What Is a Portable Solar Generator? (Definition + Examples)

What Is a Portable Solar Generator? (Definition + Examples) cover image

Solar generators are one of the most reliable solar devices that exist.

Basically, solar generators convert solar energy into electrical energy. Usually, this happens by using solar panels. The electric power from the solar generators is stored in a battery and then used for various applications.

Later on in this article, we will discuss more battery capacities and how they concern solar generators. Other names for solar generators are solar power stations and solar power harnessing devices.

Regarding the purchase of solar generators, it can be very tricky, especially if you don’t know much about their specifications. To prevent digression, we will be discussing this later in this article. Firstly, we should focus on the source of power for solar generators and its primary components.

The primary source of power for solar generators is the sun. As we should know, the sun is one of the most potent and reliable sources of energy.

One other significant advantage of solar power is its cleanliness. The sun remains the cleanest and purest source of energy. So, what is solar energy in simple terms?

Solar energy is simply radiant light and heat from the sun. On a much larger scale, solar energy is harnessed in different ways. Common ways of harnessing solar power are through solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, and artificial photosynthesis.

Most importantly, solar energy has provided viable solutions to individuals and industries at large. For instance, in electricity production, solar power is anticipated to become the world’s largest source of electricity by the year 2050. By now, you have a better view of what solar energy is and how to harness it.

SOLAR PANELS

To have a full solar generator, there’s a primary requirement. By now, you should be able to make a pretty good guess.

For a solar generator to function by harnessing solar energy, there has to be a solar panel in place. What are solar panels? Technically, solar panels are also called photovoltaic modules (PV modules).

A PV module/solar panel is a collection of photovoltaic cells in a specific framework for installation. As said in the introduction, these PV cells use the sun as their only source of power.

For easy comprehension, all you need to know is that solar panels are vital components that aid energy conversion. Also, there are three types of solar panels that you may need to know: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.

BATTERIES USED IN SOLAR GENERATORS

One other important component of solar generators is their batteries. The battery is determined a lot in any solar generator of any kind.

Usually, before you buy a solar generator, the first thing you check for is the battery. However, checking the battery doesn’t mean you dismantle the parts and look into the solar generator.

Checking the battery simply means checking the battery specifications. In solar generators, most of the cells are identified by their mAh or Watt-hours.

Why are the measurement units so important? The value of the battery capacity is what determines how long it can power specific devices. Typically, new solar generators make use of lithium-ion batteries, but some old ones use lead-acid batteries.

Similar: Your Next Solar Generator – The Complete Guide

USES OF SOLAR GENERATORS

It’s impossible to undermine the importance and the uses of solar generators. They can be used anywhere that requires the use of power.

Solar generators can be used at home, outdoors (camping, fishing, hunting, etc.), factories, schools, and even medical facilities. Imagine how vital power/electricity is, and that describes the importance of solar generators too. For you to appreciate these devices, the outline below should give you an idea of its usefulness.

HOMES

Electricity in homes is now just as important as food, shelter, and clothing. In fact, it is probably the fourth most essential need besides those other three.

For instance, imagine a lack of power for over a week. If there is ever power loss, a lot of things will follow. Most of these things are extremely important, and so lacking them will cause some severe discomfort.

An example of what follows power loss is the lack of power for your air conditioning system, your fridges, and even your appliances and devices. Later on, this starts to mess up the room temperature (you either get too cold or too hot).

solar panels on home roof

Also, the lack of power for devices like your phones and laptops severs communication. Once communication is affected, life is hindered. Ultimately, it leads to severe frustration.

Now, you see how vital solar generators are in homes. Solar generators effectively provide back-up power, so you have no reason to feel uncomfortable.

Interestingly, it doesn’t just offer back-up power, but reliable power for all your devices and home appliances. Please note that the number of devices that can be powered by solar generators depends on certain factors that will be discussed later in this article. 

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES 

If you’re someone that loves outdoor activities, you need to utilize solar generators. Typically, going off the radar, i.e. outdoors, comes with some downsides.

