Next-gen car? Now add next-gen insurance:

Get a quote ⚡️

/img/blog/hanson-lu--Avc2AiE1_Q-unsplash.jpg

6 Best Solar Generators for RV, Van Life or Off-Grid 2020

Last update: Thu Sep 03 2020

Solar generators take glamping to a whole new level. Driving around in your RV in the wilderness does not have to come at the sacrifice of creature comforts such as Wi-Fi and lighting.

A solar generator can be charged from the absorption of the sun’s rays from solar panels. It then becomes an alternative power source separate from your RV. They come in handy for backup power or emergency purposes.

A generator has become an indispensible tool for camping, but what other uses does it have? Let’s take a look at what these generators can do, why you need one and some of the best on the market.

Uses for Solar Generators

1. Car Camping

Most people immediately think about camping when solar generators are mentioned. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to go off grid for a few months or just a fun weekend camping trip in the wilderness, a solar generator is a useful tool to keep with you so you never have to worry about running out of juice.

2. Sleeping in Your Van on Weekends

Are you between houses or caught in an emergency and need to spend a night or two in your van? In this case, don’t forget your solar generator! A car or van battery is no match for advanced equipment such as this and your generator can definitely offer long charges and battery life.

3. Living in an RV

An RV is luxurious camping if you ask us. But it doesn’t matter what amenities your new recreational vehicle comes with if you don’t have the battery to power everything. As said, vehicle batteries are no match for a solar generator, so if you love camping, you definitely need to pick one up.

4. Skoolie Transformation

Most of us are striving to make smaller environmental footprints and with housing prices skyrocketing, a shipping crate abode or skoolie houses are great options. For those of you that don’t know, a skoolie is a school bus renovated to become a livable residence.

Indoor plumbing and power may be hard to come by in this case, so your best bet is a solar generator. Not to mention, it will also eliminate some parts of your carbon footprint and is better for the environment as a whole since it utilizes solar power.

5. Off-Grid House

Sometimes you just need to get away for a bit – or for a long time. Off-grid houses such as secluded cabins may need an external power source to make living comfortable. In cases like this, a solar generator is a great choice. They are portable devices that can pretty much supply you power whenever you need it.

Power is always a limiting factor for your range. Many people have shore power anxiety, or have large generators that destroy the otherwise tranquil nature you went out to seek peace in.

Why Not Just Gas?

Relative to gas generators, you will find other crucial benefits to solar-powered generators.

1. No Noise

Gas generators can be extremely loud, making you aware of their constant presence. A great solution to the ambient noise they create is to swap them out for a solar generator. Solar generators are silent!

They are silent because they don’t have an engine like their gas-powered counterparts. We will say there will still be a tiny bit of sound generated from the solar options but it’s just in the form of a subtle buzzing – not enough to bother most people.

2. You Will Never Have to Buy Fuel Again!

Then there are the monetary costs that come with the operation of a gas generator. Solar generators do not require fossil fuels as they run on sunlight. This will greatly reduce your costs, which is a big overall win and a gold star for solar generators!

Think about the money you can save and the access to a free energy supply for the foreseeable future. The power of the sun is free, however the initial purchase of the solar generator will set you back a bit. Gas and fuel are affected by inflation and hiked up prices due to economical effects which sunlight is not subjected to.

What’s also great is that remote areas tend to have direct sunlight, which gives you a better chance of fully charging your solar generator at all times.

3. No Smell

If you are sensitive to smells, gas generators can be very off-putting with the fumes they emit. Traditional gas-powered generators emit carbon monoxide fumes, which only makes them suitable for outdoor environments. So if you’re looking for a power source to put in your RV, solar powered generators are your only option.

Switch out to solar generators and you will be able to enjoy clean energy that doesn’t pollute the air.

5. Lightweight

Due to the absence of an engine in solar powered generators, it makes these options much lighter and easily transportable. A solar powered power station only has a battery, which is why so many models only weigh in at 25 pounds or less.

6. Multiple Recharging Methods

The versatility afforded by solar powered generators is also reflected in their recharging options. Other than using the power of the sun, you can charge your generators using regular AC electricity using a wall outlet or charge it straight from your car through the cigarette lighter port.


Contenders for the Best Solar Generators for RVs


EcoFlow Delta


The EcoFlow Delta comes with a large invertor load that can handle any household appliance or tool that operates at under 1800 watts. You’re looking at items such as your coffee machine, (small) microwave and TV, or anything smaller.

This solar generator, the EcoFlow Delta, has a lithium battery pack and an A/C port that can be charged through the wall or in your car. What’s amazing about this particular solar generator is the charging time. Go from flat batteries to 80% in just one hour! Get up to the max 100% charge in just 2 hours.

The EcoFlow Delta is a high-performing solar generator that has your back during emergencies or outdoor trips. Customers also get to enjoy a 2-year warranty and reliable customer service.

Pros

  • Powers appliances up to 1800W – huge output!
  • 3 charging methods
  • 0-100% in just two hours (!)
  • High-performing
  • 2-year warranty

Why We Like It

The EcoFlow Delta is an amazing choice due to its incredibly short recharge time. Go from 0-80% in just an hour, which is 10x the speed of other solar generators.


