Whether you’re dealing with regular power cuts or you enjoy going camping while having some of the creature comforts of home, having a good solar power station can make a big difference. On the bright side, there are a ton of options out there for pretty much any need, and while it might feel a little bit overwhelming at first glance, it’s actually not that bad. In fact, we’ve looked around and picked some of our favorite solar power stations for various needs by drawing on our own experiences in tech and commerce to make sure you get the bast bang for your buck.
- Buy the if you want the best overall solar power station
- Buy the if you want the best whole-house solar power station
- Buy the if you want the best budget solar power station
- Buy the if you want the best solar power station with a solar panel bundle
- Buy the if you want a rugged solar power station
Best overall solar power station
|Massive power bank
|Very heavy, especially when panels are included
|Offers every kind of outlet
|It’s a bit pricey at MSRP
Jackery makes some of the most well-known and recognizable solar power generators, so it’s no surprise that the Jackery Explorer 1000 made the top of our list. It has a lot of things that make it a solidly balanced option for many, from the capacity it has to the price tag it comes with. The 1000-watt capacity it can manage is quite a lot, and it can charge most things you can think of except, potentially, something like a microwave or a space heater that can go well over 1,000 watts. Even so, it can power a wide range of devices which is always a good thing.
As for capacity, you get 1,002Wh out of it, although in practical usage, it’s only 85% of that capacity, which is pretty standard since most brands cap it at around that amount of capacity, which does help a bit with longevity. Either way that still gives you around 851Wh to play with, which means a 100-watt device can run for eight and a half hours before the Jackery loses charge. Oh, and the best part is that it has pass-through charging, so you can absolutely charge the Explorer 1000 while using it, turning it into a UPS of sorts.
Speaking of charging, the Explorer 1000 has an absolute ton of ports for you to work with: three AC outlets, one USB-A, one quick-charge USBA-A, two USB-C PDs, and one car outlet. There are also two input slots for charging: one for a typical DC input that you can use with a wall outlet or a car, which should take eight and 14 hours, respectively, and a solar panel input. The latter is great if you combine it with two of Jackery’s Solar Saga 100, which can do 100 watts of charging each on a clear day, and will recharge the Explorer 1000 in about six hours or so, which is excellent.
|Max Output Wattage
Best whole-house solar power station
|Impressively large capacity
|The ability to chain several together for more capacity
|Heavy and takes up a lot of space
|High maximum wattage
Having something small and relatively portable is great if you only need to power a few small things for a couple of hours, but if you have somewhat more heavy-duty needs, like powering a whole house, then the EcoFlow DELTA Pro is the way to go. It’s pretty massive, but that also means that it has a massive capacity of 3,600Wh, which is probably more than the average household would use in a day, but is the perfect option if you get regular electricity cuts and need emergency power for a few days. Even better, you can expand the system by adding more of the Delta Pros, with an upper limit of 25,000 Whs, when you combine six of them, although the actual available capacity is 80% for Ecoflow, so keep that in mind.
As for wattage, it’s a very respectable 3,600 watts, with the ability to go up to 4,500 watts with Ecoflows X-Boost technology, which is probably more than enough to run several different devices in your home, including potentially ACs or washing machines. We don’t really think you’re likely to be using a washing machine in an emergency or backup power situation, but it’s a nice option to have if you’re dealing with a week-long power cut. Also, much like the capacity, you can expand the wattage with additional units up to a maximum of 7,200 watts, so it really is more than enough to power a whole home if you want to go that route.
When it comes to charging, you have several options, such as charging through a wall outlet with up to 1800-watts, which should take about three hours at that capacity. You can, of course, also charge with solar panels with a combined max input of 1600 watts, which will also see it charged, in an ideal situation, in about three to four hours. The bundle that we’re linking with the button below includes the DELTA Pro, as well as one 400-watt solar panel, so it will be slower, but there are a lot of bundled options at EcoFlow, so be sure to check them all out.
|Max Output Wattage
|3,600, up to 4,500 with X-Boost
Best budget solar power station
|Light and easy to carry
|Fast solar charging
Having a good solar power generator doesn’t mean you have to spend an arm and a leg, especially if you don’t need something super-powerful that can handle a whole house. The Bluetti EB3A, as it’s so creatively called, is a perfect example of that, being something relatively small and portable that you can get for less than $300 at MSRP, and often time less than $200 if you wait for a good deal. Of course, you do give up some capacity in the exchange, with it only having 268Wh, although honestly, even that’s not too bad since it can charge your average phone 20 times or a laptop four times.
Where the Bluetti EB3A really shines, though, is in the capacity to be charged from solar energy, with its internal MPPT controller able to support up to 200 watts of charging. That will bring it up to 80% in about an hour and a half, assuming ideal weather, meaning that you could potentially use this all day long. Of course, if you want to use a more traditional wall charger, you can go up to as fast as 430-watt charging, which should fill it up in an hour. Either way, you can charge it to full capacity pretty quickly, and if you are mostly using it for phones, tablets, and laptops, you could very likely use it all day long with solar charging.
