Using solar energy is becoming increasingly popular, and solar generators for camping are the best way to power your appliances. If you are an eco-minded person or a traveler, a solar generator is necessary. They are quiet, portable, provide enough power, effective, have multiple outlets and are mostly hassle-free. .
In this post we’ll cover what is a solar generator, how they work, the difference between solar vs gas generators, power needs, solar generator costs, best uses. We’ll also review the best solar generators for camping and detail their pros and cons to help you decide on the right solar generator for your specific situation.
Solar power is the most environmentally-friendly backup power source. Thus, having a solar mechanism for powering your essential appliances in a camping expedition ensures that you can have your gadgets run on free, renewable, and clean solar energy. Solar generators are among the best ways of powering that camping trip or a tailgate.
They use several batteries for storing energy that is later consumed by various electrical appliances. Therefore, the solar panel alone can power some devices. However, a solar backup generator performs many functions, including storing energy. Therefore, weigh the advantages of a solar panel vs. a generator and choose the right one.
We recommend using the two. Although solar generators provide affordable, clean power, they also have various disadvantages that we will look at later. Overall, the best way to power your camping expedition is using a solar generator. So what is a solar generator?
Best Solar Generators For Camping
With a solid capacity of 222Wh/60000mAh, FlashFish 300 solar generator will fulfill all your needs in a camping trip, weekend trip, hiking, hunting, backpacking, fishing, trekking, and many more outdoor occasions. This is one of the best portable quiet generators you can purchase if you need something to great your outdoor time.
The high-capacity generator is fitted with different output ports that you can use to charge most of your devices at the same time, including a phone, laptop, fan, drone, car fridge, LED light, digital cameras, MP3, and other smart devices.
it provides you with three ways of recharging using a wall charger, solar panel, or car charger. So, whatever device you want to charge FlashFish 300W has got you covered.
The recharging time depends on temperature, location, weather, and many more factors. Besides, you can carry this generator anywhere thanks to its sturdy handle that can withstand all the weight without breaking. Therefore, it allows you to go with power when outdoors.
With this generator, you are guaranteed a safe product. It has built-in safety protections, such as low-voltage, overheat protection, short-circuit protection, lock-on protection, over-current protection, and over-voltage protection.
It has a silver, metal casing and black ends made of plastic, making it more durable than other solar generators in the market. FlashFish portable generator has 300W continuous power, 350W peak power, pure sine wave, and a 60000mAh battery.
The generator can charge multiple devices stably with all this power, and the 5.6lbs weight makes it fit well in your backpack. In addition, this is a compact generator that never compromises the power supply, and it will not require much space for storage.
- No noise
- Built-in Short circuit and overheating protection
- It provides 3 ways of recharging, making it convenient and reliable
- It does not have pass-through charging
- The generator doesn’t have a power off warning
- Not powerful enough for larger appliances
- Some electrical problems detected
Goal Zero Yeti 400x
Goal Zero is a leader in the manufacturing of portable solar generators. The Goal Zero Yeti 400 solar generator from Goal Zero is among the most recommended portable power stations for camping. It gives you an incredible 600W of power.
The generator produce energy enough to run a TV, coffee maker, and other small devices on a camping expedition. It has a nifty informative Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) that shows the power you are using. It also features a real-time output/input calculator that helps you in positioning the solar panels.
The portable solar backup generator allows you to charge up to 7 devices simultaneously. In addition, you can chain it with several 33Ah lead-acid batteries for longer-lasting reliable power. For example, it can charge a 12V light for over 100 hours, 15 recharges for the smartphone, and five recharges for a laptop.
- High power output
- No noise
- Heavy for its power class
Jackery 240 Power Station
The solar system from Jackery is among the best in the market for its low cost and all-around performance. It has multiple USB ports, AC/DC connections, and car outlets. With a maximum of 200W, the portable solar generator can power most of your camping needs.
Furthermore, Jackery 240 has pass-through charging. Hence, you can charge and use it at the same time. The portable solar generator weighs just 6.6 pounds, making it portable and easy to carry. In addition, the portable generator produces no noise or gases. Therefore, you can use it in your camping tents.
