If you’re in a hurry and want to know which are the overall best portable solar panels we found, check out the Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel.
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There appears to be some confusion when people search for the best portable solar panels.
Some are looking for the best portable solar panels for home backup systems, boats or RVs.
While others are looking for the best portable solar panels for camping or traveling to charge smaller devices.
We know “portable” is relative, so we prepared two guides on different types of portable solar panels and chargers.
This article focuses on the best portable solar panels for RV, boats, and home back-up systems, and we will review the follow options:
- Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 50W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand With Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
- Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel For Explorer 160/240/500/1000 Power Station, Foldable US Solar Cell Solar Charger With USB Outputs For Phones (Can’t Charge Explorer 440/ PowerPro)
- RICH SOLAR 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel High Efficiency Solar Module Charge Battery For RV Trailer Camper Marine Off Grid
- RICH SOLAR 100 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible ETFE Monocrystalline Solar Panel Ultra Lightweight
- ECO-Worthy 12 Volts 10 Watt Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer
If you would like to read each of the reviews on how we came to our decision, you can jump to them using the table of contents below.
Or read on to understand how you can determine which are the best portable solar panels for yourself.
Why A Portable Solar Panel May Be Right For You
Are you looking to boondock with your RV? Or take a cruise on your boat and want to power your appliances without the headache of running a generator or motor?
What about avoiding hooking up in a crowded campground or marina? If so, then going solar is a solution.
Portable solar panels are also good for smaller home backup if you don’t want to invest in a full solar system.
They’re powerful enough to charge a battery bank and can expand in series or parallel if you want more power.
If you don’t want to rely on the grid or generators, then building your energy independence starts with the solar panel.
How Does A Portable Solar Panel System Work
Some portable solar panels have ports to which you can plug your smaller devices. They should also have connector cables for a larger battery bank.
This allows you to top off your gear without having to wait for the batteries to charge.
The larger the battery bank, the more panels you will need to charge them as quickly as possible.
Think of a solar panel as a net for sunlight. The larger the panel, the wider the net, and the more sunlight you can gather at one time.
Between the solar panel and the battery is a charge controller.
This protects the battery by regulating the amount of energy it receives at one time.
Once charged, you pull energy from that battery through an inverter to run your RV, boat, or home appliances.
Batteries alone deliver energy in the form of direct current (DC). But most devices and appliances use alternating current (AC).
So you need an inverter to change the current from DC to AC and deliver that energy in a way that’s safe for your devices.
Anything you plug into your wall outlet at home will be using AC.
Now there are a few other pieces that help protect your battery from damage when using a solar panel to charge it.
For example, fuses, voltmeters, battery managers, and temperature controllers.
But we won’t get into too many details right now and focus on the panel.
If you would like to learn more about building the entire solar system, you can check out this article here.
What To Look For In The Best Portable Solar Panels
While simple in appearance, there are few things to look for when choosing the best portable solar panel for you.
The power, or wattage, the panel produces will determine how long it will take to charge your battery bank.
If you have a larger battery bank and draw a good deal of power, then you will need enough panels to produce enough energy to charge those batteries in a single day of sun.
Solar panels come with different watt (W) ratings. Your average panel will be around 100W.
But just because the solar panel has a 100W rating does not mean it will give you the full rated output.
That’s where you must factor for inefficiency. Most good 100W panels will only produce around 70W to 80W under ideal conditions.
You should expect less under sub-par conditions like unexpected shade or cloud cover.
Keep this mind when planning how many panels you will need, and where you will place them.
For example, if you need a solar array to produce at least 200W, then you may actually need three 100W panels that produce up to 70W to compensate for the loss from inefficiency.
Inefficiency comes from the solar cells inability to convert 100% of sunlight into electricity. No solar cell is 100% efficient. In fact the average efficiency is around 15% to 20%.
But there are other factors that contribute to the cells’ inability to produce 100% of the rated power including the quality and construction of the bus bars, wire gauge and the number of cells.
Thankfully, today there are solar kits that come with everything you need to get up and running with optimal efficiency.
The next important thing you want from a solar panel is that it’s shipped to you in one piece.
