10 Best Solar Powered Generators for Camping – Reviews and Buying Guide
Why Do You Need Solar Powered Generators for Camping?
Are thinking about buying one of the best solar-powered generators for camping? According to a study, nearly 40 million people in the United States participate in camping activities every year. Particularly, with the states like Idaho, Rhode Island, Utah, Alaska, and California offering a wide range of camping sites in the United States, people from other states also throng these states for camping.
But, the problem with these camping sites is that all of them do not provide access to electrical grids. It means that in some places, you will have to camp without any electricity. It is also different from normal portable fuel generators, such as dual fuel generators, gas-powered generators, and portable propane generators. This is why camping solar-powered generators have great demand in the United States. Thanks to the best brand that makes these solar generators!
As you are planning camping, you should first know whether electrical grids are available in the place where you plan to camp. However, the availability of a power grid need not have to prevent you from buying one of the best portable generators for camping. We are here to review the best options available in the market.
A Brief Summary
Solar-powered generators consist of portable power stations and solar panels. The main difference between normal inverter generators and camping solar generators is the solar charging functions, which enable to offer a consistent power supply during camping. Also, the size of solar generators tends to be compact and more lightweight. Thus, when compared to RV(Recreational Vehicle) solar generators, it is smaller and more portable. Here are top pick camping generators that are high quality, lightweight and suitable for camping:
- The best fast-charging generator – EF 720Wh River Pro Portable Power Station from EcoFlow
- The best compact generator – Explorer 240 Portable Power Station from Jackery
- The best generator to quickly charge MacBook Air – PowerHouse II Station Portable Power Station from Anker
- The best backpack-friendly generator – 300W Solar Generator with 60000mAH Battery from FlashFish
- Generator with industry-leading safety standard – Solar Generator for Homes from Generark
- The best lightweight generator – 200W Peak Power Station from FlashFish
- The best generator with a durable LiFePo4 Battery – 42Wh Porable Solar Generator from WAWUI
- The best generator for powering CPAP – 330W Portable Power Station from FlashFish
- The best generator for handheld devices – MARBERO Portable Power Station 222Wh Camping Generator
- The best overall – AC50S 500Wh Portable Power Station with Solar Panel from Bluetti
Solar Powered Generators for Camping Reviews
Now, you know how these camping solar-powered generators are the best from different angles. However, it is better to get into a detailed review of each of these units. In turn, you can gain a better understanding of these solar generator kits before you move on with making the best choice:
1. EF 720Wh River Pro Portable Power Station from EcoFlow
To meet your camping needs, this generator has three AC outlets and a capacity of 720Wh. Above all, it has outlets capable enough of powering 10 devices simultaneously. Further, it has multiple outlet options that include three pure sine wave AC Outlets. However, when you power your electronic devices through the AC outlets, you should remember that their total wattage should be under 600W with a surge of 1200W. To make it suitable for campers, this unit weighs only 16.8 lbs.
The generator uses patented EcoFlow X-Stream Technology. This technology ensures that you can recharge this generator from 0-80% within an hour. When it comes to charging from 0-100%, it will take only 1.6 hours. So, if you have time constraints and need a generator that can recharge quickly, this generator is a fitting investment for you.
Above all, this appliance comes with a built-in 600W inverter. So, it can power some devices up to 1800W. You can power nearly 80% of your essential appliances like DIY tools and kitchen appliances when you keep the X-Boost Mode on. Check out our full reviews of RIVER Pro power generator.
- Quick charging from 0-80%
- Can power some devices up to 1800W in X-Boost Mode
- Facility to double from 720Wh to 1440Wh
- Weighs only 15.9 lbs
- The total wattage of devices that can be powered from AC outlets is only 600W
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2. Explorer 240 Portable Power Station from Jackery
When it comes to the best solar-powered generators for camping, this generator from Jackery is an entry-level generator. It comes with a 240Wh lithium-ion battery. Also, it weighs only 6.6 pounds. For portability and easy carrying, not only the less weight but also a solid handle comes in handy. With one Pure Sine Wave AC outlet of 110V and 200W capacity, this generator has a couple of USB-A ports and a 12V DC carport. So, when you are on your road trip, you can charge your essentials like lights, fans, cameras, laptops and smartphones.
