"Solar Generator" vs Solar to Batteries etc?

Hi All,

I am planning for my upcoming camper instal in June. My goal is to build out my rig in a way that allows me to live out of it while I work as a raft guide for the summer.

I see a lot of folks on here are building out solar systems that go from panels to car/marine batteries and installing inverters etc. My question is what are the pros/cons or benefits to that verse simply buying a “solar generator” like the Goal Zero Yeti that seems to have it all built in already?

Admittedly I am a novice when it comes to anything electrical and could be missing something obvious but I would greatly appreciate any insight/thoughts/feedback.

Cheers and thanks in advance for the help!

I have goal zero yeti 1000x. plugs into the outlet in the truck bed when I am going down the road and I have portable 100 watt solar panel I can set up to top it off when I stop. has worked well. I use it to charge everything, run lights if I want and power up electric skillet or hot water pot. It is all I need.


Batteries are better value if you have space and money/time to set them up. I always did batteries and solar with MPPT until I got the GFC on a truck. I now have the Renogy Phoenix 1000 with a 100w panel. I love that I can just take it out and use it when I need versus it taking up space in the bed.

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I have 2 100w panels that I have running into the bed and that charges up my solar generators. I also have a portable 140w.
I have the Ecoflow Delta 2 and River 2 in the bed of my truck, and I have a Jackery 1000 inside of the truck that gets charged up while driving. If I park somewhere for a few days, I just alternate batteries as needed.

Biggest drainers are the fridge and Starlink (8hrs a day)


Using what you’ve already got is always best IMHO.

Winter camping… Battery Chemistry Type vs Temperature. I think the Jackery’s use Lithium Ion batteries (Lion) and depending on the exactly Ecoflow model, it may use LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate), which people call LFP’s. Once Lion batteries get below 32F/0C you can’t charge or draw power from them. LFP, you can draw at much lower temps, like -5F, and charge if they’re mid 20’sF or higher. So keep that in mind when Winter camping. The good news is that when you draw power from a Lion, it adds some heat, so it’ll probably keep running even if it gets into the upper 20’s at night. In the Winter, putting them in an insulated box, with minimal ventilation would help too.

If you start to use the portable units for more than the cooler and starlink, and the solar isn’t keeping up. Try what this guy did. Power Station For Your Car? You Need This! - YouTube

Bascially, he got a Victron gadget to up the 12voltage off his truck’s battery to 48v, so he could use the MPPT input on his portable unit. It lets him add nearly 4x the power to his portable unit when driving around. The portable battery units typically only allow up to 10amps via their 12volt dc input; otherwise the bus bars and wiring inside the portable battery would have to be a lot bigger, heavier, and it would make those units way more expensive (copper isn’t cheap!). It’s also why when you read the fine print of the MPPT inputs they sometimes require voltages >30volts before they will start charging. Depends on the model of course.


If you need AC power for anything, or think you might eventually want AC power, then an all-in-one unit like the Jackery/Ecoflow/GoalZero/etc is a simple way to go but you pay more for all the extras and end up with less capacity for the money than you could get in a battery. If you just need DC power, I’d recommend something like this:

I have one and it’s got a ton of capacity and lots of ports for gadgets. I charge it with a simple AC charger plugged into my Tacoma’s bed outlet while I drive (or any outlet when I’m home or at a campground with power). It’s also capable of accepting solar charging (100w max), I just haven’t needed to add that to my setup yet. I run a small fridge and charge my laptop/phone/puck lights/fan. I haven’t put it through much stress testing, but based on rated power draws, I think it could probably last me for the better part of a week. There are some good reviews on YouTube including a complete teardown. Happy to answer any questions. Not affiliated, just impressed with it so far.

Thanks for that feedback. I love EVeRYTHING about your build :heart_eyes:
Can you tell me where you got that bulk head mole rack?

This is kinda what i assumed was the main difference but wanted to make sure there wasn’t something I was missing

I run a dual battery set up in my tacoma but there are also a lot of vehicle lights running off of it.

I could do it all over again, I probably would have just updated my starter battery to a bigger AGM and then buy something like a 1000 Jackery or similar unit. Ran solar into the GFC and charge it that way. If you are a novice/don’t have much wiring experience, the all in one units are super easy and simple to use. Much harder to dx something under the hood/in all the wiring with a dual battery set up. Plus a lot of these newer units have BT built in now so you can remotely turn on/off ports which is slick!

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I’ve been contemplating this battery for my setup as I don’t really have a need for AC power. I’m just looking for something to run a small fridge off of. My trips are usually just weekend trips but would also like it work for longer trips up to 4 days. What fridge are you running?

