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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 they want and stay in touch with the world outside.
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.
The silent convenience provided by solar generators is really 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.
Think about it: no more worry 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.
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.
Lead acid,33Ah, 12V
300W continuous, 600W surge pure sine wave inverter
50W monocrystalline solar panel
300W continuous, 600W surge pure sine wave inverter
Li-polymer 64.8Ah, 3.7V
250W continuous, 300W surge pure sine wave inverter
Li-ion, 75Ah, 3.7V
300W continuous, 600W surge pure sine wave inverter
Li-ion, 140.4Ah, 10.8V
2,000W continuous, 3,500W surge pure sine wave inverter
300W 12V Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panels
400W 12V monocrystalline solar panels
Li-ion, 16.8Ah, 14.4V
200W continuous, 400W surge pure sine wave inverter
There are three main reasons why the Goal Zero Yeti 400 is the best solar generator for most campers, RVers and boat owners: it’s compact and highly portable, it produces plenty of power and the price is great.
The Yeti 400 is perfect for powering small appliances and lights, and charging devices like cameras and smartphones.
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 comes as a complete kit – it’s ready out of the box to take into the wild or on the road.
The package includes a 400Wh lead acid power station and a Boulder 50 solar panel.
The 50w solar panel is not very powerful. It may take days to fully recharge the battery. What RVers and boaters do is keep the panel exposed to the sun and hooked up to the battery. So whenever it’s sunny, the panel tops up the battery. That way, it never runs out.
If you need faster charging, you can recharge the Yeti 400 battery using AC or a 12V car charger.
The 400Wh capacity of the battery is adequate for most outdoor adventures. It can recharge a smartphone two or more dozen times, charge a DJI Mavic Mini drone 23 times over and power a mini fridge for about 8 hours.
If you need more capacity than this, the Yeti 400 is chainable to other lead acid batteries. The extra storage capacity can be handy in an RV or boat.
You can connect devices and appliances to the Yeti 400 battery pack through the USB ports, 12V ports or the 120W AC outlet.
The AC inverter has a max output of 300W continuous and 600W surge, so you can only power small low-wattage appliances.
The battery has a small display screen that shows information like power input and output, battery level and warning indicators.
The Yeti 500 and Boulder 50 combo lets you enjoy power on the go,wherever you are. The battery is fairly heavy, but it takes up little space in your car, RV or boat.
The solar panel includes a kickstand for easy setup anywhere.
With the multiple charging methods, you don’t need to worry about running out of power. You can charge the battery in your car or RV while driving, use solar when camping and quickly recharge it with AC when at home or at an RV park.
One big limitation of the Yeti 400 solar kit is the small solar panel. At 50 watts, it can take two days or more to fill up the battery.
Some customers opted to the battery-only package (without the Boulder 50 panel included), and then bought a 100W or 200W solar panel separately for faster charging.
The battery itself is also limited in capability. It cannot power large appliances like a heater, portable AC or oven. Not only would the battery drain quickly, the AC inverter cannot handle the high wattage of these appliances.
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 power station kit is a great choice for most campers, RVers and boar owners. It produces more power than most camping solar generators and is easy to travel with.
If you want a solar generator that can power more than just a CPAP or mini-fridge when out camping, the SUAOKI 400-Watt Portable Power Station is the right choice.
It delivers more power without adding to its weight – or price.
But it doesn’t come with solar panels. That’s not a problem if you are going for an overnight camping trip. You can charge the battery at home or in the car, and it’ll last for the duration of your trip.
If you are planning to camp for longer or power more appliances, we highly recommend buying solar panels to charge the battery.
The power station is priced affordably, so buying a 100W solar panel kit will hopefully not strain your budget.
The SUAOKI power station comes with a 400Wh lithium-ion battery. The increased capacity lets you plug in more appliances and devices for longer.
You have plenty of output options for use with different appliances.
