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Best Portable Solar Panels: Your Guide to Free Portable Power

Best Portable Solar Panels featured
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Have you noticed how nowadays, everyone has a portable “power bank”, which they would bring wherever they go so they can always keep their power-hungry devices fully charged? But, you will agree that 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 his or her 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. However, finding the best one isn’t easy.

That is why we came up with this article, to guide you into buying the best solar panel for you. We will first introduce you to key features you must know about solar panels, and then compare the top reviewed models, so that by the end of this read, you will be able to make an informed purchase.

Product Name WeightDimensions Best Use Price
Anker Dual Ports USB 12.48 oz11.02 x 5.3 x 0.75 inOutdoors, even during rainy weatherCheck price on Amazon
Goal Zero Venture 308.8 oz4,5 x 3.2 1 inAny outdoor activity and settingCheck price on Amazon
Instapark Mercury 10 M12.96 oz9 x 6.25 x 1 inOutdoors, everyday use, camping, hiking, travelingCheck price on Amazon
MSR Evo 22 9.28 oz0.89 x 3.77 x 6.69 inOutdoor activities, not ideal for rainy or cloudy weatherCheck price on Amazon
Go Power GP SF-5 48 oz14 x 13.2 x 0.5 inOutdoors, suitable to use on any vehicle (even in movement), cars, snowmobiles, etc.Check price on Amazon
X-Dragon HE 26.4 oz13.2 x 7.8 x 1.5 inIndoors and outdoors.Check price on Amazon
Poweradd Apollo3 5.6 oz5.5 x 2.9 x 0.6 in
Outdoors, between -20 and 60 degrees FahrenheitCheck price on Amazon
Brunton Inspire 30.4 oz3.5 x 0.8 x 3.8 inIndoors and outdoorsCheck price on Amazon
Levin Dual USB5.28 oz5.6 x 2.95 x 0.54 inOutdoors, even during cloudy or rainy weatherCheck price on Amazon
Eceen Zipper Pack 12.8 oz11.5 x 0.5 w 6 inOutdoors, not ideal under cloudy or rainy weatherCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying 

Before buying a solar panel, it is fundamental that you know what are the key features to look for. You might think that a solar panel will essentially receive energy and then charge your device, but there is so much more than meets the eye. Power outputs, storage capacity, charging time and more. You will want to know every detail, in order to make sure you are buying the best solar panel.

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, and so you can easily pack it in your bag.

iPhone charging on portable solar panels

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.

Power Output

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.

This might not seem so important, but it is. A lot of times you buy a solar panel with a power output that doesn’t fit your device. On other occasions, you might be hiking or camping with a person that could use the panel, but can’t charge his or her device due to the panel not having enough power outputs.

Storage Capacity

Do note that not all portable solar panels have storage capacity. Some require you to charge your devices while the sun is charging it. 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.

iPhone charging on portable solar panels

The panels with no storage capacity tend to be more affordable. However, those with a storage capacity are usually the handy ones, as you can charge your devices at nighttime, or while you are on the move. There is no need to be under the sun to charge, and that is practical.

Efficiency

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 silicon, which makes it flexible. It acts as the base of the panel. It may not be very efficient, with an average efficiency of only about 8%.

phone and tablet charging on solar panel

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 lightweight. In the current market, you should be able to find solar panels that are foldable and has an average efficiency of at least 15%.

External Batteries

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.

solar panel on a backpack

We recommend getting a lightweight 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.

Versatility

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.

phone charging on a portable solar panel

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.

Top Products on Today’s Market

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. Hopefully, by the end of the read you will know which model suits your needs best.

Anker Dual Ports USB Solar Charger Anker 15W Dual USB Solar Charger, PowerPort Solar for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Pro / Air 2 / mini, Galaxy S7 / S6 / Edge / Plus, Note 5 / 4, LG, Nexus,...

Price: $40 – $80 

Weight: 12.48 oz

Dimensions: 11.02 × 5.3 x 0.75 in

Specific features: PowerIQ delivers the fastest possible charge up to 2.1 amps under direct sunlight. 15 watt SunPower solar array is 21.5-23.5% efficient, providing enough power to charge two devices simultaneously. 

Best use: Outdoors, even during rainy weather.

Description: The Anker Dual Ports USB Solar Charger 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.

Thanks to its efficiency, this solar panel is capable of charging two devices at the same time. This is obviously a very good advantage, as it means you and your camping or hiking partner won’t have to take turns to charge your devices. 

