The Best Portable Solar Panels in 2020, Ranked

camping with portable solar panels

Are you dreaming of getting on the open road for a few weeks and going off grid?

That’s awesome. But to get there, especially if you plan to take a camper or RV, you’ll need to charge your phone, maybe your computer… and you won’t always be able to plug into the grid.

In these cases, you’ll need portable solar panels—but it’s not just a matter of browsing online and picking out a decently-priced solar panel.

With the massive growth in solar over the past few few years, there are now hundreds upon hundreds of options out there. But once you do a little digging, you’ll find that the same few brands keep coming up. (And for good reason!)

Choosing the best option might seem like a time-consuming and frustrating task. After all, most of these has similar “features,” right?

How do you pick the best one?

Well, let’s get started.

In this post, we’ll walk through how to choose the best portable solar panel for you—skip ahead to the solar panel breakdown if you’d like:


Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links through which we may receive a small commission at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase anything after visiting a link on this page. That being said, these tools were curated from extensive research and consideration of reviews of the best options we’ve found.



What is a portable solar panel?

First, what exactly is a portable solar panel and how does it differ from a regular solar panel?

Well, as the name suggests, a portable solar panel is basically a solar panel that you can pack up and take with you on the road. Unlike the solar panels that you see installed on the roofs of houses (definitely not portable), these panels are designed to be transportable.

Many can be folded up (we’ll get into a few of these later on), and some even come with canvas bags or handy hard-shell cases to make them easier for you to move around with them.

But! That being said, this (usually) doesn’t mean that you can just buy a few portable solar panels by themselves and call it a day. To function properly—especially if you want to power more than just your cell phone and laptop—these solar panels will need other supporting elements too, like a generator and certain types of cables. We’ll get more into that in a bit.

2 types of portable solar panels to know

Like with regular solar panels, you have two main options when it comes to materials for your portable solar panels.

Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are probably the most common type you’ll see today.

Polycrystalline solar panels

There are also polycrystalline solar panels, which are cheaper but generally less efficient. And when you’re on the go and need something portable, you’ll want to maximize efficiency wherever you can to make going solar worth it.

A quick note on thin-film (aka. “amorphous”) solar panels

You’ll also come across thin-film panels from time to time. As you can guess from the name, thin-film solar panels look like thin film and are much more pliable and flexible than your typical solar panels.

However! They have the same issue with polycrystalline panels in that they don’t produce electricity as efficiently as monocrystalline solar panels do. It’s a trade-off—if you don’t think you’ll be able to easily transport your solar panels, and you’re willing to give up a bit of efficiency, then go with thin-film.

What are the benefits of using portable solar panels? (Who cares?)

Whether you love being out in nature or just enjoy going on road trips and camping, portable solar panels are a great source of environmentally friendly—and free!—energy.

And with the rapid advancements in technology in recent years, portable solar panels are more powerful than ever. They don’t just charge up small devices like phones anymore. Portable solar panels today can power even RVs and tiny homes on wheels.

(We’re not talking about some one-week road trip here. There are folks who are living and travelling on a permanent basis in mobile tiny homes that are powered by portable or permanent solar panels!)

It’s a great alternative source of energy—and a big way in which many people are reducing their carbon footprints.


How to choose the best portable solar panels (what to look for)

To make things easier for you, here are the key questions to ask as you’re comparing different solar panels.

What’s your budget?

As with shopping for most things, budget is probably a big consideration. And in most cases, higher prices generally mean you’ll get a higher-quality or more durable portable solar panel. (Of course, do your research and look at reviews and all that.)

But don’t judge portable solar panels just by their price tag.

If a portable solar panel setup costs more upfront but is more efficient or gets rave reviews for being super durable and reliable, then that might justify the higher price tag for you.

🌞 Pro-tip: Especially when shopping for portable solar panels or any solar products, durability should be one of your top considerations. These solar panels will have to work on a daily basis, over a (hopefully) long period of time, so when in doubt, we’d suggest not compromising on durability.

And don’t forget that the portable solar panels aren’t the only costs! You’ll need stuff like an inverter, other hardware, and cables too that should be factored into your budget (more on those later).

How much electricity do you need?