Goal Zero Yeti 400


The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is a stylish portable generator that can charge up to 7 devices at once! That’s a whole lot of power to go around. It has a 300W continuous (up to 600W surge) pure sine wave inverter to help power your devices. It gets it's name from a 400Wh battery included.

It can charge anything from your mobile devices to small appliances and lights. What’s great about gas-free solar generators is that they are silent, without fumes, little to no maintenance and are overall better for the environment.

This solar generator was designed and created by power station experts for a sturdy build and reliable performance.

You can charge your Goal Zero Yeti 3 different ways – from an A/C charger, solar panels or a car charger.

Pros

  • Multiple charging methods
  • Can power up to 7 devices at once
  • Portable design
  • Silent operation
  • Rugged appearance

Why We Like It

The ability to power up to 7 devices at once puts the Goal Zero Yeti on the number 3 spot.


Jackery


Jackery portable power stations also come in 300, 500 and 1000 wattages with the additional option of solar panels. If you want to charge larger or more powerful appliances, you may need to go for at least to 500W option.

Their Explorer series power generators are rechargeable perfect for the outdoors or for emergencies. The solar panels for solar power generation are sold separately but necessary in our opinion. This way, you can guarantee power no matter where you are, especially if you do not have access to charging ports.

On top of its charging capabilities, the Jackery Explorer generators also have built-in LED flashlights, an LCD screen and a lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide battery.

Pros

  • LED flashlight
  • LCD screen
  • 3 wattage options and sizes
  • Solar panels
  • Rechargeable
  • Portable

Why We Like It

These portable generators use lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries, the same batteries that Tesla uses for their Powerwall units makin this a reliable choice.


Sunboxlabs Solar Generator


Sunboxlabs is a solar power generator giant and features 3 different solar battery kits that have 300, 500 and 1000 watts of power. To give you an idea of what each wattage is capable of here is an example. The standard 300W can power an 8W LED lightbulb for 38 hours, the 500W can do it for 64 hours and the 1000W can manage a whopping 187 hours. The 300W can power anything up to the size of laptops, the 500W can power anything up to TVs and mini-fridges, and the largest can power full fridges and small microwaves.

Sunboxlabs solar generators are silent, gas-free and come with fast delivery with everything you need in the box. The special thing about these systems is they come bundled with a solar panel and cables necessary – unlike the other kits we recommend here.

Pros

  • Three wattage options
  • Comes bundled with a compatible solar panel
  • Can charge most appliances
  • Affordable
  • Comes with everything included
  • Fast delivery

Why We Like It

We like the Sunboxlabs Solar Generators because they give you a variety of choices for different needs and can be charged by the sun.


Nature’s Generator


Nature’s Generator Gold System can combine the power of the sun with the power of the wind. The solar generator features a 100W solar panel and wind turbine to give you double the power acquirement. This ensures your backup generator will stay powered all year round.

There are three available models, the simple Gold System with the solar panel, the Gold System plus the power transfer kit or the previous two with the additional wind turbine. Unlike the other batteries here, this one seems to run with older lead-acid based batteries – but this makes it way more affordable.

As for the interface, the front central LCD screen on the generator will display vial information such as battery and output power. The generator only requires a recharge every 2-3 months if it’s not in constant use, which means there is little to no maintenance needed.

Pros

  • Additional wind turbine
  • Battery pack for energy storage
  • No toxic fumes
  • Silent operation
  • LCD display
  • Affordable bundle with solar panel.

Why We Like It

The most promising thing and one that sets it apart from the rest is the additional wind turbine charging option of Nature’s Generator.


Victron Smart Inverter


We finish this guide with a popular choice for RV owners building a solar system themselves – not an integrated kit like the previous ones. This smart inverter is known for the best monitoring app and is slightly more powerful than the other systems here, but you'll need to bring your own battery, solar panel and controller. Nevertheless – an amazing option.

The Victron Energy Inverter utilizes a pure sine wave output and has a power level of 1200 watts. It can run devices such as your microwave, coffee maker, toaster and smaller appliances with a lithium battery. It’s a small but trusted device that can run offer clean power for small appliances you keep in your RV and to top it all off comes with a 5-year warranty.

Pros

  • Small size
  • 1200 watts
  • Great app
  • 5-year warranty

Why We Like It

Victron products are very trusted and this energy inverter has high efficiency and low idle consumption.


FAQ:

What to look for when buying a solar generator for RV?

You should look for the battery capacity, what it can charge, the charging speed, weight and size, connectivity and number of plug-in ports when buying the best solar generator for RVs.

What are good RV solar generator brands?

Good solar generator brands include the Goal Zero Yeti line, the EF EcoFlow Delta, Jackery solar generators and Nature’s Generator.

Conclusion

A solar generator will offer another method of charging when you’re out and about. They can be recharged with solar panels, an A/C adapter or from the cigarette lighter port in your vehicle. RV solar generators are small enough to carry around with you whether you’re driving out into the wilderness for camping, going fishing, or any other outdoor adventure.

If you aren’t the type to completely rough it, then you definitely need a solar generator to power all your necessary appliances to keep you in relative comfort while in the great outdoors.