Solar Generator Comparisons

For this page, we will compare several different solar generators in 3 different categories. Click on the category to jump to that section.

  • Small Portable Solar Generators: These are small and compact systems that provide minimal power for smaller loads like a laptop, a few lights, TV or computer and charge your cell phones, These are usually the best solar generator for camping, or for minimal emergency backup, where you still need to keep it very light and portable.
  • Mid-Size : These systems can power lights, a TV or computer, a fridge, a microwave, and most kitchen appliances. These are the best solar generators for emergency backup, camping, running a small cabin tiny home or RV.
  • Large Heavy Duty: These systems are the best whole house solar generators, providing ample emergency backup power. Depending on the amount of solar and batteries with the system, these units can power a fridge, freezer, microwave, lights, TV, computer, well pump, and more long term.

In these comparisons, we will be looking at 3 important aspects of each solar generator:

  1. General specs
  2. Run times (how long it will run different appliances without sun).
  3. Performance Report– Generated from our Solar Generator Comparison Calculator (please see the calculator for more details).  The performance of each system will be evaluated using the exact same load of:
Fridge
Computer for 3 hours per day
Microwave for 15 minutes

-SMALL PORTABLE SOLAR GENERATORS-

SPECS: Small Portable Solar Generators

  Battery Efficiency Expandability
  Capacity
watt hours
Maximum
Life
Years
Life
Cycles1
Storage
Life
MPPT2 Fastest
Recharge
Time3
Max
Solar
watts
Max
Battery
Capacity
Modular4
PowerMax
lithium
2000 watt
1,536 20 6,000 5+ years Yes 1 Hour5 Unlimited Unlimited Yes
Goal Zero
lithium
1500 watt
1,425 10 500 3 Months Optional 4.5 Hours 360 1,4256 No
Innergy
Kodiac
1500 watt
1,100 10 500 3 Months No 3.7 Hours 600 1,1007 No
Humless
go mini
1500 watt
640 10 3,000 3 Months No 6.7 Hours 180 640 No
Patriot
1500 watt
600 10 3,000 3 Months No 6.3 Hours 180 600 No
1Manufacturers give life cycles with different Depth of discharge (DOD) levels, or only a maximum life cycle with no DOD listed. We have done our best to determine the Life Cycles of each generator with a DOD of 80% so we can make a fair comparison. Here are the released data:
PowerMax: 6,000 cycles at 80% DOD
Goal Zero: 500 cycles at 80% DOD
Innergy: Up to 2000 cycles (The kodiac uses a Lithium NMC battery, which gets about 500 cycles at 80% DOD)
Hummless: 2,500 cycles at 100% DOD
Patriot: No data, but uses an LFP battery similar to Hummless

2 An MPPT Charge controller can increase your solar panels solar production by up to 40% over a standard charge controller. Meaning you will need more solar panels to produce the same power if you don't have an MPPT charge controller

3 Times are calculated using our calculator rather than based off of a theoretical 100% efficiency like many manufacturers try to claim. This time is calculated using the maximum solar the generator can handle

4A modular system can be expanded indefinetly by adding more modules.

5 By adding a modular charge controller this can go down to 1 Hour. Without the extra module Charge controller, it is limited to 720 watts of solar with a recharge time of 2.8 Hours

6 Goal Zero has an expantion Port to add expantion modules, but we can't find them or any information on them. Maybe it is a feature for the future.

7 Innergy allows you to add led based batteries to there generator, but I would not recomend doing this as it defeats the purpose of having a lithium battery. You would be better off just getting an AGM solar generator in the first place.

RUN TIME COMPARISONS: Small Portable Generators

Lights
(10w LED)
Fan TV/PC Cooktop
Burner
Micro-
wave
Washing
Machine
Well Pump
1/2 hp 120v
Freezer Fridge Gas
Furnace
PowerMax 2000
Standard
Lithium
                   
81 hrs 16.3 hrs 6.4 hrs 1.1 hrs 1.3 hrs 1.7 hrs 1.3 hrs 27.4 hrs 23.5 hrs 14.6 hrs
                   
Goal Zero
1400

                   
64 hrs 13.4 hrs 5.3 hrs 0.9 hrs 1.1 hrs 1.4 hrs 1.1 hrs 22.5 hrs 19.3 hrs 12.1 hrs
                   
