When it comes to backup power for power outages and disaster situations, generators are the first thing that spring to mind. But a gas-powered generator isn’t always the best option.
They’re noisy, you have to source and store fuel and they can only be used outdoors.
Indoor generators – also called portable power stations – offer a practical alternative for preppers living in apartments and condos. As they don’t require gas or emit fumes, they can safely be used indoors, and most can be recharged using solar panels.
A generator is likely to be one of the biggest single purchases you add to your prepping kit, so you want to make sure you’re investing your money wisely.
We’ve reviewed the best indoor generators and discuss what to consider when working out which option is best for you.
Our Top Pick
Top 5 Indoor Generators and Power Banks
Best Indoor Generator: EcoFlow Delta 1300
Continuous power – 1,800W
Weight – 30.9 lbs
The EcoFlow Delta 1300 is a sleek, stylish power station capable of charging 13 devices simultaneously. It hits the mid-price point for indoor generators but far exceeds its competitors in terms of value for money.
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The Delta 1300’s big selling point is its fast charging time. Rapid-charge technology means it takes just 1.7 hours to fully charge from the mains – 10 times faster than most other power stations.
EcoFlow claims it can be charged using solar panels in four hours, though given this is for “perfect” conditions, it’s reasonable to expect it’ll take a little longer.
As it holds its charge for up to a year, this is an excellent option if you don’t want to have to worry about having to charge batteries every month. (Though we’d recommend checking it more than once a year, just to be on the safe side!)
This indoor generator is packed with charging ports, including six AC outlets and two USB-C ports. At nearly 31 pounds, you won’t want to carry it far, but it is significantly lighter than comparable power stations.
The Delta 1300 delivers 1,800W of continuous power with a huge surge capacity of 3,300W – great for starting up high-powered appliances or tools. The 1,260Wh capacity is less than half that of the Yeti 3000, but given the fast charging capability, lighter design and reasonable price, the EcoFlow Delta 1300 beats it to the top spot on our list.
- High power output
- Rapid charging
- Excellent value for money
- 1-year shelf life
- 13 charging ports
Best Power Station for Heavy Users: Goal Zero Yeti 3000
Continuous power – 1,500W
Weight – 68.6 lbs
While most of the power banks we’ve reviewed will keep your smartphone and laptop powered up, if you’re wanting to power larger appliances such as a fridge or heater, you need the Goal Zero Yeti 3000.
The battery delivers over 3000Wh of power, enough to charge a standard fridge for 50 hours or recharge a laptop more than 50 times. With ten charging ports, including a USB-C port, it will easily charge multiple devices at once.
The Yeti 3000 is designed to integrate with Goal Zero’s portable solar panels with an inbuilt solar charging optimization module that reduces charging time by 40%. Even better, you can connect lead acid batteries to the power station to cheaply boost your energy storage capacity.
As you might expect, this level of power comes at a cost. The Yeti 3000 is not cheap and at 68 pounds, it’s too heavy to be considered portable (though you do get a roll cart to help move it around).
The generous surge capacity helps start up power-hungry appliances, but the continuous power rating is less than both the EcoFlow and Nexus at 1,500W.
If you want a genuine off-grid system to keep essentials powered at home or a Bug Out Location, the Yeti 3000 in combination with solar panels is your most reliable option.
- Powerful generator with long battery life
- Ability to chain batteries for additional power
- Optimized for solar charging
- Lots of options for charging devices
- Wifi connectivity
- Heavy and limited portability
Best Portable Indoor Generator: Jackery Explorer 1000
Continuous power – 1,000W
Weight – 22 lbs
You’re not likely to carry a generator with you if you’re escaping from a disaster on foot, but it may be a consideration if you’re evacuating your home in a vehicle.
Lighter power stations are also easy to move around inside your home, particularly if you live on your own or struggle to lift heavy objects.
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At 22 pounds, the Jackery Explorer 1000 is light enough to lift into your car trunk or carry up and downstairs. The 1,002Wh capacity battery gives enough juice to charge an average laptop about 11 times or power a small cooler or fridge.
The 1,000W power output will be sufficient for most electronics and some small appliances, but it’ll struggle with microwaves, heaters, or larger appliances. The power station comes with three AC outputs, plus two USB-C and one quick charge USB port, which is more than sufficient given the maximum power output.
Like the Delta 1300 and Yeti stations, the Explorer 100 is equipped with MPPT technology for faster solar charging. It can also be charged in around seven hours from an AC outlet and fourteen hours from a 12V car cigarette lighter.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is a direct competitor to Goal Zero’s Yeti 1000 power station. The Yeti 1000 has a slightly better battery and significantly higher power output (1,500W with a surge capacity of 3,000W) but given it weighs almost twice as much as the Explorer 1000, it can’t be considered a portable unit.
- Good power output for its size
- Optimized for solar charging
- Great value
- Robust design
- Not powerful enough for high-wattage appliances
Best for Short Term Power Outages: Ego Power+ Nexus
Continuous power – 2,000W
Weight – 30.2 lbs + batteries
At first glance, the Ego Power+ Nexus looks like an awesome buy. It delivers more power than the Yeti 3000 at around a third of the price. It’s also weather resistant, so it can be used outside, and it’s significantly lighter than the Yeti 3000.
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Unfortunately, there are two big downsides to the Nexus.
