Best Overall Solar Generator For Camper Vans: Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station
The Jackery 1000 Solar Generator. Image courtesy Amazon
The best overall solar generator for van life is the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station. Featuring a 1002Wh capacity lithium battery, it can output 1,000W of continuous power and 2,000W of peak power. This capability makes it perfect for powering multiple devices even larger ones.
This solar generator has three standard AC outlets, a 12v DC carport, two USB-C ports, and two USB-A ports. So no matter what connection your device uses, youll be able to connect it to the Jackery Explorer 1000.
Besides these features, this generator also has a pure sine wave inverter and an LCD screen to display battery life and charge/discharge information.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 can be charged in 6.5 hours off of a solar panel with full sun. If you dont have a solar panel or its overcast, your van can charge it in 11.5 hours a wall outlet can charge it in 5.5 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Solar Generators
Can a solar generator run a refrigerator?
Solar power generators can power refrigerators, but they do require a significant amount of power. If you need to power one alongside other appliances, you may require a relatively powerful portable generator. Its important to buy the correct size solar generator to provide enough power to run your refrigerator. Check both appliances technical specks to make sure.
Can you use a solar generator while charging?
You can use a solar generator while charging, but it will increase the demand on the generator and slow the charging process. Whatever power is being supplied to generator will either be used by running load first. Any excess will be stored in the battery bank for later use.
Are solar generators noisy?
Solar generators do not make any noise. This is one of their main benefits over gas generators or other alternatives. If youre using a solar generator on a camping trip, for example, it wont disturb the peace and quiet at all. Better than annoying your camp neighbors with a traditional gennie.
Point Zero Energy Titan Solar Generator Fastest Charging
Battery Capacity: 2200Wh | Rated Output: 3000W | Charging Time: 2 hrs | Weight: 66lbs
With 3,000 watts at the output, the Titan solar-powered generator for RV has enough raw power to run the biggest appliances you can fit in your camper. This includes washing machines and dryers, even a full-size fridge.
As a friend of mine once said, Itll power an elephant if you find a way to plug it in.
This big daddy indeed offers a lot. Six 110V AC outlets, four 12V DC ports with dust covers, and even a dedicated 30amp RV outlet. This way you can hook it up directly to your vehicle wiring.
So why Im not recommending it as the best choice?
For the first, its too darn heavy. With just one briefcase-type battery attached it weighs 66lbs and you can safely attach 5 more. Now do your math.
Titans also the most expensive solar generator for RV on this list.
- You’ll need a trolley
Why Do I Like It?
It is a very capable power station, but more suited to prepper and off-grid cabin use. If I had to build a shelter for the doomsday scenario, the Titan would probably be my solar generator of choice with all 6 batteries attached.
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Aimtom 540wh Portable Power Station
- Advanced Battery Management System
- Compact and travel-friendly
- Recharge time is a bit longer than its competitors
True to AIMTOMs goal of going places with power rain or shine, your devices can be safely charged with the brands 540Wh portable power station. This is a portable power station that you can rely on thanks to its lithium battery that is perfect for hiking, fishing, backpacking, and all the outdoor adventures you want to do.
It is a pollution-free battery, so you enjoy it without contributing the toxic fumes to our environment. Additionally, when you are traveling, you can charge a total of 9 devices at the same time. You will never have to adjust your activities because your batteries are already depleted. The solar generator has a built-in 2 AC outputs at 500W, 1 USB Type C port for your iPhones, iPads, and other USB-C devices. It also has a 12V carport that can support 96W and two 12V DC outputs. Each of the DC outputs can support 48W. Good news for those that need to multitask: You can output power while charging.
With its killer capacity of 540Wh, this can go places with you because it is well constructed and compact in design. It only weighs 11 pounds, which is statistically 20% lighter when comparing it with other solar generators with similar battery capacity.
For additional ease of use, this generator also has an adjustable LED light and an LCD so you can monitor your real-time power usage, the remaining runtime, and the battery capacity.
How Long Does Solar Generator Take To Charge
To fully charge a standard-sized solar generator can take up to 48 hours but this can be impacted by several factors.
The size and materials of the solar panels, the weather conditions, and the capacity of the battery in the generator should all be taken into consideration to get a better estimate of charging time.
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Portable Solar Generator Rv Installation
Follow the steps below to connect your portable solar generator to your RV battery:
- Connect your solar generator directly to RV battery terminals.
- Another option is to connect your RV battery through your 12V car outlet instead.
- Place your generator inside or outside your RV as long as the wiring stays intact.
- Plug the solar generator into the 12V charging port, and that’s it. Your RV battery will start charging.
- Disconnect the generator once the RV battery is full.
- Recharge your solar panel for later use.
Runner Up: Goal Zero Yeti 1000x Solar
For heavy energy users, it doesnt get better than this BLUETTI solar generator.
With a whopping 2200-watt inverter, expandable battery capacity, and fast-charging capabilities, its perfect for high-usage situations.
