Portable solar generators have come to stay today – thanks to the awareness about solar energy and the desire of both countries and their citizens to leave less carbon footprints and use more clean energy.
Compared to a traditional solar energy installation, solar generators are well cheaper – and compact.
Accordingly thus, for the average person who may not have enough money to go full blown solar, the solar generator is often the smartest, first and best choice.
From the intro therefore, you can clearly see that solar generators are very important in today’s world – if we’re to reduce global warming and leave less carbon-footprint.
To achieve this, it is very important to get the top 10 solar generators straight.
Top 10 Best Portable Solar Generators 2018
Carefully outlined and reviewed below are the top 10 best portable solar generators that money can currently buy at the moment.
The list is in ascending order – starting with the very best at number 1.
1. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station (Editor’s Choice)
The very first best portable solar generator available today is the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station.
This generator is not just the top of the Yeti brand, it is a monster that can comfortably power energy thirsty power drilling tools, refrigerators, minor loads (like the laptop and tablet – in their dozens) and everything else in-between.
This is one solar generator that you can easily buy for your home and if you’re economical and smart with its use, will never need to bother with installing panels on your roof, getting an inverter and most cumbersome of all, shipping in and installing an array of batteries for the storage.
The important thing to note about this portable solar generator is that, is is powered by a lithium-ion battery.
What this means is that, it outputs far more power than it looks, weighs and feels.
Little wonder, the generator outputs a monstrous 1425Wh of power from its 132Ah lithium-ion battery.
The deal closer, of course, is that this monster power station weighs only 45.7lbs (20.7kg).
Can you beat that any day or time?
Let’s take a look at the second option on our list here, a Kalisaya.
2. Kalisaya KP601 Portable Solar Generator System (Users’ Choice)
This smart portable solar generator, besides being the first to feature many smart options that no other solar generator in its range sports, is also the winner when it comes to the energy-weight ratio contest.
This means that, there is no solar generator currently on sale in the market at the moment that is lighter than this unit and at the same time, outputs more power than it!
If you’re an ardent hiker or like the camping reality thoroughly, this is certainly something that should excite you thoroughly.
However, the smart energy-weight ratio of this piece of tech is not all the generator has to offer: it is also one of the very few solar generators that can be controlled and operated with an app – either iOS or Android.
For the portable solar generator segment, it is the only generator with such function – something that we’ll love to say is quite impressive and attention commanding 🙂
The only drawback of this unit, if you view it as such, is that it is incapable of AC. Accordingly, only DC is supported (however, this challenge can be overcome by using a third party DC to AC converter).
Let’s take a look at something else, our 3rd option.
3. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
It is not strange that Goal Zero is featuring here again at number 3 (right after clinching the number one spot).
The reason is as clear as daylight: the company makes brilliant portable solar generators, has the largest array of solar generators currently today and most importantly, manufactures products that are well loved by its customers – and competitors alike 🙂
The generator under consideration here, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 is by far, the company’s most successful unit to date.
That does not stop there: it is also by far the best selling portable solar generator of all time!
Now, that is something to consider – and take damn serious…afterall, the whole world cannot be wrong.
Or can it?
The Yeti 400 is powered by a lead acid battery and handles laptops, cellphones, tablets, cameras, camcorders and other light gadgets with ease and majesty.
The reviews of the generator are positive and the quality of the unit has never been in doubt – even by the mean and really critical reviews.
However, the real deal closer of the generator is the fact that it is powered by a battery that is completely replaceable.
This means that if you buy it – and use it carefully, it may well outlast even you, its owner!
This is certainly something to think about!
4. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station
There are some users that will rather hug a live power transformer than have anything to do with a device powered by a lead acid battery (save an automobile – for which there are limited options).
For such persons, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station is a viable option – as it is our 4th best portable solar generator in the year under review.
What is important to understand is this: this unit and the Yeti 400 are essentially the same; what truly separates them is the fact that the technology that powers them is fundamentally different – giving rise to such cosmetic differences as a reduced weight without a (noticeable) corresponding reduction in the overall size or power, pe se.
