Updated on: 04/04/2022
Solar power isn’t just for homes and businesses – with portable solar panels, you can use the power of the sun on the go to meet your energy needs. From portable solar panels and solar generators for RV trips to solar phone chargers, there are many kinds of moveable solar products with an easy to transport, compact design on the market today.
Key takeaways about portable solar panels
- Portable power stations are best for camping and RV trips if you need power on the go and don’t want to use a generator
- There are many types of portable solar panels – phone chargers, foldable setups, and more for every need
- Explore portable panel options on Amazon or other online retailers, and your home solar-plus-storage options on the EnergySage Marketplace
An overview of portable solar panels
Any solar panel that can be moved around and used for power away from your primary home can be considered “portable.” Portable panels are most commonly used for backup power generation on camping and RV trips. These panels are smaller than typical rooftop or ground-mounted panels – standard residential solar panels usually produce between 250 and 365 watts of power per panel, while portable panels produce closer to 100 watts.
Solar chargers are another version of portable solar; they are smaller, easily transportable solar devices used for charging phones and other small electronics. Most solar phone chargers generate between 5 and 20 watts of power.
While portable panels will never out-perform your typical residential or commercial solar panels head-to-head, they offer a few specific benefits in a few specific use cases compared to traditional options. Aside from being highly mobile and able to be moved to wherever you may need power at the time, portable solar panels are a low-cost way to benefit from solar energy while you’re off the beaten path. While they won’t provide enough energy to power much other than small appliances, a portable solar setup is a great way to use the natural energy of the sun for your on-the-go power needs during a camping trip, hike, or long RV drive.
Because of their smaller size, some portable panel options may come with unique features, such as a kickstand, USB ports, or they may be foldable solar panels that make for easier use on the go.
What are the best portable solar panels?
Solar shoppers buy portable solar panels for a variety of reasons- camping, road tripping, boating, etc., and just like for rooftop solar panels, EnergySage customers look for certain qualities when buying portable panels as well. Here is a list of the best portable solar panels in 2021.
- Bluetti SP200 200W Solar Panel
- Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panel
- Renogy 100W Foldable Solar Suitcase with Voyager
- EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel
- Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel
Best portable solar panel specs
|Panel name||Weight||Peak power||Warranty||Price|
|Bluetti SP200 200W Solar Panel||14.13 pounds||200 watts ||2 years||$549|
|Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panel||18.3 pounds||200 watts||2 years||$599|
|Renogy 100W Foldable Solar Suitcase with Voyager||26.6 pounds||100 watts||10 years||$220.99|
|EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel||16.4 punds||160 watts||2 years||$499|
|Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel||9.1 pounds||100 watts||2 years||$299.99|
|Portable Folding Solar Kit by Go Power!||19 - 26.6 pounds||80-120 watts||NA||$387.99 - $543.99|
|Charge Kit by Zamp Solar||26.2 - 44 pounds||80-160 watts||25 years||$495.59 - $756.25|
Portable solar panel product reviews
Bluetti SP200 200W Solar Panel
The Bluetti 200 watt monocrystalline solar panel has an above-average conversion efficiency rate of 23.4%, making it one of the top options for powering small home appliances like toasters, lights, and microwaves. Aside from it’s high conversion efficiency, this panel also stands out for it’s compatibility with many solar generators and folding capabilities for easy on-the-go use. All of these characteristics do come at a cost, though. The Bluetti 200 watt portable solar panel is one of the more expensive options on our list, but also one of the most powerful.
Buying options: Bluetti
Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panel
Jackery also produces a portable solar panel with an exceptionally high cell efficiency of 23 percent. The monocrystalline SolarSaga panel weighs 18.3 pounds and is both foldable and easy to carry, so you can power appliances in your RV, boat, or camper, and recharge to 80 percent in as few as 2.5 hours. Jackery’s 200 watt portable panel is also equipped with Solarpeak Technology, Jackery’s upgraded charge controller which adds 30 percent efficiency to each solar charge.
Buying options: Jackery
Renogy 100W Foldable Solar Suitcase with Voyager
If you’re looking for a convenient power solution for your camping, RV, hiking, or other outdoor needs with all parts confined to an easy to carry suitcase, then the Renogy 100 watt suitcase may be right for you. The lightweight suitcase holds two 50-watt monocrystalline solar panels and a 20 Amp waterproof charge controller to maximize charging efficiency and minimize safety risks associated with over-charging. The suitcase also includes an alligator clip and charging cables to connect to any battery bank on the fly.
Buying options: Renogy
EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel
The Ecoflow portable monocrystalline panel is designed to be paired with an EcoFlow power station for optimal charging efficiency, even in cloudy weather. To protect against harsh outdoor conditions, the single-piece, seamless panel is coated in an ultra-violet protective film. What’s more, this panel can be folded to fit into a packed car on a road trip!
Buying options: Ecoflow
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel
This Jackery solar panel is very similar to it’s 200 watt counterpart including it’s market-leading efficiency rate of 23%. This portable panel comes with two kickstands and a rubber handle so going off grid can be an easy process that doesn’t take you all day. The Jackery 100 watt portable solar panel is also compatible with many Jackery power stations, so if you already have a Jackery Explorer 300, 500, 1,000, or 1,500, you won’t have to worry about buying a separate power station in addition to the panel.
Buying options: Jackery
Charge Kit by Zamp Solar
If you’re looking for a solid portable panel setup from a reputable brand, one Zamp’s Solar Charge Kits are an ideal place to start. With 80, 120, 160, and 200 watt models available, Zamp has the right sized panel system for most situations. All models are weatherproof and come with a handy zippered nylon case for easy transport. The larger models can get heavy, but this also makes them able to withstand wind and stay put on the ground where you set them up.
