best solar generator for RV

10 Best Solar Generators For RV Off-Grid Trips in 2022

If you are a boondocker with minimal electricity needs and you don’t want to permanently install solar panels on the roof of your RV for any reason, having a solar-powered generator would be a versatile and portable substitute for solar panels.

This type of generator also has many advantages over those that run on gasoline or diesel: they are quiet, emission-free and not dependent on fuel supply. As such, having the best solar generator for RV would keep you powered during off-grid trips while opening up more travel possibilities. 

To make your purchasing decision as fuss-free as possible, here’s a handpicked list of the 10 solar powered generators for RVs, with something for every wallet and camping need.

You will also find a comparison of solar generators with fuel-run generators and permanently installed solar panels so that you can decide whether this type of generator is right for you, plus what to look for in a solar generator, and answers to common questions regarding usage, maintenance and more. 

How Does RV Solar Generators Work?

In camping applications, sоlаr gеnеrаtоrѕ are primarily used as a backup power source on off-grid trips, when you’re not having access to electrical hookups at the campground. As the name suggests, unlike traditional generators that run on fuel, like gasoline or diesel, this type of generator runs on sunlight energy. 

Considering the components of a solar generator and how they work together, this machine is in essence a solar installation just like the solar panels mounted on the roof of an RV, but it is made to be portable while solar panels are permanently installed. 

solar generator for van life
Photo: EcoFlow

A solar generator consists of four components: solar panels, a built-in solar battery, an inverter, and a charge controller:  

  • Solar panels: The solar panels absorb sunlight energy.
  • Solar battery: The built-in solar batteries allow you to store the power generated by the solar panels for use at a later time when there’s no sunlight or on days when the weather is overcast. There are five common types of solar batteries: lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, flow batteries, lithium ion and lithium iron phosphate. Solar generators with a lead-acid battery are often the cheapest, while units with the most advanced lithium iron phosphate batteries tend to last the longest and deliver the most reliable performance while being the most lightweight. That said, lithium ion batteries are also an excellent choice for most camping applications.
  • Inverter:  Before discharging the generated power to the needed appliances, an inverter is needed to convert the direct current (DC) power produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) power used by most commercial appliances these days. You’ll usually need an inverter for any solar panel that is bigger than five watts. That said, if you have a tiny RV equipped with only a handful of appliances that use DC power, like LED lights, you can do without the inverter, since there’s no need to convert DC power to AC power.
  • Charge controller: A charge controller is crucial when you have a permanently installed solar system, and this is also the case when you have a portable solar generator. The charge controller sits between the solar panels and the built-in solar battery of the generator. The charge controller limits the amount and rate of charge supplied to the solar battery to prevent it from being overcharged. It also prevents the solar battery from being over-discharged by shutting down the generator when the battery’s stored power falls below a certain threshold, most commonly around 50 percent capacity. These directly help prolong battery life and maximize its health. 

If you are still not sure whether you would be better off with a solar generator, or should you opt for a traditional unit that runs on gasoline, diesel or propane, or maybe get a set of solar panels permanently mounted on your RV roof, skip to the section after the top-10 review for a comparison. Otherwise, dive right in. 

Reviews of 10 Best RV Solar Generators

No matter your power consumption and intended camping applications, you will find a good fit among these 10 best RV solar generator units. They are all reasonably priced, solidly made and reliable.

The novice can skip to the next section to learn the most important buying criteria first, so that it will be easier for you to compare between different models. 

1. Best Overall: BLUETTI AC200P 2000Wh Portable Power Station

BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC200P, 2000Wh Solar Generator for Outdoor RV Camping
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Solar battery type: lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Battery storage capacity: 2,000Wh
  • Supports: up to 700W worth of solar panels (solar panels not included)
  • Notable features: smart MPPT charge controller, 2,000W inverter, fast charging (3.5 hours with 700W solar input)
  • Outlets: 1 x 12V DC, 6 x 120V AC, 4 x USB, 2 x 15W wireless charging pads
  • Safety features: Low current, short-current, over-charge, over-discharge, high voltage and thermal protection
  • Weight: 60.6 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years

Why we love it:

For a solar-enabled portable power station that costs north of $1,500, the fact that solar panels are not included is a major inconvenience. Usually, buyers would be extra critical towards such a product, but the AC200P solar generator from BLUETTI still got a stellar 4.5 stars Amazon rating from over a thousand happy customers, which shows how functional and money-worthy this unit is. 

