A solar generator for an RV will silently power your appliances, much like a gas generator. Many RVers ask themselves if they can replace their gas generator with a solar RV generator because of the ease of use, silent operation, and perceived longevity.
However, there are different factors to consider regarding a solar generator for an RV. For example, can a solar generator power your RV air-conditioner? The short answer is yes. The long answer is that it depends on the type of solar generator, battery capacity, and power management systems in your RV.
You should carefully consider whether a solar generator is the right fit. In this post, we’ll discuss what solar RV generators are, if they are right for you, and list our five favorite generators.
What Is a Solar Generator for RV?
A solar generator for an RV consists of portable solar panels, an inverter, and batteries. The inverter and batteries are in a box that looks similar to a gas-powered generator. Let’s unpack each part in detail.
Portable solar panels — These portable panels come in varying sizes, ranging from 100 watts to over 1,000 watts. The higher the wattage, the more power the panels can send to keep your batteries topped up.
Batteries — These will generally be lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are lightweight, highly efficient, and usually capable of handling over ten years of charge/discharge cycles. Battery capacity measurements are in amp-hours, and you can expect anywhere from 20 to over 1,000 amp hours, depending on which solar generator you choose.
Inverter — The inverter is like the heart of your solar RV generator. It takes the 12-volt power your solar panels produce and converts it to the 110-volt power you need for most appliances.
The ability of your solar generator to power high-wattage appliances like a microwave or air-conditioner depends on your inverter rating. Solar generators come with inverters ranging from 500 watts to over 5,000 watts of capacity.
Can You Power an RV With a Solar Generator Alone?
You can generally power an RV with a solar generator alone. However, the length of time you can power your RV and the appliances you can use will depend on the solar generator you get.
Air-conditioners, microwaves, and space heaters are notorious power hogs in RVs. If you want to power these appliances with a solar generator, you’ll need to shop for a generator with a large solar panel array, significant battery capacity, and an inverter that provides over 2,500 watts of power.
However, if you want to power your lights, propane RV fridge, and charge small devices, a solar RV generator of virtually any size will keep you going for the long haul.
The sun is the final factor you’ll need to consider. If you don’t plan to camp in areas with regular sunshine, it’s unlikely you’ll power your RV with solar alone. You can extend your generator capacity with extra batteries, but they will eventually run out of charge if the solar panels can’t top them up.
Pro Tip: New to RVing? Use our Complete Guide To RV Generators before you buy!
Can a Solar Generator for RV Replace Your Gas Generator?
A solar generator for RV can replace your gas generator, provided you get a solar generator with the same capacity as your current gas generator.
First, you should purchase a solar generator with equal or greater inverter capacity. For example, if your gas generator is 2,000-watt generator, you should get a solar generator with a 2,000-watt inverter minimum.
Second, you should purchase a solar generator with enough battery capacity to power your RV for about as long as your gas generator on a tank of gas. This guide will help you calculate how much solar power you need for your situation.
What Size Solar Generator Do You Need for Your Camper?
The size of solar generator you need will depend on whether you plan to run high-draw appliances like your RV air-conditioner, microwave, or space heaters. High-draw devices pull over 1,500 watts and usually more when starting up. You’ll want a solar generator with at least a 2,000-watt inverter to power these appliances.
Additionally, you’ll zap through your battery capacity quickly when running appliances like your RV air-conditioner. If you plan to run your AC frequently, you’ll want a solar generator rated with a minimum 500 amp hour battery capacity, preferably more.
Alternatively, if you plan to camp off-grid and only use small electronics such as RV lights, your phone, and a laptop, you can have a much smaller solar generator.
5 Best Solar Generators
The market for solar RV generators has exploded in recent years. These generators provide a quiet, clean, and reliable source of off-grid RV power. We dug into the available options and found five favorites:
1. Bluetti AC200P Portable Power Station
The crew behind this generator has spent over a decade in the new energy industry, so they know what it means to create cutting-edge generators. The Bluetti features six AC plug-ins, USB charging, and the ability to run a 2,000-watt appliance up to an hour on a single charge.
Solar panels sell separately, and the Bluetti is best if you don’t plan to use your air-conditioner or other high draw appliances for long periods.
