Top 6 Electric Generators Compared [Goal Zero, Jackery, Renogy]


Top 6 Electric Generators Compared [Goal Zero, Jackery, Renogy]

As worries about the environment and energy cost both rises, turning to green energy is becoming more and more popular. One of the best ways to use renewable energy is an electric generator. There are numerous types of these devices on the market.

The top 6 solar power electric generators are:

  1. Goal Zero Yeti 200X Lithium
  2. Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Lithium
  3. Jackery Explorer 500 Lithium
  4. Renogy Phoenix 200 Lithium
  5. EcoFlow River 600 Lithium
  6. PAXCESS 330 Lithium

Each of the above-listed generators has its pros and cons. Continue reading to learn about each piece of equipment and other important information on solar generators to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Goal Zero Yeti 200X Lithium

A popular manufacturer of solar panels and generators is Goal Zero. The Yeti 200X Portable Power Station is one of the company’s very affordable solar generators.

This power station is versatile because not only can it be charged with solar panels, but also from AC or 12-volt power as well. The device also has a lot of ports and connections for charging devices, and a built in inverter.

You can connect up to seven different devices at once using the generator’s two 2.4-amp USB ports, two USB-C ports, one 120-volt AC outlet, and two 12-volt DC outlets (one standard and one 6mm).

The LCD display keeps you informed of your power input and output, the estimated available running time, as well as positioning your solar panels in the most efficient way. This generator can also be chained with other batteries so that you have a longer available runtime.

The Yeti 200X retails at about $299. However, that is without a solar panel. You can get this solar generator in a bulk pack with the Goal Zero Boulder 50 solar panel for around $449.

See the current price on Amazon here.

  • Wattage: 200 watts
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Charge Time: 4.5 hours with 120v wall power, or 4 hours with a 50w solar panel

Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Lithium

Yet another reliable solar power generator manufactured by Goal Zero is the Yeti 1500X. This device is similar in design to the Yeti 200X but has more features and higher battery capacity.

The two most notable benefits of the 1500X vs 200X are:

  1. The 1500X can store 1500 watts of power compared the 200 watts of power in the 200X
  2. The 1500X has two 120v outlets compared to just one on the 200X

The high-capacity battery of this power station enables it to power high-demand devices, including refrigerators, power tools, and even sump pumps. The 1500X has a 2000 watt inverter and can surge up to 3500 watts (so larger appliances are not problem). If you need some serious battery storage with the same inverter power, Goal Zero also offers a 3000X model.

Like the Yeti 200X, the 1500X model has an LCD screen that provides useful information. However, this model also has built-in wireless capabilities so that it can sync with the Goal Yeti smartphone app.

The app provides even more detailed information on your generator and even allows you to turn ports on and off. This model is also waterproof, which makes it highly useful for powering devices outdoors. This generator can be recharged by AC power, DC power, or solar panels.

The Yeti 1500X retails at about $1999 without a solar panel. You can get this solar generator in a bulk pack with the Goal Zero Boulder 200 solar panel for around $2499.

See the current price on Amazon here.

  • Wattage: 1500 watts
  • Weight: 43 pounds
  • Charge Time: 14 hours with 120v wall power, or 8 hours with a 200w solar panel

Jackery Explorer 500 Lithium

Yet another well-known manufacturer of solar devices is Jackery. The Explorer 500 Lithium is an excellent solar generator on the company’s device line. This generator is medium size, with a great value.

This device can power up to six devices at once with its two DC ports, three USB ports, and 1 AC outlet. It also has an LCD screen that provides information regarding battery life, as well as input and output levels.

Weighing in at less than 14 pounds, the Jackery Explorer is highly portable. However, it is still extremely powerful for a small generator. It has 500 watt hours, which is enough power to:

  • Run a mini-fridge for 27 hours
  • Charge a smartphone 53 times
  • Run a TV for 7.5 hours

Another added feature of this generator is its pure sine wave AC inverter. Although this is a great built-in inverter, it is rated at 500 watts and can surge up to 1000 watts (this means any device that uses over 1000 watts is a no-go).

If you plan to power a blender, coffee maker, power tools, or other bigger appliances, you may need to step up a notch to the more powerful Goal Zero Yeti 1500X for it’s 2000 watt inverter that can surge to 3500 watts.

Without solar panels, this generator retails at $499. Bundled with a Jackery 100 watt solar panel, you can buy the setup for about $799.

See the current price on Amazon here.

