Keep Your Outdoor Gadgets Alive With These Solar Generators for Camping

best solar generators for camping

The 10 Best Solar Generators for Camping 2023Courtesy of retailer

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GENERATORS USED to be loud, smelly, and gas-powered. Unless you were eking out a survivalist lifestyle in a cabin in the woods, you probably didn’t have much need for one. However, in these days of renewable energy, we’re rethinking the idea of what a generator can be. Solar generators (a.k.a. portable power stations or portable power banks paired with a solar panel) seem to be everywhere now. It’s no surprise: They’re smaller, quieter, and more environmentally friendly than their predecessors. They’re also clean enough to run indoors and, with enough sunlight, can be recharged indefinitely.

Plus, in our tech-hungry world, almost everyone has a use for them. For campers, in particular, packing a portable power station is as important as packing a tent, a hiking backpack, and a proper s’mores kit. For emergency prep, they’re a great way to keep your home appliances going in the event of a blackout.

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If you’re reading this, you might already be shopping for solar generators. So, by now, you know comparing your available options might seem impossible without an advanced Ph.D. in electrical engineering. The long list of techno-jargon—things like “MPPT charge controllers,” “lithium iron phosphate cores,” and “monocrystalline cells”—doesn’t help, either. So, we dove into the best options out there to find the best of the best solar generators for camping in 2023. (Pro tip: Despite the name, solar generators don’t actually generate electricity; they only store it. To recharge yours in the field, you’ll also need a portable solar panel or two.)

Why Trust Us?

I’ve spent most of my life hiking, kayaking, camping, and exploring the great outdoors. For more than a decade, I’ve traveled the world, including all seven continents, and covered outdoor and adventure travel, sharing my advice on Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, and National Geographic. These days, I personally evaluate outdoor gear (like the best solar generators) and tech gadgets for Men’s Health from my home base south of Boston. So, you might say I’m a little gear-obsessed.

Read more: How Men’s Health Tests Products

Portable Power Station Explorer 500 Solar Generator

Jackery’s wildly popular Power Station Explorer 500 is arguably the “gateway drug” for most power enthusiasts looking for their first solar generator or portable power bank. It boasts a solid, 518Wh capacity and a 500W output (with a 1,000-watt surge capacity)—sufficient for keeping most average car campers going for a weekend away. It’s the perfect balance of capacity, peak output, port selection, and price. At 13 pounds and roughly the size of a basketball, it’s ideal for everything from car camping to picnics to days at the beach.

We’ve personally tested several Jackery solar generators and the build quality and durability are industry-leading. They really do live up to the hype. So, too, does the Explorer 500—a model we’ve used more than perhaps any other on the market. After years of use (and abuse) for everything from car camping to RV’ing for weeks on end, it’s held up incredibly well. As long as the battery is maintained (topped up or recharged every 3-6 months), this generator will last for many years.

That said, this solar generator is starting to show its age. It still relies on older lithium-ion battery tech (which has been eclipsed by superior LiFePO4 batteries) and the lack of any USB-C ports are a clear sign that this is a dated model. The fixed (i.e., non-retractable) handle also means it’s not stackable, which seems like a frustrating oversight. Still, at around $400, we think it’s a great buy, especially given the Jackery moniker.

If 500Wh isn’t quite enough for your camping needs, check out the beefier Jackery Explorer 1000. It’s similar in almost every respect, but with twice the capacity.

What do buyers say? Out of more than 7,500 Amazon reviews, 94% recommend the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500 Solar Generator with at least a 4-star rating.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Portable Power Station Explorer 500 Solar Generator</p><p>$399.00</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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Portable Power Station Explorer 500 Solar Generator


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Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station

For most, overlanding means going off-grid for extended periods with a carload of tech and the best camping essentials. A lot of that gadgetry requires serious power, and Goal Zero’s Yeti 1500X is the perfect accompaniment. It’s a beast at more than 45 pounds. But that heft comes courtesy of a massive 1,500Wh lithium battery with enough juice to keep most overlanders going off-grid for up to a week. Add 100-200 watts of solar panel power or more, and it’s possible to extend your adventure indefinitely.