Just as if you were buying solar panels for your house, first you’ll need to have a rough idea of how much electricity you need to generate from these portable solar panels. They come in different wattages and sizes, so you definitely have options here depending on how much electricity you need.

First things first: take stock of the appliances and devices you’ll need to power. If we’re just talking phones and laptops, then you won’t need too extravagant of a portable solar panel setup for that.

Here’s a quick list of common household items you might want to charge with portable solar panels and the approximate wattage of each one (we’d recommend, of course, going for energy-efficient appliances so that you land on the low end of usage):

  • Modem—because… internet: 5–10W
  • Phone or tablet: 5–10W
  • Laptop: 25–100W
  • TV: 100–200W
  • LED lightbulb (let’s say a 40-watt lightbulb): 10W
  • Toaster oven 1,000–1,500W
  • Fridge (let’s say 16 cubic feet, which is an apartment-sized fridge): 1,000–1,500W

The biggest energy culprits here are usually the heating and/or cooling system and large appliances like the fridge—and if you have a range or oven hooked up as well, that’s another big one. Some folks choose to cook with propane instead to take a bit of the load off their electricity needs. 

Most portable solar panels range between 20 and 100W, and generally if you need to power something bigger like an RV, you’ll probably need a 100W solar panel (or a few).

You’ll notice that 100W portable solar panels are the most common since they tend to be more versatile compared to super high-wattage solar panels and smaller ones that are meant for charging only phones and tablets.

🌞 Pro-tip: The listed wattage that you see when shopping for portable solar panels is the maximum wattage if all the conditions are perfect. Meaning bright sunlight, no shade or obstruction, and so on. 

That’s why you should always choose panels with a slightly higher wattage than what you think you’ll need. Especially if you’re going off-grid, it’s better to have more rather than too little when it comes to power.

How easy are the portable solar panels to set up?

If you’re really handy, skip this section.

If not, look for portable solar panels that are easy to set up without special tools. 

If you’re planning to be in a windy area, remember that your portable solar panels will need to be secured somehow. Some portable panels just unfold and can be stood up against a kickstand. Other solar panels are a little more complicated and might need you to have alligator clips or certain plugs.

Look through the setup descriptions of the portable solar panels as you’re narrowing down your list.

How “portable” are they really?

Just because a company says its solar panels are portable doesn’t mean they always are. Always look at the weight and dimensions (we’ll include both in our breakdown of the best portable solar panels below), how they fold up (or if they even fold up), and how well they stand up to not-so-friendly weather.

If you plan to mount these portable solar panels to a boat or yacht, make sure to choose a waterproof solar panel! Some may claim to be waterproof, while others say they’re “water-resistant”—not the same thing. 

Water can and will damage the cells, so make sure you know how water-resistant or waterproof your chosen solar panels are.

And if you’re planning to go RVing or you aren’t sure what kind of climate you’ll be getting into, make sure that your portable solar panels have windproofing or some type of stabilizing features so that they don’t blow away and/or shatter.

How heavy of a solar panel are you okay with?

You’ll see later that even within the 100-watt solar panel category, there is a huge range of sizes and weights. There are some solar panels that are a feather-light five pounds, while others are 20 or even 30 pounds (which isn’t always a bad thing).

If you’ve moving around a lot and will have to pack and unpack your solar panels often, take the weight into consideration.


The 9 best 100W portable solar panels (Okay, 100W-ish)

#1. Boulder 100 Solar Panel Briefcase – 🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞 out of 5

Best all-around portable solar panel for outdoors lovers

goal zero boulder 100 portable solar panel

Goal Zero’s Boulder 100 portable solar panel is our top pick for a few reasons.

For one, it’s built with durability and flexibility in mind. You could install it permanently, or you can bring it with you on a road trip. Plus it comes with a protective canvas bag so you can carry it around easily):

boulder 100 solar panel carrying case

The construction is rugged, and it’s built with tempered glass and an aluminum frame.

Goal Zero has also thoughtfully added protection around the corners and built in an integrated kickstand so that you can angle it in just the way to harvest maximum sunlight.

