Harness the sun’s energy while you travel.
ByAmber Nolan, Published August 9, 2021
Whether you’re planning a road trip, sailing adventure, beach getaway, or camping trip, keeping electronics charged up in remote areas can be challenging. Solar energy is an excellent, eco-friendly option for staying powered up on the go, but traditional panels are bulky and designed to stay fixed in one place. However, a large number of portable solar panels are now available that are lightweight, powerful, and built to withstand the elements. They’re also compact enough that you can keep them stored away for use in the event of an emergency power outage. We’ve sorted through a variety of products to find the best portable solar panels.
Best Overall: Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable Solar Panel (~ $200)
For a portable panel that’s ideal for van life and recharging RV or boat batteries, the Renogy folding 100-watt panel is built to withstand the elements. Measuring 40 inches long x 27 inches wide (when open), the panel is extremely efficient – even in low-light areas or cloudy days. The unit includes a corrosion-resistant aluminum stand and rugged protective case with heavy duty handles and latches. The Renogy panel can be purchased with or without the solar controller and can be combined with a power station for the full off-grid package. The panel weighs just under 27 pounds.
Best for RVs: Go Power! GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit with 10 Amp Solar Controller (~$576)
Weighing 28.66 pounds, the Go Power! GP-PSK- 130 is one of the heavier options out there, but it’s a great match for RVers who require a little extra off-grid power to top off batteries (or if an RV park bills for electric separately). The 130-watt panel delivers an impressive 6.9 amps per hour, has a built-in solar controller with a digital screen to monitor input and transmit power, plus adapter cables to connect to a battery.
The self-standing panels can easily fold in two and fit into the included case for easy storage – making them a great alternative to mounting to the roof.
Best Solar Kit with Battery: Jackery 1000W Peak Solar Generator SG550 with 100W Solar Panel (~$839)
If you’re interested in a solar panel for traveling but also require a battery charge station, Jackery Power Outdoors is a leader in in off-grid power supplies. The Solar Generator SG550 comes with a whopping 100-watt panel that folds shut and can easily be toted away using the carry handle.
The power station's 500-watt continuous output can charge a laptop at least seven times before it requires a recharge. The panel also has a built-in MPPT module that monitors voltage and output of the solar panel, adding up to 23% more efficiency, and has the ability to charge up to seven devices at one time.
Best Budget: Dokio 160W Portable Foldable Solar Panel (~$170)
Despite providing an impressive 160 watts of power, the Dokio Portable Monocrystalline Controller is a surprisingly affordable option for those shopping for panels on a budget. The folding panel is lightweight (just 9 pounds) and easy to carry, but must be positioned in the sun by leaning it against a tent, car, or other sturdy surface (no kickstand is included).
The panels can be connected directly to most power stations, but if you’re powering up a battery, alligator clips and a solar controller are included. Although water resistant, the exterior is made of nylon and should not be left outside when not in use.
Best for Camping: EcoFlow 110W Solar Panel (~$399)
When bringing a solar panel on camping trips you’ll want to look for something that’s lightweight, durable, and powerful enough to charge your cameras, portable speakers, lights, and other camping gadgets. The Eco Flow Portable Solar Panel has two different sizes: 110 watt or 160 watts with a high conversion efficiency up to 22%. It also includes an MC4 cable connector and carry case.
If your camping trip takes you across rivers or kayaking across lakes, the panel has an IP67 waterproof rating, so it can hold up to Mother Nature better than many of its competitors. The unit consists of four folding panels and weighs around 14 pounds.