Are Solar Generators Worth the Money? How To Decide

Solar generators are great items to have on hand.

However, they do cost a great deal of money upfront.

It can be difficult to decide if having one is worth the investment.

Solar generators are worth the money because they provide consistent off-grid power, are low maintenance, and require zero additional expenses after their initial purchase. Solar generators can receive a federal tax credit and, if connected to the grid, extra solar energy can be sold to your utility.

For more information on the Federal Solar Tax Credit, read my article reviewing the topic here: Are Solar Generators Tax Deductible? (Federal Solar Tax Credit).

Whether or not this system makes sense to buy depends on a variety of factors.

In this guide, we will go over things that can help you decide whether or not a solar generator is worth the money.

Read on to learn more about all that will influence whether or not you invest in this product.

Are Solar Generators Worth the Money?

Man holding 20 dollar bills in hand

Solar generators are worth the money because they provide sufficient off-grid power and last for years. Solar generators are costly upfront but will pay themselves off over time from solar charging. High-quality solar generators tend to last over a decade, making them great long-term investments.

The longevity of solar generators makes them valuable pieces of equipment to have when you need power. Depending on the type of system you get, they can help you in a crisis situation or during an off-grid adventure.

Thanks to the structure and build of a solar power system, they will operate quietly and require less maintenance compared to loud gas generators.

There is no combustion process within a solar generator, making it quiet as well as less likely to malfunction because it does not have any moving parts within it besides cooling fans.

Additionally, you can use solar panels to recharge your solar generator at no cost.

With a fully integrated solar generator and solar panel set up in your home or RV, it can cost thousands of dollars upfront. But the important thing to remember is its longevity. It will not cost a dime to recharge, saving you money and paying itself off over time.

How Long Will a Solar Generator Last?

coins

The longer a solar generator will last, the more valuable it is.

After analyzing ten popular solar generator models from various brands, I came upon the following three conclusions relating to the average overall lifespan of a solar generator:

  • The average solar generator will last 6.52 years when using one battery lifecycle per day before reaching 80% of its original battery capacity. This means that it can last even longer than the stated years but its battery size will continue to decline over this period.

  • On average, solar generators with LiFePO4 batteries will last 13.02 years (to 80% battery capacity) when using one battery lifecycle per day. At the same usage rate, solar generators with lithium-ion batteries will last 2.19 years on average.

  • Although the solar generator’s solar panels will typically last from 25-35 years, the battery within the power station will likely last for a shorter timespan. The power station’s battery type and frequency of use will determine how long the solar generator as a whole will be functional.

The previous conclusions came from my calculations below.

Not everyone will use their solar generator in the same fashion as another, so I calculated two separate averages – one for frequent users (one cycle per day) and one for more moderate users (four cycles per week).

ModelBrandRated Battery Cycle Life (Lifecycles) to 80% CapacitySolar Generator Lifetime Using One Cycle Per Day (to 80% Battery Capacity)Solar Generator Lifetime Using Four Cycles Per Week (to 80% Battery Capacity)Battery Type
EP500ProBluetti6,00016.44 years28.77 yearsLiFePO4
EP500Bluetti6,00016.44 years28.77 yearsLiFePO4
Delta ProEcoFlow3,5009.59 years16.78 yearsLiFePO4
AC200PBluetti3,5009.59 years16.78 yearsLiFePO4
TitanPoint Zero Energy2,0005.48 years9.59 yearsLithium-ion
Delta 1300EcoFlow8002.19 years3.83 yearsLithium-ion
Yeti 6000XGoal Zero5001.37 years2.4 yearsLithium-ion
Yeti 3000XGoal Zero5001.37 years2.4 yearsLithium-ion
Explorer 2000Jackery5001.37 years2.4 yearsLithium-ion
RiverEcoFlow5001.37 years2.4 yearsLithium-ion
Average: 2,380
LiFePO4 Average: 4,750
Lithium-ion Average: 800
Average: 6.52 years
LiFePO4 Average: 13.02 years
Lithium-ion Average: 2.19 years
Average: 11.41 years
LiFePO4 Average: 22.79 years
Lithium-ion Average: 3.84 years

How Much Do Solar Generators Cost?

