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Can a Solar Generator for RV Replace Your Gas Generator?

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. 

Class C RV powered by solar generator

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 panelsThese 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. 

InverterThe 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. 

What Goes Into an Off-Grid Power System? Overland RV Solar Power System With 12V Air Conditioning

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!

RV with solar panel set up at campsite
Use the sun to generate power for your RV.

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.

Portable solar panel
Keep in mind the size and number of appliances you want to power when deciding what size solar generator to buy.

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. 

BLUETTI AC200P Portable Power Station, 2000Wh...
  • [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...
Travel trailer powered by solar generator
Whether you’re camping in an RV or a tent, a solar generator is great for powering small devices.

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. 

Sale
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station DELTA 1300,...
  • 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.  

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1500,...
  • 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...
Jackery portable power station set up on picnic table
Power your campsite with ease with a solar generator.
Source: www.jackery.com

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. 

Goal Zero Yeti Portable Power Station - Yeti 1000X...
  • Power. Anything. Anywhere. 983 Watt Hours makes this versatile...
  • 7 Versatile Ports, 983 Wh Capacity: Power CPAP machines, WiFi...
  • Durable Construction, Safe Electric & Solar Power: With a...

Pro Tip: Don’t know what size generator you need for your RV? We crunched the numbers to make it easy for you!

Will A Solar Generator Power Your Camper? | MIKE HUNTS |

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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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Rose

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

We have a Bluettii AP200Max with 3 portable solar panels. It has served us well this year during our cross country travels, we are pulling a 27ft Airstream. If we dont have full battery by evening it can boost our batteries (2 lithium) and get us into the next day as long as we are careful with our energy usage. We have 4 solar panels on the roof and with intermittent sun the Bluettii compliments it perfectly. We have had a few snags in poor weather and have had to use the visitor center/ranger office to recharge in a couple national parks but overall it has worked well. I expect to use the Bluetti for as long as I have the trailer and I love that it is quiet and discrete. It is not for everyone but it really works for us.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 18th of September 2023

Thanks for sharing your experience! Yes they are not solution for every situation but they can work great for sure!

Steve

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.

Jack

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.

Alan

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.