What Are The 5 Top-Rated Solar Generators In 2017 – Buyer’s Guide

Source: Alternative Energy Inc

Solar generators are systems that capture the sun’s energy through its photovoltaic (PV) panels. These usually consist of batteries, a charge regulator, and an inverter.

Solar generators have become increasingly common today as they have turned to be a convenient energy source that is both clean and renewable.

Who will not get frustrated when all of the sudden, you run out of power or electricity? But if you’re not yet ready to give up your primary source of power with solar electricity, why not use this as a backup power instead.

There is really no absolute reason as to why we should not use solar power, especially in staying outdoors, off the grid or during emergencies.

Below is a comprehensive list of the best solar-powered generators in the market.

5 Top-Rated Solar-Powered Generators

Due to the technological advancements, we have gained access to solar energy, a free energy that you can take anywhere you go.

There will be times local utility companies may fail us but solar energy generation (via solar generators) could help us prepare for the worst circumstances — be it a bad storm, power outages, in cases of emergencies or during outdoor activities.

However, choosing or buying a good solar generator is never a walk in the park. That is why we are here to help you decide in choosing the best by listing the best solar-powered generators that available in the market.

Solar GeneratorsPrice CheckRatingCapacityPrice
Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar GeneratorPrice Check41250 Watts + 2 x 30 Watts (Solar Panels)$$$
Wagan Solar E Power Cube 1500 Solar GeneratorPrice Check4.51500 Watts + 5 x 16 Watts (Solar Panels)$$$
Renogy Firefly All-in-One Solar Generator KitPrice Check4.5150 Watts + 20 Watts (Solar Panel)$
Anker PowerHouse Solar GeneratorPrice Check4434 Watt Hour$
Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK 558-Watt Hour Portable Solar Generator SystemPrice Check5558 Watt Hour$$

There is a wide range of solar generators in the market and when choosing what’s best for you, it’s important that you should first determine what your energy needs are.

If you’re going camping, then a portable one is highly suggested. For those planning to live off the grid, get bigger ones that are capable to power important and critical appliances. The capacity of the generator also varies — from 150-Watt capacity to 5,000-Watt capacity.

Without further ado, here’s a list of the best solar generators in the market today. Check it out and see for yourself.

1. Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator

Source: Amazon

The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator is a powerful portable solar generation device. It’s the best kit for safe and silent power generation.

It is a good indoor or outdoor backup for critical appliances such as freezers, fans, refrigerators, and home health care equipment including a CPAP machine. It also provides clean, self-sustaining power generation from sun, wall or car.

Known as the strongest solar generator in the Goal Zero’s Yeti line, it’s designed with durable panels, tempered glass and aluminum frame, which allows you to get more wattage to work with.

So, if you’re sick and tired of noise and fumes, we assure you the Yeti 1250 is silent and safe, even if you want to operate it indoors. Aside from utilizing it as a backup power source, it’s also ideal for tailgating, light duty construction, and emergencies.

The Yeti 1250 also boasts its LCD Battery Display, which comes handy when charging your gear. There are a variety of devices that can be charged using the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 such as smartphones, digital cameras, E-readers, lights, tables, laptops, tents, refrigerators, MP3 players and other 12V appliances.

📌 When it comes to its notable features, this generator is expandable, allowing you to add more solar panels to decrease the time it normally takes for it to be fully charged.

This also designed to charge through a wall outlet for 18 hours or a car 12V charger for 44 hours when the sun is not present. Though, make sure to purchase 8.0 millimeters to a 12V charger.

The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator is equipped with 2 Boulder 30 solar panels that can charge the generator in 24 hours when combined.

This portable backup power device also uses a Group 31, 12V/100 Ah sealed lead-acid battery, which should be kept full at all times.

For cold weather usage (below freezing temperatures), it’s recommended to keep the generator in an insulated cooler and connected to a power source (solar panel). This way, the battery capacity will be kept at its highest.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit larger compared to other generators of similar type. Just like Wagan Solar E Power Cube 1500, these two generators won’t actually be very practical to carry around due to its weight and size.

Even though both are classified under solar generators, the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator is basically not a solar generator but a huge power backup system, which needs extra solar panels to make it a solar one.