Just at a glance, you’ll see that this little power station is equipped with the most advanced components for the most reliable performance and the longest lifespan possible. It boasts high capacity, long lasting lithium iron phosphate batteries with a storage capacity of 2,000Wh, which can power a portable 8,000 BTU air conditioning unit for up to 7 hours, a full-sized electric grill for an hour or a TV for at least 20 hours. This battery can withstand over 3,500 deep discharge cycles of down to 80 percent capacity. 

On top of that is the 2,000W inverter and the smart MPPT charge controller that will ensure optimum power output with minimal losses. I find that this generator is more than sufficient for most average camping applications. It can power any appliances rated for up to 2,000 watts.

Although solar panels are not included, this solar generator can support up to 700 watts worth of panels. A major merit that I highly appreciate from this little powerhouse is fast charging. A 700 watt solar system would charge it to full capacity in 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours, while most similar offerings on the market would take at least 5 hours to reach full charge with the same solar input. 

This solar generator comes with 17 outlets, including car ports, 120 volt AC, 12 volt DC, USB, PD Type C and even two wireless charging pads to charge most home and personal devices. In addition, it will protect even the most sensitive appliances from electrical mishaps, thanks to the various safety features in place, including low current, short-current, over-charge, over-discharge, high voltage and thermal protection. All in all, it is a perfect, well rounded solar generator for most average off-grid applications.

2. Best Value: EF ECOFLOW DELTA Max 2016Wh Solar Generator with 220W Solar Panel

EF ECOFLOW Solar Generator DELTA Max (2000) 2016Wh with 220W Solar Panel
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Battery storage capacity: 2,016Wh
  • Solar panel output: 220W 
  • Supports: up to 800W worth of solar panels
  • Notable features: bifacial solar panels for 25% more power, foldable solar panels, app control 
  • Outlets: 12V DC, 6 x 120V AC, 4 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C

Why we love it:

If you want a reliable solar generator that can meet most average camping demands and comes with solar panels included, check out the DELTA Max power station by ECOFLOW. This unit comes with a 220 watt solar panel, but should you need more power, you can expand your solar setup to 800 watts. 

This 220 watt panel is foldable to fit neatly into the accompanying storage case, so you can carry your portable generator and solar panel anywhere with ease. Another thing that’s special about the included solar panel is that it is bifacial, that is it can absorb sunlight energy with both surfaces and thus produce about 25 percent more power. 

The DELTA Max has a battery storage capacity of 2,016Wh, which you can expand up to three times, that is up to 6,048Wh. And with ECOFLOW’s X-Boost technology, this solar generator can power almost all your home and personal appliances rated for up to 3,400 watts via its many AC, DC and USB outlets. Specifically, it can power a TV for around 15 hours, a mini fridge for over 33 hours, a small air conditioner for 1 to 2 hours, and a space heater for about 1 hour. 

Overall, this is a portable, versatile and reliable solar generator with a decent capacity that’s expandable to allow for increasing power demand. An extra handy feature is app control for remote monitoring. I also find that this unit recharges quite quickly. The included 220 watt solar panel can charge it to full capacity in about 11-20 hours given lots of sun, and under 5 hours if you expand your setup to 800 watts.