Solar panels are made from crystal and glass, and thus it’s important the seller takes proper precautions to protect it.
We’ve done our best to find suppliers that do take those precautions to save you some frustration.
You want to also pay attention to the size of the solar panel. Bigger is not always better.
If you have a limited space to which you mount your panels, then understanding the dimensions you have to work with and how to configure the panels before you buy them will save you a lot of time and headache.
There are some panels with a greater surface area, but less cells and less output.
We’ve done our best to find the highest energy producing solar panels in their class. Ideally you want as much power with as small a footprint as possible.
Weight is also an issue when determining whether the solar panel is portable or not.
Some want a solar panel they can mount to their vehicle, so weight is less of an issue when compared to those who want something they can fold up and carry if you’re going on a camping trip, or need to pull it out to charge up your battery before a storm.
We’ve found both to give you some options to choose from.
If you are looking for a more permanent fixture for a boat or RV, making sure the frame has the proper mounting holes before you start will also prevent any surprises.
In line with how the mounting holes are laid out, you want to know that the rails used to construct the frame of the panel are not flimsy.
More rigid aluminum frames will protect it in the wind, rain, and hail storms you’re bound to encounter.
Having something that’s water resistant will also keep you from having to run out in a storm to protect it and accidentally injuring yourself.
While there are rigid and durable panels that will hold up under a beating, there are also flexible solar panels that will bend to conform to your vehicle if you’re concerned about aerodynamics and weight.
Flexible solar panels are more delicate and come with some problems that you should know about. But we’ll go into that more in our selection below.
Checking to see if the solar panel kit includes a diode box is also important.
A diode box prevents the reverse flow of energy from your batteries back into the solar panels, giving back that energy it took all day to produce.
Be sure the solar panel you choose is compatible with your charge controllers and solar generators.
For example, some solar panels like the Rockpals may work with a MPPT controller but not with a PWM controller. And if your solar generator has one of these built in, it could cause a problem.
If you’re not familiar with MPPT or PWM charge controllers and solar generators, you can check out these articles on both and learn more about them.
Some portable solar panels come with locking systems to avoid theft. Normally you have to leave your panels outside. Having a locking system will allow you to not worry so much that someone is going to run off with them.
Having a built in kickstand system is ideal for portable solar panels. It saves you the effort of building your own bulky rigs that are not easy to transport.
Why defeat the purpose of having a portable solar panel?
You want a panel that comes with quality cables and connectors that are long enough to give you the room you need to work and that won’t easily crimp, snap, or break under normal use.
It’s also important to note that higher price does not mean a higher quality.
We’ve found that in testing more affordable options you get the same output as some of the more expensive solar panel manufacturers.
What price does sometimes get you is better customer service, and a better warranty.
Sometimes solar panels come damaged, or with faulty crystals, or some other problem within the construction that prevents it from performing at its best.
Again, no panel will produce 100% of its rated output, but there’s a big difference between inefficiency and broken.
Make sure you choose a brand that will stand by their promises with a clear and reasonable warranty.
More Questions About The Best Portable Solar Panels
What’s The Difference Between A Portable Solar Panel And A Portable Solar Charger?
They both use the sun to charge a battery or other device. But, for the sake of analysis, we have separated them into categories: Larger solar panels, usually 100 watts or more that charge larger battery banks and smaller panels, 20W or less, that you can carry on your person to charge smaller devices.
If you’re going on a hike, or backpacking, you’re probably not wanting to carry a 30lb panel to charge a 60lb battery, to just top off your phone or kindle.
But if you need enough power to charge your battery bank for your home back up system, boat, or RV, then you may need a more powerful option to get the job done.
What’s The Difference Between A Polycrystalline vs Monocrystalline Solar Panel?
Crystalline refers to the crystal technology used in the solar cell.
Monocrystalline has a single crystal whereas polycrystalline are fragments of crystals fused together.
It’s a common belief that monocrystalline cells are more efficient than polycrystalline, but recent tests show the polycrystalline cells are in fact more efficient by a factor of up to 15%.
How Many Watts Should The Best Portable Solar Panels Have?
That depends on how much power you need them to produce in a given amount of time.