While it may be the most expensive and heaviest, that extra cost and weight make up for it with extended usability.
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Solar Generator For Rv Buyers Guide
Over these last few decades, RVs have become a practical option for anyone who enjoyed regular traveling adventures. Their large size, ample space, and engine capabilities made them a popular fixture around the world.
But RVs were a bit limited when it comes to the convenience levels it can offer during these adventures. In the past, a person who wanted to boondock or do off-the-grid camping would have to sacrifice luxuries, such as laptops and phones.
Recent developments have no longer made this an issue thanks to the invention of RV solar generators. These devices have made boondocking and off-the-grid camping a much better experience for everyone involved.
You see, these generators will convert energy that your rigs solar panels obtain into electricity and stores it within a battery for future usage. As a person needs power, its just a simple matter of plugging into the right port, and your needs will be met.
However, finding the perfect RV solar generator is a bit more complicated than people often imagine. Theres a lot of moving parts to the process, which can cause a great deal of stress. But the following discussions of these factors should make finding one a whole lot easier.
One of the main determining factors will be battery capacity. This aspect depends on your expected daily power usage. As a result, every buyer has to calculate the amount of electricity their rigs appliances need.
Ease of Monitoring Process
What Solar Generator Size Do I Need
First, you must determine how much energy you use on average when camping. Check your electrical devices and appliances to see how many watts they need per hour.
Make sure youve considered basic communication devices, lights, ventilation, refrigeration, and entertainment.
Afterward, identify how many volts your electrical outlet uses. It typically ranges from 120 to 240 volts.
Once youve gathered these details, you can now compute the size. Take the number of volts and multiply it by the number of amps per hour .
V x A = W
The result is the number of watts your devices use per hour at a maximum consumption .
After knowing the wattage, its time to determine how many hours on average you use the devices per day.
Multiply that to the number of watts the gadget uses per hour at its maximum setting.
Once youve figured out the maximum watts you need per day, it will be easy to pick the right size for a solar generator.
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Rockpals 300w Portable Power Station
- Manage your health off-grid
- Reliable emergency back up
- Solar panel not included
Hailed as the best solar generator for medical devices and CPAP, the RockPals 300W Portable Power station is an upgrade from the 250W version. You can have the additional power when saving the lives of people. This is made possible by its higher capacity DC-AC inverter and a bigger battery that will allow you to connect medical devices that require more watts.
Unbelievable, but with its 280Wh lithium-ion battery, your continuous positive airway pressure machines can stay on for 2-3 days. Imagine how its power can potentially save a life! The manufacturer also suggests that to get more time from the battery it is best to connect your medical machines to the 12V DC port via a DC converter cable. Battery power can be conserved this way unlike when you connect it to the AC port, the battery will be drained quicker. The reason behind this is the inverter itself utilizes power.
Note that this is not a generator solely dedicated to medical apparatuses and devices. You can also connect small appliances to the 120V AC outlet. The five DC ports have four 12Vs and one 24V. Here, you can charge your smartphones, tablets, and other devices that can be connected using a USB port. Another tip to be able to charge at a faster pace is to connect to the USB ports with a Quick Charge 3.0 technology.
How Should I Care For My Solar Generator
Maintenance requirements vary considerably between models so its best to adhere to the owners manual of your generator. A standard solar-powered generator for RV just needs periodic cleaning to keep dirt from building up on the exterior. Its noteworthy since water and electricity dont mix well, you have to prevent your generator from getting wet.
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Natures Generator Gold System 1800w
- Integrated Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 60 AH Battery Management System
- Completely free and limitless resources
- Comes with a cart and adjustable solar panel for tilt options
- The font size on the LCD not adjustable
Natures Generator Gold System, as the name implies, uses two all-natural ways to generate electricity and both are for free the power of the sun and wind. Natures Generator Gold System works with the efficient power of Natures Generator power panel. You can get electricity for free because your resources are inexhaustible.
The generator keeps the electrical energy inside its internal battery and uses premium electronics to convert 12V power to 120V power that can be used every day in our household. In total, it can provide 720 Wh of run time.
This generator does not need gas to work thus, it becomes an ideal alternative as backup power in case of emergencies and calamities. You can use it conveniently both indoors and outdoors.
Unlike other solar generators where the solar panel needs to be sold separately, Natures Generator Power Panel is conveniently included in your purchase. You can always keep your generator charged and ready to be used. Its like having your solar power plant.
Since this solar generator for camper has moving parts, it will require some assembly, but rest assured, it is stress-free and completely doable. It also has a 50ft power panel cable so you can easily connect the power panel to the generator.
Can A Solar Generator Run A Camper Air Conditioner
A solar generator can run camper air conditioners within the proper setup. You can find a portable solar generator for RV air conditioner use without much difficulty.
