Reviews of the Best Portable Solar Panels for your RV, Camping, and Home Use – Top Rated Portable Solar Kits for On-The-Go Electricity

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Portable solar panels are a bit of a mystery for a lot of people. And before I started researching and reviewing panels for myself, I had no idea why anybody would need a portable panel versus a fixed or permanent panel.

But as I’ve gotten into using solar power for things besides powering an attic fan or charging a cellphone, I’ve realized that solar panels are great for camping, RVing, and a host of other things. Those tend to be moving activities, however, so portable panels are a lot more practical.

So, if you’re looking for a little info and portable solar panel reviews to help you find the right options, you’ve come to the right place.

Quick-Find Best Portable Solar Panels Table

Image Product
  • Foldable, easy to carry
  • Kit with everything you need
  • Amazing quality
  • Foldable, easy to carry
  • Kit with everything you need
  • Amazing quality
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  • High quality, basic panel
  • Great warranty
  • Can connect multiple for more power
  • High quality, basic panel
  • Great warranty
  • Can connect multiple for more power
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  • Super portable, suitcase style
  • Great for low light areas
  • Includes charge controller
  • Super portable, suitcase style
  • Great for low light areas
  • Includes charge controller
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  • Flexible
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Very easy to set up
  • Flexible
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Very easy to set up
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  • Small but effective
  • Budget-friendly
  • Great for maintaining batteries
  • Small but effective
  • Budget-friendly
  • Great for maintaining batteries
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  • Powerful
  • Full kit included
  • Very versatile
  • Powerful
  • Full kit included
  • Very versatile
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What Can You Use Portable Solar Energy to Power?

Solar panels can be connected to batteries to charge systems like RVs or they can be hooked up to generators designed to harness the power provided by this sun electricity. This energy then can be used to power pretty much anything you could want.

A set of portable solar panels used for camping best portable solar panels

Small Electronics

Small electronics, like phones, laptops, iPads, radios, motion sensor lights, and camping lanterns are all easily powered by even the smallest solar panels or power banks.

You have to use some precautions, of course, though. Always avoid plugging electronics into extension cords when using solar power. This helps to ensure that your expensive electronics don’t get fried.

RVing

And since we’re talking about portable solar power units, I definitely want to mention that RVing is one of the most popular uses for solar power.

You can run your whole RV setup from the right portable solar panel kit, or just the things like your coffee maker and portable TV that make parking in your grandkids’ driveway a little more appealing.

Your home-away-from-home and camping days can be completely powered by the right setup, as long as you’ve got enough sun exposure for your solar panels.

Tent Camping

If you’re going for an extended camping trip, you can easily pack along some solar panels to power your setup. Personally, I love solar power for camping because it means I can use whatever site is available – which is especially handy in summer when the primitive spots might be all that’s left on a busy weekend.

Plus, of course, you reduce your carbon footprint while roughing it – even if you’re not completely roughing it.

An orange tent with a light glowing inside at dusk near the Grand Teton mountains best portable solar panels

Boating and Fishing

When you go boating, a solar-powered system is a great option for keeping your cabin cool, your freezer running for all those fish you catch, and, of course, lowering your costs in fuel.

Hunting Lodges

Off-the-grid hunting lodges are another one of my favorite uses for portable solar panels.

If I’m just renting for a weekend, but want to reduce my footprint, or am using a cabin that doesn’t already have electricity, portable panels are the perfect option.

Of course, you need a generator and the full setup to make it work, but those aren’t too hard to fix.

How to Find the Best Setup for Your Needs

Before you get to the portable solar panel reviews below, you need to understand what kind of setup you need.

There are a few ways to determine exactly how much power you’ll need. Think through these needs to figure that out.

1. What Will You Use the Panels For?

First off, you need to decide ahead of time what you’ll be using the panels for.

Are you thinking tent camping, RVing, boating, portable setup for whatever, or something else entirely?

The precise setup you’re looking for will be determined by this understanding.

2. How Much Wattage Do You Need?

To figure out the wattage you need, you need to figure out the appliances and electronics you’ll be using with your solar setup.

