Solar Generator For Camping, Boating and RV Use

The Best Solar Generators for Camping, Boating and RVs 2017

Sleeping under the stars with your phone on full bars is no longer a dream, thanks to affordable, quiet and clean off-grid solar generators.

Outdoor activities like hiking, camping, boating, and RV travel are more popular today than ever before.  

In the past, bringing anything with you that was powered by electricity - cell phones, radios, fans, laptops - meant choosing one of two options: lugging along a loud, smelly gas generator with extra cans of fuel; or, sleeping in a marina, camp or RV site near available power outlets. 

Using any of the solar generators reviewed on this page, outdoor lovers can now sleep anywhere you want, stay in touch with the outside world and enjoy modern conveniences when you retire for the evening.  

While you're out playing, the solar panels at the campsite convert the sun's rays into a clean and green power supply.

When you get back in the evening, these perfectly quiet power sources are ready again to recharge your electronics, power the camp lights and even power appliances you don't want to travel without.

Camping Solar Generators

The silent convenience provided by solar generators is really is unparalleled.

Solar generators are completely silent, don't emit smelly & dangerous exhaust fumes, are renewable & green, and are perfectly capable of powering your essential devices and appliances.

Think about it: no more worrying about running your vehicle's batteries down, hunting for plug-ins, or watching helplessly as your laptop powers off while you drive around, looking for a place to plug it in.

Solar generators come in many shapes and sizes, from single-device backups to permanently installed units that are strictly for home use.  

This guide details six of the best solar generators for camping, boating, and RV use. We've selected a couple of choices in each power rating.

Some of these solar generators are only useful for recharging a laptop and a phone.

Others are brutes that can power your refrigerator and a TV. 

To figure out how many watts of power you'll need on the road, use our appliance wattage guide.​

The Best Solar Generators For Boating, Camping and RVs

Monerator Gusto 20 Portable Solar Generator

Monerator is a relatively new brand, but they have managed to make quite an impact with their Gusto generators.

The Gusto 20 is a mid-range unit that offers plenty of portable solar power in a small, lightweight package.

The Gusto 20 is perfect for powering or recharging one or two small devices. Couples and small families that love the great outdoors will find it a lifesaver on short trips.

Features

The Gusto 20's appeal resides in its low weight, compact size and nice choice of power outlets.

The unit is easily carried by hand - it only weighs 4.9 lbs, thanks to the built-in lithium battery that is capable of thousands of recharge cycles.

Monerator Gusto 20 Portable Solar Generator

The Gusto 20 provides a maximum output of 140 watts and includes four 2A ports, a 12v 6A port and 3 USB ports for charging phones, tablets and laptops.

The unit also includes its own solar charge controller, which helps to protect the battery from overcharging.

The Gusto 20 comes with a few camping conveniences most solar generators don't, including 2 lights that plug into the 2A outlets, a DC converter that plugs into the 12V outlet and two backup fuses.

Charging the unit can be done via the AC adapter or using the included solar panel.

Flexible, Lightweight & Portable (Just Don't Get It Wet)

The size and weight of the Gusto 20 makes it suitable for outdoor use where it can be protected from water.

The multiple ports allow for several small electronic devices to be charged at once, and the adapters allow for AC port use for things such as laptops and other DC plugin devices.

The Gusto 20 can provide power for one or two lower-wattage appliances; but it's best for powering small-wattage devices such as lights and cell phones.

Limitations

The Gusto 20 needs to be kept away from water. Boaters will probably want to steer clear of this unit.

Also, while the power rating is useful for a small family camping overnight, it doesn't have nearly enough power to handle the evening demands of large camps.  

Of course, you could always buy two.

Monerator Gusto 20 Solara Generator

The included solar panel is a nice touch, but those wishing for a faster and more efficient charging experience may want to look at a higher wattage panel to use in place of it.

Summary

The light weight, compact design of the Gusto 20 set it apart from other similar-powered generators.  

While not waterproof, the Gusto 20 is otherwise a perfect all-in-one backup power supply for camping couples and small families who just need their lights on and electronics recharged - and to run a small appliance for a short burst.


Goal Zero Yeti 150

This unit from Goal Zero is a top seller, and it's easy to see why.

Solid craftsmanship, adequate power, small size, and user-friendliness make this one of the best units on the market. It also has a 2-year warranty.

The Yeti 150 is versatile enough to be used in a lot of different outdoor situations.

Features

The Yeti 150 has a modest power capacity of 150 watts.

It can be charged and recharged via AC adapter, 12V car charger and solar panels (purchased separately).

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator On Table

The rugged construction of the Yeti 150 is rock solid.