We love the aluminum-reinforced shell that keeps the entire setup well-protected. It feels and is more rugged than most others typically built using a plastic composite. So, it’s designed to take a beating. We’ve used ours for more than a year, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

The LG-brand battery cells (among the best in the industry) are also built to last for years. Although, we do wish they were LiFePO4 rather than traditional lithium-ion. It’s slower to recharge than most, requiring nearly 14 hours from a standard wall outlet. Although, we’ve used Goal Zero’s optional 600W Power Supply to cut that down to a little over three hours.

This solar generator offers a good mix of ports for car campers and overlanders, too, including USB-C, USB-A, 12V (car-style), and standard AC.

Although it’s pricey at over $1,800 delivered, it’s a great option for hardcore overlanders and campers looking to spend weeks or more off-grid.

What do buyers say? “Works great … I was able to quickly hook up and use it without problems. Very nicely put together,” said one Amazon reviewer.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station</p><p>$1799.95</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station


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PowerRoam 1200 Power Station

UGREEN is a newcomer to the portable power station space, but we’re already loving its PowerRoam 1200 Power Station. Unlike many of the newer “me-too” alternatives, this model feels like a solid product. The design is sleek and simple, and we love the easy-to-read screen that displays all of the unit’s essential info.

It’s reasonably compact and lightweight (around 25 pounds) for its size. Although, while the fixed top handle feels solid and makes for easy carrying, we wish it was retractable or flush-mount for easier stacking.

It boasts a solid port selection—13 total, including USB-C (100W), USB-A, and a standard “automotive cigarette lighter”-style 12V port, too. What we especially love are the six AC ports. That’s more than most solar generator with this capacity, and the fact that they’re on the side of the unit (away from all of the other ports) makes for easier cord management when there are a ton of gadgets plugged in simultaneously.

It’s well-priced at just under $1,000. UGREEN also sells its own well-built 100W-200W solar panels, which we’ve also tested and can strongly recommend.

What do buyers say? “Looks very good, loads really fast and what is crucial for me – relatively light and with app control,” said one reviewer.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>PowerRoam 1200 Power Station</p><p>$999.00</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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PowerRoam 1200 Power Station


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PowerHouse 767 Portable Power Station

Anker’s flagship solar generator is big, beefy, and seriously capable. It’s among the largest we’ve ever tested, and indeed one of the largest on the market, period. With a 2,048Wh capacity and the option to double that capacity with an equally sized battery pack (for a whopping 4,096Wh total capacity!), it’s able to power just about anything you can throw at it. It’s well-suited for powering all your essential appliances and tech gadgets for home backup purposes and even better for keeping campers going off-grid. Via a standard wall outlet, it fast-charges to up to 80% capacity in under an hour and to fully charged in about two hours. Plus, it’s compatible with Anker’s large 200W solar panels.

We’ve long been fans of Anker’s batteries, and the 767 is no exception. The built-in LiFePO4 battery tech is far superior to traditional lithium-ion cells. Anker claims up to 3,000 discharges before its batteries reach 80% health—up to six times longer than lithium-ion alternatives.

What truly sets this solar generator apart from most others is the number and variety of ports, including standard AC outlets, USB-A and USB-C ports, and “cigarette lighter”-style ports. Plus, there’s even a 30-amp TT port for plugging in an RV. We tested this with a simulated blackout on a small travel trailer, and the 767 kept everything (except the camper’s air conditioner) humming for hours without a hitch.

We couldn’t find much to complain about with the PowerHouse 767. The only downsides are two that you might expect. The list price is more than $2,000 (although it’s frequently on sale). It’s also heavy, tipping the scales at nearly 70 pounds. Thankfully, the “suitcase” design includes a telescoping handle and two good-sized wheels to make transporting it a little easier.

What do buyers say? “Very well made, charges fast on 120V. This thing is everything that it promises to be,” said one Amazon reviewer.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>PowerHouse 767 Portable Power Station</p><p>$1999.00</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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PowerHouse 767 Portable Power Station


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1000W/1280Wh Portable Power Station

Judy Power’s 1000W/1280Wh Portable Power Station offers a generous 1,280Wh capacity—enough for car campers who regularly venture out with plenty of tech in tow. For home backup purposes, it’ll keep most laptops going for at least 12 hours or a heated blanket nice and toasty overnight. The LiFePO4 battery technology is a step up from traditional lithium-ion batteries, promising a longer shelf life and better safety. This fact alone justifies the roughly $1,000 price tag (although it’s frequently on sale for several hundred dollars less).

