Although they aren’t new technology, solar panels continue to impress us. Harnessing the power of the sun to run electronic devices will always be satisfying and rewarding. And it’s especially satisfying when you’re “off the grid”, without access to power lines or traditional outlets. That’s why we’re about to check out the best portable solar panels to bring along the next time you’re off the grid!
Here are our favorite portable solar panels on the market. We’ve included plenty of variation on this list, so that you can pick the perfect option for yourself.
1. BEST OVERALL: Jackery Solar Saga
We’ll start our list with our favorite product – the Jackery Solar Saga. This product is (in our opinion) the best example of portable design combined with top-notch functionality.
The panel weighs under 10 pounds, so it can be easily brought along on most outdoor expeditions. It folds in half for easier transport. It also has a built in kick-stand for ideal positioning and maximum sunlight. It’s super durable, with laminated design that is built to withstand any weather conditions.
But portability isn’t all it does well – this is a high-functioning 100-Watt solar panel. It has a charging efficiency of 23% (which is really good). It also has built in USB chargers for charging portable devices, and a built-in DC cable for charging batteries. It’s capable of charging a battery within 8 hours in ideal conditions.
Overall, a great portable solar panel, which stands as a model example of what this technology is capable of.
- Can charge Explorer 1000 generator in 8 hours in ideal conditions.
- Includes USB outlets and DC cable.
- Weighs under 10 pounds, and foldable.
- Charging efficiency of 23%.
- Quite expensive.
2. Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Panel with Stand
Here’s a solar panel from one of our favorite brands – Renogy. Renogy has a long-standing reputation as one of the most trusted solar manufacturers on the market. We trust any of their products without hesitation, and this portable solar panel is no exception.
As with all Renogy products, this is a high-quality panel. It’s a 100W, 12V panel, geared toward an ideal output of 500 Watt Hours per day (in ideal conditions). It’s made with monocrystalline design, which means it generates power with near-maximum efficiency.
This panel even has a built-in solar charge controller, which protects your devices and batteries from overcharging.
Overall, this is likely the most capable solar panel on our list. However, this functionality does come at the expense of some portability. The device is still quite portable, weighing in at 26 pounds, and with a convenient stand-up design. However, there are certainly more portable devices out there (such as many of the options below).
This trade-off between functionality and portability is one of the main difficulties in choosing a portable solar panel. The more powerful the panel gets, the less portable it tends to get. This will be a running theme through our list.
- Highly efficient 100W monocrystalline panel.
- Weatherproof and resistant to all temperature and conditions.
- Built in charge controller.
- Not as portable as some other devices.
3. Rockpals 100W Foldable Solar Panel
Moving on, we have a solar panel which was designed for portability above all else.
The portability of this device deserves the first mention. The Rockpals 100W solar panel can be folded down into a convenient carrying case! The carrying case has the appearance of a sleek hand-held bag. It even has pockets for your devices, and an exterior USB port with 3 outlets.
This machine was built to charge almost any type of solar generator. It includes different sized connectors for hooking up to the most popular generators on the market. We’ve always found it frustrating that these generators all seem to have their own connectors, but this device rectifies this issue as much as possible.
Aside from that, it’s an overall capable device. Its 23.5% conversion efficiency ensures that your devices charge quick, and its durable design keeps it safe in any weather conditions. A truly portable device for camping, hiking, RVing, or general use.
- Compatible with most major brands of solar generator.
- Folds into convenient carrying case.
- 5% conversion efficiency for quick charging.
- Very light weight – 81.6 oz.
- Might require a stand to prop up the device at an ideal angle.
4. BEST BUDGET CHOICE: NekTeck Portable Solar Panel
This device is definitely the most portable on our list. It’s a small, foldable solar panel, weighing in at only 18 oz. It does sacrifice quite a bit of power for this portability, as it is only an 18W solar panel.