With this cute little generator that promises and actually delivers an impressive shelf life of 12 months, you’re certain never to be stranded of power any day or time, if you’re smart enough to buy one and keep it close.
The deal closer for this portable solar generator, of course, remains the fact that like its Yeti 400 cousin that is powered by lead acid technology, the lithium-ion battery of this unit is replaceable – and this replacement can be carried out by the user without the need for a technician.
This is certainly a unit that was built to last and serve right through the ages.
Its drawback, it is worthy of note, is that it is a couple of dollars more expensive than the base lead acid model 🙂
5. Suaoki 400Wh Portable Solar Generator
There are those who are always interested in doing more with their solar generators – or anything else for that matter, once they own it.
It is for such users that the Suaoki 400Wh Portable Solar Generator was specially thought out and built.
This generator is unique in many ways:
First, it is built with an aluminium shell, instead of cheap plastic. This is an instant assurance that in case of an accident, it would certainly fare better than the majority of plastic based models commonly sold in the market today.
Second, the generator can also jumpstart vehicles or at least your own vehicle, if the need arises.
Third – and finally, it outputs clear and distinct DC – a reality/feat not many solar generators today can lay claim to.
For users who are practical and are known to love features on their devices/tech, this generator does a great job of satisfying such users’ ‘DIY lust’ and living up to their (higher) expectations.
The deal closer for this unit is that, like most of the units already mentioned here, it is also powered by a lithium-ion battery and not the generally hated lead-acid.
If you mention ‘having it all’ and designate a prize for it, this generator will certainly win that prize 🙂
6. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Solar Generator
There are always basic users who do not always want that much form anything they are buying, save the core basics…
…picture folks who actually buy and drive Corollas and Honda Civics 🙂
The Goal Zero Yeti 150 is the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla of the solar generator world: light and cheap enough for all and yet, practical to get the basic tasks accomplished in the most brilliant of manners/fashion.
If all you need from a solar generator is to charge your phone/tablet and occasionally, boost your laptop battery, this option, right at #6, will brilliantly perform the power boost magic.
However, it is very important to note that, with a mere 14Ah battery grinding out only 168Wh, there is certainly a heavy limitation to what this solar generator can both achieve and power.
Usually, its load caps out at the laptop level – and anything beyond that either ‘kills’ the battery of this generator or at best, begs to be transferred over to a more powerful and suitable model that can comfortable handle it.
Let’s take a look at #7.
7. Goal Zero Yeti 1250
With an impressive 100Ah battery churning out a steady 1200Wh of power, this generator can power serious things such as a refrigerator, many laptops and tablets and of course, such things as medical emergency lights.
For many users who find the price of the Yeti 1400 lithium prohibitive, this generator offers some consolation and an opportunity to own badass mobile power – one’s lack of deep pockets notwithstanding.
The only clear disadvantage of such a monster generator of the portable variant running on lead acid technology is that, it is considerably heavy – something that should be naturally expected, given that the battery that powers it is (also) considerably large at 100Ah.
Thus, if its 103 lbs (46.7 kg) weight does not deter you from owning – and actively using it, you’ll be impressed with the fact that the generator is also chainable with another Yeti 1250 – which classically ensures a longer run time and importantly, more fumeless and clean energy for users who prefer less carbon footprint(s).
8. Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator All-In-One Solar Kit
Right at number 8 is the personal favorite of the military and all those who love their things smart – and capable of delivering up to military standards, the Renogy Phoenix Portable Generator All-In-One Kit.
This portable solar generator is of the briefcase variant – and is super light and very easy to carry and move about.
However, that is not its selling point: its selling point is the raw and amazing fact that when closed, this generator is completely weather proof!
Now, not many solar generators sport this feature: as a matter of fact, it is just this Renogy model, the Kalisaya 601 and one or two others that can hold their own when it starts raining or the snow take a tricky dimension.
