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Portable Solar Generators: What Are They and Why Do You Need One?

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 11/15/2023

A woman and a dog sitting outside an RV with a Goal Zero power station and solar panel

Solar generators are emerging as a favored choice over conventional standby and gas generators. They're loved for their portability, reliance on clean energy, user-friendly operation and indoor usability. Continue reading to learn more about how solar generators function and the various available models in the market.

What Are Solar Generators?

Generally speaking, a "solar generator" encompasses a compact system that integrates portable solar panels, a battery, a battery charger and an inverter, creating an all-in-one solution for capturing, storing, and dispensing solar energy.

These solar generators are widely sought after for various outdoor activities such as camping, boating, and RV adventures. You can disconnect them from the solar panels and take them wherever you go, so you always have power. Many people today use them as a dependable backup power source during emergencies.

How Do Solar Generators Work?

A portable solar generator is essentially the combo of a power station and a solar panel. The power station is equipped with batteries for energy storage, while the solar panels harness the power of the sun to charge the batteries. You can charge it by plugging it into an outlet but using solar panels charges up the power station in a fraction of the time.

This versatile device comes in handy for ensuring power availability in scenarios like disaster preparedness, unexpected situations and fun outdoor activities. Solar generators can be used to power small devices like lights, computers and phone chargers or larger devices like TVs, refrigerators and heating and air conditioning units.

Are There Different Types of Solar Generators?

Typically, there are two types of solar generators that people use for their backup or portable power needs.

  • Portable Solar Generators (Power Stations w/ Solar Panels)
    Compact solar generators are self-contained, easily transportable devices suitable for a wide range of applications. Charged via a solar panel, these units are equipped with integrated batteries designed to store solar energy for use during periods of limited sunlight.
  • Permanent Solar Generators
    Solar backup generators are installed as a permanent fixture, connecting directly to your home's electrical panel. They activate automatically in the event of a power outage and continue to supply backup electricity as long as there is sunlight available.

Both portable and permanent solar generators are essentially the same thing, just different sizes. You wouldn't want to hardwire a small 200-watt power station as a whole home backup system, there just isn't nearly enough power for large appliances.

What Sizes of Solar Generators Are Available?

Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations come in many different sizes for your power demands. Yeti's start at 200 watts up to 6,000. There is truly a Yeti for everyone.

  • The Yeti 200X is the smallest and lightest Yeti; it delivers 187 Watt Hours in a portable design to keep your essentials charged while camping or on a road trip.
  • The Yeti 500X is great for extended camping trips, the 500-Watt hours of this Yeti will power everything from phones to portable fridges.
  • The Yeti 1500X is powerful enough for your emergency home backup with 1,516 Watt Hours while still portable enough for van life or a job site.
  • The Yeti 3000X packs a punch with 3,032 Watt Hours to back up home circuits when you lose power and it has ports to run everything from power tools to refrigerators.
  • The Yeti 6000X is a beast with 6,071 Watt Hours and seven ports for power-hungry devices and appliances to power home circuits, RVs, trailers, work sites, and more.

It's important to remember that all of these units can and should be paired with a Goal Zero solar panel to provide the best charging solution while you are using portable or backup power. Charging with solar panels is generally quite a bit faster than your standard wall outlet.

In addition to solar panels, you can also increase the capacity of your larger Yeti systems with Goal Zero Expansion Tanks. Expansion tanks will only work on the Yeti 1500 and larger, do not try to use them with smaller systems. Expand your energy storage by up to 4,800 Watt Hours to turn your Yeti solar generator into the perfect solar home backup system.

Why You Should Have A Solar Generator

In a world filled with electrical devices, the importance of portable solar or solar backup generators cannot be overstated. These versatile power generators cater to a range of scenarios.

If you live in a region of the country prone to frequent hurricanes or other harsh weather conditions capable of knocking out the power for hours or days on end, these generators offer an essential lifeline to keep you and your family safe.

Likewise, for adventurous individuals who can't live without the outdoors, camping and hiking in the untouched wilderness where electrical outlets aren't available, these solar generators prove to be important companions so you can keep your personal electronics charged.

Why Solar Generators Are So Popular

Portable solar generators are gaining popularity for several reasons, with their superior efficiency being a standout advantage compared to traditional gas generators. They harness solar panels to transform sunlight into electrical energy, storing it in power stations for future use. This unique capability empowers you to generate power even when the sun is not shining its rays, making these generators an exceptional choice for activities like camping, where the noise and fumes from a gas generator may interfere with camping activities.

To learn more about the differences between these two backup generators take a look at our recent blog post "Power Station vs. Generator: Which Is Better?".

What Do I Need to Consider When Buying A Solar Generator?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a solar generator to ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck.

  1. To begin, it's crucial to determine the power output that you need. This depends on the number of small electronics, appliances, as well as the lighting fixtures you intend to operate, and how long they should remain functional.
  2. Next, think about where you can store your generator. Keep in mind that if you intend on hardwiring your Yeti to your home electric system, you will need to keep it close to the electric box. Store it in a secure and sheltered area where it can be protected from the elements to prevent any potential damage.
  3. Lastly, you should determine how often you will be using your generator. If it's only going to be an occasional need, a compact model might suffice. But, if you anticipate using it often, or as a home backup system, it might be a good idea to explore larger models capable of delivering greater power.

Why You Should Get Your New Solar Generator at Batteries Plus

Batteries Plus is your one-stop-shop for your power station, solar generator and portable power needs. We are proud to carry the amazing Goal Zero power station ecosystem to power your home and your adventures.

There are several reasons why you should pick up a Goal Zero solar generator today.

  • Affordable - Goal Zero power stations provide excellent value. They are inexpensive to charge, or even free with solar panels, and require no maintenance or fuel.
  • Ease of Use - Even for the inexperienced, the Yeti is easy to use. With embedded digital dispays and push button operation, they are simple to use for everyone.
  • Portable - Even the big Yeti 6000X is easy to move and transport. It doesn't matter if you're tailgating, road-tripping or camping, a Goal Zero Yeti can come with you.
  • Reliable - With excellent warranties, Goal Zero products are guaranteed to work when you need it, wherever you need it.
  • Safety - With no harmful fumes or noise from a gas generator, power stations are designed with your safety in mind.

Shop all of our Goal Zero products online, give us a call or visit your local store to learn more about all of the amazing Goal Zero solar products available to power your home and your adventures.

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