Even though this generator is portable, it supports pass-through charging. It means that when it is being charged, you can use the generator for charging other devices as well simultaneously. You cannot use devices of more than 200W for powering from this generator like a microwave, a refrigerator, an electric grill or a blender. As the generator is guarded by a Battery Management System, it carries a wide range of safety features like thermal protection, over-voltage protection, overcharge, over-discharge, short-current and over-current protection.
- Supports pass-through charging
- Compact size
- Battery Management System for safety
- Lithium battery
- Cannot power devices of more than 200W capacity
Related: 10 Best Jackery Portable Power Stations Reviews
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3. PowerHouse II Station Portable Power Station from Anker
The 388Wh capacity of this portable power station from Anker can provide multiple charges to virtually any of your handheld devices like a camera, an iPad Air, a MacBook Air, and an iPhone. Further, this generator is one of the best camping solar-powered generators because it lets you charge 8 devices simultaneously. It has the ports you need to charge all devices. The ports include a 300W AC Outlet, a couple of DC ports, a car socket, three USB-A ports and a 60W USB-C port.
Through the 60W Power IQ 3.0 USB-C port in this generator, you can charge your MacBook Air 2020 to 50% within just 40 minutes. You will be surprised to know that this charging time is 40% faster as compared to the original charger that comes with Mac Book Air. To make sure that the power output you get from this generator is as good as the output you get at home, the generator comes with a built-in AC wall outlet that uses a pure sine wave inverter. Also, with this feature, you can ensure that there will not be any audible noise from your televisions, speakers, lights and fans.
- Large LED Display
- Rugged and durable design to withstand outdoor wear and tear
- Portable space-saving design
- Cannot support devices rated over 300W.
Related: Best 4 Anker Portable Power Stations Reviews
4. 300W Solar Generator with 60000mAH Battery from FlashFish
With a 222Wh backup power supply, this generator helps with powering different devices. To power up devices it has many outlets. For instance, the 110V AC outlet can help with charging your Christmas lights, a fan, television, a laptop, a tablet and even a CPAP machine. The 12V DC ports in this generator will help with powering a car charger, car air fan, car refrigerator and car vacuum. It has a couple of QC 3.0 USB ports and a 2.4 A USB port that help with charging your camera, MP3, GPS, iPad, drones and phones.
This generator is ideal for your camping needs because you can charge it from the sun using a solar panel. Of course, you will have to get the solar panel separately and it is not part of this generator. With the car charger (12V socket) part of this generator, you can charge it and even you can charge by plugging it into the wall outlet before you start from your home.
- Silver case makes this generator durable
- Ensures stable charging of your devices
- Portable with a weight of 5.6 lbs
- The small size fits into your backpack with ease.
- Does not support pass-through charging
Related: 5 Best FlashFish Portable Power Stations Reviews
5. Solar Generator for Homes from Generark
Even though this generator has been named for homes, the compact design makes it friendly for campers as well. Above all, the unique feature of this generator is that it offers industry-leading dependability and safety standards. Yes, this has been ensured by the use of electric-vehicle grade battery cells by Generark. To reiterate the safety of these generators, each unit undergoes 52 safety and dependability tests and the same is assured with a warranty of 5 years.
What other features make this one of the best solar-powered generators for camping? This portable power station has a 1002Wh capacity. It offers a maximum of 7 days of electricity to your home appliances and other crucial devices after a charge. So, you can use this generator when you are on a week-long trip after a single charge dependably. The generator comes with three AC outlets of 110V with Pure Sine Wave that supports 1000W rated power and 2000W of surge power. In addition to AC outlets, it has a couple of USB-C outputs. Also, it has a car outlet with 12V/10A and a USB-A port Quick charge 3.0 capacity. Even, this generator has a USB-A port with 5V/2.4A.
- Industry-leading safety battery
- Comes with a lightweight and portable solar panel with a kickstand
- Passed 52 safety and dependability tests
- Slow recharging from solar panel
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6. 200W Peak Power Station from FlashFish
To make it convenient to power your devices when you are off-grid, this power station from FlashFish is lightweight and compact. It weighs only 4.5 lb and with its 166Wh capacity and different ports, it helps with powering many devices. This generator comes with an easy-to-operate power button in the middle. So, like conventional generators, you need not have to do any hard pulling to start this generator.
