10 Best Solar Generators:
Definitive Review (Buyers Guide) 2020

Power Up All Your Devices On The Campsite Or At Home
With Clean, Green Solar Energy

Goal Zero Yeti 400
32

Models Reviewed

210

Hours Of
Research

144

Field Test
Hours

80

Users
Surveyed

TopNotch Outdoor is independent – we research, test, and rate the top products to help you make the right buying choice. We sometimes use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on your purchase. Learn more…

The TopNotch team is back with our Comprehensive Review and Buyers Guide for the best solar generators in 2020.

In this guide you’ll discover:

  • Our Top Three recommendations
  • Back to Back Comparisons With Pros & Cons
  • Points to consider when buying
  • Technical jargons
  • And a whole lot more…

Ever wondered how the functioning of a solar generator is different from that of a normal generator?

Want a power source that can always be recharged for free, is totally safe AND environmentally friendly?

Sound familiar?

Yes, I’m talking about solar power – the best solar options actually.

Maybe the term solar power reminds you of rooftop panels?

Solar power generators are not limited to rooftops though.

The best solar generators are silent, maintenance-free, and can make a significant difference to the environment.

Sound good?

That’s why the TopNotch team chose the top ten solar generators on the market and set out for an elaborate testing session.

We started by testing the products through multi-day camping trips in two national Parks.

In the next stage, we got down and dirty exploring intimate details of each generator in the garage of one of our team.

Finally, we analyzed the overall performance of each model.

Then we compared and rated them against the different metrics to determine the top choices.

Just in case you’ve already planned on packing one on your next trip, you’re in the right place.

We’ll discuss all you need to know about solar generators right here.

So let’s take a closer look and check out what we have in store.

Best Battery Powered Generator

1 – Goal Zero Yeti 400

Editors Choice Award Winner
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Value for Money
9
Output Power
8
Durability/ Workmanship
9
Dependability and Reliability
8
Noise
7
Overall Score
82
  • Manufacturer: Goal Zero
  • Dimensions: 8.00 x 10.50 x 8.00 in
  • Weight: 38.50 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 8h
  • Wattage: 400 watt

Bottom Line : A perfect generator with excellent versatility for using in the wilderness or during an outage

Pros


  • Delivers clean and steady power
  • Wide range of inputs and outputs
  • Excellent build quality
  • A high-quality LCD display
  • Perfectly silent operation
  • Can be chained with 33Ah lead-acid batteries

Cons


  • The price is on the higher side
  • Waterproofing would have been nice

The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is a super compact and reliable power source for your essential electronics.

It’s a portable solar generator we loved using.

Let’s look into the details.

The 396Wh AGM Lead-Acid battery delivers 300W of continuous power.

The superior inverter technology makes it very effective for charging phones, laptops, and cameras.

We used it fully loaded to charge a Galaxy 9 plus ten times, a MacBook pro three times, and also for charging a headlamp.

Even after that, it had some juice left in it.

And another thing…

You can also charge it through a wall charger, so the lack of solar power won’t be an issue. We found the battery taking around 6 hours to achieve full charge.

By contrast, solar panels will take slightly longer, but the time will also depend on your panel capacity.

Moreover, with two USB ports, two AC outlets, and a 12-volt port, you have plenty of connectivity options.

But that’s not all.

The heat sink and two small fans are an excellent touch that reduces heat generation in the system.

However, at 29 pounds, it’s one of the heaviest solar backup generators we tested.

But then the build quality is excellent.

To sum it up, the reliability of this generator is well worth the slightly higher price tag.

Just make sure you charge it once every 3-6 months when not in use.

Read Full Review: Goal Zero Yeti 400 Power Station Review

Best Solar Generator For Camping

2 – Jackery 240

Best Value Award Winner
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Value for Money
8
Output Power
7
Durability/ Workmanship
8
Dependability and Reliability
8
Noise
9
Overall Score
80
  • Manufacturer: Jackery
  • Dimensions: 7.67 x 5.19 x 9.05 in
  • Weight: 6.61 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 6h under 10W Power
  • Wattage: 240

Bottom Line : Lightweight, easy to use and reliable – a perfect combination for outdoor use or during home emergencies

Pros


  • Light and portable build
  • Effective battery management system
  • Advanced inverter technology
  • LCD display indicating battery status
  • A US standard AC outlet
  • Offers great value

Cons


  • Power rating is on the lower side
  • Waterproofing would have been nice
  • Not the right choice for heavy appliances

If you’re looking for the best solar generator for off-grid living the Jackery Explorer 240 is a great choice.

Let me explain in detail.

The generator delivers 240 watt-hours of power and you can recharge it through an AC wall outlet, 12V car outlet or solar panels.

We used it for charging our phones, laptops, and also a small fan inside the RV.

The fact is, we found the performance to be smooth in every aspect.

