What if you want to get in on the solar power revolution, but aren’t quite ready for a full home conversion quite yet? The answer might very well be a solar generator coupled with some solar panels. A solar generator can act as backup power for your home when the grid goes down. These are small-scale solar power systems that can run a few key appliances, making your next blackout less of a disaster and more of a minor annoyance.
They are also the perfect solution for those who like to get out of the house for extended periods of time. If you like camping and other similar outdoor activities, a portable solar generator can let you bring all those modern comforts along. I think they call it “glamping” or something.
If you want to know all the details about solar generators (including why they are called “generators”, you can find that in my dedicated solar generator article, but here I just want to highlight some of the best models I’ve seen advertised online. These generators are an affordable way to bring solar backup power into your home. Just remember that you also have to buy solar panels if you want to charge them using the light from the sun.
Paxcess 100W Portable Solar Generator
This 100W solar generator from Paxcess doesn’t look very modern, but a little like ambulance equipment from the 90s. I guess this isn’t too far off the mark, since the company lists running a CPAP machine when the power goes out as one of the use cases.
Other than keeping some poor soul breathing, you can also use the Paxcess to charge up USB powered devices – par for the course and something you can achieve with a normal power bank. It’s the addition of an inverter so you can run AC appliances from this little machine that makes it a solar generator. It has two AC outputs and can give out a continuous 100W of power. The battery holds 150Wh of power, so that should provide roughly 90 minutes if you max out the AC capacity. That’s enough to run a fifty-inch smart TV for three hours, more or less.
Paxcess sells a 50W solar panel separately, which means you can have small appliances run more or less continuously if you go camping. This solar generator is, however, “light duty” in every sense of the word. So treat it as a camping aid or a mega power bank for when the power goes out. Still, at this price it’s an easy entry to solar power.
Renogy Phoenix 150W Solar Generator
The Renogy Phoenix really pushes what’s possible for portable solar generators. The company has managed to squeeze everything, including a solar panel, into a single briefcase-sized unit.
The built-in panel has only a 20W capacity, but you can add an external panel rated up to 100W if you need to. There’s a neat LCD display on the side of the unit so that you can control everything about this little marvel. It can run in pure DC or AC mode, or a mix of the two.
Given its portable size, the battery is relatively small at only 190Wh. However, for emergencies, at home, or on the go that’s actually quite a lot of juice. Put one of these guys in your trunk and it could really save your bacon. This product is also available in 400W and 1000W incarnations, if you have the need. It’s one of the slickest high-tech portable solar generators I’ve seen, and well worth a look if you primarily need mobility.
LNSLNM 500W Solar Generator
If you want to move into more heavy-duty solar generation for your home or trip, then this generator from the unpronounceable LNSLNM company is a good place to start. Its square design and the black and yellow color scheme looks right at home with other industrial equipment. It’s a big boy, which is why the sturdy handle is a great design feature.
This generator can provide 500W of power but if you used it all, the battery would be empty in little over 30 minutes. Still, having 500W for half and hour has a use. Should you have more modest power needs, then the 288Wh battery should see you through most blackouts and, of course, you always have the option of hooking up a solar panel to it for more juice.
One really nice feature of this solar generator is that you can use it as an inline UPS. Hook it up to a computer or your home entertainment setup and it will pick up instantly if the power does go out. So those devices will keep running as if nothing has happened. It’s a little on the pricey side, but with extra oomph most regular users will have more than enough power on hand.
ACXOPOWER HY-PS5B Solar Generator
This solar generator from Acopower is at first glance easy to mistake for a guitar amplifier. What it actually is couldn’t be any more different. Instead of making noise, this will quietly provide up to 300W of AC power with a pure sine wave, so sensitive equipment will run perfectly.
It has the full spectrum of connections for DC and AC devices. The total capacity of the system is 400Wh, which translates to running a small fridge for about 12 hours or a smartphone for 100 hours. A large, detailed status screen shows you exactly what’s going on with your power levels, and with the included solar charging cable you can hook this up to a solar panel and turn it into the perfect camping power supply. When you bring it home, it becomes a powerful UPS or the biggest power bank you’ve ever seen. It’s a very versatile product at a stiff but reasonable price.
SUAOKI 150W Solar Generator
Suaoki is a name I’ve seen on plenty of solar gear, and this portable solar generator completes the spread of solar energy products they sell. This generator looks amazing and totally futuristic.
Under the hood it’s a well-specified, but rather small, solar generator. It has 150Wh of capacity, which is a good balance between size and power capacity. For small appliances that use less than 100W total you should get an hour and a half at the lower limit. It can take a Suaoki solar panel up to 100W, which means you can easily keep it topped up during the day while in use.
The main selling point of this solar generator is how absolutely tiny it is. It’s small enough to sit on the palm of your hand. Given its tiny dimensions, it’s actually massively impressive. It’s also very affordable compared to other similar systems, which makes it an attractive choice overall.