Solar generators are becoming increasingly important in the world today.
Most people need them as backup sources of power when they go on outdoor trips.
Solar generators are also essential for providing a backup source of electricity for homes.
In the home, they help supply power to various appliances and devices like refrigerators, smartphones, and laptops.
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:
|Goal Zero||Yeti 1500X||$1,999.95||1,516Wh|
|Point Zero Energy||Titan||$2,995.00||2,000Wh|
|Goal Zero||Yeti 3000X||$3,199.95||3,032Wh|
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.
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 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)
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.
|Brand||Model||Price||Battery Capacity||Port Options|
|Jackery||Explorer 240||$199.99||240Wh||USB-A (2)
DC car port (1)
AC outlet (1)
|Goal Zero||Yeti 200X||$299.95||187Wh||USB-C PD (1)
6mm port (1)
DC car port (1)
AC outlet (1)
5.5 x 2.1 mm DC ports (4)
DC car port (1)
AC outlets (2)
|Bluetti||AC50S||$429.99||500Wh||Wireless charging port (1)
USB-C PD (1)
12V/3A DC ports (2)
DC car port (1)
AC outlets (2)
Medium-Sized Solar Generators (Off-Grid Living, Partial Home-Backup)
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)
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.
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.
Are Solar Generators Worth the Money?
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.
A gas generator costs less upfront but continues to build up fuel costs and potential maintenance costs down the line.
For example, the Bluetti AC200P uses a LiFePO4 battery, which ensures a very long cycle life. It will last over a decade with proper usage.
To break down this claim, I need to give you the cycle life of the AC200P, which is rated at 3,500+ cycles to 80% capacity. This means that you can run it from full to zero battery about 3,500 times before the battery capacity reaches 80% of its original 2,000Wh.
Let’s take 3,500/365 days. The total comes out to 9.72. This number means that if you were to use the AC200P every day from full battery to no battery, it would last you 9.72 years before the battery power reaches 80% of its original load (1,600Wh).
Solar panels tend to cost about $100-$120 for a standard 100W monocrystalline panel. If you were to get 500W of panels, the minimum cost would be about $500 total. Combining this cost with something like the AC200P solar generator, the total comes out to about $2,500. Adding wiring and mounting brackets to complete the system may come out at around $80-100 additional dollars.
In total, a reliable system for power outages that supports partial home backup power will cost about $2,600. That’s a lot of money upfront, but since solar panels can last over 25 years and the solar generator will last over 10 years, it pays itself off completely over time.
Aspects of a Good Solar Generator
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-C PD
- AC ports
- 12V DC socket (cigarette lighter port)
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.
Solar Generators That Are Worth the Money
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 Generators||Best Mid-Sized Solar Generators||Best Large Solar Generators|
|Jackery Explorer 240||Jackery Explorer 1000||Point Zero Energy Titan|
|Rockpals 500||EcoFlow Delta 1300||Bluetti EP500|
|Bluetti AC50S||Bluetti AC200P||Bluetti EP500Pro|
Purchasing solar generators is highly advisable, but the type you decide to buy depends on the purpose of the power station.
Each system’s specifications matter because they serve different purposes.
Making an educated choice on what you buy with the facts you know now will give you the solar generator that will serve you and/or your family best.