The Zamp kit has kickstand legs that tilt up to 45 degrees, giving you fine control of how you orient your panels. Additionally, the system comes with a solar charge controller, allowing you to view the status of your panels and their power output.
Portable Folding Solar Kit by Go Power!
Go Power! is another respected brand in the portable solar panel world, and their Portable Folding Solar Kits are good products for people looking to take solar power on the go. Like Zamp’s panels, these monocrystalline panels can be propped up with durable kickstand-like legs so you can rotate them at will and capture the most direct sunlight at any hour.
Also like Zamp’s Solar Charge Kit, the Go Power! portable panels collapse down and fit in a protective carrying case. With a built-in solar charge controller, these panels can be used right out of the box with minimal extra setup.
Head to our Best Portable Solar Products page to learn more.
What to consider when buying portable solar panels for camping
- Efficiency: whether it be driving across the country, or visiting a camp site for the weekend, portable solar panel efficiency is an important thing to consider in your buying process. A solar panel that reaches maximum efficiency while taking up as little space as possible is the name of the game in the portable panel market. Your portable solar panel efficiency can be affected by many things, namely your natural surroundings like shade and weather patterns during your trip, so it is important to choose an efficient panel to get the best output.
- Size: depending on your plans during your camping trip, and what you may need portable solar energy for, size and portability may be at the top of your priority list. If you are hiking, walking, etc, you may need a panel with less size than one you may need to generate electricity for other activities like cooking. And if you plan on attaching a solar panel to your RV or camper, weight is also a factor to consider.
What are the best ways to use portable solar panels?
Portable panels are useful for some smaller solar projects, but won’t be able to provide enough power for your home. If you are interested in maximizing your electricity savings with a rooftop or ground-mounted solar energy system, the EnergySage Solar Marketplace is the best place to start getting quotes and comparing your options.
That being said, if you’re looking for a small amount of on-the-go solar power, portable panels are a solid option to consider. Here are some of the cases when portable solar panels might be right for you:
Camping and RV trips
A portable solar setup is a great option for RV owners who spend long periods of time off-grid (known as boondocking or dry camping). With a few portable panels, you can recharge a solar generator whenever the sun is shining and use that energy to run some appliances while on a trip. Portable panels allow you to leave that noisy gas-powered generator at home and enjoy the quiet natural landscape you’re traveling through while also meeting your energy needs.
Just like a rooftop solar system, portable solar panels need several accessories to produce and store solar energy. You’ll need the proper cables, a battery or solar generator, an inverter, and equipment to keep your panels mounted and secure when they’re in use. While portable solar panels can be useful in many circumstances, it is important to make sure you set them up correctly to reap their full benefits. It’s always a good idea to consult a professional electrician when starting to use any portable solar product for your RV or camper.
What are solar generators?
The best way for campers and RV owners to most effectively reap the benefits of a portable solar setup is to pair panels with a solar generator, which is a battery equipped to pair with solar panels. With a solar generator system, you can use your portable solar setup to produce free energy whenever the sun is shining, and store that energy for when you might need it later.
Check out our page on solar generators for a more in-depth look.
Charging your phone on the go
Portable panels aren’t only useful for serious adventurers. You can purchase small solar chargers that fit in a backpack or your pocket and use them to harness power from the sun. These devices don’t generate and store much energy, but you can use them to recharge a phone or a laptop.
Unlike portable panels used for camping and RVs, solar phone chargers are usually all-in-one devices, meaning you don’t need to do any additional setup to start using solar energy. Simply place your charger in the sun to collect energy, and plug your phone or other devices into the charger when you need to power it up.
Products like the X-Dragon Solar Charger and the Wildtek Portable Charger offer clean energy on the go at a reasonable price for small electronic devices. These won’t power appliances like a microwave, but they can keep your phone up and running for much longer than it’s battery life alone.
Frequently asked questions about portable solar panels
We’re often asked questions about how customers can meet their mobile energy needs when residential solar systems aren’t designed to be mobile in any sense. The answer to that question (a portable power station) and many others are above. We’ve also answered some questions below; browse our frequently asked questions to see if yours is here, or reply to this article in the comments section below.
Smaller, portable solar panels can typically charge smaller electronics, such as smartphones or laptops. They can power some appliances, like a microwave. The more efficient a foldable solar panel is, the more energy it can provide.
Yes, they are. The same technology that allows homes to run on 100% solar energy is used, albeit in a much more compact design. Because of this, they can’t provide as much energy as full size solar panels, but they are effective.
For solar chargers, oftentimes the kit comes complete with everything you need. When buying a larger portable solar panel, however, you’ll need to make sure that you are equipped with cables, an inverter, and for those who wish to store the power for energy outside daylight hours, a battery pack. It’s also important to make sure that your devices can be connected to the panels via USB ports or outlets.
In our research, we’ve found that Bluetti and Jackery portable solar panels both provide a peak power of 200 watts and have an energy rate of 23%, making them the best solar panels on our list for a portable power station.
Set your home up with solar today
You can use solar energy on the go to keep appliances and small electronics up and running, but solar will save you the most money when you install a rooftop or ground-mounted solar installation to cover as much of your electricity needs as possible. If you want to understand and compare your options for a solar installation on your property, sign up on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. By registering your property, you can get multiple free quotes from high-quality, local installers. If you want to start with some quick numbers on the savings you could see by going solar, check out our Solar Calculator.