If you enjoy camping, roving around in your RV, or spending a weekend or two outdoors, this one’s for you. Technology has now caught up, giving us a sustainable and cost-efficient power source while living our lives off-the-grid.
We’re talking about solar-powered generators. They’re portable, easy to use, and environmentally-friendly – producing no harmful emissions. The best part is, they’re super useful at home as an emergency power source during power outages.
In this guide, we will walk you through some helpful information about solar generators. We will also include our pick for the 10 best solar generators for camping.
The Best Camping Solar Generator Reviews 2021
1. Jackery 240Wh Solar Generator for Camping
Jackery is an American developer of portable solar power solutions. Their products include solar panels, solar generators, and related accessories.
Our top pick on this list goes to a Jackery product – the Explorer 240. This solar generator is backed by a lithium-ion battery with a 240 wH capacity. It has enough capacity to charge a phone over 24 times or a laptop 3-4 times. It can also power up a mini cooler for 18 hours or an LED light anywhere between 6-21 hours.
A key feature of the Jackery Explorer 240 is its versatility in terms of recharging. The charging rate is also dependent on the recharge source. For example, using a 60W solar panel will fully charge the generator in just six hours. It can also achieve full charge within 5.5 hours using an AC adaptor or a 12V car adaptor.
Speaking of versatility, the Explorer 240 is equipped with multiple outputs, allowing you to simultaneously power different devices. The Explorer 240 comes with a single AC outlet, one DC carport, and two USB-A ports. It essentially powers any device that operates anywhere under 200 watts.
The Jackery Explorer 240 is made of high-quality, durable materials making it fit to use outdoors. Weighing only 6.6 pounds and measuring 9.05 inches wide, it’s the ideal portable generator to bring to your camping trips. It’s also easy to carry around with you, thanks to the solid handle integrated into its design.
Another great feature of the Explorer 240 is its smart display. It allows you to monitor the generator’s input and output powers along with what’s left of its battery.
Finally, in terms of safety, the Explorer 240 comes with a pure sine wave AC outlet. Besides powering a wide range of devices, it provides a safe and stable output ensuring safe charging of sensitive devices.
Our one and only issue with the Jackery Explorer 240 is that it doesn’t come with a solar panel included. Jackery makes compatible solar panels specifically made for their generators. However, this is something that you have to purchase separately. Buying the generator and solar panels still add up to a reasonable amount, so this isn’t really a major issue.
In short, if you’re after a high-quality and versatile solar generator for camping, the Explorer 240 is the one to beat.
- Generous 240 wH capacity.
- Versatile recharging options with good recharge rates – use solar, AC or 12V adaptors to charge.
- Multiple outputs for simultaneous use – AC outlet, DC carport, USB-A x 2.
- High-quality, durable, lightweight, compact, and portable.
- Smart display for monitoring various power indicators.
- Pure since wave AC outlet – safe and versatile output power.
- Solar panels are sold separately.
2. Jackery 500Wh Solar Generator for Camping
The next product on our list is another one from Jackery, this time, it’s the Explorer 500. It comes with everything we loved about the Explorer 240, but these features are magnified in the Explorer 500.
First, let’s look at the capacity. The Explorer 500 has a battery capacity of 518Wh, which is more than double that of the Explorer 240. A capacity this large means you get to charge your devices more frequently or your appliances longer. It’s good enough to charge a phone at least 100 times and an LED light for up to 76 hours. It also powers up an electric grill for 50 minutes or a cooler for a lengthy 66 hours.
The Explorer 500 also has multiple power outputs, like the 240, which allows for multiple devices. The difference is it can power up to seven devices, significantly more than the 240s four devices. The Explorer 500 has three USB-A ports, one AC output, one 12V carport, and two DC outputs.
Despite being a large capacity solar generator, the Explorer 500 is relatively portable and compact at only 13.32 lbs. Again, like the Explorer 240, it’s super easy to move around, thanks to the strong, built-in easy-carry handle.
The Jackery 500 also has great safety features. First is its pure sine wave inverter, which ensures sensitive devices, such as laptops, are powered safely without damages. It also comes integrated with an excellent battery management system. This feature protects the battery from over-currents, over-temperatures, and over-voltages, effectively safeguarding your devices while in use.
Finally, like the Explorer 240, the Explorer 500 also comes with a smart display, indicating your generator’s overall power status.
