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Easiest Way To Use Solar Power In Emergencies/Power Outages

How To Be Ready For Natural Disasters, Emergencies & Power Outages With Solar Power/Panels/Generators

Solar power and solar panels have become more affordable in past years, while batteries are becoming more lightweight and powerful.

Put these two together and you have a great way to be ready for emergencies and power outages during natural disasters and other types of emergencies.

Related Post: Powerful Gas Generators That Will Run An RV AC

You don’t have to go all-in and join the survivalism movement, but I it’s a good idea for all of us to consider what we would do in a scenario where the power goes out.

There are two things we need, and that’s a portable battery like a power station. Then we can connect solar panels to charge up that battery.

In this article I am going to list six different power stations. We’ll go through what they can and can’t do, and recommend solar panels that can recharge the batteries.

MARBERO 88Wh Portable Power Station 24000mAh Camping Solar...
Anker 521 Portable Power Station Upgraded with LiFePO4 Battery, 256Wh...
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station RIVER 2 Pro, 768Wh LiFePO4 Battery,...
BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC70, 768Wh LiFePO4 Battery Backup w/ 2...
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station DELTA 2, 1024Wh LiFePO4 (LFP)...
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 2000 Plus, Solar Generator...
Battery Capacity (watt-hours)
88Wh
256Wh
768Wh
768Wh
1024Wh
2042Wh
AC Outlets Inverter Rating
80W
300W
800W
1000W
1800W
3000W
AC Outlets
2
2
4
2
6
4 + one 30A
USB Ports
5
3
4
4
6
4
Can Be Used While Charging
USB C
Weight
2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)
8.2 lbs (3.7 kg)
17.2 lbs (7.8 kg)
22.5 lbs (10.2 kg)
27 lbs (12.3 kg)
61.5 lbs (27.9 kg)

MARBERO 88Wh Portable Power Station 24000mAh Camping Solar...
Product Link
Battery Capacity (watt-hours)
88Wh
AC Outlets Inverter Rating
80W
AC Outlets
2
USB Ports
5
Can Be Used While Charging
USB C
Compatible Solar Panel
Weight
2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)
Anker 521 Portable Power Station Upgraded with LiFePO4 Battery, 256Wh...
Product Link
Battery Capacity (watt-hours)
256Wh
AC Outlets Inverter Rating
300W
AC Outlets
2
USB Ports
3
Can Be Used While Charging
USB C
Compatible Solar Panel
Weight
8.2 lbs (3.7 kg)
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station RIVER 2 Pro, 768Wh LiFePO4 Battery,...
Product Link
Battery Capacity (watt-hours)
768Wh
AC Outlets Inverter Rating
800W
AC Outlets
4
USB Ports
4
Can Be Used While Charging
USB C
Compatible Solar Panel
Weight
17.2 lbs (7.8 kg)
BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC70, 768Wh LiFePO4 Battery Backup w/ 2...
Product Link
Battery Capacity (watt-hours)
768Wh
AC Outlets Inverter Rating
1000W
AC Outlets
2
USB Ports
4
Can Be Used While Charging
USB C
Compatible Solar Panel
Weight
22.5 lbs (10.2 kg)
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station DELTA 2, 1024Wh LiFePO4 (LFP)...
Product Link
Battery Capacity (watt-hours)
1024Wh
AC Outlets Inverter Rating
1800W
AC Outlets
6
USB Ports
6
Can Be Used While Charging
USB C
Compatible Solar Panel
Weight
27 lbs (12.3 kg)
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 2000 Plus, Solar Generator...
Battery Capacity (watt-hours)
2042Wh
AC Outlets Inverter Rating
3000W
AC Outlets
4 + one 30A
USB Ports
4
Can Be Used While Charging
USB C
Compatible Solar Panel
Weight
61.5 lbs (27.9 kg)

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A Closer Look At Each Power Station – What Are They Capable Of?

Power Station

Marbero 88Wh

MARBERO 88Wh Portable Power Station 24000mAh Camping Solar...