Powered with a lithium-ion battery, being super portable with a nice cute little briefcase design and manufactured in a manner to meet the biggest military specifications today, this portable solar generator, ordinarily, is the dream of anyone who desires portable solar power to tackle some work every now and then and is especially, mobile.
However, its major drawback is its (relatively) small battery that is rated only 16Ah.
However, the generator (its relatively small battery notwithstanding), is still great for laptops, cellphones, Kindle devices, tablets, cellphones, cameras and camcorders.
9. Kalisaya KP 401 Portable Solar Generator
Right at number 9 on our list is the ‘little brother’ of our beloved portable solar generator that made it at number 2, the Kalisaya KP601.
This model though, is known as the Kalisaya KP 401.
In terms of power and deliverance, the solar generator performs and deliver as much as its older sibling, except for the fact that it comes with a smaller battery (rated 26Ah) and churns out only a fair 384Wh of power.
The ‘limitations’ of the KP401 notwithstanding, it still pumps out enough power to run normal everyday gadgets like laptops and tablets.
Then again, it has an optional accessory – its raincoat that practically makes it weather proof, when the need arises or occasion actually calls for it/demands.
Finally, like its older sibling, this portable solar generator is capable of being remote controlled, monitored and used – thanks to the dedicated iOS and Android apps that makes this possible.
By way of roundup, it is important to note that, whereas this model looks and feels feeble when compared to the more power KP601, it is still something to respect and quite worthy of acknowledgement when compared to the plethora of portable power stations in the market today, especially when your pockets aren’t that deep and what you need charged/taken care of isn’t that heavy/power thirsty.
10. Suaoki 220Wh Portable Solar Generator
Our 10th option: the Suaoki 220Wh Portable Solar Generator.
Granted, Suaoki won’t be happy that their generator took the rear…however, the company would be pleased to know that:
- They made this very list at a better position (no. 5) with their 400Wh solar generator.
- Many other brands/models did not even make the list…accordingly, making the list at any given point indicates a certain level of awesomeness symbolizing that a company is doing something really great.
Having cleared the air, let’s get serious 🙂
This model is quite handy – and easy to carry/move about with.
Besides this fact, this Suoaki model offers pure sine wave power and importantly, features a lithium-ion battery that is capable of all good things that such batteries are capable of.
Campers, hikers and importantly, those who globe-trot will find both the weightlessness and impressive size of this generator a point worthy of special note and ultimately, a deal closer.
How We Came Up With The Ranking Of These Portable Solar Power Stations
Any idiot with an internet connection can wake up on a good day and publish nonsense, saying one portable solar generator is top on the list and another is well on the bottom – or even completely out of the entire, pretty picture.
However, we’re not idiots and certainly did not simply wake up on a sad Sunday morning to publish this list.
What criteria then did we use?
First things first: we use solar energy exclusively – and are concerned about this earth as all who are in it should.
This means that, from time to time, we have to rely on solar generators, especially the portable variant.
Accordingly thus, we do not just write about these generators: we’ve used them ourselves and know from experience what we publish here.
So, how did we land with this ranking?
- Our personal use of these generators and first hand testing. We tested for things such as load, product working as pe its advertisement and importantly, how the generators performed when faced with tricky weather or load.
- We also relied on the experiences of friends and the Reviews Mimi Staff. It is important to state here for the records that this was possible because most of our friends love solar energy and use these generators themselves. As for our staff, we all have at least one of the units at home 🙂
- Finally, we took a look at the reviews other users left online – having used the products directly. However, in doing this, we relied heavily only on verified reviews and shunned any manner of review that did not expressly indicate that the writer of such a review had cause – or the privilege of using such a product, first-hand.
As you can thus see, this list wasn’t manufactured out from ‘nowhere’.
The compilers, us, know exactly what we’re talking about.
Can we now treat something else?
What Is A Portable Solar Generator?
It is difficult to imagine that you’ve read this far and still do not understand what a portable solar generator is.
However, this is quite possible if:
- You landed here from a search engine, eg. Google or
- You skipped some on the content on this page and instead, preferred to land here to see what this page has to offer.