This generator comes with a couple of DC ports and you can use these ports for powering vehicle tools like tire replacement and car cleaning supplies. Among the camping solar-powered generators, this generator offers three options to recharge it. You can buy a solar panel separately for recharging it. The second option available is to recharge it using a 12V car socket and using a wall outlet. Further, it offers different safety features like over-current, over-voltage, lock-on protection, low-voltage protection, short-circuits protection and overheat protection. These features ensure that your generator will remain safe.
- The display unit lets you know once the generator is fully charged
- Safe for electronics with safety features
- Compact size
- No built-in LED light
7. 42Wh Portable Solar Generator from WAWUI
The unique feature of this portable power station is that it comes with solar panels included. Above all, the battery in this generator is a LiFePO4 battery of 42Wh/13000mAh high-capacity. This is actually a power generation kit as it has everything required for solar power generation and powering your devices. The unique thing about this generator is that it can meet your lighting needs when you camp continuously for 32+ hours. Of course, it can power other devices as well.
The generator has its own two levels of lights and three additional bright white LED bulbs. These lights do not consume more power from your generator as well so that you are left with the energy required for powering your devices. This generator comes with a handle that makes it easy to carry. This power station is a plug-and-play model with light bulbs, battery and solar panel included. The compact design, easy installation and convenience to carry along with the anti-dust feature make these friendly for campers.
- Comes with LiFePO4 battery ensures longer lifespan
- Comes with LED lights helpful for camping
- The lights can work continuously for 32 hours after a complete charge
- Recharges slowly
8. 330W Portable Power Station from FlashFish
This power station has been created by FlashFish as a generator with large capacity and high AC outlets. This generator is equipped with 300W AC outlets that help you power larger devices like a television and a portable freezer. Also, the 300Wh capacity permits you to power even your smaller handheld devices like a camera, a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone. Also, you can power other in-car appliances, drones, lights, fans and even a CPAP machine for longer with this generator.
Apart from a couple of AC outlets, it also has four USB ports, a carport outlet and a couple of DC outlets as well. With these outlets, this generator can help you power 9 devices at the same time. When there is a power outage in your home, it will meet your emergency needs as well. Apart from supplying electricity to power your devices, this battery pack has an illumination function as well. You can use this light for SOS function and as a reading light as well. So, you need not have to worry when there is a power outage when you are at home. Above all, this generator has an LCD that shows you the wattage of output or input in real-time. You can get to know the remaining DC/AC/charging/battery output status from the display.
- The best battery management system
- Effectively charges Airsense 10/59
- Has the leading CPAP battery among the other solar-powered generators for camping.
- Weighs only 6.6lb
- Comes with lights
- Solar panel not included
9. MARBERO Portable Power Station 222Wh Camping Generator
The super-slim size makes this one of the best portable power stations when you camp. At a weight of only 2.9 Pounds, it also has a compact handle design. It is the ideal power station for powering your wireless headphones, camera, PSP, iPad, laptop, and phone. This power station has a QC 3.0 USB port along with many other ports to power your small devices.
Further, it has a built-in LED light with three levels of lighting. One is SOS mode, flashing light and steady light. You can charge this generator using two modes. It is possible to charge it through a solar panel and even through a wall outlet.
- Comes with emergency lights
- Ideal for charging smaller handheld devices
- Comes with Battery Management System
- Not possible to charge bigger devices
10. AC50S 500Wh Portable Power Station with Solar Panel from Bluetti
This generator is offered as a complete solar generation kit with the generator and its accessories and solar panels and its accessories included. With its 500Wh/300W. This unit has a couple of 120V AC Outlets and it can load the utmost 300W devices continuously.
The solar panel that is part of this generator has been made using high-quality monocrystalline silicon cells. These cells are known for 5% higher efficiency as compared to traditional monocrystalline cells. Further, it comes with ETFE lamination, thereby ensuring better light transmittance. The panel has a foldable design with a handle for easy carrying. Further, it weighs just 9.48 lbs, thereby helping you to power your camping solar-powered generators on the go.
- The generator uses the highest-quality EV-grade 3C battery cell
- Comes as a complete package
- Allows pass-through function
- Solar panels with adjustable kickstand
- Takes nearly 6 hours to recharge from solar panels.
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What is Camping Solar-Powered Generator?
Let us consider that you are thinking about buying a camping solar-powered generator for charging your phone when you camp. Not only for this purpose even when you wish to power your lights when you are off-grid due to a power outage in your home, but a solar-powered generator can also help. This device is generally portable such that you can use it for powering your devices when you camp. When your trip is longer than a weekend, you will have to get solar panels such that you can keep the generator charged to power your devices.