3. Supports High Solar Output: Anker 757 Portable Power Station 1229Wh LiFePO4 Battery


Anker 757 Portable Power Station, 1500W Solar Generator with 6 AC Outlets
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Solar battery type: lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Battery storage capacity: 1,229Wh
  • Supports: up to 1,500W worth of solar panels (solar panels not included)
  • Outlets: 6 x AC, 4 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, 1 x car outlet
  • Weight: 43.9 lbs
  • Warranty: 5 year warranty

Why we love it:

If you don’t need the highest battery capacity but prioritize a solar generator that’s made to last, the 757 Portable Power Station by Anker will be your safest investment. This unit also comes with the most advanced lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, but it comes with a rare 5 year warranty while most similar competitors only offer a 2 year warranty. And indeed, you will see from the Amazon reviews that plenty of buyers who have owned the Anker 757 for 3 to 5 years and above often sing the praise of its reliable performance and long lifespan. 

The Anker 757’s LiFePO4 battery has a storage capacity of 1,229Wh. This is not the highest you can get, but it is sufficient for most moderate power demands. This power station can power a table fan for about 20 hours, a 12-volt portable RV fridge for 16 hours, a TV for 8 hours and an electric grill for a bit over 1 hour. 

Furthermore, this storage capacity is made up for by the fact that this solar generator can support up to 1,500W worth of solar panels. This is more than many similar models at this price range; the solar panels are not included though. With such a solar setup in place, the Anker 757’s industry-leading HyperFlash technology would charge the built-in battery to 80 percent capacity in just 1 hour instead of 5 hours or more with similar offerings.  

I particularly like this generator’s intuitive control and informative display. In addition, it comes with all the outlets you will need to directly power many appliances and personal devices like laptop and smartphone without bulky adapters: one car outlet, 6 AC ports, 4 USB A-Type ports, and 2 USB C-Type ports.

4. Best Lightweight: ALLPOWERS S2000 Pro Solar Generator with Panels Included

ALLPOWERS S2000 Pro Solar Generator with Panels Included
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Battery storage capacity: 1,500Wh
  • Solar panel output: 200W 
  • Solar cell efficiency: 22%
  • Supports: up to 650W worth of solar panels
  • Notable features: foldable solar panels, app control
  • Outlets: 1 car outlet, 4 x AC, 4 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, 1 x 30 amp RV port
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years

Why we love it:

The ALLPOWERS S2000 Pro Solar Generator is a super affordable choice for the budget campers and first-time RV owners. For under $1,700, you get 1,500Wh of power and two 100W solar panels included in the kit, or a total of 200W. You can also connect more solar panels to get up to 650W of solar output. The standard 200W setup can power an induction stove for 1 hour, an RV mini fridge for 17 hours, a coffee maker for 2 hours and a portable air conditioning unit for 2 hours.

The included solar panels boast an impressive cell efficiency of 22 percent, while the majority of offerings on the market top out at 20 percent. I find that this unit really delivers on this front, given the amount of sun I typically get. I got enough power from my 600W setup to power everything I needed, including a mini fridge, a grill and a space heater during the cooler months. On top of that, these panels are neatly foldable for easy carrying, plus this unit is one of the most lightweight in the market, weighing in at just above 30 pounds, making it easy to carry and set up at your campground.  

Another nice addition is the 30-amp RV port, alongside the various AC, USB and car outlets for charging any electronics you brought along. Other handy features include app control, the solar panels being heavy duty and waterproof, and the convenient adjustable brackets for the panels. 

5. Jackery Solar Generator Explorer 1500 

Jackery Solar Generator 1500 1534Wh Capacity with 4X Solar Panels SolarSaga 100W
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Solar battery type: lithium ion battery
  • Battery storage capacity: 1,534Wh
  • Solar panel output: 400W 
  • Solar cell efficiency: 23%
  • Notable features: MPPT charge controller 
  • Outlets: 1 x DC, 3 x AC, 2 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C
  • Warranty: 2 years warranty

Why we love it:

This Jackery Solar Generator Explorer 1500 comes with a 1,534Wh lithium ion battery, a smart MPPT charge controller and four 100W solar panels i.e. a total output of 400W. The numbers might not be the most impressive on the market, but I as well as many other campers find that this solar generator is extremely efficient at generating electricity given what it has. The panels boast a stellar solar cell efficiency rating of 23 percent, which is about as high as can be, and this coupled with the smart MPPT charge controller ensures that you get the most power possible.

