10 Best Solar Generators of 2022 with Advanced Buyer’s Guide
The charge controller, the inverter, the difference between lead-acid and lithium-iron batteries… choosing the best solar generator can be confusing if you’re not an expert.
Ask 10 people and most can’t even tell watts from volts.
To help you, I’ve got the lowdown on the 10 best solar generator units, together with the pros and cons of each product, so you can choose the one that works for you.
I'll also explain how a solar generator works, why you might need one, and things to look out for when buying one.
Let’s get down to it.
My Top 3 Picks: Best Solar Generators of 2022
Overall Rating: 5/5
Renogy Lycan 5000 Power Box
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Jackery Explorer 1000
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
10 Best Solar Generators (Reviewed by An Electrical Engineer)
1. Bluetti AC200P Portable Power Station
Battery Capacity: 2000Wh | Rated Output: 2000W | Charging Time: 3-4 hours | Weight: 60 lbs.
If I could pick only one of the bunch, it would have to be the Bluetti AC200P, a power station that packs a lot of punch for its size.
In a well-rounded package, you get a total of 17 output ports to power your gadgets, including the two ultra-handy wireless charging pads.
With a power capacity of 2000W, this power station can run almost any appliance, including my fridge, microwave, toaster, and in a pinch — even a room heater.
Thanks to the surge power of 4800 watts, the AC200P has no trouble firing up power tools and machines with AC motors.
The new lithium-iron technology gives you an insane battery life of more than 3,500 charge cycles. This means you won’t have to think about getting one for the next 10 years, even with heavy use.
This is hands-down the best solar generators to get in 2022 as it ticks all the boxes.
Why Do I Like It?
The innovative lithium-iron battery and 700W solar charge capacity give me superfast solar charging. I can run my camping gear all night, and the AC200P still gets to fully charge until lunchtime.
2. Renogy Lycan 5000 Power Box — Best for Home Backup
Battery Capacity: 4800Wh | Rated Output: 3500W | Charging Time: 2.5 hours | Weight: 265 lbs.
This Power Box looks like something Steven Seagal and his team of commandos would roll out of a cargo plane.
In other words, Renogy Lycan 5000 means business!
This isn't your wireless iPhone charger, and you bet you can’t take this one camping.
The Power Box is 3500 watts of raw AC power coupled with a 4.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-iron battery with a single mission — to keep your home online when a disaster strikes and the power goes out.
This Renogy Power Box comes with an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), so all you need is to hook your Lycan 5000 to your home’s main switchboard and you’re all set.
The voltage can rise and drop, but your electronics and appliances will remain safe.
And if 4.8kWh capacity isn't enough for your Alcázar, you can expand the system with extra batteries to a total of 19.2 kilowatt-hours.
Why Do I Like It?
The Lycan 5000 has the highest solar input capacity of all the solar generators on the list — an unbelievable 4400 watts. Hope you have room for all those panels.
3. Jackery Explorer 1000 — Best Value Option
Battery Capacity: 1002Wh | Rated Output: 1000W | Charging Time: 8 hours | Weight: 22 lbs.
Very competitively priced and with a solid capacity and power output, the Jackery Explorer 1000 is indeed a Jack-of-all-Trades — and master of many.
The Explorer is the best solar generator for campers, adventurers, and all those outdoor types who need plenty of power on the go.
With a weight of 22 lbs and a beefy molded handle, the Explorer 1000 is one of the most portable solar generators on the list. Still, don’t let the compact dimensions fool you.
Its 1000 watts of continuous AC power and the 1002Wh battery are enough to power an electric grill for 50 minutes, a TV for 13 hours, and a mini-fridge for 17 hours.
And if you can’t leave your work behind, your boss will be happy — With the Explorer 1000, you can charge your Macbook Pro eight times — on a single charge.
Why Do I Like It?
You don’t come to appreciate some features until you start using the device. Jackery Explorer series have all their ports on one side. This way I can always tell what goes in and what goes out.
4. Bluetti EP500 5100Wh/2000W Power Station — Most Capable
Battery Capacity: 5100Wh | Rated Output: 2000W | Charging Time: 5 hours | Weight: 167 lbs.
