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Energy is the greatest concern of modern industry and communication. Our planet currently is home to almost seven billion people, and they all want reliable energy for their basic needs, as well as for more recreational purposes.

How can we keep up with this massive demand for energy? There is more than one way to answer the question. The long-term answers are provided by solar energy.

No Outlet Necessary, No Lack of Power

Portable solar panels are collections of photovoltaic cells contained in a small housing package, usually strong plastic. They react with sunlight to produce a certain amount of electric current.

This current is sufficient to recharge most commercially available batteries. These small solar panels give their owners a fairly reliable source of free energy, although cloud cover can be a problem.

The most likely candidate to benefit most from a portable solar panel would be anyone who regularly uses a portable electronic device while out in public, unable to access the electric power they pay for at home.

The Technical Details for a Successful Power Up

Portable solar panels are collections of photovoltaic cells contained in a small housing package

A basic understanding of electronic power is necessary for you to make the best purchase you can.

 

Try to think of the technical terms of wattage and voltage in comparison to plumbing: water pressure is equal to voltage, the electric current (or amperage) is the flow speed of the water, and the size of the pipes holding the water is equal to electronic resistance (or ohm). The end result that you are after is the wattage, which is voltage times amperage (flow speed of water times water pressure).

As you can imagine, amperage and wattage are the main elements you will look at when making your purchase.

Another factor that has to be considered is weather. If you work in a high precipitation zone like Scotland or the Pacific Northwest, you will need a panel that works fast. Spend the money for high output panels that employ monocrystalline solar cells.

Solar cells use two basic types of solar cells: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Polycrystalline cells are not as efficient as monocrystalline, but they are less expensive.

Our Top 10 Portable Solar Panels List

When considering the range of products and prices available for portable solar panels, finding the item that is best for you could become a daunting task.

Following is a list of our top 10 portable solar panels to help you decide on a product that is right for you.

1. Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase

While not a true lightweight at almost 28 pounds, this solar panel packs a big punch. With two 50W panels creating a 100 watts output and excellent low light production, the Renogy can be counted on for quick recharging or simple high power operating capability.

Pros:

  • The charge controller works with LCD display and fully adjustable settings
  • The stand and handles are corrosion resistant aluminum, making this a durable product for outdoor use
  • Low-voltage system avoids electric shocks while providing maximum power output

 

Cons:

  • Bulk is a problem. These units are three inches thick, 20 inches long and 27 inches wide. Not a product for backpackers.
  • No waterproofing on the controller unit

 

Specs:

Max power: 100W
Max Voltage: 18.0V
Weight: 27.5 lb
Size: 19.9” x 8” x 2.8”

Efficiency & Durability:

Renogy has constructed a great power generator with this product, but the bulk of the item means it is not for backpackers. Ideal for setting up in a base area.

Conclusion:

With its durability, power output and simple structure, these panels are ideal for outdoor construction or large groups of travelers. You can find this product here

2. X-DRAGON High Efficiency 20W Solar Panel

X-DRAGON is fairly new on the scene, but numerous rave reviews make it worth a look. This little gem of a panel shows why. Though not a powerful package, the high efficiency of this panel is no joke, and it is competitively priced to outmatch similar products.

Pros:

  • Lightweight, small and compact
  • Dual ports with 5V2.4A max

 

Cons:

  • An excellent solar cell is undercut by extreme claims to efficiency – the panel is highly efficient, but solar power has not yet reached the level of 25% efficiency
  • Not intended to have add-on capability
  • A 12-month warranty does not compare to similar warranties offered for similar products

 

Specs:

Size: 23.3 x 12.1 x 0.12 inches unfolded
Weight: 1.6 lbs
Capacity: 5V2.4A Max, 2 USB ports
Efficiency: 22% - 25%
Output: 20W

Efficiency & Durability:

Not as well protected as large panel in a metal case, the durability of this small plastic device is reasonable, considering the price. The manufacturer has over-rated the efficiency of the panel.

Conclusion:

An inexpensive package perfect for backpackers who need a panel that is easy to use. The product ships quickly and you can find it here:

3. Go Power! GP-PSK-120, 120W Portable Folding Solar Panel

 
One of the top power producers for its size in the marketplace today, the Go Power 120 stands tall as a high power generator for any outdoor function. With monocrystalline solar cells working at high efficiency, this portable solar can handle the charging of most cars, ATVs, or boating batteries.
 