This solar generator is not the most powerful option out there, but it is highly reliable for moderate energy use. It can power an electric stove or a coffee maker for 70 minutes, a space heater for 1.5 hours, a mini cooler for 21 hours and an electric grill for 1 hour. As for charging, the four solar panels can charge this generator to 80 percent capacity in 4 hours and to full capacity in 5 to 6 hours.  

6. OUPES 2232Wh Portable Power Station 

OUPES 2400W Portable Solar Generator for Home Backup Outdoor Camping RV
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Solar battery type: lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Battery storage capacity: 2,233Wh
  • Supports: up to 960W worth of solar panels (solar panels not included)
  • Notable features: 2,400W inverter, dual charging (2 wall outlets or wall outlet + solar charging), Battery Management System
  • Outlets: 5 x AC, 2 x DC, 4 x USB-A,  2 x USB-C, 1 car outlet
  • Weight: 45.6 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years

Why we love it:

What’s special about this OUPES portable solar generator is that it supports dual charging. You can charge it with dual wall outlets, which would take about 5.5 hours to reach full capacity, or with one wall outlet and one 240W solar panel, which would take 6.2 hours to reach 100 percent. Meanwhile, charging with a single wall outlet would take 11 hours. As for solar charging, one 240W solar panel would take 14 hours, while two such panels or a total of 480W would take 7 hours, and four panels or a total of 960W would take 3.5 hours. Solar panels are not included.

You can also top up this generator at any EV charging station; a 110V 16A EV charger would fully charge this unit in only 1 hour. 

All in all, this is a reliable and well rounded portable power station for many camping applications. It comes with a LiFePO4 battery capable of 2,233Wh of power, and boasts an advanced Battery Management System (BMS) to ensure optimal power output as well as battery lifespan. The 2,400W inverter and total of 14 output ports will let you run various electronics and charge your personal devices that are rated for up to 2,400W. This is a lesser known product in the market for camping solar generators, but you won’t regret making this investment. 

7. Goal Zero Yeti 1000X Portable Solar-Powered Generator

Goal Zero Yeti 1000X Portable Solar-Powered Generator with USB-A/USB-C Ports and AC Outlets
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Battery storage capacity: 983Wh
  • Supports: up to 300W worth of solar panels (solar panels not included)
  • Notable features: MPPT solar charge controller, anodized aluminum construction, 1,500W inverter
  • Outlets: 2 x high speed port, 1 x car outlet, 2 x 6mm ports, 2 x DC, 2 x AC, 2 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C
  • Weight: 36.7 lbs

Why we love it:

The Yeti 1000X portable power station by Goal Zero is a solidly built solar generator for the single or minimal campers with low to moderate power needs. This unit has a battery storage capacity of just under 1,000Wh, a 1,500W inverter, and a smart MPPT charge controller. It can support up to 300W worth of solar panels, albeit not included. It can run a 12 volt portable RV fridge for 18 hours, a pellet grill for 17 hours, a TV for 10 hours and an LED light for 90 hours. 

I find that charging is pretty efficient, which takes about 6 hours with 200W of solar power, 9 hours with a wall outlet or a 12V car outlet, or only 2 hours with a 600W power supply. What I particularly like about this unit is its heavy duty anodized aluminum construction that proves to withstand physical beatings on the open road well. 

This solar generator is not as popular as other offerings in this list that have higher capacity, but if you travel alone in a tiny van or trailer and your power demand is not likely to increase anytime soon, I think this unit is just right in terms of power output and price. 