So, the Goal Zero type only becomes a generator when solar panels are attached to it.

Pros
  • Silent and safe
  • Safe to operate indoors, no cords
  • Easy to move around with the included rolling cart
  • Power plugs are good
Cons
  • Quite expensive
  • Heavy
  • No alarm for when the battery is about to die
  • Battery indicator doesn’t update
  • Solar panels not rated well

2.Wagan Solar E Power Cube 1500 Solar Generator

Source: Amazon

The Wagan Solar E Power Cube 1500 Solar Generator claims to be the ultimate portable power source. it’s extremely user-friendly and no connections are required.

Furthermore, this all-in-one renewable portable solar generator solution is ready to use soon after it’s out of the box.

Ideal for an au fait consumer, this portable solar generator is equipped with several useful built-in features. It includes the highest number of solar panels that are capable of delivering all the power you need.

What’s more remarkable about the Wagan model is its relatively lengthy 2-year warranty. Its battery is also entitled to a six-month warranty.

The solar panels produce 16 Watts of energy at 17 percent efficiency while the AC inverter can provide a maximum of 1,500 Watts output power capacity with 3,600 Watts peak surge.

Additional panels can also be connected via its terminals to boost more power up to 80 Watts. It has internal 10A solar controller and a built-in 55 Ah AGM/Gel hybrid battery that could be charged using the included two 115V AC or two 12V accessory vehicle DC outlets.

In addition, it’s equipped with two 5V/2.1 amp USB power ports and a digital LED voltmeter display, which could be used for checking battery status.

📌 This device brags portability and convenience, thanks to its all-terrain wheels and a heavy-duty handle.

When it comes to the solar generator’s performance, the device has a total of 5 mono-crystalline solar panels that is placed in a convenient fold out storage compartment that could be useful for additional accessories.

For its charging time, the initial AC could charge up to 24 hours and if under direct sunlight, it takes up to 18 hours to fully charge.

As for what kind of electronics and appliances the generator could power up, the device can charge several types of electronic equipment:

  • Laptops, tablets, iPads, smartphones
  • Wireless router
  • Televisions, projectors, DVD players
  • Refrigerators, freezers
  • Satellite phones
  • Game console
  • Electric grill, microwave
  • Lighting, warmer
  • Portable stereo, speakers, and radio
  • Other gadgets, devices or appliances

Even though the Wagan Solar E Power Cube Solar Generator is a must-have for those who love the great outdoors, it’s not much friendly for all your outdoor adventures.

Fortunately, the device can be perfect for developing nations and places prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters or calamities.

It’s also a perfect investment when it comes to security and military needs and for those who just wanted to enjoy life off the grid.

In comparison to the Goal Zero Yeti 1250, the Wagan E-Cube 1500 integrates a total of 80-Watt solar panels. It also provides 1500Wh of energy while the Yeti offers 1250Wh.

They also differ when it comes to their battery packs as the Wagan has a 100Ah AGM/Gel hybrid battery while Yeti had an AGM 100Ah sealed Lead-Acid battery.

Pros
  • Has collapsible handle and wheels for easy support
  • Fold-up compact design
Cons
  • One of the most expensive generators
  • Produces modified Sine waves

3. Renogy Firefly All-in-One Solar Generator Kit

Source: Amazon

If you’re one mobile outdoor junkie, then the Renogy Firefly All-in-One Solar Generator Kit is perfect for you!

With the power combination of a solar and generator in just one single durable and waterproof briefcase, running out of power in your portable electronic gadgets such as laptops, mobile phones or tablets will definitely be the least of your worries or concerns.

Renogy can produce 175Wh of energy and comes with two 10-Watt mono-crystalline solar panels, which can hold a maximum of 70-Watts input. This generator model also comes with a 150-Watt inverter, one built-in 10A charge controller and one 16Ah lithium battery.

It can also be charged through an AC power adapter. Moreover, the device is equipped with a forthright LCD, which displays the battery capacity details, not to mention the AC and DC output buttons that allow easy switching between the two output modes.

The Renogy Firefly All-in-One Solar Generator Kit’s ideal for camping or to be used as an emergency back power. it’s also compatible in recharging portable electronic devices under 150 Watts.