The generator also offers a pure sine inverter – perfect for sensitive electronic devices.

To top it off, you’ll find additional safety features like over-voltage protection, over-current protection, and over-temperature protection.

Jackery Solar Generator

You’ll find two USB outlets, a DC port, and an AC outlet as well.

Sadly, the USB ports don’t allow quick charging.

The overall dimensions keep it compact and the best part is …

…it weighs a mere 6.6 pounds!

Carrying it around the campsite is a breeze..

But make no mistake about it…

…this is very well built and feels solid and tough.

One more thoughtful touch…

Jackery has located all the ports to one side for easier connections.

To sum it up, this is an all-round performer ideal if you need a portable solar generator for light use.

Read Full Review: Jackery Explorer 240 Power Station

Solar Inverter Generator

3 – Yeti 1400Wh

Top Pick Award Winner
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Value for Money
7
Output Power
9
Durability/ Workmanship
9
Dependability and Reliability
9
Noise
9
Overall Score
86
  • Manufacturer: Goal Zero
  • Dimensions: 13.00 x 18.00 x 13.00 in
  • Weight: 43.70 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 25h+
  • Wattage: 1428 watt

Bottom Line : A smart, versatile, and powerful product that performs superbly

Pros


  • Large power output
  • Good portability
  • High-quality lithium battery with battery management system
  • An advanced cooling system
  • Wi-Fi capability
  • A wide range of connectivity options

Cons


  • The generator is expensive
  • Not designed to be expandable

The Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable is the third model from Goal Zero we tested for this Best Solar Generator Review.

Admittedly, its features and performance are very different to its smaller sibling.

Solar generators always lag behind their fuel-powered rivals in terms of power output.

The Yeti 1400 addresses that disparity with 1500 W of continuous power and a surge power of 3000W.

We used it to power a refrigerator at one of our reviewer’s places.

When fully charged, the generator was able to run it for around 13 hours.

Now that’s impressive.

But what about the smaller electronics?

This generator can easily charge mobiles and tablets for weeks.

So what else is there?

Even though the generator comes with a plastic body we found it to be rigid and highly durable.

A large number of AC and DC inputs as well as outputs along with three USB ports may look confusing at first.

But frankly, the generator is very well-designed and getting used to the functions doesn’t take long.

What’s more, it has Wi-Fi connectivity which you control using a mobile app.

Sounds good?

There’s even more.

The generator also has an in-built charge controller and an inverter that steps up the overall performance.

To sum up, if you have the budget, this is one of the most advanced solar generators for home or outdoors you can purchase.

Period.

Read Full Review: Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Power Station Review

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Most Powerful Solar Generator

4 – Paxcess (Power Station)

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Value for Money
8
Output Power
6
Durability/ Workmanship
8
Dependability and Reliability
8
Noise
7
Overall Score
76
  • Manufacturer: Paxcess
  • Dimensions: 6.89 x 6.50 x 3.15 in
  • Weight: 3.30 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 7-8h
  • Wattage: 100 watt

Bottom Line : A great combination of style and functionality to deliver “green” power to your appliances

Pros


  • One of the lightest solar generators
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Comes with battery management system
  • USB port with quick charge
  • An useful LED display
  • Can be used for CPAP machines

Cons


  • Power output
  • The control panel layout

The PAXCESS 100-Watt Power Station is a camper-friendly generator that looks cool and performs beautifully.

To start with, there’s the 40,800mAh lithium battery that delivers 100 W of continuous power.

The inverter makes power delivery smooth and stable.

You can charge it three different ways.

In addition, a 12V car charger cable is also included for easy on-the-road charging.

Keep in mind you’ll need to buy a solar panel as a separate product.

The compact size and a weight of 3.3 pounds makes it one of the top solar backup generators on the market.

The carrying handle is nicely designed for smooth handling.

What about connectivity?

There are three 12V DC sockets, two 110v AC plugs, and two USB ports.

So charging phones, tablets, and laptops is a simple process.

Here’s something interesting…

In our tests, the outer shell withstood quite a few knocks (accidental and otherwise) with no problem.

Point to be noted:

The Paxcess Power Station is an entry-level product – not the right choice for large-scale power delivery.

But it shines as a reliable portable solar power generator to supply emergency power for campers.

Read Full Review: Paxcess Power Station

Best Portable Solar Generator

5 – Suaoki 150Wh Portable Power Station

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Value for Money
6
Output Power
6
Durability/ Workmanship
7
Dependability and Reliability
8
Noise
8
Overall Score
70
  • Manufacturer: Suaoki
  • Dimensions: 4.67 x 7.26 x 4.31 in
  • Weight: 2.90 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 7-8Hours
  • Wattage: 100Wh

Bottom Line : Full marks for portability and a great choice for powering up your light electronic equipment

Pros


  • One of the lightest solar generators
  • Interface is user-friendly
  • Offers good value
  • USB port with quick charge
  • Connectors and cables included
  • An integrated flashlight

Cons


  • Not for larger appliances
  • The overall price including a solar panel is slightly higher

In case portability is your main concern, the SUAOKI 150Wh portable power station is literally one of the very best you’ll find.

