With the increase in power consumption and electrical bill, many have turned to solar technology to look for an alternative that is easier on the wallet when it comes to monthly bills as well as being good for the environment. Solar technology has brought us countless new opportunities that many have just begun to realize can be incorporated into their existing lifestyle.
Investing in the best portable solar panel allows them to charge small, portable devices or as an energy supplier for homes or RV campers. For this function, a Solar Generator will be useful. Regardless of why you’re planning on investing in solar panels, as long as you reside in a sunny climate, you’ll find that you’ll be able to get invaluable use of these solar panels.
Want to join the wagon but not too familiar with the use of solar technology? Don’t worry! We will lay out everything you need to know in this guide for you to quickly learn and make an informed decision on which are the best portable solar panels for you. We will even show you the different types of products on the market and how best to determine which solar panel will work well for you. We’ve taken the time to compile a list of the best portable solar panels available on the market for you to consider
How Does a Portable Solar Panel Work?
It is without a doubt that solar energy is a growing trend that’s first used by those who are determined to eliminate their carbon footprint and lead cleaner lifestyles. This technology is beginning to be noticed by more people, especially those who follow more mainstream technology trends. Solar energy takes advantage of the energy that surrounds us on a daily basis through the use of many smaller cells called photovoltaic cells that are able to absorb light.
These photovoltaic cells have the ability to convert energy from the sun into usable energy and create electricity for our devices. These cells are composed of two pieces of semiconductive material with opposite charges. These opposite charges work to create an electric field. When the photovoltaic cells are laid out in the sunlight, they will absorb photos and generate electrons. These electrons are then gathered at either end of the cell by metal plates and transferred to our solar panels through a wire to generate electricity.
Portable Solar Panel Buying Guide – Factors to Look Out For
Choosing the best portable solar panel may not be rocket science, but there are a few details that you should look into as they will influence your decision.
The first factor that you should consider is the usage. What do you plan on using your solar panel for and how often. Depending on the purpose of your solar panels, you might even need to change your search parameters.
For example, the best solar kits for RV’s are generally around 100 W size and feature simple installation. Installing these solar panel modules should only involve more than a couple of wires. These portable solar panels are generally connected to lead-acid batteries that will recharge over time, so it is also necessary for you to select a proper battery pack and charge controller to fully charge up and meet your off-grid supply needs.
Boats require larger solar systems where the battery pack can be used to supply energy to appliances that are larger than a laptop or smartphone. An important consideration with these systems is to ensure they’re water-resistant or waterproof marine solar panels for obvious reasons. Moisture accumulated between the aluminum frame and glass can lead to solar cell delamination. Hence, good water resistance is essential in these cases.
Weight is another critical aspect to look out for, especially if you’re camping and require something lighter for better portability and comfort. Portable solar panel kits must also be ultra-lightweight if you plan on taking them with you on hiking. Some low-weight solar charges and folding solar panels even include USB ports for phone charging.
Obviously, one of the most important things to look for is the solar panel’s efficiency. Efficiency values refer to the energy conversion rate from solar energy into DC electricity. The higher the efficiency value, the smaller your solar panel can be to still generate the same power output.
Efficiency is one of the most valuable assets and indicators. The higher the efficiency, the lower weight, less surface area, and better quality performance of the solar panels.
There are varying solar technologies on the market with the crystalline technologies being the most popular ones in the grid-tied and off-grid markets. They have the largest market share and can be categorized into polycrystalline and monocrystalline modules. It is advisable for you to choose monocrystalline technology since it is established as the most efficient one.
Thin-film technologies also make for good contenders mainly for their flexibility and compact size. The disadvantage for them is their lower efficiency values compared to monocrystalline. Nonetheless, they’re more favorable in terms of maneuverability and portability.
Best Portable Solar Panels
Now let’s go straight into the best solar panels that you can get your hands on now.
1. Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D
- Weight: 19.8 lbs
- Dimensions: 47 x 1.5 x 20.9 inches
- Foldable: No
- Wattage: 100W
If you’re looking for a portable kit, then the Renogy team has got you covered with their Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volts Starter Kit. Quite frankly, this high-quality portable solar panel is one of the greatest designs on the market and is even able to generate an impressive amount of power to keep your RV or campervan up and running with ease. This power system comes with exciting new features that will even let you expand the system up to 400 Watts.
In addition to this, this solar charger kit even comes with a convenient 8 ft cable that lets you connect the charge controller and battery easily. You’ll even be able to set up the kit a distance away in case you need to park your RV in an area where there isn’t enough sun exposure to properly charge the device. With the right conditions, the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volts Starter Kit is capable of producing an impressive amount of power for you.