Check Price at Amazon

The small and portable Marbero M82 is for the traveler that only needs to be able to recharge small portable devices like phones, tablets, speakers, and similar electronics.

With its 88Wh battery capacity, it’s not packing a lot of electricity but it will charge a lot of smaller devices at the same time.

It has four USB A ports, one USB C, and two AC outlets. The inverter that powers the outlets is rated at 80W.

A cigarette lighter output adapter is also included, so you can power 12V devices.

An 80W inverter is powerful enough to power some but not all laptop chargers. It’s not enough to power kitchen appliances or a fridge.

One cool thing about it is the large flashlight on the side, that can be used both as a flashlight and a SOS light.

This is the only battery on the list today that is small enough to be allowed on airplanes. The FAA in the US has a 100Wh limit, so a 88Wh battery is allowed.

Solar Panel 

Marbero 30W Solar Panel

MARBERO 30W Portable Solar Panels, Foldable Solar Panel Battery...

Check Price at Amazon

The Marbero 30W panel is a portable foldable option that fits in most backpacks.

It folds together to become very portable, and the handle on top makes it easy to hold.

Just like the power station, it has several ports. There are actually three USB ports on it along with the DC port used to charge the power station.

You can plug charging cables directly into the USB ports to charge your devices. In a lot of cases, that is going to be more efficient than charging the power station with it.

What The Power Station Can Run

An 80W inverter can power small chargers for phones, drones, cameras, notebooks, Nintendo Switch, etc.

What It Can’t Run

It won’t run kitchen appliances like a coffee maker, toaster, George Foreman, or microwave since all of them require more than 80 watts.

It also won’t run heaters, desktop computers, air conditioners, or RV campers.

Most gaming laptop chargers also require more than 80W, so if you plan on using it for that you should check the wattage of your charger.

Solar Capabilities

The solar charge controller can handle panels rated between 15-24V, and up to 1.2A. A panel that has a working voltage of 20V will therefore max out at 24W.

How Long It Takes To Charge

According to Marbero, it takes about two hours to charge from 0 to 80% with the included AC adapter.

With a 30W+ solar panel, it takes 2.5 hours to reach the same 80% charge.

Upgradeability

This battery is not expandable and if you want more power you’ll have to buy a second one.


Power Station

Jackery Explorer 500

Anker 521 Portable Power Station Upgraded with LiFePO4 Battery, 256Wh...

Check Price at Amazon

Anker is a very popular brand that is more known for its power banks than power stations.

The 521 power station has a battery capacity of 256Wh and an inverter rated at 300W.

With two AC outlets, three USB ports, and one 12V cigarette lighter port, it has enough ports to cover most people’s needs.

The USB C can be used as both an input and output, so you can use a USB C PD charger to charge the Anker battery. It’s rated at 60W both ways.

A battery this size is excellent for the weekend camping trip. It will charge phones and tablets several times, and can be used to charge a laptop battery at least twice.

I like Anker because I haven’t had any issues with its products, and they offer great bang for the buck.

Solar Panel 

Anker 625 100W Solar Panel

Anker 625 Solar Panel with Adjustable Kickstand, 100W Portable Solar...

Check Price at Amazon

Anker makes its own solar panels and they come in different sizes. The 100W panel is a great choice for the 521 power station.

A 100W panel will maximize the 65W max input and recharge the battery in 5-7 hours.

What The Power Station Can Run

A 300W inverter can power small kitchen appliances, but not something like a coffee maker or a toaster.

It’s enough to power a gaming laptop, fans, lights, projectors, and similar devices.

What It Can’t Run

It can’t power coffee makers, toasters, or a microwave. It also won’t run heaters or air conditioners.

Solar Capabilities

The Anker 521 has an 8mm input that can handle up to 65W maximum input.

Its built-in charge controller can handle solar panels with a VOC rating of up to 28V.

Because it uses the very common DC7909 connector, it’s compatible with a lot of different third-party panels.

If you have a Renogy panel for example with MC4 connectors, you just need an . Make sure the operating voltage (VMP) of the panel is below 28V before connecting it.