A rough list of wattage needed for the most common items folks power with solar power systems include the items below:

  • Ceiling fan: 10-50W
  • DVD Player: 15W
  • CB Radio: 5W
  • Modem: 7W
  • Laptop: 25-100W
  • Drill (1/4 inch) 250W
  • Toaster Oven 1200W
  • Blu-ray Player: 15W
  • Tablet Recharge: 8W
  • Satellite Dish: 30W
  • Cable Box: 35W
  • TV – LCD: 150W
  • LED Light bulb (40-watt equivalent): 10W
  • LCD Monitor: 100W
  • Smart Phone Recharge: 6W
  • Coffee Machine 1000W
  • Fridge (16 cubic feet) 1200W

3. How Many Panels are You Using?

The final question to ask is how many panels you are interested in setting up. Panels can have wattage as low as 20W and go up to 100W each.

If you’re just looking to recharge your cellphone on a camping trip, a single low-wattage panel will do it for you. If, however, you’re looking to power a whole large campsite, RV, or hunting lodge, you’ll need a few 100-watt panels.

Think through the list of appliances and electronics and determine how many watt hours you need per day to meet your needs. The reviews for each panel will generally tell you how many watt hours they provide.

Types of Solar Panels

QUICK NOTE:

While there are small mobile solar panel options that are built into power banks or plug directly into cellphones for on the go adventure, we’re talking about the panels large enough to power RV appliances, battery chargers for cars, and other similar equipment that requires much higher wattage.

Even though they’re portable, they harness enough juice that you can power a whole heck of a lot more than a single, small wattage electronic like a cellphone or laptop.

There are multiple types of solar panels, but the three most commonly found include:

  • Monocrystalline
  • Amorphous
  • Polycrystalline

Each type of panel is manufactured differently, so the price range is different, as is the durability and efficiency.

The Amorphous panel, for example, is the cheapest option in solar panels. They’re made for trickle charging – which means they charge at the same rate that the source discharges – and they aren’t always that practical for most situations. They’re just not as efficient as the other two most common options. However, they do work well in cloudy conditions.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are the most popular of the three because they are the most efficient. They more quickly recharge and generally fit more needs for powering equipment, but they tend to be more expensive since they require more work in manufacturing.

What Else Do You Need in Your Portable Solar Kit?

To fully power any set of electronics, RV, or boat, you’ll need more than just solar panels.

Some panels, however, come in kits of either all the necessary items or just some. Be careful to know exactly what you’re purchasing, especially if you’re on a time crunch.

Solar Wiring

After you’ve gotten the right panels, you’ll also need to have solar wiring. Just note that there’s no special wire made exclusively for solar-powered systems. There are, however, different wires that are rated for different uses.

For example, with RV solar panels, you need THHN 10/2 tray cables because they’re rated to handle the temperature extremes that solar powering systems encounter in a larger setup.

When it comes to the charge control and battery bank, any type of DC stranded wire works. Many prefer 8-gauge, but 6-gauge works as well. Both types connect easily, though 10-gauge is easier in most situations.

Solar Power Inverter

For your solar power setup, you’ll need an inverter to convert your 12-volt DC power into the 120-volt AC power that runs most appliances and tech.

Digital Monitoring Unit

Another thing you’ll want for your system is a digital monitoring system. This allows you to track things like voltage, output, charge levels, and cumulative amp hours for the whole system.

Mounting Hardware

Finally, to put your solar panels in place, you’ll need to verify they either have a stand or come with some kind of mounting brackets.

Even for my RVing adventures, I prefer portable panels because I can use the same panels for other setups. This means I look for more flexible mounting options than typical brackets, though you may not be as concerned with this.

Just make sure that whatever mounting equipment you use, everything is going to be absolutely secure. This is where real-life user reviews come in especially handy. Check the latest thoughts from consumers to make sure there isn’t a current streak of poorly made brackets being shipped out.

Flexible vs. Fixed Frame Solar Panels

Sometimes, you might have need for a flexible panel versus a solid or fixed panel.

Most monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels use rigid – or fixed – frames and many amorphous panels are flexible up to 30 degrees. A few monocrystalline panels may also be flexible, but they’ll be more expensive than the amorphous.

Generally speaking, fixed or “standard” panels are your best bet, but there are times when flexible panels are more useful.

For example, if you want to install a panel in an awkward position, a flexible panel is going to be easier to place because of its ability to bend and adapt to the awkward setup. They’re also great for any situation when you need to replace and remove the panel frequently.

