Whether you plan to live off the grid indefinitely or go overlanding, hiking, or camping from time to time, you need a solar generator. Solar generators are the best way to generate energy without relying on the grid, reduce your carbon footprint and eliminate waste and noise.
Picking the right solar generator is as much a matter of product quality as it is a matter of personal need and preference. Understand what electricity needs you’ll have while off-grid, and the shopping process will become much more manageable.
Best Solar Generators for Off-Grid Living
When living off-grid, you can’t always count on endlessly sunny weather. You have to know that your portable solar power generator will come through for you, even when the sunny days won’t. The DELTA 2 with the bifacial solar panel rises to the challenge.
All of the products in EcoFlow’s DELTA series can charge using solar power, an AC wall outlet, or a car adapter. However, the DELTA 2 is unique. With a 1kWh starting capacity that expands to 2048Wh with an extra battery and 3040Wh with a third battery, it offers customisable and expandable power at a reasonable price.
You also get more energy with the 220W bifacial solar panel — even on cloudy days. It has a 220W primary side and a 155W side on the back to catch any ambient light. With up to 500W input, it can charge in inclement conditions and fully power up the DELTA 2 in just three hours.
EcoFlow’s X-Stream technology allows you to charge faster. Go from 0-80% in under an hour with AC input for a reliable, fast-charging power source.
Step up your capacity even further with the DELTA Max and two 400W solar panels. You can expand the DELTA Max to 6kWh with EcoFlow’s additional smart batteries. It powers 99% of home devices and has enough capacity to run your dryer, refrigerator, and other large household appliances. This portable solar generator is so mighty that you could keep it at home as a permanent backup generator in case of blackouts.
The one-piece, folding solar panels permit greater ease during travel. Simply fold them up and slip them in with your other gear when overlanding. With EcoFlow’s X-Stream technology, you get an improved efficiency rating of 23% for a reliable source of solar energy.
Portable solar panels are durable and lightweight, made from layers of monocrystalline silicon, pliable EVA, and extra-reinforced fibreglass. Portability is the name of the game, with the panel weighing in at only 35.3lb (16kg). The built-in shoulder strap carrying system means you can take the DELTA Max with you even on perilous uphill hikes or downstream — wherever you go to escape off-grid.
If you liked the capacity of the DELTA Max but the ambient light capture of the 220W bifacial panel of the DELTA 2, you get the best of both worlds with the DELTA Max with 220W solar panels. It’s lighter and less expensive than 400W solar panels without sacrificing much power.
The DELTA max solar generator has an expandable capacity when combined with extra smart batteries. Reach max charging speeds of 3600W and quickly recharge at 2000W speed using solar.
The DELTA MAX has six outlets, with a 2400W combined AC output and a surge total of 5000W. There are two 5V USB-A ports that reach 12W max per port, 2 USB-C ports, a car power output, and a DC5521 output.
As far as off-the-grid life goes, you can charge a cell phone 175 times, a laptop 32 times, a car fridge for 33 hours, and a coffee maker for 1.9 hours. It’s the perfect solution for off-grid living that lets you work or relax in remote locations.
The DELTA Pro with 400W solar panels is the answer for transitioning to an entirely off-grid lifestyle.
The battery in the DELTA Pro has a massive 3.6kWh capacity that you can expand to a jaw-dropping 25kWh. You can run a refrigerator, lighting system, and even a washer and dryer on that much power.
At roughly 99 pounds (45kg), it’s more portable and lightweight than competitors of a similar size. The DELTA Pro also features a handy, reinforced set of back wheels, making it easy to move around. Rubber stoppers under the front end prevent sudden drops for a portable but sturdy solar generator solution.
The DELTA Pro’s portable solar panel is self-supporting, and at 400W, it is one of the most powerful on the market. The protective case doubles as a kickstand, letting you adjust the panel between 40-90°. It’s the perfect range of movement for maximum coverage of the sun’s rays.
Add smart extra batteries and link multiple generators, and you’ll achieve complete energy independence.
What Size Generator Do You Need for Off-Grid Living?
There’s no one size fits all answer to what size generator you’ll need for off-the-grid living and adventures. It all depends on your specific energy needs.
Some people go off-grid only for camping trips and to run small devices, while others want to live off-grid full-time and run all the appliances to power a tiny home, RV, or even a full-sized residence.
The most portable models are suitable for charging personal electronic devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets and powering small appliances. The River solar generator offers 256Wh in a tiny, lightweight build — at a very low price. Heavier-duty models like the DELTA Pro come in at a whopping 3600Wh capacity and can go up to 25kWh when you stack batteries.
