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Solar generators are generators that do not require you keep fuel on hand because these models harness the rays of the sun and create power from those rays. While there are some units that can power a large section of your home and some major appliances, portable models are those that you can take with you. You can use one when tailgating before a championship game, when hosting a party in your backyard or while camping in a state park.
The number one choice for outdoor enthusiasts is the Goal Zero Yeti 400 (Check on Amazon.com). The Yeti 400 has three-pronged outlets for use with devices that need grounded outlets and USB ports that let you plug in a tablet or phone. It also comes with the solar panel needed to power your devices and can work with other 400 motors to form a chain.
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Top 10 Portable Solar Generators Comparison Chart
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1. Goal Zero Yeti 400 with Nomad 20
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 with Nomad 20 is our top choice for a portable model because it functions just as well in the wilderness as it does in the comfort of your home. Unlike other manufacturers that sell generators and panels separately, Goal Zero includes a 20-watt panel with this model.
It plugs right into the side and helps charge the generator faster than others do.
A built-in inverter helps absorb and keep energy stored inside the panel cells, which allow you to use the motor long after the sun sets. If you need to use the generator when there isn’t much sun, you can use adapters to charge it with the cigarette lighter in your vehicle or with any nearby electrical outlet. It features two USB ports on the front and two AC outlets as well as a digital display that shows the battery power left.
2. Renogy Phoenix with Replaceable Battery
One of the best choices for those who don’t want to carry a heavy model and multiple accessories is this Renogy Phoenix Portable All-in-one Solar Kit with Replaceable Battery, which looks like an ordinary suitcase. When you open that case though, you’ll find the solar cells that you need when camping and hiking.
It provides power to most basic appliances and devices, including computers, microwaves and phones.
Built-in MPPP charging technology actually tracks the sky to find the best place for it to charge, and it can charge in a few hours or less when the sun is bright. When the sun is low or there are clouds in the sky, charging the motor can take a lot longer.
This unique generator features four input ports that you can use for charging the motor with adapters that you use with a wall outlet or in your vehicle. It also has eight output ports for charging and running devices that include four USB ports.
3. Goal Zero Y400B50K Yeti 400
Another option from Goal Yeti that you can use while on vacation is this Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station Kit with Boulder 50 Panel. This set comes with the same Yeti 400 that other sets do, which has multiple input and output ports for plugging in all your electronics and for charging its internal battery.
You can use a chain system to hook up several generators and have enough power for a weekend away from home.
With the include panel, you can use this set as a backup power source during a home emergency too. This panel looks like a large blanket but features an aluminum frame that helps it sit upright and a tempered glass frame that allows it to absorb more sunlight. An included kickstand helps you arrange the panel to absorb more of the sun’s rays.
4. Goal Zero Yeti 150 with Nomad 20 Solar Panel
This Goal Zero Yeti 150 with Nomad 20 Panel is another solid choice for those who love traveling, camping or spending time outdoors. The Yeti power station that comes with this set has outlets on the front that you can use with most traditional devices like a lamp or electric grill, but it also has USB ports for plugging in the electronics that you want to use like your phone or tablet.
You can use, run and charge five devices at once with this Yeti set.
Included with the set is a panel that stores some of the power created to help you use those devices later in the day or when you’re out of the sun. It can take up to 30 hours to fully charge the power station with the solar panel, but you can use other methods to charge it too.
5. Monerator Gusto 10 Eco Kit
Keep your phone charged during an emergency and have fun listening to the radio on vacation with this Solar Generator Portable (128Wh – 40,000mAh – 140W) LiFePo4 Battery. It comes with a small panel that you can easily carry with you as well as a small cord that connects the panel to the power station to charge the internal battery.
The included wall adapter makes it easy to keep it charged before you leave too.
All the inputs and outputs on this power station make it easy for you to charge and use smaller devices and appliances. It has three USB ports that work with phones, cameras, tablets and laptops, four DC outlets and a 110V AC outlet. Weighing under five pounds, it has a maximum output of 140 watts and can last for up to 1,000 charges and uses.
6. AUDEW 220Wh/60,000mAh
A built-in cooling fan inside this AUDEW Portable 220Wh/60,000mAh protects the motor on this generator and keeps it at the optimum temperature for long-term use. Though it does not come with the solar panels needed to charge the battery, it does come with an AC adapter for charging it in your home or with an available outlet.
It will work with most solar panels made by other companies and typically charges in eight hours or less.
Capable of powering all your necessary devices, it will last for up to seven hours before it needs charging, but it will last even longer when you stick to smaller devices like a phone. You can use either USB ports or AC ports based on your devices. This model has a battery management system designed to extend the life of its internal battery too.
7. Goal Zero 22004 Yeti 150
A good alternative for those who want a generator they can take with them is the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station, which works great with smaller devices. While it’s not strong enough to power your kitchen’s refrigerator, it can charge your phone, tablet and computer to let you watch movies and stay connected when the power is out.
The front of this power station features a battery light that shows you the percentage of battery power left.
Also on the front are several inputs that let you choose how you want to charge the power station. You can use adapters that you already own to charge it via a wall outlet or with the adapter/cigarette lighter in your vehicle. This also works as a solar generator, but you’ll need to purchase solar panels from the manufacturer first.