8. OUKITEL P2001 Solar Generator 

Portable Power Station 2000W, OUKITEL P2001 Solar Generator
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Solar battery type: lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Battery storage capacity: 2,000Wh
  • Supports: up to 500W worth of solar panels (solar panels not included)
  • Notable features: UPS function, battery management system
  • Outlets: 6 x AC, 2 xDC, 2 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, 2 x USB-C PD, 1 x ACC, 1 x XT60 port
  • Weight: 48.5 lbs

Why we love it:

The OUKITEL P2001 solar generator is another lesser known model that is fully functional yet very affordable. For about $1,500, you get a LiFePO4 battery with a decent storage capacity of 2,000Wh. It can support up to 500W worth of solar panels, although the solar panels are not included.

A special feature is the unique uninterruptible power supply (UPS) function. When the power goes out unexpectedly, the power supply will automatically switch to battery power and can continue to supply power to each device without interruption. I also like the user-friendly LCD screen that displays the current, voltage, power, temperature, and charging status in real-time. 

For its reasonable price, it’s a pleasant surprise that this reliable solar generator also comes with an advanced battery management system and a whole array of safety features to protect your most sensitive electronics, including overload, over voltage, low voltage, short circuit and discharge low temperature protection. If you want extra fast charging, this unit can be fully recharged in just 1.5 hours with dual charging, i.e. with a 1100W AC input plus 500W solar input. 

9. GRECELL 1997Wh Outdoor Solar Generator 

2000W Portable Power Station 1997Wh GRECELL Outdoor Solar Generator
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Solar battery type: lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Battery storage capacity: 1,997Wh
  • Supports: up to 500W worth of solar panels
  • Notable features: UPS function, 2,000W inverter, MPPT charge controller
  • Outlets: 6 × AC, 2 × DC, 2 × USB-C, 2 × USB-A, 2 × USB-C PD, 1 × XT-60, 1 × car outlet, 
  • Weight: 48 lbs

Why we love it:

GRECELL has another excellent solar power station that also offers 2,000Wh LiFePO4 batteries, UPS function and super fast charging. This unit supports up to 500W worth of solar panels. Such a setup would charge this generator to full capacity in just 4.5 hours, while a standard household 1100W AC power outlet allows full recharge within 2 hours. 

This unit has one of the most informative LCD displays, which shows the battery level, discharge remaining time, current, voltage, power, temperature & charging status. Another thing that I love about this solar generator is the two 100-watt PD outlet ports designed for super-fast charging. They  can charge type-C port electronic devices like smartphones, Ipads and laptops to 80 percent capacity within half an hour.

Its capacity and its 16 different output ports will allow most campers with moderate power demand to run most household appliances and personal devices, including a pressure cooker for about 2 hours, a coffee maker for 3.5 hours, a projector for 20 hours, a mini fridge for 30 hours, and an electric grill for 2 hours. 

10. EENOUR 2000Wh Portable Power Station

Portable Power Station 2000W (4000W Peak), 1.5hrs Fast Charge Solar Generator
Check prices and reviews

Specifications:

  • Solar battery type: lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Battery storage capacity: 2,000Wh
  • Supports: up to 500W worth of solar panels (not included)
  • Notable features: UPS function, battery management system, MPPT charge controller
  • Outlets: 6 x AC, 2 x DC, 2 USB-C PD 100W, 2 USB-A QC 3.0, 2 USB-A, 1 x car cigarette lighter outlet, 1 x XT60
  • Weight: 48.5 lbs

Why we love it:

If you like the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) function of the previous OUKITEL generator that lets the unit automatically switch to battery power in the case of an outage, this unit from EENOUR is another excellent choice. In addition to the UPS function, it is comparable with the OUKITEL in several aspects: It also comes with a 2,000Wh LiFePO4 battery and advanced BMS, and also can support up to 500W worth of solar panels (not included). 

This unit also charges quite fast: 1.5 hours if using both a 1,100W AC outlet and 500W solar input, 1.8 hours with a single wall outlet and only 5 hours with 500W solar input. This EENOUR solar generator is also highly affordable for its capacity and reliable performance and makes one of the best RV solar generators for first-time RV owners and those who do not travel full-time. 