- Lightweight and easily portable
- Can charge laptops, phones, cameras, drones and tablets
- Low power output-Cannot charge microwaves, blenders, electric grill, etc.
What is a Solar Generator?
Solar generators are the devices used for generating electrical power from solar energy. A solar generator features various technologies for converting said solar energy into electrical energy. One of their notable features is portability.
They comprise batteries, the charge controller, and inverters in one component. As solar technologies improve, solar generators are becoming more and cheaper. They harness solar energy using either stationary or portable solar panels.
However, you buy the solar panels separately. Because of their portability, solar generators are helpful in camping, emergencies, and other outdoor uses. Some solar generators, like Yeti 1500x from Goal Zero, come with an app. You can install it on your iPhone and regulate any high energy consumption.
How Do Solar Generators Work?
A solar generator can provide electricity for an extended period by converting solar energy into electrical power. Solar generators are more effective than gas or gasoline-powered generators.
However, how do they work? A solar generator integrates a charge controller, solar panel, inverter, and a battery system into one compact system. The system converts the solar energy collected by the solar panel into electric power that can run various appliances. For us to understand how solar generator works, let us look at each of its components separately.
The energy that the solar panels collect needs to be stored for later use. A solar battery stores the collected energy. There are various types of batteries. However, most solar generators sold today use lithium-ion batteries. They are durable because of their low rates of discharge. However, you can still use lead-acid batteries that are less efficient but cheap compared to Li-ion batteries.
So we recommend you use lithium-ion batteries because of their advantages over lead-acid batteries. They are more affordable and safer in the long term. However, if you cannot afford a Li-ion battery, you can still use the lead-acid battery.
A charge controller is among the most critical parts of the solar energy system that promotes and protects the battery’s durability. Based on the type of solar battery backup you are using and its compatibility with the solar panel, a charge controller, has various features for discharge and charging. They are essential in how a solar generator works because they keep your home’s energy dynamics between the solar battery and solar panels in balance.
The last component of a solar generator is the inverter. The Solar panel converts the solar energy into DC power. However, many electrical gadgets require alternating current to run. The inverter is the device that converts the Direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) that you can use to run your camping electrical gadgets.
These three components show the workings of a solar energy system. First, the solar panel collects solar energy. It then converts it into DC power, which is later stored by a battery. Finally, the inverter later converts the power into AC power that many electrical appliances use.
- Clean, renewable energy
There are efforts by governments and environmental activists pushing for the adoption of clean and renewable energy, and a noble reason. Using fossil fuels to power various uses pollutes the environment by releasing greenhouse gases and increasing the carbon dioxide footprint in the atmosphere. The net effect is global warming and famine.
As we have seen, solar generators convert solar energy into electrical energy. This operation does not require gas or any fossil fuel. Therefore, the clean energy produced has no impact on the environment.
You need not worry about carbon emission or environmental pollution because there is none. Solar energy is renewable. Therefore, you can use it repeatedly, for a long time, without depletion. other generators consume fuel which means they produce carbon monoxide and increases their continuous running cost.
A solar generator is more beneficial, unlike other generators like propane or fossil-powered backup generators. Since the conversion rates for many solar panels are 20-25%, there is still room for improvement in solar technology to realize the full potential. Solar generators do not produce any solid waste.
Solar generators do not have an engine or moving parts. Therefore, they have a quiet operation, unlike gas or fuel-powered generators. Gas or Gasoline-powered generators have engines and many moving parts that make them noisy.
Having a clean and quiet operation is among the unique advantages of solar generators. Thus, you can use solar generators without noise pollution. Therefore, it means that you can use the solar system for camping and enjoy the entertainment or have conversations without the impactful noise.
- Low maintenance
As we have seen above, solar generators do not have mechanical or moving parts. In most cases, these parts are damaged or cause damage because of friction. For instance, you have to routinely service and repair your propane-powered generator and change some parts, like filters.
