Solar panels are an efficient and environmentally friendly way of generating energy. You simply connect the panel to a charger and hook it on to a generator or to your RV.
This is especially useful when you are traveling and do not have access to conventional energy. You want to enjoy nature but also stay connected to the world. The solution to this is portable solar panels.
Portable solar panels are lighter in weight so they can be placed on the roof of your RV or tent without adding too much baggage. You can find a plethora of options, which can easily get confusing. So to make deciding easier, we bring to you the best portable solar panels plus a buying guide.
You can also read: Best Flexible Solar Panels
Solar Panel Buying Guide
Before we move on with our review, there are certain factors you should know of and keep in mind. They will help you figure out what are the things you require when deciding on a panel.
Know the Types
There are essentially three types of solar panels you can find in the market. The types vary in terms of their solar cell technology. They include polycrystalline, monocrystalline, and thin design. Both polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels are made from cutting wafers out of blocks of silicone.
In polycrystalline panels, the cells are arranged in lines and have the capability of generating a high amount of power. The complex design results in the solar panels being bulky and more difficult to fold.
Similarly, monocrystalline solar panels are equally efficient in producing more power, but they use fragmented cells instead. Despite, the high price tag that comes with crystalline panels, they are more commonly used.
If you want a cheaper option that is light in weight, then thin design solar panels are your answer. They are constructed using a mixture of elements, including but not limited to gallium, silicon, indium, and selenide.
The combination and concentration of each element determine the power output. Although thin design panels may not be as efficient, they are an ideal option for when you are traveling and need to pack light.
Fixed vs. Flexible
Fixed or standard solar panels are what you generally see on the roofs of people’s homes. Although their rigid and sturdy design helps get the most sunlight, they may not be as useful in every situation.
For example, the roof of RVs are curved, and fixed solar panels will not be able to adapt to that setup. This is where flexible solar panels come in. Crystalline panels have frames that are flexible up to 30 degrees.
Their flexibility allows them to take the shape of an awkward setup, something that is valued for your mobile applications, or when you need to replace panels often. Fixed panels are useful for when you have a solid surface such as when you are camping, you can just set the panel up outside your tent.
Size and Weight
When talking about portability, two of the biggest factors to consider is the size and weight of the solar panel. You need to decide which size and structure you are willing to handle. Check the dimensions of the panel in our features section to make sure they fit your standards.
Similarly, you should decide how light to heavy you want the panel to weigh and are willing to carry. You can find foldable panels that make transporting them super easy. However, once unfolded they tend to take up a large amount of space, so keep that in mind.
Ease of Installation
Given that you are looking for portable solar panels, it is obvious that you will need to install and reinstall your panel several times. So you should only opt for a solar panel that you know you will be able to set up easily.
You can find panels that can be unfolded, some that have an adjustable kickstand that has a cable or cord included, some with ports, and other connectors that need plugs or alligator clips. Just choose a solar panel you know you will be confident to install at ease.
Top 5 Best Portable Solar Panels
Renogy 100 Watt Eclipse Solar Suitcase
Dimensions: 21.5 x 21.5 x 3.1 inches
Weighs 11.7 pounds
Compatible battery technology including lithium, sealed, gel, and flooded
The aluminum stand is adjustable and corrosion resistant
The negative ground charge controller is waterproof
Power output for up to 25 years
ALLPOWERS Solar Panel Bendable 100 Watt
Monocrystalline solar power cells have 23.5% efficiency
The junction box is sealed and waterproof
Bendable to 30 degrees
Weighs 4.7 pounds
Dimensions: 41 x 21 x 0.09 inches
Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase
Two 50 watt monocrystalline solar panels
Aluminum frame that is anodized
Tempered glass covering
2 years of warranty
25.9 pounds in weight
Jackery SolarSaga 100 Watt Portable Solar Panel
The power conversion efficiency of 23%
Comes with USB outputs and an Anderson connector
SolarSaga 100 Watt Solar Panel
Weighs 11.65 pounds
Dimensions: 26 x 22.5 x 2.5 inches
Zamp Solar 120P Charge Kit
Produces 6.84 amps, up to 30-40 amps
Compatible with 6 volts and 12 volts
Weighs 32 pounds
Dimensions: 42 x 34 x 25 inches
Monocrystalline power cell
1. Renogy 100 Watt Eclipse Solar Suitcase with Charge Controller - Best Portable Solar Panels
Renogy is a leading brand in the solar panel market, and its quality products are proof of that. The Renogy Eclipse Solar Suitcase uses monocrystalline cells that are capable of generating power of up to 100 watts. Not only that the performance of the panel does not deter even in low light conditions and electric shocks are avoided because of the low voltage system.
