In the past, solar power generators, battery banks and the solar panels available at the consumer level weren’t nearly effective enough to meet the needs of campers and RV travelers who wanted to boondock off the grid.
Though in recent years major improvements in photovoltaic cells and lithium-ion batteries have made them a much more effective way to produce as well as efficiently store electric charge.
The battery bank and outlets of a portable solar generator represent the beating heart of a solar system capable of supporting an RV or an off the grid campsite.
Choosing the right solar generator for camping and companion solar panels to meet your needs will go a long way toward ensuring you have the power you need when you need it.
Adding to the overall value is that you can also use a solar generator’s battery bank during emergency situations when your home might suffer a power outage.
What’s the best portable solar generator for you?
The EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station Delta and The AIMTOM 540Wh Portable Power Station are two solar power systems on the leading edge of what a solar generator can do with the current produced by a series of solar panels.
They are very appealing to camping enthusiasts and RV travelers who want to get off the grid for days at a time for some true boondocking adventures.
Of course, these aren’t the only solar generator systems worth considering. Not to mention there are a lot of other factors that go into choosing the right one for your camping needs.
To help you find the best solar generator for your RV or campsite, we decided to start by asking some key questions.
Then armed with a little more knowledge, we turned our sights toward reviewing some of the best solar generators offered to campers and RV travelers who love to get off the grid.
What Is A Solar-Powered Generator?
A solar generator is a special power storage and management device that’s designed to operate in tandem with solar panels.
During the day power captured by the solar panels is stored in the solar generator’s battery banks.
Most of the best models have a battery management system as well as other special features like surge protectors to prevent accidental damage from power surges or other unforeseen accidents.
Can A Solar Generator Help Maintain My RV’s House Battery Charge?
The charge produced by a camping solar panel system is a trickle charge. Which isn’t ideal for charging house batteries
This is sufficient for helping to top up an RV’s house battery. Though unless you have a massive solar array, you likely aren’t going to be using it to take a house battery at 50% or less of its total charge and bring it up to 100% in the course of a single day.
A solar generator with a built-in battery is better suited for separately supporting appliances, lights, and other electric devices.
This will reduce the drain on your house batteries, letting it extend its performance for other critical things throughout the RV.
What Type Of Batteries Does An RV Solar Generator System Use?
Today, advancements in battery technology have made lithium-ion batteries more viable than ever before.
Especially in solar generators, which typically come with a battery bank of lithium-ion batteries installed as part of the standard package.
One of the nice things about them is that they can be drained all the way down to 0% and they will still perform flawlessly.
Whereas a lead-acid battery will start to drop off in performance at 80% and can be damaged if they routinely drop below 50% of maximum charge. Lithium-Ion batteries also tend to have a significantly longer lifespan.
The tradeoff here is that lithium-ion batteries that meet the needs of an RV’s house battery can be expensive.
A lot of people will instead buy a separate generator battery bank and connect it to key devices in their RV or campsite.
So, be prepared to make a major investment upfront, but you will enjoy several years of superior performance.
Do I Need Solar Panels To Go With A Solar Generator?
Technically, you can charge the internal batteries in a solar generator from your home or shore power supply.
Some can even be charged from a DC source like a diesel generator. The only thing about this option is that you are still paying for the electricity being stored in one way or another.
When you pair a solar generator with the right solar panels, you make a small up-front initial purchase, then the power it produces from there is essential free. This helps the solar panels and the solar generator to pay for itself.
Can I Connect Any Solar Panels To Any Solar Generator?
Ideally, you want to pair a solar generator with a type of solar panel that it’s most compatible with.
This will help you make the most out of the some of the solar generator’s special features, while also ensuring you don’t accidentally over-charge or short circuit the internal workings of the solar generator.
To this point, a lot of the best solar generator manufacturers also offer solar panels that are meant to perfectly pair with their generators, or they are affiliated with another manufacturer who produces specifically compatible solar panels.
In our reviewing process, we made sure to include links to each solar generator manufacturer’s recommended solar panels. This will help take the guess work out of it for you.
Tips For Choosing The Best Portable Solar-Powered Generator For Camping
There are a few important factors to consider when shopping for the best solar generator to meet your camping and RV needs.
Some are critically important like the wattage output and watt hour capacity, while others are more about convenience, depending on the type of appliances or devices you need to power.
It can help filter down to the best solar generator to meet your needs by looking at key terms.
The Wattage Output
This is the total number of watts that the solar generator’s battery bank can put out at a given time.
The higher the wattage output the more things you can run. Though it also means that you will end up going through more of the stored power in the lithium-ion battery packs faster.
