Best Solar Generators of December 2023


$2,399 at Amazon

Jackery 2000 Pro Solar Generator

Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro

Best overall and fastest charging solar generator

$520 at Jackery

Jackery 240 solar generator

Jackery Solar Generator 240

Best affordable solar generator

$700 at Amazon

Oupes 600 watt solar generator kit

Oupes 600W Solar Generator Kit

Best value solar generator

What is the best overall solar generator?

Thanks to its fast charging time, impressive solar capacity and lighter than average weight, the Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro is CNET’s overall favorite solar generator. Its light weight means it’s easier to move than competitors with similar battery sizes. It also stores more charge in a shorter amount of time. But, if the Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro isn’t what you’re looking for, we’ve got plenty of other options for any budget.

All of the solar generators listed here were run through empirical testing at CNET’s lab and handled and examined in person by me. All the picks below were made with firsthand knowledge.

Solar generators are smaller-scale versions of whole-house solar panels and batteries. Portable power stations have been available for a while now and using solar panels to charge on the go is the next logical step. Combine portable power stations with portable solar panels and you have yourself a solar generator.


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Solar generators, like their gas-powered counterparts, are portable sources of backup power to help you keep some of the lights on during a power outage or while you’re away from electricity, like on a camping trip. Solar generators do it without the noise and toxic fumes. With portable solar panels, you can recharge these stations anywhere the sun shines.

We’ve tested the leading solar-powered generators to see how they stack up against each other, and have chosen our favorites below. There are solar generators for a wide variety of needs and occasions, from smaller, car-battery-size options you could easily carry with you to high-powered, checked-bag-size ones that, while definitely portable, take a little more effort to move. All the solar generators on our best list performed well in testing and have a variety of features that boost their values. I’ll also include those we tested but which didn’t quite make the cut, explain our testing process and answer some FAQs below, too.

Best solar generators of 2023

Jackery 2000 Pro Solar Generator

Steve Conaway/CNET

The Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro is a fast-charging battery with an impressive capacity for adding solar panels, which means it’ll charge quickly anywhere. Our test had it reaching 100% charge using AC power from a wall outlet in just under two hours — about twice as fast as the other large solar generators we tested. Jackery says the Generator can charge with solar in two-and-a-half hours if you have six solar panels (FYI, that setup will cost you more than $6,000).

Its ability to accommodate this much solar charging sets it apart. It has a maximum solar input of 1,400 watts, while its nearest competitor has 800 watts.

Our tests also showed that the Jackery Explorer 2000 (the power station part of this generator) uses about 86% of its stated capacity of 2,160 watt-hours. That’s about average for the industry. The Jackery SolarSaga 200 (the solar panel part of the generator) has an impressive 24.3% efficiency rating and a capacity of 200 watts. The solar generator can be charged with a maximum solar input of 1,400 watts, the highest mark of any that we tested.

It has a simple yet informative display and is 17 pounds lighter than its closest competitor, while having a slightly larger battery. It has the features you expect from a solar generator — outlets for USB-A, USB-C, AC plugs and 12-volt car ports; a light with multiple settings — except that it doesn’t support wireless charging, a feature that’s becoming more common.

Still, for its hefty capacity, it’s the quickest charging, lightest, easy-to-use option out there. And right now, it’s $600 cheaper than usual with an onscreen coupon from Amazon.

The EcoFlow Delta Mini Solar Generator

Steve Conaway/CNET

The EcoFlow Delta Mini has a larger battery and charges twice as fast as its competitors when drawing power from a wall outlet. Its 882-watt-hour battery is large and powerful enough to power small appliances for quite a while, though the exact length of time depends on the appliance, of course. Add up to 300 watts of solar charging capacity for relatively quick charging on the go (EcoFlow says a full charge can happen in three to six hours with 320 watts of solar panels).

CNET’s test found that you can fully charge the Delta Mini in a brief 97 minutes, and that it has a usable capacity that’s right in line with industry averages. In the midsize category, though, it had the highest mark in that test: 86%. The 110-watt solar panels are some of the lightest available for their size. They have a very respectable 21-23% efficiency rating.