Whatever the reason may be, listed here or not, we’ll take down what a portable solar generator is and explain it in detail for your consumption.
A portable solar generator is a power generating device that traps sunlight, saves it into a built in battery, converts it to AC via an inverter and feeds back for use when the need arises.
However, it is important to note that, there are some variants of solar generators that do not only rely on solar/sun-rays; they deploy the use of either the DC of your car (via the cigarette lighter) or the normal power socket from the grid (found on the wall in your home).
These type of generators are referred to as hybrid.
Not all solar generators however convert DC to AC – some models simply feed the DC directly – as received. The Kalisaya KP 601 is a great example.
Let’s now take a look at what makes a great portable solar generator…
What Makes A Great Portable Solar Generator?
Everyone who is out looking to buy a portable solar generator desires the very best his/her money can get.
If you’re thus wondering about what actually makes a great portable solar generator, you’re not alone.
As a matter of fact, there are many who are in the same shoes as you are at the moment.
So, let’s take a look the pinky little features that qualify solar generators as badass:
1. Good, Powerful Battery
The grand essence of a solar generator is to tap a charge from the sun (or wherever it is practical at the moment) and save same for use when situations prove tricky.
This means one thing: without a great battery that will hold the stored charge, a portable solar generator is practically useless – and good for little else more than decoration 🙂
To put things into perspective, we’ll love to make it clear that any battery capacity that is less than 10Ah is practically useless for this purpose.
From 10Ah, it can be managed for light works and power needs like cellphones, tablets and occasionally, laptops.
However, the real mark of an awesome solar generator battery starts at 15Ah and up.
If you’re thus looking for a solar generator that will serve you awesomely in all manner of ways, your first task is to ensure that you get one with a great battery…a battery that is rated at least 15 or more Amperes.
The second feature that makes a portable power station great is its portability – afterall, these units are called portable in the first place.
Sadly, not all the generators that bear the word portable are actually portable – or even worthy of the name in the first place.
To ensure that you pick the one that actually fits this bill, it would be smart of you to ensure that you insist that the weight of your generator is such that you can easily lift up the unit with one hand.
Any unit that has its weight more than what a single hand can comfortable carry strictly doesn’t fit this bill.
However, it is also important to note that some solar power stations are not bought for their portability, ab initio.
If you belong to the class of such users, then, you may conveniently discountenance this point – completely.
Otherwise, the rule of handling the generator with only one hand should hold sway 🙂
3. Ability To Replace Dead Batteries
No one wants some sad portable power station that will simply pack up when its initial battery dies off.
On the other hand, everyone wants a unit that is liable to last forever – if it can.
This implies that, an awesome portable power station should be manufactured in such a manner that its battery can easily be changed when its cycle has run out.
However, that is not all; the following should also come ‘standard’:
- The replacement battery should be easy to purchase – and should not necessarily be obtainable only from the company that sold – or manufactured the generator.
- The replacement battery should be easy to fix – so that even a non-techie owner can brilliantly change the battery &
- The replacement battery should also be changeable by the manufacturer – for users who would rather have the company or seasoned professionals handle changes/opening up of the unit.
Tall order we know…but this is how an awesome solar power station ought to be configured.
4. Capability Of Displaying Vital Generators Stats
There is nothing as being in the dark – about anything when you know you should be in the light and should gain some knowledge or insight.
This covers all spheres of life – and also applies to clean power stations.
A great solar generator should come with an awesome display of all the vital stats about a working generator that a user needs to know: charge level, current load, battery state etc.
With these stats, a user is kept well informed and importantly, able to plan on how best to use his/her generator for maximum productivity.
A plus, of course, could be the rendering of these vital pieces of information in LED – so that even at night, users can avail themselves of how their generators are faring and plan on how best to maximize it based on prevailing circumstances such as charge remaining, present load etc.
5. Versatility Of Recharging/Hybrid Reality
The generators we’ve reviewed and mentioned here are called ‘solar’ generators.