If you have a battery bank you need to charge in a day, then you’ll need enough panels to catch enough sunlight to recharge those batteries.
There is only so much sunlight in one day. On average you have about five hours of usable light throughout most of the United States. One solar panel can only capture so much of that light.
We need to combine them with others to increase the total output, or wattage. For example, if you have a battery bank that stores 1200 watt hours (Wh), then you will need a solar panel array with enough wattage to charge that battery bank in five hours.
Let’s do a little quick math. If you have a 1200 Wh battery bank and 5 hours to charge it, we divide 1200 by 5 to get 240 watts.
So, we’ll need enough solar panels to produce 240W to charge your battery with five hours of sunlight.
Now most panels are 100W. We mentioned before that it is normal to get about 20% to 30% less than the rated output. So how many panels will we need here to get the job done?
Well 30% of 100W is 70W. So 240W divided by 70W per panel will give us 3.5.
Now we obviously can’t buy half of a solar panel. So we’ll want to bump that up to four 100W panels to produce at least 240W per hour.
You can buy solar panels with higher watt ratings if you want to have fewer panels.
If you do not know how to calculate the wattage your battery bank needs, or how to build a battery bank, then check out this article for a full explanation.
Do I Need A Solar Charge Controller?
Yes. A charge controller will protect your batteries from burning up in the event the solar panel sends too much power to the battery at one time.
In the morning when the temperature is cooler, you will have an increase in output from the solar panel.
These spikes in voltage can damage your battery if you don’t have anything to regulate the force at which the energy reaches your battery.
If you’re camping and using your portable solar panel to charge up a solar generator, then the solar generator may already have a charge controller built in.
But if you are building your own solar setup, then you will definitely need to put a charge controller between the battery and the panel.
If you would like to know more about charge controllers for your system you can check out this article here for more information.
Should I Wire The Solar Panels In Series Or Parallel?
How you wire your solar panels together is a matter of efficiency.
Wiring solar panels in series increases the voltage. Wiring solar panels in parallel increases the amperage.
So which is better?
The advantages of series connecting your solar panels is that you increase the voltage.
But, the problem is by connecting them in series you create one large solar panel.
Thus if you have one panel in the shade or malfunctions it will cause the rest of your panels to fail as well.
Depending on the number of panels you have it’s actually better to connect them in groups.
Within the group, you can connect them in series to increase the voltage.
Then connect those groups in parallel to increase the amperage and protect yourself from a total system failure if one of the groups stops working.
If the solar panels have both the same volts and amps, you will want to connect them in a safe and efficient way that’s rated for your charge controller.
MPPT charge controllers for example work best when they have enough voltage with which to work.
So if your solar panels don’t provide enough voltage themselves, you can wire them in series to boost their voltage.
Just make sure you don’t go over the maximum voltage input rated for the charger.
Higher voltage systems will also allow you to use smaller gauge wiring and charge controllers with lower amp ratings that will save you money.
But, if you increase the voltage too high you will need to get a higher rated charge controller.
This would have a higher cost, but not as much as what you save from being able to use fewer panels and less expensive wiring.
It’s going to take a little bit of mixing and matching to figure out the combination that is the most efficient and cost effective for your situation.
Things can get complicated if you’re trying to wire panels together with different voltages or amps.
While it’s not recommended, it is possible.
If you’re using solar panels with the same volts but different amps, then it’s recommended to wire them in parallel. You increase the amperage, but keep the voltage the same with the greatest output.
If you have panels with different volts but the same amps, you can increase the output best by connecting them in series.
If you are using solar panels with different volts and amps then it’s important they each have their own charge controller. You won’t get as much energy as you could if you were to use them individually
You can then join the charge controllers using a DC breaker box or load panel. There are also some more advanced charge controllers that you can connect directly.
What’s The Difference Between A 12V / 24V / 48V Solar Panel System?
The first difference is the cost.
To better understand the relation between each factor we have this formula:
Power (W) = Volts (V) x Amps (A)
The higher the voltage, the lower amperage you need to get the same amount of power.
The voltage refers to how much force the electricity moves through the wire.