That said, the standard minimum for off-grid living is 1000Wh. If you live completely off the grid, you’ll need to power devices like a fridge, lights, and a heater or air conditioner — that’s no small amount of wattage.
The best solution is to start by calculating your energy consumption. You can use an online energy calculator or add up the watt-hours for every appliance and device you’ll need to run.
Once you have a solid estimate for your energy consumption, you can decide whether to invest in one large generator or pair different-sized options to accommodate different energy needs. Some choose to invest in multiple sizes, reserving a high-capacity generator for household appliances and a lower-capacity generator for small electronic devices.
What Will a 1000-Watt Solar Generator Run?
With a 1000-watt solar generator as the baseline, let’s explore how much power it can generate by looking at what it can run.
There’s going to be a big difference in power usage if you’re using the portable solar generator at home vs in the outdoors on an off-the-grid trip. If you’re using the solar generator at home, it’ll need to power heavy-duty appliances. It should have sufficient capacity to support a lighting system, a water heater, an air and heating system, and a full-size refrigerator. Large home appliances will sap electricity much faster than your expected usage on an off-the-grid trip.
Still, 1000Wh is enough to power 90% of home appliances. The DELTA 2 has a 1kWh capacity and 1800W AC output, enough to run your coffee maker, fridge, and microwave. If you plug in smaller devices, you can charge up to 13 at once.
For camping and overlanding, your power use will typically be more intermittent. You may want to use the generator to occasionally power up a mobile WiFi hotspot, a mini fridge, a toaster, a coffee maker, and electronics like phones and laptops. But since your use won’t be constant, it’ll last off a full charge for far longer.
Can You Use a Solar Generator Every Day?
You can use a solar generator daily, but you shouldn’t conflate “everyday” use with 24/7 use.
You might turn on a solar generator every day but only for an hour or two to charge your electronics and run your laptop while remote working off-grid. The energy demand for this kind of daily usage is far different from 24/7 home use.
Of all the appliances you’ll likely have hooked up to your generator, the only one that needs to run constantly is a mini fridge. What’s coffee without a bit of cream or bread without butter?
The energy demand for continuous refrigerator use will drain the solar generator. It’s why many overlanders, campers, and off-the-grid adventurers seek out non-perishable foodstuffs like beans, canned fish, and trail mix, which are high in protein and don’t require refrigeration. Another reason to be smart about what food you pack is that you don’t contribute to the stigma of off-grid living being unsustainable.
If you need 24/7 refrigeration, keep your mini fridge stocked on the emptier side so it will use less power to stay cool.
How to Choose the Best Solar Generator for Life Off-Grid
You may be focusing on just one metric to determine the solar generator you buy for off-grid living: cost. But honestly, pricing should be one of the least important factors in your decision-making process. When you’re riding out a week-long outage or running your AC 24/7 to keep cool in 115° weather, you won’t be thinking about the extra $300 you spent on a good solar generator. You’ll just be thankful you have the power.
The following factors are far more consequential in determining which solar generator is right for you.
Renewable energy is the solution for the blackouts plaguing many American cities that run solely on the electrical grid, and no renewable energy source is more accessible than solar. But how suitable a solar generator is for living mainly off-grid depends on the battery capacity.
Battery capacity can range from as low as 256Wh to as high as 36000Wh. The right capacity for you depends on how much power you need, what kind of appliances you plan to run, and how continuously you run them.
Make sure to check out the inverter capacity of your solar generator. Each has a maximum wattage rating and determines how much DC energy you can convert into usable AC energy.
EcoFlow solar generators, like the DELTA Pro, have a two-way inverter built into the portable power station. It saves you from purchasing a separate inverter and going through the hassle of checking for compatibility with your solar panels and other components.
Most portable solar generators have internal failsafe operations that prevent charge overload and short circuits. But to make sure, check that your solar generator has a charge controller or MPPT (maximum power point tracking) installed. If not, you’ll need to buy this separately to include in the balance of system for your solar setup.
Charge controllers limit the amount of current taken in by the device and can automatically stop before overcharging the solar battery.
Think of how often you’re going to pack, unpack, move, and repeat the cycle. You want to avoid another massive weight to lug around.
That said, you may be willing to sacrifice portability if it’s sheer power you’re looking for in off-grid living.
If you crave independence from the electrical grid, EcoFlow’s clean-running solar generators are for you.
Whether you want a solar generator with ample power for large off-grid power applications or a small, more portable option to keep your electronics charged, EcoFlow has a model to suit your off-grid needs.