🌞 Pro-tip: Why is the angle of your solar panel so important? Because it affects how much sunlight it can collect! That’s why you don’t see people just putting solar panels flat on the ground or on the roof of a house. They work best when they’re facing or matching the angle of the sun directly.

Aesthetics are pretty big for us as well, so that’s why it wins out even though other panels may be less expensive.

Price: $299.95

Wattage: 100 watts

Weight: 25.9 lbs (11.7 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 26.75 x 21.75 x 3.75 in (70 x 55.2 x 8.9 cm)

Dimensions (unfolded): 26.75 x 43.5 x 1.75 in (70 x 110.4 x 4.4 cm)


#2. Renogy 100W Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with Charge Controller – 🌞🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

Rugged and controller-integrated foldable solar panel

Renogy 100W Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with Charge Controller

Here’s another portable solar panel that comes with a charge controller to help avoid overcharging the battery:

Renogy 100W Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with Charge Controller

The Renogy 100W Eclipse is a great “suitcase” option that lets you fold it up and carry off easily. Made up of two 50-watt monocrystalline solar panels, the 100W Eclipse comes with a 20-amp controller with an LCD screen (not quite as energy-efficient as LED, but it’ll do) and a 10-foot cable with alligator clips so that you can connect it to a battery.

(You’ll still need to buy a battery separately though.)

It’s not meant for permanent solar setups, but Renogy says that it’s very efficient and has excellent performance even in low-light areas (like the far north).

This portable solar panel is pretty rugged, with an adjustable stand that’s made of corrosion-resistant aluminum and a heavy-duty handle and latches to keep it portable and protected.

With this durability, the trade-off is that it’s on the heavy side compared to the other 100-watt panels on this list, but the charge controller is pretty sweet and the materials look to be pretty high-quality.

The price is also on the high side, but it does come with the controller, which you won’t have to buy separately.

Price: $349.99

Wattage: 100 watts

Weight: 20.3 lbs (9.2 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions: 40 x 26.4 x 1.2 in (101.5 x 67 x 3cm)


#3. Zamp 90W Portable Solar Panel Kit – 🌞🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

Best portable solar panel kit with integrated controller

zamp portable solar panel

Now, let’s look at Zamp’s portable solar panel kit. If you don’t want to buy your portable solar panels and controller separately, then this kit will make things easier for you. (It’s not quite 100W, but we’ll give it a pass since it comes with the controller.)

It comes with pretty much everything you’d need to generate and use your own electricity on the go, including a 10-amp solar charge controller:

zamp solar panel controller

Not only is the controller itself weather-proof, but it also has an easy-to-read display that shows you the status of your solar battery, from how much charge it’s collected to any maintenance alerts. 

This is probably the biggest perk, but even with the integrated controller, it’s still easy to set up (takes less than five minutes, apparently).

Price: $449.99

Wattage: 90 watts

Weight: 27 lbs (12.24 kg)

Foldable: No

Dimensions: 39.75 x 21.6 x 1.5 in (100.95 x 54.9 x 3.8 cm)


#4. Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel 🌞🌞🌞🌞 out of 5

Efficient and super-thin

Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel

Jackery’s SolarSaga 100W monocrystalline portable solar panel is a high-efficiency solar panel that boasts a 23% efficiency rating. (Again, most “efficient” monocrystalline portable solar panels top out at about 22%.)

Weighing in at 9.1 pounds, it’s not the lightest 100-watt solar panel on this list, but it’s not particularly heavy either. (We’d say it’s middle of the pack. But for eight or nine pounds might not be a big deal to you.)

One of our favorite things about this portable solar panel is that it comes with USB outputs! There’s one USB-C port and a USB-A port, which means you can charge multiple devices at the same time. 

Another standout feature is the design. With a thoughtful TPE rubber handle, it’s easy on your hands, and I personally like the orange and black aesthetic.

One thing to note though… Even though it’s heat-resistant to a certain degree and has the usual adjustable kickstand so that you can angle it however you like, the SolarSaga is not waterproof. So we had to take away a few points there.

So if you’re going to be out in rainy weather often, this is not the one for you.