Innergy
Kodiac

                   
46 hrs 8.6 hrs 3.3 hrs 0.5 hrs 0.6 hrs 0.9 hrs 0.6 hrs 14.6 hrs 12.5 hrs 7.7 hrs
                   
Humless
Go-mini

                   
19 hrs 5.7 hrs 2.4 hrs 0.4 hrs 0.5 hrs 0.7 hrs 0.5 hrs 8.9 hrs 7.8 hrs 5.2 hrs
                   
Patriot
1500

                   
31.8 hrs 6.3 hrs 2.5 hrs 0.4 hrs 0.5 hrs 0.6 hrs 0.5 hrs 10.7 hrs 9.2 hrs 5.7 hrs
                   

PERFORMANCE REPORT: Small Portable Generators

Running:

fridge
computer for 3 hours per day
microwave for 15 minutes

1st Place

PowerMax Lithium

2nd Place

Goal Zero
1400

3rd Place

Innergy
Kodiac

4th place

Humless Go_mini

5th place

Patriot
1500

Run Time = The amount of time (in hours) the system will run without any sun. For critical loads such are frigerators, freezers, furnace, etc. This time should be at least 48 hours to last through stormy weather.

Recharge Time = The time in hours to recharge your batteries if fully drained to there maximum level of discharge.

System Efficiency = The average of several efficiency measurements. Anything over 70 is extremely good. Anything under 50 is poor, and you should consider a different system for your application.

Cost per hour runtime = The amount in dollars it will cost you for each hour of Run Time you have.

Small Portable Solar Generators: Summary

After looking at the results, by far the best small portable solar generator is the Powermax.  It outperforms all the rest in every category.

-MEDIUM PORTABLE SOLAR GENERATORS-

SPECS: Medium Sized Solar Generators

  Battery Efficiency Expandability
  Capacity Life
Years
Life
Cycles1
Storage
Life
MPPT1 Fastest
Recharge
Time3
Idle4
Power
Pure
Sine5
Max
Solar
watts
Max
Battery
Capacity
PowerMax
Lithium
2000 watt
3,072 wh 15-20 10,000 5 years Yes 1 Hour(6) 7 watts Yes Unlimited Unlimited
PowerMax
AGM
2000 watt
4,200 wh 10 1,000 1 year Yes 3 Hours 7 watts Yes Unlimited Unlimited
Homegrid
3000 watt
4,200 wh 10 1,000 1 year Yes 6.2 Hours 20 watts Yes 1440 12,000 Wh
SolarMax
5300 watt
5,760 wh 3-6 450 6 months No 6.8 Hours 20 watts No7 1410 5,760 Wh
Solgen
2500 watt
1,200 wh 3-6 450 6 months Yes 3.8 Hours 12 watts Yes 900 7,200 Wh
1Based on a 50% Depth of discharge (DOD)

2 An MPPT Charge controller can increase your solar panels solar production by up to 40% over a standard charge controller. Meaning you will need more solar panels to produce the same power if you don't have an MPPT charge controller

3 Times are calculated using our calculator rather than based off of a theoretical 100% efficiency like many manufacturers try to claim. This time is calculated using the maximum solar the generator can handle

4Idle power is wasted power when the generator is running. You want this to be as small as possible.

5 If the generator is not pure sine wave, appliances may not run, and if they do run they will not run nearly as well as if it were pure sine wave. Modified sine wave inverters do have a lower idle power consumption, but it but your appliances will use about 30% more power with it.

6 By adding a modular charge controller this can go down to 1 Hour.

7 This inverter has a large 5000 watt modified sine wave inverter, and a small 300 watt pure sine wave inverter. So it can run small appliances with pure sine wave, but nothing over 300 watts.

RUN TIMES: Medium Sized Solar Generators

Lights
(10w LED)
Fan TV/PC Cooktop
Burner
Micro-
wave
Washing
Machine
Well Pump
1/2 hp 120v
Freezer Fridge Gas
Furnace
PowerMax
Extreme
Lithium
                   
163 hrs 32.6 hrs 12.8 hrs 2.2 hrs 2.6 hrs 3.5 hrs 2.6 hrs 54.9 hrs 48 hrs 29.3 hrs
                   
PowerMax
Extreme
AGM
                   
220 hrs 44 hrs 17.4 hrs 2.9 hrs 3.5 hrs 4.7 hrs 3.5 hrs 74.3 hrs 63.7 hrs 39.7 hrs
                 
HomeGrid 3000
Ultimate
                   
111 hrs 37.1 hrs 16.3 hrs 2.9 hrs 3.5 hrs 4.6 hrs 3.5 hrs 56 hrs 50 hrs 34 hrs
                 
Solar Max
5300
                   
80.7 hrs 13.9 hrs 7.2 hrs 1.2 hrs 1.5 hrs 1.9 hrs 1.5 hrs 29.8 hrs 25.7 hrs 16.3 hrs
                   
Solgen
25P24-2500

                   
23.3 hrs 4.3 hrs 2.3 hrs 0.4 hrs 0.4 hrs 0.6 hrs 0.4 hrs 9.2 hrs 7.9 hrs 5.1 hrs
                   

PERFORMANCE REPORT: Medium Sized Solar Generator

Running:

fridge
computer for 3 hours per day
microwave for 15 minutes

1st Place

PowerMax AGM

2ND Place

PowerMax LITHIUM

3rd Place

HomeGrid 3000

4th Place

Solgen
2500

5th Place

Solar Max
5300

Run Time = The amount of time (in hours) the system will run without any sun. For critical loads such a refrigerators, freezers, furnace, etc. This time should be at least 48 hours to last through stormy weather.