PROS:

  • Can charge two devices at the same time
  • Durability is excellent
  • Delivers a very fast charge up under direct sunlight 

CONS:

  • If not under direct or strong sunlight, it won’t charge very well 

Related: The Anker Powerbank is an excellent device to buy alongside this solar panel. Charge the power bank with the panel and that way you can charge your devices at whatever time and under any condition you need.

Check the price on Amazon

Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Charger Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Charger 

Price: $150 – $170 

Weight: 8.8 oz

Dimensions: 4.5 x 3.2 x 1 in

Specific features: 30 Wh, 7,800 mAh power pack can power phones (2-3x), tablets (1x) and more, lightweight and packable from the airport to the trail, waterproof while active 

Best use: Any outdoor activity and setting

Description: The Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Charger  is the most rugged, durable, weatherproof phone and tablet charger 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, 7800 mAh Power Pack Power that allows you to charge your phones, tablets and more.

This solar panel allows you to charge two phones or devices at the same time, ideal for you and your partner to charge simultaneously. It also has a very good feature; it is waterproof at the same time that it is in action. This means that it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, this panel will still work, receive charge and even charge devices. 

PROS:

  • Can charge two devices simultaneously
  • Waterproof and charges even with rain
  • Very durable 

CONS:

  • Pricey 

Related: The Goal Zero Recharger is a good backup item to have, in case the solar panel isn’t working. It will charge your device from 1 to 3 times, and it uses batteries, which can be recharged by your solar panel, just in case.

Check the price on Amazon

Instapark Mercury 10M Solar Panel Instapark Mercury 10M Solar Panel

Price: $40 – $60

Weight: 12.96 oz 

Dimensions: 9 x 6.25 x 1 in

Specific features: 10 watt high-efficiency solar panel with a foldable design, 3,000 mAh portable water-proof USB battery pack is included 

Best use: Outdoors

Description: The Instapark Mercury 10M Solar Panel features a 10 watt high-efficiency solar panel with a foldable design that offers excellent portability. It consists of a built-in dual USB charging port for directly plugging in an 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 footprints. 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.

The 10 watts are an excellent feature. Most of the portable solar panels have a 5 watt efficiency, this one has double that power, and that is thanks to the 3 panels that come with the foldable design. That way you can be certain it will charge devices very quickly as well as offering a lot of power. 

PROS:

  • Foldable design, great for traveling
  • 10 Watts of efficiency
  • Dual USB ports

CONS:

  • The battery pack, it comes with, is not very good 

Related: The Goal Zero Lune LED Light an excellent accessory to purchase with this solar panel. Charge the light by connecting it to the panel and use it at night time.

Check the price on Amazon

Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer Mobile Charger Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer Mobile Charger 

Price: $120 – $140 

Weight: 9.28 oz 

Dimensions: 0.89 x 3.77 x 6.69 in

Specific features: 3,500 mAh Lithium Poly battery (12.95 Wh), solar/DC input 5V, solar output via USB 5V 600 mAh, internal battery output via USB 5V 2a.

Best use: Outdoors use, not ideal for rainy or cloudy weather 

Description: The Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer Mobile Charger  is the first Powertraveller 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 3500 mAh 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.

This is a weatherproof and durable device, thanks to the external cover it has, you can be certain that it will last long. Besides the durability, it comes with adapters to charge most of the devices that you can think of. From iPhones 5 and 6 to iPads, Samsungs and other devices. This versatility is one of the reasons why we like it so much.

PROS:

  • Comes with adaptors to charge many different devices
  • Comes with a cover that makes it very durable 

CONS:

  • Advertised to charge even during low light, but that feature doesn’t work very well 

Related: The Grape Solar Rechargeable Battery is a recommended item to buy with this or any other solar panel. You can use it as a power bank, and charge them to then later on charge devices, in case you need to.

Check the price on Amazon

Go Power GP-SF-5 Solar Panel Go Power GP-SF-5 Solar Panel

Price: $40 – $50 

Weight: 48 oz

Dimensions: 14 x 13.2 x 0.5 in 

Specific features: Volt batteries with 5 watts of charge, completely silent green energy, comes with a variety of connections. 

Best use: Outdoors, suitable for use on top of any vehicle, cars, snowmobiles, etc. 

Description: The Go Power GP-SF-5 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.