Depending on the size and brand of the solar generator, their costs vary greatly.

The cost of a solar generator depends on several factors, but you can get a general idea of their cost based on their battery capacities. Most solar generators cost about $1 per watt-hour (Wh) of battery capacity. For example, a solar generator with a 2,000Wh battery will cost about $2,000.

Pricing may vary due to several factors such as battery type, inverter output, solar input, and more.

Here’s a table showing various solar generators with their pricing and battery sizes:

BrandModelPriceBattery Capacity
Rockpals300$229.90280Wh
JackeryExplorer 300$299.95293Wh
BluettiAC50S$429.99500Wh
JackeryExplorer 1000$999.991,002Wh
EcoFlowDelta 1300$1,399.991,260Wh
Goal ZeroYeti 1500X$1,999.951,516Wh
BluettiAC200P$1,999.992,000Wh
Point Zero EnergyTitan$2,995.002,000Wh
Goal ZeroYeti 3000X$3,499.953,032Wh

Since the battery size of a solar generator is one of the main contributors to its price, you should find out what size is right for your needs to get an idea of how much it will cost.

Battery Type Affects Cost (Example)

Nature's Generator Powerhouse banner
The Nature’s Generator Powerhouse uses a large lead-acid battery that costs about half the price of lithium-powered models of the same size.

The solar generators mentioned in the prior table all use lithium batteries. However, using one with a lead-acid battery is typically cheaper.

This is because compared to lithium batteries, lead-acid batteries:

  1. Are much heavier (2-4x heavier with same battery capacity)
  2. Tend to have a shorter cycle life
  3. Have a lower depth of discharge (DoD): 50% DoD for lead-acid vs. 80% for lithium

For example, the Nature’s Generator Powerhouse has a 4,800Wh lead-acid battery and costs $2,999.99.

Compared to the lithium-powered Goal Zero Yeti 3000X, which uses a 3,032Wh battery, the Powerhouse costs $500 less while having an 1,800Wh advantage in battery capacity.

On the other hand, the Powerhouse is significantly heavier than the 3000X (434 vs. 70 lbs). Although the Yeti 3000X isn’t easily portable, it’s clearly more maneuverable.

So if maneuverability is not needed and you intend to keep your solar generator in one place, a lead-acid-powered model might be the best option for your money.

You can check out more specs of the Powerhouse system here (Nature’s Generator website).

How Big of a Solar Generator Do You Need?

The correct sizing of a solar generator depends on what you intend to use it for. Measure the power required for each appliance/device you intend to use, and then compare it to the specifications of the solar generator’s battery size and port options.

In addition, the size and weight of a solar generator are crucial to know if you’d like it to be portable.

The size of the solar generator you need depends on its purpose. Note that portable power stations for camping can be completely different from those for off-grid living and home backup needs.

The only exception to this is if you don’t need a lot of power for your home and only need a small solar generator to power your family’s devices.

Below I give an example of a small, medium, and large solar generator to give you a better idea of which is used for what purpose.

Small Solar Generators (Portable Use)

MAXOAK Portable Power Station 500Wh BLUETTI AC50S Solar Generator Lithium Battery Backup for Outdoor Camping Van Trip (Regulated 12V,MPPT,Wireless Charging,PD 45W USB-C,,2AC Pure Sine-Wave Outlets)…
Bluetti AC50S

For portable use, the most advisable solar generator size is around 500Wh or lower because a larger size may be too heavy to carry. A good example of a system within this size bracket is the Bluetti AC50S.