Pros
  • Heavy-duty storage cases provide outdoor protection
  • Monocrystalline cells ensure good low-light capability
 
Cons:
  • Heavy duty means lots of weight, not for backpackers
  • LED lighting on controller makes for difficulties when setting up
 
Specs:
 
Output power: 120W
 
Rated DC voltage: 18V
 
Rated Current: 6.7A
 
Unfold size: 32.5” x 39.8” x 1.4”
 
Fold size: 32.5” x 19.9” x 2.8”
 
Weight: 33 lbs
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
A real warhorse, this is a big, strong product with aluminum framing and high durability. While built to last, this product should not be left outdoors.
 
Conclusion:
 
While too bulky for hikers, the Go Power! PSK 120 is ideal for RV travel, as well as base camps for public work or large groups of travelers. Check it out here
 

4. RAVPower 15W Solar Panel

 
RAVPower offers this solar panel in two sizes (a 9W and a 15W version), but it is not a solar specialization business. The price for this little panel is right, and it boasts some of the best compatibility features that you will see.
 
Pros:
  • Very snug design, lightweight and highly flexible
  • High efficiency means quick work: in bright light, this unit will recharge some devices in under 40 minutes
 
Cons:
 
  • Nylon packaging does not provide great durability
  • Does not deal with cloud cover very well, shutting down if light conditions drop for a significant amount of time
 
Specs:
 
Voltage: 5V
 
Amperage: 1A if employing both ports, 2A for single port use
 
Size: 22” x 9.25”
 
Weight: 1.6 oz
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
The nylon protective casing gives flexibility, which is important for backpackers, but it does not offer the same protection as a thin plastic shell.
 
Conclusion:
 
The 12-month warranty is average for the size, but the look and the price make this a fun purchase for the camper with an iPhone. Take a closer look at it here
 

5. Anker 21W 2-Port Solar Charger

 
This panel features highly efficient SunPower photoelectric cells, at the trade off of a little more weight than most small solar panels.
 
Pros:
 
  • Compact design makes for easy storage
  • Powerful panel makes recharging easy and fast
  • Extensive warranty and good customer support
Cons:
 
  • Slightly heavier than most 21W panels
  • Highly limited compatibility issues - it will not work directly on iPhones. It also requires a battery bank to charge incompatible devices
 
Specs:
 
Weight: 14.7 oz
 
Size Open: 26.4 x 11.1 x 0.2 inches
 
Size Folded: 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
 
Direct Currant: 5V
 
Amperage: 3A
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
The efficiency of the Anker 21W is very high, but it requires good conditions to reach that level. This is not a strong low-light performer.
 
Conclusion:
 
While certainly a good buy for the advertised price, this portable solar panel could be stronger and lighter. It will do its job very well in bright light. You can find this item online by following this link
 

6. Vinsic 22W Portable and Foldable Solar Panel

 
This panel is one of the smaller portable units that employ monocrystalline solar cells for maximum efficiency. It has a polyester casing, and enjoys high compatibility.
 
Pros:
 
  •  Dual charging feature not easily matched by any other solar panel
  •  Fine compatibility with all digital devices, including iPhones, tablets and other USB items
  • Much better warranty than usual, at 18 months
 
Cons:
 
  • Heavier than most comparable portable solar panels
  • When unfolded, not a conveniently portable device
 
Specs:
 
Size: 11.1 x 7.1 x 1.8 inches folded
 
Weight: 1.4 lbs
 
Voltage: 5V
 
Amperage: Up to 3A when both USB ports are used simultaneously; up to 2.1A when a single USB port is used
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
With its polyester casing, this panel is somewhat vulnerable to damage. Its efficiency is very high, though.
 
Conclusion:
 
Vinsic has created a good portable item here, but it trades good efficiency for bulk and durability. If you are interested, you can check it out here
 

7. ALLPOWERS 100W Bendable Solar Panel

 
This company has designed a uniquely adaptable panel for high power production. It boasts a high durability rating, and it offers an amazingly light package for 100 watts of power.
 
Pros:
  •  
  • Only 6 lbs. of weight for 100W of power. Amazing.
  • Capable of charging larger electric units like boats or RVs, as well as smaller devices
  • Flexibilty feature allows it to adapt to unusual positions
 
Cons:
 
  •  Efficiency traded off for flexibility and weight
  • Average durability and warranty
 
Specs:
 
Working Voltage: 18V
 
Working Current: 5.56 A
 
Size: 42.2 x 24.3 x 4.3 inches
 
Weight: 5.5 lbs
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
This panel is without a doubt a big power producer, especially given its size and unique flexibility. Efficiency and durability are definitely average, but weight is amazingly low.
 