One major disadvantage is the lack of a reliable source of energy for your devices, e.g. smartphones, laptops, etc. Fortunately, solar generators are a great solution to this common problem.

People camping at night outdoors

With solar generators, you can easily charge up your devices and even do more. Most solar generators allow for the use of certain appliances for a certain amount of time.

Depending on the specifications of the solar generator, they can power appliances like fridges, fans, and TVs for a different number of hours. For instance, the Explorer 500 can power your smartphones, tablets, cameras, laptops, and fridges 34+, 28+, 60+, 7+, and 8+ times respectively. Similarly, other solar generators can power all of those appliances.

Besides the uses of these devices at homes and for outdoor activities, solar generators are also important in medical facilities. It could be disastrous when there is no back-up power in a medical facility.

Lack of back-up power for medical-facilities could affect patients on life-support and many other patients.

Similar: Top 5 Solar Generators for CPAP Machines (500+Wh)

EXAMPLES OF SOLAR GENERATORS

It’s crucial to know a few examples of solar generators available on the market. Most importantly, these examples will help further explain solar generators.

Also, you’d get to see their different specifications and what they can power. In this article, we’ll consider the EcoFlow Delta 1300, the Yeti 200X, the Jackery Explorer 240, the Suaoki solar generator, and the Renogy Phoenix solar generator.

ECOFLOW DELTA 1300

EcoFlow Delta 1300

The EcoFlow Delta comes with remarkable features. Unlike most solar generators, it comes with about 1260Wh energy storage which is beyond impressive.

Also, it features an output of 1800W peak and 3300W surge power. One other thing to appreciate about the EcoFlow Delta is its portability. For a generator that has that much energy storage, it is an impressive product.

The solar generator is also compatible with most of your devices and household appliances. Inside this solar generator, there are about 140 lithium-ion battery cells. The BMS (Battery Management System) regulates the entire system by using specific algorithms to keep the batteries safe. 

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Battery type: Lithium-ion
  • Charging time: 1.7 hours
  • Battery capacity: 1260Wh
  • Output: 1800W (Surge 3300W)
  • Shelf  Life: 12 months
  • Ports: 6 AC outlets* 2 USB-C PD, 4 USB
  • Weight: 30lbs

WHAT IT CAN POWER

  • Light (10W): 36+ hours
  • Laptop (49Wh): 23+ times
  • Drone (60Wh): 16-23 times
  • Electric Vehicle (1800W): 5-8km 3-5 miles
  • Window Air Conditioner: 1500W (2200W): 0.6 – 3.3 hours
  • Hair Dryer (1600W): 0.6 – 3.3 hours
  • Flat Screen TV (50”) (110W): 15-18 hours
  • Electric Grill (1650W): 0.6-1.2 hours
  • Microwave Oven (1000W): 1-1.8+ hours
  • Refrigerator 150W (1200W): 10-20 hours
  • Electric Frying Pan (1500W): 0.7 – 1.5 hours
  • Coffee Maker (600W): 50-60 cups

Similar: List of All Solar Generators from EcoFlow – (Overview + Power Banks)

YETI 200X SOLAR GENERATOR

Front side of Yeti 200X
Goal Zero Yeti 200X

Goal Zero produces these solar generators; it is a company concerned about catering to people’s power needs. The product remains one of the few most portable power generators in the market.

Also, it’s able to deliver as much as 187 Watt-hours of lithium power. Interestingly, the solar generator also supports the fast-charging feature.

Talking about charge times, it takes the solar generator between 5 – 24 hours to charge up entirely using the Nomad 20 or Nomad 50 solar panels. Also, it’s essential to know that these solar generators support three charge ways.