The higher the force, the thinner the wire you can use to get the same amount of output.
The thickness, or gauge, of the wire depends on the amperage.
With lower amperage, you can use smaller wires. You can also use a smaller charge controller.
Saving money on some wiring and a regulator doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings.
The second factor is efficiency.
If you have three batteries it’s better to connect them in series than in parallel. The third battery will feed off the others and cause them to degrade.
A side-effect of having your batteries in series is increasing the voltage.
If you have two 12V batteries in series, they become one 24V battery.
To be efficient you will want your solar panels to also be 24V. This reduces the amount of work the charge controller must do.
Also, you lose less energy to heat with higher voltage systems, because of… science.
There are some disadvantages to higher voltage systems. Such as if you have a high voltage battery system, you must have a higher voltage solar panel array.
If you have a 24V battery bank, you cannot use a 12V solar panel.
You would need at least two 12V panels in series to give you the voltage the batteries need to charge.
The second snag is you can’t run 12V appliances from a 24V system without a 12V converter.
Yes it’s an extra cost. But the price of a converter is negligible compared to what you save from using smaller gauge wire and a smaller charge controller.
If you have a small system where you only need to run a few items under 600W, then a 12V system will be more than enough.
But if you’re looking for a little more power for a boat or an RV, then a 24V system will do a much better job at a much better price.
If you want to install a whole house system, then you’ll want to go with 48V to have an even higher efficiency and lower cost.
Be careful when working with anything over 30V. You are now in high-voltage territory and face the risk of death if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Seek a professional if you’re trying to do a bigger project and lack the knowledge and experience necessary to be safe. It’s not the time to experiment.
How Do You Clean A Solar Panel?
Maintaining your investment is as important as making the right investment in the first place.
What good does it do to pay for a solar system that only produces half of the rated output because you don’t clean it?
Cleaning your panels at least once per year should be enough.
Ideally, cleaning them every three months will give you the best performance.
This is especially true if you live near a busy street or highway. Your panels will build up a thick layer of dirt that will reduce the efficiency of your system. A thin layer of dirt can reduce performance by 20%.
You should clean them when they are cool. So the best time of day would be early morning or later in the evening.
You will need to get a good amount of purified water to prevent any residue or mineral build up that will degrade the glass and can damage your panels.
You will need to scrub the panels. But be sure to use a very soft bristled brush. A stiff brush can scratch the glass and, again, reduce the efficiency of the panel.
Do not use a squeegee or anything else that could scratch the glass. It’s very easy for a pebble or hard grains from trees to stick to your panel. Dragging a squeegee across the surface could cause irreparable scratches.
Do not use any soaps, detergents or cleaning solvents. Again, just purified water and a soft brush or shammy.
Think about the glass as you would your camera lens or TV screen. They’re very delicate, and need the proper care to make sure they’re producing the most amount of power.
Do I Need An External Battery?
You can charge a device that uses direct current directly from a solar panel, but it is not recommended.
The first reason is that you can only charge something during the day when there is optimal sunlight.
If your devices require alternating current, then you cannot charge them without an inverter.
But even then, the irregularity of power could damage your electronics.
The second reason is that when you want to power something when there is no sun, you will be S.O.L.
While batteries are expensive, they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to reducing the headache of not having one.
If you would like to find the best battery for your solar system, then you can find a full review of our most recommended batteries here.
Our Choices Of The Best Portable Solar Panels
The Best Portable Solar Panel | Most Versatile
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 50W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand With Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
We found this Renogy 100 watt foldable solar panel kit to be a great option if you need a powerful solar panel that’s easy to transport and sets up quickly.
Monocrystalline is the most popular crystal choice for solar panel users. They are single crystal cells and believed to be more efficient than polycrystalline that are fragments of cells fused together, and thus less efficient.
But, recent tests show that polycrystalline is more efficient by 15% to 20%.
We don’t have an explanation for it, but it is what it is.
We found that this Renogy tested to show a production of 13.4V and up to 5 amps (A), or 67W, in less than ideal sunlight. With a standard charge controller, this is great performance.
It could get over 70W in ideal light and with an MPPT controller.