This device was designed to charge portable devices such as phones, iPads, and tablets. It has 3 monocrystalline panels on its surface, giving it an impressive level of efficiency for such a small device. It has 2 built-in USB ports tucked away inside a waterproof pocket.
The device was even built with metal loops, to be attached to your backpack during a hike. Charge it while you walk!
It’s not ideal for charging generators or for running larger gadgets. But if you want a small panel for charging your portable devices, this is the perfect choice.
- Extremely portable and lightweight.
- Ideal for charging portable devices.
- Weatherproofed for all outdoor conditions.
- Quite weak compared to most solar panels (18W). Only ideal for charging smaller, portable technology.
5. BEST PREMIUM: DOKIO 220 Watts Foldable Panel
If you’re looking for a portable solar panel that packs the most punch, this is it. This DOKIO panel has 220W of power, which is almost unheard of for a portable device.
This panel packs 220W of power. It is made with high-efficiency monocrystalline solar technology. It generates power quickly and efficiently. It’s ideal for charging 12V batteries, and also has built-in USB outlets. Simply put, if you want a portable panel with maximum power, this is it.
Of course, as is the usual trade-off, this powerful panel is not quite as portable as other devices. It’s a big panel. Almost 2 feet x 2 feet. And while it is impressively lightweight (only 9 lbs.) you can’t exactly carry it around on hikes. But it’s still a great portable option to bring RVing, on drive-in camping trips, or to set up outside your home.
- 220W – doesn’t get much more powerful for a portable panel.
- High efficiency monocrystalline design.
- Folds up into a carrying case – only 9lbs.
- Big panel. Not ideal for taking on hikes or deep woods camping trips.
6. TP-Solar 100W Panel with Bag
This product from TP-Solar is the ultimate in foldable design. It has 12 separate panels, and can be folded down into a convenient carrying case. It was clearly built with portability in mind, and it doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
It’s a capable 100W solar panel, with monocrystalline design for maximum charging efficiency. It has a 19V DC output which is compatible with most major brands of generator. It even comes with a 14.5V charge controlling box to protect against overcharge. On top of this, there are 2 USB ports for portable devices and tablets.
It folds down into a convenient case, and only weighs 5 lbs. Take it on hikes, camping trips, and outdoor expeditions. It’s durable and weatherproof, and was actually designed for 15 years of outdoor use!
- Folds down much more compact than most solar panels.
- Convenient carrying case.
- High-efficiency monocrystalline design.
- Compatible with most generators – also includes dual USB ports.
- Premium pricing.
7. Renergy Extremely Flexible Solar Panel
This is another Renergy Solar Panel that we really like. Its portability comes from the fact that it’s extremely lightweight – weighing in at only 4 lbs. For a 100W panel that is this capable, that’s about as light as you can get.
As with all Renergy panels, this one is extremely functional. It’s a 100W panel built with monocrystalline design for ultimate charging efficiency.
Its durability deserves mention as well. It was tested to withstand heavy winds, rains, and other weather conditions. It’s flexible design also means it can stand up to regular wear and tear. You can also bend it to lay across uneven outdoor surfaces, soaking up maximum sunlight.
The panel is easy to carry around and place anywhere. The only downside is that it’s not foldable, like many other portable panels.
- 100W design with high charging efficiency.
- Very lightweight – 4 lbs.
- Thin, flexible, and weatherproofed.
- Not foldable.
- Quite expensive.
Buying Guide to Portable Solar Panels
Now that we’ve examined our top choices for portable solar panels, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. With so many options available, which is the right one for you? In this section, we’re giving you a full buying guide to these handy power products. By expanding your knowledge in this area, you can decide on the product that best meets your needs.
Types of Solar Panels
Throughout our reviews, you may have noticed a lot of reference to “monocrystalline” solar technology. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, we’ll clear it up here.
Solar panel companies use three main types of solar technology – monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous. Generally speaking, these can be divided in terms of efficiency.