The Watt Hour Capacity
This is the amount of charge that a solar generator’s battery banks can store at one time. The higher the capacity the longer it can run appliances or deliver charge to devices.
A Battery Management System
Also known as BMS, this is a sophisticated monitoring system that evaluates the temperature and performance of a solar generator’s lithium-ion battery pack.
It them makes adjustments or can be set up to send alerts to help optimize performance.
With proper vigilance and maintenance practices a solar generator with a BMS will usually see significantly longer life from the on-board lithium-ion batteries.
The Number & Type Of Outlets Or Ports
Outlets and ports correspond to the type of devices you plan to charge or the appliances you want to run.
For example, let’s say that you are looking for a solar generator to run some fans, lamps and perhaps a few simple appliances in your RV.
In a case like this, you might want to prioritize a solar generator with two or more AC outlets.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you wanted a solar generator to maintain your laptop, smartphone and handheld GPS device, then you might want to prioritize one with multiple USB ports.
A Quick Charging Port
One of the nice things about the best solar generators is that you can often charge them by plugging them into a standard residential electric outlet, or perhaps even an RV that is connected to a campground’s shore power.
This essentially turns them into a battery bank. If this sounds like a way you are likely to use a solar generator, then you want to look for one that has some type of quick charging port in the specifications or product description.
Companion Solar Panels
A lot of the best solar generator manufacturers make portable solar panels that are designed to work specifically with their solar generator.
Choosing a perfectly compatible solar panel to pair with your solar generator as part of the initial purchase will go a long way toward maximizing efficiency as well as performance.
6 Best Portable Solar Generators For Camping in 2023
Now that we’ve got some basic nuts and bolts information in mind, we can take a closer look at some of the best solar generator systems for camping and RV travel.
Along the way, we made sure to keep an eye out for things like special features and models that were thoughtfully designed for the average do-it-yourselfer to install.
Here are our picks for the best portable solar generator for RV or camper, whether you’re planning for an off-grid camping trip or just hitting the road.
- EF ECOFLOW Portable 1260Wh Solar Generator
- Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station
- Jackery 1002Wh Portable Solar Generator
- MAXOAK BLUETTI EB150 Camping Solar Generator
- BALDR 330W Power Station for Outdoor Camping
- AIMTOM 540Wh Power Station Outdoor RV Camping
1: EF ECOFLOW Portable 1260Wh Solar Generator
This is a solar generator battery pack paired with a portable solar panel kit. Ecoflow recommends using their brand of solar panels with this solar generator battery pack.
The solar generator has 6 AC outlets built into it, which makes it very easy to plug in some of your essential appliances and devices, to reduce the overall draw on your RV’s house batteries.
The solar generator battery bank also a built-in surge protector to keep connected appliances safe.
It’s further backed by a 24-month warranty program. This makes a statement about the overall material build quality and engineering that Ecoflow put into it.
EF ECOFLOW 160W Portable Solar Panel
The 160-watt solar panel kit only weighs 15.4 pounds, which makes it easy to take with you.
When folded up it measures in at just 26.8 x 16.5 x 1 inches and comes with a carrying bag.
There’s also a kickstand mount included in the purchase. It’s also rated IP67 which means it can survive being accidentally left out in the rain.
If you have high power demands and you need to maintain multiple AC appliances and devices, then the EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station Delta might well be the best solar generator to meet your power needs.
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2: Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station
The Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station can have the batteries charged directly or via the 100-Watt accessory solar panels.
Like a lot of solar power systems, they recommend using their own brand of panels.
This particular model has a wide range of outlets include dual USB-A, and USB-C, as well as a pair of AC outlets.
This makes it one of the best solar power station battery banks for charging USB devices as well as simple AC appliances.
Goal Zero Boulder 100 Watt Solar Panel
Goal Zero recommends pairing the Yeti 500X Portable Power Station with their 100-Watt Bolder solar panels.
They are in a foldable case with a tempered glass face for superior durability when deployed.
It also makes them a little more durable. It’s also worth noting that these solar panels use monocrystalline solar cells.
They come with a kickstand mount that is robust and helps hold them confidently in place, even in modest winds.
If you are looking for a solar generator that can power a few AC appliances, while also charging essential devices like smartphones, handheld GPS devices, laptops and tablets, then the Yeti 500X Portable Power Station paired with Yeti’s monocrystalline solar panels might be the best solar generator system to meet your camping and RV needs.
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3: Jackery 1002Wh Portable Solar Generator
The Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer is rated at 1,000 watts and has a surge protector built into it.
It comes with a variety of ports, including three standard PURE SINE WAVE AC outlets, 2 USB-C ports.