As an impressive solar generator for camping, the Bluetti AC50S can charge devices like laptops, smartphones, and drones with ease. For maximum charging efficiency, the AC50S includes a built-in MPPT charge controller. This allows for the most efficient charging experience possible.

It also uses an LG lithium-ion battery cell with a cycle life of 1000+ cycles to 80% capacity. One battery cycle is the time that it takes to drain a charged battery and then charge it up again. Hence, a solar generator with 1000+ cycles is guaranteed to last long.

The whole system weighs 13.6 pounds. It’s also a very compact solar generator with dimensions of 11.6 x 7.5 x 7.7 inches.

With the AC50S, You can power a:

  • CPAP machine (60W) for six hours
  • Minifridge (40W) for over ten hours
  • Air pump (40W) for over ten hours
  • iPhone 11/12 twenty to forty times

Like most solar generators, you get three different charging methods with the AC50S:

  • Solar panel charging: takes four hours with 200W of panels
  • AC charging: takes 5.5 hours
  • Car charging: takes 15 hours with a 12V car charger

You can find the AC50S here on Bluetti’s website via my affiliate link.

Cost of a Small Solar Generator

The cost of a small solar generator ranges from $125 to $500. The battery capacity and port options are the typical indicators of whether it is going to cost more or less than another option. Small solar generators tend to range from 150Wh to about 500Wh of battery capacity.

Below I’ve compiled a table of small solar generators along with their price, battery capacities, and port options.

BrandModelPriceBattery CapacityPort Options
JackeryExplorer 240$199.99240WhUSB-A (2)
DC car port (1)
AC outlet (1)
Goal ZeroYeti 200X$299.95187WhUSB-C PD (1)
USB-C (1)
USB-A (x2)
6mm port (1)
DC car port (1)
AC outlet (1)
Rockpals500$429.90520WhUSB-C (1)
USB-A (3)
5.5 x 2.1 mm DC ports (4)
DC car port (1)
AC outlets (2)
BluettiAC50S$429.99500WhWireless charging port (1)
USB-C PD (1)
USB-A (4)
12V/3A DC ports (2)
DC car port (1)
AC outlets (2)

Medium-Sized Solar Generators (Off-Grid Living, Partial Home-Backup)

BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC200P 2000W 2000Wh Solar Generator 700W Max Solar Input Backup Battery Pack with 6 2000W AC Outlet(4800W Peak) for Van Home Emergency Outdoor Camping Explore
Bluetti AC200P

Medium-sized solar generators can be anywhere from 750-2,000Wh of battery capacity. Since companies that produce solar generators continue to expand the sizes of their systems as they innovate their products, this “medium-sized” category is a gray area as to which is considered “small”, “medium”, or “large”.

With that being said, a medium-sized solar generator is small enough to be portable if needed but large enough to power more devices for longer, and in some cases, they can even power appliances.

In the 750-1,500Wh battery range, you can expect to power devices easily for extended periods of time. In addition, you can also power devices/appliances that require more power than a typical small device due to the likelihood that the inverter strength will be from 750-1,500W (continuous). With this power from the AC ports, you can use the system with items like CPAP machines, refrigerators, and more.

For off-grid living or partial home backup, the ideal solar generator for use should be about 2,000Wh or more, which is significantly higher than those for camping or portable use. With a generator rated at 2,000Wh, you can power appliances and smaller devices for a very long period of time before needing to recharge its battery.

A standard example of a solar generator for off-grid living is the Bluetti AC200P. Its inverter is rated at 2,000W of continuous AC power. Thanks to the rating, you can power various home appliances with the device when needed.

Here are some of the appliances and devices that the AC200P will power with a fully charged battery:

  • Refrigerator (150W) for 11+ hours
  • Laptop (60W) for 28+ hours
  • Smartphone for 180+ hours
  • LCD TV (100W) for 17+ hours

The Bluetti AC200P also has a very high solar input at 700W maximum. At this rate, you can recharge the AC200P in about 3.5-4 hours. The power station comes with 17 different output ports, allowing it to charge various DC/AC devices and appliances.

