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The 5 Best Portable Solar Panels

best portable solar panels

The 5 Best Portable Solar Panels

The best portable solar panels offer the right amount of wattage and portability without sacrificing durability. But with all the different power levels and features, choosing the right design to fit your needs can prove challenging. And with the inflated cost of portable panels versus mounted ones, it’s essential to invest wisely.

So, which models do you choose? We’ve reviewed dozens of models to offer you the best one for every situation. Whether you’re looking for power or portability, we’ve got you covered. Take a look below at our recommendations on solar panels you can take anywhere.

Best Portable Solar Panels: Side-by-Side Comparison

Our recommended models feature specs that vary widely. Review the tables below to see the differences.

Renogy 200WGoal Zero Ranger 300ALLPOWERS SP029
Size35.6 x 25.9 x 3.1in30.6 x 26.3 x 3.8in25.6 x 20.0 x 1.2in
Weight36.0 lbs39.0 lbs9.9 lbs
Wattage200W300W140W
TypeMonocrystallineMonocrystallinePolycrystalline
Accessories20A charge controller, alligator clipsCarrying caseConnector cables, alligator clips
Price$469.99$799.95$209.99
Jackery Solar Generator 1000Goal Zero Nomad 20
Size12.5 x 9.2 x 6.1in30.5 x 13.0 x 1.0in
Weight25.3 lbs2.3 lbs
Wattage100W x 220W
TypeMonocrystallineMonocrystalline
Accessories1,000W power station, AC adapter, car charger cable, panel parallel adapterNone
Price$1,649.00$149.95

Best Overall: Renogy 200W Portable Solar Panel

Best Overall
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Portable Solar Panel
$319.99
  • The complete kit includes a 200W solar suitcase, a 20A waterproof Voyager charge controller, and alligator clips
  • Advanced smart PWM technology charge controllers ensure charging efficiency and safety
  • Foldable design
  • Advanced smart PWM technology charge controller with multiple protections, ensuring charging efficiency and safety
  • Comes with a premium rugged canvas protective case
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02/29/2024 11:30 pm GMT

Offering plenty of wattage, a durable frame, and safe charging, the Renogy 200W Portable Solar Panel is one of the best portable solar panels for just about any situation. The kit comes with everything you need to power your energy storage devices; the alligator clips make it easy to connect the panel to a battery and the charge controller ensures they aren’t overcharged. It also manages output to all types of storage, making it incredibly versatile.

In addition to its efficiency and safety, the Renogy 200W is easy to set up anywhere. The suitcase comes with an adjustable stand, allowing you to position it perfectly in the sun. The whole panel system folds up (protecting the charge controller and wires) and packs into a canvas carrying case. This help users carry it to and from their vehicles.

We love the monocrystalline panel type, which allows it to collect more sunlight per cell. However, it does make the system more expensive. To this detriment, Renogy currently offers a discount on the 200W suitcase model; though normally priced at $470, those that purchase the panel at the time of this writing can find it for only $330.

Check out the Renogy 200W Portable Solar Panel on Amazon.

Best for Performance: Goal Zero Ranger 300

Best for Performance
Goal Zero Ranger 300
$699.95
  • Folding solar panel design
  • 300-watt flexible solar-panel briefcase
  • Zero-emissions, zero-noise solar energy
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02/29/2024 11:30 pm GMT

Normally, 200W can cover most appliances, but if you’re in need of high-power output, you could probably use more. For a portable solar panel that supercharges power banks, the Goal Zero Ranger 300 has you covered.

Not only does it pack in 100 more watts than our top model, but it uses state-of-the-art framing to drop the weight and size. This makes it one of the most powerful and portable models on the market.

Coming from Goal Zero, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve purchased some of the highest-quality panels available. However, buying this model comes at a price; not only does the Goal Zero Ranger cost nearly $800, but it only charges power stations of the same brand. This means that unless you already have one, you’ll have to invest even more to use the panels.

Check out the Goal Zero Ranger 300 on Amazon.

Best on a Budget: ALLPOWERS SP029 140W Portable Solar Panel

Best for Budget
ALLPOWERS SP029 140W Portable Solar Panel
$196.99
  • High Efficiency
  • Foldable and Portable
  • 1/3 lighter than the same power of solar silicon
  • Constructed with durable and waterproof nylon and adjustable bracket to receive the most effective sunlight
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02/29/2024 11:30 pm GMT

Having the best equipment for performance seems nice, but if you’re not willing to invest over $1,000 in it, you might want something more affordable. The ALLPOWERS SP029 140W Portable Solar Panel offers a good amount of wattage and comes with a unique junction box, allowing you to charge power stations, battery banks, and even your devices straight from the panel. And all of this with one of the lowest prices anywhere.

As far as durability goes, the SP029 can feel flimsy; opting for nylon framing sacrifices resiliency for portability. Where the panels differ the most from other models is their cell type. Featuring polycrystalline material, the SP029 is noticeably less efficient. This means you’ll need more direct sunlight to charge your devices than others. However, the panel type definitely lowers the price.

Check out the ALLPOWERS SP029 140W Portable Solar Panel on Amazon.