An undeniable setback to the Jackery Explorer 500 is its price. It is relatively expensive and is, in fact, the highest-priced on this list. Another probable setback also ties in with the price. Like the Explorer 240, it doesn’t come with a solar panel already included. The Explorer 500 is compatible with Jackery’s SolarSaga 100W solar panel, but again, this is sold separately. As the SolarSaga is also along the lines of high-end solar panels, this isn’t necessarily cheap. This means that the total price for the complete Jackery solar generator package is quite substantial.
Overall, if the price isn’t a dealbreaker, the Explorer 500 tops the solar generator choices for powering multiple equipment types during camping.
- Large capacity of 518Wh.
- Power up to seven devices simultaneously.
- Relatively portable and lightweight despite large capacity.
- Excellent battery safety features.
- Smart display for overall power monitoring.
- Relatively expensive.
- Compatible solar panel sold separately.
3. WAWUI 42Wh Small Solar Generator for Camping
Wawui Lighting Ltd is a Chinese company specializing in the manufacture of various lighting products. Although their product focuses on LED light bulbs, they’ve also come up with their own portable solar generator version.
The Wawui Portable Power Station is our value pick for this list, owing to its affordable price. It is available in two capacities: choose between 84 Wh and 42Wh. The 84Wh version charges standard smartphones up to eight times and standard LED lights for up to 64 hours. The 42Wh can power up a single LED light for over 20 hours and a single smartphone at least twice.
Regardless of what capacity version you pick, the Wawui solar generator triple charging capacity. You can recharge the generator using the included solar panels or through a standard wall or car chargers via USB technology. A 9.8-feet USB-A charging cable is included with the package to allow you to charge via a direct electricity source. Additionally, regardless of capacity, this solar generator kit is portable, and the generator comes with a handle for easy carrying.
An attractive feature of the Wawui solar generator is its LiFePO4 battery, known for its extensive life span. Wawui describes their batteries to lengthen their solar generators’ lifespan up to over an impressive 12 years.
Another excellent feature of the Wawui, especially in terms of camping, is its lighting features. In addition to a built-in flashlight, the Wawui package also comes with three LED bulbs with sockets and hooks. These bulbs would easily hook on to the sides of your tent or car during camping.
An obvious drawback to the Wawui is its relatively low capacity, especially compared to the previous products on this list. However, we don’t see this as a major negative because its affordable price corresponds to the capacity.
Ultimately, the Wawui is a good choice for an affordable solar generator for your small devices during your camping trips.
- Affordable – cheapest solar generator on this list.
- Available in two battery capacities – 42 Wh and 84 Wh.
- Triple charging capacity – solar, wall, or carport.
- LiFePO4 battery prolonging lifespan to up to 12 years.
- Great additional lighting features – built-in flashlight, three LED bulbs.
- Relatively low capacity.
4. Newpowa 280Wh Camping Solar Generator
Newpowa is an American brand specializing in off-the-grid solar power solutions. Other than solar generators and inverters, their products also include solar power panels specially made for RVs and marine vehicles.
The Newpowa Portable Power Station has a substantial capacity of 280Wh and is compatible with 60W and 100W portable solar panels.
We love the Newpowa because it’s packed with many practical functions, especially useful for camping. It has a built-in LED flashlight and multiple ports and outlets for powering a multitude of devices. It has two AC outlets, 3 DC outputs, and a single cigarette lighter outlet. Most of the products we have already enumerated have USB ports, which Newpowa offers. What makes Newpowa different is that it comes with one USB-C port in addition to two USB-A ports.
Speaking of multi-outlets, the Newpowa 300W also comes with a three-way charging system. In addition to solar panel charging, you can also use AC outlets or car cigarette lighters to charge this generator.
Another great thing about the Newpowa 300W is that it is ETL certified, which means the product meets electrical quality and safety standards. It is a good indication that this solar generator is built to last. The Newpowa is constructed of durable material and includes a heavy-duty lithium battery, contributing to its extended lifespan.
Lastly, the Newpowa 300W is lightweight at only 9.03 lbs and compact at only 9.06 inches wide. We also love that the carry handle folds flat with the generator when not in use. This design element adds to its compactness and definitely makes it easier to store in your vehicle’s tight spaces.
- A substantial capacity of 280Wh.
- Packed with practical functions – LED flashlight, multiple outlet ports, including USB-C.
- Three-way charging – solar, AC, or car cigarette lighter.
- ETL certified – durable, safe, and long lifespan.
- Lightweight and portable – folding carry handle.
- Solar panels are sold separately.
One thing that the Newpowa lacks is the solar panel. Like the Jackery solar generators described earlier, the Newpowa solar panels compatible with their generators are sold separately.