Using the maximum solar input (without any other charging methods) allows you to recharge the entire system during the day to be able to use it throughout the night.

At 60.6 pounds, the AC200P is a hefty piece of equipment, yet it is a reasonable weight for its specifications.

The AC200P uses a LiFePO4 battery. These battery types tend to be heavier than lithium-ion ones; however, compared to its predecessor, the lithium-ion AC200, it’s only four pounds heavier while also having 300Wh of additional battery capacity.

Some additional features to the AC200P include a touchable LCD screen, which helps in the display of current, voltage, power, temperature, and charging status. You can also decide to change the output voltage, charging mode, and frequency.

This system costs $1,699 without solar panels.

You can find the AC200P here on Amazon via my affiliate link.

Large Solar Generators (Home Backup)

Titan power station outside charging with solar panels
Titan solar generator

For home backup, the most suitable solar generator should have the ability to run electronics and appliances for a significant period of time. For example, it should be able to run a full-size refrigerator for days on end.

There are also large solar generators that can power well pumps for days, weeks, and months on end depending on sunlight conditions and the daily power consumption on the pump.

This happens by having the system connected to solar panels. The panels charge the system while it’s in use to give the generator enough power to keep running until the sun comes up the next day to repeat the process.

One of the most suitable power stations for home backup power is the Titan solar generator. Like the AC200P, the Titan’s battery is rated at 2,000Wh of capacity. That being said, you can expand your battery capacity by stacking multiple batteries on top of each other, lengthening its running time.

Titan Solar Generator
Titan solar generator with one battery pack

With one battery, the Titan weighs 68 lbs. It’s quite large with one battery, and each battery weighs 35 lbs, so it is not something that you want to be moving around a lot.

The Titan has a very large inverter with a continuous power output of 3,000W and a peak power output of 6,000W. With this amount of power, you can charge most power-consuming home appliances like microwaves, refrigerators, blenders, and more.

That being said, the Titan costs $2,995. You can read my full review of the Titan here for more specifications and features.

Large solar generators in general will cost you $3,000+ dollars depending on how big your system is. The Yeti 6000X has over 6,000Wh of battery capacity and costs $4,999. And if you add additional batteries to your solar generator set up, this will, of course, add to its overall cost as well.

Pros of Investing in a Solar Generator

Jackery Explorer 1000 front view
Jackery Explorer 1000

Pro #1 – They Provide Free Energy

One of the best parts of solar generators is the fact that they provide free energy.

There is the initial cost of the system, but from that point on, it provides you with power coming straight from the sun.

Having access to free energy means:

  • A lower-cost overall: Without the need to buy fuel, the savings acquired over time from solar energy will be significant.
  • Less hassle compared to gas generators: Gas generators require refueling which results in making sure you have enough fuel in case you need it.
  • You can use it anytime: You can use this device anytime with the proper setup. Having the right solar panel setup is important for this benefit.

The ability to utilize power without worrying about locating a source of fuel is great for a reliable off-grid power system.

For additional information comparing solar and gas generators, I recommend reading through my brief analysis of the two systems in my post here: Gas vs Solar Generators – Which Makes More Sense?.

Pro #2 – They Are Low Maintenance 

Solar generators do not require a lot of maintenance.

Gas generators require more maintenance than their solar counterpart because their engines have several moving parts that need to be working in unison while also being properly lubricated. The only moving parts in a solar generator are its cooling fans.

This means that virtually anyone can keep them up and running, no matter the experience level with using technology.

Maintenance required, if any, is minimal.

Some major maintenance benefits include:

  • No oil changes: Since there are no moving parts in a solar generator besides its cooling fans, oil changes are not required. Nothing needs to be oiled to run more smoothly. This is simultaneously great for your pocket and the environment.
  • Avoiding broken parts: With few moving parts, you don’t need to worry about buying spares if something goes wrong and a part breaks.