How Long It Takes To Charge

According to Anker, it takes 1.5 hours to charge from 0 to 80% with a 65W+ USB C PD charger along with the wall charger.

If you max out the 65W input by using a 100W solar panel, it should be charged up in 5-7 hours.

Upgradeability

There is no way to expand the battery capacity of the Anker 521.


Power Station

EcoFlow River 2 Pro

EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station RIVER 2 Pro, 768Wh LiFePO4 Battery,...

Check Price at Amazon

EcoFlow is another popular brand that has been innovating and pushing the limits of power stations for several years now.

The River 2 Pro is an impressive little beast with its 768Wh battery capacity and 800W inverter.

There are four AC outlets, three USB A ports, one USB C, and a cigarette lighter port on the front.

It uses LiFePO4 battery cells which are safe and durable. These type of batteries are a lot better than the more common Li-Ion. LiFePO4 can go through a lot more cycles before showing the same wear and tear.

The battery can be fully recharged in 70 minutes with the included charger, thanks to its 940W AC input.

Just like with the Anker above, the USB C port is both an input and output, so if you have a USB C PD charger you’re able to charge the EcoFlow through USB C.

Solar Panel 

EcoFlow 110W Solar Panel

EF ECOFLOW 110W Portable Solar Panel, Foldable with Carry Case, High...

Check Price at Amazon

EcoFlow makes panels in several sizes, but I like the 110W version because it’s a great mix of power and portability.

It doesn’t max out the 220W solar input of the River 2 Pro, but is able to recharge the battery in 10-12 hours.

Related Post: What Solar Panels Are Compatible With Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations?

What The Power Station Can Run

The 800W inverter can power some coffee makers, small fridges, desktop computers, electric blankets, and some space heaters on low.

Most EcoFlow power stations have a feature called X-boost that increases the max output. In this model, it doubles the output to 1600W. It doesn’t work with sensitive electronics that require a steady voltage or a certain amperage.

Remember that the battery capacity is still only 768Wh though, so if you max the 800W output the battery is going to be drained in less than an hour.

What It Can’t Run

It’s not enough to power a microwave, space heaters on mid/high, large residential fridges, or an air fryer.

Solar Capabilities

The River 2 Pro has an XT60 input. It also has an MPPT solar charge controller with a 220W input limit.

If you have a Renogy panel for example with MC4 connectors, you just need an MC4 to XT60 adapter (click to view on Amazon). Make sure the operating voltage (VMP) of the panel is below 50V before connecting it.

How Long It Takes To Charge

The included wall charger will recharge the battery in 70 minutes.

If you maximize the 220W solar input, the battery can be fully charged in 3.5 hours.

Upgradeability

There is no way to expand the battery capacity of this power station.


Power Station

Bluetti AC70

BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC70, 768Wh LiFePO4 Battery Backup w/ 2...

Check Price at Amazon

The Bluetti AC70 has a battery capacity of 768Wh, just like the River 2 Pro above.

Its pure sine wave inverter is rated at 1000W, but it has a “power-lifting mode” similar to the EcoFlow, so its able to reach 2000W output with certain devices.

There are two AC outlets, two USB A, two USB C, and a 12V cigarette lighter port on the front.

The USB C ports are rated at 100W and will charge compatible devices quickly.

Solar Panel 

Bluetti 120W Solar Panel

BLUETTI SP120 120W Solar Panel for AC200P/EB70/AC50S/EB150/EB240 Solar...

Check Price at Amazon

I recommend the Bluetti 120W panel because it’s portable, lightweight, and efficient. It works great with the AC70 power station, and you could connect two or more together to increase the charging speed.

What The Power Station Can Run

A 1000W inverter can power a small kitchen appliances, slow cookers, some microwave, fridges/freezers, small coffee makers, and similar devices.

What It Can’t Run

It’s not going to power an air fryer or bigger appliances.

Solar Capabilities

The XT60 input on the front of the power station is rated at 12-58V, up to 10A, or 500W.

That makes it compatible with both 12 and 24 volt solar panels. Since Bluetti includes an MC4 to XT60 adapter, you’re able to connect a lot of rigid panels right out of the box.

