There is nothing worse than getting your electrical devices run out of juice in an emergency or an off-grid situation. Are you really prepared to face such a worse situation? Well, there is no way you could have a power outlet in the wild or in any off-grid situation to back up your gadgets or run your essential appliances.
The advancements in technologies have certainly brought us some superb solutions to ensure access to unlimited portable power off the grid. Solar-based power stations, or better to say solar generators, are the coolest systems you can rely on to smartly meet your power requirements in the wild.
There is indeed a big variety of compact solar power stations on the market. All leading brands have perfect compact models in their collection of solar generators. Here, we go with a comparison of the three best solar generators for camping from the key brands, Goal Zero, Jackery, and Anker.
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Best Solar Generators for Camping – Face-off
In fact, we have three of the market’s best-seller compact solar generators for comparison here. The first one is Goal Zero’s much-touted Yeti 500X, the latest upgrade of Yeti 400 Lithium. The next is Jackery’s Explorer 500, the compact variant of the series, and finally, there is Anker’s second-gen Powerhouse II 400.
As you see, all the models hail from a single segment of the compact power stations. They are all very popular in the segment with a lot of takers among the campers and preppers. If you are a beginner, it will indeed be a fine choice to pick a model of the trio. Stay tuned for our takes on each of the products.
1. Goal Zero Yeti 500X Power Station
We would like to start the article with Goal Zero Yeti 500X. It is an incredible product of the kind and it falls in between the brand’s entry-level Yeti 200X and midrange variant, Yeti 1000X. It is a 505Wh solar power station that can ideally support all your basic electrical devices in an outdoor or emergency situation.
Yeti 500X is compact and handy for all types of users. A stronger build and a longer handle make it further nice for portability. By the way, like all the models in the Yeti X series, it keeps up the brand’s typical design attributes and color theme. Check out the link below to order a unit of the Yeti power station.
Coming to the detailed specs, the machine equips a 505Wh (10.8V, 46.8Ah) Li-ion NMC battery with a life of 500 charging cycles. The built-in inverter inside is a 120V 300-watt pure sine wave unit with a surge power of 1200 watts. You can draw the AC current through its two standard AC sockets.
Yeti 500X is capable of powering your essential gadgets for a reliable time. A fully charged Yeti can charge your smartphone around 40 times and a lap for 10 times. Meanwhile, it can ensure a runtime of 46 hours for an LED light, eight hours for a CAPAP machine, and four hours for a 42-inch LED TV.
Certainly, Yeti 500X features all the essential charging options, including dual AC sockets.
Further, it sports multiple USB and DC ports that are able to deliver enough power to run a variety of your devices. Specifically, they include dual USB-A ports and one each of USB-C, USB-C Power Delivery, a 12V regulated car charger, and a 6mm DC ports.
For recharging the device, it has an 8mm input port of 13-22V, up to 10A (150W max). Along with solar, you can also use a wall charger and a USB port to charge the machine for backup power. Out in the wild, a solar panel will surely be the finest choice as you will need it as a reliable off-grid power source.
COMPATIBLE SOLAR CHARGER
When it comes to solar chargers, you certainly have a lot of options to pick from. Goal Zero itself offers a series of Boulder solar panels that are exclusively made for its Yeti power stations. The series has got two highly portable and handy suitcase-style units, namely Boulder 100 Briefcase and Boulder 200 Briefcase.
As their names suggest, they are respectively 100W and 200W foldable solar chargers. For Yeti 500X, the 100W one is the best choice, for sure. The key feature of the briefcase solar panel, as you see, is that you can fold it down to a compact and handy suitcase form after use. Check it out on the link below.
Goal Zero also sells two regular single-sheet Boulder panels. They are Boulder 100 and 50, 100W and 50W solar panels respectively. They are rather good for stationary positions than portable use. Well, thanks to multiple Boulder variants, you are lucky to choose one that matches your needs and budget rightly.
All the Goal Zero solar panels are made of high-efficiency mono solar panels. The other materials used are quality anodized aluminum and tempered glass to ensure you get highly durable chargers for rough use in rough outdoor and off-grid conditions. The Boulder briefcases have got strong kickstands, as well.
- Compact 505Wh (10.8V, 46.8Ah) Lithium Power Station.
- 300W Pure Sine Wave Inverter with 1200W Surge Power.
- Versatile Charging Options – AC, USB, and DC Sockets.
- Dual 120V Standard AC Sockets.
- Highly Portable and Easy-to-Use Power Station.
- Multiple Compatible Boulder Solar Chargers.
2. Jackery Explorer 500 Solar Generator
Next, in our take on the best solar generators for camping, we’ve Jackery Explorer 500. As you see, it is the variant in the Jackery Explorer series that turns out to be the closest rival to Yeti 500X. Specs-wise, it is a 518Wh power station, which obviously gives it a slighter edge over its Yeti rival in storage capacity.
As you see in the pic, it is indeed a handy and compact device that features a durable built-in handle. Made with stronger and solid materials, it is a fine pick for campers, preppers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Explorer 500 as said above is a compact variant of the Explorer series as it falls in between Explorer 300 and Explorer 1000.
As its name suggests, the power station integrates a 500W pure sine wave inverter with a surge capacity of 1000 watts. But unlike its Yeti competitor, it has got only one AC socket, which is a 110V three-spoke unit. The device is very lightweight and portable, thanks to its 13.32 lbs weight and easy-to-carry handle.
For fast charging from the connected solar panels, Explorer equips a built-in MPPT controller. And there is an LCD screen to help you easily monitor the complete system information. Overall, Explorer 500 becomes a quite efficient portable solar generator for outdoor users and emergency preppers.