Pro #3 – They Operate Quietly

The cooling fans and sometimes the inverter within a solar generator are the only components that create sound when in use.

In addition to zero emissions, low levels of noise allow you to use these systems effectively indoors.

Quiet operation can come in handy if:

  • You’re camping: Sometimes, a generator is needed in a camping situation. A gas-powered version can be loud and disturbing to both your party and those around you. The solar-powered generator is a quiet solution.
  • You’re having a party: No one wants to hear the loud hum of a generator during a gathering, but sometimes it is necessary. A solar-powered generator allows conversations of all volumes to be heard!
  • You’re using it at night: Sometimes the power goes out at night. You may need off-grid power, but you also need sleep. A solar generator will allow these needs when/if this occurs.

Pro #4 – They Can Be Portable

YETI 200X front view
My Yeti 200X portable power station

Portable power is a great advantage to anyone who is constantly on the go.

Many solar generator varieties are lightweight and made to be transferred from place to place easily.

If you are someone who constantly needs power on the go, this is perfect for you. The machine will be able to follow you wherever you are.

Portable solar generators vary greatly in size depending on the power output and battery capacity.

Below I show some examples of areas you can take a solar generator for portable use and link to articles I’ve written on those specific topics.

Here are some areas where you might want to bring along a portable solar generator:

1. Camping

Sometimes, you need a little extra power on a camping trip.

Whether it’s for your RV or your tent/campsite, you can find a portable generator that will be sized correctly for your camping needs.

I have an article for you to read for camping solar generators as it discusses systems ranging from 155-1,500Wh: Top 15 Best Solar Generators for Camping (Small to Large).

2. Off-Grid Cabin

You may need a portable power solution for your cabin depending on your current electrical setup within the cabin.

Having a solar generator that you can move around easily can keep your phones and other devices charged regardless of where you’re at on your property.

For a lightweight system based on my previous example scenario, I recommend the Jackery Explorer 1000 from my top five list here: 5 Best Solar Generators for Cabins (Plus Example Scenario).

3. In Your Car

If you keep the solar generator charged, you can keep it in your car for use in an emergency or for typical charging purposes.

You can get the Renogy Phoenix 300 that is just over six pounds or get the Yeti 1500X that is much bigger for higher power demands.

I highlight these models and an additional generator in the middle of those two in my article found here: 3 Best Solar Generators for Your Car – What Can They Power?.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a large portable system that can supply as much power as possible, check out my article discussing the top solar generators that come with wheels for better maneuverability: #1 Solar Generator on Wheels (With Honorable Mentions).

Understand Your Intended Use

Portability means access to power even in places where there are no outlets.

In the middle of nowhere, you can carry your solar generator and bring life to your situation.

As long as you measure what you intend to use the generator for in terms of power consumption, you will be set for your next excursion off the grid.

Cons of Investing in a Solar Generator

Now that you are familiar with the pros of the solar generator, it’s time to go over the cons.

The poor aspects of investing in a solar generator are critical to understand as they can help you to see the bigger picture of what you would be getting yourself involved with.

Con #1 – The Initial Price Point

shopping

As with many items, the initial cost of a solar generator varies significantly depending on how large of a solar generator you intend to get.

The least expensive systems cost around $150-250, whereas the largest solar generators (that are typically used for partial home backup power) can cost in the thousands of dollars.

Some examples of great solar generators on Amazon and their price points include:

The cost of the solar generator often depends on the size of the battery and overall power output, the number of panels it may come with, and the quality of the product you are purchasing.

For you, the price might turn you away. However, it is critical to see how the perks affect the price. Sometimes, a big investment will pay off for your pockets in the long run.

Con #2 – They Need to Recharge

Rockpower 500 front
Recharging my Rockpals Rockpower 500

A solar generator will need to recharge once the power inside its battery is used up.