For appliances, use the two 110V AC outlets. But watch what you plugin. The DC-AC inverter is rated at 300W continuous and 600W surge. This covers most small appliances such as a mini-fridge, a CPAP machine, a fan, radio, and so on.
For DC-powered appliances, you can use the 12V DC port or cigarette lighter socket.
For your smartphone, tablet, and other devices, you can recharge from the four 5V USB ports.
Like the Renogy Kit, the Suaoki power station offers three recharge options: solar panels (not included), your car’s cigarette lighter socket, and an AC wall outlet.
Charging cables for all three options are included.
Getting more power without sacrificing portability is a big deal for campers.
Weighing just 12.3lbs, you’ll have no trouble carrying the Suaoki power station to and from the camping site. It also takes up little space in your truck or car.
If you are planning to camp for longer than a night, you’ll need to budget for solar panels. The Suaoki power station doesn’t come with them. A single 100W panel or two 50W panels will do.
Also note that, despite the increased battery capacity and inverter output, the Suaoki power station is still not ideal for high-wattage appliances. Don’t try to plug in a heater or coffee maker. Even most blenders will shut it down.
The SUAOKI 400W portable power station is a great choice for campers who need a high capacity but easily portable solar generator with versatile input and output options.
The Rockpals portable generator boasts a 240Wh lithium polymer battery that can power most of the basic electronics in your RV, boat, or camping tent, including lighting, fan, radio, a small TV, and CPAP machine.
Like the SUAOKI power station, the Rockpals portable solar generator features just a battery and a versatile input/output interface.
The 240Wh LiPo battery stores enough charge to power most electronics for several hours or days.
If you spend plenty of time off-grid, either on the water with your boat, in the woods camping, or driving your RV, consider buying off-grid solar generators to keep the battery charged.
We recommend a couple of 50W panels or a single 100W solar panel. For RV and boat owners, look for flexible solar panels. They’ll be easier to install on a curved surface.
If you only go out occasionally, you can charge the battery from a wall AC outlet (wall charger included) or your vehicle’s 12V DC socket (car charger included).
As for output, you get the usual AC, DC, and USB ports.
There are two 120V AC ports connected to a pure sine wave 250W continuous inverter (300W surge), four 12V DC ports, and two 5V USB ports.
The Rockpals solar generator is surprisingly lightweight, coming in at just 5.5lbs. If you plan to move it around a lot, you don’t need a cart or someone’s help.
It’s also compactly designed, measuring just 10″ long, 4″ wide and 6″ high. If you are short of space in your boat, RV, or truck, this is the best power station to get.
The Rockpals 250W power station won’t power any high-wattage appliances. Make sure that whatever you plug into the AC port doesn’t exceed the 250W continuous max power output of the inverter.
It can only charge devices like your smartphone, camera, or drone and power small electronics like a fan, radio, and mini-fridge.
The The Rockpals 250-watt portable solar generator is a great choice for campers, RVers, and boaters looking for a lightweight and compact solar power station to power their electronics such as lighting, mini-fridge, CPAP machine, air pump and so on.
The 250-Watt Rockpals generator is perfectly adequate for use with CPAP machines. But if you want a power station that will power your CPAP or any other medical device for longer, we recommend the CPAP 300W generator.
It has a larger battery and a higher-capacity DC-AC inverter. So you can plug in higher-wattage medical devices.
The 280Wh lithium-ion battery can power a CPAP machine for 2-3 days.
To get more time out of the battery, the manufacturer recommends connecting your machine to the 12V DC port using a DC converter cable.
Using the AC port drains the battery faster since the inverter also uses power.
Another tip is to turn off the heater and humidifier if you don’t need them.
In addition to medical devices, you can plug in small appliances into the 120V AC outlet or one of the five DC ports (four 12V and one 24V).
You can also charge your phone, tablet, or any other device using the four 5V USB ports. For faster charging, connect to one of the two USB ports with Quick Charge 3.0 technology.