Portrait Of Family Enjoying Camping Holiday In Camper Van best portable solar panels

Reviews of the Best Portable Solar Panels and How We Chose Them

I recently reviewed a number of solar panels for RVs, so I’ve gotten pretty familiar with the excellent brands in the industry.

But wanting new reviews and to make sure I’m suggesting the absolute best in the portable category, I researched again and looked through recent reviews from others as well as from real-life users.

I narrowed down the lists of hundreds of options to just this handful by assessing the basic needs of most campers, RV users, and small power needs of home owners.

The kits and solar panels recommended below are the best of the best and meet all of the qualifications I listed for finding the right options.

#1. Zamp 80P Portable Charge Kit – Best 80-Watt Portable Solar Kit (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Zamp solar 80P Portable Charge Kit

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I knew that Zamp has some offerings, so I specifically looked through some Zamp solar reviews to find their best options to compare to other panels. I dug through tons of products and found that Zamp offers some really great options.

What I found was that this kit actually blew all the other options away!

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Wattage: 80W
  • Number of Panels: 1
  • Flexible: No
  • Type of Panel: Foldable
  • Weight: 26.3 pounds

The kit is pretty much all you could need for a full solar charging system, or works great for an add-on to another system.

The kit comes with a 10-Amp solar charge controller that’s mounted on the EZ-View swinging bracket as well as a carrying case that keeps it secure and safe when not in use.

The Zamp Solar 80P controller is a 5-stage, weatherproof, PWM solar charge controller with a large display that lets you see how the battery is doing. It also provides an instant view of amps from the panel, how many amps charged the battery while connected, errors, and indications of charging or full.

The kit provides 4.6 amps of charging power per hour when exposed to direct sunlight, with an average of about 36 hours in summer or 18 in winter.

All in all, this kit is a great starter or add-on for just about any situation when you need portable solar power, and you won’t need to go out and buy a ton of extras to get it working right off the bat.

Highly recommended.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on Amazon.com <<

#2. WindyNation 100-Watt Solar Panel – Best 100W Standard Panel

WindyNation 100 Watt 100W Solar Panel

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

For a basic, straight up, fixed/standard 100W solar panel, the WindyNation 100W Solar Panel is my top choice.

It’s designed specifically for use with RVs, cabins, boats, homes, and backup power use in mind, so it’s incredibly versatile and easy to install.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Number of Panels: 1
  • Flexible: No
  • Type of Panel: Standard
  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Comes with: 25-year warranty

The WindyNation 100W provides you with up 100 watts of clean power and is designed to be used with 12-volt batteries. The panel provides between 300 and 600-watt hours of use per day, depending on the sunlight levels for the day.

The panel is made of Grade-A solar cells with heavy-duty anodized aluminum for the frame, as you’d expect from the high-quality expectations that accompany the name WindyNation. The panel comes with the company’s standard 5-year warranty for parts and labor and 25-year warranty for the panel.

If you want more than a single 100W panel, you can link up to 4 of these for 400 watts via 24 or 48-volt battery setup.

The final bonus is that this panel is budget-friendly and reasonably light, so most anybody can afford to use and set up these panels.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on Amazon.com <<

#3. Renogy 100W Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with Charge Controller – Best 100-Watt Foldable Solar Panel

Renogy 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Charge 20A Voyager Waterproof Controller Solar Suitcase

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

For an extremely portable, high-powered solar panel, the Renogy 100W Eclipse is a fantastic solar suitcase option. This folds down into an easy-to-maneuver suitcase style panel that goes anywhere with you.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Number of Panels: 1
  • Flexible: No
  • Type of Panel: Foldable
  • Weight: 11.7 pounds
  • Comes with: charge controller, 25-year warranty

The Renogy 100W Eclipse Solar Panel is an extremely portable, versatile solar panel. The panel is compatible with sealed, gel, lithium, or flooded batteries, meaning you can use this for just about any system possible.

And it’s perfect for use in low-light environments, like the far north or rainy Mobile, Alabama.

The solar panel comes with a negative-ground charge controller to make it compatible with a number of situations, including RVs, boats, trailers, and more and uses an LCD screen to show off information easily.

The charge controller provides overcharge protection as well, which means you run a lower risk for fire starts than other models might have.