You can combine two or more panels in both parallel and series.

How Long It Takes To Charge

It’s able to charge from 0 to 80% in 45 minutes with the included wall charger.

If you maximize the solar input (500W) it will be fully charged within two hours, which is impressive for a battery this size.

Upgradeability

There is no way to expand the battery of the AC70.


Power Station

EcoFlow Delta 2

EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station DELTA 2, 1024Wh LiFePO4 (LFP)...

Check Price at Amazon

The EcoFlow Delta was one of the most popular power stations a couple of years ago, and the Delta 2 is extremely popular as well.

It’s popular because it has what people are looking for: fast charging, a lot of ports, a powerful inverter, and LiFePO4 batteries.

It has six AC outlets powered by the inverter rated at 1800W. That’s as powerful as a household outlet.

The battery capacity is 1024Wh but you can double that with an extra battery.

Even though it’s not the newest power station, it competes with the latest models because it was ahead when it came out.

Solar Panel 

EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel

EF ECOFLOW 160 Watt Portable Solar Panel for Power Station, Foldable...

Check Price at Amazon

I like the EcoFlow panels, and that’s why I recommend their 160W panel for the Delta 2. I recommend connecting two of them in series, or four in parallel-series.

What The Power Station Can Run

Since it’s as powerful as a household outlet it’s able to power everything you can power at home. That means residential fridges can be run with this if they don’t require more than 15A.

What It Can’t Run

It’s not powerful enough to power an RV air conditioner or a large oven. These type of devices usually have a different plug, and that’s a sign that they require more power than a regular household outlet can provide.

Solar Capabilities

The MPPT solar charge controller can handle voltages between 11-60V, 15A, up to 500W max.

That’s why I recommend a parallel-series configuration if you want to get close to that 500W max input.

If you have a Renogy panel for example with MC4 connectors, you just need an MC4 to XT60 adapter (click to view on Amazon). Make sure the operating voltage (VMP) of the panel is below 60V before connecting it.

How Long It Takes To Charge

Thanks to the X-stream charging, it can be recharged from 0 to 80% in 50 minutes.

At max solar input it’s recharged in about three hours.

Upgradeability

EcoFlow sells a battery pack for this unit, they also sell a kit that includes both the Delta 2 and the extra battery (click to view on Amazon).


Power Station

Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 2000 Plus, Solar Generator...

Check Price at Amazon

The Explorer 2000 Plus is a beast. It’s the only power station on the list today that has a 30A plug.

That 30A plug is rated at 25A, so it’s not quite as powerful as a 30A outlet at a campground.

It might be able to power a 12,500 BTU AC but not a 15,000 BTU AC.

The battery cells used are LiFePO4, and are going to last for many years. Its total battery capacity is 2042Wh.

There are four AC outlets, one 25A RV port, two USB A, two USB C, and one cigarettel lighter output.

All AC outlets are 20A ports, so they can power more power-hungry household appliances like a large frideg or an oven.

Solar Panel 

Jackery SolarSaga 200W

Jackery SolarSaga 200W Portable Solar Panel, IP68 with Sunlight Angle...

Check Price at Amazon

The SolarSaga 200W is currently the largest solar panel made by Jackery. It’s easy to connect several of these together and thanks to the detachable cable they’re easy to setup.

I have previously reviewed the SolarSaga 200W in this article.

You can connect up to six of these 200W panels to the Explorer 2000 Plus, but then you’re going to need two series adapters made by Jackery (click to view on Amazon).

What The Power Station Can Run

The four AC outlets can output up to 2400W, so its not going to have any issues powering any household device or appliance.

It will even power some air conditioners, both at home and in an RV.

What It Can’t Run

Where it might struggle is with large RV air conditioners, like a 15,000 BTU model.

Solar Capabilities

The MPPT solar charge controller can handle panels with an operating voltage between 17.5-60V, and up to 12A per input. So you can either connect 12V panels in series or 24V panels in parallel.

There are two inputs, and one thing that is a little bit tricky with the latest Jackery Explorer power stations is that you need to supply both inputs with the same input, as long as both are used.