As for recharging the battery, the fastest way to do it is through an AC wall outlet. If you are on the road, you can plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter socket. Both a car charger and a wall adapter are included.
For frequent campers as well as RV owners and boaters who spend a lot of time off-grid, the most convenient way to recharge the battery is by using off-grid solar generators like solar panels.
The panels are not included.
Having a medical device that needs electricity is no reason to avoid going camping or an RV road trip. The Rockpals 300W off-grid solar generators allow you to power your device wherever you are.
We particularly love that it has 5 DC ports, many more than you’ll get in most portable power stations. This is handy since many medical devices work best with DC power.
The Rockpals 300-Watt solar generator doesn’t come with solar panels. Without them, you have enough power in the battery for just a couple or so days.
If you are planning to spend several nights off-grid, consider buying solar panels to keep the battery charged and your CPAP machine running.
The Rockpals 300W portable solar generator is an excellent choice for RVers, boaters, and campers who use a powered medical device such as a CPAP machine or an air purifier.
If you want a solar generator that can power appliances in your RV or boat such as a fridge, a TV or a blender, you need to shell out more money for a generator with more watt-hours and a stronger inverter.
One of the best choices is the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X, a new portable power station that replaces the older Yeti 1400.
The 1500X is powerful without being too big or too heavy.
We, personally, don’t fancy carrying a 100+ poundsolar generator around, so the significantly lighter 45lb Yeti 1500X is a good compromise.
The 1500Wh lithium battery in the Yeti 1500X is one of the biggest you’ll find in solar generators for camping and RVs. It allows you to power more electronics for longer.
What makes the 1500X really capable is the powerful AC inverter. With a max continuous output of 2000W and a max surge output of 3500W, you can power just about any appliance in your RV or boat. This includes a full size fridge, a big TV or even a heater.
The Yeti 1500X is also a great choice for campers who travel with power-hungry appliances like a coffee maker or hair dryer. The 1500X can easily handle the wattage needs of such electronics.
It’s also great for extended camping trips. With that much power, you can charge devices and keep your mini fridge and lights running for days.
In addition to two AC ports, the Yeti 1500X also comes with several USB ports (including USB-C and USB-C PD) and 12V power ports for tools, lighting and 12V appliances.
With all these options, it’s easy to power and charge multiple electronics at the same time. You can have your mini fridge running while you charge your phone. You can even charge multiple phones at once.
As for inputs, there are three ways to recharge the Yeti 1500X. The fastest is through a wall outlet. If you are on the road, you can recharge it through your car’s 12V charger. And if you are outdoors, you can use solar panels to recharge the battery.
The battery is pretty big, so you need a capable solar kit to charge the battery quickly. We recommend at least a 100W panel. A 200W solar kit is even better.
The biggest issue with the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X is the price tag. If you are shopping for a budget solar generator, this is not it.
The Yeti 1500X is also heavier than most portable solar generators. This is mostly an issue for campers. It’ll be a hassle to carry it back and forth from you vehicle.
If you don’t mind the price tag, the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X is the best solar generator for campers, RVs and boats that need plenty of power to keep appliances running.
The Renogy 300W solar marine kit is designed specifically for installation on a boat. It is waterproof, can withstand snow and winds, and the panels are flexible for easy installation on a curved surface.
The Renogy solar marine kit connects to an existing battery bank.
The kit comes complete with three 100W solar panels (300W total), a 20A PWM solar charge controller, and all the adapters and connectors you need.
As I mentioned, the solar panels are flexible with a 248-degree flex range. They are much easier to install on a curved surface compared to rigid panels.
They are also designed to withstand all kinds of weather, including heavy snow loads (5400 Pa) and high winds (2400 Pa).
The three solar panels will silently charge your deep cycle batteries to ensure you have power all the time.
With a combined output of 300 watts, they’ll charge a large capacity bank in a few hours or days, depending on battery capacity and weather conditions.
Our only complaint is the type of charge controller provided.
To get the best out of the solar panel, consider replacing the PMW charge controller with an MPPT controller.