Every now and then you run into a product that is so high above the competition that all the other companies start firing their team leaders and re-evaluating their R&D strategies.
The EP500 from Bluetti is an absolute Terminator of this list.
Built like a Peterbilt truck, this solar generator delivers 2000 watts of AC power, with the surge power peak at 4800 watts. This means the Power Station can kickstart even the largest appliances without missing a beat.
As if that wasn’t enough, the EP500 is built around a 5100Wh lithium-iron battery that can power your entire house for a day or two in case of an unexpected outage.
Like its smaller and more popular cousin, the AC200P, this Big Brother comes with the latest features like the smart touchscreen, wireless charging docks, and app remote control.
Ok, now it's time to address the 167 lbs elephant in the room. Even on wheels, this massive solar generator can hardly be called portable.
Not to mention, that it’s the most expensive product on the list, even with a $400 discount (as of the time of writing).
Why Do I Like It?
The EP500 allows for simultaneous AC and solar charging that manages to fully charge its beast of a battery in only 1.5 hours.
5. Goal Zero Yeti 3000X Portable Power Station — Best for Parties
Battery Capacity: 3032Wh | Rated Output: 2000W | Charging Time: 6 hours | Weight: 70 lbs.
The size of a portable cooler, the Yeti 3000X can kickstart your party anytime, anywhere.
Thanks to its generous 3032Wh lithium battery, it’s an ideal choice for off-grid weekends. Take it to your cabin, and it will power anything from a coffee pot to a full-size fridge.
And if the party draws late into the night, you don’t have to worry. Hook the Yeti to your solar panels in the morning and it will be full as new after 6 hours.
While you can charge the 3000X from the wall and solar panels, the package also includes the Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 12V Car Charging Cable, so you can safely charge it from your car's 12V outlet.
*Caution: If you use a regular 12V charging cable you risk damaging the solar generator.
Why Do I Like It?
The Goal Zero Yeti 3000X is the one you need if you have to park far from the site. With its big wheels and carriage, this is a true all-terrain solar generator. Unload it from the back of your truck and roll it in like a beer keg.
6. EcoFlow Delta 1300 — Best Allrounder
Battery Capacity: 1260Wh | Rated Output: 1800W | Charging Time: 4 hours | Weight: 31 lbs.
If you had to close your eyes and pick one of these solar generators, let me tell you — pick the EcoFlow Delta 1300 and you can call it a day.
Beautifully designed in two-tone gray and with a big negative-LED display, the Delta feels at home on your countertop, among other high-end kitchen appliances.
But it’s not only the looks — this one has brains too. Thanks to the patented X-Stream Technology, the Delta can recharge from the grid in only 1 hour!
The 1260 watt-hour lithium battery delivers 1800 watts of constant power, which is enough to power a microwave, 50” TV, an electric frying pan, a fridge, and even a hairdryer.
Although small in size, your hairdryer is one of the top power hogs, as it runs both the electric motor and the heating coils.
However I had to give the Delta 1300 a mid-range place on the list for two reasons:
Why Do I Like It?
To be honest, most of these generators look like something you pick up from a workshop and use for welding. The EcoFlow Delta 1300 looks like an expensive designer appliance that fits perfectly into any bachelor pad.
7. EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station — Ton of Bang for the Buck
Battery Capacity: 720Wh | Rated Output: 600W | Charging Time: 3 hours | Weight: 17 lbs.
You’re a weekend hunter, fisherman, or camper. You value gear that works under any conditions but you don’t want to break the bank.
Like its big cousin, the Delta 1300, the EcoFlow River Pro uses the same ultrafast charging technology, so you can charge it from the wall from 0 to 80% in an hour.
On the business end, the River Pro may not power a microwave oven or an electric grill, but it still packs enough power to run the fridge, coffee maker, or TV in your cabin.
Go off-grid and you get 10 charges for your laptop or no less than 60 charges for your phone.
On the downside, you’d struggle to run any serious power tools or appliances, so I can’t recommend this as a backup power source for your home or workshop.