But we recommend this Renogy 100W 12V monocrystalline panel not just because of its single cell construction, but the combination of quality and portable design.
This foldable solar panel kit has everything a normal solar panel would have, including a glass surface and a sturdy aluminum frame.
It comes with its own waterproof charge controller and connector cables. It is truly a plug and play setup.
And yes, the charge controller is actually waterproof.
The design includes a rigid and adjustable kickstand. You can adjust the positioning both laterally and vertically throughout the day to follow the sun for optimal charging.
It’s also a great option if you’re looking for the best portable solar panels for RV or boat use because you don’t have to mount it.
If you want to sell your rig later, you can take the solar panel with you.
It folds up quickly and you store it in a hard case that protects the glass.
With the benefit of this durability and quality construction, you are going to pay for it in weight.
The total weight comes in at 26lbs.
But it is cheaper than its rivals, and better quality.
The peace of mind you get from a quality product that holds up in storms, doesn’t fall over from wind, and survives rain makes up for the additional weight.
The real kicker is that it’s compatible with any type of battery, flooded, sealed, gel and lithium.
One drawback with these solar suitcases is the difficulty in wiring them together. The length of the wire is too short.
But if you swapped it out for longer wire then yes you could connect them in series or parallel.
If you were to connect them in series you would need to swap out the included charge controller. Instead, you would need an MPPT charge controller to handle the larger load.
Just don’t be upset if you void the warranty with your tinkering.
Renogy provides a 5-year workmanship warranty and a 25-year performance warranty.
After 10 years the panel should be working at 90% efficiency and at least 80% after 25 years.
- Plug and play
- Highly efficient power output – Up to 73W
- Rigid frame construction provides optimal durability
- Provided hard case protects the glass and frame from damage in transport
- Adjustable rigid kickstand
- Includes waterproof charge controller
- Compatible with any battery, flooded/sealed lead-acid, gel, or lithium
- 5-year material warranty. 25-year performance warranty
- Heavier, nearly 26lbs
- Provided cables too short for series or parallel use
The Best Portable Solar Panel | Lightweight
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel For Explorer 160/240/500/1000 Power Station, Foldable US Solar Cell Solar Charger With USB Outputs For Phones (Can’t Charge Explorer 440/ PowerPro)
Next on our list is the Jackery SolarSaga 18V 100W portable solar panel.
This is their second version, and they’ve made some great improvements.
The most important thing in any solar panel is how much energy it produces, and this little panel does well.
We’ve seen these monocrystalline panels produce 63W of output with a standard controller in ideal sunlight. We’ve seen up to 73W with an MPPT controller.
Beware there are similar products like the Rockpals 100W foldable solar panel that are not compatible with MPPT controllers.
Keep the charge controller you have or intend to use in mind when choosing a panel.
The Jackery is super lightweight, weighing in at just under 11lbs.
It doesn’t come with a case, but it closes on itself and snaps shut with magnets to protect the cells from damage during transport.
It’s convenient to carry and a great choice if you’re looking for the best portable solar panels for camping.
The Jackery also comes with built-in USB ports that allow you to charge your smaller devices without having to wait to charge a battery.
If you need more power you can connect it with another panel in parallel for faster charging.
You will need a Y-Branch cable but you can get one from Jackery free of charge if you buy two SolarSaga panels.
But, you cannot connect them in series if you’re looking to use them for a higher voltage battery.
One thing to note is Jackery replaced their Anderson connectors with 8mm connectors to limit the use of their panels with other non-Jackery generators and batteries.
Also, it can’t charge their own Jackery Explorer 440/ PowerPro power stations if you have one of those.
Luckily, their other generators are pretty good. But, it will be a headache if you already have a generator that’s not a Jackery.
Another drawback is that it is not waterproof. Despite claiming it is “water resistant” it clearly states in their manual that it should not be exposed to water or wet conditions.
This makes it less ideal for mounting setups in RV or boat use. You also shouldn’t leave it out if it starts to rain.
Jackery provides a 2-year warranty, which isn’t great. Be sure to return it if it’s not working out of the box.