Compared to home backup batteries, the good thing about using these generators when you camp is that they weigh less. So, you can easily carry them in your camper van. Also, unlike conventional fuel-powered generators, these generators do not make any noise when they run. When your phones and other handheld devices are getting charged or when the generator itself is being charged, you can comfortably spend your recreation time with your family. The reason is that these generators ensure silent operation.
Above all, a solar-powered generator for camping or even for home use does not create any harm to the environment. Solar energy is known as clean renewable energy. So, you can gain the satisfaction of using environmentally-friendly power.
How Does A Solar-Powered Generator for Camping Work?
When you take the case of a camping solar-powered generator, to understand its working, you should first understand the components that it encompasses. This generator would have been made using four components or at least three components. The first component is a solar panel. It is not essential that you should always get solar panels with these generators. These camping solar panels are meant for getting the light energy from the sun for powering the solar generator.
Most solar-based generators do not need panels as they can power from an AC outlet and even from a carport. However, devices with solar panels will help you save money on your utility bills and fuel. Here is how these generators work:
- Solar panels part of a solar generator convert sunlight into direct current or DC electricity.
- This DC power generated by the panels will pass through the second component named charge controller. This controller will help with the regulation of power that the panels generate into the third component called batteries.
- Batteries part of a solar-powered generator for camping will help with storing the energy generated by the solar panels for future use.
- When you wish to use the energy stored by batteries for powering your devices, the fourth component called an inverter gets into the picture.
- The inverter is responsible for converting the DC energy into usable AC power. Most appliances use this type of current. So, an inverter is an essential component in a solar generator.
With the right solar generator, you can power a wide range of devices as they come with USB ports, AC and DC ports. Using the appropriate port, you can power your devices from a camping solar-powered generator.
What You Can Expect of Camping Solar-powered Generator?
Now, you know how do camping solar-powered generators work. But, you will be interested in understanding how are they more beneficial than conventional generators. Let us find out here:
1. Saves Money
You know that fuel costs are increasing across the world. Irrespective of whether you opt for a diesel-powered or a gas-powered conventional generator, you will have to spend money on powering the generator. But, with a solar-powered generator for camping, you can save money on refueling. Yes, you can recharge the generator from the sunlight using solar panels. It is a free source of energy with eternity to power your appliances without requiring you to spend on refueling.
2. Lightweight and Compact
Those with the plan of installing a conventional generator in their homes will have to look for a separate space for it. But, camping solar-powered generators are of compact size and lightweight as well. So, you need not have to allocate a separate space for these generators. You can just place them on your tabletop. Above all, as they weigh less, anyone can easily carry them. When you choose a generator that weighs less, it will even be easier for you to manage things.
3. Green/Eco-friendly Energy
A solar-powered generator for camping does not need fossil fuels for running. Also, these generators collect and store power from the sun using solar panels and batteries respectively. So, you can gain the satisfaction of using a green source of energy that will not harm the environment in any way. This is not the case with conventional gas and diesel-powered generators that let a lot of pollution to the environment.
4. Easy Recharging Anywhere
Once you get a solar panel for the solar-powered generator or you go for a generator that comes with a solar panel, you can easily recharge it anywhere. When you get a solar battery charger, you do not have to look for an AC outlet, wherever you go. You can just place the solar panel, where it can get the utmost sun exposure. It will gather the required energy for you, while the charge controller will regulate the energy and will send it to the battery for using it in the future. This is not the case with conventional generators as you will have to buy diesel or gas and even you should keep them in reserve for emergencies.
5. Provides You the Opportunity to Camp in Unexplored Destinations
The United States is the home of many camping sites. But, not all these sites have power grids. You can camp even in these unpowered areas when you have a solar-powered generator for camping in your vehicle. You can use the power it generates for powering even your cooking appliance. In turn, you can get the chance to spend at least some days in a year alone with your family away from noisy city life.
6. No Noise
If you have used conventional generators, you might be aware of the noise they make. Apart from the huge size, the noise they make also forces many people to keep away from generators. But, with a camping solar-powered generator, you are relieved of the noisy operation of the generator.
How to Choose a Solar-Powered Generator for Camping?