Solar Generators vs Solar Panels

You might be wondering whether you should go for a full-fledged solar system permanently installed on your RV’s roof or a portable solar generator. This depends on your camping needs.

If you have a lot of power-hungry appliances that you want to power during longer off-grid trips, only a permanent solar system consisting of several solar panels would be sufficient for your electricity demand.

Meanwhile, if you only go on short off-grid trips at a time and have minimal power consumption, a solar generator might be a more versatile investment, as you can still get a lot of use out of it when you’re not camping in your RV. 

Portability

Solar generators are portable. You can bring them with you on the go and stow them away when not in use. This makes them more versatile than permanently installed rooftop solar systems, as you can alternate your solar generator between multiple applications wherever you need it.

For instance, when you’re not traveling, you can use it to power a small cabin, tree house or home office in your backyard.  

Meanwhile, rooftop solar systems involve permanent installations and connecting the panels to your RV’s electrical system. The benefit here is that a permanent rooftop system is typically larger in size than a portable solar generator and thus will provide more power overall.  

Recharging

A solar generator’s portability also means that you will need to set it out under the sun for it to recharge and produce electricity every time you arrive at a new campground.

And when the unit is put away for travel, no power will be generated. Meanwhile, a rooftop solar system is always operating, even when your RV is on the move. You only need to park your rig somewhere under direct sunlight. 

Maintenance

Thanks to their portability, solar generators allow for ease of maintenance, since you can stow them away in inclement weather or for storage so that your unit is not exposed to extreme temperatures and harsh outdoor elements.

Meanwhile, a permanent solar system is constantly exposed to Mother Nature and thus generally requires more regular inspection.

This means you would need to climb on the roof to make sure your solar panels are clean and free from cracks or other issues that would threaten their functionality. 

solar generator for camper
Photo: Bluetti

Solar Generators vs Fuel-Run Generators

In most off-grid applications, campers who already have a rooftop solar system installed but want a backup power source as insurance would opt for a conventional generator that runs on gasoline or diesel or propane gas.

This is because by the principle of diversification, your backup power source should not run on the same type of fuel or input as your primary power source.

Meanwhile, if you’re a minimalist traveler who only goes on short off-grid trips at a time in a tiny RV, your trip would be so much more enjoyable if you bring along a solar powered RV generator instead of one that runs on fuel. 

Emissions and Noise

The average gas- or diesel-powered generator is quite noisy, with a noise output of between 60 and 70 decibels when heard from 23 feet away. That’s only a little less annoying than a vacuum cleaner. Do note that some national parks have a limit on the generator’s noise level as to prevent disturbance of wildlife. Furthermore, this is not something you want to hear all day and night.

In addition, fuel-run generators also emit foul smelling fumes that will further spoil your outdoor lounging and of course are not friendly to the environment.

Meanwhile, generators that run on solar power are almost perfectly quiet and produce no harmful emissions, so you won’t be inhaling harmful gas or disturbing wildlife at your campground. If you’re a boondocker who loves camping at remote, quiet and unspoilt locations, having a fume- and noise-free solar generator would really make your trip more wholesome. 

Independence from Fuel Supply

Another major advantage of solar generators is that since they don’t rely on fuel to run, you will be saving a lot in terms of fuel cost and the time spent on refilling fuel in the long run. No more refilling also means that you will have more freedom planning your itinerary and more travel possibilities. 

Maintenance

A solar generator does not use fuel, so you won’t have to worry about periodic maintenance like changing oil or air filters. In general, solar generators have almost no potential for mechanical problems. If your solar generator comes with a built-in flooded lead acid battery, the only thing you need to do is to check the electrolyte level and refill with distilled water if needed. Otherwise if your unit uses the more advanced and maintenance-free lithium-Ion batteries, you won’t need to do anything.

Recharging

With gas- or diesel-powered generators, you can run the unit anytime as long as there’s enough fuel supply. However, with a solar generator, you can only run the unit when there’s enough power stored in the built-in battery that’s available for you to use. 

