If you just started looking at solar generators, you may have noticed the Sungzu 500, and its bigger brothers the 1000 and 1500. These solar generators are tempting for a lot of people because they draw you in with their affordable prices. In comparison with some other well known solar generators out there such as the Patriot 1800, they are a steal of a deal. But you don’t have to be a genius to know that you get what you pay for.
The Sungzu 500 really is an okay unit for the price, but I do make sure to clarify it with “for the price” because there are some improvements that Sungzu could definitely make. These improvements are both in appearance and functionality. This unit is more focused on portable power for camping, at the beach, or traveling. Not for emergency backup power, long-term power outages, natural disasters, or anything like that. It’s great for charging phones, drones, laptops, and lights.
Here is a detailed list of all my favorite features in the Sungzu 500 and all the improvements that it could make.
*You can also check out my video I just made about the affordable Sungzu 500 here!
12 V plug
One thing that Sungzu updated on the Sungzu 500 model is they put a 12v plug onto the actual generator. Before they had an adapter that you could connect to make a 12v outlet. This is much more convenient if you are planning on using your generator on the go. It makes the Sungzu 500 much more valuable as a portable generator. It is worth noting that the 12v plug is not regulated which for some people will be an issue. All that means is that as the battery in the Sungzu 500 gets lower, the voltage in the 12v DC plug also gets lower.
It’s still possible to run 12v equipment off of it, but it may run slower like on an air pump, or the lights may be dimmer because it’s not getting the same amount of voltage as when the Sungzu 500 battery is full.
I was pretty impressed with the Sungzu portable solar panel that works with the Sungzu 500. It folds up really nice and small so it’s easy to take on the go. There is quite a bit of padding on the back of each panel section, so I know that it isn’t getting damaged in transport and it makes it a bit more sturdy when setting it up in each new location. There is a hard enough back on each of the cells that it doesn’t crack the cells if you grasp it firmly, which can be a problem for other flexible panels.
There is also another cable so you can connect another solar panel to the Sungzu 500 if you want to that comes with the system.
Sungzu seems to like to have accessible extra fuses on the back of their generators and it is a feature that I actually like. Many solar generator or power station manufacturers put the fuses inside the unit which makes them near impossible to swap out if they blow. If you blow a fuse on the Sungzu 500 power station you can pop open the back fuse box, grab an extra fuse and install it right away. There are two working fuses and two extra fuses available for you.
When people want a portable generator, one feature that is important is the weight and how easily portable it is. The Sungzu 500 solar generator is only 17 pounds, most of that being battery weight. This is a very low weight compared to many of the other generators on the market. It also has a heavy-duty handle on the top and it’s easily portable for anyone at any strength level.
The Jackery 500 weighs in at 13lbs which is a bit lighter than the Sungzu 500, but that’s because it is encased in plastic. The Sungzu has a very strong metal case instead of plastic.
The other close competitor is the EcoFlow River 600 Max (extra battery) which is also 17lbs. The River 600, also has a plastic exterior.
Many people wonder if the Sungzu 500 can charge while it is also being used and the answer is “yes!” This generator can handle input and output at the same time. It may need to use the fan feature on it if you are running it at its peak and also charging it, but it seems to regulate temperature very well. I have not had any overheating issues of any kind unlike the EcoFlow series of units.
If you want to charge it from the wall, it takes about 4 hours to get a full charge. From a 100w solar panel, it will charge in about 5 to 8 hours depending on sun conditions.
For a smaller portable generator, this runs very well. At a full 500w discharge, the Sungzu 500 will run for just under 50 minutes.
For what you get in the Sungzu 500 it is definitely the best price, hands down. This is not the prettiest unit out there but it works pretty well. It competes primarily with the Jackery 500 portable unit and the Ecoflow River 600. It has comparable watt-hours and it is by far the most affordable. The other two models have other features that I like, the design being a big one, but if you’re looking for a portable unit, the Sungzu is a good option.
Areas For Improvement
Flaw With Inverter
One of the most inconvenient things about the Sungzu 500 is that it has some kind of flaw in the generator. The inverter runs well when I have my devices plugged in, but for some reason, the whole generator will shut off when I plug my laptop directly into the generator. This only happens every now and then, not every time. I find it hard to believe that my laptop would create a big enough surge to overload it.
I have found a way to get around it by plugging in the charger first but disconnected to my laptop and then connecting the laptop to the charger. This doesn’t seem to cause a problem with the generator, but it’s something that I don’t think about often and can be annoying if I forget to do.
Screen Needs Updating
Another thing that the Sungzu 500 needs is a better screen. The resolution is low, though that is not a huge deal. But it is very small and only includes battery life percentages in 20% increments and if I have the output for the 12v and USB outlets turned on. It also has the internal temperature noted. This is something that is interesting to know, but the screen is so small, it seems odd to use the limited space on the temperature that you don’t necessarily need to know.
The screen is by far the worst part about the Sungzu 500. There is very little beneficial information on it. They need to install a screen that shows the actual battery percentage, solar power wattage coming in, estimated charge/discharge time, and have the screen stay on, not time out.
This may be a little ticky tacky, but I find the silicone flaps for the outlet covers to be very annoying and I wish they had updated them in the Sungzu 500 model. There are two silicone flaps on the generator and the one that covers the 120v outlets has a flap that goes up instead of comes down. I find it to get in the way and it honestly doesn’t need to be there. If I have the generator out in the rain, then I am likely not using the plugs anyway. I would never have it in the rain.
The battery calibration shown on the screen seems to be off in the Sungzu 500. You can see in my video at about 9 minutes that the battery life has gone down considerably after little to no use. This is just another reason that I distrust the screen and wish that it had accurate readings rather than the 20% increments that it shows.
What To Use It For
The Sungzu 500 is meant to be a portable generator for small gadgets. That means that it isn’t ideal for running big equipment on or using in an emergency necessarily. This is more ideal for camping, using drones, and small appliances while away from the main power source.
I personally use it for a portable DC refrigerator that I can take with me camping or while traveling. It works great and it can run something small like that for up to 20-30 hours depending on size and weather. Some people also prefer to use it for a CPAP machine and it has no problem handling a device like that throughout the night.
Overall the Sungzu 500 is a good basic solar generator for small portable electronics. It is lightweight and portable and has all the functions that you would want in a smaller solar generator. It is great for “on the go” as it is small and takes up very little room. It can easily run small appliances for several hours at a time and is great for trips and such. For emergency power use, I would probably go with something like the Titan because it has more power and is more convenient for regular use.