  • Wattage: 500 watts
  • Weight: 13.32 pounds
  • Charge Time: 7.5 hours with 120v wall power, or 9.5 hours with a 100w solar panel

Renogy Phoenix 200 Lithium

The Phoenix 200 Lithium by Renogy is an excellent solar power generator for those looking for an emergency backup option during power failures. This generator is small, but is the most affordable.

This device has a built-in handle for easy transport and even has a multi-mode flashlight, which is perfect during blackouts. Designed for charging smaller devices such as iPhones and laptops, the Phoenix 200 has two AC outlets, three USB ports, one USB-C port, and a DC port.

The battery also has a built-in battery management system to protect the generator while it is charging. The power station can be charged by solar, AC, and DC power. Moreover, the power station offers pure sine wave power for the stable charging of devices.

Since this is the smallest generator on the list, it is definitely not rated to power any medium or large appliances.

Though it does not have an LCD information screen, this solar generator has indicator lights for 100%, 75%, 50%, and 25% of battery power remaining.

The Renogy Phoenix 200 Lithium retails at $199 without solar panels. If you bundle it with a Renogy 50 watt solar panel, you are looking at $300 total.

See the current price on Amazon here.

  • Wattage: 200 watts
  • Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • Charge Time: 4.5 hours with 120v wall power, or 7 hours with a 50w solar panel

EcoFlow River 600 Lithium

EcoFlow is yet another company that has been in the green energy market for some time. Its River 600 Lithium is an excellent choice. This generator has the fastest recharge rate.

The River 600 can power up to 10 devices at once, with three AC outlets, three USB ports (including one fast-charge port), a USB-C port, two DC ports, and a carport.

Like other devices described above, this one offers pure sine wave technology for charging devices via its AC ports.

Unlike other devices, the River 600 has an X-Boost mode that enables it to power devices up to 1800 watts. Moreover, this power station has special fast recharging technology, which allows it to recharge from 0% to 80% in only 1 hour.

The device will get fully charged in a little over 1.5 hours. It can be charged via AC, DC, or solar power. This fast recharging mode does cause the generator to be a little noisy. However, there is also a special quiet recharging mode that takes a little longer but is nearly silent.

Though this power station has an LCD information screen, you can also control the device via a smartphone app.

Without a solar panel, the EcoFlow River 600 Lithium retails at $599. If bundled with an EcoFlow 110 watt solar panel, it will cost $949.

See the current price on Amazon here.

  • Wattage: 600 watts
  • Weight: 14.37 pounds
  • Charge Time: 1.6 hours with 120v wall power, or 4.5 hours with a 110w solar panel

PAXCESS 330 Lithium

The final solar generator to consider is the PAXCESS 330 Lithium. This generator is on the smaller side again, but it has the most bang-for-your-buck.

This generator is bigger than both of the 200 watt generators above, coming in at 330 watts, but still considered to be small compared to the others. When fully charged, this device has enough power to recharge a:

  • Smartphone 27 times
  • Mini tablet 11 times
  • Floodlight 56 times

Designed to power smaller devices, this generator has three 3.0 USB ports, one USB-C port, two DC ports, and one AC port. The AC port provides power via a pure sine inverter. This PAXCESS device also has a built-in wireless charger on top so that items like smartphones can be charged wirelessly.

You will not be able to charge larger appliances (blenders, coffee makers, power tools, etc.) but you will be able to charge all your small emergency devices.

Moreover, this solar generator has a LED light that has various modes, including an SOS mode. With a silica gel anti-collision strip attached around it, the PAXCESS 330 is also ruggedly built, which makes it a perfect companion for hiking and camping trips.

This device can be charged via AC, DC, or solar power. With a built-in MPPT solar charge controller, this generator is designed to recharge as efficiently as possible using energy from the sun.

The PAXCESS also has an LCD information screen to provide relevant information about the battery, input, and output.

Not including solar panels, the PAXCESS 330 Lithium retails at $299. Bundled with a PAXCESS 120w solar panel, it will cost $519.

See the current price on Amazon here.

  • Wattage: 330 watts
  • Weight: 7.1 pounds
  • Charge Time: 5.5 hours with 120v wall power, or 5 hours with a 120w solar panel

What to Look for in Electric Generators

As you can tell, there are numerous kinds of solar power stations, from the highly portable to the stationary and everything in between. When deciding on the best device for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • What will I be powering with my device? (inverter size)
  • How long will I need to be able to power these devices? (battery capacity)
  • Do I need to be able to travel with it? (overall weight)
  • Where will I be placing the solar panels to charge it? (solar panel size)

Depending on your answers, you will be able to decide on a device with the wattage and outlets you need.