For the Yeti 200X, you could charge using the sun, wall socket, and even the car. Additionally, the Yeti 200X is equipped with the latest charging technology, and it also has a USB-C PD cable that allows you to charge your devices in a short time.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Battery type: Li-ion NMC
  • Peak Capacity: 187Wh (14.4V, up to 13Ah)
  • Lifecycles: 500 cycles to 80% (discharge rate: 1C, full charge/discharge, Temp 25C)
  • Shelf-life: Keep plugged in, charge every 3-6 months
  • Management System: MPPT charge controller, low battery protection
  • USB-A port (output): 5V, up to 2.4A (12W max), regulated
  • USB-C port (output): 5-12V, up to 3A (18W max), regulated
  • USB PD port (input/output): 5-20V, up to 3A (60W max), regulated
  • 6mm port (output): 12V, up to 10A (120W max)
  • 12V car port (output): 12V, up to 10A (120W max), regulated
  • AC inverter (output, modified sine wave): 120VAC, 60Hz, 1A (120W, 200W surge)
  • Charging port (input, 8mm): 13-22V, up to 7A (100W max), regulated
  • Maximum input: 2 hours
  • Wall Charger: 4 hours
  • Nomad 20: 12-24 hours
  • Nomad 50: 5-10 hours
  • Boulder 50: 5-10 hours
  • Weight: 5lbs
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 5.1 inches

WHAT IT CAN POWER

  • Smartphone: 20 recharges
  • Headlamp: 35 recharges
  • Camera: 35 recharges
  • Tablet: 5 recharges
  • Laptop: 4 recharges
  • 12V Portable Fridges: 10+ hours
  • Light-a-Life (Highest setting): 40 hours

Read Full YETI 500X Review Here

JACKERY EXPLORER 240 SOLAR GENERATOR

Jackery 240 solar generator front view

The Explorer 240 is also an efficient solar generator. As a matter of fact, it is perfect for outdoor activities due to its battery type and battery capacity.

The Explorer 240 gets its name from the battery capacity, which is 240Wh. Moreover, the battery capacity of the Explorer 240 is just good enough to charge your devices and to power up your appliances.

Also, another impressive feature is its weight. The Explorer 240 weighs 6.6lbs, making it very portable and perfect for outdoor activities. Besides, this solar generator has multiple powering options, including 2 USB ports, AC outlet, and 12V car output.

Just like the Yeti 200X, the Explorer 240 can also be charged up in three ways: via solar panels, wall socket, and the car. An additional but yet impressive feature in the Explorer is its informative LCD screen that provides both ‘charge’ and ‘discharge’ status.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Battery Type: Li-ion NMC
  • Peak Capacity: 240Wh (14.4V, up to 16.8Ah) 67,000mAh / 3.6V
  • Lifecycles: greater than or equal to 500 cycles to 80% 
  • Shelf-life: Charge every 3-6 months
  • Management System: BMS, overvoltage protection, short circuit protection
  • Charging Input (DC, 8mm): 12V – 30V (42W Max)
  • DC Output (Car port): DC 13.3V, up to 10A
  • DC Output (6mm): N/A
  • USB Output: Two USB-A ports (5V, 2.4A)
  • AC Output (pure sine wave): 110VAC, 60Hz, 200W continuous, 400W max
  • Charge Methods: AC Wall Outlet, 12V car adaptor, solar panel (optional)
  • AC/Wall Socket charge time: 8 hours
  • 12V Car adaptor charge time: 8 hours
  • Optional 50W solar panel with full sun charge time: 10 hours
  • Weight: 6.6lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.0 x 7.8 x 5.2 inches

WHAT IT CAN POWER

  • Smartphone: 17+ recharges
  • Fridges: 3+ hours
  • Camera: 30 recharges
  • Tablet: 14+ recharges
  • Laptop: 4+ recharges
  • Drones: 4+ recharges
  • USB Small Fan: 40+ hours

Read Full Jackery Explorer 240 Review Here

SUAOKI PS5B 400WH SOLAR PORTABLE POWER SUPPLY

Suaoki 400Wh featured image

The Suaoki power station can also be recharged in three different ways: DC power from a 12V/24V car, AC power from a wall socket, and even solar panels. Also, there are about four USB ports to charge your electronic devices.