If you’re only using one input you just need to care about the max 60V limit.

Because of this, it’s not possible to charge with solar panels and the car charger at the same time, since they don’t output the same voltage.

If you have a Renogy panel for example with MC4 connectors, you just need an MC4 to DC8020 adapter (click to view on Amazon). Make sure the operating voltage (VMP) of the panel is below 60V before connecting it.

How Long It Takes To Charge

The included wall charger can charge the 2042Wh battery in two hours.

With six 200W solar panels it only takes 1.8 hours to recharge the battery.

Upgradeability

Jackery makes a battery pack that has the same battery capacity as the 2000 Plus. The power station supports up to five battery packs, so you can expand it by quite a lot.

I have written an article about how it is done here.

emergency solar panel and portable power station connected to a 12 volt fridge freezer during a power outage
The 12 volt fridge freezer in this photo is being powered by a portable power station that’s being charged by a portable solar panel.

Electronics That Can Replace Your Household Appliances And Be Powered By A Power Station

Fridge/freezer

The Dometic 12V CFX3 55 liter (click to view on Amazon) is a fridge and freezer combo that runs off of a 12V cigarette port.

You can also power it with 120V AC outlets. It’s very capable and reliable and will keep your foods fresh and frozen.

Air Conditioner

You can use smaller air conditioner with some power stations.

A portable AC unit like the Black+Decker 8,000 BTU is one you can use with power stations tha thave at least a 1000W inverter.

The Black+Decker requires about 950W to run the compressor and then less than 100W to run the fan.

Electric Burner

Having an electric burner like the Maxi-Matic 1000W can be very useful during a power outage when you need to be able to cook food.

This 1000W model can be used with a power station like the Yeti 1000 and larger.

Related Post: Best Indoor & Outdoor Weather Stations

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is like an all-in-one kitchen appliance that can do a lot of things it usually takes several appliances to do.

I use mine all the time, and it’s something I would use in an emergency to cook meals with.

This model uses about 1000W when building up pressure, so it can be used with a power station like the Yeti 1000 and larger.

Heated Blanket

Electric heated blankets keep you warm if you can’t run the furnace.

I own a Serta heated throw blanket, and it uses about 100 watts on the highest setting.

Related Post: Best Electric Heated Blankets

Gas Generator

While today’s post talks about staying powered with solar panels and batteries, it’s always a good idea to have a gas generator that can also run on propane.

Like the Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready portable generator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Solar Generators Come With Solar Panels?

Most solar generators do not come with solar panels included. They’re called solar generators because they’re capable of charging with solar panels.

Unless the images or specifications mention that a solar panel is included you should assume that it isn’t.

Do I Need To Choose A Solar Panel With A Charge Controller For My Power Station?

Power stations have built-in charge controllers, which is why they’re often referred to as solar generators.

You don’t want to send a solar panel through two charge controllers, so the answer is no.

You should choose a solar panel without a solar charge controller.

Do I Not Need A Gas Generator If I Have A Solar Generator/Power Station?

I recommend having both.

Some days you’ll be able to charge a battery with a solar panel, while other days you might need to use a gas generator to charge your electronics and the power station.

Related Post: Best Quiet Inverter Gas Generator

I do, however, recommend using a generator that is a dual fuel, which means that you can run it on propane gas as well.

The Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready portable generator, for example, is a powerful 3800W generator like that.

Is A Solar Generator As Powerful As A Gas Generator?

It depends on how powerful the inverter of the power station and the gas generator is.

In terms of efficiency, solar generators don’t come even close. Gas is extremely energy efficient.

A generator might be able to power a 1000W device for a couple of hours on one gallon of fuel.

While a power station like the Yeti 1000 will only be able to run that 1000W device for about an hour with its 1045 watt-hour battery capacity.

I Don’t Know My Power Needs And How Big Of A Power Station I Need

The best way to figure out how much power you need is to sit down and make a list of every device you will absolutely need to be able to run with the power station.

If you can’t see the required wattage on the device or on its power brick, you can use a P3 Kill A Watt usage monitor.

