Choosing The Best Solar Generator Kit : Complete Beginner's Guide
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- AC power outlets and USB port
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- Long lasting lithium power station
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- 2000W continuous output
- 922 watt hour base unit
Last Updated: Feb 2023
If you are searching for the best solar generator kit, it may not be as easy as it seems. With a growing number of different solar generator brands, sizes, and capabilities on the market, along with solar panels, cables and accessories - choosing the best solar generator kit can be a bit overwhelming.
We’ve put together this beginner's guide to help answer some of the common questions associated with solar generators as well as recommended our top 5 handpicked solar generator kit recommendations to help you choose the best solar generator suited for your power needs. Go here for our most in-depth solar generator buying guide.
An Introduction to Solar Generators & Kits
What is a Solar Generator?
A solar generator can refer to any energy producing system powered by the sun. Most commonly the term solar generator, also known as a portable power station, refers to a portable, easy to use package for utilizing solar power wherever it is needed.
Common uses for solar generators include:
- Back-up power systems
- RV or van life
- Job sites
- Festivals and tailgating
- Disaster relief and emergency situations.
Choosing to use a solar generator over a traditional gas generator provides an enormous amount of benefit to the end user. Gas generators are noisey, produce harmful fumes, and require the use of an expensive resource to run. Solar generators are relatively quiet and run on clean, renewable energy. This allows solar generators to be used indoors and saves time and money for users that no longer need to go to the gas station every time they wish to refill their generator.
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How Does a Solar Generator Work?
Although the technology behind the operation is a bit complicated, solar generators are fairly simple, user friendly machines. In short, a solar generator is able to store and convert energy to power devices that require electricity.
Obviously, solar generators can generate electricity by way of solar power. However, a solar generator does not always need to be wired to solar panels in order to store energy. Some solar generators can be plugged into either a wall outlet or a car charging port to charge their batteries.
Once the battery of the system is fully or partially charged, electric devices can be powered by the solar generator. With variants between models, most solar generators have the ability to charge electronics that require a traditional AC plug, a DC automobile plug, or a USB port.
The shelf life of a solar generator refers to the amount of time a fully charged battery will remain charged and ready to be used.
Components of a Solar Generator
Solar generators are made up of many components that make it possible to generate, store and use electricity. It is important to note, however, that solar generators generally are not sold with solar panels included. If you do not already own solar panels or plan on acquiring them separately, purchasing a solar generator kit may be the easiest solution for an all-in-one solar power system.
Most solar generators are made up of the following components.
A solar battery is probably the most important part of your solar generator. Batteries come in a variety of types (lithium ion, lead-acid, etc.) and capacities (1500Wh, 500Wh, etc.). In general, you will want a lithium battery that has enough storage for your planned use of the solar generator. Some solar generators allow for extra storage capacity to be added in a battery bank, whereas others do not.
To prevent the battery from overcharging and becoming damaged, solar generators come equipped with a solar charge controller to regulate the input voltage from the solar panels. This component is crucial in maximizing the life and efficiency of the solar generator. The two main types of charge controllers are MPPT & PWM, with the MPPT being the most efficient.
Solar power is generated and stored as a DC current. In order for the energy to be used to power household electronics that run on AC current, a solar inverter is necessary. It is important to know the inverter’s size and its continuous power and surge ratings when determining what can be powered with the solar generator.
A solar generator is charged by inputting power into the system’s battery. Solar generators will almost always include both a port for charging the battery using solar panels as well as a port for charging the unit using a traditional AC outlet. Some solar generators include an additional port for DC charging, like by way of a vehicle, but often that is not a capability or can be purchased as an add-on.
Once the solar generator is ready to be used, electronics can be plugged into the various outputs on the unit’s exterior. Nearly all solar generators on the market have some amount of AC, DC, and USB plugs to power whatever is necessary.
All of the best solar generators have some sort of display (usually an LCD screen) that reports everything happening within the system. Display screens are crucial in knowing the rate at which electricity is entering and leaving your solar generator as well as the amount of power left in the battery.
Components of a Solar Generator Kit
When it comes to getting a solar generator kit, you’re essentially getting a custom package that includes a few main parts & pieces. We’ve outlined the parts you should see in most quality solar generator kits:
- Solar Generator
- Solar Panels
- MC4 Solar Panel (PV) Extension Cable - 10 Gauge
- Solar panel adapter cable
- AC wall charger
- Car charger
- MC4 Branch Connectors
- Solar Panel Mounts/Stands
- EMP Bag / Carrying Case
What to Consider When Finding the Best Solar Generator Kit
What will the Solar Generator Kit be used for?
