It’s no secret that most portable generators run on liquid fuel. It’s just how things have been done for years. The problem is, this is not only expensive and inefficient but it’s also damaging to the environment.
Diesel generators have been around longer but most of the newer solar generators outclass the standard diesel. It’s just that people are scared of the “new” technology. Solar generators are less mechanic and consumer nothing in order to produce energy. These use solar energy and convert it to electrical current, which means that as long as there is light there are solar rays coming through to charge the generator, even when it’s cloudy.
Solar generators are much quieter and operate quietly. Which can be a blessing on sites where noise is an issue. It’s also more efficient as it never requires buying fuel and you don’t have to worry about fumes. So it can be used anywhere.
What to look for
Generators can get pretty expensive but it’s often a question of getting what you pay for. You may not need all of that power. Start by looking at the wattage you’ll need for your tools.
The average hand held power tool runs between 300 to 1200. While larger tools can run up to 2000 watts if you are running a 1hp air compressor. If you’re running pumps this number might be higher still.
One method is to add up the wattage of everything you want to power at one time. But this may give you a larger number that will only occasionally be used.
Most electrical items have a starting wattage and a running wattage. The starting wattage is higher. So as long as you’re not starting all the tools at the same time you can actually have them running using a much lower wattage. This is continuous power need vs occasional power need. And as long as you exercise good management with which tools are starting and running you can get away with a smaller generator.
Which to Choose
Goal Zero 31901 Yeti 1250 Silver/Black XX – Large Solar Generator
- 1250Wh lead acid battery portable power station can power up to 10 devices at once (100Ah @ 12V)
- Continuous 1200W, 1500W surge pure-sine wave inverter, 2.1A USB ports, 120W 12V ports
- Charge phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, drones, and more. Provides backup emergency power for appliances, lights, and most household devices.
- Chainable with other 100Ah lead acid batteries for longer runtimes
- Recharges from AC or pair with a solar panel (sold separately). No noise, no fumes, no maintenance
GoalZero is one of the biggest names in solar power. There are options for this generator starting at 150WH (up to this 1250WH)and you can also boost the charging time by buying an extra boulder solar panel for the unit.
This is entirely silent. It’s like it’s not even there, and other than your own cords there are no extra cables to worry about in the work area. The unit has an included rolling cart to make moving it easier. Which at 100lb is a considerable weight. It has a 12V DC current and is only 16x15x12. So it’s really compact at a size smaller than the average mini fridge.
There’s also an AC inverter with three outlets and three USB outlets. So you can also charge a phone or other device at the same time. With two solar panels and 40 hours of charge the generator will run a full sized refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator Kit w/Nomad 20 Solar Panel
- Power lights, gadgets, laptops and CPAP machines anywhere with built-in AC inverters
- Continuous 300W, 600W surge pure-sine wave inverter, 2.1A USB ports, 120W 12V ports
- Chainable with other Goal Zero Yeti 400s for longer runtime
- Kit includes one Yeti 400 and one Nomad 20 watt solar panel
- Safe for indoor use; recharge from the wall, your car and/or solar panels
With only 300 watts you might be thinking this is to small to be of much use. But the real beauty of the small unit is that it can be chained with others. So you can run longer if you don’t have huge power demands.
This may be a better option for someone who needs fewer tools running concurrently. But if anyone wants to work all night or all day using only the generator. It can also be charged via a car adapter or plugged in to an AC outlet and charged. It has two AC outlets and 2 USB adapters.
Humless Solar Generator Power System & Backup Power/UPS with 2-Solar Panel Bundle
- ECO-FRIENDLY ENERGY STORAGE - Renewable energy is the way of the future. No gas, no emissions and no loud noise; Humless systems create a clean way to charge, store and use energy. (Compare to Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator)
- ADVANCED LITHIUM TECHNOLOGY - Humless uses the most reliable lithium technology for portable and home battery systems. Our specific battery composition has been used since the 1970's in electric cars and busses.
- EASY & SAFE TO USE - Our systems are designed for ease of use. Plug in your solar panels to the Humelss system and its ready to start charging. Direct the panels toward the sun and let them do the work. When the batteries are full the system will stop charging.
- BUILT TO LAST - Durability and reliability are our top priority when designing our power systems. We build the Humless product line with a durable metal shell that protects the inner components. We also design and build our own circuit boards, battery management systems and inverters. This is how we can guarantee quality parts at a fair price.
- 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE (1 Year Warranty) - We're so confident that you'll love our product that we offer a 100% satisfaction or money back guarantee. What do you have to lose?
Intended for constant every day use this is a more rugged option that the Goal Zero units. The 1500 Watt power is enough to power several units at once. It also has a large 200Watt solar panel for charging so it’s quick to recharge. Also, its considered to be the longest lasting system.
It can also be run as a UPS. It’s easy to use and has 2 standard outlets, 4 USB ports and a 12V DC socket. This Solar Generator can also be charged by AC if needed. At only 47lb it’s also half the weight of the Yeti 1250 while having more power. Only it doesn’t come with the handy cart to move it.
Ascent Solar Generator Y1200
- Powerful: This 1231 watt-hour lithium-ion battery is designed to power and charge larger scale electronics, from smartphones & tablets to refrigerators & Televisions
- The generator 1200 is 60% lighter than comparable portable generators, designed to be easy to carry at only 42 lbs
- Versatile: the generator 1200 comes with one 12V output, one 19V DC output, two 5V USB ports and an integrated 110V a/C standard outlet to charge a variety of devices
- Dual charging: multiple outputs can be used at the same time to charge numerous devices simultaneously
- Minimal noise: compared to gas generators, the generator 1200 makes minimal noise during operation, making it ideal for indoors use, camping, hunting, boating and more
At 42lb it’s a little lighter than the humless and far lighter than the Yeti 1250. It operates absolutely silently and has an LCD to let you know how much charge it has. You’ll have to purchase the solar panels separately though.
Ascent Solar Generator Y1200 can also be charged via AC current and has a maximum capacity of 1231. Which is almost as good as the Yeti 1250. This Generator is actually almost identically sized though, even while being lighter. There are three standard outlets and two USB outlets.
Be Prepared Solar 2500 Watt 200AH Solar Generator & (2) 100 Watt Solar Panels
With a massive 5000 Watt peak this is enough to power a lot of devices at once. The two solar panels (100W) are also enough to give a quick charge. Especially when you take into account the fact that the Yeti 400 is only working on a 20 Watt. The large case is wheeled so it’s pretty portable even though it’s quite big and bulky.
This is a good no frills generator and it has two outlets and that’s it. The solar panels do come with a 30 foot cable. However so it means that you can run the panels outside even while using the unit inside. Choose this unit if you need a lot of power at once. You don’t really need USB or the option to charge by AC or an indicator of power level.