The Delta Mini has a whopping five AC wall-style outlets, two USB-A ports, a USB-A fast charging port, a USB-C outlet and a 12.6-volt car power outlet. At 23.6 pounds, it’s not too difficult to move around, while still offering a lot of storage. The port covers are really snug-fitting, which is great if you’re using it out where dirt and debris could get in, though I found them a little difficult to open.

The Delta Mini solar generator might not be long for this world. You can still buy the package at EcoFlow’s website, but from Amazon you’ll have to buy the station and solar panels separately.

While its base price is a bit high, you can currently snag the power station for $499 and one solar panel for $169 on Amazon.

The Bluetti EB3A solar generator.

Steve Conaway/CNET

Once again, my pick for the best smaller solar generator is the one that charges the fastest. In this case, the Bluetti EB3A was three times faster than similarly sized generators in our wall charging test, reaching a full charge in just 81 minutes. Bluetti’s stated recharge times from solar are at least twice as fast as many similar units. It’s got an easy-to-read display that moves beyond just the basics like overall charge, and tells you how much power is flowing in and out and with which outputs you have turned on (other smaller units typically have more limited displays).

Bluetti’s PV200 portable solar panel offers up to 23.4% efficiency. Under ideal conditions, the solar panel can recharge the generator in under two hours. The PV200’s charging capacity of 200 watts is the EB3A’s maximum solar input. Combined with AC charging from your wall, the charging capacity reaches 430 watts and the generator can recharge in as little as 1.2 hours. 

CNET’s tests found that the EB3A used less of its battery than the Jackery Solar Generator 240. It starts with a larger battery, though, so its usable capacity is actually a bit higher. Its base price is just a bit higher, but the clear, informative display and powerful panel make up for it. 

Jackery 240 solar generator

Steve Conaway/James Martin/CNET

Jackery’s Solar Generator 240 is the most affordable high-quality solar generator we tested. For a base price of $500, you can get 240 watt-hours of battery capacity and 60 watts of solar charging capacity in Jackery’s SolarSaga 60 solar panel. (Jackery also sells the Solar Generator 240 with its SolarSaga 100 panel for slightly more.) Both parts of this solar generator are nice and small and under 10 pounds. In our testing, the power station used an incredible 98% of its listed battery capacity. The solar panel has an impressive 23% efficiency.

Jackery’s Solar Generator 240 lost out to the Bluetti EB3A in the small category because it lacks a few neat features the Bluetti has. It doesn’t have wireless charging or the convenience of a USB-C port, and it only has one 200-watt AC outlet and two USB-A ports. But it’s still a solid option for someone looking to get a solar generator on a smaller scale and at a much lower price. It’s currently sold out on Amazon right now, but the 240 with the SolarSaga 100 is available for $520 at Jackery.

Oupes 600 watt solar generator kit

Steve Conaway/James Martin/CNET

With a stated battery capacity of 595 watt-hours and a 100-watt solar panel, the Oupes 600-watt Solar Generator Kit is a great value at its current discount price on Amazon. Even considering that our tests showed that closer to 83% of that capacity is usable (which is in line with industry averages) you’re still getting close to one watt per dollar spent. The Oupes also boasts one of my favorite displays for ease of reading and all the ports you’re looking for (USB-A, USB-C, 12-volt car charger and AC wall outlet).

The Oupes charges a bit slower than others and its 100-watt solar panel has a 20% efficiency rating, slightly below others we tested. If fast solar charging is what you’re after, this Oupes isn’t for you. It can only connect one panel at a time. Still, for its cost, it’s a great value. It’s out of stock at Amazon right now, but you can get the kit straight from Oupes for $390, one of the lower marks for a model that fluctuates in price.

Factors to consider when choosing a solar generator

For a relatively new product, there are a lot of solar generators on the market. Instead of getting overwhelmed by options, focus on a few key specifications of the products and compare from there.

Capacity

Perhaps the most obvious consideration is the capacity of both the portable power station and the solar panels. The power station’s capacity measures how much energy you can store, while the solar panels’ capacity measures how much solar energy you can funnel into the battery at one time. Another measure of capacity you’ll want to note is how many solar panels you can plug into the portable power station at once. Some power stations are limited to one panel at a time, while others allow you to plug in multiple panels or daisy-chain them together. The greater the capacity, the more devices you can run for longer, but the weight and cost of the whole setup will increase as well.