The primary use of your soar generator should ultimately drive the decision making process in choosing the correct brand and size to fit your needs.
Best Solar Generator Kits for Camping, Tailgating, or Festivals
The best solar generators for recreational use such as camping, tailgating or festivals are ideally portable, with a large battery capacity and ample charging ports. Below, we outline in detail why the Bluetti EB240 & EcoFlow Delta 1300 are the best solar generators for camping and recreational use.
Best Solar Generators for RV or Van Life
If you plan to use a solar generator every day in an RV, van, or permanent dwelling, the best solar generators would have efficient solar charging, a long lasting battery, and high output capacity to power all of your appliances. These components make the EcoFlow Delta Quad Kit, Bluetti EB240 Quad Kit and the Lion Safari ME Gold Kit as three of the best solar generators for a van, RV, or skoolie. Find more details about each of these generators below.
Best Solar Generators for Emergency Situations
Solar generators are also perfect as a back-up source of power for emergency situations. The optimal solar generator for an emergency situation will have a long shelf life and high continuous output. Last year, we compiled this list of the best solar generators for disaster scenarios. In this article, we outline in detail why the EcoFlow Delta Quad Kit, Bluetti EB240 Quad Kit and the Lion Safari ME Gold Kit and the Titan Solar Generator are your best option for emergency situations or as a full home back-up.
What will the Solar Generator Kit be powering?
Once you’ve determined the primary use of your solar generator, having a full understanding of what the system will be providing electricity for will give you the most accurate information in determining the best solar generator for you. For more specific information, you can use our watt hour calculator or free solar kit consultation to help appropriately size your solar capacity.
Price Range and Quality of Solar Generator Kits
Of course, there are plenty of cheap options for low quality solar generators on sites like Amazon and eBay. If you are on a budget and thinking something cheap may be able to suffice, you may want to think again. Whether you are using your solar generator for everyday use or as a back-up source of power, you are relying on the quality of the system to provide electricity when you need it most.
Top 5 Solar Generator Kits
After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over 2.8 million dollars, the EcoFlow Delta 1800 is one of the most exciting solar generators available today. With its record breaking 2 hour AC charge time, attractive retail price, and lightweight design, the EcoFlow Delta 1800 consists of high quality features at an affordable rate.
Key Components of the EcoFlow Delta 1800
- Battery: 1300Wh capacity, 100 Cell Lithium Ion
- Inverter: 1800W, 3300W Surge
- MPPT Charge Controller
- Charging options: Solar Panels, AC, & DC
- Outputs: 6 AC outlets, 1 DC outlet (12V), and 6 total USB outlets
- Shelf Life: 1 Year
- Weight: 30.9 lbs (14 kg)
Pros of the EcoFlow Delta 1800
- Really Fast Charging. The EcoFlow Delta 1800 is the fastest charging solar generator on the market. With an AC charge time of approximately 2 hours, it charges more than ten times the rate of most of its competitors.
- High Output. The EcoFlow Delta 1800 includes a 1800W inverter rated for 3,300W of surge protection. The Delta can comfortably run a full sized fridge, charge a laptop, and power a light simultaneously.
- Portability. Despite its massive power, the EcoFlow Delta 1300 weighs only 30 lbs. Its high quality design makes it durable and easy to bring wherever power is needed.
Cons of the EcoFlow Delta 1800
Battery Degradation. The battery included in the Delta 1800 is rated to hold a 60% capacity after 800 charges. If used everyday, 800 charges may sneak up on you in under 3 years.
Round Trip Efficiency. Although the system charges extremely fast, when tested under continuous input and output use, the round trip efficiency of the Delta 1800 is actually quite low. This would have a negative effect for sustained, continuous use.
EcoFlow Delta Conclusion
The EcoFlow Delta 1800 may be the best solar generator for recreational use or as a backup source of power. It’s super fast charging and portability make it the perfect solar generator for plugging in, charging up, and throwing in the car for a weekend of camping, tailgating, or helping in an emergency situation. Additionally, both the shelf life and inverter’s high level of output capacity also make the EcoFlow Delta 1800 a great backup source of power for a home or even an electric vehicle.
