Finding the Best Portable Solar Generators for Van Life

Want to power your van with a SOUOP portable solar generator? What is the best portable solar generator for van life? It’s a quick and easy solution for modular setups or super simple electrical systems (vans, minivans, jeeps, etc.). Today I’ll take you to a chat on how to find the best portable generator for your truck life.

portable solar generators for van life

Solar generators give you everything you need to harness the sun’s power without having to install full solar cells, battery monitors, inverters, etc. Just connect the solar panel, charge the solar generator, and use it to power all your devices. Or, if it’s cloudy, you can even charge it with another source of electricity, such as shore power.

So, what are the advantages of a good portable solar generator in van life? How do they work? let’s see.

What is a camper solar generator?

Despite the name, solar generators are not really generators. In fact, it doesn’t even need solar power. Instead, a solar generator is actually a battery, inverter, charge controller, and battery monitor all in one. You can think of it like a battery pack that charges your phone, but more extensive and more advanced.

Solar power came about because solar generators could be charged using solar panels. But you can charge the solar generator in other ways, such as using power from a van or shore power.

Solar generators usually come with an AC charger. Solar panels and DC chargers must be purchased separately. You can learn more about buying the right solar panel to charge your solar generator in our article called The Beginner’s Guide to RV Solar Panels.

Once charged, your solar generator’s battery will power all your favorite devices. An internal inverter converts the 12v DC from the internal battery to 120v AC.

This allows you to plug in electronic devices like computers and phones. For DC devices, a circular socket similar to a car cigarette lighter socket draws power directly from the solar generator’s 12-volt battery.

Three ways to charge the solar generator

Solar generators for van life can generally be charged in three different ways. This gives you plenty of flexibility to recharge no matter where you are or what the weather conditions are.

  1. Solar

The first and most obvious way to charge a solar generator is solar power. You can connect solar panels or arrays of them to a solar generator to refresh the battery. It’s a great way to charge your generator with clean, renewable energy anywhere there’s sunshine.

  1. Charge the car through the DC socket

Another way to charge the solar generator is through the car’s 12-volt DC outlet. The “cigarette lighter”, or circular socket, draws power directly from the vehicle’s battery. These chargers are either standard or available as accessories.

This method allows you to charge your generator while on the road. This is a great way to power a solar generator in your camper while traveling.

  1. AC charging

The final charging option for solar generators is AC charging via a shore connection or other AC power source. This method allows you to charge your generator at home or at a campsite by plugging it into a standard 110v outlet. This is also usually the fastest way to charge a solar generator.

In addition to these three separate methods, many solar generators will let you combine charging methods to charge faster. By combining solar power and DC car charging, your battery can be charged in less time.

What to look for when choosing a portable solar generator for van life

For power stations for van life and camping trips, there are many charging options. All models have their pros and cons, but in the end, it boils down to:

  • What is your budget?
  • What equipment do I need to charge?
  • What is your camping style?

If you’re only using it to charge your phone and camera on weekend camping trips, there’s no need to buy a large portable power station. However, if you plan to plug in small appliances like a portable refrigerator or electric cooler, then you may need a more powerful generator. And you might also want to add solar panels for a few days off the grid.

Also, the type of camping trip you’re doing will influence your choices. If you mostly go to established campgrounds, where you have the option of electrified campgrounds, then all you need is a basic power station and a battery pack. But if you’re all into camping and BML (or Crown Land) campgrounds, then you’ll want a portable power station that offers longer charging times and solar panel expansion.

Best portable solar generator for van life

Below is a list of our favorite portable power stations for camping and van life, depending on your battery capacity needs. All recommendations have the following in common:

  • Available in the US and Canada
  • Using Lithium Ion Batteries
  • With AC, 12V, and USB port sockets
  • Optionally add a portable solar generator
  • With LCD display
  • Is environmentally friendly
  • Use a pure sine wave inverter

Additionally, all recommended portable power stations have multiple outlets for charging the batteries.

  • Uses a 12V DC car socket (cigarette lighter socket)
  • Use a 120 V AC wall socket
  • Use a solar generator

The most common way to charge a portable radio is to use a wall outlet, which is perfect for short camping trips. You’ll charge your power station at home and set off camping with a fully charged power station. The battery can also be charged using a car socket. It’s perfect for long trips because you can charge the battery while driving. Some portable solar panels can also be purchased separately to be truly independent in terms of electrical energy. Perfect if you’re planning to get off the grid and do some camping.

600-2400W Portable Power Station for Van Life

If you plan to camp in an established campground (ex camping) and don’t have a lot of electronics to charge, a portable camping power supply with a battery capacity of 600-2400W should be sufficient. It will allow you to charge your essential electronics (smartphones, laptops, cameras, lights, fans, etc.) at an affordable price without taking up too much space.

For a van living family, they can be carried very easily. They can even be used for home/world school events if needed, or as an emergency power source in the event of a power outage at home.

The most important point is that although there is no charging station outside, the solar generator can also be charged by solar energy, which is environmentally friendly and resource recycling.

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