The unit includes a carry handle at the top and is easily stackable.

The Yeti 150 is mid-range as far as weight goes, weighing-in at a very manageable 12 lbs.

As far as outlets go, the Yeti 150 has you covered. All of the outlet ports are on the front panel.

Options include a 12V port, a smaller 12v port for compatible Goal Zero accessories and lights, 2 USB ports, and a three-pronged (grounded) AC port.

The small LCD display in the front center of the device lets users keep track of the battery charge and its capacity.

A Flexible and Rugged Power Supply

The Yeti 150 is perfect for supplying power to smaller devices such as phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, tablets, laptops, and some other smaller appliances and devices.

The weight and shape of the unit makes it easy to pack for camping trips.

You may never have to use to solar panels on a quick weekend trip.  One charge of the a Yeti 150 is enough to recharge a laptop twice, or smartphone up to 15 times.

But bring a solar panel along for longer trips. Using solar power, the unit will recharge in 4 to 52 hours, depending on the wattage of the solar panel(s) used.

Limitations

Like most generators in its size class, the Yeti 150 can't run a TV AND keep your campsite lit all night AND recharge your laptop AND power a coffee pot, for very long anyway.  You'll need to pick and choose what's most important each day.

But if all you care about is recharging your electronics and lighting your campsite, then this is a great choice.​ It really looks cool, too.

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator For Home Use

The 12 pound weight of the Yeti 150 makes it a bit heavy to carry in a backpack, though, and the unit lacks any weatherproofing.

Summary

The Yeti 150 is a rock-solid camping generator that is rugged and versatile enough to be used almost anywhere for lighting and electronics, plus an occasional appliance.


Suaoki Portable Generator

This excellent solar generator from Suaoki provides a higher wattage power supply than the GoalZero Yeti 150 in a smaller, more convenient package. 

Features

The Suaoki's 200 watt output is more than most other generators in this class. This gives it just enough power to adequately power small appliances such as a mini-fridge or a game console.

Suaoki Portable Solar Generator

The generator is very portable and can be carried by the handle on top of the generator.  

The shape of the generator is more elongated and flat as opposed to the cube shape so often used by other generators. This makes it more pack-friendly, in our opinion.

The unit measures 9.8 inches long, 3.4 inches wide, and weighs just 5.5 lbs.  Small and light enough to fit in any back pack without really noticing.

The ports are all located on one side of the unit and include two 2A ports, two USB ports, a two-prong AC port, and a three-prong AC port.

The unit can be charged with the included power adapter and car adapters, as well as using solar panels (purchased separately).

The generator's aluminum alloy shell makes it not only light, but also very durable and suitable for travel.

Keep The Fan Running, The Lights On and Your Phone Charged

Suaoki's generator output makes it perfect for campers who need to power more than the a couple of lights and phones. It's got enough heft to run a fan all night or keep a small refrigerator cool.

The rugged design means you can haul it and drop it, without worrying about damage.

The small size and rugged design also makes it a good choice for a generator on a boat, as long as it is kept covered or stored away safely when not in use.

Limitations

The Suaoki generator is not part of a kit, so you'll have to purchase solar panels on your own, which they do make.

Suaoki Solar Generator

There is a bit of guesswork when charging and using as well, as the unit lacks any kind of LCD screen with battery indicators.

Summary

The Sauoki 200W generator offers a great value. It offers 2 AC outlets, is easy to transport, and packs a lot of power into its compact 5 lb footprint. 


Voltaic Systems 1024-C Portable Solar Briefcase

Voltaic Systems' portable solar briefcase is a nicely designed renewable, lightweight all-in-one power supply designed for carrying and recharging one laptop.

Features

The briefcase is easily portable at just 4.5 lbs for the entire unit, and the handle makes it easy to carry around.

An additional shoulder strap is also included.

Everything with the unit zips into its a pouch inside the case, and there's room for additional cords and for laptops that measure up to 17 inches.

Voltaic Systems 1024-C

The solar panel is waterproof, lightweight, and scratch resistant, and is coated in self-healing urethane. It can also be detached from the case, if needed.

The panel provides 17.6 watts of total output, and the battery contains enough power to charge a laptop from zero in under 6 hours.

The battery pack inside the case is removable, and can store up to 72 Wh of energy.

A Great Solution For Solo Campers & Boaters

The portability and durability of the solar briefcase makes it ideal for camping and boating situations when you only need to charge your laptop and perhaps your phone.

The limited power rating isn't capable of doing much more than that.