The stand that comes with this panel is an adjustable, corrosion-resistant aluminum piece that has a heavy-duty handle and latches to keep this suitcase solar panel in tip-top form for many years. Plus, notice the 25-year warranty.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on Amazon.com <<

#4. ALLPOWERS Solar Panel Bendable 100W – Best Flexible Portable Solar Panel

ALLPOWERS Solar Panel 100W 18V 12V Bendable Flexible

Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Of all the RV flexible solar panels we looked at, the Allpowers Solar Panel 100W Bendable was hands-down the best option we could find.

It’s lightweight – like crazy lightweight – easy to install, easy-to-use, and higher-quality than the many amorphous flexible panels the other guys make.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Number of Panels: 1
  • Flexible: Yes
  • Type of Panel: Monocrystalline
  • Weight: 4.7 lbs.
  • Comes with: 1 100W panel, 18-month warranty

The Allpowers 100W Bendable solar panel is extremely flexible and lightweight, and therefore one of the most portable options around.

The panel itself is incredibly “bendy,” meaning it’s extremely easy to install as it bends into awkward positions and tight situations.

The panel weighs less than five pounds, which also means almost anyone can install it, another feature we love.

Plus, since this is a monocrystalline panel, it’s very durable and can handle most forms of foul weather and is more efficient for collecting and converting solar power.

The panel is also cost-effective, so it’s honestly one of the most highly rated panels we could suggest for anyone, even on a tight budget.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on Amazon.com <<

#5. WindyNation 30-Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel – Best 30 Watt Panel

WindyNation 30 Watt

Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Sometimes, you just need a low-wattage panel for running smaller appliances and electronics – and saving some money! – so I thought I’d find a low-wattage option for the budget conscious.

As I dug through the panels I’ve reviewed before and the new ones available, I found this one from Windy Nations, and can happily recommend it as the best 30-watt portable solar panel around.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Wattage: 30W
  • Number of Panels: 1
  • Flexible: No
  • Type of Panel: Standard, Polycrystalline
  • Weight: 6.6 pounds
  • Comes with: 25-year warranty

The Windy Nation 30W portable panel is a portable solar panels camping enthusiasts will love. It’s lightweight, easy-to-use, and budget-friendly.

They’re perfect for maintaining 12V batteries in RVs, boats, gates, cabins, or to use for backup or remote power.

The panel provides between 100 and 200-watt hours of power per day if the panel receives full charging from sunlight. Lower light days will produce less power, of course, but that’s going to be in the 100W range mostly.

The solar cells are Grade A, while the frame is a heavy-duty anodized aluminum material with a five-year warranty covering parts and labor, and a twenty-five year warranty on the panel.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on Amazon.com <<

#6. Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar RV Kit with Adventurer -The Best 200 Watt Kit

Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystallin Panel Solar RV Kit

Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

If you need a pretty high power output each day and are ready to invest in a full kit – which will save you a bit – then you’ve got to look into the Renogy 200 Watts Monocrystalline Solar RV Kit.

It comes with everything you need to get set up, including the Adventurer PWM flush mount charge controller, brackets for mounting, and the cable and connectors.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Wattage: 200W
  • Number of Panels: 2
  • Flexible: No
  • Type of Panel: Standard, Monocrystalline
  • Weight: 33 pounds
  • Comes with: 2 100W panels, Adventurer Li 30A PWM Flush Mount Charge Controller, mounting Z brackets, cable & connectors

While the kit is technically set up for RVs, this can be used for a number of other setups as well.

It puts out 1000Wh per day when fully charged, which means it can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in less than 2 hours on a sunny day.

That makes it great for RVs, but also for small cabins, boats, and other electronic-heavy outfits.

The various components of the kit make this a great value for the price, and honestly has everything you need to get set up for your RV, hunting lodge, long-term/deep-woods campsite, or boat.

Plus, if you need to expand to a fuller setup for higher wattage, you can add on another 200W for a total of 400W.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on Amazon.com <<

How to Choose the Best Portable Solar Panels

As I’ve mentioned above, there are a few things to look at before finalizing your decision on the right portable solar cells for your needs. Here are a few of the things I look at for making my own decisions on the matter.

Budget-Suitable

Beyond the things mentioned above on daily power consumption, et cetera, making sure that the solar panels meet your financial needs is also important.

Solar panels are a bit of an up-front investment as you not only need the panels – which usually run between $100 and $300 apiece – but you need the rest of the setup, which can cost a bundle at once.