There’s also a quick charge 3.0 port, which means you can also charge it by plugging it into a home or shore power. It’s meant to be paired with Jackery 100-Watt Solar Panels.
Jackery Solar Saga 100W Foldable Solar Panel
These 100-Watt solar panels by Jackery are rated to produce 100-Watts under ideal circumstances. It only weighs 10.5 pounds and folds up neatly into a hard case.
This makes it very easy to take with you if you want to go for a long day hike, or your RV happens to be a little short on storage space. There’s also a kickstand mount built into it for convenient setup.
One small complaint to note about the Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel is that it’s not rated to be waterproof.
It’s not something you want to leave out completely exposed if there’s rain in the forecast.
Though you could just as easily set it up in a south-facing window of your RV if you want it to charge while you go on a hike.
The kickstand is also a little on the small side which could be a minor issue in strong winds.
If you are looking for a solar generator that’s versatile and easy to recharge from multiple sources, then the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer might be the best solar powered generator for you.
Just be mindful of the lack of weather protection from Jackery’s 100 Watt solar panels.
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4: MAXOAK BLUETTI EB150 Camping Solar Generator
This combination pairs the MAXOAK Portable Power Station BLUETTI 1500Wh with the BougeRV 180 Watts Mono Solar Panel to create a highly efficient solar power system.
The battery pack has a 1,000 wattage rating and 1,500-Watt Hours. It has a Built-in Lithium-Ion LG Battery Cell.
It also has 2 Pure Sine AC Outlets, a single DC12 Volt Outlet, One USB-C Ports, and 4 USB-A Ports.
BougeRV 180 Watts Mono Solar Panel
The BougeRV 180 Watts Mono Solar Panel is made from highly efficient monocrystalline solar cells.
It is built into a highly durable aluminum frame and is further backed up by an impressive 25-year warranty.
It comes with an IP65 water resistance rating, which makes it able to withstand most real-world rainstorms.
One difference you will notice with this solar panel is that it doesn’t specifically come with a kickstand mount.
It’s meant to be either attached to a ground mount or directly installed onto the roof of an RV or another semi-permanent structure.
If you are a little bit of a do-it-yourselfer, who is up to the task of installing solar panels on the roof of your RV, but you don’t want to deal with the sophisticated hassle of engineering the power system or battery connections, this might be the perfect monocrystalline solar panel and battery bank set up for you.
If you are looking for a solar generator system to pair with a permanently installed solar panel on your RV’s roof, then the MAXOAK Portable Power Station BLUETTI might be the best solar generator and companion solar panel to meet your needs.
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5: BALDR 330WPower Station For Outdoor Camping
The BALDR Portable Power Station 330W works best when paired with the Togo Power 120W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger.
The BALDR Portable Power Station uses a lithium-ion battery and can be directly charged from shore power or via solar panels.
It is rated at 330 Watts and has a 297 Watt Hour power capacity.
The two-year warranty protection it’s backed by also makes a statement of confidence in build quality
The BALDR Portable Power Station 330W has a variety of ports to help power a wide range of popular devices.
It includes an AC outlet, a DC outlet, and QC3.0 PORT. This lets you do things like run an AC appliance such as a residential box fan, and other devices simultaneously.
Togo Power 120W Portable Foldable Solar Panel
The Togo Power 120W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger that pairs with the BALDR Portable Power Station 330W are rated to produce 120 Watts under peak conditions.
It has monocrystalline solar cells, which maximize efficiency, while also helping to keep the panels nice and light.
They only weigh a total of 10.25 pounds and fold up neatly into a case. It also comes with a pair of heavy-duty, yet lightweight aluminum strip brackets.
The Togo Power 120W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger has an ECTFE laminated layer which provides it with superior water resistance.
Though the junction box itself is not waterproof, which could be a minor issue in heavy rains.
So, if you are going to leave the solar panel out in the elements while you are away from camp, you will want to take measures to protect the junction.
If you are looking for a solar generator battery bank that won’t take a huge bite out of your wallet, but will still give you enough portable power to maintain your campsite, then the BALDR Portable Power Station, might be the best solar generator for you.
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6: AIMTOM 540Wh Power Station Outdoor RV Camping
The AIMTOM 540Wh Portable Power Station was designed to be lightweight and extremely portable.
Tipping the scales at just 11-pounds it is easy to take with you on a hike, to a remote campsite, or power some essential RV devices while boondocking off the grid.
It has a 500-watt rating and a maximum capacity of 540-watt hours. It was designed to pair nicely with the AIMTOM SolarPal 100W Portable Solar Panel.