Price: $299.99

Wattage: 100 watts

Weight: 9.1 lbs (4.1 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 21 x 24 x 1.38 in (53.3 x 61 x 3.5)

Dimensions (unfolded): 21 x 48 x 0.2 in (53.3 x 122 x 0.5 cm)


Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links through which we may receive a small commission at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase anything after visiting a link on this page. That being said, these tools were curated from extensive research and consideration of reviews of the best options we’ve found.


#5. ALLPOWERS Solar Panel Bendable 100W  🌞🌞🌞🌞 out of 5

Best bendable solar panel

ALLPOWERS Solar Panel Bendable 100W 

Now, let’s look at our first bendable portable solar panel. 

Weighing in at an unbelievable 4.7 pounds, the ALLPOWERS Bendable Solar Panel is one of the most portable and flexible solar panels out there.

Not only is it incredibly light, it’s also easy to install thanks to its bendiness (up to 30 degrees only, though, so don’t overdo it). If you have any awkward corners or want to mount this on a boat or RV or trailer, this one’s for you since it’s made to go on those curved surfaces:

flexible portable solar panel

And though it may look like an amorphous, or thin film solar panel, the ALLPOWERS is actually made of monocrystalline cells and boasts up to a 23.5% efficiency. And it’s water-resistant, hail-resistant, snow-resistant, and wind-resistant (to a certain degree). Amazing.  

If you don’t need quite that much power, there’s a 50W version that’s $89.99.

Price: $189.99

Wattage: 100 watts

Weight: 4.7 lbs (1.1 kg)

Foldable: Yes — bendable, even!

Dimensions: 22 x 21 x 0.09 in (56 x 54 cm 0.25 cm)


#6. WindyNation 100-watt Solar Panel  🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

Best budget 100W portable solar panel

WindyNation 100-watt Solar Panel

If you want a portable solar panel with no frills or bendy bits, then the WindyNation 100W portable solar panel will do the job. 

It’s sturdy and the frame is built with heavy-duty anodized aluminum and it’s extendable—you can hook up three more of these solar panels for a 400-watt setup.

One interesting thing to note is that this is made polycrystalline, not monocrystalline, cells—so you might be sacrificing a bit in terms of efficiency. But, that being said, it’s extremely budget-friendly and comes with a good warranty.

And WindyNation says that it can withstand 1-inch diameter hail travelling at terminal velocity (basically a fancy way of saying “moving at maximum free-fall speed”), which is pretty neat if you’re going somewhere cold with these solar panels.

Price: $77.99

Wattage: 100 watts

Weight: 18 lbs (8.2 kg)

Foldable: No

Dimensions: 40 x 26.4 x 1.2 in (101.5 x 67 x 3cm)


#7. Bugout 130™ Solar Charger  🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

Most efficient portable solar panel

Bugout 130™ Solar Charger

One of Overland Solar’s most popular products, the BugOut 130 is designed for outdoor and road trip enthusiasts, and folks working remotely.

They proudly highlight how efficient it is: an impressive 23.7% thanks to its Sunpower® Maxeon III technology—which is definitely worth highlighting because most “efficient” solar panels out there fall between the 20 and 22% efficiency range. In fact, even out of the other high-efficiency portable solar panels on this list, this one still ranks the highest at 23.7%.

Not only that, it’s also able to charge when there’s low light, so you’ll be able to generate electricity even when it’s cloudy and rainy. (And as their website claims, it still generates power if one of the cells is shaded or damaged, and even when there’s light snow!)

This is another very durable (but light!) portable solar panel, with its double-stitched D rings and grommets so that you can hang or mount it to a vehicle, the ground, or wherever you’d like.

For Four Wheel Camper enthusiasts, the BugOut 130 is designed to plug and play with them (or any campers with built-in solar charge controllers).

The big disadvantage of this one, of course, is the price. But if price is no object and you want the insurance of having more than 100 watts, then this could be a good option.

Price: $595.00

Wattage: 130 watts

Weight: 7.3 lbs (3.3 kg)

Type: Monocrystalline

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 22 x 7.5 x 3.5 in (71.6 x 56.6 x 5.0 cm)

Dimensions (unfolded): 22 x 68 x 3.5 (71.6 x 255.8 x 2.5 cm)


#8. ACOPOWER PTK 100W Portable Solar Panel Expansion Briefcase  🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

Portable solar panels with overcharging protection but no… battery?