- Highly efficient power output – up to 75W
- Lightweight – Less than 11lbs
- Magnetic locking handle makes it easy to pack and carry
- Can connect in parallel with another Jackery panel for higher output
- Not easily compatible with non-Jackery brand power stations/batteries
- Not waterproof
- Does not have a rigid frame making it less durable
- Kickstand is flimsy and can easily fall over with wind
- Plastic casing does not do well to stay closed and protect the connector ports
- Does not come with a charge controller
- Only comes with a 2-year warranty
The Best Portable Solar Panel | Most Efficient
RICH SOLAR 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel High Efficiency Solar Module Charge Battery For RV Trailer Camper Marine Off Grid
For those of you familiar with solar panel technology it may surprise you to learn that in a side-by-side test polycrystalline solar panels outperformed monocrystalline panels with the same watt rating.
In partly cloudy skies they produced 70W compared to the monocrystalline panels that only reached 57W.
All things being equal, the polycrystalline outperforms the monocrystalline more than 20%.
If you’re not familiar with solar technology, monocrystalline has always been thought to be the superior crystal, and thus comes with a higher price tag.
So we’re happy to tell you that you can save a little money and go with the less popular choice, and get more bang for your buck.
Rich Solar was among the polycrystalline competitors. It performed equally as well, and is the cheaper brand when compared to the Renogy 100W Polycrystalline.
While the Renogy has a slightly lower performance, it does come better packaged. If that’s important to you, then you may want to pay extra to get the Renogy.
But Rich Solar has a superior diode box that can handle 1000V compared to Renogy’s 600V. It also comes with higher quality cabling and more mounting holes.
Now, you may notice these panels do not fold or have kickstands like the previous options.
While they’re not as heavy as the Renogy foldable panel, they may not be the best choice to lug with you on a camping trip.
But they are a great option to travel with if you want to mount them to your RV or boat.
The Rich Solar polycrystalline panel is waterproof, and sturdy enough that it can withstand the elements. So there’s no problem leaving it outdoors unlike the Jackery.
You can also connect them with ease in series or parallel to build more robust systems for a home backup system.
Using smaller 100W panels also makes them easy to configure and gives you more installation options compared to larger panels.
You will need to get your own charge controller and other accessories.
But overall, this is a great option for anyone looking to get started on building their solar independence.
- Highly efficient power output – up to 70W in partly cloudy conditions
- Lightweight – Around 17lbs
- Easily connects in series or parallel for building more robust systems
- Very inexpensive compared to competitors
- Compatible with any battery, flooded/sealed lead-acid, gel, or lithium
- 5-year material warranty / 25-year performance warranty
- Not compact for easy hand held carry
- Does not come with a kickstand
- Poor packaging – While they have gotten better Rich Solar has been known to skimp on the packaging. Be sure to check that it’s not damaged upon delivery, or pay more and get the Renogy
The Best Portable Solar Panel | Flexible
Getting a flexible solar panel is a good option if weight and aerodynamics are important in how you intend to use the panel.
With that said, there are some disadvantages.
Solar cells need to give off extra heat so they do not degrade.
Flexible solar panels are not designed to dissipate heat away from the solar cell and degrade much faster than normal solar panels.
They do have great power output. The 100W Rich Solar panel clocks at 104W in direct sunlight. But again they do not last as long as their rigid framed cousins.
While rigid solar panels in robust frames can last as long as 25 years, flexible solar panels have a much shorter lifespan. The cells can degrade to a point where you can no longer use them within one to five years.
Flexible solar panels are not inherently bad. It just depends on what your needs are and what you are willing to sacrifice.
Make sure your choice of manufacturer provides a warranty. At least if they begin to fail during the warranty period you can swap them out for new ones. This could keep you going for a while, despite the hassle of having to ship the old cells back.
The Rich Solar Flexible panels come with a 25-year performance warranty.
So if they do degrade sooner than expected, or as expected, then you can swap them out for new ones and keep your system up and running at no extra cost.
Just be sure to not drill any holes in them and void the warranty when you’re mounting them to your bug out vehicle.
Also be careful on how much bend you force on the panel. Most flexible solar panels on the market are not made to bend more than 30 degrees.