Speaking of devices, the Bluetti EB3A can handle 600 watts of output, which isn’t as much as other solar power generators here, but it’s good enough for the basics, and since it’s made to be portable, that’s what it’s aimed at. As for ports, you have nine to work with two AC outlets, two USB-A, one 100-watt USB-C, two DC551 ports, and a car port. You’ll notice that there’s still one missing, and that’s because the last and most unique port is the wireless charger, which isn’t something you’ll find in any other solar power station here and is a neat addition for those who have phones that can do wireless charging.
|Max Output Wattage
Best solar power station with solar panel bundle
|Lots of capacity
|The bundle is quite heavy
|Take a long time to charge with the Boulder 100
|Good construction with a rugged feel
If the portability of the solar panel plays a large role in your decision-making process when it comes to buying something, then this Goal Zero Yeti 1500X bundle is the one we would go for because it comes with the Boulder 100 briefcase solar panel. As the name suggests, the Boulder 100 turns into a briefcase, and while it is still a bit large and heavy, coming in at 22 pounds or so, it makes it a much easier thing to carry around, given that it’s built around that concept. Also, at 100 watts in ideal conditions, the Boulder 100 should charge the Yeti 1500X in around 18-36 hours, so it’s a perfect option for camping where you don’t plan to be using a ton of electricity constantly. That said, there is also an excellent bundle, which will charge it in around 4-8 hours, so it all depends on how much charging you need.
As for the Yeti 1500X itself, it has a pretty good capacity at 1,516Wh, so it sits in a solid middle-ground when comparing a lot of various solar power generators. In a more practical sense, it really is very well-suited for camping or other outdoor activities that might take a day or two since it can power a 35-watt mini fridge for 44 hours or 3o-watt speakers for 50 hours, plus it can do 30-watt recharges of a 50-watt laptop. That’s not to say it isn’t good for home use as well, especially given that it can run an average 71-watt fridge for 21 hours or a 65-watt CPAP machine for 24 hours. It’s versatile but probably leaning more towards outdoorsy types of activities.
In terms of ports, you get a good number, and it includes a couple of DC ports, a car port, a 60w PD USB-C, an 18W QC USB-C, and two USB-As. It also has two AC outlets that can handle up to 2000 watts total, or 3,500 watts if you use the surge feature, so it can handle some powerful machines connected to it, which is nice. It also has a really excellent screen that gives you a ton of relevant information, from battery charge to how much output you are using. The only downside is that the whole bundle is quite heavy, with the Boulder 100 being 22 pounds and the Yeti 1500x weighing 46 pounds; that’s 68 pounds worth of weight to carry, making this not as portable as we would like.
|46 pounds, 68 with solar panel
|Max Output Wattage
|2,000, up to 3,500 with Surge
Best rugged solar power station
|Rugged and versatile
|Large storage capacity
|Can take a long time to charge, even with many solar panels
If you lead a more active lifestyle and are worried that your solar power generator is not going to be able to handle the rugged lifestyle, you’re in luck! Jackery makes the 3000 Pro, which is not only lighter but is built to withstand the elements, and Jackery sure wants you to know it, given how many snowy pictures it’s in. Marketing aside, the 3,024Wh capacity is pretty impressive, especially when you consider the whole thing only weighs 64 pounds or so, and with the handle and rollers, it is easy to move around with you outside. However, it might not survive a wooded jungle as easily with so many tripping hazards.
When it comes to wattage output, you’ll be happy to note that it can handle up to 3,000 watts, which means it can handle a very wide array of things you can power, including things like a fridge, a TV, and even an AC unit. That said, it would be a pretty big waste to do that, given it’s really meant for outdoor use, with the ability to handle temperatures as low as -4°F. Also, since cold temperatures heavily impact battery life, it has a smart system that decreases the amount of power drawn according to battery level to give you as much juice as you can get out of it.
As for ports, you have a ton of them, including two 18w USB-A, two 100w USB-C, four AC ports, a fifth port made for heavy-duty appliances, and a 12v car port. Charging is similarly versatile, and you can charge it fully from a wall outlet in about 2.4 hours, while solar charging, which can go as high as 1,200 watts, will do it in about three and a half hours. While the button below will send you to just the solar power station, there’s a greats to help get you going if you don’t already have any.
|Max Output Wattage
Solar Panel capacity and compatibility
One of the most important aspects of any solar power station is how well it can interface and charge from various types of solar panels. In some cases, a solar power station might not be able to accept different types of solar panels or may be locked to its own brand’s solar panels through a proprietary connection. As such, we did our best to make picks that have at least some compatibility with various types of solar panels by using a solar charging controller that can handle any or most solar panels.
Another thing that we wanted to focus on is devices that have a reasonable charging time in ideal conditions, at least when it comes to how they are being used. The Yeti 1500X is at the very edge of that, but most of the options above can be charged within one day if you can charge them as fast as you can, whether it’s with several solar panels or a wall outlet. Some solar power stations can actually be charged with both solar and wall outlets, which obviously gives you some really fast charging.
Power station capacity
Most people who are looking for a solar power station don’t want something that will just charge their phone once in a while and can, therefore, just grab a power bank. Rather, if you’re looking for a solar power station, then you want reliable electricity for long periods of time to power several devices, whether you’re going out camping or need backup power when electricity cuts. To that end, we did our best to aim for solar power stations that have considerable capacities, and even the budget option has several times the capacity of a power bank.
A similar thought applies to the wattage output of a solar power station since you’re likely going to be running things that require a lot of wattage. For example, a TV, a small blender, a fan, and a mini-fridge all need way more wattage than your average power bank can provide. Our picks above all have a relatively high wattage output, except the budget option, which does require a couple of compromises, although it is still more than enough to handle things like mini-fridges or 100w+ laptops.
This one is a lot more complicated because the need you have will depend heavily on how heavy something is. For example, if you want a whole-house solar power station, then you’re going to have to buy something that’s really heavy to be able to keep that much charge. Similarly, being able to output a ton of wattage takes a lot of internal tech, so these tend to be quite large and take up space, especially once you start adding additional batteries to help expand the capacity. Even so, we did do our best to pick solar power stations that have at least some form of portability, even if it’s just them having rollers and you pulling them along like you would luggage.
This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.
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