Solar generators come in all kinds of sizes with varying power outputs. In this post, I’ll be going over individual classes of solar generators based on their power output and show you what kind of appliances and devices they can power.
A solar generator can power small devices like smartphones and portable fans as well as large appliances like drills, fridges, and even microwaves. However, not all solar generators output the same amount of power. The AC inverter specification dictates what a solar generator can and cannot power.
The AC inverter (to power the AC ports) tends to get more powerful as a portable power station’s battery capacity increases.
For example, the Yeti 200X has an inverter rated at 120W continuous (200W surge) and a battery capacity of 187Wh. On the other end of the spectrum, the Bluetti AC200P has an inverter rated at 2,000W continuous (4,800W surge) with a 2,000Wh battery capacity.
If you’re looking to run your solar generator daily, its battery capacity and recharging times should be analyzed in addition to its power output.
I recommend checking out my post on this topic, where I compare three different solar generators to each other and give some tips on what to look for in your research: Can You Use a Solar Generator Every Day? (Models Compared).
What will a solar generator power?
A 200-300W solar generator will power box fans, speaker systems, as well as most modern TVs. A 500W solar generator can power most CPAP machines and mini-fridges for extended periods of time. A 1,000-2,000W system can power most microwaves and full-size fridges.
It’s important to distinguish between a solar generator’s battery capacity and its AC port output. Some portable power stations have a small battery but high AC output and vice versa.
For example, you may want to power a 1,000W space heater with a capable power station like the EcoFlow River Max. This system is rated at 576Wh of battery capacity, and even though it can power the space heater, you will likely get only about 30 minutes of running time. This is because the River Max has a smaller battery than most solar generators that are capable of 1,000W of output power.
The better option for this space heater example would be the Bluetti AC200P mainly because it has a 2,000Wh battery, which can run the space heater for about two hours.
As I show you specific models and what they can power, the bullet points below show you a basic understanding of how running times are calculated for varying appliances when paired with a solar generator.
- Watt-hour (Wh): Measurement of the solar generator’s battery capacity
- Watt (W): In this article, watts are used to measure the maximum power output from a solar generator’s AC ports
- 1Wh of battery capacity = 1W of power running for one hour
What can a 2,000-watt solar generator power?
Most 2,000W solar generators can power microwaves, space heaters, full-size refrigerators, electric stoves, and even power tools like circular saws. The running times for these appliances vary depending on the exact wattage of each appliance and the battery capacity of the solar generator.
Below are three solar generators capable of 2,000W of continuous output power from their AC ports. Take note of what they can power and the amount of time they can run each listed appliance for.
The Yeti 1500X has a smaller battery than the AC200P and Explorer 2000 power stations, so it has shorter running times.
When it comes to larger and more powerful solar generators like these options, it’s usually best to get ones with larger battery capacities. Although they’re heavier, you’ll get longer running times, which means you won’t have to recharge it as often as a smaller system.
When using high-powered appliances with the power station’s AC ports, it’s important to factor in each one’s running time, but what’s more important is how often you think you’ll use it. For example, you may only use a microwave for five minutes every day, whereas a space heater may be used for an hour a day.
Most space heaters work with 2,000W solar generators because they tend to have a maximum of 1,500W of output power. My article on using space heaters with solar generators dives into more detail on this topic.
There are solar generators that produce over 2,000W of continuous power, and you can find a list of these large solar generators in my blog post found here: Top 3 Most Powerful Solar Generators (Overview + Analysis).
What will a 1,000-watt solar generator run?
A 1,000-watt solar generator can run 100W TVs from 8-13 hours and 35W mini-fridges for over a day. For high-powered appliances like coffee makers and microwaves, make sure to check their wattage before using them with a 1,000W generator (they can be rated for over 1,000W).
Below I have some 1,000W portable power stations and compare appliances they can run.
|Model||Bluetti EB150||Jackery Explorer 1000||OUPES 1200W|
|AC Inverter Output||1,000W continuous (1,200W surge)||1,000W continuous (2,000W surge)||1,200W continuous (2,200W surge)|
|What Can It Power?||CPAP (60W): 24 hrs (using DC car port)|
LCD TV (100W): 13 hrs
Blender (300W): 4.3 hrs
Refrigerator (800W): 1.6 hrs
|Mini Fridge (35W): 27 hrs (using DC car port)|
CPAP (65W): 14.6 hrs (using DC car port)
Refrigerator (800W): 1.1 hrs
Microwave (900W): 0.95 hrs (57 mins)
|CPAP (65W): 14.5 hrs (using DC car port)
LCD TV (100W): 8.4 hrs
Coffee Maker (550W): 1.5 hrs
Pressure Cooker (900W): 0.94 hrs (56 mins)
The Bluetti EB150 has a bigger battery than the Jackery 1000 and OUPES 1,200W models, which allows for longer running times. However, the EB150 only has a 1,200W surge limit from its AC ports, which is almost half of the surge rating on the other two models.
A 1,000W solar generator with at least a 1,000Wh battery capacity is ideal for powering mini-fridges or camping fridges since they can run them for over a day.
Although they can also be used for partial home backup power, most cannot power high-powered appliances for long periods of time.
I recommend checking out my review of the Jackery Explorer 1000 for more details on what it can power as well as its recharging speed: Jackery Explorer 1000 Power Station Review – Complete Value Analysis.
What will a 500-watt solar generator run?
A 500-watt solar generator will run low-powered appliances (30-100W) for 4-12 hours depending on the appliance. For example, TVs can run for 4-7.5 hours and mini/car fridges can run for 10-12 hours. Higher-powered appliances like a blender can also be used with these types of solar generators.