However, what makes them powerful and very seductive is the singular fact that they can be recharged not only by the sun but by AC and the 12v DC from the cigarette lighter of a car.
This ensures that even when there’s no sun, these generators can still be put to good and smart use. Therein, lies their true versatility.
Since this is a very good feature, we sincerely think that every portable power station should come with it so that users will have options, just in case.
When shopping thus, this is something to actively look out for.
6. Versatility Of Charging Options
Closely related to #5 above is versatility of charging options.
Here, what we mean is not how the (internal) battery of the portable solar unit itself is recharged but rather, the options available on the generator itself to power other devices that are connected to it for power boost.
Generally, this is what is expected:
- USB ports for USB powered devices like powerbanks, cellphones and tablets.
- Conventional AC sockets for the majority of AC powered devices found today &
- (If possible), DC outlets – for all things DC.
The more of these ports on any given generator of the solar variant, the merrier.
However, it is generally enough to have at least, 2 of each on every generator- and that is currently the standard to look up to.
7. Light Weight Reality
Our second option under this head was portability.
However, it is very important to specifically note that ‘portability’ is quite different from lightweightedness.
While the former connotes the fact that a generator can be handled with one hand, the latter indicates that it is in fact not too heavy to be handled with only one hand.
To put things into perspective, portability connotes size while lightweightedness connotes the reality of actual weight.
A good solar generator combines the two in a very brilliant and sophisticated manner.
Or, what is the ‘portable’ solar generator when it winds up too heavy to be carried by one man?
Currently, the lightest portable power stations are those that deploy the use of lithium-ion batteries.
However, of all the models that actively deploy lithium-ion, non actually beats the Kalisaya KaliPAK models.
They simply have the best and most impressive energy-weight ratio.
8. Excellent Shelve Life Of Internal Battery
Finally, when opting in for backup solar power by way of a generator, it is smart to opt for one with an excellent shelve life, preferably, 3 months and up.
The essence of insisting on an excellent shelve life is to ensure that the internal battery of the solar unit does not go flat after a normal charge and usual storage.
Remember that the primary point of having a clean, fumeless generator of this sort around is to be able to use it when the mains fail – or when you’re to travel out where electricity is tricky.
Why pick on an option that you won’t be so sure can ‘move’ without prior notice by way of a band new fresh charge (every time)??
All the 10 portable solar power stations mentioned and reviewed here meet all the above 8 stringent conditions for a badass solar unit.
If you’re thus picking on any of the models featured here, go right ahead – we’ve done all the hard and difficult work for you already.
However, kindly apply these rules if you’ve fallen in love or you’re looking to buy an model that hasn’t been expressly listed here.
Let’s now take a look at something else: between the lithium-ion battery powered solar generators and the lead acid battery powered models, which is best and why?
Lithium-Ion vs Lead Acid Battery Powered Solar Generators: Which Is Best For You?
The rivalry between lithium-ion batteries and lead acid models has been pretty well established – and has been raging on for sometime now.
However, this rivalry of the 2 different battery type isn’t a straight jacket issue neither is there a singular dimension to the issue at hand.
While some users of the old and more conventional lead acid battery technology swear, live and are certainly prepared to die using lead acid, primarily because of some safety concerns about lithium-ion batteries, others are more tolerant and ultimately, more welcoming of the new technology.
For lithium-ion, there appears to be many advantages when it is switched to – as well as some safety concerns already mentioned and linked to above.
However, as a portable solar power station user/prospective owner, which of these technologies is certain to serve you better in both the short and long run?
1. Weight Of Lead Acid Vs Lithium-Ion
If you’re looking for a solar generator that will be light and super easy to move around, your best bet is going with a model that is powered by a lithium-ion battery.
The reason is as simple as it is straightforward: lithium-ion batteries traditionally weigh just a third of the weight of their lead acid counterparts.
It is also worthy of mention to state that, on a traditional solar generator, the internal battery accounts for about 90% of the weight of such a generator.
