Solar-powered generators are available at all large retail chains, manufacturers’ websites, and specialty solar outlets.
The technology has matured, and there are standards that most manufacturers comply with, making them safe and reliable to use.
As the power output increases with different solar generator models, so does the unit’s price and weight.
When buying a solar-powered generator, you need to consider the power output, the battery capacity, the device’s portability, and how much it costs. The top brands include Anker, Bluetti, EcoFlow, Goal Zero, Jackery, and Oupes.
Where To Buy Online?
There was a time when buying a solar-powered generator required specialized knowledge.
As the technology has settled down and is being standardized across the different brands, there is far less risk in buying from large online consumer stores.
The retailers with the best product ranges of solar-powered generators include the following:
Most manufacturers offer online sales portals for their product range. This resource is helpful for discovering solar generators’ full details and specifications.
Where To Buy Offline?
If you want to visit the store and purchase the solar generator in person, you can do this at the following types of stores.
Home Improvement Stores
Home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards provide stores around the country that stock solar generators and portable power stations.
Electronics and DIY Stores
Medium-sized electronics and DIY store chains will be able to offer you a choice of different makes while providing more personalized advice than is available from large national chains.
If you have doubts about the optimal system, a specialist store is the best place to buy a solar generator.
- A specialist store will be able to help you to calculate what your energy demands are.
- Help you decide how it can be used and what that implies (main power backup, for use in an RV, or as a genuinely portable solar power supply.)
- Find the most suitable model that fits your needs and your available budget.
The price of a solar generator from a specialist store may be slightly higher than one of the larger chains, but at least you have the assurance that you are buying the most suitable unit.
Top Brands & Models
I advise you to choose one of the major established brands with a good reputation so you can get service and spare parts in the future. Brands that I recommend include:
The following comparisons may be helpful if you find yourself caught between similar models and brands:
- Bluetti AC200MAX vs Ecoflow Delta Max
- Bluetti AC300 vs Ecoflow Delta Pro
- Bluetti AC60 Vs. Jackery 500
Factors To Consider Before Buying
The following guide will help you choose the optimal solar generator.
It seems an obvious question to ask; However, you must choose an optimally sized solar generator that caters to the following:
- The regular power (watts) required from the system
- The surge (startup) power required by appliances using induction motors to operate (fridge-freezers and air-conditioners).
As the power of a solar generator increases, so does the cost and weight.
I suggest you complete a spreadsheet listing all the equipment that will be drawing current from the solar generator and total these up to calculate the required power.
The spreadsheet will include the columns in the summary example shown below.
|Appliance||Running watts||Surge Power Watts||When does it run||How long does it run|
|Fridge||400||1,200||Constantly||Day And Night|
|15 LED Lights||45||0||At Night||5 Hours|
From this example, the inverter should have the following capacities:
- Running power – 1.0Kw (to have power in reserve)
- Surge power – 1.2kW
The Battery Capacity
A battery is needed if the system is required when there is no sunlight. The battery capacity is measured in kWh. That is the maximum amount of kilowatts it can provide in one hour, after which it will be discharged.
A 1kWh battery will supply one kW of power for one hour. When sizing the battery, you must consider the battery’s depth of discharge (DOD) percentage.
Most batteries cannot be discharged below the DOD, beyond which they will suffer damage.
The discharge percentages are listed below.
- Lead Acid, AGM, and Gel batteries – DOD 50%
- Lithium-ion batteries – DOD 15%
This means that the effective capacity of the batteries that advertise 1kWh capacity is as follows:
- Lead Acid, AGM, and Gel batteries – 1kWh X 50% = 0.5kwh.
- Lithium-ion batteries – 1kWh X (100%-15%) =0.85kWh.
Small solar generators like the Jackery 500 are the size of a football and only weigh 13.32 lbs. (6.04 kg), which fits the definition of portable.
Mid-sized solar generators push the definition of portable because they weigh in at +- 60lBs. (28 kg). Carrying this weight for a long time will be exceptionally tiring.
Large solar generators are not portable. Although they produce substantial power, they weigh more than 100 lbs.
Price is a huge variable, and whereas a small 500-watt generator may cost between $250 – $500, the largest will set you back between $3,500 for the base unit and up to $20,000 if expansion units and batteries are added.
Solar Generators are useful devices and can be purchased from many different outlets. Brands like Bluetti, EcoFlow, Goal Zero, Jackery, and Oupes manufacture reliable and safe solar generators that are fit for purpose.
When buying a solar genny, you must choose a product based on your power needs. It must be sized correctly, have sufficient battery capacity, have the portability you need, and fit into your budget.