The first is the low battery capacity. Although the batteries are good quality, they’re low capacity. Even if you purchase an additional two batteries to boost the capacity, this will still only give you a maximum capacity of 30Ah or 1,680Wh of power. If you’re making use of the high power output, you’re going to burn through this pretty quickly.
The other big problem with using this as a long-term power source is that it can’t be recharged using solar panels. Once you’ve drained the batteries, you’ll have to wait until mains power comes back on or have a gas generator on standby.
The Ego Power+ Nexus is a great choice if you want to keep your fridge, freezer or TV running during a short-term power outage. Unfortunately, the lack of charging options makes it less suitable for disaster situations.
- High power output
- Relatively low cost
- Can be used outside
- Good weight to power ratio
- Low battery capacity
- No solar charging capability
Best Budget Generator: Jackery Explorer 500
Continuous power – 5000W
Weight – 13.3 lbs
The Jackery Explorer 500 is not designed to power an apartment full of appliances for days on end.
But if you’re on a budget or want a portable power station to charge your phone and other electronics, it offers excellent value for money.
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The 518Wh battery can charge an average laptop seven times or recharge your phone more than 50 times. You can also use it to power a mini cooler, a 60W television or a CPAP machine.
If you’re sensible about power use, then the Explorer 500 will give you enough power for a couple of days moderate use (e.g. powering a CPAP machine overnight and a cooler box and phones during the day) or a week’s light use.
It doesn’t have a fast-charging module, so it’ll take around 14 hours to fully recharge the power station from a solar panel in full sun (eight hours from an AC outlet).
As well as being a great emergency power source for those on a budget, the Explorer 500 would also work well as a secondary indoor generator for charging electronics if you’re using a high-powered unit such as the Delta 1300 or Yeti 3000 for larger appliances. As it’s lightweight and compact, you can also take it with you if you have to evacuate your home unexpectedly.
- Excellent budget option for light-moderate use
- Lightweight and portable
- Can be used outdoors
- Comparatively slow charging
- Low capacity
What to Consider When Buying an Indoor Generator
Indoor Generators vs Outdoor Generators
Indoor generators typically cost more than a standard gas-powered generator, particularly if you also need to buy solar panels to charge it.
Their capacity is also more limited, so you’ll either have to buy multiple units or manage your power expectations.
However, they do have a number of advantages:
- They can be used in apartments and condos where an outdoor generator isn’t an option.
- They can be used in all weather conditions (some outdoor generators can’t be used in extreme weather conditions).
- You don’t have to store or obtain fuel.
- They’re quiet to operate – good for night-time and if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself.
- You can move the power station to where you need power supplied.
How Much Power Do You Need?
You’re unlikely to meet your normal power requirements for your entire apartment or house with a portable generator.
A good starting point is to calculate how much power you use on a day-to-day basis, then work out how much of that is essential and how much is optional or can be rotated (e.g. you don’t need to leave your laptop on charge all day if you’re conserving power).
To calculate your power requirements, simply walk around your home and make a list of everything you need or want to power. This may include:
- Sump pump
- Laptops and electronic devices
- Radio equipment
- Mobile phones
- Portable heaters
- Medical equipment, such as a CPAP machine
- Induction plate for cooking
Once you have your list, determine what wattage each item requires. You can find this out by checking the appliance labels. (Alternatively have a look at our easy to use generator wattage calculator)
An average-size home uses 5-7,000 watts of power for essential items. The Yeti 3000 is one of the most powerful indoor generators on the market and delivers just over 3,000Wh of power, so you’re going to have to prioritize.
Alternatively, you may choose to have a couple of generators, one to run kitchen essentials and a second for charging phones, laptops and other portable equipment.
Power and Battery Size
Along with budget, power output is likely to be your primary consideration when buying a portable power station.
The power output (measured in watts) and the battery capacity (measured in Wh or Ah) will help you determine what devices or appliances you can run off your power station and for how long.
Some indoor generators, such as Goal Zero’s Yeti range, allow you to link additional batteries to the main unit to give a larger total output.
Generators do not come cheap. While we often recommend that you buy the best survival products you can afford, an indoor generator is a big purchase and you may not be able to afford one large enough to power everything you need.
If that’s the case, then you have two options: up your budget or figure out a way to reduce your usage.
Although indoor generators don’t require gas, you still need a way of charging the internal battery. The easiest way is using mains electricity, but once the initial charge runs low, you may need an off-grid method of recharging it.
The most reliable (and common) charging method is to connect your power pack to a large solar panel. You can also charge some smaller power packs by plugging them into the cigarette lighter socket in your car. Just make sure you run your engine every now and then so you don’t drain your car battery.
You’ll want to check that the generator you’re looking at has the correct charging ports for the devices you need to power. More isn’t always better, as most generators won’t have enough power to charge lots of things at once.
At a minimum, you’re likely to want at least one AC power outlet and a couple of USB ports for charging smaller devices.
Do you want to be able to move your generator easily around the house or take it with you if you have to evacuate?
Portability can be an advantage, but there’s a trade off between portability and power.
If you can afford it, it may be worth investing in a large generator that meets most of your power requirements and a smaller, portable one that you can take with you.
An inverter converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). You want a power bank that has a pure (or “true”) sine wave inverter. This means that the power supply is safe for electric devices.
Cheaper power banks may use a modified sine wave which is less efficient.
All of the power stations we’ve featured in this article have pure sine wave power.
See our guide to apartment prepping.