Conclusion
 
At only five or so pounds producing 100W, this could bring household power levels to backpackers! You can find this amazing package here
 

8. ECO-WORTHY 100W Portable Folding Solar Panel

 
This is a large pair of panels that together are capable of recharging boats or cars. Offered at a bargain price, these items are very bulky, but lighter than you would expect. The polycrystalline power cells are not state of the art, but they will do a fine job.
 
Pros:
 
Preinstalled charger controller protects unit from overcharging, reverse connection, etc.
Not as heavy as most 100W units, but sturdier
 Efficiency rate is acceptable, and produces lower prices
 
Cons:
 
  • Vulnerable to low light problems
  • Slower recharging rates in general
 
Specs:
 
Weight: 28 lbs
 
Size: 30.7 x 22.1 x 5.1 inches
 
Voltage: 17.9V
 
Amperage: 5.59A
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
With its bulky aluminum frame, this item is built to endure outdoor weather for extended periods. The less expensive crystals in the power cells lose a little effectiveness in power generation.
 
Conclusion:
 
A nice bargain at the prices advertised. Polycrystalline cells can be surprisingly effective in bright light locations, so consider this product if you live in this type of climate. You can do so here:
 

9. Suaoki 60W Portable Sunpower Monocrystalline Folding Solar Panel

 
For anyone who travels outdoors solar panels need to be lightweight and powerful. Suaoki has produced this solar panel with an eye to maximizing power and miimizing weight, and created an interesting hybrid.
 
Pros:
  • High powered, but not really enough power for a RV or boat
  • Extremely fast and efficient power source when applied to small or mid-sized items
  • Great waterproofing in the design
 
Cons:
  • High performance reflected in price
  • Somewhat oversized for hikers
 
Specs:
 
Power: 60W
 
Voltage: 18V
 
Amperage: 3.4
 
Weight: 14.4oz
 
Size Unfolded: 64.57 x 11.42 x 0.08 inches
 
Size Folded: 11.42 x 6.3 x 2.76 inchses
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
The monocrytalline power cells are the best that can be found in the market, but the polyester protective case could be reinforced. Waterproofing feature is great.
 
Conclusion:
 
This is an odd combination of high power and small size. Homeowners with multiple appliances and lots of digital devices will find this product ideal. It is available online through this link:
 

10. AspectSolar EP-60 Portable Solar Panels

Size and durability are closely matched by most portable solar panels

AspectSolar has constructed a pricey package, here, but it offers good power. Monocrystalline solar cells have high efficiency, and assure users of quick recharges if not over taxed. Durability is an issue, since the power cells are contained entirely in polyester fabric.
 
Pros:
 
  • Very lightweight for the 60W of power offered
  • The charge controller employs Maximum Power Point Tracking to offer safety and efficiency in regular usage
  • Excellent warranty for the size, at five years
 
Cons:
 
  • Too heavy for hikers, but not strong enough for larger batteries
  • Limited information provided by manufacturer
 
Specs:
 
Input: DC 5V
 
Output: 1A
 
Size Folded: 2.0 x 12.6 x 17.7 inches
 
Size Unfolded: 38 x 12.8 x 17.7 inches
 
Weight: 7.5 lbs
 
Efficiency & Durability:
 
Durability can be an issue, with good waterproofing offset by lightweight casing. Highly efficient monocrystalline power cells are a strength.
 
Conclusion:
 
An interesting package of strengths. It can be found online at this address
 

Solar panels are highly productive, producing energy and paying for themselves fairly quickly.

Our Conclusion of the Top Solar Chargers

The most important variable in the performance of a panel is the ability to work with low levels of light. Monocrystalline power cells do this best. When you purchase a solar panel, you will be happier spending the cash for a panel packed with more efficient monocrystalline cells.
 
Size and durability are closely matched by most portable solar panels, and depend heavily on the purposes of the buyer. For travelers who want a lot of power for their RVs or base camps, the Renology 100W Suitcase is a good bargain. Hikers who just need to recharge their smartphones should look to the X-DRAGON 20W High Efficiency model. Each of these models employs monocrstalline cells, and they are priced accordingly.
The expense should be worth the cost however, as each of these units can provide years of reliable and efficient electric power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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