ACOPOWER PTK 100W Portable Solar Panel Expansion Briefcase

The ACOPOWER All-Black 100W monocrystalline portable solar panel comes in a handy suitcase form, and is designed for folks who want to go off-grid with solar.

It’s easy to set up and comes with mounting pre-installed. Supposedly, it takes just one minute to set up—and without tools too, which is pretty impressive..

With high-efficiency solar cells, you can take ACOPOWER’s portable solar panel RVing, boating, and camping. And even though it doesn’t come with a controller, it does have built-in electronic protection for overheating, overcharging, and discharging. (It’s not quite clear from their website how that works without the controller, but that’s what they say.)

Price: $215.55

Wattage: 100 watts

Weight: 33.1 lbs (15 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions: 25.6 x 19.9 x 1.2 in (65 x 50.5 x 3 cm)


#9. Linx 100-watt Semi-flexible Solar Panel  🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

Flexible and relatively light-weight portable solar panel

Linx 100-watt Semi-flexible Solar Panel

Inergy’s Linx 100-watt portable solar panel is another bendable solar panel that can flex up to 30 degrees. Again, it’s made of not thin-film, but monocrystalline (yay efficiency)—which is a plus.  

It also comes with pre-drilled holes in the corners with hardy brass grommets for more secure mounting. And if you need more juice, you can chain up to five of these panels together.

It’s a bit more expensive than ALLPOWERS’ comparable 100-watt bendable solar panel and isn’t quite as light as it, at almost twice the weight, but still, eight pounds is not a lot.

Price: $250.00

Wattage: 100 watts

Weight: 8 lbs (3.6 kg)

Foldable: No—but it bends

Dimensions: 26 x 40 x 0.75 in (66 x 101 x 1.9 cm)


The 5 best low-wattage / affordable portable solar panels

#1. Jackery SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel  🌞🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

The best portable solar panel under 100 watts that’ll keep you juiced

jackery solarsaga 60w panel

For a 60-watt solar panel, the SolarSaga is incredibly thin, and it also has a pretty impressive 23% efficiency level.

Like the 100-watt model in the main list above, this one is foldable and has a built-in handle to make it easy to carry.

One of the perks of Jackery and other similar solar brands that make portable solar panels in addition to generators, power stations, and batteries, is that you know everything will work together. No extra plugs or adaptors needed to connect your entire portable system together.

Speaking of adaptors, the SolarSaga also has handy built-in USB-C and USB-A ports, which means you can charge your phone directly with just the charging cable that your phone or mobile device came with.

We’re of the opinion that it’s always better to have more power than less, just in case, which is why Jackery tops this list.

Price: $179.99

Wattage: 60 watts

Weight: 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 21 x 20.67 x 1.38 in (53.3 x 52.5 x 3.5 cm)

Dimensions (unfolded): 21 x 33.67 x 0.2 in (53.3 x 85.5 x 0.5 cm)


Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links through which we may receive a small commission at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase anything after visiting a link on this page. That being said, these tools were curated from extensive research and consideration of reviews of the best options we’ve found.


#2. GoSun SolarPanel30  🌞🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

The best iPad-sized solar panel

gosun solarpanel 30

If you don’t need quite as much juice as a 60-watt solar panel can provide, you can size down with the GoSun SolarPanel 30. What’s special about this one is that GoSun says that under full sun, it’ll charge up your devices as fast as a regular wall outlet would. (If you hate waiting for your phone to charge when it dies, this will probably be a good option for you.)

Unlike the Jackery, this portable solar panel is made of a water-resistant polymer, so if you plan to go swimming or hang out near a lake, so it’ll be your all-weather BFF. (GoSun says it’s snow-friendly too, which is a plus for those of you who live in colder climates.)

One of the perks of Jackery and other similar solar brands that make portable solar panels in addition to generators, power stations, and batteries, is that you know everything will work together. No extra plugs or adaptors needed to connect your entire portable system together.

Speaking of adaptors, the SolarSaga also has handy built-in USB-C and USB-A ports, which means you can charge your phone directly with just the charging cable that your phone or mobile device came with.