Although it might not be everybody’s cup of matcha, we think the bright, in-your-face safety orange shell looks cool too. It’s a fun and welcome departure from the typical, “utilitarian survivalist/prepper chic” design of most solar generators we’ve tested.

The 1,280WH LiFePO4 battery is capable of powering most small to mid-sized home electronics and appliances. The number and selection of ports on this solar generator is solid, including all the standards like USB-C, USB-A, 12V cigarette lighter, and traditional AC, so you can plug just about anything into it.

Given its power-to-price ratio, we’re hard-pressed to find much to complain about. The case feels well-built, but more like a premium home electronic than a rugged “grab-and-go” overlander-friendly solar generator.

What do buyers say? “Have tested the power station, works well, I’m sure I’ll own it for years to come, I’m a happy camper!” said one reviewer.

Read more: Best Tech Gadgets

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>1000W/1280Wh Portable Power Station</p><p>$796.00</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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1000W/1280Wh Portable Power Station


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AC200MAX Portable Power Station

Bluetti has long been a favorite of ours and of off-grid living enthusiasts. Its flagship AC200MAX is one of the largest portable power stations on the market. The 62-lb heft comes thanks to a beefy 2,048-Wh LiFePO4 battery (and the ability to daisy-chain additional batteries for a whopping 8,192Wh maximum capacity). Coupled with a 2,200-watt inverter and 16 total ports, it’ll run just about any 110-volt household electronic (we’re talking hairdryers, blenders, power tools, and more).

Straight out of the box, the AC200MAX feels like a high-quality piece of tech. The housing is solid, well-made, and it’s clear that a lot of thought went into the design.

Like the Anker PowerHouse 767, what truly sets it apart is the integrated 30A DC port for directly powering a travel trailer or small RV. It’s one of only a few solar generators available with this feature. While it won’t power an RV indefinitely, it’s great for backup situations or in instances where you might be “dry camping” (camping with no utilities) for a few days at a time. With a 1,400-watt input capacity, it also recharges in no time either from a wall outlet or a sizable array of solar panels.

Not surprisingly, it’s heavy (more than 60 pounds) and expensive. Frankly, it’s probably overkill for all but the most hardcore overlanders and RVers. But, for anyone looking for massive capacity (and the ability to add even more), and for whom money is no object, this is arguably the best solar generator available right now.

What do buyers say? “This thing is awesome! I’ll add another battery eventually. High quality, and still a manageable weight for lifting,” said one reviewer

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>AC200MAX Portable Power Station</p><p>$1839.99</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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AC200MAX Portable Power Station


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Delta Mini Portable Power Station

EcoFlow’s DELTA mini delivers a steady 1,400W stream, capable of powering the vast majority of home and portable electronics. With a 1,800-watt peak capacity, it’s even beefy enough to handle power-hungry things like table saws, toasters, and hair dryers. EcoFlow’s proprietary X-Stream technology also allows it to charge from zero to full in just 1.6 hours. That’s up to four times faster than other similarly equipped power stations.

Based on its price and roughly 900Wh capacity, this model is a good middle-ground for campers looking for something more than the 500Wh of many entry-level solar generators, but who don’t necessarily need 1,500Wh or more.

In the year that we’ve spent with ours, we can attest that the durability is rock-solid—tough enough for home emergencies or transporting on your next cross-country overland trek. We also like the handle placement of this model. It “hangs” off the top corner, making it easy to access and wrangle the unit’s heft, while keeping the top clear for stacking or placing other electronics.

EcoFlow has been become one of our go-to favorites, making some of the best solar generators and portable power banks on the market. The Delta Mini is no exception. It’s also well priced at right around $500.

What do buyers say? “Very well-designed product, with great features, solid build. It is a quality product,” said one Amazon reviewer.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Delta Mini Portable Power Station</p><p>$549.98</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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Delta Mini Portable Power Station


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HomePower ONE: Backup Battery Power Station

With just over a 1,000-watt capacity, the HomePower ONE from Geneverse (formerly Generark) is perfect for both car camping and short-term home power backup. It’s well-outfitted with various power ports, including USB-C with PD 18W for fast-charging compatible smartphones and laptops, and the three AC outlets deliver pure-sine wave power making it safer for sensitive electronics.