Best Kit: Jackery Solar Generator 1000

Best Kit
Jackery Solar Generator 1000
$1,649.00
  • Can be fully charged with 2 Jackery SolarSaga 100W solar panels within 6 hrs or only 5.5 hrs via AC wall outlet charging
  • Easy to use
  • Safe and reliable for outdoor camping
  • Quiet and strong
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03/01/2024 08:49 pm GMT

If you’re looking for a kit that does it all, from charging to power output, the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 is hard to beat. It comes with plug-and-play compatibility and enough energy storage to run coffee makers, induction stove tops, and even heaters for a considerable amount of time.

The outlet diversity really separates this Jackery kit from the rest of the pack. Featuring three AC outlets, three USB outlets, and a DC outlet, you can power multiple devices at once.

And the intuitive display accurately tracks your voltage, keeping you informed of the power level. Although the kit might seem expensive outright, Jackery is offering a $375 coupon as of this writing.

Check out the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 on Amazon.

Best for Backpacking: Goal Zero Nomad 20

Best for Backpacking
Goal Zero Nomad 20
$146.97
  • The 20W, 18-22V Panel has a built-in 8mm charging cable and a USB port
  • Weighs 2.25 lbs
  • Versatile
  • Developed by a US-based team
  • 1-year manufacturer warranty
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02/29/2024 11:30 pm GMT

Maybe an entire kit doesn’t seem as portable as you need. If you’re looking for a simple design that can be taken anywhere on your adventure for the sake of keeping devices charged, the Goal Zero Nomad 20 is the perfect device.

The Nomad 20 is small, lightweight, and comes with a USB port to energize straight from the panel. This makes it one of the best portable solar panels for backpacking, hiking, or any other outdoor activity.

This Goal Zero design features 20W total monocrystalline panels, making it highly efficient for its size. It weighs less than three pounds and folds tight for storage in a backpack. However, you’re definitely paying a premium for the portability; at $150, this model has the highest cost per watt of any on our list.

Check out the Goal Zero Nomad 20 on Amazon.

How to Pick the Best Portable Solar Panels

When choosing the right portable solar panels for your needs, there are four main considerations:

  • Wattage,
  • Size,
  • Features,
  • Price.

Let’s review each one in more detail.

Wattage

The wattage determines how much power per hour the panels can collect. You’ll want to consider this aspect for the devices or appliances you’re trying to use. For smartphones or LED lights, you could get away with 100W or less. For more powerful appliances, like coffee makers or heaters, you might want 200W or more.

Size

Because you’re looking for a portable model, it’s essential to consider size and weight. You don’t want to have to lug around heavy hardware and struggle with difficult setups. However, lighter panels often feature weaker frames. The best portable solar panels typically range between 10 and 40 pounds.

Features

In addition to the physical design of your panel system, some aspects make usability easier. Features such as adjustable stands, charge controllers, and versatile outlets can raise the overall cost, but also improve your experience. When choosing a portable solar panel, consider the number of appliances you want to run in addition to how much power you need in total.

Price

Because of their portability, panels of this nature tend to cost more than mounted ones. In fact, it’s not out of the question to find these models running for two to three times the price on average. This is because they aren’t sold in bulk, which typically drops that number. For 200W of solar, you can expect to spend about $400 to $500 before accessories.  

What to Know Before Buying a Portable Solar Panel

When considering a portable solar panel, it’s essential to know what type of cells they feature. Monocrystalline feature superior manufacturing, making them more efficient but also more pricey. You can often drop the cost of solar with polycrystalline panels, but because of their lower efficiency, they require more direct sun than normal.

In addition, you’ll want to handle your panels delicately; manufacturers generally use flimsier material to drop the overall weight. This makes the model more susceptible to damage than mounted ones. When storing your solar panel, make sure you pack it in its protective carrying case to avoid scratches or tears.

Using the Best Portable Solar Panels: What It’s Like

When users tested the best solar panels on our list, they first compared the setup. Most found the ALLPOWERS SP029 the easiest to handle due to its weight. However, its frame and stand felt less supportive than other models, such as the Renogy 200W or the Goal Zero Ranger 300.

Next, users tested the efficiency of each panel when powering devices. Most found that the larger panels charged power stations at a quick pace, allowing them to use larger appliances for longer. The SP029 fell short, especially on partly cloudy days, due to its polycrystalline material. Still, it was handy for powering small appliances or keeping handhelds topped off.

Finally, users compared ease of use when charging devices. The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 provided plenty of outlets to run multiple devices for long periods of time. The SP029 also made it easy to plug in devices with its native junction box. Both the Renogy and Goal Zero Ranger required external batteries to run appliances.

Best Portable Solar Panels: Further Reading

Whether you need power while road-tripping across the country or camping at your local park, you’ll want to take the best portable solar panels along. These handy devices make it easy to use your gadgets anywhere you go. For more solar-powered equipment to make your time outside easier, check out these articles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best brand of portable solar panels?

The best solar panels offer a good amount of wattage, durable structure, and safe power transfer. For a good balance of these aspects, we recommend Renogy models.

Is portable solar worth it?

Portable solar panels can provide power anywhere you have sun. Because of their lightweight design and adaptability, you can use them to charge anything from handheld devices to coffee makers and heaters.

What is the best portable solar panel for hiking?

If you want to charge your devices while out on a hike, the typical portable solar panel won’t cut it. For a model that fits snugly in your backpack, we recommend the Goal Zero Nomad 20.

What is the biggest problem with solar panels?

Solar panels are nice for collecting power off-grid, but struggle when the sun is unavailable. Aspects such as indirect sunlight or shade can noticeably degrade efficiency.

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