- [Power Monster] - With the remarkable 2000Wh of capacity and a...
- [3500+ Life Cycles to 80%] - The ultra-safe LiFePO4 battery cells...
- [Efficient Recharging Rate] - AC200P supports up to 700W solar...
2. EcoFlow Delta 1300 Solar Generator
EcoFlow is one of the fastest-growing portable power companies for good reason. Their sleek, powerful, and affordable solar RV generators check off all the boxes for road warriors.
The Delta 1300 powers up to 13 devices simultaneously, and the generator can charge from 0%-80% within an hour. It features a 1,800-watt inverter to power small to medium-sized electronics.
- 0-80% in under 1 Hour. Ecoflow DELTA power station recharged at...
- Huge 1.2kWh Capacity. Portability doesn't have to sacrifice...
- Power Almost Anything. DELTA's huge AC output can even support...
3. Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power Station
The Jackery Explorer is a standout option. It has the versatility to power virtually any appliance. This power station also has built-in systems that protect your batteries and devices.
You can couple the Explorer with up to 400 watts of solar panels that charge the generator with sunlight very quickly.
- Clean and Unlimited Solar Energy: 100% clean and unlimited solar...
- Easy to Use: The ergonomic shape of the handle grants an ease...
- Safe & Reliable for Outdoor Camping: Features industry-leading...
4. Point Zero Energy Titan Solar Generator
This beast of a solar generator will power virtually anything you throw at it. The manufacturer designed the Titan to power RVs, and it features a built-in 30 amp RV plug.
At just 35 pounds, this generator packs a serious punch. It can even power an RV air-conditioner for over an hour to help take the edge off a hot day. It’s priced at $3,395.
5. Goal Zero Yeti 1000X Portable Power Station
Goal Zero pioneered the solar RV generator revolution and is one of the most trusted names on the market. The Yeti 1000x provides seven charging ports ranging from 120-volt outlets to a USB-C.
The built-in 1,500-watt inverter will help you power all but the most power-hungry appliances in a lightweight package.
- HIGH CAPACITY: A total of 983Wh makes this versatile power...
- VERSATILE AND PORTABLE: Your Yeti 1000X is perfect for everything...
- RECHARGE WITH SOLAR:Maximize your solar input with Goal Zero’s...
Pro Tip: Don’t know what size generator you need for your RV? We crunched the numbers to make it easy for you!
Is a Solar Generator for RV Worth It?
Solar RV generators are revolutionizing camping. They provide quiet, clean, and efficient power directly from the sun. Solar generators are worth it if you plan to power small to medium-sized RV appliances.
If you’re an RVer who can’t live without microwave and air-conditioner use, a solar generator might not be worth it because you’ll chew through your charge quickly. However, solar generators have come a long way in the past few years, so the days of solar-powered cool air aren’t too far away.
Will you replace your gas generator with a solar unit? Tell us in the comments!
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Saturday 4th of June 2022
Well you really lost alot of respectability on this one! The SOLAR PANELS GENERATE The batteries hold and Stor the DC POWER from the SOLAR PANELS And what you call a "generator " is actually an inverter changing the DC POWER to AC POWER. These things are so over priced! Someone in a tent can benefit from one but at a very expensive expensive cost.
Saturday 4th of June 2022
I would be interested to know if I could put a stack of Born lithium batteries in a series together as a battery pack for a home solar backup setup? I know I might have to have a controller, and an inverter, and some other electronic piece of equipment to switch over from the GRiD to the house batteries for home use in a power outage. But I don’t have any experience with that sort of set up. But I was wondering if it could be done, at a reasonable price. Seeing as how battery back up walls for home Solar can be in the $10-$15,000 range, I thought it might be a viable option. I would be interested in anybody else’s comments.
Mortons on the Move
Sunday 22nd of January 2023
They are offering this solution now. Keep in mind they top out at 48V currently, but otherwise yea we probably will be doing that in the future.
Saturday 4th of June 2022
I'm sorry, but this article really undermines your credibility. Solar generators are not anywhere close to traditional generators in terms of cost, time of use, ease of use, and "there when you need it". CAN they replace a generator - technically in a few situations, yes, but this article is hugely deceptive and inadequacy addresses the downsides.