This can take a long time depending on:

  • How much power you use daily
  • Sunlight conditions
  • Whether you can use the system while it is recharging or not
  • The solar panel maximum input
  • Size of the battery

The recharging time certainly removes convenience as it can take multiple hours to fully recharge a solar generator’s battery.

It can be annoying, particularly if you are in a hurry and/or live in a location that has spotty sunlight.

To mitigate this issue, make sure to:

1. Use Its Maximum Solar Input

Every solar generator has a maximum solar input.

If you proportion your solar panel setup correctly, you’ll get the fastest possible charging time.

2. Use the Included Wall Charger

This applies mainly to portable solar generators where you’ll be taking the system with you on an adventure of some sort.

You can utilize its wall charger (in addition to solar charging) to speed up the recharging process before heading out.

EcoFlow has some of the fastest wall-charging solar generators – Check out the details of their systems as I compare them to Jackery’s power stations here: EcoFlow vs. Jackery – Full Solar Generator Comparison (With Specs).

3. Correctly Position & Prep the Solar Panel

Positioning is everything. Everyone knows to put the panel in good sunlight with no obstructions; however, the lesser-known tips are to:

  • Angle the solar panel(s) perpendicular to the sun: Several solar panels come with kickstands. Using these or another object to angle the panels so they’re directly facing the sun will give you more power output.
  • Spray some water on the solar panel surface: At the start of your solar recharging process, spray some water on the solar panel’s surface to temporarily increase the power intake of the panels.

Recharging can be an annoying process. If you need something instantaneous, this might not be the option for you.

Using it often is what makes the solar generator worth your money.

If you can’t spend the time to charge it, you likely will not get all that you can out of the power provided.

For some help in finding the fastest-charging solar generators, I created a list of them in my article here: Top 5 Fastest Charging Solar Generators (Via AC Outlet & Solar Panels).

Con #3 – They Can Be Sensitive to High Temperatures

temperature

Even though a solar generator uses the sun with its panels, the power station housing the battery is susceptible to high temperatures while in operation (typically anything over 104 degrees Fahrenheit).

This means that you will need to keep an eye on it if you decide to take it outside and put it to use.

Sometimes, the strain of operation in the summer months can cause it to temporarily shut down if its operating environment is too hot.

Due to this, it’s recommended to place it in a cool, dry environment where the air is circulated.

This will allow its cooling fans to work appropriately to keep the battery from overheating.

Con #4 – More Power Requires a Larger Size

If you’re looking for a generator with a lot of power (both in power output and battery capacity), you may have to sacrifice portability.

In general, the more output power desired, the larger the generator. This will cost more money and sacrifice many of the benefits that come from having a smaller system.

If you aren’t moving your generator to and from your home, this won’t be a problem.

However, if you need it for camping or other adventures that require movement, it will be difficult to maneuver.

The best portable power station when comparing its power output to its overall weight is the Jackery Explorer 1000.

It weighs 22 pounds and its AC ports can output up to 1,000 watts continuously.

If you’re looking for a system for use on the go but don’t want to sacrifice power, I recommend this system. Find my full analysis of it here: Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station – Review and Analysis.

Con #5 – Energy Supply Is Not Consistent

warm

The reality of the sun is that it’s not always out. This can make it hard for the solar generator to always have power, especially if you live in an area where sunny days are just as common as overcast.

Ideally, if you want a solar generator, you should live in a place that has the following types of climates:

  • Tropical: Tropical climates typically have an average temperature of just under seventy degrees throughout the year. This means that the sun is out more often.
  • Sub-Tropical: A sub-tropical climate isn’t quite as warm as a tropical one, but it typically provides enough light for a solar generator to thrive.

If you live in a cloudy area, you might want to think twice about paying a lot of money for a solar generator.

If you have sun during the warmer months and will use it then, it makes sense.

If your location is overcast all year long and you need power, this item may not be worth it for you. You want to be able to get as much use out of it as you can.