For a great starter project, I’d recommend slowly acquiring the items you need if you’re ready to start but haven’t been able to save up. Or, even better, start out with a kit.

Portable RV solar panel kits tend to be lower cost than buying items individually, though they may not have everything required or the right panels for your long-term goals.

You’ll Also Need to Consider These Things

As you get your setup going, or purchase a kit, you’ll also need to make sure that you’ve got these issues in mind.

  • Charge controller that suits your system
  • Portability and ease-of-installation
  • Power inverter that suits your system
  • Battery that holds enough charge for whatever you’re running

With all good things, there are some disadvantages and challenges as well. You’ll want to keep these in mind as you decide how much energy, money, and time to invest in your solar-powered setup.

You Can Run an RV or Campsite, but Not a Whole House

The first thing to realize is that these solar panels and kits unless you get enough to actually run an entire household as a backup generator system, are not going to run your whole household.

They’ll work for an RV while parked somewhere or for a partial backup, but your entire household requires a lot more power than you’d typically worry about with a solar power system.

If you’re getting portable panels for home, I’d instead recommend planning on running a couple of critical appliances – like the fridge or medical equipment – instead of the whole place.

Solar Power Isn’t a Quick Recharge

The other thing to remember is that when you set up a system with solar power, you won’t have an immediate charge.

This is not a walk out of the store and run a campsite situation. You need a full charge time – usually a day for most panels – to get things up and running.

So expect setup time as well as charge time before you start counting on solar power to run your RV, boat, or home appliances.

How to Hook Up Your New Solar Power System

The basic setup is usually pretty easy to put together. Everything is designed to work together with a variety of brands, so you don’t have to have only one brand of products. The items “snap” together into a full unit.

The setup usually has these items for the full unit:

  • Battery(s)
  • Inverter
  • Solar Panel(s)
  • Solar Charger

You’re likely to need these tools:

  • Side cutters
  • Write strippers
  • Philip’s head screwdriver

Step-by-Step Setup

1. You’ll start with connecting the battery(s) to the solar charger or generator that you’re using.

The solar charger usually has six terminals that are labeled either negative or positive. They’re also usually illustrated with a portion of the system so that you can figure out how to connect everything together. The terminals are labeled for the solar panel, battery, and the devices that you’re plugging in.

2. After you’ve connected the battery, the display should light up.

3. Once this has happened, you can connect the solar panels.

4. Next, you’ll connect the inverter, if you need one. Read the instructions that come with your equipment to verify this need.

5. Finally, you can connect your electronics or appliances to the rig.

What Exactly is a Solar Panel?

A solar panel is a sheet of photovoltaic cells or solar cells, that are placed together into a frame – generally metal – that work together to collect solar energy.

Once the completely free, renewable energy is collected from the sun, the photovoltaic cells work to convert the solar energy into useable electricity that can power electronics and appliances.

How do Solar Panels Work to Power Your Electronics and Appliances?

Some locations on the planet are more likely to highly benefit from solar power.

Cloudy, shady spots will receive less solar energy, and therefore not produce as much electricity through solar panels – think those Russian white nights and 6-month long winters in the far north of the Yukon.

But most places on the planet receive enough sun year-round to power at least basic electronics and appliances on a single day’s charge of sunlight.

The basics of solar energy are easy to understand: solar panels pull in energy from the sun and convert it to useable electricity.

The sun shines in most places on the planet, and this means that the supply of power is almost endless, if the right wattage of panels is being used. All without damaging the environment.

Getting the Right Setup for Your Portable Solar Power System

Portable solar panels for electricity are a life saver for a lot of us. Travelers always on the go, campers in the deep woods, motorhome life-stylists, and generally people who want to help the environment by cutting back on their carbon footprint.

The best portable solar panels are worth a full investigation before making any kind of purchase, though. Be sure to check out our reviews but compare our thoughts to those of real-life users to verify the latest version of the product is as good as the last.

Also, remember that a portable solar panel is awesome, but it’s got to be connected to the right system to really keep it going well. That’s part of why I recommend a couple of kits, as well as information on how to identify the best of the best in other components of the system.

So, as you shop for portable solar panels for home or portable solar panels for RV for your on-the-go lifestyle, keep all the things you plan to power in mind and figure out what wattage you really need. Most portable solar power systems start with one or two panels but are expandable into much larger systems for running your whole setup for the long haul.

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