But I do have to mention that the generator needs to have the right wattage capacity. Usually, ACs need at least 1000W to start, sometimes even 3500W. Otherwise, you might pick a solar generator for travel trailer use thats incapable of running your AC unit.
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How To Choose And Use A Solar Generator
The performance of solar generators is measured in watt hours . For example, imagine you have a load of 100W , and your solar generators capacity is 1,000 Wh. Then you could keep the load for approximately 10 hours before the battery power is depleted .
When operating a solar generator, shield it from the elements somewhere like behind your front door, on a covered porch/patio or inside a vehicle. Some solar panels are rated for continuous outdoor use and are weatherproofed. However, the generators should never be exposed to water, rain or extreme heat. For this reason, we also recommend purchasing extension cables for optimizing generator/panel placement. In our testing, we used 25-foot extensions, so we had a sufficient length between the panels and the generator.
Not All Lithium Batteries Are Made The Same
The best portable solar generators today use lithium batteries. They are lightweight and you can discharge them up to 80-90% without them losing capacity over time.
However, there are two lithium battery types: lithium-ion and lithium iron .
Both types are more efficient than lead-acid types, so you cant go wrong with any.
Li-ion batteries will help you keep the weight down, and generally cost less.
Li-iron batteries are heavier but have between 3,000 and 5,000 life cycles, which means theyll last for decades.
The battery life cycle tells you how many times you can discharge and recharge the battery so that its capacity is still above 80%.
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What Solar Generator Charges The Fastest
BLUETTIs NA300 Sodium-Ion Solar Generator is considered the fastest charging option. However, it didnt make our list because the price tag is much more expensive than Id imagine any RVer would want to spend.
But if the price isnt a factor for your situation, this model would represent an excellent choice. Its a better option than the similar priced Titan solar generator or Titan RV solar power generator kit models. However, the Titan model is the only solar generator with 30 amp RV outlet plug.
This plug makes using the generator more convenient for camping and motorhome usage. I should also mention that there isnt a solar generator with 50 amp RV outlet plugs. Youll need a 50A adapter to utilize these devices as a 50 amp solar generator for RV usage.
How Much You Will Spend Vs How Much You Will Save
The most budget-friendly models range from $100 up to $500. Meanwhile, premium units can go as high as $1,500.
At first, buying a solar generator may seem like a luxury. But in reality, the one-time spending will let you save in the future.
Using solar power lets you save as much as 25%, and subsequently, up to $400 a year.
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Our Top Recommendations For The Best Portable Solar Generator
After weeks of product testing and hours of research, I recommend the MAXOAK BLUETTI EB150 Portable Power Station is a perfect generator to utilize sun energy For an RV.
The MAXOAK BLUETTI EB150 Generator stood out because of its solar and battery capacities. In under 5.5 hours, you can charge your gadgets while remaining off-the-grid.
Aeiusny 500w Portable Solar Generator
Bargain buyers should jump at the chance to buy Aeiunsys 500W Portable Solar Generator. This model has one of the lowest price tags on our entire list. But dont be fooled, this low cost doesnt mean it comes with subpar features.
This device comes with a few spectacular ones, beginning with its durable design. In fact, it was made with travel in mind. It should have no problems withstanding those backroad bumps during transit.
I love this products three AC outlets, four DC ports, and four USB ports, as well. Their inclusion makes this model a powerful portable device capable of charging appliances ranging from laptops to mini-fridges. You can even use this device as a backup battery during dire emergencies.
The generators lightweight construction makes it far more portable than most other models available. You see, this device only weighs a whopping 7 pounds. Small children wouldnt even have trouble moving it back and forth from storage.
You should also love the convenience of the models recharging process. This model can be recharged in three different ways by using: 60w solar panel, AC wall outlet, or a car. In the solar panels case, you can expect to recharge within 8-10 hours when exposed to full sun.
But I did have one issue with this product worth mentioning. Its power level seems to drain a lot quicker during non-usage than advertised. I found it started draining around the 2-week mark rather than the 6-month stated in the product description.
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Will The Solar Generator Charge The Camper Batteries
Yes, since plugging a camper into a solar generator is just like plugging it into an outlet in your garage , the trailer batteries are going to start charging the second you plug it in.
The downside with this was that it kept trickle charging the batteries even though they were fully charged.
So when the charger started charging my batteries it used 2-300W, then when it had fully charged my batteries it still used 30-80W.
It started to bug me how much electricity was wasted during the day, so I had to come up with a solution.
My solution was to install another 100W solar panel on the top of my camper that is wired directly to my camper batteries.
Now that panel charges my batteries, and my solar generator usually outputs less than 20W when nothing else is being used, even though its plugged into the trailer.
If your solar generator has a lot of battery capacity and solar panels connected to it, this likely wont be an issue.
Or if you dont use a lot of electricity, you can just leave it on and let the charger do its thing.
The reason I had to find a solution is that my wife and I work all day on our computers and we cant let electricity go to waste, especially on cloudy days.