Honestly, carrying this 2.9-pound solar generator is a breeze. The outer aluminum shell of the product is light but durable.

Then there’s the versatility of this generator  – meaning you can charge a variety of gadgets.

Check this out:

The generator has three USB ports (5V 2.1A), one quick charge USB port (18W max) and four DC ports. Along with that, there is one 2-prong and one 3-prong output socket.

The unit can be charged in three different ways.

Another plus point: There are three types of charging cables included in the pack.

We used a 100 W solar panel to charge it before we started out on our review trip. The generator took around 9 hours to get to a full charge.

But the fact is, the solar charging time will depend on the amount of sunlight. For steady charging, it’s best to use the wall socket.

We found it delivers excellent performance (within 150 W).

The mobile phones, laptops, and tablets we used were charged up smoothly.

Beyond that, there’s the battery management system that ensures your delicate electronics remain safe.

It’s also very easy to use.

Bonus feature: An LED battery life indicator.

A lightweight and dependable model with some unique features, we consider this one a great solar generator for camping.

Read Full Review: Suaoki Portable Power Station Review

Portable Solar Generator

6 – Goal Zero Yeti 150

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Value for Money
7
Output Power
6
Durability/ Workmanship
6
Dependability and Reliability
8
Noise
9
Overall Score
72
  • Manufacturer: Goal Zero
  • Dimensions: 5.75 x 7.75 x 6.75 in
  • Weight: 12.00 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 6-8h
  • Wattage: 150 watt

Bottom Line : Smart-looking equipment – delivers clean and reliable power as an entry-level generator

Pros


  • Compact and portable
  • Three-way charging
  • A user-friendly interface
  • The LCD display is useful
  • Five different output ports

Cons


  • Not for larger appliances
  • The price could have been lower

Let’s assume you need a portable and affordable solar powered generator for camping – just for charging small appliances.

The Goal Zero Yeti 150 would be the perfect choice.

The continuous power delivery of 80W means you can keep phones, cameras, tablets, and other items charged up all the time.

What about performance?

It charged our smartphones 6 times, two laptops 3 times and the two headlamps, before running out of juice.

We also noted how well-built it is with a durable plastic enclosure.

The fact is, a lithium-ion battery would’ve made the generator lighter.

But Goal Zero used a lead-acid battery to keep the price down.

On closer inspection of the portability…

The generator weighs 12 pounds and the carrying handle makes it easy to move around. While you won’t be taking it out for long hikes, it’s perfect for car camping trips.

In terms of connectivity, you get two USB ports, one 12v port, another smaller 12v port, and an AC port.

In addition, there’s an LCD screen that indicates battery levels and charging status.

A pure sine-wave inverter ensures safety for your electronics.

We have to admit this small solar generator isn’t the best choice if you’re looking for more power.

On the other hand, it’s a great choice if you just need your electronics charged for a weekend trip.

Read Full Review: Goal Zero Yeti 150 Power Station Review

Solar Powered Generator

 7 – Renogy Phoenix 150W Portable Generator

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Value for Money
9
Output Power
7
Durability/ Workmanship
7
Dependability and Reliability
7
Noise
7
Overall Score
74
  • Manufacturer: Renogy
  • Dimensions:  3.90 x 13.80 x 13.10 in
  • Weight: 12.80 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 6h+
  • Wattage: 150 watt

Bottom Line : The innovative design of this generator makes it a great choice both for tackling outages or powering gadgets on a camping trip

Pros


  • Uses high quality built-in solar panels
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • A replaceable battery
  • The recharging time is short
  • Excellent safety features
  • Pure sine wave inverter

Cons


  • Best suited for smaller equipment
  • Not ideal for use in high temperatures
  • The price is on the higher side

This innovative solar generator from Renogy is a self-sufficient device designed for mobility.

And the good news is…

We loved using it because it’s so compact and versatile.

It comes with 20W Mono-crystalline Solar panels and the system is expandable up to 100W.

Renogy states the battery charging time with the 20W panel is 6 hours.

To make the product more efficient, you can simply add more panels.

News flash:

This generator has a maximum power point tracking feature (MPPT). An in-built computer will help you find the best location to optimize the charging.

We charged it through AC power and it charged in 5 hours.

In terms of connectivity, it has one AC and two DC ports as well as a cigarette socket.

What about USB ports?

No worries. You get four of those too.

But that’s not all.

The high quality monocrystalline solar panels come with a massive 25-year performance warranty.

In addition, the robust suitcase-like design got a big thumbs up from the TopNotch team.

The flexible design offers great value.