This will tell you exactly how many watts the device plugged into it is using.

When you know how much it requires, consider how many hours a day you want to be able to use it.

A device might use 50W, and after powering it for four hours, you’ve used around 200 watt-hours.

If you have a 240Wh power station, you won’t be able to run that device for longer than four hours without charging the battery again.

Can I Use The Power Station While It’s Charging?

It depends on the power station, the Rockpals 250W can’t be used while it’s charging, while the Jackery Explorer 500 and the Yeti 1000 can.

If it’s not clear in a product specifications whether it supports pass-through charging you should contact the company and ask.

How Long Will A Power Station Run My Device?

It depends on the required wattage of the device, and the battery capacity.

If you have a device that requires 50W, and a power station with a 500Wh battery, you can do the math.

You also need to consider that the inverter in a power station that powers the outlets isn’t 100% efficient, but often around 85%, so for a more accurate calculation, you should take that into account.

Using the numbers above, 500/50*0.85= 8.5 hours.

If you don’t know how many watts your device requires and you can’t figure it out by looking at it or its power brick, I recommend using a P3 Kill A Watt usage monitor.

To figure out the watt-hours of the power station, check the manual or the product specifications.

What Power Station Is Powerful Enough To Run An Air Conditioner?

A 1000W power station can run a portable 8,000 BTU AC as we saw above.

If you want to run an RV AC that is 13,500 or 15,000 BTU, it’s a little bit harder to find a compatible power station.

You would need a power station that can output at least 2000W continuously, and a 4000W surge.

How Many Cycles Do Power Station Batteries Last?

Most power stations on the market are rated at about 500 cycles to 80% of battery capacity.

That means that if you have a 1000Wh battery station and use it from 100 to 0%, 500 times, the battery capacity will be down to 800 usable watt-hours instead of the original 1000.

Can I Use A Power Strip With A Power Station?

Yes, as long as the combined wattage is within the limits of the inverter, you can power several devices with a power strip.

Are Solar Generators Waterproof?

I don’t know of any solar generator that is waterproof. Most rigid solar panels out there are waterproof though.

What Is The Most Important Feature Of A Power Station?

It might be a boring answer, but it depends on what you need.

If you need to be able to power a 500W device, it doesn’t matter if the power station has a ton of battery capacity if the inverter is small.

Or if you want to power a 50W device for 24 hours, it doesn’t matter if the inverter is large, but the battery capacity is small.

You need to figure out what devices you want to run at the same time and how long. Only then can you find the perfect power station for you.

Other things that matter are the number of USB/AC ports, whether there is a USB C PD port, maximum input watts, charge controller type, and what kind of information the screen (if it has one) can give you.

A couple of things that are easy to spot and quickly know what’s to prefer are:

A pure sine wave inverter is better than a modified sine wave inverter.

An MPPT charge controller is better than a PWM charge controller.

A USB C PD port is better than a USB C port.

1000Wh is twice the battery capacity of 500Wh.

14-30V (10A Max) can handle more input than 14-22V (5A Max).

A regulated 12V Cigarette port is better than a non-regulated 12V Cigarette port.

A screen showing state of charge in a percentage is better than LED lights showing the battery level in 20% increments.

A lithium power station is better than a deep-cycle lead-acid battery power station. But LiFePO4 is also better than Li-Ion.

When it comes to solar panels you pair with power stations, an important thing to know is that a monocrystalline solar panel is better than a polycrystalline solar panel.

What Are Some Good Power Station Brands?

I recommend Goal Zero, Anker, Ecoflow, Jackery, Bluetti, and Rockpals.

Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions and I will do my best to help you.

by Jesse
Jesse has always had an interest in camping, technology, and the outdoors. Who knew that growing up in a small town in Sweden with endless forests and lakes would do that to you?

2 thoughts on “Easiest Way To Use Solar Power In Emergencies/Power Outages”

  1. Thank you so much Jesse. I love all the information in your blog posts. You make evrything accessible and easy to understand, even for the total noobie! I’m still a bit overwhelmed but at least have some direction and plenty to think about.

    Reply

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