In brief, the Newpowa 300W is a great option for a solar generator packed with practical features useful for camping.
5. PAXCESS 230Wh Portable Solar Generator for Camping
Paxcess is a US-based brand offering a wide range of outdoor household products. Their range includes power generators, solar panels, and gardening and power tools.
The Rockman 200W is Paxcess’s smallest generator in their portable power station range. At only 6.4 lbs, its lightweight and compact design may well be its best feature. It also comes with a soft carry handle that folds seamlessly into the generator when not in use.
It may be small, but it definitely comes with a reasonably good capacity of 230Wh. Its multiple charging outputs allow you to power anything from your smartphone, small RV appliances, or your CPAP machine. The ports and outlets include one AC, two DC, 2 USB-As, 1 USB-C, and 1 carport.
The Rockman also comes with a quadruple rechargeability. Choose between the solar panel, AC outlet, 12V car charger, or directly into a USB-C wall socket.
Finally, the Rockman features an intelligent LED display with a real-time indication of battery operating status.
Besides needing to buy the solar panel separately, there are many things notable about the Rockman 200W. First, you can’t charge and use it at the same time. You may find this inconvenient, especially when you’re on the road. Second, it has a relatively long charge time – a full charge takes about 10 hours using a 60-100W solar panel. This is probably okay for weekend camping trips as you can fully charge before you head off. But you may not like this charging rate if you plan on spending or more camping.
In brief, the Rockmann 200W is an option worth considering if you’re after a really compact solar generator for camping.
- Compact and lightweight at only 6.4 lbs.
- 230 Wh capacity with multiple power outputs.
- Quadruple rechargeability – solar, AC, 12V, wall socket via USB-C.
- Intelligent LED display for battery monitoring.
- You cannot charge and use the generator simultaneously.
- Relatively long solar charge time of 10 hours on 60-100W panels.
6. Anker 388.8Wh Solar Powered Generator for Camping
Anker is a Chinese manufacturer of an extensive range of electronics, including generators and solar power sources.
The Anker PowerHouse II is a compact, 9.7 lbs, 10-inch-wide solar generator with a generous battery capacity of 388Wh. This capacity is indeed true to its name, considering its relatively compact size. This capacity translates to 23 charges for your smartphone and over 20 charging cycles for a standard digital camera.
Perhaps an appealing feature to the PowerHouse II is its high-speed charging technology. This generator is equipped with a 60W PowerIQ 3.0-USB-C port that charges devices up to 40% quicker than similar products. This feature is definitely a good one to have when camping. It allows you to spend time exploring the great outdoors instead of waiting for your device to charge.
Another selling point of the PowerHouse II is that it can charge up to eight devices simultaneously. That’s the highest count so far on this list. It’s definitely a feature handy when camping with a group because it ensures everyone’s devices are all juiced up.
Finally, the PowerHouse II is designed to give you a stable power supply on the campsite. It has a built-in AC wall outlet equipped with pure sine wave inverter technology. This feature ensures safe power delivery, and it also reduces any electrical noise produced by sensitive appliances.
One thing we think the PowerHouse II could improve for later versions is to have the handle foldable or removable. It is a great feature for moving the generator around. However, having it sticking out gives it an awkward shape that limits your storage options.
We’re not liking its 65-watt input that significantly limits the solar panels you can use with it.
In summary, the PowerHouse II is a great choice for a compact, powerful and fast-charging solar generator for camping.
- The compact but generous battery capacity of 388Wh.
- High-speed charging technology – charges devices up to 40% faster than similar products.
- Charges up to eight devices simultaneously.
- Built-in AC wall outlet with pure sine wave inverter for a safe and stable power supply.
- Compactness could be improved with a foldable or removable handle.
- 65-watt input limits solar panel choices.
7. FF FLASHFISH 222Wh Portable Solar Power Generator for Camping
FlashFish is a Japanese brand of portable solar technology. They’re a relatively new company, having only been established in 2010. Their product list includes solar generators, solar panels, and related accessories.
Design is probably the first feature you’ll notice with the FlashFish 300W. Kudos to the FlashFish design team for making this solar generator not look like one. It has a silver metal case with black plastic sides that gives it an elegant yet rugged look. It looks like a small hardcore briefcase instead of a generator. This material combination not only gives it a great look but also makes the unit more durable.
Another design selling point of the FlashFish is its super portable build. It’s 5.6 lbs with a comfortable handle, so you can easily carry it with the rest of the camping gear.