🌞 Option B: If you want a really mini version of this, there’s a SolarPanel 10 too, which weighs less than a pound and is about the size of an iPad mini.

Price: About $203

Wattage: 30 watts

Weight: 2.75 lbs (1.25 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 9.65 x 14 in (24.51 x 35.56 cm)

Dimensions (unfolded): 29 x 14 in (73.66 x 35.56 cm)


#3 Anker PowerPort Solar – 🌞🌞🌞🌞 out of 5

anker powerport solar panel

If you’ve ever shopped around for USB chargers and other small electronic devices like USB speakers (we’ve actually owned Anker’s portable Bluetooth speaker for a few years, and so does one of our friends!), then you might’ve heard of Anker.

They’ve branched out into solar products as well, and we’re not surprised that these solar panels are just as solid and #aesthetic as their other products. Boasting a 21.5–23.5% efficiency, this Anker portable solar panel has a decent 20-watt capacity—and equally importantly, two ports so that you can recharge more than one device simultaneously.

What’s unique about Anker is that thanks to their background in making chargers, they’ve patented a technology that they’ve named PowerIQ. What this does is automatically detect your device’s “original charging protocol,” which allows the PowerPort Solar to replicate the fastest possible charging speed for different devices.

It also weighs an unbelievable 14 ounces, which is 0.91 pounds—and also comes with handy built-in loops for you to tie the solar panel to your backpack as you’re travelling or hiking:

anker portable solar panel

Price: $69.99

Wattage: 20 watts

Weight: 14.7 ounces—less than a pound (!)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 11.1 x 6.3 in (28.19 x 16 cm)

Dimensions (unfolded): 11.1 x 26.4 in (28.19 x 67.05 cm)


#4. Renogy 10W Monocrystalline Portable Solar Panel  🌞🌞🌞🌞 out of 5

The best super-small solar panel that can be added to other panels

Renogy 10W Monocrystalline Portable Solar Panel

This is the second time that Renogy has appeared on our list, and for good reason. 

Sometimes, you just don’t need that much power. If you need something a little smaller that’s just for recharging small electronic devices like your phone, then take a look at Renogy’s 10-watt portable solar panel. 

With high-efficiency monocrystalline cells and a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame, this solar panel is small but powerful, and easy to hook up to a controller or other solar panels. It even comes with a handy pre-drilled mounting hole in the back.

renogy high efficiency portable solar panel

🌞 Pro-tip: What is a bypass diode? A bypass diode in a solar panel is used to protect partially shaded photovoltaic (PV) cells inside the solar panel from having too big of a negative impact on the overall performance of the solar panel. 

Basically, if one cell on your solar panel is shaded, it’s unable to pass the current to the other cells. The more cells that are shaded, the more your solar panel’s power drops. If your solar panel has bypass diodes, basically that means it’ll still perform well if there’s shade. It won’t be exactly as good as having unobstructed sunlight, but it’ll still do better than if there weren’t bypass diodes at all.

Price: $39.99

Wattage: 10 watts

Weight: 1.2 lbs (0.5 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions: 10.6 x 13.4 x 1.0 in (26.9 x 34.04 x 2.54 cm)


#5. Nomad 20 Solar Panel  🌞🌞🌞🌞 out of 5

The best iPad-size solar panel

Nomad 20 Solar Panel

It’s about the size of an iPad, and it’s just about as powerful as one. Err, solar-wise, at least.

Like the Jackery SolarSaga (under the 100W category in this list), you can charge your phone directly with Nomad 20, or plug it into a power bank to save that power for later. With its 20-watt power, it’s great for charging devices like:

  • Headlamps
  • Camping lanterns
  • Other small USB devices or power stations

This portable solar panel can charge all of Goal Zero’s line of power banks, depending on their size, in 4 to 58 hours (58 hours sounds wild, but that’s for the Yeti 500X, which is a massive portable power station that can power even portable fridges).