While it can’t be used for powering your larger equipment, the Renogy Phoenix is a great kit for outdoor use.

Read Full Review: Renogy Phoenix 150w Power Station Review

Best Solar Power Generator

8 – Coolis  (Power Inverter)

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Value for Money
8
Output Power
6
Durability/ Workmanship
8
Dependability and Reliability
8
Noise
7
Overall Score
74
  • Manufacturer: Coolis
  • Dimensions: 6.50 x 6.89 x 3.15 in
  • Weight: 4.50 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 6h+
  • Wattage: 150 watt

Bottom Line : A simple but effective design, it delivers reliable power at an affordable price

Pros


  • High-quality lithium-polymer battery
  • Excellent portability
  • Very easy to use
  • Effective safety features
  • Comes with an adapter cable
  • Backlit LED display

Cons


  • Not for high-power devices
  • The user manual could be better
  • Slight noise while charging

The COOLIS 150Wh portable solar generator with its 40800mAh lithium polymer battery and inverter technology offers seriously good value.

How so?

Let’s explore in detail.

First of all, the compact shape and a weight of just 4.3 pounds make it a very handy package.

It offers a standard three-mode recharging and we found charging it through a wall socket takes around eight hours.

Additionally, there’s a very effective battery management system that prolongs battery life and optimizes performance.

While testing, we charged the Galaxy 9 plus eight times and a 50W laptop twice.

There was around 35% of the battery still left.

And here’s the best part…

The model has a universal AC output that can accommodate electronics from multiple countries.

In addition, there are two USB ports and three DC ports.

What else?

There’s an LED screen that indicates the battery and the recharging status.

A film for protecting the screen from scratches is another nice addition.

To be honest, this is one of the easiest solar power generators we’ve handled.

Even novices will find it pretty simple.

On the whole, the top class compatibility and the ease of use make the Coolis stand out among the best solar generators in 2020.

Read Full Review: Coolis 150wh Portable Solar Generator

Best Standby Solar Generator

9 – Suaoki 400Wh

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Value for Money
7
Output Power
8
Durability/ Workmanship
7
Dependability and Reliability
8
Noise
7
Overall Score
74
  • Manufacturer: Suaoki
  • Dimensions: 9.00 x 9.00 x 5.50 in
  • Weight: 12.35 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 6h+
  • Wattage: 400watt

Bottom Line : This is a stellar product that comes with a good capacity and is well-suited for emergency use

Pros


  • A reliable performer
  • Excellent portability
  • Three ways of charging
  • Effective safety features
  • Battery management system ensures the safety
  • It comes with a two-year warranty

Cons


  • Solar power charging takes time
  • The USB ports are slightly fragile

With its smooth and powerful performance, the Suaoki is a great choice as a solar power generator for your home.

The battery capacity is 120,000mAh and Suaoki says it can charge a smartphone 30 times and a mini-fridge for seven hours.

What about our test results?

We tested this unit on a 10Wh LED light we hung outside the tent.

It was left on for two nights and the generator still had around 25% power left.

In addition, it also scored high marks for durability. The aluminum alloy outer shell makes it rigid and the sturdy carrying handle is comfortable to grip.

At slightly over 12 pounds, the weight to power output is pretty good.

Do you struggle to find the right buttons on a generator during darkness?

Thought so.

Suaoki solves that problem by using three light indicator buttons in this product. A nice touch.

On top of that, there’s a large LCD screen that displays the percentage battery consumption, along with the charge and discharge status.

It also features four USB ports along with two AC and two DC outlets for connecting all types of electronic devices.

Admittedly, the weight may make it less popular for lightweight outdoor trips.

But as a solar-powered generator for home during emergencies, it’s a great choice.

Read Full Review: Suaoki 400wh Portable Solar Generator

Best Portable Solar Generator

10 – Audew Power Station

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Value for Money
8
Output Power
7
Durability/ Workmanship
8
Dependability and Reliability
6
Noise
6
Overall Score
70
  • Manufacturer: Audew
  • Dimensions: 5.12 x 13.39 x 7.87 in
  • Weight: 5.51 lbs
  • Load Run Time: 7h+
  • Wattage: 220 watt

Bottom Line : Delivers a reliable power supply – lightweight and robust enough for outdoor use

Pros


  • Dependable power delivery
  • Built to last long
  • A great looking generator
  • An easy-to-use interface
  • Five LED indicators
  • Can be used for CPAP devices

Cons


  • Slight noise while operating
  • The charging time is higher than competitors

If you’re looking for supplemental power during a hiking or fishing trip, the 220-watt hours and 60,000 mAH capacity from the Audew portable generator will do the job nicely.

From smartphones and laptops to mini-fridges and small fans, this portable generator has the versatility to power up a variety of appliances.

In fact, one of our team owns it and he boasts it can run a 20 inch smart TV for almost 2 hours.