The device can generate up to 500Wh per day if you set it up early in the day where there’s a bright and sunny sky. This is enough for you to fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in just three hours. You’ll also be able to take advantage of the negative grounding controller to help you ensure safety while using the device. This is especially helpful for cases where you might need to use it on a vehicle with a battery negative.
Overall, the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volts Starter Kit is an excellent solar charging device that gives you enough power to keep your RV running smoothly and efficiently. It even comes with updates to expand it to a 400 Watts system with the ability to put out 500Wh per day. This is a great device for anyone wanting to generate their own power.
- Can expand the system up to 400 Watts
- Can put out 500Wh per day
- Can fully charge a 50Ah battery in 3 hours
2. Zamp Solar 120P
- Weight: 35 lbs
- Dimensions: 42 x 34 x 25 inches
- Foldable: Yes
- Wattage: 120W
If you’re looking for a tool that can quickly and effectively charge and power up your RV, then one of the smartest choices you can make is to get the Zamp Solar 120P Charge Kit. This is an excellent portable solar kit for anyone who lives on the road and needs a powerful and reliable device to keep them on track with enough power to keep all their devices powered.
The Zamp Solar 120P Charge Kit is especially beneficial for those who spend plenty of time traveling around in their RV. This portable solar panel is able to generate an impressive amount of power, up to 30 – 40 amps per day. This will give you plenty of energy to power up your RV.
Additionally, this portable solar panel kit is even designed with 6 volt and 12-volt battery systems to produce impressive results. Last but not least, the Zamp Solar 120p Charge Kit even makes it convenient for you to connect this portable solar kit to the RV simply by connecting it to the battery or use an SAE port to plug directly into the sidewall solar port.
All-in-all, the Zamp Solar 120P Charge Kit is a great choice for those who live on the road and want to be able to plug up their RV to a supply that isn’t connected to an electrical port. This extremely powerful solar charger device generates between 30 to 40 amps of power per day and even offers multiple ways to connect to the RV (directly to the RV battery or use an SAE port). This portable solar panel is one of the smartest investments you could make that will serve you well for many years.
- Can connect to the RV in two ways
- Works with 6 Volt and 12 Volt systems
- Generates up to 40 Amps of power per day
3. Renogy RNG-F-2X50D
- Weight: 30.2 lbs
- Dimensions: 27.2 x 19.9 x 2.4 inches
- Foldable: Yes
- Wattage: 100W
If you’re looking for a device that’s capable of producing an impressive amount of power without costing you an arm and a leg, then you need not look further than the RENOGY Solar Suitcase Kit. This is one of the best portable solar panels that can generate enough power to keep your RV, campervan, or any other outdoor machinery running with plenty of power.
This best portable solar panel kit has a simple set up process and is also resistant to corrosion, making it an ideal choice for use with bigger batteries and appliances. The RENOGY Foldable Suitcase Kit is even capable of putting out an impressive amount of power.
Under ideal conditions, this solar panel can generate up to 500-watt hours per day, which is more than enough to power an RV. Additionally, the RENOGY folding solar panel excels at capturing photon energy from weak light, meaning it is sure to work amazingly as a year round energy generator.
Overall, this solar panel kit is an excellent power system choice for anyone who needs to generate power or begin a greener energy lifestyle. This device is capable of generating an impressive amount of power to eliminate the need for supplemental utility plug-ins just to keep your rig running. Combining the ability to generate up to 500 Wh per day and to generate usable energy in weak light, this solar panel is one of the most reliable products you can buy for a year-round energy source.
- Compact design
- Can generate up to 500 Watt-hours per day
4. ECO-WORTHY 120 Watt Foldable Solar Panel
- Weight: 11.44 lbs
- Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.6 x 2.5 inches
- Folding: Yes
- Wattage: 120W
The ECO-WORTHY solar panel is a great source of energy that can take care of your RV, boat, watering system, etc., making this 120W 12V solar charger the perfect investment for you. This device is perfect for anyone who enjoys spending the majority of their time outside and wants to rely on clean forms of energy with a low carbon footprint.
This solar panel is ideal for those who spend a lot of their time on the road. This device is easy to operate and set up. Additionally, it can even be plugged into the RV’s battery easily with the use of clips. Other than that, the device is also corrosion-resistant, meaning you can expose it to the outdoor environment for decades without upkeep. Not only can this withstand strong winds and heavy snow, but it also has several protective technologies to protect it from overcharging, over-discharging, overloading, and reverse connections.
