Nowadays, everyone has a portable “power bank” in which they would bring wherever they go so they can always keep their power-hungry devices fully charged. Going camping, hiking, trekking, or engaging in any other activities in the wilderness is an entirely different situation altogether, so we’ve come up with a great guide to help you with purchasing only the best portable solar panels for your convenience!
Every outdoor enthusiast needs a good portable solar panel for their gadgets. You know it’s important to keep all your gadgets charged so you can use it to take the most beautiful pictures of mother nature, to communicate, or to tell the time.
It is a good investment and an essential accessory to bring along to your wilderness adventures. When it comes to looking for the best portable solar panels, there are a few things you should look at before coming down to a decision on which is best and most suitable.
Features to Look for in Best Portable Solar panels
Type of Panel and Charging time
How long do you expect it to take to charge your devices? Would you want it to be charged within 4 hours? Here’s a buying tip. When you look at the solar panels, focus on finding chargers that are a bit large, as its size makes it easy to collect more sunlight in a shorter period of time.
You don’t have to worry about the inconvenience of storing it as the designs of these solar panels these days are thin, lightweight and they can be folded up for easy storage, so you can easily pack it in your bag.
In addition, the level of wattage determines the level of power and charging time. As another buying tip, look for portable solar panels that are higher in wattage so that it is able to charge devices in a short period. Those with lower wattage will take a longer time to charge.
You’ll find that there is a wide selection of portable solar panels with different power output. Depending on the models, some may include USB outputs that are in the same charging speed, while others may vary in speed. This allows two devices to be charged at once. Check the power output before you purchase to ensure it can handle a variety of devices being charged at the same time.
Do note that not all portable solar panels have storage capacity. Some require you to charge your devices while it’s being charged by the sun. However, some portable solar panels may have the capability to store the energy so you’ll be able to still charge your devices even under low light conditions after the sun has gone down.
This refers to the sun’s input and the solar panel’s capability of converting it to energy. Do note that about 1000 watts can be produced when the sunlight reaches its peak level. In general, monocrystalline solar panels and the multicrystalline solar panels have an average efficiency of approximately 15%.
Some designs may include a type of silicone, known as the amorphous silicone which makes it flexible. It acts as the base of the panel. It may not be very efficient, with on average efficiency of only about 8%.
As a tip, look for solar panels with a larger surface area. Those that consist of a thin-film may get the same power as the rigid solar panels but if you were to go for a lightweight device, you would probably want to choose an accessory that is easy to bring around and has a light weight. In the current market, you should be able to find solar panels that are foldable and has an average efficiency of at least 15%.
Are external batteries necessary?
Some people would purchase an external battery along with the portable solar panel, especially ones that don’t have power storage. Do keep in mind that not all solar panels consist of an internal and external battery, some are sold separately.
External batteries are considered important if you have power-hungry devices with you. Some may need higher wattage to be fully charged, and in certain conditions, it may be harder to charge with the direct energy produced from the sunlight.
We recommend getting a light weight solar panel that has the capability of charging the external battery that you have bought so it can produce sufficient energy for up to 2 power-hungry devices that may need at least a power output of 2A.
It is important to consider this factor as having a portable solar panel that is able to charge multiple devices at once is very convenient. For those who are only looking for a simple charger, the only factors that you’ll need to consider are its weight and its design, which will make it easier for you to carry.
The lightweight and slim design portable solar panels in the market are relatively easy to find, so this shouldn’t be an issue. As a buying tip, calculate how many devices you will be bringing with you and calculate the total wattage that you will need to charge these devices.
Generally, if you’re going to look for a lightweight portable solar panel, you can always consider the thin-film solar panel, which is also much more affordable. The best part is that the polycrystalline is still made of good quality materials, a perfect choice for those who would only want a simple, lightweight and budget solar panel.
We have a few product reviews here that you can consider in order to make a decision on which to purchase. This list is not exhaustive, but should be used as a guide to help you find the right portable solar panel for your needs.
Anker 15W Dual Ports USB Solar Charger PowerPort Solar
Weight: 12.48 ounces
Dimensions: 11.02×5.3 x 0.75
Description: Anker 15W Dual Ports USB Solar Charger PowerPort Solar has a fast charging technology, built with the PowerIQ that delivers the fastest possible charge up to 2.1 amps under direct sunlight. It is incredibly durable and it features an industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels that are sewn into rugged polyester canvas.