Why Do I Like It?
I like the fast-charge 60W USB-C port. This way I can top off my drone even when the AC outlets are taken.
8. Jackery Explorer 500 — Best Lightweight
Battery Capacity: 518Wh | Rated Output: 500W | Charging Time: 7.5 hours | Weight: 13 lbs.
At half the weight, the Jackery Explorer 500 keeps all the good perks of the 1000 model but in a less powerful and less expensive package.
If you need a solar generator that will keep the total weight of your gear at a minimum, this one's for you.
The Explorer 500 will see you through any camping weekend, and if you pair it with a couple of SolarSaga 100W panels, you can also take it on an RV road trip.
Just make sure not to plug anything more powerful than 500W — (See How To Determine The Size Of Solar Generator That You Need).
If you like to travel light, you don’t need anything bigger than the Explorer 500. I use mine to make a smoothie in my blender, power a mini cooler, and charge my Macbook.
Why Do I Like It?
I couldn’t believe I’d be using the built-in flashlight that much. When you’re out camping, the only source of light is the one you make. With the Jackery around, I never have to fumble around for a flashlight when I hear something strange outside the tent.
9. Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station — Best for Stealth Camping
Battery Capacity: 505Wh | Rated Output: 300W | Charging Time: 3-6 hours | Weight: 13 lbs.
With the virus still rampant, campgrounds across the country are closed, giving way to a new trend — stealth camping.
The idea is simple, you park in a public place of choice and spend the night in the back of your van — just like the couple of FBI agents doing a stakeout.
With the capacity of just above 500Wh and 300W of power, the Yeti 500X is perfect for this role.
Stealth camping is all about comfort, but doesn’t involve high-power appliances. Just a fridge, electric blanket, lights, and something to charge your laptop, phone, and camera.
This solar generator gives you 2 AC outlets, a 12V car port, another 6 mm 12V port, and three USB ports, including one with fast 60W charging.
This is more than enough to power pretty much anything a stealth camper needs.
And when the voltage drops, prop up two Boulder 100 panels on your truck roof and charge the Yeti from the sun.
Why Do I Like It?
It’s not common for a solar generator this size to come with a regulated 12V port. I use it to run my Dometic fridge, leaving the AC ports free for lights and the electric blanket.
10. Tacklife P50 500Wh Portable Power Station — Best for Off-Grid Office
Battery Capacity: 500Wh | Rated Output: 300W | Charging Time: 5-6 hours | Weight: 14 lbs.
The COVID-19 epidemics have motivated many people to rethink their working-from-home environment. However, some of us didn’t like the idea of staying inside day after day.
We found great and inspirative off-grid sites to pitch our offices:
What’s missing — a Tacklife P50 Portable Power Station.
While not as rugged as the Jackery 500, the Tacklife is an ideal tabletop solar generator with plenty of charging options.
I use the two pure sine wave 110V AC outlets for sensitive equipment like the laptop and TV, and run the portable fridge with a 12V ports.
You need to charge several phones? Maybe a smartwatch? The P50 comes with 5 USB ports including a 60W one, and there’s the famous wireless charging pad at the top.
Why Do I Like It?
If I had a say, all solar generators would have a nice 5000k floodlight like this one and you wouldn't need another light source in and around your tent. Use the power button to cycle through several brightness modes.
Comparison Table: The Ultimate Showdown!
Battery Life Cycles
Solar Charging Time
Bluetti AC200P Portable Power Station
Renogy Lycan 5000 Power Box
Jackery Explorer 1000
Bluetti EP500 5100Wh/2000W Power Station
Goal Zero Yeti 3000X Portable Power Station
EcoFlow Delta 1300
EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station
Jackery Explorer 500
Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station
Tacklife P50 500Wh Portable Power Station
What Is A Solar Generator?
A solar generator is a device you can use to power to your appliances in case of an outage or when you don’t have access to grid power.
In the off-grid mode, solar generators use solar panels to charge up, so manufacturers sometimes offer special “solar generator + panel” deals.