If the battery then is the primary cause of the weight of portable solar power units, it goes to reason therefore that with lithium-ion being a third of the weight of its lead acid equivalent, a generator powered by lithium-ion technology of the same capacity with one powered by a lead acid battery will weigh around one third of the lead-acid unit’s weight – all other things being equal.
2. Efficiency Of Lithium-Ion Vs Lead Acid Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries in solar generators (or elsewhere) are nearly 100% efficient in both charge and discharge.
This reality allows for the same amp hours both in and out.
Lead acid batteries on the other hand propel an inefficiency of power use that leads to a loss of about 15 amps while charging.
Further, rapid discharging also ensures that voltage drops quickly and reduces the batteries’ overall capacity.
In simpler terms and normal layman’s language, if you’ll love you generator battery to charge quickly and discharge gracefully and seamlessly, you’re better off with a generator that is powered by lithium-ion technology and not lead acid.
3. Discharge Mode Of Lead Acid Batteries Vs Their Lithium-Ion Counterparts In Solar Generators
Lithium-ion batteries in solar power stations (or anywhere else for that matter) are discharged 100% when in use.
To put this into context, a 100Ah battery of the lithium-ion variant gives it all – when it is discharging.
The user, i.e. you get the full power of the battery and the stored charge, in this case, 100Ah.
On the other hand, lead acid batteries deliver just under 80% of their stored charge.
To put this into perspective, 100Ah delivers about 78Ah when discharging and nothing more!
To compound issues, most lead acid batteries do not recommend more than 50% depth of discharge, a reality that puts users at the sad receiving end.
4. Life Cycle Of Lead Acid Vs Lithium-Ion Batteries
The typical lithium-ion battery in a generator can be recharged (full cycle) upwards of 5,000 times.
On the other hand, the life cycle of conventional lead acid batteries is pegged at about 500 times (only).
The grand implication of this is quite sobering: one good lithium ion battery of the same capacity will last 10 times more than its lead acid cousin!
5. Cost Of Lithium-Ion Batteries Vs Lead Acid Batteries In A Portable Solar Station
This is the last metric under this section – and the only one where lead acid takes the lead.
Because the cost of production of lead acid batteries is way cheaper than lithium-ion, solar generators that are powered by the former technology are usually way cheaper than those powered by the latter – even when the generators are of the same capacity.
However, this temporary advantage is ruined completely when you factor in the reality that lithium-ion batteries well outlive their lead acid friends to the tune of 10x!
So, in the end, there is no real advantage – except when one is dead broke and is not looking for long term advantages or savings.
* * * * *
From the sum of these 5 points treated above, it is crystal clear that lithium-ion portable solar generators beat their lead acid battery cousins – all the time.
This is because, comparatively, lead acid presents no (real) advantage(s) over its lithium-ion counterparts whatsoever.
To round off this section, it is dead important to understand that overall, you’re buying a generator and not the battery therein pe se.
Accordingly, we’ll advise that where faced with the lead acid models from Goal Zero like the Yeti 400 and a generic lithium-ion OEM model from China, we’ll without flinching, ask you to go for the Goal Zero’s Yeti 400.
In all other instances however (or within a particular brand where you have active choices), you’re better off with a lithium powered model.
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Wrap Up: Are Solar Power Stations Even Worth It?!
There has been arguments in many quarters about the validity of buying or owning portable power stations with many ‘respected authorities’ arguing that it is a waste of money – since many of such units cannot power heavy loads like the air conditioner or deep freezers.
However, such arguments are only valid if:
- You’re in a situation/location where you’re dead certain that the grid will never fail.
- You do not go on picnics or travel out say on a road tour/trip, hike or camp.
- You’re certain that you’ll never visit the developing world or
- You’re in a place where accidents and natural disasters are certain never to occur and obstruct your power supply.
However, if you had any problem answering in the affirmative above, then you know what you must do 🙂
Luckily, our team of passionate clean energy lovers have already reviewed the top 10 best portable solar generators for this year for you.
Happy shopping 🙂