It offers weather-resistant outdoor durability. It is also highly portable, with a compact size and elastic loops on each corner that would allow you to easily attach it to your backpacks, tents or trees.
It is lightweight and features an ultra-thin design. Its features also include a short circuit and surge protection technology that keeps you and your devices safe.
Best use: It is great for outdoor activities. With its light weight and thin design, you can easily bring it around anywhere you go. It may come with a polyester canvas that provides water protection, we still recommend minimizing moisture exposure to protect electrical components.
GOAL ZERO 42020 Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Dimensions:4.5 x 3.2 x 1 inches
Description: The Goal Zero Venture recharging kit is the most rugged, durable, weatherproof phone and table recharger on the market, with no rubber plugs needed.
It is able to charge up to two devices at once, with its high-speed USB 4.8A across dual ports; it boasts an integrated Flood Charge that optimizes your charging time. It features a built-in Micro USB Tip Tangle-free charging for phones and tablets. The cables included are certified for efficient charging.
It has a Solar Ready Built-in Charging Tip, with no extra cables to lose. It charges up in 4 hours from USB. It features a 30 Wh, 7800mAh Power Pack Power that allows you to charge your phones, tablets and more!
Best use: It is a lifeline to adventure, a perfect solar recharging kit for just any of your outdoor activities. Phones, cameras and tablets are compatible with this product.
Instapark® Mercury 10M Solar Panel Portable
Weight: 12.96 ounces
Dimensions: 9 inches x 6.25 inches x 1 inches
Description: The Instapark Mercury 10M portable solar panel features a 10 Watt high-deficiency solar panel with foldable design that offers excellent portability. It consists of a built-in dual USB charging port for directly plugging in iPhone, iPad and other USB compatible mobile devices.
There is no additional battery needed for charging external devices as it uses 100% green energy with zero carbon footprint. It combines three solar panels totaling 10 watts and folds up into a pack about the same size as a hardcover book, making it easy for you to bring it around with you anywhere you go.
Best use: It is suitable to be brought outdoors with its compact and lightweight design.
Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer Mobile Charger
Weight: 0.58 pounds
Dimensions: 0.89 x 3.77 x 6.69
Description: The Solarmonkey adventurer is the first Power traveller solar charger to feature an internal battery which, in light optimum conditions, can be charged by the solar panels in just 8 to 12 hours. It is able to carry on charging itself and other devices efficiently in low light conditions, thanks to its maximum power point tracker (MPPT) technology.
It has a 3500mAh built-in solar compatible internal battery and it features 4-color LED that shows the level of charge. It also comes with a 5V USB port output.
Best use: It is suitable for outdoor use. Adventurers may bring it with them for the whole day without worrying about its charging capacity as it can carry on charging itself efficiently.
Go Power! GP-SF-5 SUNfilm 5 Watt Solar Panel
Weight: 3 pounds
Dimensions: 14 x 13.2 x 0.5
Description: The Go Power! Solar Panel will keep your batteries topped up when they are left idle! Harness the power of the sun to charge your 12 Volt batteries with 5 Watts of charge. It uses completely silent green energy and comes with a variety of connections to hook up many types of 12 Volt batteries.
Best use: This solar panel is very flexible and is suitable for charging in cars, trucks, motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATV’s, personal watercraft, and more.
X-DRAGON High Efficency 20W Solar Panel Charger
Weight: 1.65 pounds
Dimensions: 13.2inces x 7.8 inches x 1.5 inches
Description: The X-Dragon sun-powered solar charger boasts a high efficiency conversion rate, so it can capture more sunlight than conventional solar panels, so it doesn’t need much sunlight to charge those gadgets.
Its SUNPOWER solar cell is made from US with up tp 22% to 25% efficiency, while most solar panels in the market are often only 15% efficiency. It features an Exclusive iSolar Technology which can automatically adjust the current and voltage to achieve maximum power.
It consists of a dual-USB power, with 20 watt sun power that is sufficient to charge cellphones and iPads at the same time. Consider its lightweight and slim design, it has a higher power by 1/3 in comparison with the other solar panels of same size.
Its eyeholes enable easy attachment to backpacks while hiking, and it comes with a 20W Foldable Solar Charger, Carabiner, micro USB cable and an instruction manual.
Best use: It is great for both indoor and outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking and camping as its portable and slim frame design is perfect for both indoor and outdoor.