Most solar generators are made to be portable — designed as a sturdy box that contains the battery, inverter, and the control circuits.
On the outside, a solar generator usually has:
However, not all solar generators are the same and not all generators work with all solar panels. There are a few things you need to know before you go shopping.
But first, let’s explain how these power stations work.
How Do Solar Generators Work?
Every solar generator today consists of two main parts:
When you plug your device into a solar generator you’re basically using the power stored in its battery.
You can charge it in three ways:
This is the easiest way — just plug the solar generator into a wall outlet and charge it like any battery-run device until it beeps 100%.
This is also the fastest way, EcoFlow solar generators can go from 0-80% in just one hour.
However, I don’t need to tell you that grid charging is only possible when you have access to…well, the grid.
This is why we value and rate solar generators for their ability to take charge from solar panels in the first place.
Solar panels provide free and clean power during the day and for many users, the main point of having a solar generator is to be able to charge it from the sun.
Solar charging speed depends on the size and number of your panels, the size of the battery, and the solar input power that the generator can take.
For solar charging, you need a special solar adapter cable that some manufacturers include in the solar generator kit.
An average solar charging time is around 5 hours, but large generators like Renogy Lycan 5000 and Bluetti EP500 have a dual-charging mode which lets you charge from the grid and solar at the same time.
This way you can charge even a 5000Wh battery in just 1 hour.
This is definitely the slowest way of charging, but here’s the deal:
If you have to drive all night and need your solar generator locked and loaded by tomorrow morning, that 12V car charger becomes your best friend.
The Bluetti AC200P, for example, takes 14 hours to top off with a 12V charger.
What to Look For When Buying A Solar Generator
Always Go Portable
Whether you need a solar generator to take camping, load aboard your boat, or keep it at your home as backup power, you need a product you can carry relatively easily.
If you’re an outdoorsy type, you already know what I’m talking about. You already have a lot of gear to haul around, and to be honest, a solar generator is not the lightest item on the list.
But I don’t plan to take mine anywhere.
Well, I’m sure that the good people of Houston didn’t plan to go anywhere as well, but when Harvey struck in 2017 and flooded the whole area, many of them were running for their lives.
Believe me, when I say that portable is always better, so you best choose one with a solid carrying handle.
High Solar Input and Charging Speed
The solar input wattage tells you how much power the generator can receive from solar panels.
For example, the Bluetti AC200P has a solar input of 700 watts. This means that you can hook it up to 7x100W or 3x200W solar panels and its 2000Wh battery will recharge in 3-4 hours.
Such efficient solar charging wouldn't be possible without the MPPT (Multiple Power Point Tracking) controllers.
This device evens out the voltage difference between an undercharged battery and solar panels. As a result, almost all the solar energy they produce is used to charge the generator.
The MPPT controller is a standard feature of many modern solar generators, but please go through the specs sheet before you buy.
So to conclude, if fast solar charging is your priority, look for solar generators that offer plenty of solar input.
On the other hand, if you want to fully use the enormous 1200W solar input of the Bluetti EP500 and fill up its 5100Wh battery, you’ll have to deploy 12x100W or 6x200W solar panels.
There’s no magic to it. Having high solar input is always good, but you’ll definitely need more than 2 solar panels to reach it.
This is why it’s important to prioritize your needs and buy the solar generator you can make the most use of.
Always ask two questions:
The More Outlets The Merrier
I rarely need to use all six USB ports, but I always recommend generators with at least three AC outlets.
On the other hand, having a regulated 12V and a fast-charging 60W USB-C port is always a bonus as you can charge the laptop and leave a 110V outlet free for another appliance.
Lithium batteries have become a gold standard for solar generators. They are lightweight and can take deep discharge up to 80-90% without losing capacity over time.
Talking of losing capacity, these batteries are rated by their life cycles or the number of times you can fully charge and discharge the battery until the capacity drops below 80%.
These life cycles often spark a lot of heated discussion in the online community — How much is too much and how much is too little?
The answer is simple, if you’re going to use your solar generator every weekend or twice a month, even a 500-cycle Jackery Explorer would serve you 10 years easily.