📌 With a dimension of 15.63 x 12.67 x 4.15 inches and a weight of 12 pounds, this solar generator is one of the smallest and most compact solar generation units in the market.

It’s designed with a built-in 3-Watt LED SOS/Lighting mode flashlight that is located on the side of the machine for added safety and in cases of emergencies.

Unfortunately, despite being fantastically good for portable use, Renogy Firefly has one weak point and that would be its door area, which has a rubber O-ring that only helps when it’s closed. When open water could get into the electrical connections, it would definitely cause problems.

Compared to the Wagan Solar E-Cube, the Renogy Firefly is more recommended for outdoor and portable use. When it comes to its capacity, Renogy is a basic solar generator that offers 175Wh of solar energy.

But these two are among the most top-rated generators so the best way to decide is to determine the budget and your power needs. If you need more energy, then choose Wagan but if you need an alternative power source for simple outings, Renogy Firefly is a smart option.

Pros
  • Simple plug-and-play system
  • Waterproof
  • Portable
  • Easy to use and transport
  • Versatile and expandable
Cons
  • Does not have a replaceable battery
  • Quite expensive compared to other similar types of generator

4. Anker PowerHouse 400Wh Solar Generator

Source: Amazon

Known as the new line of the solar generator from leading mobile power company Anker, the PowerHouse 400Wh Solar Generator is a great option for those who are searching for a type of generator that doesn’t need too much power for their electronic devices.

The PowerHouse offers the option of adding solar panels that can fully charge the device with 16 hours of sunlight (initial charging time for this device took less than 4 hours to get a full charge while charges from a full discharge are estimated between 8 to 10 hours).

It also brags its triple output mode — a 12V car socket, an 110V AC outlet (for devices up to 120V) and 4 fast charging USB ports.

Its compact and durable body sheathes a 434Wh of power, which is enough to power a laptop up to 15 times or can charge a mobile phone up to 40 times.

With its four USB ports powered by fast-charging PowerIQ technology, it ensures that phones, tablets, and cameras stay charged throughout the day.

📌 The Battery Management System features the following:

  • Ensures complete protection by conducting active cell balancing and controlling voltages
  • Temperatures and advanced safety operations to prevent shorts
  • Optimize battery performance to extend battery life.
  • Comes with a portable power supply
  • 10-foot AC adapter
  • 2-foot microUSB charge cable

It can also illuminate a 15V lamp for more than 100 hours. Crafted using only the highest-grade materials, the PowerHouse is sturdy and its drop-tested aluminum shell is built to withstand the rigor of outdoor activities.

Aside from that, what really got the attention of its consumers are its multiple charging and discharging methods.

The Anker PowerHouse is a remarkably compact and portable off-grid power supply for camping and emergency purposes. It’s also the smallest and lightest 400Wh power supply in the market. Its high-density lithium-ion battery allows for a more compact build compared to the lead-acid power packs.

However, you should note that the Anker PowerHouse is not a power generator but it’s more of a very large battery. Even though the company has created a good product, it can still improve its pricing and expansion options.

There may be some minor issues that would make you think twice in choosing this device but Anker is trying its best to address them.

Anker Powerhouse has a similar setup to the Goal Zero charging systems. The Anker PowerHouse and Goal Zero Yeti 400 are both very popular models and come from two leading companies.

They also have so many similarities — from almost the same power output, portable design and nearly the same prices.

Specifications and size-wise, the Anker PowerHouse is quite remarkable and the market leader for portability.

With it comes to storage, the PowerHouse has a clear edge compared to its Goal Zero rival thanks to its 120Ah lithium-ion battery. It’s also a rather cheaper choice for camping enthusiasts.

Pros
  • Remarkably compact and portable
  • Durable
  • Multi-Device Charging
  • Worry-free and extended warranty
  • 8-month warranty
Cons
  • LCD is too simple
  • Very little documentation
  • AC inverter
  • Charging cords fits poorly

5. Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK 558-Watt Hour Portable Solar Generator System

Source: Amazon

Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK 558-Watt Hour Portable Solar Generator System is a reliable, convenient, powerful and eco-friendly alternative power source that is ideal for unexpected power outages, base camps and cabins.