At a first glance, we found the outer design quite attractive.

In addition, the use of aviation- grade aluminum alloy means it’ll be pretty resistant to corrosion.

Moreover, at 5.5 pounds carrying it around is no issue.

It supports three-way charging.

This time, we charged the Audew by connecting it with a 12V car battery.

The results?

It achieved a 50% charge in five hours.

When it comes to connections, it has two USB outputs, one AC output, and two DC outputs.

Is it safe for sensitive electronics?

With pure sine wave output technology, you bet it is!

Fact check:

While using it during silent nights inside a tent, we did detect a low noise.

Lightweight and versatile, this product from Audew is a great investment for campers and other outdoor lovers.

Read Full Review: Audew 220wh Power Station

Why Trust Us?

Our TopNotch team believes in testing facts and figures in detail.

For our  generator review, we started by carefully selecting the best products on the market and then tested them against our standard metrics.

We always make sure the tests are carried out in real-life environments where the products will be used.

In the next stage, we sort through the results, conduct comparative analysis, and gather feedback from long-term users. Our goal is to present in-depth reviews to help you make the best choice.

While reviewing the best solar generators, our in-house team, who are veterans at using outdoor equipment, went on two different camping trips. The first one was in the Badlands National Park and the second in the Sawtooth National Forest.

Jackery Generator

In addition, one of our friends, who has years of experience in the solar industry teamed up with us for these journeys. His experience helped us differentiate between the top products and make a detailed comparative study.

While we enjoyed the trips, our high standards meant every aspect of the best solar generators was covered in depth.
No matter what, our goal is to present the best of the best to you, at all times.

Skip Buyer’s Guide – Go to Analysis, Comparisons & Ratings

Buyers Guide: How To Choose

The Best Solar Generator

Solar Generator Last QP 08

Think about this for a moment…

What can be purer than the energizing rays of the sun?

Using these rays to generate safe and renewable power is one of the best eco-friendly choices you can make.

On top of that, there are the low maintenance costs and silent operation.

Having a “green” solar panel generator as a backup for your home or for camping trips is definitely the smart step to take.

But then you start to worry about what to look for when making the perfect choice.

The good news for you is, we’ve listed all the important points to consider when buying a solar generator, right here.

So, before you choose yours, here’s everything you need to know about them.

What Are The Different Types Of Solar Generators?

From an operational point of view, they can be classified into three types. Let’s take a look:

  1. On-grid solar systems – This is a solar generating system that has no battery but is connected to the power grid of a country or a region. The panels generate DC current by making use of photovoltaic effect. This DC current is converted to AC through solar inverters and can be used in homes.
  2. Off-grid solar systems – These units aren’t connected to the grid. So apart from the panels, it needs an inverter and a battery bank for storing the electricity. They’re good choices during emergencies or when you head off-grid. The best small portable battery generators are modified off-grid units.
  3. Hybrid systems – These systems use a battery and a battery inverter while also being connected to the grid. So, they can store any excess energy generated. This is less costly than an off-grid system and can make use of any excess solar power without wastage.

Features To Look Out For

Here’s our list of the most important aspects:

  • The first step is to decide your own power requirements. The low capacity generators ranging from 300 to 400-watt hours can be used for charging laptops or mobile phones. If you have a higher power requirement, choose a model that can deliver between 1400 to 1500-watt hours.
  • Solar generators are often designed to suit specific activities. While some are for use in your home, others are more suited for outdoor activities liking camping or hiking. A degree of portability is essential for any model. However, models with a higher battery capacity are usually on the heavier side. Note, you’ll also need to carry the solar panels along with the generator.
  • While a solar generator is designed to generate power from the sun, it’d be a good idea to have a backup system in place in case of bad weather. Many manufacturers provide additional options for recharging the batteries. This can include connecting with a car battery or plugging it into a wall socket.
  • The solar panels needed to charge your generator are no less important. It’s best to choose a model that’ll allow enough flexibility to increase the number of panels in the future. If you buy panels with higher efficiency, the generator will charge faster. However, make sure not to overload it and stick to the specifications.

Product  & Specifications Explained

Manufacturers use specifications for solar generators which many of us may not be aware of.

Here are some of the important ones for your reference:

  • Like oil generators, solar ones also have a ‘Continuous’ and a ‘Surge’ rating. The Continuous Rating is the amount of power in Watts the generator can supply steadily for long periods. The Surge or Maximum Rating is the power it can supply for brief intervals and that very much depends on the product. This excess power is often needed to cover the starting load for larger electrical items.
  • Note that many solar generators are equipped with a pure sine wave inverter. AC current generates a continuous sine wave that’s characterized by a smooth and repetitive oscillation. A smooth and rounded sine wave signifies low harmonic distortions which help in preserving the life of sensitive electronic products.
  • By now you may have noticed the battery capacity of any solar inverter generator is measured in Watt-hours (Wh). This is the product of the voltage of the battery and the current (in Amps) it produces in a given time. The current produced in hours is represented by Ah or mAh.
Solar Generator Last QP 06

Things To Consider

When you buy a solar powered generator you’ll be looking for great long term performance. So it’s worth making notes on a few important aspects to consider when you make your buying decision.