When it comes to the charging points, it has only one AC socket, as said above. Obviously, it can deliver a constant AC output to smoothly run your appliances up to 500 watts. Besides, the machine integrates multiple USB and DC outlets to back up a variety of your other electrical devices.
They include a standard 12V car charger, three 5V/2.4A USB ports, and dual 12V DC barrel outlets. Well, compared to Yeti 500X, it misses out on a USB-C port. But the available ports are enough to power up a range of your devices like handsets, cameras CPAPs, mini-fridges, and more.
COMPATIBLE SOLAR CHARGER
You can use any solar charger or solar array to charge Explorer 500 from the sun. However, like Goal Zero, Jackery also offers exclusive folding solar chargers for its Explorer power stations. Called SolarSaga, the solar charger is available in a couple of variants based on their capacities.
Here, we have Jackery’s much-touted 100W two-fold SolarSaga 100 solar charger. Made of highly efficient mono solar cells and premium quality materials, you get a largely reliable solar charger for Explorer 500. You can fold it down to a suitcase-style form after use and carry it anywhere easily.
As you see in the pic, SolarSaga 100 comes with built-in kickstands to help you put it upright anywhere. So, you can keep a unit of the charger in your backpack and enjoy access to unlimited power. Featuring solid plastic cladding on both edges, it is indeed a very durable solar charger for any outdoor conditions.
- 518Wh Portable Solar Power Station.
- High-Capacity Lithium-ion Battery Inside.
- 500W Pure Sine Wave Inverter with 1000W Surge.
- Ultra-Portable, Stylish, and Compact Design.
- Perfect for Use In Outdoor and Emergency Situations.
3. Anker Powerhouse II 400 Power Station
Finally, we have Anker’s much-touted Powerhouse II 400 power station in our comparison of the best solar generators for camping and outdoor applications. As you know, it is the latest variant of the brand’s well-known Powerhouse 400 and is absolutely one of the leading competitors to Yeti 500X and Explorer 500.
But like the Jackery power station, it is a highly portable camping solar power station from Anker, a global leader in charging technology. Anker also offers a small and compact Powerhouse 200. However, this big Powerhouse II 400 is also a compact and ultra-portable power station with a host of features.
Specs-wise, it is a 388.8Wh solar power station with a 27000mAh lithium battery. The inverter included is a 300W unit and it sports only one AC socket like Explorer 500. With this capacity, it is capable of charging your iPhone over 20 times, iPad Air more than 10 times, and a camera for nearly 20 times.
The Anker is a lightweight and handy product. With the size of 10.03 x 5.51 x 7.63 inches and a weight of 9.7 pounds, you can take it anywhere on your trips hassle-free. Further, it has got a strong carrying strap and its display is a long-stretch one so that you can track the system information rather clearly.
The Powerhouse comes up with multiple charging ports. Apart from its 110V single AC outlet of 300W, it features one 12V car socket, a 60W USB-C port, three USB-A ports, and dual DC outlets. Overall, you get options to power up a collection of your essential electrical devices.
Moreover, it highlights an advanced Battery Management System (BMS) to ensure safety for your devices from the voltage variations, temperature, and etc. Likewise, the built-in MPPT charge controller makes you charge it quite efficiently and faster from the solar panels.
COMPATIBLE SOLAR CHARGER
Of course, Anker Powerhouse II 400 works with any solar charger on the market. But like Goal Zero and Jackery, Anker doesn’t offer powerful solar chargers for its power station. The famous Anker 21W folding solar charger is not powerful enough to charge a device like this in a few hours.
You better try Suaoki’s 100W folding solar panel charger or other alternatives for Powerhouse II. The dual-port (USB and 18V DC) solar charger comes with a variety of adapters that will obviously make it go with different power stations, including Anker Powerhouse. Check out more details on the link below.
Of course, a folding solar charger of around 100W is an ideal pick for the Anker power station as it is easy to carry anywhere with little effort. Anyway, besides the Suaoki charger, you have a lot of brands that offer quality foldable and ultra-lightweight solar panels for compact power stations like Powerhouse II 400.
- 388.8Wh Portable Solar Power Station.
- 27000mAh Lithium-ion Battery.
- 300W Pure Sine Wave Inverter for Higher Power.
- Compact and Ultra-Portable Design and Form.
- A Long-Stretch Display Screen for Easy Monitoring.
- Ideal for Camping and Other Outdoor Power Needs.
What to Buy
We have had a detailed look at the market’s best three compact solar power stations. Though all the models appear in the popular segment of compact solar generators, they all have slight differences in features.
For better storage capacity and inverter power, Explorer 500 is the right choice. It has a 518Wh battery pack and a powerful 500W inverter. Both Anker and Goal Zero didn’t look anymore better in these specs.
Powerhouse is only a 388.8Wh device, while Yeti 500X is a 505Wh power station, and both have 300W inverters. But Yeti has got a higher surge to support bigger appliances.
By the way, when it comes to the price, the Anker is the cheapest, and Yeti 500X is obviously the costliest like all other Goal Zero products. But you get Explorer with decent power and storage capacity at an attractive price.
If you are looking for the smallest of the three, Powerhouse is the option, and it is also the lightest of the group at 9.7 lbs. Yeti is the biggest in size, while Explorer 500 is the weightiest at 13.3 lbs.
Available Markets – Canada, Germany, and the UK.
Goal Zero Yeti and Jackery power stations are available in the markets like Canada, Germany, and the UK. Anker Powerhouse 400 is only available in the USA, as of now.
That has been our take on the best solar generators for camping. Of course, all models are super good products of the kind with a lot of takers across the world. We have tried our best to cover all the important aspects of the products in our comparison of the best solar generators for camping. Share your thoughts in the comments below.