives you only 2 outlets. Bluetti has 4 USB ports but Goal Zero gives you 2. Both have a USB C port. Bluetti has 4 DC ports but Goal Zero has one.
The AC200P from Bluetti also gives you 2 wireless charging ports (15A) but the Yeti has none. Bluetti also has a higher capacity AC adapter (400W vs 120W).
While the Goal Zero Yeti has better handles and weighs only 45 lbs (vs the Bluetti 60 lbs), the Bluetti comes with more adaptors that the Yeti does not have: a 12V/24V car charger, PV Solar Charging cable, and an XT90 To Aviation Plug. The Yeti provides only 1516 Wh vs the Bluetti 2000 Wh of power. I also like the durable, long-lasting LG battery in the Bluetti.
The Goal Zero panels are about $250 each, and the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Kit only has 1 panel, which means a very long time to recharge. Plus the Yeti base unit is currently about $300 more expensive.
Solar panels for the Bluetti are about $300 each, but less if you buy them in a kit. By far, the best deal is getting 3 panels in a Bluetti AC200P Kit.
1000 watts of power is ideal for camping, RV or most mobile scenarios. The Jackery Explorer 1000 has a 1002 Wh capacity with 3 pure sine-wave AC outlets and 2 USB-C plus 1 Quick-Charge 3.0 ports. This means it can easily power your TV, full-size or mini-fridge, blender, Instant Pot, electric grill, fans, coolers, phones, devices, laptops, and more. Its bright LCD quickly tells you battery life and charge status.
Here’s a comparison of Goal Zero vs Jackery and why Jackery is currently the brand I recommend for this size of solar generator.
Go anywhere and stay connected to people and work. And by itself, it gives you a tremendous level of preparedness. Pair it with a DuroMax or Champion dual fuel generator to make the ultimate ready-for-anything power backup solution.
Jackery Explorer 1000 vs EcoFlow Delta 1300:
This is almost a tie. The best of these two depends on which features are the most important to you. Both of them can put out power while you are charging them. The EcoFlow Delta 1300 has a slightly higher power capacity but costs more.
Both have internal fans running during heavy use. You can hear the fans in the Explorer from across a small room, but the Delta is far louder.
EcoFlow units have the fastest recharging technology on the market right now. The Delta can recharge in 2-3 hours with a wall outlet or gas generator. Or get 2 EcoFlow 160W Solar Panels (about $450 each) and charge the battery in about 4 hours under strong sunlight. But all of this recharging speed brings the total cost to the same or more than a high capacity solar generator. Plus, the recharging speed from a wall outlet means nothing when you’re buying a solar power station to be more prepared for power failure.
The Explorer charges in less than 7 hours with a wall plug. And with solar panels in about 8-9 hours of direct sunlight.
However, the Jackery Explorer 1000 seems to have an overall better design and costs about $900 less (comparing units with 2 solar panels for each.)
At about 6 lbs, the Jackery Explorer 240 is one of the most lightweight of all solar generators. It has a couple USB ports, an AC outlet and a cigarette lighter/DC 12/24V port.
It’s great for recharging or running small electronics, like laptops, tablets, phones, etc. And it takes between 5-6 hours to charge, whether by wall outlet, solar panel or car charging.
If you want twice the power, the Jackery Explorer 500 is a great choice.
Note that these units do not come with a solar panel. You can get a 60W Jackery solar panel made for either the 240 or the 500 unit.
These are nice, but a bit bulky unless you’re stowing them in your RV or camper. If you want something smaller, lighter and about half the price, you can get a Keyshoyal 60W panel that works with the Jackery 240.
Okay, by now, you’ve seen a lot of Jackery items recommended here. Why?
I’ve looked closely at a lot of other brands, such as Renogy, Generark, NexPow, FlashFish, Baldr, Point Zero Energy and more. But I’ve used Jackery for years and I’ll have to agree with the experts: nobody beats the Jackery brand for dependable, durable, time-tested products.
An Apple battery engineer founded Jackery in 2012. (As you probably know, Apple batteries are world class.) Shortly after, Jackery released the first portable lithium battery power station for outdoor enthusiasts. Over the years, they have just been getting better and better.
I own several models from several brands (4Patriot, Jackery and others), have researched these over 40 hours, and I love the Feelle power bank.
Feelle was one of the first to provide solar chargers with four panels. Many other units have 3. As you may know, the speed of charging has so much to do with the angle of the panel oriented with the sun.
Being prepared means having a charger that works while you’re on the move. Simply attach the battery section to your backpack and let the other panels drape down over your pack as you hike. Having the extra panels means it’s more likely at least one panel will be better oriented to catch sun rays. Which means faster charging.
Getting 25000mAh in a 1.3 lb package small enough to tuck in my backpack – that’s very nice. And it’s plenty to power your phones, iPads, radios, etc.
Three types of panels are common:
Notice in the models listed above that some come as a kit with solar panels. Others do not and must be bought separately.
60 watt panels won’t put out nearly as much power as a 100 watt panel. This is a huge factor in how long it will take to charge the battery.
Invest in better panels. It’s worth it.
Home emergency preparation? You’ll probably want the Bluetti AC200P or Jackery Explorer 1000 along with the highest wattage solar panels available for the unit. Plus a gas-powered generator. This way you can run a mini fridge, maybe another small appliance and also charge your essential devices.
Either of these units can be charged pass-through. Which means you can run your fridge while you periodically charge the battery with your gas generator or solar panels.
For your home, you also might want to look into rooftop solar panels. These are far more designed for the weather than the portable panels.
Want to stock up your go bag or get home bag? Check out the Feelle solar charger.
Camping or RV trekking? Great! This is a fun and effective way to practice getting prepared for crisis times. Either the Jackery Explorer 500 or 1000 are likely the best solar generator you’ll find. Add a couple of the 100W solar panels (or get a kit with them included) to enjoy the fastest charging times.