Build quality is solid and inline with other Geneverse products we’ve tested. It feels like a well-built, high-quality product that should last for years to come. The fold-down handle makes carrying a breeze and, when folded down, also allows for stacking multiple solar generators. Plus, at less than 24 pounds, it’s lighter than most comparable, 1,000-watt solar generators.

Our only real complain is that the LCD screen feels like an afterthought, especially compared to those found on newer, next-gen units we’ve tested. It only reveals very basic battery charge information, rather than things like overheat warnings and which ports are on/charging.

Still, the 1,002Wh capacity and sub-$900 price tag are a great combination for one of the best value solar generators we’ve tested.

What do buyer say? “… smaller and lighter than I expected. Very portable. So far the unit has exceeded my expectations,” said one Amazon reviewer.

Read more: Best Emergency Food Kits

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>HomePower ONE: Backup Battery Power Station</p><p>$899.00</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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HomePower ONE: Backup Battery Power Station


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535 Portable Power Station

Another great portable power solution in the Anker line-up, the Anker 535 is a solid mid-sized option with more than 500Wh of juice. This, too, hits the sweet spot between portability and capacity. It’s built to go the distance with a LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) battery, and a good selection of ports, including four standard AC ports. A power-saving switch helps preserve battery life even more.

The case is extremely well-made and is, in fact, one of the few solar generators we’ve tested with an advertised drop-proof construction. We especially love the built-in LED “flashlight” and bright, easy-to-read smart display that relays all the station’s pertinent info at a glance. The screen is among the best and most intuitive on the market.

Many buyers also comment on Anker’s incredible customer service. This model, like many of its solar generators, is billed to last for up to a decade and comes with a five-year full device warranty too. So, it’s clear the company stands behind its products. Given its next-gen tech, ultra-rugged construction, and high-end design, we think it’s well worth the roughly $500 price tag.

What do buyers say? “Power Station works absolutely fantastic and as intended,” said one Amazon reviewer.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>535 Portable Power Station</p><p>$499.99</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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535 Portable Power Station


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300W Portable Power Station

If the 500-watt capacity found in most mid-range solar generators is too much for your needs, Rockpals’ 300W Portable Power Station is a solid, pared-down alternative. It’s enough power for basic backup emergencies, extra juice for your smartphone, and keeping a few gadgets humming along on a weekend wilderness getaway.

We love that it’s compact and lightweight enough (less than eight pounds) to keep in the back of your vehicle, out of the way, until you need it. The bold, in-your-face design resembles car electronics from twenty years ago, so it’s likely not for everyone. But, we can attest that the build quality is solid. The big, beefy handle doesn’t fold down, but it is well-integrated into the construction so that the entire station feels rugged and ready for the road.

Rockpals is a lesser-known brand than, say, Jackery or Goal Zero, but the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Plus, at less than $300 (with free shipping), it’s easily the best value solar generator for the money. If you’re shopping for your first solar generator for camping, this is a great budget buy.

What do buyers say? “Not only am I impressed by the build quality and durability of the unit (it actually fell out of my truck and continues to work just fine!) but the customer service is stellar as well,” said one reviewer.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>300W Portable Power Station</p><p>$289.99</p><p></p><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Retailer</span>

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300W Portable Power Station


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What Is a Solar Generator?

Despite the name, solar generators don’t generate electricity. They’re actually large rechargeable battery packs, not unlike the compact backup power banks you might carry around to keep your phone or tablet topped up. The best solar generators, however, add built-in tech, like a surge protector, line conditioner, and an inverter, so you can connect a variety of plugs (e.g., traditional house-style electric cables, 12V “automotive cigarette lighter”-style cables, and more).

They’re commonly known as “solar generators” because they’re designed to hook up to a solar panel or multiple solar panels. When the sun cooperates, it’s possible to run and recharge a solar generator indefinitely. Depending on the capacity of the generator’s battery and the connected solar array, you can power everything from a handful of everyday tech gadgets (smartphones, tablets, and laptops) to almost any household appliance, including lights, refrigerators, microwaves, air conditioners—with enough capacity, the sky’s the limit.