Cost

Like with most other purchases, you’ll likely consider cost. It can get a bit tricky to compare cost across solar generators because they come in different sizes and configurations. Some comparisons can be fairly easy: You can compare costs for different size power stations or solar panels (all else being equal) by calculating how many dollars per watt you’re spending. In other instances, it might come down to personal preference: How much more are you willing to pay for a power station that charges two hours faster than a competitor? How much would you pay to be able to attach two, four or six solar panels instead of one?

Output

Not only can portable power stations store different amounts of energy, they can also push out different amounts of energy. If you want to use your solar generator to run a specific device, make sure its output can meet the energy requirements of that device. For example, if you needed to run a device that draws 120 watts of electricity, but your power station can only provide 100, you’ll need a bigger power station.

Also be on the lookout for surge output. Devices that have motors often require extra electricity to start up. If you’ll need to backup a fridge or run a power tool, for example, make sure that your power station can meet the surge requirements, too.

Weight

Solar generators don’t have to be portable, but many are designed to be. A solar generator is only as portable as your ability to move it. If you’re going to be schlepping it around a worksite every day, or just moving it every once in a while while you’re camping, weight may be more or less important to you.

How we test solar generators

Testing for solar generators in the CNET lab takes place in two stages: One for the portable power station portion and one for the solar panels. Here’s how we test each.

Power station battery capacity

For the battery capacity test, we start with a fully charged battery. Then we plug lights into the fully charged battery and turn them on. We measure the amount of energy the lights are drawing and time how long they take to drain the battery.

Here’s why that’s important: The stated capacity of a battery isn’t always the same as the battery’s usable capacity. If a solar generator has a stated capacity of 100 watt-hours and you plug in a lightbulb that draws 20 watts, you can expect it to run for five hours (20 watts times 5 hours equals 100 watt-hours). If the battery runs out in four hours, its actual capacity is 80 watt-hours, or 80% of its stated capacity. The usable capacity is the amount of energy storage you actually get.

Power station charge time

There is a surprising diversity of charge times across solar generators. We measure the time it takes to charge from empty to 50%, from 50% to 80% and then from 80% to full. Many manufacturers will tout the speed you can charge their solar generators to 80%. That’s because 80% is a significant portion of the battery, and the last bit of the battery takes longer to charge.

Portable solar panels

At CNET we rely on hands-on tests and empirical data as much as possible, but the solar panel portion of a solar generator is more difficult to pull off in a lab setting. Instead, for the solar panel portion, we had to rely on the specifications each company published about its solar panels.

Read more: Just looking for an emergency backup? Check out portable solar panels and solar batteries.

Other solar generators we tested

Bluetti AC200P: The AC200P was in a dead heat for best large (and best overall) solar generator. It tops CNET’s portable power station best list. It has an impressive battery usage — using 95% of its 2,000-watt-hour capacity — and a respectable charging time. It also has the most detailed display, which might be more than the average user needs. It holds a ton of energy and can provide a slightly higher surge output than my pick, the Jackery 2000 Pro. Ultimately, I chose the Jackery for its faster solar charge time and lighter weight.

Anker 757 Solar Generator: The Anker 757 was considered for a top spot on our best list, and would be a good choice. It charges speedily from the wall, filling its 1,229-watt-hour capacity in a brief 88 minutes and can accommodate 300 watts of solar charging. Its usable battery capacity was right in line with industry averages and its solar panels (the same that come with the Anker 555) are efficient, too.

Rockpals 300W Power Station and 100W Solar Panel: This solar generator performed just fine in our tests. It was the fastest charging of the rest in its smaller size category (though much slower than our favorite, Bluetti’s EB3A). Rockpals is very reasonably priced and, depending on discounts, could rival our value pick. Its look is a little different from others too, with more pronounced grills, if that’s a factor in your decision-making.

BioLite BaseCharge Solar Generator 1500: The BioLite BaseCharge 1500 solar generator combines Biolite’s BaseCharge 1500 power station and Solar Panel 100. The 1,521-watt-hour power station uses a bit more than average of its battery capacity, includes an informative and easy-to-read display and was one of only three that we tested to feature wireless charging. In our wall charge test, it took over twice as long to charge as the Bluetti AC200P and six times as long as the Jackery 2000 Pro. However, the solar panel is one of the lightest of its size. You get a very respectable 10.53 watts for every pound of solar panel. You can buy the solar generator with one, two or four panels.