Moreover, the Suaoki also comes with three buttons with light indicators and a huge LCD screen to display charge and discharge status. Also, the LCD screen displays the battery consumption, keeping you informed every step of the way. Besides, the Suaoki power station has a relatively high battery capacity of 400Wh.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Battery Capacity: 400Wh
  • Starting outlet voltage: 12V/600A (Peak)
  • Product weight: 12.5lbs
  • AC output: 220V – 50Hz/300W (Pure Sine Wave), 600W surge pure-sine wave inverter
  • USB output: 5V, 3.5A (Max)
  • Cigarette lighter socket: 12V, 120W
  • DC Output: 12V/2*3A
  • USB Output: 5V/4*3.5A (Max)
  • Operating Humidity: 10% ~ 90%
  • Charge Temperature Range: 0 ~ 45 degrees Celsius
  • Discharge Temperature Range: -10 ~ 60 degrees Celsius

WHAT IT CAN POWER

  • Smartphone: 30+ Recharges
  • Fridges: 7 hours
  • Camera: 24+ recharges
  • Tablet: 20+ recharges
  • Laptop: 6+ recharges
  • Drones: 5+ recharges
  • USB Small Fan: 100+ hours
  • TV: 3+ hours
  • LED Light (20W): 13+ hours
  • CPAP: 3+ hours

Read Full Suaoki 400 Review Here

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A SOLAR GENERATOR

Now, you probably understand and appreciate solar generators. However, there are certain factors that you still need to understand.

Understanding those factors will ultimately make you choose right when trying to get a solar generator. Without further ado, here are the factors you should consider.

BATTERY TYPE

It’s undeniable that the battery type of a solar generator matters a whole lot. For instance, Goal Zero’s Yeti 400 and Yeti 400 Lithium are similar products with very different battery types.

The Goal Zero Yeti 400 makes use of lead-acid batteries. On the other hand, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium makes use of the latest lithium battery technology.

What’s the difference between these two battery types? The Lithium-ion batteries store energy more efficiently than the lead-acid battery. It’s safer to use a battery that conserves energy. Thus, regarding battery type, the best bet remains the lithium-ion battery.

BATTERY CAPACITY

Just as the battery type of a solar generator is essential, so is the battery capacity. In fact, the battery capacity is a significant specification that manufacturers never forget to include.

So, how do you know a solar generator by its battery? It’s no magic, just check the value. Typically, most portable solar generators are between 150Wh and 1500Wh.

However, please note there are other ones that can exceed or not meet these values; that still doesn’t mean they are bad choices. Put simply, a solar generator with a high battery capacity will perform better than that of low battery capacity.

Furthermore, the battery capacity also determines what you can power with the solar generator. However, to be extremely sure, it’s best to review the product website and confirm the list of appliances and devices it can power and for how long.

SIZE

As we all know, size is what determines whether a device is portable or not. In the case of solar generators, the dimensions matter.

Moreover, the size is what determines whether the product can be used for outdoor activities like camping, hunting, fishing, etc. If you are comfortable with the size of your generator, you will enjoy it better.

Very portable solar generators are usually between 5 – 10lbs. However, averagely sized solar generators weigh between 10lbs – 15lbs. Lastly, the generators that weigh above 15lbs are considered just a little heavy.

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

For every product, it is vital to check out the customer reviews and solar generators are not an exception. Fortunately, online stores like Amazon and the product’s site itself provides a space for that.

Why are customer reviews so critical? Customer reviews open up your eyes to details you’d never see or complaints you’d never expect. The reviews ultimately determine whether or not you should purchase a specific product.

PRICE

The price of a product is a strong factor worth deep consideration. However, there are ways in which you can weigh the value of a solar generator. One of the ways to know if a product is worth its price is by checking out similar products and customer reviews.

Essentially, all you are trying to confirm is whether or not this solar generator is worth the go or not. However, this factor is based on the interest, budget, and taste of the buyer, so the choice still comes down to your needs.

CONCLUSION

Solar generators are one of the most effective and safest devices used for generating power. They are alternate instrumental sources of energy.

Also, these generators are useful in homes, schools, and even in medical facilities. One of the significant applications of solar generators is power generation outdoors. It’s why solar generators are popularly used for camping, hunting, fishing, and all other kinds of outdoor activities.

Continue Reading:

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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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