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How to Shop the Best Solar Generators (for You)

Shopping for electronics can be intimidating, especially if you’re not a “techie.” Battery technology can be especially complicated, sometimes making you feel as though you need an advanced degree just to compare products. Under the hood, solar generators are complicated little devices. But, finding the right model doesn’t have to be impossible.

Here are the most important things to consider when shopping for the best solar generator (for you):


Generally, everything comes down to capacity, measured in watt-hours (represented as Wh). It’s the measure of how much “juice” a particular battery can store. In automotive terms, solar generator capacity is like the size of a car’s gas tank. While there are some smaller models, most entry-level generators feature a 500Wh capacity. Larger, but still portable models store around 1,000-1,500Wh. Even larger alternatives are available, but, the larger the capacity, the heavier the generator. Anything more than 1,500Wh is likely to weigh north of 50 pounds which is more than most car campers are willing to lug around.

Your personal energy needs

A full assessment of your own energy needs can get very complicated. But, in general, a 500Wh solar generator is often enough for the “average” small family of campers for a long weekend. That assumes a group of 3-4, all of whom recharge their smartphones every day or so and have a handful of other devices (a couple of tablets, laptops, and, say, a digital camera) in tow. For especially tech-heavy groups or for extended trips, consider something beefier, like a 1,000Wh option. For more detailed info, check the manufacturer’s website. Most rate their solar generators in terms of how many charges that generator will give your smartphone, laptop, iPad, etc.

Battery type

The majority of solar generators currently on the market use traditional lithium-ion battery technology. It’s safe, reliable, relatively lightweight, and can be discharged and recharged many times for years. Next-generation solar generators are starting to use lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, however. It’s even safer, more efficient, and lasts far longer than lithium-ion (in some cases, a decade or more). LiFePO4-powered solar generators are more expensive, but are worth the extra expense if they’re within your budget.

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FAQs of Solar Generators

What will a 1000-watt solar generator run?

This is one of the most common types offered by today’s solar generator manufacturers. Most 1,000-watt models can run smaller, low-power devices like lights, coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, portable fans, and laptops, plus some blenders and power tools, too.

What size solar generator should I get?

The short answer is: Overestimate your power needs. Buy a solar generator with more capacity than you think you need. The 1,000-watt-hour (Wh) capacity is a common middle ground in the industry, and this is ideal for most casual weekend campers and car campers looking to top up smaller electronics on the go. For a family of four on a weekend camping trip with an average amount of electronics, a 1,000Wh solar generator should suffice.

But, even a small converted van with a typical “van life” setup—including lights, a camp fridge/freezer, and regular topping up of a couple of phones and laptops—will eat through 1,000Wh very quickly. If you plan to use your solar generator for any more than casual use, consider models with at least a 1,500Wh capacity.

For home or emergency preparedness, you’re going to want a solar generator with a minimum 2,000Wh capacity. Ideally, buy the highest-capacity generator you can realistically afford.

Can I run an entire house on only solar power?

Technically, yes. With enough capacity, a large enough solar panel array, and adequate sunshine, you could power your house indefinitely using only a solar generator setup. But you’ll need several of the largest solar generators on the market, daisy-chained (interconnected), plus a handful of large (at least 200W) solar panels. Proper power management—only turning lights on when you absolutely need them, turning down your refrigerator to its lowest setting, and switching your tech gadgets off when not in use—can help, too. Realistically, even the best solar generators are meant for occasional use. To reliably run your entire house on solar power, you’re better off looking for a permanently installed residential setup.

How many years can a solar generator last?

The best solar generators are built to last for decades. Battery technology and power management software have come a long way since the turn of the century and especially in the last few years. Plus, with little to no moving parts, there’s nothing mechanical inside most modern solar generators to maintain. With appropriate care, almost any decent solar generator you buy nowadays should last at least 20 years.


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How We Tested the Best Solar Generators of 2023

To find the best solar generators for camping and home backup, our editors researched, tested, and hand-selected these 10 generators from dozens of options on the market. While testing, we considered everything from size and weight (which can impact your load when camping) to power capacity and user-friendliness. We were also mindful of the overall design, the user experience, and, of course, the price. The options above are our top picks for the best solar generators worth buying in 2023.


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