The beauty of solar-powered generators is how little you have to do to maintain them. For instance, solar panels have an average lifespan of 25-35 years. However, they require a little maintenance each 5-10 years. Otherwise, you only have to remove dust from the solar panel to increase its effectiveness.
- Free energy from the sun
Solar energy is free. A solar generator does not have any other form of fuel. Thus, you do not incur extra expenses by buying gas or gasoline. Set your solar panels up and get solar energy from the sun’s energy. Therefore, the cost of planning your camping expedition reduces largely. You can use the money saved by using free solar power to do other things.
Although solar generators have many benefits, they also have some shortcomings. Let us now consider some of these drawbacks.
- Recharging slowly
A solar generator can only harness enough solar power where there is enough sunlight. Therefore, to avoid low solar output, you can only recharge the battery when the sun is out. Even then, charging the battery fully takes time. For instance, a solar panel has a power output of 100W takes over 9 hours to recharge a mid-sized solar generator battery.
You can refuel a generator running on fossil fuel. Therefore, you can get the required power whenever you need it without worrying about the weather or what time of the day it is. However, fossil fuels emit carbon, polluting the environment.
- Limited power supply
What a solar generator can power depends on the size of its battery. Therefore, it is vital to know the power requirements of your electrical gadgets. For instance, a 200W solar generator may not power your home but can power some appliances while camping.
These include things like laptops, phones, lighting, and other small appliances for a period. There is no limit to what a natural gas or diesel generator can power or for how long since you can refill it at any time. Before buying or renting a solar generator for camping, compute the total power requirements first.
These are the major drawbacks of solar generators. However, they have more advantages compared to their disadvantages. Should you use a solar generator for camping? Yes, if you compare solar vs. gas generators, there are more environmental advantages to the former.
Also Read: Best Solar Generators 
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to use a solar generator?
As we have seen, solar generators convert solar energy to electrical energy, store it in a battery and use the inverter to convert the DC power to AC power. Solar generators are used to run small electrical appliances and for charging devices like tablets and smartphones. In addition, you can use solar generators for camping or powering an RV because they are clean and portable.
To use them, you need to know the power requirements of your appliances. The total power for the electrical gadgets must be 10% less than the total power of the solar generator. The 10% power accounts for the inverter losses.
Therefore, depending on how many solar panels you have, the size of the solar panel and the solar battery storage capacity, you can power various appliances. Many portable solar generators have other ways of powering them besides using solar panels. It improves their reliability.
You can charge them using the DC outlet in your car or plug them in your wall socket. They also have various power outlets like USB-C and USB-A ports and 12V charging ports that you can use to connect multiple appliances. The ports are also separate for both AC and DC power.
The solar generators also feature either a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) charge controller or a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controller. To use the generator, you spread the panels to collect sunlight from charging the battery. These may be stationary or portable solar panels. Some solar panels have a USB where you can connect to a DC appliance.
Otherwise, connect the devices to the battery. Charging the battery allows you to run your appliances on power outages or even at night when there is no sunlight.
How many watts of solar do I need for camping?
If you are a camper or planning to go camping, this question must linger in your mind. However, there is no fast way to answer it. There are no two set-ups for camping having the same requirements (your camping needs differ from your neighbors’).
The many types of solar panels also complicate the answer to this question. However, to find out how many watts you need for camping, consider two things. First, calculate the total amperage requirements of your electronic appliances and how long you need to run them.
Calculate the amperage requirements
The current requirements on all electrical devices are measured in amps. Amps are the measure of the rate at which electric current flows in your device. The higher the rate, the higher the electricity needed.
So why does this matter? First, it helps you determine the size of the electrical load needed and the total amperage that the devices will draw from your battery. You can find the information in the user manual.
How long will you run the electric device(s)?
Understanding the time that you will run the appliances in a day gives the total Ah requirements. Amp-hours (Ah) refers to the total number of amps drawn in the number of hours your devices are running. It means the total amount of solar power needed is determined by the total charge you need to recharge your auxiliary battery during day hours daily.
So how many watts do you need for camping?