On the other hand, if you’ll be using your solar generator day in and out, choose something with more life cycles, such as the Bluetti AC200P.
You’ll see that some products have lithium-ion and others lithium-iron (LiFePO4) batteries.
You can’t go wrong with either kind.
Li-ion batteries weigh less and keep the whole price down, while Li-Fe batteries are heavier but last much longer (3000-5000 life cycles).
Ask About Company’s Reputation
This one is fairly easy — just look for the company’s website. If the presentation is full of information, downloadable manuals and tech sheets, instructional videos, you’re probably at the right place.
Reputable companies have issued a number of products over time, improving the capabilities and design in every next generation.
These companies usually offer their proprietary solar panels, extra batteries, inverters, and other pieces of solar equipment that are most likely compatible with their solar generators.
Stay away from products you can buy only on e-commerce sites. These are most likely made with substandard components and sold under different obscure brand names.
What To Avoid When Choosing A Solar Generator
Say No to Lead-Acid Batteries
Although these batteries use a reliable and time-tested technology and cost less than any type of lithium battery, in my opinion, lead-acids have had their heyday and now it’s time for retirement.
Not only do lead-acid batteries weigh more than lithium batteries, but they are also more sensitive to the depth of discharge (DoD).
If you regularly discharge the battery completely, you are reducing the number of life cycles. The manufacturers usually recommend discharging lead-acid cells to only 50% of their capacity.
On the other hand, lead-acid is still fine for your car as the battery is taking charge as you drive so the capacity rarely drops under 50%.
As an added bonus, lithium batteries have a high energy density, which means they are better suited for power-hungry appliances that drain batteries fast.
Poor Power-Capacity Ratio
Many solar generators failed to enter this Top 10 list because they either had a ton power rating and low battery capacity or the other way round.
A high power rating of 2000 or even 3000 watts means little if the battery can deliver only 1500 watt-hours of charge.
Your solar generator should be able to run powerful appliances, but it has to be supported by a decent battery.
The other way round also makes little sense — why would you haul almost a 100 lbs weight of batteries if you can barely power a 1000W microwave with that system.
Among other things, we handpicked the products in this list for their optimum power-battery combos.
How To Determine The Size Of Solar Generator That You Need? *Important
The size of a solar generator means two things:
Determines how long you can power your appliances without having to charge the generator.
This value is measured in watt-hours (Wh).
For example, if a generator has 3000Wh, it can power a 100W TV for 25 hours, a 60W laptop for 50 hours, or a 1250W electric grill for 2.4 hours.
To find the right generator capacity for your needs, you need to add up all power ratings you want to use at the same time and multiply with the number of hours..
Let’s say you need to power:
fridge (160W) + TV (110W) + electric blanket (100W) + lighting (50W) = 420 W
For seven hours each day
420W x 7 h = 2940Wh that you need.
A quick scroll to the comparison table above and the generator you need is the Goal Zero Yeti 3000X.
Of course, if you need less power, you don’t need to splurge with such a big battery.
Tells you the total wattage the solar generator can deliver at the same time until the battery runs out.
For example, the 1000W Jackery Explorer can power:
And there’s still plenty of power left to charge my GoPro, phone, and drone.
There’s also the surge output, which is the extra-high wattage the generator can deliver over a few milliseconds to fire up machines that suck a lot of power at startup
Benefits Of A Solar Generator
Solar generators have many benefits over fuel-powered generators.
Delivers Free and Clean Energy
Once you pay for the solar generator and the panels to go with it, everything else is pretty much free. You have an unlimited supply of energy from dawn to dusk, no matter how far from the nearest outlet.
With a solar generator, I don’t have to think about fuel price fluctuations. Solar all the way, baby!
Has Low Running Cost
Since there’s no fuel, no lubricants, no moving parts that can wear out, solar generators need very little maintenance.
If you charge it as instructed, take care of the battery, and not try anything your generator isn’t made for, you won’t have to replace anything for many years.
Lets You Hear The Leaves
Back in the day you could easily tell if there’s another campsite nearby by the characteristic rumbling sound of a gas generator.