MPPT charge controllers are more efficient and charge much faster compared to PWM controllers.
The Renogy 300W solar marine kit is a great choice for boat owners looking for a powerful solar kit to charge their battery bank.
For RV owners, we recommend the Renogy 400W solar RV kit. It’s designed specifically for RVs and, like the marine kit, can withstand high winds and heavy snow loads.
The RV kit consists of solar panels, each with a 100W output for a total output of 400W. They can produce about 2,000Wh daily when the weather is good.
That’s enough power to quickly charge a large battery bank and keep your RV appliances running.
The 400W kit is not too expensive. But if you are on a tight budget, there’s a cheaper 300W, 200W, and 100W kit available though you’ll, obviously, not be able to generate as much power.
The solar panels are designed to withstand all kinds of outdoor conditions. They can handle heavy snow and high winds and are corrosion resistant.
Like the marine kit, the RV kit comes complete with a PWM charge controller (30A) and all the cables and connectors necessary for installation. Mounting brackets are also included.
When you are going cross-country in your RV, you want your batteries to stay charged without relying on charging spots in RV parks.
This 400W solar kit gives you the freedom to travel wherever you want without worrying about keeping your RV powered.
Unlike the marine kit that comes with flexible panels, the Renogy RV kit comes with rigid solar panels.
This will probably not be an issue for you, but it can be problematic for RVers who need to install the solar panels on a curved surface.
Another issue is that the kit uses a PWM controller, which is not as efficient and doesn’t charge as fast as an MPPT controller.
The Renogy 400W solar RV kit is a great choice for RV owners and enthusiasts looking for a high-output solar panel kit to charge their RV battery bank.
If you are on a budget, we recommend the Jackery Explorer portable power station. It is a compact and lightweight solar generator that’s good enough for charging devices and powering small appliances.
The Jackery portable power station is small but capable. The 240Wh lithium-ion battery will power small appliances for hours and charge various devices multiple times.
It doesn’t have as many output options as other solar generators, but they are enough for most people’s needs.
There’s a single AC port with a 200W continuous and 400W surge pure sine wave inverter. It’s safe to plug in most small appliances and devices such as a CPAP machine, a mini-fridge, a fan, or a laptop.
There’s also a DC carport for use with DC-powered devices such as lighting and air pumps.
To charge your phone or tablet, use the two USB-A ports. They can also charge drones, cameras, smart watches, Bluetooth speakers, and any USB-chargeable device.
It’s easy to recharge the battery.
If you are at home, plug it into a wall outlet. That’s the fastest way to recharge it. If you are traveling in your RV or car, plug it into your car’s 12V DC cigarette lighter socket.
The power station comes both with a car charger and a wall adapter.
When you are outdoors, you can recharge the battery using solar panels. The panels are not included, but we highly recommend buying them if you are planning extended outdoor trips.
A 100W solar panel kit is enough to keep the 16.8Ah battery charged.
For campers who want more power without spending a lot of money or carrying a bulky power station, the Jackery Explorer is a great choice.
It’s compact and lightweight but powerful enough to power and charges most of the appliances and devices you’ll carry with you.
Don’t expect the Jackery Explorer to power a coffee maker, blender, or power tool. It can only power small, low-wattage appliances.
Also, note that it doesn’t come with solar panels. Depending on your needs, you might have to budget more money for a complete kit.
The Jackery Explorer portable power station is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a budget solar power station for camping or use in an RV or boat.
The most important part of a solar generator is the battery. Specifically, the type battery and its capacity.
When it comes to type of battery, the two main options in the market are lead acid and lithium ion.
Lead acid is an older technology that’s reliable and affordable. On the downside, lead acid batteries don’t last as long as modern lithium batteries.
Lithium ion batteries are compact (easier portability), they are more efficient and they last longer. On the downside, solar generators with lithium batteries cost more.
If you can, get a lithium battery solar generator. The benefits are worth the higher price tag.