To start with, you need to decide on the storage capacity of the battery. Keep in mind that while batteries are rated in amp-hours, the appliances are rated in watt-hours. So you need to convert – so as to rate the battery accurately.

Here’s an example:

A 12v 120amp/hr battery will be rated 2400w/hr. This is done by simply multiplying the amp/hr value with the volts.

Battery manufacturers recommend regularly using 2/3rd of a battery’s full capacity to preserve its life

Next, consider the solar panels you’ll use if the generator doesn’t have inbuilt panels. The capacity of the panel is measured by the number of watts it generates. Remember the panel will deliver full power only when the sun is at the peak and the rays fall directly on the panel surface.

Finally, check the quality of the components of your chosen generator. A solar power generator that’s able to withstand tough outdoor conditions and comes with a long warranty is a great place to start. High-quality metal casings ensure the unit will be sufficiently durable. If the product comes with wheels, make sure they’re built to last.

Jargon Buster

At times, technical terms can be daunting. Here’s a TopNotch guide to the jargon related to solar generators.

Power Capacity & Capability

The power storage capacity of a battery in a solar powered generator is measured in watt-hours (Wh). It’s the product of the battery voltage into the current – in amperes, it delivers in an hour. Since the voltage is fixed for most batteries, the ampere delivered per hour is most important. It’s designated by Ah or mAh (1000mAh = 1Ah).

On the other hand, the power capability (C) is the ampere-hour value divided by one hour. In the case of a 2Ah battery, the value of C is 2A. Note that a battery with a high value of C will allow you to draw more current from it without getting exhausted.

Solar Panels

The main function of a solar panel is to capture solar energy and convert it into electricity. These panels consist of multiple solar cells that use photovoltaic effect to convert light into current. You’ll find these panels can be monocrystalline solar or polycrystalline. While the former uses a solar cell made from single silicon crystals, the latter use cells made from multiple silicon particles fused together.

AGM Battery

The Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery is a special lead-acid battery that’s lightweight and highly efficient. The most important feature is the use of a fiberglass mat that absorbs the generated sulphuric acid, reducing the chances of spillage. This makes the battery suitable for use in places where there’s a restriction on hazardous materials. Apart from that, these batteries can deliver higher currents and they have a longer life.

Inverter

Basically, an inverter in a solar generator converts DC current into AC – most commonly used in household appliances. Most of the modern inverters use oscillator circuits to do this. Since AC current forms a sine wave, high-quality inverters also have filters that make the wave smoother and more round. This makes the current safe enough for sensitive electronic equipment.

TopNotch Top Tips

Time to take a look at our tips for buying the best solar generator.

  • The first step is to know exactly what you need. Once you know, you’ll have a fighting chance of making sure your brand new generator has the power you need.
  • I have to tell you – knowledge is a vital key. To pick the best product, you have to learn about how they function. For this, you need to study how a panel works and its main features. This will also help you understand any shortcomings. Even after selecting a generator, you’ll need to choose a TopNotch solar panel that’ll work smoothly with your generator.
  • Transportability of your solar powered generator is another factor you can’t ignore. You may need to carry it around the house or use it for a weekend trip in your RV. So, a lightweight product with a well-designed carrying handle are two features to look for.
  • We’d also advise you to keep realistic expectations of your solar generator depending on your budget. Most solar generators are ideal for small electronic products and some may support larger equipment for short periods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the best solar generator to buy?

A: The best solar generator is the one that meets your needs and suits your budget. Just make sure to consider the nature of your use and the amount of power you need. Do keep in mind our TopNotch top tips.

We’ve marked our three top choices at the beginning and end of this review. But all 10 are top-rated products on the market.

Q:  Can a 100-watt solar panel run a refrigerator?

A: The answer requires some calculation. In theory, the power consumption of a refrigerator depends on its capacity, the amount of food stored, and how old it is. A refrigerator can use between 100 to 500 Watts depending on these factors. There is also the requirement of surge power during start which is much higher.

You also need to consider how many watt-hours the panel will be able to generate depending on the daily availability of sunshine. That energy needs to be stored in a battery to make a portable solar generator kit. So unless you’re using the 100 W solar panel to charge a large capacity battery of around 1400 Watts, you will not be able to run a refrigerator.

Q. Is there a generator that runs on solar power?

A: Yes, there is.
 
Basically, a solar generator converts solar energy into electrical energy through solar panels. In addition, they also contain a battery charger or solar charge controller that regulates the current flow from the panels to the battery in a safe manner. The energy is stored in portable batteries that can be used to run a wide range of appliances. 