We feel that the 120W 12V portable solar kit is a great choice for people who need a reliable solar energy source for keeping their RV or other devices running. This is one of the most reliable devices that can keep you comfortable as long as the weather is bright and sunny. It can hold up under extreme weather conditions and can last for decades without needing to be replaced.
- Easy to operate
- Can be connected to the RV’s batteries with clips
5. HQST 100 Watt 12 V Polycrystalline Solar
- Weight: 16 lbs
- Dimensions: 40 x 27 x 1.5 inches
- Foldable: Yes
- Wattage 100W
If you need portable solar panels that will keep you comfortable while on the road, then you need to give the HQST 100W a closer look. This device is built to last and has taken the needs of the consumer into consideration when they engineered this solar panel.
This HQST device can withstand heavy winds and extreme elements. In fact, it can protect itself from just about anything. Additionally, it can put out an impressive amount on a daily basis with the right conditions. In ideal weather, this can provide 500 Watt-hours per day of solar power, making it ideal for those who need a panel to power their RV’s. An added bonus is that this device is even designed to be corrosion resistant to last for decades without replacement.
The HQST Polycrystalline solar panel is an extremely useful and beneficial device for people who need extra power to work with while on the road. This solar panel can generate up to 500 Watt-hours of energy and does well with gathering photon energy in the weak light.
- Can withstand extreme weather
- Can produce up to 500 Watt-hours
6. Goal Zero Nomad 20
- Weight: 2.5 lbs
- Dimensions: 13 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Foldable: Yes
- Wattage: 20W
Nomad 20 is a powerful and effective portable charger that you can take on the road with you. This device is great for delivering long term solar energy and even comes with a sleek and innovative design. The device features Goal Goal Zero’s patented chaining technology to improve charging time for quicker and faster access to energy power.
All you need to do is to pair the device with another Goal Zero power pack to power up your gear anytime you need to. The device is even compatible with anything that uses a USB cord. Additionally, the device is foldable, making it easy for you to transport it no matter where you plan to go.
The Goal Zero Nomad 20 panel is a simple but effective device that can be used to increase the charge times of your other Goal Zero products as well as anything that uses a USB cable. The portable device is able to generate faster battery charge times and can be easily folded and carried around means it’s suitable for people who live on the go lifestyles. They’re one of the top supplemental solar charges on the market and come highly recommended.
- Faster charge times with chaining technology
- Can be paired with any Goal Zero power pack
- Easy to fold and transport
7. Go Power! GP-PSK-120
- Weight: 28.7 lbs
- Dimensions: 32.6 x 2.8 x 19.9 inches
- Foldable: Yes
- Wattage: 120W
The Go Power! GP-PSK-120 solar kit is a great device that people living on the road lifestyles in their campervans and RV’s can rely on to provide a reliable source of power. This device kit is able to generate a tremendous amount of power and is suitable for anyone who needs to power multiple devices and appliances at the same time.
With the ability to generate 120 Watts of power per hour, this device is one of the most powerful portable solar powers in the market. It is definitely more than enough to keep you comfortable in an RV lifestyle with a 10-ampere solar controller built right into it.
Overall, the Go Power! GP-PSK-120 120W solar cells are an excellent device for those on the road. With a tremendous power output and built with durable materials, this is one of the smartest investments a travel enthusiast could make. The device offers a quick and simple setup to help you maximize the charge time of the device and to get the most out of your investment.
- 10 ampere solar controller
- Able to generate up to 120 watts of power per hour
- Great for on the road lifestyles
8. Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline
- Weight: 26.5 lbs
- Dimensions: 42.2 x 19.6 x 1.38 inches
- Foldable: No
- Wattage: 100W
Want a durable and reliable device? Then the Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline might just be the right choice for you. This device is not only capable of generating an impressive amount of power to not let you down on the road, but it is also great for all kinds of weather as it’s designed to perform even in low light environments and does so exceedingly well.
Additionally, it is also guaranteed to generate positive output tolerance on top of being able to withstand extreme weather conditions such as heavy winds and snow. This is easily one of the greatest portable panels for people to rely on in areas with no access to clear skies and sunshine all year long.
The Renogy Monocrystalline device is an excellent device that’s capable of performing even under less-than-ideal conditions. The device is designed to work in weak light and can even withstand harsh weather conditions. You’ll be able to get great power output and return on investment with this portable solar kit.