As for capacity, check the watt-hours (Wh) of the battery. The ideal capacity depends on your needs.
Most campers don’t have large appliances, so a solar generator with a 200-1,000Wh capacity will be adequate.
If you mostly want to power lights and charge your smartphone, camera and other devices, a 200Wh capacity will do.
If you have a mini-fridge, CPAP and other small appliances, get a 500+Wh solar generator.
For RV and boat owners that want to power appliances, get a solar generator with at least 1000Wh in capacity. That should give you enough power to power a TV, fridge and other electronics for a couple days or more.
A good way to determine the right capacity is to check the wattage rating of your appliances. Multiply each wattage by how many hours you use the appliance every day. Add up figures for all appliances to see how many watt-hours you need per day.
Based on this, get a battery big enough to supply power for 1-2 days.
Unless you are getting one of those foldable or backpack solar generators designed just for charging devices, a proper camping or RV solar generator will have an AC outlet or two.
But just because there’s an AC outlet, it doesn’t mean you can plug in any appliance. What determines what you can plug in is the size of the inverter, the component that converts DC power from the battery to AC power.
A small AC inverter may have a max continuous output of 300W. That means you cannot plug in any device or appliance rated higher than 300W.
A 300-1,000W inverter can power small appliances like a CPAP machine, a mini-fridge, a desk fan and lighting, in addition to charging devices like your smartphone or a camera.
A 1,000-2,000W inverter can handle higher-wattage appliances like a full size fridge, a small heater or a coffee maker.
As with battery capacity, it comes down to your needs.
Check whether the solar generator comes as a full kit, complete with solar panels. Most are not complete kits; you have to buy the solar panels separately.
When choosing the best solar panels to pair with your camping or RV solar generator, look for those that can deliver between 100W and 200W of power. Below 100W, the solar generator will recharge slowly, probably over several days.
Either polycrystalline or monocrystalline panels are great. We especially love those that have a foldable or briefcase design for easier portability and storage.
RV and boat owners should consider the newer thin film solar panels. They are less efficient, but they are easy to install on the curved surface of your RV or boat.
Check if the solar generator comes with a built-in charge controller. If it doesn’t, you may need to buy one for use with solar panels. A charge controller ensures the solar generator battery charges safely and efficiently.
PWM charge controllers are cheaper, but they let power go to waste. The best option is an MPPT charge controller. Because of their higher efficiency, MPPT charge controllers charge batteries faster.
A good solar generator should have three types of ports: AC, 12V and USB. This allows you to power and charge different kinds of appliances and devices.
There should also be three types of input ports for recharging the battery: solar, AC and car charger. This gives you different recharge options for various situations: AC when at home, car charger when on the road and solar when you are outdoors.
Finally, check how portable the solar generator is. This is especially enough for campers. You need a solar generator that will fit in your truck together with your other gear, and which will be easy to carry by hand over short distances.
Keep in mind that there’s a tradeoff between battery capacity and weight. If you want a compact and lightweight solar generator, you have to make do with a smaller capacity battery. If you want more power, you have to contend with a heavier and bigger solar generator.
Unlike solar generators that don’t require any assembly or installation, a DIY solar kit comes with separate components that you need to assemble and install.
Furthermore, you need to know how to connect the solar kit to a battery bank or an existing electrical system.
This is all right if you have the time and skills to do that. A DIY solar kit is especially suitable for RVs and boats that already have a battery bank. These kits don’t include a battery – they usually consist of solar panels, wiring, a charge controller and an inverter.
If you prefer a plug and play option, a solar generator is the best choice. Yes, you won’t be able to connect it to an existing electrical system. On the upside, you don’t have to worry about wiring to anything.
The battery and charge controller are built into the generator. Plugging in a cable from a solar panel, AC wall outlet or a car charger to recharge the battery is easy and quick.
For camping, definitely get a solar generator.
I'm a Mechanical Engineer who's obsessed with solar energy and sustainable living.
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