Note that quite a few of the top models that we’ve reviewed don’t come with their own solar panels. But you can always charge them from an AC outlet or even from your car battery if needs be.

That covers it

You’re now ready with all the necessary details to choose the best solar generator.

The TopNotch team left no stone unturned when preparing this solar generator review.

And the results of the tests are listed in the next section where we give you comparisons of the various products…

Our Analysis, Comparisons & Test Results

Value For Money

Think about this for a moment

The concept of value is not exactly linear. Moreover, that which constitutes value for one person, may not be the same for another.

So while evaluating the best solar generators under this metric we not only considered the price tag but also the overall performance.

Solar Generator

Value For Money Rating

Renogy Solar Panels
9
Coolis
8
Jackery 240
8
Goal Zero Yeti 400
8
Paxcess
8
Audew
8
Suaoki 400Wh
7
Goal Zero Yeti 150
7
Goal Zero Yeti 1400
7
Suaoki 150WH
6

To do this we needed a thorough analysis  – along with a few more drinks

But as a result, we found exactly how the competitors stand against each other.

The Renogy Phoenix solar generator scored top marks in terms of price versus performance. The combination of ease of use and the inbuilt solar panel makes this solar generator stand at the top of the chart.

Next, four other models are placed jointly in the second spot – the Jackery 240, the Coolis 150Wh, and the Goal Zero Yeti 400.

Even though they’re priced quite highly, superior power delivery makes them an invaluable emergency power source.

The fact is, we loved using the Goal Zero Yeti 1400.

The Suaoki 400Wh and the Yeti 150 are great choices for outdoor use but you need to consider the fact that you’ll need to buy the solar panels separately.

Lastly, given the low power output, the Suaoki 150Wh solar inverter generator had the lowest marks in this metric.

Output Power

Most compact and portable solar generators don’t have sufficient power output to run large appliances.

At the same time, to buy a high powered unit, you’ll have to pay much more.

While evaluating these products, we looked at the Watt-hours of each battery.

Goal Zero Solar Generator

Output Power Rating

Goal Zero Yeti 1400
9
Goal Zero Yeti 400
8
Suaoki 400Wh
8
Audew
7
Renogy Solar Panels
7
Jackery 240
7
Coolis
6
Paxcess
6
Goal Zero Yeti 150
6
Suaoki 150Wh
6

Why?

The battery voltage changes as it gets drained and the amp-hour of mAh depends on the voltage. But the Watt-hour number remains stable at all times.

The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 occupies the top spot with its high continuous power output and a surge power output of 3000 Watts.

Longing for a solar generator that can charge your refrigerator or LCD TV for hours? In that case, this is definitely one of the best solar generators to choose.

Up next, the Yeti 400 and the Suaoki 400Wh come with their moderate capacities. Perfect choices for charging up all your electronic devices on a camping trip.

The Jackery 240 and the Renogy Phoenix share the same spot as they’re almost equal in terms of power delivery.

Lastly, we have our four models that score the lowest in overall power delivery.

Having said that, in case you need a small solar generator just to power up your mobile phone, iPad, or camera, they’re very competent choices.

Durability/ Workmanship

The durability and design of a product are factors that affect your user experience in a major way.

No doubt about that.

Keeping that in mind, we paid special attention to the overall design, especially while choosing a solar powered generator for camping. In addition, we also noted the ergonomics and the warranty with each product.

Goal Zero Solar Generator

Durability/ Workmanship Rating

Goal Zero Yeti 1400
9
Paxcess
8
Coolis
8
Jackery 240
8
Audew
8
Suaoki 400Wh
7
Suaoki 150Wh
7
Renogy Solar Panels
7
Goal Zero Yeti 400
6
Goal Zero Yeti 150
6

Beyond that, we took the feedback from long term owners – a practice we follow for every TopNotch product comparison.

So how did the generators fare?

Let’s take a look.

To start with, the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 came in at the top of this metric, as its design promises a long lifespan. We also liked the fact that it’s able to function efficiently at extremely low temperatures.

Standing in the second spot are the Paxcess and the Coolis.

And you know what?

Apart from being well-built they also come with a couple of unique features.

While the Paxcess 100 W is IATA approved and ready for air travel, the Coolis generator comes with a protection film for the LED screen.

In the same category, the Audew solar generator has a durable aluminum outer shell that’s corrosion-proof.

The next four competitors including the two models from Suaoki fare equally well in terms of overall durability.

Don’t get me wrong. They’re all well-built generators but just don’t expect them to withstand too much rough handling or extreme conditions.

Now you must be wondering about the two Goal Zero models that come last.

Considering the price of these two solar generators, we felt they should come with a longer warranty period than the 1-year period being offered.

Dependability/ Reliability

Dependability is a prime factor if you need power when you’re heading for an off-grid location or during an outage in your home.

