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The best battery generators have tons of power and sun-driven charging.
As evidenced by the recent power issues in the Texas cold snap, it’s good practice to keep a generator on hand. While other types exist, the best generator might be one that’s battery-powered so that you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide buildup. It’s also the quietest generator you’re going to find. It’s even better if it’s a solar portable generator, capable of being recharged by the power of the sun.
But what about gas generators? They’re great if you need quick action and don’t have time to charge large batteries, but they also create toxic gases when in operation. That means you’ll want to keep them outside the home mostly, which means they require hardwiring to your home’s grid or lots of very long extension cords, and they have no stored energy. If they’re not on, there’s no power.
Battery-powered generators have vast stored energy reserves and can be wheeled inside to a place that’s convenient (and warm). Here are the best battery-powered generators to keep charged up in the garage for the next blackout.
The latest Goal Zero Yeti 3000X is what you need to stay powered up whenever the lights go out. It can charge your phone over 250 times, keep a standard lightbulb running for 267 hours, and a full-sized refrigerator running for 55. Anything you need to recharge can be recharged via the two USB-A or USB-C ports. The upgraded 2000W AC inverter can handle power surges from large appliances and power tools, so you can plug in to the two 120V AC outlets without worrying about shorting out the unit. If you have a camp fridge or other portable electronics, the improved 12V outlets will let you use those as well.
The new MPPT controller lets you recharge even faster. Using the Boulder 200 Solar Panel Briefcase, you can refill the unit in 18-36 hours. If you daisy-chain multiple Boulder 200 panels together (for a max of 6, equal to 1200W), you can reduce that recharge time to 6 hours. The Boulder 200 sports two 100W panels, connected by a hinge, with an integrated kickstand. It’s the easiest way to charge up your generator. Unfold the briefcase, point it at the sun, and plug it into the Yeti.
Since the Yeti is battery-based, it’s completely silent and there are no fumes to worry about or fuel to contend with. Wheel it in out of the garage where you’ve had it plugged in and topping off and plug your fridge in. Just like that, you’ve saved the week’s worth of groceries that you’ve stocked. Incidentally, the included cart is much appreciated on the 3000X. At 69 lbs., it’s a hefty haul.
If you don’t feel like wheeling the Yeti around, you can integrate the Yeti 3000X directly into your home electrical system with one of their Home Power kits. When the power goes out, all you have to do is throw a switch and Yeti will power the circuit you’ve connected.
The Goal Zero app is responsive and will let you turn individual outlets on and off. You can also keep track of how much battery power you have left and how much longer the generator will keep running. The Yeti 3000X has its own internal WiFi, so you can connect directly to it even when the power is out and your wireless network is down. The Yeti 3000X takes everything that was already great about Goal Zero’s solar generators and makes it better.
If you’re not looking to drop nearly $4,000 on a portable power solution, but still want a solar generator with Goal Zero’s most advanced battery technology, then grab the Yeti 200X. It has all the same advanced MPPT battery recharge tech of the larger Yeti, which will let it completely top off in as little as 2 hours.
Once the battery is full, you can get 16 smartphone charges from the generator or run a camp fridge for 8 hours. There’s a 120W AC plug on the front with a pure sine-wave inverter and 200W surge protection—so you can’t run large appliances off the Yeti 200X, but plenty of other plug-in electronics will work just fine. When the battery gets low, you can plug in your solar panel briefcase and keep things running. At just 5lbs. the Yeti 200X is infinitely portable and crazy useful as the power hub for your campsite, afternoon picnic, wherever you find yourself that could use a little bit of portable powered assistance.
If you need power for larger appliances or multiple devices at once, use the EGO Power+ batteries you have for the tools in your garage to slot into the EGO Power+ Nexus Portable Power Station.
Capacity depends on how large and how many EGO Power+ batteries you have (if you have their new 10.0 Ah battery you’ll be able to get hours of power). The Power Station uses their charge and lets you access it via the four USB outlets or three 120V AC outlets on the front of the unit. It has a continuous power output of 2,000W (3,000W peak), so it can power anything you plug into your wall now, including power tools and refrigerators. It makes no noise while running and doesn’t produce fumes, so it’s safe for indoor use. It also has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity so that you can keep an eye on what’s going on with the unit, remotely turn off outlets, and update the firmware. You don’t need the app, though; the information is the same as what’s displayed on the front LED.
The unit itself is pretty heavy—even when it isn’t full of batteries—so you’ll want a friend to grab the other chunky handle when you go to place this where you need it. That said, the large design is necessary given that it needs to fit four large lithium batteries. Even better, if you have lots of batteries, you can just swap individual units out as they run down. It’s a great solution for accessing the power generating capacity you’ve already got in your garage.
If you need something that you can tuck away and forget about between emergencies, then I recommend the Sherpa 100 AC. What impresses me is how Goal Zero’s battery tech keeps performing year after year, barely losing any of their capacity.
With 25,600 mAh capacity and a max 60W output, the Sherpa 100 AC has more than enough power to keep everything in your pack running. It doesn’t lack for ports either. There’s one USB-A port, two USB-C ports, and even an AC port if you are stuck using the power adapter for your laptop. There’s even a 5W Qi charger on top.
The helpful OLED display on the front of the unit lets you know how much power is coming or going out, and lets you set roles for each port if you’d like. And the included magnetic USB-C, Mini-USB, and Lightning cables are a nice touch—you don’t have to worry about leaving yours at home. Pair this with a Nomad 28 portable solar panel and you can recharge the unit in 7-12 hours. Who needs the grid?
If you’re looking for something tiny and powerful, then the Anker Powerhouse 200 is a great unit. With a 213 Wh capacity, it’s able to run a CPAP machine for 3-6 hours, charge your smartphone 20-30 times, top off your laptop up to 6 times, or even run a mini-fridge for 2-5 hours. Which seems somewhat impossible given that it’s the size of a couple of chunky hardback books.
The Anker Powerhouse 200 supports 30W fast charging, so you can top off your phone quickly via the USB-C port (important when you’ve got a household of folks waiting to do the same). There are two high-speed USB-A ports as well and a 12V AC outlet with pure sine wave (no power spikes). Just keep in mind that the outlet can only support devices under 100W. If you need to charge big appliances, you’ll need to get one of the larger generators on this list.
Recharging the Anker Powerhouse 200 is easy. You can plug it in to the wall, use the USB-C port, or even plug in a portable solar panel (not included). For a diminutive generator from a reliable company like Anker, you really can’t do much better for the price.
I’ve been writing about technology, gadgets, and pop culture back before Apple had even thought of the iPhone. I’ve seen the rise and fall (and rise again) of Apple. I’ve