Portable solar generators have come a long way since their modest beginning. Their primary benefit, of course, is their cost-efficiency compared to bulky fuel-powered generators. What can be more cost efficient than harvesting energy from the sun and converting it to power the tools and devices we rely on every day? More than any other use, though, they are especially handy for outdoor trips and camping, as well as grid down scenarios.
Generally speaking, portable solar generators tend to be smaller and quieter than traditional generators. The tradeoff for this portability, of course, is their reduced power compared to traditional generators.
The leader in portable solar generators, Inergy, released their Kodiak model in 2016, which was revolutionary for its time and considered a beast with its 1,100Wh battery and rugged construction. Recently, the same company has pushed portable solar technology yet again with an improved model: the Inergy Apex.
Let’s take a closer look as to why many experts claim the Apex is the new gold standard in portable solar power and why Inergy remains the most popular brand of portable solar generators on the market.
With the old Kodiak, you had to reset the battery when it’s low on juice to attach a high-powered tool or appliance. To reset it, you’d have to perform a complicated sequence with the generator’s plugs. The Apex has done away with that, as it will shut down automatically to protect itself and increase the battery’s service life.
This improvement in performance comes at no sacrifice to capacity. The improved battery in the new Apex has the same capacity as the one in the older model. The capacity is 1,100Wh, which translates to 90 Ah at 12.6V. It is rated to last up to 2,000 full recharge cycles. This battery was impressive back in the days of the original Kodiak, and it continues to be a standout among solar generators.
The Apex can be expanded with extra batteries. You’ll be able to use lightweight Li-ion batteries as well. Of course, the old 12V lead-acid and AGM deep cycle batteries remain viable sources of extra power for your Apex.
Inergy is supposed to launch its own line of Li-ion batteries sometime in the future. These will be the only ones authorized for use with the company’s Apex generators when they’re under the warranty. This simply means that the company might not honor the warranty if you use other batteries.
Improvements from the Kodiak
First, the Apex is more consistent at power output. The new MPPT controller makes sure the Apex charges faster and more efficiently.
The new model now comes with built-in USB-C charge ports. With the original model, you had to use a Qualcomm 3.0 charge adapter and plug it into one of the 12V outputs.
While the display on the 1st generation Kodiak shows a lot of important info, the Apex display also includes the charge input. This way you’ll know exactly how much power is going into the generator and get an idea of how long it will take to reach a complete charge.
On the outside, the Apex looks very similar to the original Kodiak generator. For one, the two models have the same dimensions – 14” W x 8” D x 7” H. The original Kodiak weighs 20lbs, while the new Apex tips the scales at 5 lbs more.
The layout of inputs and outputs is very similar as well. Up front, it has the input and a small LCD display where you can read all the basic info.
Other Technical Specs
The Apex delivers 1,500W of continuous power, which goes up to 3,000W maximum to support start-up power surges. It is also equipped with a 3-position power switch which lets you charge USB, USB-C, and 12V devices without having to engage the inverter.
The Apex also has an EV8 input plug that makes for a plug-and-play user interface that’s very easy to use. It is worth noting that you can’t use the MC4-to-Neutrik adapters with the Apex portable solar Generator.
Power Options and Charging
The default charging option for this solar generator is via solar panels that Inergy sells. There are several kits for you to choose from. More options will probably become available in the future.
However, apart from the solar panels, you can use many other sources to charge the Apex’s battery. You can use your car as well as a wall outlet.
The battery can handle up to 600W of power. At 600W, it will charge in just 2.5 hours. If you’re using 500W solar panels, the battery will completely charge in around three hours. This goes down to 4.5 hours at 240W and 8 hours at 110W. However, Inergy recommends 500W as the maximum input/charging power.
What You Can Power with the Apex?
You can use the Apex portable solar generator to power up and run a huge range of appliances, devices, and power tools. Here is a quick overview of some of the most common options and how long they can run on the Apex.
The average 5-7W smartphone: more than 100 hours
Standard tablet of the 25-40W range: more than 40 hours
50W laptop: more than 20 hours
50” flat-screen TV that draws 65W: around 16 hours
Standard 6W basecamp LED light: more than 180 hours
1/3HP sump pump: 2.5 hours
1000W microwave: one hour of runtime
Standard 18 cu ft. refrigerator at 20% duty cycle: more than 30 hours.
The original Kodiak was an impressive portable solar generator. It was light, powerful, and highly versatile. Despite that, Inergy managed to bring a plethora of improvements all while lowering the price on the Apex.
While cheaper, less efficient portable solar generators are available, the Inergy Apex is meant for the serious consumer who is looking for the best portable power that modern technology has to offer.