If you keep drawing power from the solar battery when it has been depleted down to a critical level, this will shorten the battery lifespan. And do note that the battery accounts for a major share of the value of a solar generator, or at least 90 percent in most cases. So if the built-in battery is ruined, the solar generator will need to be replaced for good. 

Typically, it takes less than 48 hours to charge a solar generator to full capacity, but charging time varies depending on the battery’s depth of discharge, the size of the solar panels and the amount of available sunlight. 

How To Pick The Best Solar Generator For RV

The buying criteria for solar powered generators for RVs differ quite a bit from those for gas- and diesel-powered generators. Keep in mind the following specifications and features to get the most value for your money:

solar powered generator for RV

30 Amp vs 50 Amp Generators

An RV either runs on a 30-amp service or a 50-amp service, and you need to buy your generator accordingly for everything to function smoothly. That is, a 30-amp service RV needs a 30 amp solar generator while a 50-amp RV needs a 50 amp solar generator. 

A 30 amp service RV provides a maximum 3,600 watts while a 50 amp service RV provides a maximum 12,000 watts. A 30 amp solar generator is typically rated for between 3,000 watts and 3,600 watts, while most 50 amp solar generators are rated for between 12,000 watts and 12,500 watts. 

This means that if you buy a 50 amp solar generator for use with a 30 amp rig, even with an adapter, your 30 amp service RV won’t receive more power than the 3,600 watts it is made to handle. Conversely, if you use a 30 amp solar generator for a 50 amp service RV with an adapter, you will be limited to the 3,000 watts or 3,600 watts that the 30 amp generator can output.  

Battery’s Power Storage Capacity

When it comes to solar generators, you would always get more value for your money with a unit that has larger battery storage capacity. Battery storage capacity is measured in watt hours (Wh) or kilowatt hours (kWh).

A higher capacity built-in battery would allow your solar generator to store more power for later use in the evening when the sun is down or on cloudy days when there’s little to no direct sunlight. 

Battery Type 

In terms of battery type, the best options are lithium ion batteries or even better, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. Compared to the cobalt-based lithium ion batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries can deliver higher power output, faster charging, reduced weight and longer lifetime.

Solar Power Output

Another crucial specification of solar generators is the output of the solar panels, which is measured in Watts. The higher the wattage rating, the more appliances your generator can run for a longer period of time. The most common wattage ratings for solar panels today are 100 watts and 110 watts, followed by 120 watts, 160 watts, 200 watts, 220 watts and 400 watts. 

The general rule of thumb is that if you own anything other than a tiny Class B minivan, you would need a solar generator rated for at least 200 watts. 

* How To Choose The Right Size Of Solar Generator by Estimating Your Daily Power Consumption: 

A higher capacity solar generator would always cost more, so if you don’t want to unnecessarily spend more money on an overkill, the surest way to get a solar generator of the right size is to estimate your average daily power consumption. 

The most conservative calculation is to add up the total wattage drawn by all the appliances that you use in your small rig. Allow for the fact that you won’t likely use all of them at a time, but never cut it too close. Another important note is to start your calculations from the items that demand the most electricity.

Each electrical appliance has a sticker on it that states its wattage consumption. Do note that devices with electric motors would have two numbers: a running wattage and a starting wattage. The starting wattage for this type of electronics is typically much higher than the running wattage, as more electricity is required to get the motor up and running. This means you will need to add up the starting wattage of your appliances, not the running wattage. 

For instance, a small 12 volt RV refrigerator needs only about 200 to 600 running wattage but up to 900 starting wattage. A typical RV microwave convection oven needs the same level of  running wattage, but requires up to 2,200 watts for starting up.  

Solar Cell Efficiency

There are cases where RVers complain that their solar panels don’t deliver their marketing claims in terms of power output. This is something you can’t test before buying. The best thing you can do is to look for a solar generator that comes with monocrystalline panels.