Although compact and lightweight, the FlashFish comes with a capacity of 222Wh, which is reasonably good considering its size. It powers up your smartphone over 20 times or a 40-watt mini fridge for up seven hours.
Lastly, the FlashFish is another solar generator that works great for camping with family or groups. Thanks to its multiple outputs, it can charge seven devices simultaneously. The output ports include three USBs, two ACs, and two DCs. The icing to the cake is that two of its USB ports are equipped with fast-charging technology.
One thing that’s drawing us away from the FlashFish generator is its slow recharge time. Charging with a 100-watt solar panel takes more than a full day, even if you have bright direct sunlight.
Another thing we’re not too impressed with is that you can’t do a plug and play with this solar generator. That means you either have to use it or charge it. The ability to do both simultaneously would have been perfect for your journey on the road.
Overall, the FlashFish is a good choice for a well-designed solar generator for use on a short camping trip.
- Great functional, durable, and aesthetic design – silver metal case.
- Portable and lightweight – 5.6 lbs.
- Reasonably good capacity of 222Wh.
- Multiple outputs for charging up to seven devices.
- Slow recharge time – takes over a day to fully charge.
- You can’t charge and use the generator simultaneously.
8. BALDR 297Wh Camping Solar Generator
Baldr is a New Jersey-based company specializing in the design and manufacture of small household smart electronic products.
The Baldr portable Power Station 330W is a box-type solar generator weighing 7.1 lbs. The Baldr’s capacity reaches 297Wh, which effectively powers most of your camping devices from your walkie talkies to your cameras.
User-friendliness is a great feature of the Baldr solar generator. It comes with an LCD screen that displays the generator’s battery status. All the function buttons and ports and outputs are adequately labeled, making everything extremely straightforward to operate.
We love that the Baldr comes with a built-in flashlight with SOS signal capability in terms of camping features. The flashlight also acts as a great nightlight to leave beside your tent.
Versatility in terms of output and charging methods is also a key feature of the Baldr generator. First, it has triple charging methods of solar, AC wall socket, or 12.V car charging. It has three USB ports, two DC ports, and one port each of car, C-type, and AC.
The last feature of the Baldr is what sets it apart from the previous generators on this list. The Baldr Portable Power Station comes with a wireless charger for a convenient juicing up of your smartphones.
There are just a few drawbacks that we’ve discovered with the Baldr generator. First, the maximum charge rate doesn’t seem to exceed 52 watts, regardless of the power source type. This means that it will take at least seven hours before you fully charge and use this generator. You can’t use the input power or charge the battery while the inverter is running. This, unfortunately, drastically limits the functionality of this generator.
In short, if you want an easy-to-use solar generator for camping with extra lighting features, the Bland is a good option.
- User-friendly – bright LED screen and labeled buttons and ports.
- Versatile charging and output – multiple ports and outputs.
- Practical camping features – built-in flashlight with SOS function.
- Unique wireless charging technology.
- Slow charge rate – at least seven hours to achieve a full charge.
- Can’t use the generator function simultaneously.
9. FF FLASHFISH 166Wh Solar Generator For CPAP Camping
The next one on the best solar generator for camping list is another addition from FlashFish. This power station is relatively lower in terms of capacity compared to the FlashFish 300W.
The FlashFish 200W has 166Wh, which may seem low but is good enough to power up one person’s multiple devices.
We love the FlashFish 200W’s LCD display panel. This screen is super easy to read and indicates battery level, input charging power, and AC and DC outputs.
The FlashFish 200W is backed by an excellent battery management system that keeps the unit safe for a longer lifespan. This system protects your generator from short circuits, and over-voltage, and extremes in temperature.
As it has a lower capacity than the FlashFish 300, the 200W naturally comes more compact and naturally more lightweight. It also has a carry handle that easily folds down to make it even more compact.
Finally, like the other FlashFish generators, the 200W comes with triple charging capability and seven different output ports.
As we’ve already mentioned, the low capacity of the FlashFish 200W may turn you off. This is especially true if you’re wanting to charge powerful or multiple devices. Another thing that may set you back is that this solar generator does not allow pass-through charging. This means you always have to choose between one function or the other.
Overall, if you’re only powering up limited devices during your camping trip, the FlashFish 200W is a good option.
- Compact, lightweight, and portable.
- Excellent battery management system.
- Easy-to-read LCD screen.
- Versatile charging and output capabilities.
- Low capacity – 166Wh.
- No pass-through charging.