Here’s another great advantage of solar generators. The fact that they need a lot less maintenance sets them apart from their oil-driven counterparts.

The only thing you need to do is discharge and recharge once every three to four months.

Solar Generator

Dependability/ Reliability Rating

Goal Zero Yeti 1400
9
Goal Zero Yeti 400
8
Paxcess
8
Coolis
8
Jackery 240
8
Suaoki 150Wh
8
Renogy Solar Panels
7
Suaoki 400Wh
7
Goal Zero Yeti 150
7
Audew
7

Sounds simple. Right?

Frankly, judging these top-grade products under this metric wasn’t an easy task. The strengths and weaknesses of each generator were very evenly matched.

But we went through the pros and cons of each product and the results are listed below for you.

The Yeti 1400 proved its superiority in this metric with a flawless performance.

In fact, we couldn’t find anything that could affect its reliability.

After a lot of analysis, we gave the next five solar generators the same marks in this metric.

Whether you solar generator for cpap or for your RV, these models will deliver a TopNotch performance.

The Renogy Phoenix comes with a 20 W solar cell but to make it perform efficiently, more cells are needed.

The Goal Zero Yeti 150 and the Suaoki 400Wh stood at the lower end of the chart.

At 12 pounds, we found the power to weight ratio of the Yeti 150 on the lower side.

The Suaoki 400Wh and the Audew 220Wh got low marks as they can’t be used while being charged.

Noise

All solar generators are supposed to be noise-free. Right?

Not necessarily.

It’s true these models are miles ahead when compared to any gas-powered generator in terms of noise.

For any campsite with restrictions on noise pollution, these models are a great choice.

Jackery Solar Generator

Noise Rating

Goal Zero Yeti 1400
9
Jackery 240
9
Goal Zero Yeti 400
9
Suaoki 150Wh
8
Goal Zero Yeti 150
8
Coolis
7
Paxcess
7
Renogy Solar Panels
7
Suaoki 400Wh
7
Audew
6

To tell you the truth, after testing the whole range of camping generators on our last review trip, we really loved the silence these solar power generators delivered.

However, there are some minor differences between them that our team noted during the testing sessions.

So let’s take a look at the details.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we have three solar generators at the top spot under this metric.

We knew that the Yeti 1400 and the Jackery 240 are two products that have a great reputation on the noise front.

After our tests, we found the Yeti 400 offering similar levels of noise-free performance.

Even during the night, we found no noise from these products despite being connected to multiple devices.

On the other hand, the Suaoki 150Wh and the Yeti 150 were not as quiet but still impressive. We felt the use of a lead-acid battery in the Yeti 150 makes it slightly noisier.

The Coolis 150Wh, the Suaoki 400Wh, and the Renogy Phoenix were rated equally when it came to noise. We did notice some noise while charging AC devices like small fans.

To be fair, the noise levels were within acceptable limits.

Lastly, the Audew 220Wh battery generator turned out to be the noisiest among the lot. It made some noises while charging up and also during discharging at full loads.

Our Final Verdict: Best Solar Generator

Finally, we’re done!

I hope you’re still hanging on!

Now you have our TopNotch Buyers Guide ready at your fingertips to help you choose the best solar generator.

And you’re good to go.

Here, we’ve all the ten products listed down in terms of their overall performance.

Undoubtedly, they’re all highly competent products but only three of them were good enough to occupy the TopNotch top spots.

So it’s time to check the final results.

That’s all that really matters.

Yeti 1400
86%
Jackery 240
80%
Goal Zero Yeti 400
78%
Paxcess
76%
Coolis
74%
Renogy Solar Panels
74%
Suaoki 400Wh
74%
Goal Zero Yeti 150
72%
Suaoki 150Wh
70%
Audew
70%

Conclusion: Best Solar Generator

Ready to choose your best solar generator?

I’m sure after going through this comprehensive TopNotch review, picking the best product will be a breeze.

We’ve presented a range of choices to help you pick the best portable solar power generators for your home or campsite.

No matter what your priorities are, we’ve covered every aspect of the products, ranging from performance, durability, value, and further to dependability.

Actually, after the evaluation, many of the products finished neck to neck. So we ended up having to sit around for a final voting session to pick the winner.

The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 emerged as the leader of the pack and was marked as the TopNotch Top Pick.

We chose its smaller sibling, the Goal Zero Yeti 400a as the TopNotch Editor’s Choice.

The Jackery 240 finished as the Best Value choice.

Let me share a secret here…

…picking the right product for this spot was quite a challenge for us. It took a few hot debates (chilled by a few drinks) to settle it.

All in all, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article.

The Topnotch team always strives to bring you the best of the best.

So, these are the top three best solar generators of 2020.

Now it’s time to go out there and make your choice.

topnotchoutdoor award

Goal Zero Yeti 400