After considering the total power requirements and runtime, you have to do some calculations. For instance, if the total power requirements are 75Ah and you need to run a 12V system, multiply the total amp hours with the voltage requirements. It gives you watt-hours. 75Ah x 12V = 900Wh.
If you need to run the appliances for 6 hours, the total watts required are the quotient of watt-hours and the number of hours. That is 900Wh/ 6h = 150 watts. Therefore, for such a system, you need 150 watts of power.
However, ensure that you include an extra 20% of power on top of the calculated power requirements for your appliances. Therefore, the number of watts required for camping depends on the total amperage of the individual components and the number of hours that the camping will last. For example, if you plan to use 100W, you need a 120W solar panel or generator.
What are the best uses for solar generators?
How best you use a solar generator depends on its power output and the number of power outlets. Solar generators have different power ratings. For instance, a Renogy Phoenix solar generator can produce a maximum of 300W, while a Yeti 500X can produce about 497W of power. However, the best use of a solar generator is one that leverages all its advantages.
Below are the best uses of a solar generator:
- Acting as backup power in times of power outage
- Powering recreational Vehicle (RV)
- Powering camping, tailgates, and other off-grid activities
- You can use it as an emergency power source
- Solar generators are used to power boats, and
- lighting in homes and powering small electrical gadgets.
The best use of a solar generator is the one assuring maximum runtime of the generator.
Are Solar Generators worth it?
Yes. Besides being a good backup power in outages and saving you some cash, solar generators are both clean and eco-friendly.
Although a solar generator’s cost is initially high, it will offer you a good return on investment (ROI) compared with gas-powered generators. So, buy a solar generator today; advantage on the advantages of the solar generators. As we have seen above, they have many uses, while solar energy remains a free energy source.
Unlike buying the components separately, solar generators combine all the components in one unit. Therefore, it is cheaper.
Is a Solar Generator Better than a Gas Generator?
Solar generators are overall better than gas-powered generators. They have more advantages.
To show that solar generators are better, let’s look at solar vs. gas generators briefly.
– Solar generators produce clean energy, unlike gas generators that emit carbon dioxide.
– Gas generators have many moving parts. It means that they produce much noise. On the other hand, solar generators are quiet and make no such noise. Hence, you can use them indoors.
– Solar-powered generators have a low maintenance cost. However, gas generators have many moving parts, meaning that you have to incur routing solar costs of maintenance and servicing.
– Solar generators are cheap in the end. This is because they do not have associated costs. However, unlike gas generators, you have to purchase the gas, clean the filters, and do some repairs.
– Some states have tax incentives for those who use solar energy. It ensures that you get a faster return on investments on purchasing a solar generator compared to a gas generator.
– The other reason a solar generator is better than a natural gas generator is electricity grid interoperability. You can connect the solar generator to the grid for recharging when there is not enough sunlight or the price of grid power is low.
|Appliance||Starting Watts||Running Watts|
|Furnace (1/4 HP)||1000||600|
|Sump Pump (1/3 HP)||1300||800|
|Window AC 13K BTU||2800||1800|
So, Which is Best?
All of these solar generators can be used for camping. But, which is the best?
The best generator is a personal preference depending on your usage and tastes.. but let’s dive into which generator is best for each area.
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is the best performing option, having the highest maximum Wattage and will keep your devices charged for the longest.
The Flashfish 300W is the most affordable option.
The Flashfish 300W is also the most portable option weighing under 6 lbs with an easy grip handle included.
Solar generators offer many advantages and are better in some aspects compared to their counterparts; the gas generators. However, you need to understand the amount of wattage that your camping needs will require.
Leverage the benefits of a solar generator over a gas generator and buy one today to power your camping trip or tailgate. Because of its lightweight, affordability, and durability, we believe the Flashfish 300 is the best solar generator for camping overall. The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is the best performing option.
If you need a bit more power to charge your devices and appliances, you may want to check out the best inverter generators.
I’ve always been a lover of Mechanics and the engineering that goes on behind it. Naturally had a knack for fixing things and i’ve had lots of adventures that generators are second nature to me.