Though small in size, this Goal Zero Yeti power station can charge, run and power up to five devices at the same time. Depending on the number of devices you plug in, the power station can run for hours.
8. PAXCESS TeGenerator-01 100-Watt Power Inverter
Whether you want to use your computer on a camping trip or charge your phone during an emergency, this PAXCESS 100-Watt Portable Power Inverter can help. This solar charger has a battery life indicator on the front that shows you exactly how much life is left in that battery.
The digital screen on the front also shows you the power type you selected and some other basic info.
Outputs and outlets on the generator can accommodate all the smaller appliances that you need during a power failure, including smartphones from leading manufacturers, computers, tablets, radios, fans and some medical devices. PAXCESS clearly marked each of those outlets too.
It can charge your laptop two times and provide your rechargeable lantern with up to 45 hours of light on a single charge. You can also use the included adapters to charge the motor with your car’s cigarette lighter or an electrical outlet. PAXCESS sells a solar panel separately that plugs right into the generator to charge it while outside.
9. AMSU 3.3lb 100W (Peak 200W)
One of the most affordable options for those who want a portable solar generator that they can use at home and when tailgating or camping is this AMSU 3.3lb 100W(Peak 200W) Portable. Weighing well under four pounds, it has a convenient handle at the top that lets you carry it to your car or around your home when using and storing it.
It has a peak rating of 200 watts and will work with any device that only uses 100 watts.
The end of the generator features five outlets that you use use for powering both AC and DC devices. On the front of the generator are several buttons for turning it on and for changing the power flow. It also has a bright screen that shows you the battery life remaining.
An included charging cable works with an 18 volt panel for charging the motor. You also get an adapter for using this unit with your car’s cigarette lighter and adapters for charging it via a standard wall outlet or in your car.
10. RAVPower 15000mAh (US-RP-PB-003)
If you need to charge one or more smartphones while on a camping trip, you’ll appreciate having this RAVPower 15000mAh Outdoor Portable Charger Power Bank Dual USB External Battery Pack Power Pack tucked inside your bag. Though it isn’t a traditional model that can charge multiple devices, it does use solar power.
It works with leading phones from top brands like Apple and Samsung.
Depending on the type of phone you have, it charger can charge your phone more than four times before you need to place it back in the sunlight. If the sky is cloudy, you can use a DC adapter to charge it instead of using the sun. Keep in mind that using this device in warmer climates or when it’s hotter out can result in the temperature frying the device.
This model also comes with a built-in flashlight that comes on when you press and hold a button on the side. You can use the LED light to illuminate your path.
The top portable solar generator is definitely the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Kit with Nomad 20. Goal Zero makes some of the top model devices on the market and sells those products under the Yeti name. This Yeti model comes with built-in inverters that actually absorb and store the power produced by the sun to power your devices when the sun sets or clouds appear in the sky.
Designed to work with medical devices like a CPAP machine, it will also power a laptop computer, lights and smartphones. You can use it with rechargeable devices like lanterns when camping too. It produces a continuous 300 watts of power that will work with most devices and electronics.
This set comes with the panel that you need for charging the motor, and that panel plugs right into the side. You can use it as-is and on its own, but you can also hook it up to one or more other Yeti 400 generators to create a larger chain of power for all your devices. It is safe to use inside and outside and has both traditional outlets and USB ports as well as a battery indicator on the front.
How to Choose the Perfect One
Solar generators use the sun’s rays as a power source and give you access to power whenever you need it. Asking just a few questions before you buy can help you find the top solar unit or your needs.
1. Does the Motor Supply Enough Watts?
The first question that you need to ask is whether the motor can supply enough watts to run your everyday devices and appliances. Heaters and air conditioners need at least 1,000 watts, and appliances like your refrigerator need between 800 and 1,200 watts depending on overall size. You also need to factor in the watts that your phone, lights and other things you need during an emergency use.
Keep in mind that this models are not whole home generators. The model that you choose may supply enough power to run your microwave, turn on some lights and charge your phone or play your radio. If you need more watts, it’s smart to invest in multiple generators for different areas of your home.
2. How Many Panels Can You Use?
The amount of power and how long that power lasts depends on the number of panels included in the set. A single panel of a smaller size can absorb and create enough power to run a smaller appliance for up to an hour or more, while a larger panel can continually run a larger appliance as long as it has access to the sun. You may want to select a unit from a manufacturer that lets you purchase other panels that work with that motor.
3. How Much Does it Weigh?
Though weight may not seem like a major factor for you, it will determine how easily you can move the generator for use in other areas of your house. The unit can easily weigh 300 pounds or more, but smaller models weigh less than 100 pounds. Larger models sometimes come with wheels that make it easier for you to roll the generator around your home.
4. What Types of Outlets are Included?
It often come with DC outlets on the size that have either two or three holes in each one. This lets you plug in devices that need grounded outlets and those that can work with standard outlets. Some feature USB outlets too that let you plug in, charge and use smaller electronic devices like a tablet for your kids or a smartphone to contact loved ones.