Bluetti EB55+ with PV120 Solar Panel: This solar generator was my solid second choice in the midsize category. It had the second-fastest charging time (though it was still twice as long as the EcoFlow Delta Mini) and a usable battery capacity slightly below average (81% of its 537 watt-hours), according to our tests. Paired with a 120-watt solar panel with an efficiency rating of up to 23.4%, it’s a good option.

Jackery Solar Generator1000 Pro: Jackery already has two entries on our best list, and the Solar Generator 1000 Pro is another solid offering. With good charge times and efficient solar panels (24.3%), there’s a lot to like. With four SolarSaga 200 panels, it can charge as fast from the sun as from a wall: 1.8 hours. Read CNET’s Brian Cooley’s firsthand account.

Geneverse HomePower Pro Solar Generator: This sleek offering from Geneverse (until recently, Generark), is one of the faster chargers CNET tested, needing just 120 minutes to fill its 1,200-watt-hour capacity. It can also take up to 800 watts of solar charging, which means it’ll charge from the sun quicker than many on this list as well. Geneverse solar panels have efficiency ratings north of 23%. The HomePower Pro is a solid offering. The Jackery 2000 beat it out in the large category because of its larger battery and solar charging capacity, but could be a better fit depending on your needs.

BioLite BaseCharge Solar Generator 600: BioLite’s smaller model has some really nice features, including a thorough and easy-to-read display, and it was one of only three that we tested to have wireless charging. Hands-on, it was lighter and noticeably easier to move around than some other models. The 662-watt-hour power station charged slower than its similarly sized competitors (426 minutes from the wall), but it was more competitive than the larger BaseCharge 1500 in that respect.

Anker 555 Solar Generator: This solar generator from Anker had one of the most impressive usable battery capacity numbers of everything we tested, at 94% of its 1,024-watt-hour capacity, but a slower charge time of 361 minutes. For its size, it’s chock full of ports, including three for USB-C. The package includes two 100-watt solar panels (with efficiency ratings of up to 23%), which also matches its maximum solar input.

Yeti 200X + Nomad 50 Solar Generator: This small option from Goal Zero has had lower-than-average usable battery capacity (65% of its 187 watt-hours) and was one of the slower chargers (though not as slow as the Jackery 240). The power station is remarkably light, though the Nomad 50 solar panel (50 watts) is a bit heavier (and pricier) per watt than others on the list.

Solar generators FAQs

Is there a limit to how many solar panels I can add to a solar generator?

Solar generators have a limit to the amount of energy they can take in from the sun at a time. Manufacturers list the solar input limit (sometimes called the DC input limit) in watts. It represents the amount of solar you can use to charge a generator at one time. For example, our best large solar generator, the Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro, has a limit of 1,400 watts. The higher the limit, the faster you’ll be able to charge from solar by adding more panels.

It also pays to ensure that your chosen solar panels can be linked together, or what’s sometimes called daisy chained. 

How long can a solar generator power my device?

That depends on how big the generator is and what your device’s energy requirements are. Jackery says its large model, the Solar Generator 2000 Pro, will run a coffee maker for three hours (that’s a lot of coffee) or an air conditioner for two. Jackery’s Solar Generator 240 has just over 10% capacity, so it can power much more modest devices. Jackery says it will charge a MacBook Pro 13 three and a half times or run a fan for 15 hours.

To figure out how long any given solar generator will charge any given device, you need to know the generator’s capacity and the device’s draw. In a very simple example, say you have a 60-watt light bulb. Keeping this bulb lit for an hour would take 60 watt-hours of energy. If your solar generator has a capacity of 240 watt-hours, you could power this light for four hours without recharging.

What devices can my solar generator power?

To find out if a solar generator will be able to power any given device, you’ll need to know how much power the device draws and how much power the solar generator can push out. If a solar generator, say the Bluetti AC200P, has an output of 2,000 watts, it can push that amount of power continuously. It should run devices that don’t require more than that amount of power.

But there’s one more specification you need to check. Some devices require a short burst of extra power when they start up. To see if your solar generator will be able to handle that, confirm what its surge output power is. The Bluetti AC200P can surge power up to 4,800 watts for a brief period of time.




Source : https://www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/best-solar-generators/#ftag=CAD590a51e

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