Iceco GO20. It’s dual zone. I don’t have a need for a freezer currently, so I just use it as one big fridge. In my testing at home it pulls about 13Ah in a 24 -hr period sitting in my living room with 36 degrees F internal temp. With higher ambient temps and/or lower internal temps it would draw more. I’ll get some more stress testing on it during my upcoming 2-month road trip, but so far so good.

I have a GoalZero 1000x and a Dometic CFX3 45 - satisfied with both of them. The Goal Zero had one interesting limitation, the high power port can only take up to 50V so I can’t use it with just any panels. Something to consider.

From my personal experience, I recommend avoiding flexible panels, and instead mounting rigid panels somehow.

I’ll echo some thoughts. If you need higher power draw, more robust operating range for your battery, things like cold-crank amps as a backup starter battery- then you go for the big build.

If you just need to charge laptops, phones, run some small electronics- just get an all-in-one.

I sold my goal zero yeti lithium and swapped for a beefier setup.

I have the Dakota lithium 135+ battery and a DC-DC charger which manages 100w solar input OR alternator charge when the truck is running.

This setup powers my diesel heater, dometic CFX55IM, charges my gizmos… and has enough to spare.

We built a custom box with tons of connections, an inverter, and all safety checks (fuse boxes and such). It took a day in the garage to fully assemble and create the box, but this is way more powerful than my goal zero.

Hey, whatever works! It’s always cheaper and easier to “rung what ya brung” and see if what’s in your kit is sufficient with no upgrades, or borrow someone’s smaller “all in one box” for the weekend to see what you actually need.

My first step was to add up all of my electronics by their aH draw ranges, multiply by 72, and see what I may use for a standard 3-day non-stop power draw.

Work backwards from there.

My dometic pulls about 1a/H, maybe 2 in the summer on a hot & sunny day. My heater pulls about 1a/H.

So, with zero sunshine and my truck never starting, if somehow the sun was out and my truck couldn’t get any solar (nearly impossible, I know), I would need 72aH for my fridge, maybe 120, and my heater for 8 hrs each night would be 24total aH.

96-148aH worse case. I opted for 135aH battery, so if my panel fails and my truck doesn’t start for 3 days in the desert I can keep food cold all day and my camper warm at night.

I hope that makes sense. I could have easily opted for 65aH or 100aH and likely never run out of juice, but hey… you do you, right?


I have a 107a/H AGM battery in the bed that is charged off my alternator with an isolator. The battery is in a battery box for a boat trolling motor and is easily removed when not in use. I also have a 92a/H AGM starting battery in my truck that’ll power the fridge for weekend trips.

The good thing about a GoalZero or Ecoflow is simplicity and flexibility. My Tacoma Gofast has an Ecoflow with USB port for fast charging phone, 6 AC ports, and DC ports. The Ecoflow can be charged by solar panels, AC from house current or DC from vehicle (while running preferably). That’s an extremely flexible inverter/battery, in my opinion.

Biggest use for me is a fridge (on DC) and I have so much left over power I use a one-burner induction stove (AC) which uses about 8% of battery to boil water but it’s FAST and simple. I leave everything plugged in and can pull out my truck bed slide tray and have hot coffee inside of 5 minutes with a minimum of effort. No alternate fuels to mess with. I have the Ecoflow Deltamax 2000 W plus 3 flexible (100 watt) solar panels stuck to roof with VHB tape. Also installed 12 inch strip LED lights in 3 places (including as reading light up in tent) and they are super bright and use very little DC current. Very pleased with whole system and got to do a DIY project which included placing correct inline fuses in place, studying specifications & limits for system, wiring the solar panels and wiring lights. While on a trip the Ecoflow is rarely below 60% charged (usually > 90% charged) as long as truck is out in the sun (in the Rockies that’s typical case). Hardest part was building the slide-out tray but got it done and it has a 300 lb. limit. Good luck!


I use an Inergy Flex. I love it. Expensive for sure, but easy to use. 120, usb-c, 12v, etc. Expanding is easy. I use two 100w panels. It charges in no time and runs every from my Starlink to heated blankets, etc.

did the Dr. Prepare battery come with a wall outlet adapter to charge it through the bed outlet? I noticed the battery only has an anderson plug power-in port.

It didn’t come with a charger at all. I bought a Noco Genius 5 amp charger and just attach the alligator clips to the battery terminals to charge at home or on the road. Any battery charger that works with LiFePo4 would work. The catch is that the outlet in the bed only outputs 100W while the car is moving (400W if you’re in park). Your charger can’t pull more than that or it won’t work.

Check out this mod @tbacon4758 @globemaster

This is the commercially made harness for the 3rd gen Tacoma I installed:

Only briefly tested it, but so far so good.