Recharge Time = The time in hours to recharge your batteries if fully drained to there maximum level of discharge.

System Efficiency = The average of several efficiency measurements. Anything over 70 is extremely good. Anything under 50 is poor, and you should consider a different system for your application.

Cost per hour runtime = The amount in dollars it will cost you for each hour of Run Time you have.

Medium Solar Generators Summary

The PowerMax AGM is the clear winner in this area.  But something also to notice is how poorly the Solar Max 5300 did.  This is a result of using very low quality components (PWM charge controller, Modified sine wave inverter, etc), and still charging a premium price.  This leads you to having a unit that costs nearly 4 times as much per hour of run time than best system here.

-LARGE HEAVY DUTY SOLAR GENERATORS-

SPECS: Large Heavy Duty Solar Generators

  Battery Efficiency Expandability
  Capacity Life
Years
Life
Cycles1
Storage
Life
MPPT2 Fastest
Recharge
Time3
Idle4
Power
Pure
Sine5
Max
Solar
watts
Max
Battery
Capacity
HomeGrid 5000HD
5000 watt
8,400 wh 10 1000 1 year Yes 6.2 Hours 25 watts Yes 2,880 24,000 wh
Solar Max
6000 watt
8,640 wh 3-6 450 3 Months No 8.9 Hours 75 watts Yes 1,410 8,640 wh
Solgen
6000 watt
4,800 wh 3-6 450 3 Months Yes 7.2 Hours 75 watts Yes 1,080 9,600 wh
1Based on a 50% Depth of discharge (DOD)

2 An MPPT Charge controller can increase your solar panels solar production by up to 40% over a standard charge controller. Meaning you will need more solar panels to produce the same power if you don't have an MPPT charge controller

3 Times are calculated using our calculator rather than based off of a theoretical 100% efficiency like many manufacturers try to claim.

4 Idle power is wasted power when the generator is running. You want this to be as small as possible.

5 If the generator is not pure sine wave, appliances may not run, and if they do run they will not run nearly as well as if it were pure sine wave. Modified sine wave inverters do have a lower idle power consumption, but it but your appliances will use about 30% more power with it.

RUN TIMES: Large Heavy Duty Solar Generators

Lights
(10w LED)
Fan TV/PC Cooktop
Burner
Micro-
wave
Washing
Machine
Well Pump
1/2 hp 120v
Freezer Fridge Gas
Furnace
HomeGrid 5000HD
Ultimate
                   
222 hrs 74 hrs 32.6 hrs 5.9 hrs 7.1 hrs 9.3 hrs 7.1 hrs 112 hrs 100 hrs 68 hrs
                   
Solar Max
6000
                   
44 hrs 20.3 hrs 12.7 hrs 2.6 hrs 3.2 hrs 4.1 hrs 3.2 hrs 31.1 hrs 29 hrs 22.5 hrs
                   
Solgen
60S
                   
24.4 hrs 11.3 hrs 7 hrs 1.4 hrs 1.7 hrs 2.3 hrs 1.7 hrs 17.3 hrs 16.1 hrs 12.5 hrs
                   

PERFORMANCE REPORT: Large Heavy Duty Solar Generators

Running:

fridge
computer for 3 hours per day
microwave for 15 minutes

1st Place

HomeGrid 5000HD Ultimate

2nd Place

SolarMax 6000

3rd Place

Solgen 6000

Run Time = The amount of time (in hours) the system will run without any sun. For critical loads such a refrigerators, freezers, furnace, etc. This time should
be at least 48 hours to last through stormy weather.

Recharge Time = The time in hours to recharge your batteries if fully drained to there maximum level of discharge.

System Efficiency = The average of several efficiency measurements. Anything over 70 is extremely good. Anything under 50 is poor, and you should consider a different system for your application.

Cost per hour runtime = The amount in dollars it will cost you for each hour of Run Time you have.

Large Heavy Duty Solar Generators Summary

The clear winner of the Large Heavy duty solar generator clearly goes to the HomeGrid 5000HD.