- Has high energy conversion rate
- Can withstand extreme weather
- Can function in low light conditions
9. ACOPOWER 100 Watt 100WPV
- Weight: 20.9 lbs
- Dimensions: 40.2 x 26.4 x 1.4 inches
- Foldable: No
- Wattage: 100W
As far as investments go, the ACOPOWER 100WPV is definitely one of the greatest portable solar panels you can choose. This solar panel is excellent for powering RV’s, campervans, cars, boats, and even other buildings or transportation devices that run on minimal power. This device is compatible with systems that run off 12 V, 24 volts, 36 volt, and 48 volt batteries.
The power system provides powerful and efficient energy that will help your situation no matter what your desired application is. This high-quality device also comes with a 20-year power output warranty, so that you can reliably trust that this device will work for many years to come.
The ACOPOWER 100WPC is an excellent device that’s able to generate an impressive amount of energy to power anything from RV’s to boats. This device is built to last very long and can bring you years of energy-efficient use of solar cells.
- Can be used with 12 V, 24 bolt, 36 bolt, or 48 volt battery systems
- Able to generate an impressive amount of power
- Comes with a 20-year output warranty
10. ACOPOWER 12V 105W
If you need a portable device that can generate an impressive amount of energy, then you’ve found the right solution with the ACOPOWER 12V 105W Foldable. This foldable solar panel is great for anyone who needs to power up a 12 V lithium or lead-acid battery. This device even supports USB charging, making it extremely versatile. Other than that, it even generates one of the most impressive energy efficiencies on the market at 25 percent efficiency.
This is because the photovoltaic panels are produced by one of the highest conversion efficiency module providers in the world. Additionally, the device has a removable charge controller for you to treat this as a power bank or generator. Last but certainly not least, the ACOPOWER is weather and water-resistant, making it ideal for those who live in unpredictable weather climates.
Overall, the ACOPOWER 12V Foldable is one of the smartest power system investments you could make if you want a multipurpose solar charger. It’s able to power up to 12V batteries, USB compatible devices, and even has a feature for it to be used as a power bank or generator.
- Weather and waterproof
- High energy efficiency
- Can be used as a power bank or generator
Conclusion – Our Top Pick
There are plenty of great solar kits on the market these days, but the best one by far would definitely have to be the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volts Solar Starter Kit. This is the best choice for anyone just starting out on their clean energy adventure plus it is even able to produce enough power to keep you comfortable in your RV without having to rely on supplemental utility power.
Aside from that, the Renogy panel comes with new updates that allow its system to expand up to 400 Watts. On a bright and sunny day, this device can even generate up to 500Wh per day, which is enough to power a 50Ah battery from 50% to fully charged in just 3 hours. Additionally, this device is safe to use with vehicles that feature a battery negative thanks to its negative grounding controller. Overall, this is one of the best devices you can choose to invest in and we highly recommend it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How to use solar panels?
Portable solar panels may look intimidating at first, however, the process to use them is actually very straightforward and simple. Simply follow the instructions laid out in the instructions manual to assemble it. Once you’ve got it set up, you can place it in a sunny area and connect the cords to your RV, camper, home, or other devices to begin converting energy.
Q2. How to properly clean the panels?
Dust and dirt can radically affect the performance of the solar kit because they reduce the amount of light that the solar cells can absorb. While portable solar kits are reliable, they do require some attention. Taking care of your panels means doing a little maintenance every once in a while. But rest assured, cleaning can be done anytime and since the device is very small, it won’t take more than a few minutes to do so.
You simply need to use a soft brush or sponge with a little bit of water to wipe down the panels. It is not recommended for you to use detergent, chlorine, or any other type of liquid as they may contain abrasive chemicals that will damage the encapsulating materials and may even lead to solar cell damage. Just apply water to the soft brush and start cleaning the surface area of the glass.
Among other valuable cleaning, tips are to avoid high-pressure water. Solar power systems on rooftops may need a hose to do the cleaning, but the water pressure is not the same for a rooftop solar panel system as it is for a portable solar kit.
Q3. How to secure your panels so that they don’t fall over?
Folding solar panels need to be constantly mounted and dismounted, hence a simple and comfortable installation process is one of the most crucial aspects of their design. To install it, it’s as simple as opening the kit, unfolding the panels, adjusting the legs to provide proper tilt, then setting the controller that’s already mounted behind and connecting the output to the 12 V batteries. These panels are already quite secured themselves and do not need any additional support.
Flexible panels can be easily secured with an eternabond tape and a little bit of Velcro attached to the backside. Another good idea is to install a window which you can make with PVC tubes, L and T PVC pieces, as well as some stainless steel screws. Attach the 4 L PVC pieces to the four corners of the panel and the two T pieces to act as the PVC legs, then use suction cups to attach them to the window and set the right tilt angle by using the PVC legs.