In general, the more power you need and the longer the time you need it, your device will become heavier and less portable. You will also need more solar panels and/or more time in order to charge it.

When estimating your needs, always add an additional 25% as a buffer. By doing this, you will take into account any unforeseen events that may require extra power.

Main Components of an Excellent Electric Generator

There are five main components to look for when selecting a generator:

Inverter: Be sure the inverter provides enough power for the devices you want to plug into it (when in doubt, go with a larger size). Always be aware of how much your devices may surge (for example, an 800w portable air conditioning unit may surge to 1200w when used in hot/humid conditions).

Battery: You want your battery to be able to store enough energy to power your devices for the amount of time you need.

Solar: Look for devices that allow you to use portable solar panels rather than roof-mounted ones. Also, be sure your device can take in at least 100 watts of solar energy if you’re looking for fast charging.

Charge Controller: You want a device that has a battery management system, when possible. A large input range voltage is also helpful as voltages range for solar panels. An MPPT controller is an added bonus.

Expandability: If possible, you want a device that will allow you to add more batteries or chain connect the batteries. You also want a device that allows you to add more solar panels.

Though you may not be able to find a generator within your budget that fits all five of these requirements, try to find a device that meets at least the top three most important ones for you.

Trickle Charging

Another factor to check on when deciding on a solar generator is whether the unit allows itself to be charged while it is simultaneously providing power to other devices.

Also known as trickle charging, this feature allows you to keep your solar generator fully charged while still using its power. This feature is not available on all types of solar generators. The smaller, more portable ones usually do not support trickle charging.

Trickle charging is vital if you are looking for a device that can provide you power over multiple days. Be sure to check all the specifications of the generator you are considering to ensure it has this feature if you need it.

Start Small

Do not allow the large price points of some of the solar power generators out there to sway you from purchasing one of these helpful devices.

Many experts recommend that you start with a smaller power station–one that is made to power just a few devices for a few hours. These types of devices are usually much more affordable and highly portable.

These generators will allow you to learn how solar power stations operate without costing you too much. They will also enable you to see how many devices you would actually like to be able to power at one time.

Many people order a small power station thinking they will only use it in emergencies, only to find within a few months’ time that they use it much more regularly. Once you get used to working with a smaller unit, you can always upgrade to a larger device as needed.

Not Just One

Another option to consider when comparing solar power generators is you do not need to settle on a single device that will meet all of your needs.

It is actually quite difficult to find a device that meets every unique need that you have. Instead, there may be two or more different devices that will each meet some of your needs and together meet them all.

For example, rather than trying to find a device powerful enough to provide energy for your entire home and light enough to take camping, consider getting two different devices: one large one for your home and a smaller one for camping trips.

Consider Warranties

Because solar generators are essentially large batteries that are continuously being charged and discharged, the battery will eventually begin to fail.

As such, be sure to check the warranty of your device. Most manufacturers offer a one-year warranty (Goal Zero offers 2-year for all of their generators!). However, there are after-market warranties you can purchase to cover your device for longer If you wish to purchase an extended warranty for your generator.

Storage

When choosing a solar power electric generator, you must also consider where you will be storing the unit when you are not using it. Your available options may vary depending on its size, portability, and weight.

However, you must also consider the safety of your storage options. Because solar generators contain large batteries, they must be stored in proper places that meet the device’s temperature and other requirements.

In most cases, when putting your solar generator in storage and not using it for long periods of time, charge the battery to full capacity and store plugged-in in a cool/dry place for the best battery health.

Be sure to check the documentation from the manufacturer in order to store your equipment in the safest place that also keeps the device running as efficiently as possible.

Conclusion

Solar generators are excellent alternatives to traditional generators that do not make noise or produce toxic fumes. Moreover, because so many of these units are small and portable, you can take them to more places than you would a standard generator (even indoors).

These types of equipment are excellent add-ons for camping trips, outside excursions, and even parties. The added bonus of using a solar generator is you know you are also doing something good for the environment. These devices provide clean, renewable energy that is neither hurting the earth nor your pocket.

Generators range from small to large and everything in between. No matter your budget and your power needs, there is a solar generator on the market that will meet your demands.

Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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