Best portable solar panels in 2023: Expert review
- 25 Dec 2022
- 5 min
Imagine having electricity everywhere there is sun. With portable solar panels it is a reality. You can charge a phone or a GPS during a hike, or power a fridge on a camping trip. Not all portable panels are equal though, and some won’t charge a dead fly. We’re separating the wheat from the chaff in this portable solar panels review.
Five best portable solar panels: A1SolarStore choice
We’ve compiled a list of best portable solar panels: compact, efficient, light and thin. Shoutout to Vic, our engineer with 20 years of experience in the solar industry, who helped with picking out the models.
BigBlue 28 W panel: Solar that fits into your pocket
When it comes to small portable solar panels, this BigBlue module is one of the best. It keeps the fine balance between size and charging speed. It folds into an 11″ by 6″ rectangle — the size of a notepad. When unfolded, it generates enough power to charge a phone from 0% to 100% in about two hours. The panel is compatible with most smartphones and tablets, including iPhone, Samsung, LG and others. BigBlue can charge up to three devices at once. You can attach the panel to a backpack and use it on the go.
EcoFlow 160 W panel: The backup kit
EcoFlow RIVER Pro portable solar kit consists of a 160 W solar panel and a 720 Wh storage unit. The panel has up to 22% efficiency and charges the battery from 0% to 80% in 8-15 hours. The battery can power devices up to 1,800 W. It’s convenient in all kinds of trips and will keep your devices powered in case of an emergency.
BLUETTI 350 W panel: Truly powerful
BLUETTI panel has power output of 350 W which is a level of standard rigid home PV modules. It’s portable though, and you can fold it into a handheld bag. The panel weighs 30.6 pounds, whereas a stationary panel with similar wattage is 1.5 times heavier. It is scratch-resistant and travel-ready: take it fishing, camping or anywhere else you need power.
Zamp 230 W panel: Rugged reliability
This 230 W Zamp panel is heavier than most portable solar panels - 52.9 lbs - but it is more reliable. It comes in a sturdy aluminum frame that protects it both during transportation and operation. The Zamp panel is made in the US and has a 25-year performance warranty: the module should retain over 80% of its initial output by the year 25. It also has an integrated 15 A charge controller, a kickstand and everything else to get it up and running in 5 minutes.
Renogy 200 W panel: Trusted manufacturer
Renogy is famous for its off-grid solar equipment and portable solar panels. We’ve already given this company praise in our Renogy review. This 200 W panel has a proven and reliable design that will serve you for years. It comes with a heavy-duty handle and a rugged canvas case for worry-free transportation. Once delivered to the place of operation, it takes only a few minutes to set it up. A 20 A charge controller comes built-in, and the kickstand is fully adjustable to capture as much sun as possible.
Portable panels and where to take them
Rooftop PV systems take a lot of time, money and effort to install and they aren’t meant to be disassembled and transported. Portable solar panels are a different story. You can use the same panels for home, for RV, for camping and wherever else you need free and clean energy.
Most portable panels are foldable. They transform into small bags that can fit even into a backpack. You can unpack the kit and set up a system in 5 minutes. The kits often include a charge controller, an adjustable kickstand and sometimes a storage system. Small portable solar panels have USB ports, while larger modules with integrated controllers come with alligator clips for charging a battery.
Portable vs. rooftop solar panels comparison
|Average power output
Portable and rooftop solar panels use the same monocrystalline cells. Portable panels are lighter though, because the frame isn’t as rigid and heavy. Some models don’t even have an external frame. This makes a panel less sturdy but drastically reduces weight. Many manufacturers of portable modules don’t add a glass layer over the solar cells, which is a must for rooftop solar.
You can look at it like this: rooftop solar system is a long-term investment for your house, a powerful clean energy generator for everything you have. Portable panels are something that you can take with you and use on your trips. Just like flexible solar panels, they are popular among campers and boondockers and can become your saving grace if your GPS or smartphone battery charge gets too low.
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