The Bluetti 2,400wH Solar Generator by MaxOak is one of the best selling and highest reviewed solar generators on the market today. In a highly competitive market, here’s a quick overview of what makes the Bluetti such a popular device.
- Battery: 2,400wH Lithium Ion
- Inverter: 1000W / 1200W Surge
- MPPT Charge Controller
- Charging Options: Solar Panels, AC & DC (Adapter required)
- Outputs: 4 AC outlets, 1 DC outlet (12V), 5 total USB plugs
- Shelf Life: 3 Months
- Weight: 47.9 lbs
Pros of the Bluetti
Battery Life. With 2,400wH capacity and high and low temperature regulation, the Bluetti’s battery is massive enough for long stints of power and smart enough to protect itself from damage. It is rated at 1,000 cycles at 80% efficiency.
Charging Times. In ideal sunlight conditions, 400W of solar panels at 12V will fully charge the Bluetti’s battery in 3.5-4 hours. If plugged into a home’s AC wall outlet, the battery will reach 100% charged in 9-10 hours.
Included Accessories. Every Bluetti comes with an MC4 adapter, so that the generator can be used with any solar panel.
Cons of the Bluetti
Only 2 AC Plugs. Although there are plenty of USB charging options, only having 2 AC plugs truly limits the amount of items that can be plugged into the Bluetti at once.
1000W Inverter. For the size and weight of the package, a 1000W inverter is simply not as powerful and capable as competing solar generators.
Lack of Car Adapter. If you plan on using the Bluetti as a mobile source of power in a van, RV, or skoolie, you will need to purchase an additional adapter to charge the generator with your vehicle's cigarette lighter port.
We are confident in saying that Bluetti is one of the best solar generators available at an affordable price. Whereas the system may not be powerful enough to act as a full-home generator, the charging times, battery life, and compatibility make the Bluetti a perfect option for camping, RV, or van life.
The Lion Safari ME came on the market in mid 2021 and quickly sold out (they are back in stock now)! The Safari ME packs a big punch with a 3,000 watt hour battery and 2,000 watt inverter (4k surge).
This amount of power, along with the 4 x 100 watt solar panels included in the package - will allow you to run things like fridge, freezer, medical devices and more for long periods of time.
Key Components of Safari ME
- Output - AC [Standard Wall Plugs]: 2 (Easily split these with surge protector or extension cable)
- Output - USB: 2 USB-A & 2 USB-C
- Rated Battery Capacity: 922wH + 2,048wH = 2,970 watt hours
- Battery Type: Lithium
- Inverter: 2000 Watt Continuous / 4000 Watt Surge - Pure Sine
- Fastest Solar Recharge Time: Under 2 hours
Big Battery - Since the Gold kit comes with the expansion battery included, you have almost 3000 watt hours of lithium battery. That’s more than the Titan generator with just the 1 battery. The Safari me will run a fridge for close to 24 hours on a single charge.
2k/4k Inverter - The 2,000 watt pure sine inverter with 4k surge is huge. This means it can run pretty much anything you throw at it!
Solar Panels & Input - With the 4 included solar panels, you’ll be able to recharge in close to 6-7 hours from the sun and you have the ability to double the solar panel amount (up to 8 panels) connected to the Safari ME.
Cons of Safari ME Solar Generator
2 x AC Outlets - The 2 x AC plugs on the Safari ME is a little lacking. The nice thing is, with its 2,000 watt inverter, these plugs can be split with a surge protector or an extension cable pretty easily.
Weight - The base unit and the battery each weigh almost 40 lbs, making the system around 80 lbs total. Luckily it is 2 separate pieces, but still something to consider with this solar generator.
Expansion Batteries - The base unit can only handle one expansion battery at a time. If you wanted to add more expansion batteries you could, but you’d have to manually change them when they run out.
Lion Safari ME Gold Kit Conclusion
The Lion Safari ME Gold kit is really a great option for those feeling like the Bluetti’s and Delta’s of the solar generator world are just a little too small and that the Titan is a little overkill. It combines the perfect amount of battery storage, solar input and power output to give you complete peace of mind whether its being used in an emergency, tiny home or RV.
The Titan solar generator is one of the most highly capable solar generators on the market today. Point Zero’s technology combines the convenience of an all-in-one solar generator with the high powered capacity of a standalone solar power system. This machine is a beast.