It boasts its Bluetooth-powered KaliAPP, which allows you to monitor your device’s consumption level from the convenience of your phone.

Just like the other solar generators listed on this article, the Kalisaya KP601 KaliPAK’s revolutionary technology quietly enhances your off-the-grid experience with its reliable solar panel and battery power. But what makes the KaliPAK unique and outstanding are some of its features.

This device has a built-in Bluetooth for real-time updates, unique user interface, its hefty storage compartment, portability and their plans to provide power to the electricity-lacking communities in Africa. It also has the best energy output to weight ratio (558Wh/14 lbs.).

The KaliPAK also comes with a Mini Powerkit that includes an AC/DC wall charger, car-lighter adapter and hi-tech 40-Watt foldable flexbow solar panels (4x). Also included is its internal 38Ah Lithium-ion battery.

The device has a total solar capacity of 558Wh (14.5v/38Ah). With three charging possibilities either from direct sunlight or any universal 100-240V power outlet or 12V car charger, the KaliPAK could always be energized and ready to go.

📌 Its advanced refractive LED lighting provides high intensity, focused illumination is ideal for camping, various emergencies, and extreme dark conditions. For unlimited freedom, mobility and protection, you can purchase the KaliPAK Weatherproof and IP65-rated Raincoat for all-weather usage.

KaliPAK is not like any other portable solar generator out there. It’s capable of outsourcing many of its rivals in terms of portability, performance, style and the price. It can produce 50 percent more energy than its mid-range 401 model, which offers 384Wh of solar power and has a moderate 26Ah battery.

In comparison to its rivals, the KaliPAK is a lot more portable, has better performance ratings and appear more attractive than other solar generators.

In just a single charge, the device could charge 5 LED bulbs (400 lumens) for 120 hours, a 10-Watt flood projector (900 lumens) for 60 hours or a 20-Watt flood projector (1800 lumens) for 30 hours.

The generator also has shoulder straps that make it easier for you to lug around on your shoulder. It also has several USB ports for small electronic devices and 12V power switches for lights, laptops and mini-fridges.

Unfortunately, this device may not quality to everyonen’s budget. The KaliPak is on the expensive spectrum of solar generators. Thus, while it’s promising, all of its features come with a price.

However, the eradication of purchasing fuel frequently definitely makes this device a smart choice. This all-in-one package is not only beneficial to the environment but may also help you save more in the long run.

Pros
  • Lightweight and ultra-slim
  • Portable and ergonomic
  • Easy to use
  • High Quality and excellent design
  • Bluetooth interface for additional insight
  • Retains charge
  • Nice controls and plenty of ports
  • Weatherproof backpack
  • Offers realistic power
Cons
  • Car charger should be included
  • Needs more internal storage space to accommodate additional accessories

Factors To Consider When Buying A Solar Generator

A solar generator is technically packed with three major elements — a solar unit, power storage and portable design.

But design-wise, you have to remember that the device has no specific form and its main function is to collect solar energy and store it to provide you power without any troubles.

There are indeed so many types of solar generators in the market today but below are the factors you need to consider when choosing or buying one.

1. Portability and Compactness (Weight, Size, a nd Shape)

Source: Jerusalem Post

Perhaps not the most important factors to consider for some, but the solar generator’s weight, size and shape matter where you intend to use it. If you plan to go hiking or camping, then choose a unit that is not heavy.

Most of the solar generator application requires a degree of portability, which is the true value of a solar power system. So, it’s best to pay close attention to the weight.

If you’re planning to go off the grid, a larger solar power unit’s required that can be stored in a cabin or RV. Always remember, the proper weight distribution will secure the ability for portable solar generators to be used off the grid and pushed easily on location.

As for the shape, solar generators come in several shapes. Some are foldable and can be easily stashed away while others are in heavier boxes and on wheels for easier transportation.

2. Charging Times

This factor is often overlooked but the amount of time it takes to charge a generator is something to consider. So, look into the device’s charging times and compare it when plugged into a wall outlet and when placed under direct sunlight.