If you over bend your panel you may crack a cell. When you damage one cell you will decrease the output of the entire panel.
Unfortunately, we have not found a warranty yet that will cover user error.
The flex rating on the Renogy says it can bend up to 248 degrees, but we don’t recommend testing it.
It’s hard to imagine any application with the need to flex more than 30 degrees.
So we find the Rich Solar panel is still among the best portable flexible solar panels for RVs, boat, or bug out vehicles when it comes to overall power output and price.
- Up to 30 degrees of flexibility
- ETFE laminated durable membrane
- Super high power output – over 100W in ideal sunlight
- Super lightweight – less than 5lbs
- Very cost effective
- Can be wired in series or parallel
- Compatible with any battery, flooded/sealed lead-acid, gel, or lithium
- 25-year performance warranty
- Degrades much quicker than rigid solar panels with heat dissipating construction
The Best Portable Solar Panel | Trickle Charger
Now this is not your traditional solar panel to use in a solar system.
But it is a handy solar tool useful for small jobs that don’t need a full solar setup.
This would be the best portable solar panel for car or marine batteries. It won’t charge them if they’re dead, but it will keep them from self-discharging when not in use.
Modern day cars, RVs, and boats have many controls that run in the background that will drain down your battery if you don’t run the motor often.
Having this little charger will save you from having to hook up a larger panel or connect it to the system just to keep the battery maintained.
Not only does it save you the headache of dealing with a dead battery, but it also preserves the battery’s life.
If you have batteries in storage that you’re saving for a “rainy day,” then this will also keep them topped off and ready to use when you need them.
It’s fairly straight forward, and comes with both clamps and a cigarette lighter for easy hookup.
It also comes with nifty suction cups you can use to attach the panel to the inside of your windshield. This is handy to leave it charging throughout the day without worrying about it getting stolen.
It can produce about 50W per day with 5 hours of sunlight. This should be more than enough to keep a battery with a good state of charge maintained while it’s not in use.
Be sure to get a charge controller to prevent it from overcharging your battery.
Just make sure the key is not in the ignition if you use the cigarette lighter adapter to make sure there is a path to the battery. Or you may need to turn the key to the accessory position if necessary.
If the outlet is powered only with ignition on, you won’t be able to use the trickle charger through the cigarette lighter.
- Very small and lightweight
- Produces enough power to maintain a charged battery’s state of charge without the need of a full solar system setup
- Much more affordable than a full solar power station setup
- Not powerful enough to recharge a dead battery within a day
If you’re having trouble deciding which is the best portable solar panel for you, keep in mind that it’s handy to have a combination of mountable and standalone panels.
The extra versatility will help especially early or late in the day when the sun is not high in the sky.
If you need help deciding which battery you should get to store the power you generate with your new solar panels you can find some helpful information in this article here.
You will also want to learn about solar charge controllers and how they work to protect your battery from irregular voltage spikes from your solar panels.
There are also battery management systems, battery monitors, temperature sensors and 24V to 12V converters to consider as well when connecting your solar panels to you solar battery bank.
Getting the energy out of your battery and usable by your sensitive electronics will call for an inverter to change the DC current of the battery to AC current that’s safe for your standard electronics and appliances.
Check out our article on solar batteries to get our recommendations for the other components you should consider to complete you solar system.
Well folks, that wraps up our talk today about the best solar panels. We hope you understand that “best” is relative and there are only the best options for your situation.
We try to provide the most information possible to help you solve your specific needs.
If we had to choose just one portable solar panel for any situation, we would go with the Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel.
It’s robust enough to power larger power banks, while portable enough to fold up and put in your car, camper, RV or boat without a hassle.
We also like that it’s compatible with any battery or solar charger unlike the Jackery. Despite Jackery being a quality manufacturer, we like options, and we think you will too.
Renogy also provides you with a 100% waterproof kit and a 25-year performance warranty, whereas Jackery does not.
Overall, it’s the best middle-of-the-road option for many situations, and you can depend on Renogy to stand behind their products.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below in the comments section and we or our other subscribers will be happy to give you our two cents.
Until next time.