Price: $149.95

Wattage: 20 watts

Weight: 2.3 lbs (1.03 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 11.5 x 7.4 x 1.25 in (29.2 x 19 x 3.2 cm)

Dimensions (unfolded): 11.5 x 21.75 x 0.75 in (29.2 x 55.3 x 1.9 cm)


#6. Victron Solar 20W Mono Panel  🌞🌞🌞½ out of 5

Best small solar panel for low-light environments

Victron Solar 20W Mono Panel

The Victron Mono Solar Panel is a small and portable panel that’s designed to fit on small spaces like sheds, boats, and vans.

Victron says it performs “exceptionally” even in low light environments because of its highly light-sensitive materials, and like the Renogy 10W portable solar panel, it contains those handy bypass diodes that help keep its performance high, even when there’s shade..

It’s made of stuff and impact-resistant tempered glass, and its frame is made of sturdy anodized aluminium, and can be mounted to a roof pretty easily with most standard mounting systems.

Price: Ranges (about $30.00)

Wattage: 20 watts

Weight: 4.2 lbs (1.9 kg)

Foldable: No

Dimensions: 17.3 x 13.8 x 1 in (44 x 35 x 2.5 cm)


And a bonus… Best high-output portable solar panel

Nomad 200 Portable Solar Panel

Nomad 200 Portable Solar Panel

If you need a bit more power, then the foldable Nomad 200 is a good option. As you can tell by the name, it provides a whopping 200 watts, which means your laptop, fridge, and other appliances will be well supported. And even with that added juice, it’s still very portable—you can fold it down to a quarter of its full size! 

That may not be a huge deal if you have a lot of space to spare, but for travellers, this is a great feature.

You might also notice that there are handy loops on the corners, which makes this solar panel even more portable since you can strap it to, well, anything you need to. And it comes with a pretty slick carrying case too:

nomad 200 solar panel carrying case

Finally, it even has stability measures built in—there are pop-out legs with stake-down loops that help keep the portable panel secure while it’s charging.

It’s high-quality construction, and the price reflects it.

Price: $599.95

Wattage: 200 watts

Weight: 22 lbs (10 kg)

Foldable: Yes

Dimensions (folded): 28.2 x 22.3 x 2.0 in (71.6 x 56.6 x 5.0 cm)

Dimensions (unfolded): 28.2 x 100.7 x 1.0 in (71.6 x 255.8 x 2.5 cm)


Other items you might need to round out your portable solar setup

Ah, if only it were as easy as picking up a few solar panels. But just like setting up a solar panel system on a house, you’ll need some other items to help you not only generate but also use that electricity.

You will not need all of these! But at the very least, it’s useful to know about them and when they may come in handy.

We’re big proponents of planning and educating yourself before clicking “Buy”—and especially when it comes to solar power, it’s always, always, better to plan ahead and understand your options. If you do the right amount of prep, nine times out of 10 you’ll save a ton of time and hassle down the road.

A converter

This is one of those things you do need if you’re buying portable solar panels. Solar panels collect sunlight as DC power, and most of our appliances and devices run on AC power. 

So if you’re using any solar panels, portable or not, to generate electricity for your own usage, you’ll need a converter

Solar batteries

Now, not everyone uses batteries because of the cost, but they’re nonetheless useful to have, especially when you think you’ll need to have some stored electricity just in case.

The thing with portable solar panels is that they simply collect energy—they can’t store it. And you don’t want your fridge to turn off at night because there’s no sunlight. Hence… batteries.

A solar charger controller or maintainer

You’ll also need a controller for your portable solar panels. What these do is basically protect your solar batteries by regulating the energy that flows through them and preventing them from overcharging, and they can also help keep your batteries charged even when they’re not being used for a period of time.

(Yes, batteries lose their charge over time!)

You can’t control the amount of sunlight collected through your solar panels, right? This is the “battery guardian” that stops the energy flow once the batteries are fully charged, which will prolong the life of your batteries.

This is important because batteries tend to be more expensive compared to the other components in a portable solar setup, so you’ll want to do anything you can to make sure you maximize their 5–10 year lifespan. 

The good news is, some solar panels actually come with a solar battery charge controller. (And some even better ones will come with a controller that’s waterproof—perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.)

And if you’re thinking what we’re thinking… then yes, go for portable solar panels that have built-in solar charge controllers. That way you can just check it off your list without having to buy something separate.