A Solar Generator Can Be Effective In Cloudy Weather

Tropical and sub-tropical climates are clearly ideal for sunlight, but if your residence typically has cloudy or unpredictable weather, a simple (but more expensive) solution is to add more solar panels to your solar array.

For example, if you’re getting half of your average solar panel input during a cloudy day, then you should get twice the number of solar panels to make up for the difference in power received.

If you’re located in the Pacific Northwest or a similar location where cloudy cover is common throughout the year, this can be a solution for your off-grid needs.

For home solar installation, it’s always good to consult a professional in your area to help you determine what size system would work best for your climate type.

For more information on solar panel installation, I recommend reviewing my guide where I discuss tips for installing panels on your home and RV: Solar Panel Installation – Step-By-Step for Home and RV.

Aspects of a Good Solar Generator

Question mark on chalk board

A good solar generator mainly consists of a long battery cycle life, a powerful inverter, and a high solar panel input. These qualities ensure that it will last a long time, be able to power what you need, and be able to recharge quickly.

The following are the qualities you should look for in a high-quality solar generator.

1. High Cycle Life

The cycle life of a battery describes the number of times it can be discharged and recharged. This gives the longevity of the power station. A good cycle life for a solar generator is around 1,500 cycles to 80% capacity.

The best solar generators have longer cycle life durations. The Bluetti EP500 and EP500Pro have the longest cycle life rating of all solar generators, at 6,000 cycles to 80% battery capacity.

2. Powerful Inverter

A powerful inverter allows the DC power from the battery to be transferred to AC power to run appliances and electronics flawlessly for extended periods of time.

Inverter strength is typically relative to the size of the solar generator. The ideal ratio (for solar generators under 3,000Wh) is 1:1 in terms of battery capacity to continuous AC power output, and 1:2 in terms of battery capacity to surge AC power output.

For example, the Jackery Explorer 500 has an AC inverter capable of 500W continuous and 1,000W surge. It has a battery capacity of 518Wh. This system has a powerful inverter because it follows the battery capacity to continuous output (518Wh:500W) at nearly a 1:1 scale as well as the 1:2 scale of 518Wh to 1,000W surge power.

Most large solar generators that are over 3,000Wh do not currently follow this ratio. If they were to run at the ratio given, they would produce too much heat within the system to run it effectively. The maximum inverter strength for a solar generator over 3,000Wh is about 3,000W continuous and 6,000W surge. This exact inverter rating can be found in the Titan and EP500Pro solar generators.

The best inverter type is a pure sine wave inverter. Read the user guide or technical specifications of each solar generator you’re looking to purchase to make sure it has one. If it has a modified sine wave inverter, this is not the ideal option to have.

3. High Solar Input

The charging speed of the solar generator adds to the reliability of the system when it is needed and the overall comfort that you experience.

A solar generator is most practical when it is used with a solar panel or multiple panels. The ideal solar input needs to be high enough to recharge the generator within one day. You can figure this out by using the average of about five hours of ideal sunlight per day and multiplying it by the maximum solar input of the solar generator.

Example: 5 hours x 500W of maximum solar input = 2,500Wh per day of battery charge

Remember that there will be efficiency losses from the solar panels to about 80%, so using the above example, you can install up to about 600W of panels to get the full 500W of solar charge into your solar generator.

If you intend to use your solar generator while it’s recharging, you need to be able to have enough solar panel input to offset the power being used during the day. This ensures that it will be able to run throughout the night for essential devices (for example, a CPAP machine).

In addition, having an MPPT charge controller within the generator makes the efficiency of your desired charging method much higher than a standard PWM charge controller. Look for an MPPT charge controller within the solar generator you intend to purchase.

4. Battery Type – Lithium-Based

When considering battery type, the most suitable choice is the LiFePO4 (lithium-iron-phosphate) battery. The cells are non-toxic compared to other common battery types.