The solar cells in a monocrystalline panel are made from a single crystal, allowing the electrons to have greater mobility and thus generate a greater flow of electricity. Meanwhile, the cells in a polycrystalline panel are made of multiple crystals, which makes them less efficient. So with all else being equal, a solar generator with monocrystalline panels would produce more electricity from the same amount of sunlight. 

The electricity-generating efficiency of a solar panel is measured in percentage, and the higher the better. Most panels these days have an efficiency of between 15 percent and 20 percent, with a very few being slightly more efficient. You might think 20 percent and below is too low, but remember that a solar panel can only produce electricity from direct sunlight, not diffused or indirect sunlight that bounces off something and then hits the panel’s surface.

Outlets

This is not a deal breaker, but while you’re out camping, it’s very handy to have a generator with several outlets, including 120 volt, 12 volt DC, and USB for directly charging your phone or laptop, for instance.

Also, if you want to run one single cable to power appliances like speakers and projector for lounging outside your rig, you should get a generator extension cord with household-type 120 volt sockets.

Solar Generator For Camper FAQs

Can I run an RV solar generator while driving?

If your generator runs on gasoline, diesel or propane, you should not run it while driving for safety reasons, as well as to avoid inhaling nasty fumes and depleting your fuel tank which your RV might also tap into to run.

As such, due to the way solar generators work, you can run your machine while driving. A solar generator does not emit harmful gas, does not consume fuel from your fuel tank, and has no components that can be a fire hazard. 

Can I replace the batteries in my RV solar generator?

You can change the battery on most generators, but since the majority of, or around 90 percent of the cost of a solar generator is the battery itself, you would be better off buying a new generator altogether.

How long does it take to charge a solar generator?

In most cases, it typically takes less than 48 hours for a solar generator to reach full charge, but this depends on the amount of available sunlight, the size of the solar panels and whether an appliance is drawing power from the generator during charging.

What will a 100W solar generator run?

A 100 watt solar generator can only power small 12 volt devices that consume little power like a few LED lights, mobile phones, tablets and laptops, table fans and WiFi routers. 

What size solar generator do I need to charge a 12 volt RV battery?

To calculate the size of solar generator you need for topping off your RV house battery, you will need the capacity of your battery, which is measured in Ampere Hour. You can find this rating on its nameplate. Let’s say you have one 12-volt 200AH battery. This battery can provide 200 amp-hour of power per the standard 20 hours of available use per day. Next, we need to calculate this battery’s amp rating: 200AH ÷ 20 hours = 10 amps.

We need to charge this 12-volt battery at 10 amps and 12 volts, which means to charge your battery, you will need a generator with an output rating of at least: 10 amps x 12 volts = 120 watts. Always go up to the next common size, so the smallest size of solar generator you should get is one that comes with one 200 watt solar panel or two 100W solar panels. 

What size generator do I need for a 30 amp/50 amp RV?

For a 30-amp service RV, you will need at least a 3,000 watts generator, which will allow you to run an A/C. But you won’t be able to go over 3,600 watts, since even with an adapter, your 30 amp service RV won’t receive more power than the 3,600 watts it is made to handle. Meanwhile, if you have a 50-amp service RV, go for a generator that’s rated for 12,000 watts to 12,500 watts. 

What size generator do I need to run AC in an RV?

This depends on the BTU rating of your A/C unit, as well as its specific starting wattage and running wattage. Air conditioners often have a much higher starting wattage than running wattage, so after turning on your A/C, you should wait a while before starting other appliances, so that you would have more watts left to spare:

10,000 BTU: A window mounted unit typically demands at least 2,200 watt to start but about 1,000 watt to keep running. This means you would need a generator rated for 2,500 watts and above. 

13,500 BTU: A 13,500 BTU unit typically needs 2,900 starting wattage and 1,300 running wattage, so you would need a 3,400 watt generator or above. 

15,000 BTU: A 15,000 BTU unit typically requires 3,400 starting wattage and 1,500 running wattage. You will either need a 3,800W generator, or two smaller generators run in parallel. 

Leave a Reply