Best solar power generators for off-grid living from Jackery, Anker, Bluetti, EcoFlow
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One of the most useful resources we can harness in the world is solar energy.
Developing technology has meant that over the years, we’ve been able to package up generators and power sources into smaller units, making solar generators incredibly useful to the consumer market, especially when it comes to powering and charging your devices when camping or on the move.
In this article, we’ll be looking at a number of different styles of solar generators on the market at the moment, as well as compile a list of things to watch out for to ensure you find the right generator to suit your needs.
What solar generator is right for me?
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This largely depends on the kind of activity you’re doing and the kinds of devices you’ll be powering, but the first thing to know is that there are a multitude of different units and generators, of all shapes and sizes, to choose from.
Their versatility however is one of their key strengths - our recommendation would be to choose a generator that has a fair bit of ‘head room’ for your devices, ensuring you’ve got enough surplus power available.
What size solar generator do I need?
Larger devices will be able to power things like fridges, power tools and televisions, and the smaller, more portable options on this list will be able to store enough power to charge devices such as laptops, cameras, smartphones and tablets.
With many solar generators, panels can be purchased separately, which enables the units to be topped up via the mains if required. There are alternative options available however, and we’ve tested and included a couple of options here that include the foldable panels with the unit itself, either in a suitcase-style carry case or foldable, extendable units.
What wattage should I look for in a solar power generator?
In terms of power available, look for as high as possible watt-hours, which determines the capacity of the battery pack. The running watts is the power that the generator can produce continuously - different device’s requirements are normally listed on the devices themselves - you need to make sure the figures on the generator are higher than the requirements of the device.
Best solar generators at a glance
- Best for large amounts of power: Goal Zero Yeti 1500X
- Best for lightweight power: Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
- Best for charging on the go: EcoFlow 160W Foldable Solar Panel
- Best for tech: Bluetti Poweroak 500Wh Portable Solar Power Station
- Best for longevity: Anker 521 PowerHouse 200W
- Best for portability: Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Suitcase Portable Power Station
Get kitted out for your hiking and backpacking adventures
Here are our recommendations for the best portable solar generators on the market at the moment
Goal Zero Yeti 1500X
If you’ve got aspirations of off-grid living, you’ll need a solar generator that can produce enough power to run everyday appliances and tools.
The Yeti 1500X, although expensive, is one of the best on the market at the moment for this purpose - a charge controller means you’re getting efficient solar power, which can also be topped up at the mains if you need, and the unit can happily offer power for tools and home equipment - including a full-size refrigerator if you need.
We’d also happily recommend this option if you’re working on off-grid events.
Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
If you’re looking for a power option that has a little bit more portability, weight is a key consideration.
The Jackery Explorer 500 is one of the lightest lithium battery generators on the market at the moment, featuring a 518 watt/hour battery and works well when paired with the SolarSaga 100W solar panels, as with many of the generators featured here, sold separately.
Power-wise, we’d be comfortable running smaller items with this generator like mini-fridges, airpumps, mini TVs and laptop and device charging.
EcoFlow 160W Foldable Solar Panel
The instantaneous approach to the EcoFlow 160W Foldable Solar Panel charger is one of its key selling points - once the panels are unfolded the power from the sun can be captured and used to charge devices within a matter of seconds, which makes it a great option for charging devices and equipment when camping or out in the wild.
It also featured IP67 dust and water resistance, and included a kickstand to stand it up to make the most of the sun, no matter where it is in the sky.
Bluetti Poweroak 500Wh Portable Solar Power Station
If your primary consideration is ensuring you’ve got enough charge in your devices, this is the one we’d choose for tech.
It is designed specifically to power drones, laptop equipment, cameras, mobile phones and tablets, and its size makes it a great option for camping and weekend trips away, or if you’re carrying out a van build, for example.
Using a 120W solar panel (sold separately) it can produce enough power for about 4-5 hours of charging time.
Anker 521 PowerHouse 200W
Equipped with LiFePO4 batteries, Anker claims that this generator offers a 6-times longer lifespan than generators using conventional batteries.
Whatsmore, they’ve added a 5-year warranty, so this is definitely the option we’d choose if longevity and long-lasting power is a key consideration.
We like the fact that it has a number of different ports too, so you can leave the adaptors at home - USB, AC power and car outlet power are all available.
It’s also small, portable and whisper-quiet too, which is a welcome feature.
Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Suitcase Portable Power Station
This is one of the smallest portable power stations we’ve seen on the market, but is a great option if space is at a premium or you want to take the power pack on adventures.
The solar panels ship with the generator and are folded away neatly in a suitcase, with a durable handle and rugged protective case.
It’s easy to set up remotely in a variety of locations and Renogy and if you need a bit more power, Renogy also offers a 200W version too.