Key Components of the Titan
- Battery: 2000wH Lithium Ion
- Inverter: 3000W / 7700W Surge
- 2 MPPT Charge Controllers
- Charging Options: Solar panels, AC, & DC
- Outputs: 6 AC wall outlets, 4 DC (12V) ports, 1 RV Plug (30amp), and 8 total USB ports
- Shelf Life: 3-6 Months
- Weight: ~35 lbs. (plus batteries)
Pros of the Titan
High Power Output (and Input). With 3000W of continuous output and an astounding 7700W Surge, the Titan can power nearly everything in your home (including portable AC units). The Titan can also be powered with up to 2000W of solar panels, so continous use of high capacity electronics is a reality.
Efficient Charging. The titan comes with not one, but two MPPT charge controllers that maximize the efficiency of solar charging. As a bonus, the AC wall charger is also very efficient, able to fully recharge the 2000wH battery in as little as 4 hours.
Tons of Plugs. Not only does the Titan have 6 AC outlets, 4 12V DC ports, and a total of 8 USB ports, but this generator has a 30amp RV plug (and the capacity to power it).
Storage. The flexible battery options of the Titan allow you to choose the amount of power you need to store. Batteries for the Titan can be easily removed, expanded, or stacked and strung together.
Cons of the Titan
Price. With the Titan, you get what you pay for. Retailing at nearly $3,000, unfortunately the Titan is not affordable for those on a tight budget.
Weight. The dual MPPT charge controllers, 3000W inverter, and 2000wH battery weigh the unit down to about 35 pounds. Additional batteries make the unit even heavier.
For more, please, check solar charge controller sizing guide.
Titan Solar Generator Conclusion
As far as a whole home power source goes, you’ll be happy you have the Titan Solar Generator. Although it may be a bit expensive and bulky for recreational use, if you are looking for an emergency backup power system or the main source of power for your cabin, van, or RV, the Titan Solar Generator is the best solar generator available today.
#5. Bluetti EB150 FOUR Panel Kit | 1500 Watt Hour Generator + 4 x 100 Watt Solar Panels
The Bluetti EB150 has gained a lot of notoriety online as the most portable solar power station available today. It’s sleek design, light weight, and top handle make it perfect for clean energy on the go.
- Capacity: 1500Wh
- Battery Type: LG Li-ion battery cell
- AC Output: 100 - 110V, Max. 1000W
- DC Output: 12V/9A
- Charge Controller: MPPT (500 Watts)
- Size: 14.6 x 6.5 x 14.4 inch
- Weight: 37.9lbs
EB150 Output Ports (Plugs):
- 2 x Standard AC outputs
- 4 x USB plugs
- 1 x USB-C plug
- 1 x 12V outlet
Pros of the Bluetti EB150 Solar Generator
Powerful Enough. Although it isn’t going to power your home, the Bluetti EB150’s 1000W inverter is more than powerful enough to charge laptops, phones, fridges, freezers or medical devices.
Truly Portable. Without a doubt, the portability of the Bluetti Eb150 is what sets it apart from its competitors. At just 35 lbs, with an easy carry handle, you can take this anywhere.
Warranty. The Bluetti EB150 comes with a 2 year manufacturer's warranty!
Cons of the Bluetti EB150 Solar Generator
2 x AC Outlets. This solar generator only has 2 AC outlet, which truly limits the charging capabilities of multiple devices. Additionally, all 3 USB ports are standard, with no class-C available.
Slow AC Charging. The Bluetti EB150 charges nicely from the solar panels, however, the AC wall charge rate is 10+ hours. Which for some might be a little too long.
Inverter. Rated for 1000 watts, it’s still a sizeable inverter but for some, this may be a limitation when it comes to running microwaves, coffee makers and other appliances requiring more than the 1k output.
Bluetti EB150 Kit Conclusion
The Bluetti EB150 is a great lightweight option for a portable source of power. We can also recommend the Bluetti EB150 as a great emergency backup and/or RV Van life power source. It is also a great solar generator for camping, festivals, tailgating, or in an emergency situation.
Best Solar Generator Kits - Conclusion
When it comes to buying a solar generator kit there are many things to consider. We hope this guide helped clarify some things for you and that you feel much more confident in terms of what generator will best meet your needs.
Go here for the most in-depth solar generator buying guide ever written.
Need more help choosing a proper kit? Then feel free to check the next blog - How to Calculate Solar Panel, Battery, and Inverter Specifications?
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