The protection and waterproof aspect of the briefcase makes it suitable for outdoor and boat use, although dropping the case in the water should be avoided. Still, a few splashes here and there will not harm it.

Limitations

The briefcase lacks an AC port, so there is no way that you can power devices with standard plug-ins. 

Voltaic Systems 1024-C Solar Generator

This unit is also incapable of charging more than one device completely.

Charging straight from the solar panel itself will not work on most devices either, as the wattage is too much for devices such as phones. Everything must be done through the battery.

Summary

Those that are searching for a durable, lightweight, and easy-to-use solar recharging station for their laptop computer and phone will appreciate the all-in-one package that Voltaic Systems has designed.


Solarpod 240 Generator

Ultra-compact and powerful, Solarpod's 240 generator provides a large amount of wattage in a surprisingly small package, making it perfect for those who need to power lights and appliances on the go.

Features

This generator from Solarpod provides 400 watts of modified sine wave power, which means it can safely power lights and appliances such as mini-fridges, large fans, coffee makers, television, game consoles, and speaker setups.

Solarpod 240 Solar Generator

The Solarpod 240 features a modular design, and includes two handles on the top for easy transport of the unit.

The 240 is surprisingly light and compact, as well. It has a weight of just 9 lbs, and measures 10 x 7.7 x 4.3 inches.

The included 60 watt foldable solar panel provides fast charging for the unit, and can perform well even in cloudy conditions, taking anywhere from 5-7 hours for a full charge.

The generator includes an on/off switch on the unit itself, as well as an external controller that includes gauges for the panel and battery charge.

As far as ports go, the 240 includes one AC port, one 12v DC port, and two USB ports.

Additional features included with the generator are a carrying case, extra fuses, a car adapter, and AC adapter.

Best Choice For Small Appliances

The 400W power rating and fast recharging make the Solarpod 240 a great choice for RVs and larger campsites that need to power an appliance or two, all day.

Using the 240, campers and RVrs can run a fridge or a couple of small appliances for the camp all night and have a full recharge waiting, when you return the next evening.

Drawbacks

The Solarpod 240 generator has the usual ports included, but a few 2A ports would allow users to power some smaller lights and devices without tying up the AC or USB ports.

Solarpod 240 Generator

The handle, while allowing for easier carrying, also prevents the generator from being stackable, as it protrudes beyond the top of the body, rather than inside like on other units.

Summary

The Solarpod not only delivers enough power for multiple electronics and small appliances, it will recharge itself completely every day using solar power. Longer-term campers, RVrs and boaters will really appreciate this solar generator.


PowerOak Portable 110v 1600Wh Inverter Generator

This generator from PowerOak is one of the most powerful units available for its size. It is versatile enough to use in the home, office, work sites and camping and RVs.

Features

PowerOak has packed 1600Wh of power storage into this unit, making it capable of supporting numerous devices and appliances at the same time - and for extended periods of time.

This is enough power to run your campsite's small refrigerator, fans and television.

The lithium battery also keeps the generator lightweight and has a life that extends beyond thousands of cycles.

PowerOak Portable Generator

The generator is really small, given how powerful it is. 

But it's fairly hefty - you won't be carrying this one in your backpack.

An included carrying handle allows for easy transport that helps to offset the 24.8 lb weight.

The unit's LED display shows capacity, charge remaining, discharge, and failures.

The ports are located on the front of the unit. Unfortunately, the choices include just one AC and one 12v DC port, and no USB ports.

PowerOak Generator

The unit can be charged via compatible solar panels (sold separately), or using the included AC adapter cord.

For Larger Groups & Multiple Appliances

The power of this generator makes it suitable for camping and RV travel in style, even for larger groups and families.

The wattage easily takes care of smaller devices such as tablets, phones, and lights. In addition, this PowerOak Portable unit will power higher-wattage appliances such as televisions, electric kettles, and coffee makers for several hours in between charges.

The wattage also makes the PowerOak generator powerful enough to be used as a small backup generator for home use.

Limitations

The big downside of this generator is that it lacks any USB ports or 2A ports.

This can be an annoyance for those wanting to charge multiple phones and tablets at once.

Of course, a $15 power strip will get you around this problem.

The unit also lacks any kind of screen that displays the status of the charging and battery use.

Summary

This PowerOak unit provides a LOT more power than other generators the same size, which more than makes up for some of the things it lacks.

The lack of USB ports is a negative, but it's cheap and easy to work around.

Campers and RV users who need to power several high-wattage appliances and multiple electronic devices while in camp will be super-pleased by the power this solar generator can deliver.

About the Author David Roberts

I'm a Mechanical Engineer who's obsessed with solar energy and sustainable living.

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