10. PAXCESS Rockman 288Wh Portable Power Station
Next, we have another Paxcess product: the Rockman 300W. The name is probably a giveaway that this Rockman product has a higher capacity than its 200W cousin. But the difference is not really too drastic. The Rockman 300W comes with 288Wh capacity, which is just 88Wh higher than the Rockman 200W.
In terms of portability, the Rockman 300W also doesn’t differ too much from the 200W. The difference is relatively marginal as the 300W weighs 7.3 lbs, only 0.9 heavier than 200W.
An attractive design feature of the Rockman range remains to be its LED display. It’s adequately sized and illuminated, and displays charge and recharge data along with battery status.
Charging multiple devices is another plus for the Rockman 300W solar generator. It has four built-in USB ports, one car and AC port, and two DC ports.
One other thing we love about the Rockman 300W is that it also comes with a wireless charger. It’s only the second generator on this list, next to the Baldr, that has this feature.
A glaring observation we’ve had with the Rockman 300W is it doesn’t go fully charged when using solar panels. It does with AC and 12V charging, but solar charging only goes up to 94% capacity. It doesn’t charge beyond that, no matter what you do.
Although not as big of an issue, the next observation is that power and light button designs. They’re easily triggered by light touches, such as when you accidentally bump into it. Perhaps a better design option would be having it recessed to avoid such occurrences.
Overall, the Rockman 300W is a great upgrade option to the Rockman200W for a compact solar generator for camping.
- Relatively good capacity of 288Wh.
- Bright LED display for battery monitoring.
- Multiple device charging.
- Wireless charging enabled.
- Doesn’t go full charge when using solar power.
- Power and light buttons extremely sensitive to touch.
What to Consider When Buying Solar Generators
If you’ve decided on investing in a solar-powered generator, you may as well pick the best ones. Here’s a quick rundown on the features to watch out for when on the market for a solar generator.
Battery Storage Capacity
The first thing to look out for when buying solar generators is their battery capacity. This is often expressed in watt-hours (Wh) and indicates the total power the solar battery can store. The value reflects how long it powers something rather than how much power it provides at a given moment.
Larger battery capacities generally cost more, but it also means that you can power up your devices for longer periods.
If you’re out camping, you’d probably expect your solar generator to power up most of your devices. For this reason, your generator’s charging speed and efficiency is a very important consideration.
The key to any camping gear is portability. You want your gear to be compact enough to fit your vehicle yet lightweight enough to move around. Solar generators aren’t exempted from this requirement.
You also want to look for solar generators that come as one component rather than separate pieces. This way, it’s easier to handle and transport them from the car to the campsite and vice versa.
Solar Generator Frequently Asked Questions
How do solar generators work?
- Understanding how solar generators work starts by identifying their four main components.
- The first component is the solar panels, which are responsible for capturing energy from the sunlight.
- The solar power is then directed to the second component, which is the battery. The battery’s job is to store the energy collected for later use.
- The next component is the charge controller. It is an important part of the solar generator as it is responsible for protecting the battery from overcharging and charging damage.
- The final component is the inverter, which is basically the battery’s converter. It converts the direct current (DC) power into alternating current (AC) power used to power most devices. In some cases, the inverter is bypassed as some devices use DC power, eliminating the need for electricity conversion.
- In summary, solar generators work by collecting the sun’s energy, storing it, and converting it into AC power for your devices.
What camping equipment can solar generators power?
- Solar generators are capable of powering a few of your camping gears. It’s only a matter of how much power your equipment needs and how your solar battery’s capacity.
- Some useful camping equipment that solar generators can power includes camping lanterns, electric stoves, mini coolers, or compact fans.
- Ultimately, the limit to the camping equipment your solar generator can power depends on your solar generator’s specifications.
Are solar generators capable of powering appliances in an RV?
- Solar generators can definitely power a few RV appliances. Again, this is dependent on your appliance’s power requirements and your solar generator’s storage capacity.
- For example, powering a small fridge for seven hours requires a solar generator capacity of at least 400 Wh.
- Other RV appliances that require a 400 Wh include stereo systems, blenders, small coffee makers, clock radios, and more.
Solar-powered generators are increasingly becoming a must-have addition to camper’s gears. Like any other solar-powered equipment, solar generators for camping don’t come cheap. That’s why it’s important to get one that’s well worth the investment, one that will last for years to come.
Our top pick for the best solar generator for camping is the Jackery 240Wh Solar Generator for Camping. It ticks all the features to look out for and more: excellent capacity and recharge rates, versatile, portable, and durable. In our opinion, it’s a feature-rich solar generator for camping that is definitely worth the investment.