Poweradd Apollo3 Power Bank Solar Charge
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.9 x 0.6 inches
Description: Poweradd Apollo3 8000mAh Power Bank Solar Charge is compatible with most kinds of 5V USB-charged devices. It is stylish, compact and lightweight. With its slim design, it can fit perfectly into any bag easily to carry on the go.
It features solar energy technology, environmental friendly and could recharge itself under the sunshine for emergency purpose when you bring it outdoors. It also features a high capacity of 8000mAh with 2 USB output, with one of the USB port at 5V/1A and the other for 5V/2.1A.
Its quick charging current makes it a great charger to bring outdoors during emergency situations and it is able to charge 2 devices at once.
It also has a built-in Li-ion Polymer cells and microchips, with high quality and long lifespan, with more than 500 charge cycles during the course of its life. Besides that, it comes with an industry-leading warranty with 24 months limited product warranty.
Best use: It is best use for outdoors and for the best performance, within -20 degrees to 60 degrees.
Brunton Power Essentials Kit-Explorer 2 Solar Panel
Weight: 1.9 pounds
Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.8 x 3.8 inches
Description: It is a Brunton product that comes with a survival kit. It features a lightweight, folding Explorer 5-USB solar array that can be directly used to charge smartphones, digital music player and action sports camera. Brunton Power Essentials Kit-Explorer 2 Solar Panel is designed with the always-connected, everyday user in mind.
The kit ensures that the user will not be left in the dark. It features a 5 voltage, 1000mAh output. You can used it to connect to the Inspire power reservoir to make sure power hungry electronics stay amped even in the off-light hours.
Best use: It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor.
Levin Dual USB Port 6000mAh Portable Solar Panel
Weight: 5.28 ounces
Dimensions: 5.6 x 2.95 x 0.54 inches
Description: If you’re looking for a portable, compact and high quality solar panel, this is the one! Levin offers green, safe and smart energy. Levin Dual USB Port 6000mAh Portable Solar Panel is the first rain-resistant and shock-proof portable solar charger in the world. With its solar energy technology, it is environmentally-friendly and it can recharge itself under sunshine with its built-in battery up to 1200mAh for at least 8 hours.
Its rain-proof design ensures the device functions smoothly even during rainy days. It also features a shock-proof technology that ensures the device would be working properly even when it crashes or drops.
It has a high capacity, with built-in 6000mAh Lithium Polymer battery which charges via a powerful 1.2W monocrystalline solar panel. Its LED flashlight works perfectly in the darkness, especially for emergency situations. Just press the button twice and the LED will light up. Its package includes a Levin Solar Charger External Battery, a hook, a micro USB cable and an instruction manual.
Best use: It is best used for outdoor as it is weather resistant, it can still perform well under rainy seasons.
ECEEN Solar Panel, 10Watts Solar Charger
Weight: 12.8 ounces
Dimensions:11.5 x 0.5 x 6 inches
Description: The ECEEN Solar Panel boasts a high efficiency technology with sun power solar cells constructed, along with two monocrystalline solar panels. It has a stable output, a unique voltage regulator design to ensure stable voltage and current, which protects your device while charging. It is foldable, portable and lightweight, with two foldable solar panels.
Its folding size is only 11.5 x 6 x 0.5 inches, with only 0.8 pounds net weight. The package consists of ECEEN 10W solar panel charger, four pieces of carabiners, a piece of micro USB cable and an instruction manual. The solar panel has a zip pack design which is easy to close with a zipper and open like a book.
Best use: It is suitable for outdoors as it can be used directly under the sun. It will charge under strong sunlight. It may not work for cloudy or windy weather.
Related: Trekbest Solar Charger Waterproof Solar External Battery Pack, 6oz 5V 10.6W Ultra Portable Solar Charger, LightSaver USB Roll-up Solar Charger and Battery Bank, Solar Charger, Levin 15,000mAh Solar Power Bank with 8 LED Flashlight Dual USB port.
It doesn’t hurt to be prepared, even when you’re trying to live off the grid as much as possible. You may want to resist using your phones and other devices in order to get closer to nature, but it doesn’t hurt to still have them handy when an emergency rears its ugly head.
Are there any great portable solar panels that we missed out on? Have any recommendations for us that you’d like to share with the rest of the world? Please leave a comment below with your solar panel of choice, and we may include it in a future article!