Monocrystalline solar technology is considered the most efficient. This means it can generate the most power in equal amounts of light, when compared against the other two. Most high-quality panels utilize this technology, and it’s why we included it heavily within our list.
Polycrystalline is not as efficient of a solar panel technology. However, it remains quite popular because it is generally quite a bit cheaper to purchase.
Amorphous solar panels fall behind both of these technologies in terms of efficiency. They are quite thin and portable, but simply lack the functionality of other panels. For this reason, we didn’t include any amorphous panels on our list.
If you’re interested in diving into how these technologies actually work, check out this video below. It’s the best we’ve seen these concepts explained:
Benefits of a Portable Solar Panel
If you’re still not sold on whether you need a portable solar panel, consider these unique advantages:
Of course, this benefit is pretty self-evident. With the power of solar, you can generate power anywhere. The devices are meant to be carried on trips, into the wilderness, or you can even pack them into your car or RV for road-trips.
Solar remains one of the most renewable sources of energy on the planet. You can truly feel good about your choice to power your devices with solar. You are harnessing the sun’s rays, and creating energy from a natural source. Enjoy the benefits of modern technology without the drawbacks.
Solar panels can function as a “last resort” in certain situations. If you’re particularly concerned with your devices becoming depleted on trips into the woods, or if you’re worried that you might enter a “dead zone” with no access to power, then a solar panel can be the comfort you need.
These devices ensure that you always have access to a power source, which you can use to power your devices in the event of an emergency.
What to Look For in A Portable Solar Panel?
Power vs. Portability
This is definitely the biggest trade-off when considering portable devices. Simply put, the more powerful a device gets, the less portable it tends to get. This is especially true when talking about solar panels, because they need more surface area to generate more power.
That being said, the power of these portable devices continues to impress us. This is mostly done through foldable design to increase surface area, and increased efficiency of the solar cells themselves (through advancements such as monocrystalline design).
Either way, you will still find that the bigger devices are more powerful as a general rule (check the devices Wattage to know for sure). Consider your needs, how much power you actually require, and what you will be using the panel for. Try to balance these two factors to make the best choice for your personal needs.
Solar technology is designed for use outdoors, where there is maximal sunlight. For this reason, it also needs to be highly durable.
Look for panels that are heavily laminated to protect against all types of weather. Transparent lamination will protect the panels, while still allowing them to efficiently convert energy. Certain panels also contain corrosion-proof framing.
Many panels on our list also include a portable carrying case. It helps a lot if the case is also weatherproof.
The best way to evaluate the power of your solar panel is by considering the wattage. The wattage of a panel is a measure of the electrical current that can be generated by your panels. The higher the wattage, the more devices you can power (as long as you have the proper connectors, voltage, etc.).
If you’re looking to generate more power, buy a panel that has more wattage. Of course, as we mentioned above, this will typically be a trade-off for less portability.
Outlets and Chargers
A solar panel is only as functional as the devices it can power. Quality panels need to be equipped with the ability to attach to various devices. You’ll most likely be using your solar panel to recharge various electronic devices, or to power a battery or generator. Unfortunately, many of these devices require different cords and outlets to connect to solar panels.
Therefore, you need to be sure that the panel you buy is compatible with your devices. If you already own a battery or generator, you’ll want to buy the panel based on that. If not, be sure to keep this in mind as you purchase your solar equipment.
Conclusion + Top Pick
Thanks very much for checking out our guide to the best portable solar panels on the market! We hope you’ve found our guide informative and interesting. We aimed to give you all the tools to pick the best portable solar panel for your personal needs.
Our top overall pick was the Jackery Solar Saga. We think this product perfectly blends portability with functionality. It’s a powerful, efficient solar panel, that is light enough to carry, and can fold in half for easy transport. It has the capabilities to connect to your favorite devices, and is also compatible with solar generators.
For more green-energy guides and solar product reviews, be sure to stay tuned to Greener Choices.