When you intend to shop for a solar-power generator for camping, you will have to consider different factors like those mentioned below:
1. How Much Electricity Do You Need?
Before even you start comparing camping solar-powered generators, the first thing you should identify is how much electricity do you need. You might ask how do I know this. Of course, you might not know the numbers technically. But, you might have a rough idea of what type of appliances you should run using the power generated by the solar generator.
Let us consider that you need this generator for recharging your tablets, cameras and smartphones a couple of times. In this case, you need not go for a generator with a huge power capacity. But, are you planning to use the generator for powering your portable refrigerator or a camper? In this case, you need a generator with more power. Know the running watt of devices that you wish to power using the generator. You can find this number from the devices themselves. Even, you can get a rough estimate of the number of times and the type of devices you can power using a generator from the website of the generator manufacturer.
2. Battery Type
You know that a solar-powered generator for camping will have a battery in it. Only this battery helps with storing the energy that the generator gathers through solar panels and other sources for future use. When talking about batteries used in solar generators, two types of batteries are commonly used. Here are some details to know about them:
You might have heard about these batteries for sure. Yes, these batteries are used in smartphones that we use in our daily life. The good thing about Li-ion batteries is that they have a longer life. Also, they are low in weight. So, the solar generators with this battery will also weigh less.
This is another common type of battery used. The good thing about this type is that generators with this type of battery will cost you less. The reason is that these batteries are affordable as compared to Li-ion batteries. But, they weigh more.
3. Battery Capacity
The battery capacity of a camping solar-powered generator will decide the total amount of electricity that the generator can store for future use. Apart from battery capacity, the power rating of the generator is equally important. This number denotes the power that the generator can deliver at a time. If the power rating is low but the battery capacity is higher, the generator can generate lesser electricity only. So, before you decide on a generator, check the Watt and Watt-hour. The former is the capacity, while the latter is the total amount of watts that the generator can generate in an hour.
4. Check the Compatible Appliances
Solar-powered generators for camping can charge many appliances. Right from standard kitchen appliances, they can power your electronic devices like laptops, phones and even essential medical devices like CPAP. Some of them are capable enough of charging even a portable refrigerator. So, before you shortlist a generator, it is better to check whether it will be compatible with the devices that you plan to power using the generator.
5. Size and Weight
Of course, portable solar generators are small in size. In fact, they are very much smaller and compact as compared to a traditional generator. However, as you plan to buy a camping solar-powered generator, you should be highly particular about the weight and size. Nowadays, you can find very compact solar generators with an easy-to-carry handle. The more the capacity of the generator, the higher will be the weight. As you plan to carry the solar generator in your vehicle when traveling to the camping grounds, it should not occupy much space and should be easier to carry as well without much weight.
6. Type of Inverter
The inverter in a camping solar-powered generator is responsible for converting the energy from the batteries into usable AC power. So, you should be aware of the types of inverters that solar generators use:
You will come across solar generators with modified sine inverters. This type of inverter is known for its economic cost. However, the issue with this type is that it can cause a hum in the audio equipment. In turn, it can bring down the life of other appliances. A pure sine inverter is more expensive. Nevertheless, it is the best option for sensitive electronics and home appliances.
7. Solar Panels
Some solar-powered generators for camping come with solar panels. But, for some generators, you will have to buy the panels separately. Otherwise, you can also charge the generator through an AC outlet at your home. Some even allow charging from your carport. When you go for a generator with a solar panel, it is better to check whether the panel has a kickstand. When it has a kickstand, you can easily adjust it to get the utmost sun exposure. In turn, it can generate more power. When talking about solar panels, you will come across three different types. They are thin-film panels, polycrystalline solar cells panels, and monocrystalline panels. Among these three types, those with monocrystalline cells are efficient and powerful.
8. Consider the Output Types
Do not forget to ensure that the output ports on the generator match your requirements. Also, not just present needs, you should decide based on your future needs as well. Apart from a standard AC 110-Volt or more receptacles, it is better to check whether the generator has USB-A and USB-C ports. These ports will ensure that can keep your handheld devices charged when you are spending some quality time with your family at the campsite. So, do not forget to check the number of outlets before shortlisting any generator for that matter.
Now, with these reviews of the best solar-powered generators for camping, you might wonder, which one to choose. Here are some choices:
- A generator that can be charged quickly – EF 720Wh River Pro Portable Power Station from EcoFlow
- Generator with the best battery – 42Wh Portable Solar Generator from WAWUI
- Generator for CPAP Emergency – 330W Portable Power Station from FlashFish.