3. Wattage

The wattage of the portable solar power system could be as low as 4 watts to as high as 1,500 watts. Take note, never purchase lower wattage systems just to save money because the lower the wattage, the longer it takes to charge. In cases of emergencies, the cost is nothing if it can deliver ample power that you need.

4. Battery Storage Capacity

A solar generator’s battery storage capacity is the most significant factor when it comes to the actual usability of the device. The battery storage refers to the allowable amount of power to be used at night or when your energy needs exceed the amount of solar power input.

By knowing solar generators usable watt-hours, you can determine the time needed to run specific applications. it’s recommended, however, to only use 70 percent of the full capacity of traditional lead acid batteries in order to reserve life span and reduce the failures.

5. Solar PV Input

The Solar PV input is responsible for powering a solar generator. With enough solar PV input, it provides continuous power during the day and low recharging after the night usage.

A solar generator will allow for the solar tracking, which is the ability to move your solar panels to capture the best solar input. PV input is directly related to the storage capacity of a solar generator, meaning using the solar generator while it’s recharging will increase the time to reach its full capacity.

6. Component Quality

Quality is a major factor to consider when purchasing a solar-powered system as it affects the usability and durability of the product. Hence, it’s important to know the product’s component warranties and capable life spans.

Durability is often negatively affected by the component quality. So, buying a solar generator with a metal casing will assure you that the product could withstand rigorous use and continue to protect the valuable components over time. Always remember that owning an alternative power source demands a need for reliability.

7. Inverter Rating

Source: My Solar Power

Most solar generators use the inverter rating as the overall generator rating based on what you can pull from the unit. But inverter size is not dependent on the capabilities of the product.

For example, a 1500 watt inverter with one 100Ah battery could be useless since it would deplete the battery in around a half an hour (800/1500).

Solar generators that have at least a 1.5:1 usable watt-hours-to-inverter-rating ratio (1500Wh to 1000 watt inverter) are considered the most usable, the best and the most reliable ones.

But remember to watch out those with big inverters but with little to no battery storage and those without inverter external charging capabilities.

Inverters, which converts low volt DC to standard 120 volt AC power, rate the maximum watts you can pull at any one time from a solar generator. For example, a 1500 watt inverter lets you pull up to that wattage in AC power.

However, it should be noted that pulling the maximum watts from an inverter depletes lead-acid batteries at a faster rate (lithium batteries protect against this effect).

8. Balanced System Design

When it comes to usability, another important factor to consider is the balanced system design, which refers to the key combination of usable storage capacity, solid PV input and appropriate inverter rating.

In actual terms, 1500 usable watt-hours are the standard for storage capacity that can handle most solar generator applications. To balance the system out, it’s ideal to have a 250 watts PV input and a 1000 watt inverter.

With the combination of high-quality components and balancing the system design to boost portability will assure that a solar generator can work in a variety of environments, applications, and needs. However, watch out for devices that lack any of the key components and those with disproportionate ratings.

9. Accessories

When searching for various units, always pay close attention to how and where the power is stored. For solar power systems, there might be a need to purchase separate accessories like USB plugs or wall-style sockets while some systems just need the basic ones such as alligator clips and an external battery.

10. Sound

One of the reasons why people opt to use solar generators is the need to ditch the noise that comes from fuel generators. Hence, it’s important to choose a unit with low decibel level.

11. Price

Along with other purchases, the cost of solar-powered generators is also an important factor to consider. We highly recommended that you make a budget and determine your power needs.

Remember, a solar powered generator is also an investment so it needs to be treated as one. But aside from the price of a unit, what others are saying in reviews are equally vital in choosing the right type of generator that suits your needs.

CONCLUSION

It’s not surprising for many experts to consider the use of solar energy as our future. In fact, we can no longer survive on conventional energy sources alone.

But we can’t also deny the fact that we still lack better literacy on solar energy. Factors like huge cost, less efficiency, and high labor have been the reasons we hesitated to accept solar generators.

Remember that when talking about generating energy outdoors, solar energy is our best option.

We hope the list above will help you determine the best solar generator according to your requirements and budget.

Just keep in mind that no device is perfect and the more powerful the item is, the more costly it can be. If you feel that we missed any product that should have been on the list, feel free to notify us.

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