The AIMTOM 540Wh Portable Power Station has multiple ports and outlets to support a lot of common RV appliances and popular electronic devices.
It includes 2 AC outlets, a single USB-C Port, dual USB Ports, One 12 Volt Car Port to help power automotive applications, and a pair of 12 Volt DC outlets.
AIMTOM SolarPal 100W Portable Solar Panel
It’s all tied together by a state-of-the-art battery management system, which uses sophisticated sensors to monitor the ambient battery temperature.
This serves as an early warning system to tell you when the lithium-ion battery is outside its optimal range.
This type of BMS system will go a long way toward prolonging the battery’s lifespan as well as optimizing its overall capacity.
The AIMTOM SolarPal 100W Portable Solar Panel is rated to produce up to 100 watts under ideal conditions.
It comes with a pair of USB ports and a DC port, which is handy for times when your solar power generator is already at maximum capacity and you still have other things you want to charge, or simply want to take the lightweight panels with you on a long day hike.
If you need to maintain multiple devices at your campsite from a rechargeable and renewable power source, then the AIMTOM 540Wh Portable Power Station is one of the best solar generator systems to meet those needs.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between Monocrystalline & Polycrystalline Solar Cells?
Polycrystalline solar cells are created by combining multiple forms of silicon, which makes them more affordable, though they are less efficient.
In contrast, Monocrystalline solar cells are produced from a single source of silicon, which makes them more efficient, as well as thinner.
Though this also drives up their overall cost. If you need portable lightweight solar panels, or you frequently camp in places with a lot of overcast skies, then the best solar panels for you will have monocrystalline solar cells.
Can A Solar Generator Be Charged From The Grid?
Solar generators use a special battery bank. While they are designed to pair with branded solar panels, you can charge most of the best battery banks by plugging them in at home or connecting them to a campground’s shore power.
Once the batteries are fully charged you can take them with you for a long hike or an overnight off-the-grid adventure.
What Do The IP Ratings Mean?
A lot of the best solar power generators have an IP rating for the generator itself as well as the solar panels that are paired with them.
This indicates just how waterproof they are. For example, IP67, which is one of the more common ratings, indicates that the seals on the device will prevent dust infiltration and can hand be submerged into water up to 1-meter deep.
This is typically sufficient for being exposed to rain without failing.
How Long Do The Lithium Ion Batteries Last In A Solar Generator?
Lithium-ion batteries tend to last between 5 to 15 years, which is much better than even high-quality deep cycle lead-acid batteries that usually only have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.
Solar generators with an advanced battery management system are more likely to deliver you a longer life, as they help to maintain lithium-ion batteries in their ideal condition.
What Is A Chainable Solar Panel?
Some of the best portable solar panels are designed to be “Chainable.” This means that you can interlink multiple solar panels via some type of MC4 cable.
It’s a great way to deliver higher wattage in a shorter amount of time. Though it’s really only advisable for high-capacity solar generators and battery banks like the ECOFLOW Portable Power Station Delta.
What Goes A Solar Generator BMS Do?
BMS stands for “Battery Management System” and representing the cutting edge of innovation in solar generators and other battery storage devices.
The best BMS solar generators employ sophisticated sensors that closely monitor the lithium-ion battery’s ambient temperature.
It then alerts you any time the battery is outside its optimal range. A solar generator battery bank with a BMS system typically enjoys a longer overall lifespan as well as optimized charging capacity.
How Big Of A Solar Panel Do I Need?
This is all about the wattage you want to consume or store at any given time, as well as the available space you have for the solar panels.
As a ballpark estimate, a 100-watt solar panel is capable of producing around 30 amp-hours per day.
The higher the amp-hour demand you have in appliances the larger the solar panel array you will need.
Solar power and battery technology have rapidly advanced in recent years to the point that solar power generators, solar panels, and lithium-ion battery banks have become a highly effective way to augment your RV’s electrical system.
Depending on your energy demands, you might be able to support your entire campsite or RV appliances with a solar panel system connected to a solar power generator battery bank.
If you like to boondock off the grid, and have slightly higher energy demands, but you are concerned about the weather, the EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station Delta might be the best solar generator for you.
It has superior water resistance and a high capacity that can truly help support you in the bush.
For a do-it-yourselfer who is up for the challenge of rooftop mounting some high-quality solar panels, but you don’t want to deal with battery setup then the MAXOAK Portable Power Station BLUETTI 1500Wh paired with the Bouge RV 180 Watts Mono Solar Panels might be the best solar generator setup for your RV.
Regardless of your power needs and space you have available around your RV or campsite, chances are good that the best solar generator and companion solar panels for you can be found somewhere on this list.