Solar generators are virtually noiseless and in my opinion much more wildlife-friendly. I‘m sure that Mrs. Squirrel cares little about the noise your old gas generator used to make.
On the other hand, if you plan to use the generator inside, keep in mind that cooling fans still produce a kind of whirring noise when engaged to full power.
Make sure you read user reviews to confirm the manufacturers’ claims on noiseless fans.
Take it Everywhere You Go
Gas-powered generators need an IC engine and a fuel tank, both of which add serious bulk to the whole rig.
Solar generators, on the other hand, use lithium batteries that make the total package much more compact and portable.
You don’t see any carrying handles on gas generators, eh?
How to Maintain a Solar Generator?
Apart from keeping it clean with a soft cloth, all the maintenance tips are more-less similar to any piece of electronic equipment.
Don’t Let It Get Wet
While some solar generators have some degree of water resistance, it doesn’t mean you can leave your outside in a rain. If you’re out in the woods, protect it from the elements with a piece of tarp or at least bring it under your tent awning.
Keep It Out of Sunlight
Here’s the deal: The solar panels need a lot of sunlight while the solar generator doesn't need any. Keep yours in a cooler place so the fans can do their job if the battery gets too hot..
Don’t Let It Catch Cold
The temperature range of most solar generators starts at 0 °C or 32 °F. If you’re camping in sub-zero conditions, do yourself a favor and bring the generator inside overnight.
No, a solar generator cannot power a house. The unit may be able to temporarily power certain household appliances (like your TV unit) and handheld items like power tools, but you cannot expect a solar generator to power everything long-term. It will run out of energy before it can keep up.
Yes, solar generators do really work, but they need to be used with high-capacity solar panels in good condition. Aim for 100-watts solar panels or more and expose them to at least 6-8 hours of sunlight every day. If you live in a cloudy area, you may struggle to harness enough sunlight, so keep that in mind.
You need a solar generator that matches your power requirements. If you’re just going on a camping trip, a 500W generator would be plenty. If you’re looking for emergency power in power outages, you ideally want 2000W or higher.
You need a generator that’s at least 1500W to run a refrigerator during a blackout. In the event of a power cut, a 1500W solar generator would run a fridge for around 6 hours. The higher the wattage, the longer the fridge will run.
The largest solar generator on the market is the Goal Zero Yeti 6000X, which has 6000W of capacity. Designed for outdoor events, cabins, and tiny houses, this large solar generator weighs over 100 lbs.
Yes, you need a generator even if you have solar panels on top of your home. In the event of a power cut, your home will lose power just like any other regular home. In this case, it’s best to have a generator as a backup.
A solar generator can power a freezer, though it may not be for very long depending on the size of the generator and the freezer. A 1500W solar generator could power a large chest freezer for around 3 hours before the battery dies.
Yes, Generac does have a solar generator — the Generac Ecogen unit.
A 20kW generator will run most things in your house. You can expect a 20kW generator to keep your lights on, your electronics working, and your A/C working. If you have a smaller home, you might even be able to power the entire house as normal.
A 10,000-watt generator will run most or all of your critical household appliances. This includes the fridge, freezer, furnace, lighting, and sometimes the A/C.
Perhaps the fairest conclusion would be “to each his own” but if I had to choose one best solar generator of 2021, it would definitely be the Bluetti AC200P.
It’s compact and reasonably portable while delivering a powerful punch in both the battery capacity and power rating.
It gives me 17 outlets including two wireless charging pads, while the massive battery delivers over 3500 life cycles.
Thanks to the 700W solar input, I can fully charge it in a few hours, using only three 200W portable panels.
The beastly Renogy Lycan 5000 comes second as the unchallenged king of home backup. No bells and whistles on this one — just a huge 4800Wh battery, 3500W of AC, and three outlets to let you and yours live through the blackout.
Nikola uses his background in electrical engineering to break down complex sustainability topics for GreenCitizen’s readers. He is a firm believer in environmental conservation, which he practices daily through recycling and home-grown food. He enjoys hiking, engaging in white-water sports, and collecting pocket knives.