LiFePO4 batteries also have a longer cycle life than other battery types like lead-acid and even lithium-ion.

5. Reliable Battery Capacity

The battery capacity of the solar generator is an essential factor to consider as well. The battery capacity should be high enough to ensure that you can charge/power all the fundamental devices and appliances in your home.

If you’re using a portable solar generator for camping or mobile use, it’s important to review the specifications of the solar generator’s battery to ensure it will charge what you need with ease.

6. Output Port Options

It’s also essential that you pick a solar generator based on the output port options that suit you best. There are a variety of different ports to choose from on the many models available today, but some of the main ones to look for include:

  • USB-A
  • USB-C
  • USB-C PD
  • AC ports
  • 12V DC socket (cigarette lighter port)

7. Portability

With portability, you want a solar generator that will have as much battery power as possible without sacrificing too much weight. This power-to-weight ratio has to do with the activity you intend to use it for. For a small portable solar generator, you may find one that weighs less than 10 pounds to be the ideal fit. The Yeti 200X or Jackery Explorer 240 are both under 10 pounds.

However, maybe you want something that you can take to a campsite or outdoor event from your car, meaning you don’t need to travel far on foot to bring it to your desired location. In this case, a bigger solar generator may be the best fit in case you need to power more than just smartphones and similar small devices.

You can get a system that weighs closer to 30 pounds to carry either by yourself or with another person. You can get heavier systems that weigh 40+ pounds if you can get a rolling cart/trolly with it. Any system larger than about 50 pounds will need some serious muscle to be able to be portable in this scenario.

Similar: What Size Portable Solar Panel Do You Need? (Detailed Overview)

Solar Generators That Are Worth the Money

EcoFlow Delta 1300 side view
EcoFlow Delta 1300

The solar generators that are worth the money are ones that will give you the power you need for the tasks you use them for, whether that’s outdoors or for home backup power.

I’ve compiled a list of the small, medium, and large solar generators that I personally recommend. I’ve reviewed nearly all of these systems’ specifications and have articles relating to each one except the Bluetti AC50S. Feel free to click on the links of the models you’re interested in to learn more about them.

Best Small Solar GeneratorsBest Mid-Sized Solar GeneratorsBest Large Solar Generators       
Jackery Explorer 240Jackery Explorer 1000Point Zero Energy Titan
Rockpals 500EcoFlow Delta 1300Bluetti EP500
Bluetti AC50SBluetti AC200PBluetti EP500Pro

Is a Solar Generator a Good Investment?

grow-money

A solar generator is a good investment because it provides consistent off-grid electricity while using free solar energy to recharge. A solar generator using a LiFePO4 battery will give you the greatest return on your investment as it will last longer than any other battery type.

In the journal titled Synthetic Metals, the benefits of LiFePO4 batteries over lithium-ion batteries are discussed in detail – with explanations regarding its increased cycle life and overall safer cell chemistry.

The best reasons that a solar generator is worth your money include:

  • The money you will save: The solar generator will indeed cost you a bit more upfront. However, the repairs and gas that need to be purchased for a fuel generator can add up quickly. The solar generator just needs the sun, and so it will eventually save you money with long-term use.
  • The variety of available options: From the small and portable Jackery 240 to the massive Bluetti EP500, there are a wide variety of solar generators on the market that can fit what you’re looking to get out of it.

Lastly, if you currently live in the United States and are looking into solar generators for your home, you can get up to a 26% reduction from the total cost of your system thanks to the Federal Solar Tax Credit.

My article on this topic discusses the benefits in more detail here: Are Solar Generators Tax Deductible? (Federal Solar Tax Credit).

Max Peters

Hi! I'm Max and I am passionate about off-grid solar technology and adventure! I'm using my knowledge of solar generators, solar panels, and everything in between to provide you with the best tools to keep you powered while off the grid. Read more about me here: About Max Peters."

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