How To Find The Best Solar Generator

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When we first cleared the land to build our off grid home back in 2016, we started with one of those small 700 watt Moto Master Eliminator Power Box from Canadian Tire that we used to keep our cordless tools charged during the day. That’s about the limit of use for this sized device on a build site. The advanced and much more powerful solar generators of today just weren’t available quite yet and we didn’t own a gas generator… yet.

MotoMaster Eliminator PowerBox 700 watts

Next we bought a 3250 watt Champion generator that would run most of the day nonstop to power our compound miter saw, skill saw, charge up our cordless nail gun and recharge the cordless tools. You can check out our entire off grid tool list here. 

Champion 3250w Portable Generator

While we did indeed cut a lot of lumber using that gas generator, it would have been so much better to have a power delivery system that met certain criteria…

  1. Silent
  2. Draws power only when a tool trigger is pulled
  3. Continuously recharged by the sun while still operating
  4. Portable enough to bring home to recharge for the next day

Fast forward to today and a lot has changed in battery technology since then. Now we have solar generators that can serve as the electrical backbone for an entire build site for several consecutive days. Best of all, it can then be used to power the home afterwards. At last we have a reliable, portable, silent, fully rechargeable and ample power supply for every off grid enthusiast, homesteader, camper or cabin builder. 

Welcome to the world of Solar Generators! 

Pinterest Pin with Solar Generator connected to solar panels in front of an off grid home. The title How To Choose The Best Solar Generator is across the top

Table of Contents

Introduction To Solar Generators

Image of several solar generators

If you’re interested in off grid living or perhaps building your own off grid home, you already know that one of the biggest challenges is finding a reliable and sustainable source of power during and after your build. You never want to depend on the grid, which can be unreliable, expensive, or just plain unavailable in remote areas. You also don’t want to rely on fossil fuel generators, which are harmful to the environment, require ongoing maintenance, costly fuel and generate excess heat/noise.

Image of man on a construction site refilling a generator with fuel

One of the best solutions is to use a portable solar generator. The concept of a portable solar generator is very similar to the gas generator we’re all familiar with. However, they run on electricity instead of gas or propane. Think of a portable solar generator as a compact version of a full scale rooftop solar system all rolled into one or two components.

Typical full scale off grid solar systems consist of permanently mounted rooftop solar panels, a wall mounted charge controller, a wall mounted inverter, and a separate enclosure to store the batteries. All of these components are separate from one another and connected by several thick copper cable runs, fuses, disconnects and system monitoring components/computers. 

We currently have three solar panels installed on out roof and the battery bank, inverter and charge controller are all in the loft.

These are the solar panels on the off grid cabin.

The Off Grid Cabin Solar Panels

This is our charge controller, inverter, and battery bank.

Off Grid Living Solar System Charge Controller and Inverter

A portable or semi-portable solar generator consists of only the main solar generator assembly and solar panels which are optional. 

Voltstack 5k v1.5 electric generator

So how exactly does a solar generator work? What are the different types and features of solar generators? And how do you choose the best solar generator for your off grid living needs?

In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will also compare some of the top solar generators available on the market today and give you our recommendations. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what a solar generator is, how it works, and which one to buy for your off grid living needs.

What is a Solar Generator and How Does it Work?

Jackery solar generator with six solar panels attached in a desert setting

Unlike the larger permanent solar system the portable solar generator consists of just two components. The first is the main assembly which houses the battery bank, charge controller, inverter, the monitoring systems, all of the cabling and a display all in one.  This is the EcoFlow Delta Portable Power Station

Solar Generator Ecoflow Delta 2 Smart and Efficient Power Station

The only other component required to make this a self sustaining energy system are solar panels that are used to recharge the solar generator.