Are you thinking about buying a solar generator for camping? Or maybe you just want to be able to use some lights or small tools and need a portable solar powered generator at your lakeshore cabin.
Solar generators capture free energy from the sun but are limited in the power they can supply before they need charging. If you can continuosly charge while using your electronic gadgets, that's a definite advantage.
Most solar generators for camping are not too large because camping usually means you are traveling light. The advantages of a solar generator for camping is that it's much quieter, low maintenance and clean compared to a gas or diesel generator.
The negative side is that it takes a while to recharge them and the recharge time also depends on the solar panel area you have for recharging.
You can run solar generators continuously, but your ability to generate and store electricity must exceed your consumption. Most of the time consumption will exceed charging capacity unless you are charging very small items such phones and not charging a whole bank of them simulataneously.
Even in below-freezing weather, as long as you have sunlight, solar panels will turn sunlight into electricity. That's because solar panels absorb energy from the sun's light, not the sun's heat.
As long as sunlight is hitting a solar panel, it will generate electricity.
Here's one of the most popular brands of portable solar generators. It has many good online reviews and three models are available.
1000 watt, 1500 watt and 2000 watt capacities.
Before buying a solar generator for camping you’ll need to figure out exactly what you want to power while you’re off on a camping trip.
Recharging your phone and camera a couple of times requires far less power than running appliances or powering a camper.
Make a list of everything you’d like to use and try to get an idea of the power each item will draw. Many small electric tools and appliances have wattage listed on them.
Or, do an online search for the items you want to charge and total the capacity of all of them. Then buy a unit with a little higher capacity to make sure you won't run short of power.
You don't want to run you unit at maximum all the time because it will create heat. A hot unit loses capacity and also, over time, a solar generator will lose some capacity as it ages.
So make sure your needs will be covered before you buy!!
Keep in mind that you’ll also pay more for a higher capacity solar generator, but in general you’ll want to consider solar generators with a minimum capacity of around 40 amp-hours, or 500 watt-hours, which would be enough for most people for a weekend of camping.
A larger solar panel or more solar panels can also help to recharge the generator faster and you can buy fold-up solar panels to make things even more convenient. Solar panels are usually not included with generators but offered as an add-on.
Another consideration is the weight of your solar generator. Generally, you don't want a lot of extra weight when camping and this is another thing to keep in mind when choosing a solar generator for camping.
Lithium-ion batteries weigh less than traditional deep-cycle batteries and are smaller, so most solar-powered generators are lightweight and fairly portable because they use the lighter weight batteries.
That being said, most still weigh over 10 pounds, and if you need a lot of capacity, they get heavier quickly as output capacity increases. If you have a small vehicle or camper and are concerned about space or just don’t want to carry around a really heavy generator, it might be worth it for you to go for for a lower charging capacity.
To find the best solar generator for camping in your situation, take into account the charging capacity, price, and weight.
Also, make sure you buy a charger with all three types of charging capability.
USB port,12 volt car and 110 volt outlet type charging.
Here are some examples of charging times to help give you a better idea of what you might want for your situation. Times can vary depending on age of your solar generator and manufacturer so these are just general guidelines.
Power a mini-fridge for 15 hours, charge a laptop 8 times or run an electric grill for 50 minutes. Like other portable power stations, it can be recharged via solar panel, AC outlet, or your vehicle’s 12-volt outlet, About 6.5 hours for solar recharging, 5.5 hours from your vehicle outlet and about 12 hours from a 110 volt outlet.
It's also good practice to charge your unit before it goes below 20% capacity. Your battery will last a little longer.
What can a solar-powered generator power?
For me, a space-saving design and quick recharging matter the most. I care less about a generator powering a portable refrigerator and campervan AC, and more about whether I can work from the road without worrying about my laptop dying.
This won’t be the same for everyone and many people are not looking for solar-powered generators for camping but as backups in case of home power outages.
But for many people in the travel and remote-working world, a smaller unit with at two USB ports, one AC port, fast solar charging and the option for 12-volt car charging is enough for their traveling needs.
One other thing to keep in mind if you plan on buying a solar generator for camping. Look for reviews on the product and what warranties are included.
You can't always judge by reviews because many good reviews are just by people who make a commission for selling the product .
But bad reviews usually are more accurate and if there are little or no bad reviews, that tells you that it may be OK. Also, newer companies may not yet have reviews although they may have a good product. Just check their product specs and warranties.
This company has one of the best overall online rating reviews for solar generator products and is also one of the most popular suppliers in the market.
However, if you only have minimal needs for power and want to travel lighter, here is a solar generator for camping that is smaller and lighter for you to carry - a 600 watt model.
It has one of the lightest lithium batteries available on the market and will power your small electrical items. A solar panel is also included with this solar generator.
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