For camping purposes, 500W models can be versatile for several different appliances. They can also be used for recharging several devices at the same time, such as camera batteries, drones, and laptops.
These solar generators are relatively lightweight (10-15 lbs) and can be carried with one hand to and from campsites or from room to room in your home.
|Model||BigBlue Cellpowa500||Rockpals Rockpower 500||Jackery Explorer 500|
|AC Inverter Output||500W continuous (1,000W surge)||500W continuous (750W surge)||500W continuous (1,000W surge)|
|What Can It Power?||Light/Lamp (10W): 46 hrs|
CPAP (40W): 12.7 hrs (using DC port)
MacBook Air (50Wh): 9 recharges
LCD TV (110W): 4.1 hrs
|Smartphone (10Wh): 48 recharges (using DC (USB) port)|
Car Fridge (40W): 12 hrs (using DC port)
Laptop (45Wh): 10 recharges
CPAP (60W): 8 hrs (using DC port)
|Mini Fridge (35W): 14 hrs (using DC port)
32" TV (60W): 7.3 hrs
Heated Blanket (65W): 6.8 hrs
Blender (360W): 1.2 hrs
All of the examples above have similar 500-540Wh battery capacities, so they can power devices and appliances for similar times.
The Rockpals 500 model has a limited surge rating of 750W compared to the other models’ 1,000W surge limit. This can be an issue when powering heavy-duty appliances.
I own both the BigBlue and Rockpals power stations in the table, and I’ll link to my individual reviews of these models below:
If you think you’ll need a system with a higher power output than 500W, I recommend the EcoFlow River Max. It’s around the same size as the previously mentioned models (576Wh) but can output 600W continuously.
It can even power 1,200W appliances with a function EcoFlow calls “X-Boost”. For more information, you can read my review of it here: EcoFlow River 600 Review – Testing My River Max + Comparisons.
What can a 300-watt solar generator run?
A 300-watt solar generator can run appliances like dehumidifiers (280W) and standard desktop computers (200W) for 1-2 hours depending on the model’s battery capacity. Most 300W models’ batteries are either around 300Wh or 500Wh, which alters the running times of similar appliances.
However, most 300W portable power stations are best used for lighter power needs (100W or less) because you can run appliances for longer durations.
Check out the solar generator models below for what they can power and for how long. I have two 300Wh models and two 500Wh models – all of which have a 300W continuous power output from their AC ports.
|Model||Fanttik EVO 300||Jackery Explorer 300||Bluetti AC50S||Goal Zero Yeti 500X|
|AC Inverter Output||300W continuous (600W surge)||300W continuous (500W surge)||300W continuous (450W surge)||300W continuous (1,200W surge)|
|What Can It Power?||Camera (14Wh): 18 recharges|
iPhone (11Wh): 26 recharges (using DC (USB) port)
MacBook Air (50Wh): 5 recharges
Mini Cooler (60W): 4.7 hrs (using DC port)
|iPhone (11Wh): 25 recharges (using DC (USB) port)|
MacBook Air (50Wh): 5 recharges
Desk Fan (20W): 12.4 hrs
Mini Cooler (60W): 4.6 hrs (using DC car port)
|LED Lamp (20W): 21 hrs|
LCD TV (75W): 5.6 hrs
Refrigerator (90W): 4.7 hrs
Electric Stewing Pot (200W): 2.1 hrs
|Light Bulb (11W): 39 hrs
Portable Fridge (25W): 19 hrs (using DC car port)
CPAP (65W): 7.4 hrs (using DC car port)
TV (42" LED) (100W): 4.3 hrs
Ideally, the solar generators rated around 500Wh from the table should be used mainly for items that need to pull consistent power for several hours (portable fridges, CPAP machines, etc.).
A major benefit of the 300Wh models is their weight, which is typically between 7-10 lbs. Their dimensions are also smaller than the 500Wh systems, so they can be stored and carried more easily than the larger portable power stations.
I can actually fit my Jackery Explorer 300 in my backpack easily, which I showed in my YouTube review video.
Calculating running times from AC ports
A good way to measure how long you can run an appliance for (from a solar generator’s AC ports) is by using the following calculation:
(Battery capacity (Wh) x 0.85) / Appliance wattage (W) = Appliance running time (hours)
For example, using a 65W portable camping fridge with a 500Wh portable power station would look something like this:
(500 x 0.85) / 65 = 6.5 hours of running time
I use “0.85” in this calculation because most solar generators’ AC ports are powered by an inverter with about an 85% efficiency. In other words, the inverter uses about 15% of the power station’s battery capacity when powering appliances.
For an estimation of the power consumption of your appliances, you can use this list from Unbound Solar as a guide. However, be sure to review your own appliances’ wattages as they may differ.
Some appliances, such as a CPAP machine, can run on either AC or DC power. In these scenarios, the best option is using the DC ports instead of AC power because they don’t use an inverter and are therefore more efficient. This allows you to run the same appliance for a longer period of time.
Battery capacity & power output – equally important
Whether you’re in need of a high-powered solar generator for big appliances or just one to charge small devices, its battery capacity determines the length of time you can run or charge them for.
Think of the hours of running time your appliance may need, and then determine how big of a battery you will need by factoring in the appliance’s wattage. This can help you determine which system fits your power needs best.
Another factor to consider is the power station’s recharging time from solar panels. As a solar generator’s battery capacity increases, its solar input capabilities should be able to recharge it in a short period of time.
I have an article that can help you gauge solar recharging, which can be especially useful if you’d like to run your solar generator daily. You can read it here: Can You Use a Solar Generator Every Day? (Models Compared).