The panel comes with a negative ground charge controller that makes it compatible with any sort of vehicle such as RVs, trailers, boats, etc. Plus, the charge controller has an LCD screen which you can use to easily get information. Further protection is given as the overcharge protection, thus, reducing fire-induced accidents.
As for installation, you will get an adjustable aluminum stand that resists corrosion and heavy-duty latches and handle to prolong the panel’s life. The Renogy Eclipse Solar Suitcase comes with whopping 25 years of warranty, which is further proof of the brand’s confidence in its products. As for weight and size, this solar panel weighs a modest 11.7 pounds and has a dimension of 21.5 x 21.5 x 3.1 inches.
2. ALLPOWERS Solar Panel Bendable 100 Watt - Best Portable Solar Panels
Yet another leading brand on our list, this ALLPOWERS solar panel is both portable and bendable, and highly efficient. The monocrystalline power cells used are said to be 23.5% efficient which is more than others you can find in the market.
Plus, the junction box is sealed and waterproof, as is the whole panel, implying that this solar panel is very durable and is able to handle extreme weather. The reason why this ALLPOWERS Solar Panel has made our list is that it is extremely lightweight at just 4.7 pounds and bendable of up to 30 degrees.
What this means that you can essentially set this panel up on any curved surface, be it your boat or RV, using its easy to use metal reinforced mounting holes. Although this solar panel may take up a bit of space, it is relatively thin, but this can be ignored as its many features compensate for this drawback. Also, you will get 18 months of guarantee with this product.
3. Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase- Best Portable Solar Panels
The Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase comes with its own set of unique features. The panel generates 100 watts of power output from two monocrystalline solar cells that are tested to be highly efficient in every kind of weather situation.
The panels are designed to be in a briefcase structure with handles for easier portability. Because of the anodized aluminum frame and a tempered glass covering the panel, it is both providing safety and making the panel waterproof.
To add to the protection aspect, this solar panel can only be connected with barrel jacks that are 8 mm for safety. The reasoning behind this is that the panel is then forced to stay within 12 volts. To touch more on the efficiency of the panel, it comes with a built-in kickstand that can be tilted to any position for optimum energy production.
Multiple boulder panel with chains increases its capacity and allows you to enjoy more energy. Although this 25.9 pound weighing solar panel is likely going to take up a bit more space, it is a premium choice in our opinion.
4. Jackery SolarSaga 100 Watt Portable Solar Panel- Best Portable Solar Panels
The Jackery SolarSaga solar panel is one of the most efficient panels on our list with a 23% conversion efficiency. This solar panel is great for people who enjoy outdoor life. The panel is divided into two panels of 50 watts each and has a handle to easily carry the panel around.
To support the panels, you will find a back kickstand that positions them at a 45 degree angle that enables them to get the most sunlight. Moreover, the panel includes two USB output chargers, a USB-C (5V/ 3A), and a USB-A (5V/ 2.4A) port type that allow you to charge your phones or any other small device directly.
Plus, the Anderson Connector has a DC output of 18 volts and 5.55 amps that are equipped with short circuit, overpower, and surge protection.
5. Zamp Solar 120P Charge Kit - Best Portable Solar Panels
Yet another foldable solar panel on our list, the Zamp Solar 120P Charge Kit is capable of producing 120 Watts of energy that is generated by monocrystalline cells divided between two panels. The best part is that this solar panel is capable of producing 30 to 40 amps of energy per day.
This is possible because of its anti-reflective system that absorbs more light and is able to generate more energy. You have the option of choosing 6 volts or 12 volts batteries, as the panel is compatible with both. You can connect directly to your battery or use an SAE port. The thin solar panel is easy to store and install in just 5 in just minutes.
While travelling or when you do not have access to conventional energy, a portable solar panel will quite literally save your life. Plus, they are good for the environment. With that being said, all the solar panels that feature on our list are top-notch.
However, we recommend the ALLPOWERS Bendable Solar Panel and GoalZero Boulder Briefcase. They both have high efficiency, their unique features and of course easy transportation.