Extension cables for your portable solar panels

This one isn’t a 100% must-have, but if you’re going to be moving around a lot or in areas where sunlight isn’t the easiest to come by, you might need extension cables for your portable solar panels.

Why?

Because if that’s the case, you’ll likely need to move your portable panels around so that they can get the maximum amount of sunlight!

They’ll still need to be hooked up to the rest of your setup, and if you have to move them a bit farther away to get that valuable sunlight, your existing cables may not be long enough. Again, not a must-have, but good to keep in mind.

A digital solar monitoring system

Depending on how enthusiastic you are about keeping track of how much electricity you’re producing and using on a regular basis, this can actually be pretty handy.

Not only will this give you a good birds-eye view of the overall health of your portable solar panel system, it’ll also alert you if any devices in your solar setup are off or might need maintenance. Whether you’re into keeping track of the numbers or not, that’s useful information to have.


Portable solar panel FAQs

Can I power my house with portable solar panels to save on installation costs?

Nope. Portable solar panels are fine as a backup, and they’re even okay to power tiny houses, but they’re not meant to power a full-fledged house.

That’s just way too much power and too many appliances to support. You can power a refrigerator or parts of a house, but not 100% of the electricity needs. For that, you should look into a proper solar panel system, 

How do I take care of portable solar panels?

Solar panels generally require very little maintenance, but it’s still a good idea to give them a good wipe-down from time to time if you notice dust or any gunk building up.

You don’t have to use soap or detergent—just a moist sponge or towel is fine. In fact, you should probably avoid cleaning your solar panels with chemicals (unless they explicitly say they’re designed for solar panels) because it might damage the panels.

Do I really need a converter / inverter?

Sorry, you do. Unless your appliances and devices take DC power, you’ll need the converter.

So… What is the best portable solar panel?

This is a cop-out answer, but there really isn’t a “best” portable solar panel for everyone. If you need a 100-watt portable solar panel, that will already make your list of options very different from someone who is looking in the 10-to-30 watt range.

All said, we put together this list and ranked the options based on the criteria of price, construction quality, integrations (like a built-in controller), and aesthetics. (We do care about aesthetics and you’ll see notes above where we mention it as a consideration—feel free to ignore that if you just really don’t care how your portable solar panels look.)

What can a portable solar panel power?

Many things! Don’t let their size fool you—nowadays, there are portable solar panels that can power RVs and tiny homes (yes, and you can still have an air conditioner and washing machine).

You’ll still need an inverter to change the current from DC to AC so that your appliances can actually use the energy harvested by your solar panels, but they work in a very similar way to regular non-portable solar panels.

Here are just a few of the everyday appliances and devices that you can power with a portable solar panel:

  • Phones (let’s face it, it’s probably our most essential device)
  • Computers and other mobile devices like tablets
  • Kitchen appliances like coffee makers and portable stovetops
  • Radios
  • Lighting (although there are some great camping lanterns and portable lighting that are themselves solar-powered, so you might not need your solar panels for these)
  • Larger appliances like fridges and washing machines
  • And if you want to think even bigger, portable solar panels can power RVs and mobile tiny homes too!

Get outdoors with portable solar panels!

There you have it—some of the best portable solar panels out there, from 100-watt panels to smaller (and larger) wattage options.

When narrowing down your selection, dig deep into each panel’s features. Some brands, as you’ve seen, are super established and constantly innovating and updating their portable solar products.

You should be able to transport your solar panels, set them up (and pack them up) easily, and most importantly, support all or most of your electricity needs.

Second, decide if you want to hire someone to help you hook up your system. It’s generally straightforward and whatever you purchase should come with instructions, but it’s still electric work. If you’re willing to pay extra, help is out there. 

Finally, read the reviews for your shortlist! There’s a plethora of reviews on different third-party sites, and most reasonably well-known brands should have a decent amount of reviews for their products. (If you can’t find a certain brand of solar panel at all online, that should be a red flag.)

This will help you take the guesswork out of choosing the right portable solar panel, and get you on the path to generating your own electricity!

 

The Best Portable Solar Panels in 2020, Ranked
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