This solar panel, as suggested by the name, was designed to be used with vehicles, or on top of them. This is ideal for campervans, cars, ATV’s or even snowmobiles. You just have to place the solar panel on top of the vehicle, where the sun will hit directly on it, and you can move around freely as it charges. Then, you can use the energy either to charge the battery of the vehicle, or to charge any device. It comes with multiple connections specifically to be able to charge many different devices.

It works very well, and it is very durable, which makes it great to use even on boats.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Durable and efficient
  • Ideal for vehicles 

CONS:

  • Unless fully exposed, it will have some trouble charging 

Related: The Deltran Battery Connector is a great item to add to the purchase of this particular solar panel. With this connector you can link car batteries to the panel tor recharge them directly.

Check the price on Amazon

X-Dragon High Efficiency Solar Panel X-Dragon High Efficiency Solar Panel

Price: $45 – $100 

Weight: 26.4 oz 

Dimensions: 13.2 x 7.8 x 1.5 in

Specific features: SolarIQ Technology, it can automatically adjust the current and voltage to achieve maximum power, dual-USB power with 20 watt Sunpower, 1/3 lighter than the same power of solar silicon 

Best use: Indoors and outdoors use

Description: The X-Dragon High Efficiency Solar Panel  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 to 22% to 25% efficiency, while most solar panels in the market are often only 15% efficiency. It features an Exclusive iSolar Technology that 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 cell phones 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 the same size.

Its eye-holes enable easy attachment to backpacks while hiking, and it comes with a 20W Foldable Solar Charger, Carabiner, micro USB cable and an instruction manual, making it very easy for you to use it. 

PROS:

  • Can be used indoors too
  • Can charge two devices at the same time 

CONS:

  • Takes longer than other panels to charge with sunlight 

Related: The X-Dragon Power Meter can be a handy item to buy alongside this solar panel. Both from the same manufacturer, complement each other. Just plug the Power Meter to the solar panel, and measure how much power, it is getting from the sun.

Check the price on Amazon

Poweradd Apollo3 Solar Charger Poweradd Apollo3 Solar Charger

Price: $30 – $50 

Weight: 5.6 oz

Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.9 x 0.6 in

Specific features: Compatible with most kinds of 5V USB-charged devices, capacity of 8000 mAh with 2 USB output, build-in Li-Ion Polymer cells and microchips 

Best use: Outdoors, within -20 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Description: The Poweradd Apollo3 Solar Charger 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 ports 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. 

PROS:

  • Great charge life, it stores a lot of energy
  • Durable 

CONS:

  • Charges very slowly even under the sun 

Related: The Eachine Portable Charger is a good add-on to this solar panel. It will allow you to store extra energy in it, while you can recharge the panel, since it takes longer to recharge it.

Check the price on Amazon

Brunton Explorer 2 Solar Panel Brunton Explorer 2 Solar Panel

Price: $50 – $70 

Weight: 30.4 oz

Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.8 x 3.8 in 

Specific features: Use the lightweight, folding Explorer 5-USB solar array directly with your smart phone, digital music player, and action sports camera, 5 volts, 1000 mAh output, 14.8 oz (panel), 5.5 oz (battery). 

Best use: Indoor and outdoors

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. The Brunton 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 5 voltages, 1000 mAh output. You can use it to connect to the Inspire power reservoir to make sure power hungry electronics stay amped, even in the off-light hours.

The design of this panel is what makes it a great choice. It is completely foldable, but into a very compact size, plus it fits anywhere, and it is resistant against bumps or scratches. It is heavier than most of the others, but that is also due to the survival kit. Plus, in the end, we are talking of less than two pounds, which is not much. 

PROS:

  • Includes survival kit so you can use it even in the dark
  • Has a power reservoir that works well
  • Charges quickly 

CONS:

  • Durability can be a concern 

Related: The Portable Tomo Power Bank is always a good back up to buy alongside any solar panel. Charge the panel, then the power bank, and make sure you will have enough power to charge many devices in different times.

Check the price on Amazon

Levin Dual USB Port Solar Panel Levin Solar Charger Battery 7000mAh

Price: $15 – $30 

Weight: 5.28 oz

Dimensions: 5.6 x 2.95 x 0.54 in

Specific features: Solar charger with a Bluetooth control button, high capacity, build-in 7000 mAh Lithium Polymer battery which charges via a powerful 1.5W monocrystalline solar panel, LED light included.

Best use: Outdoors, even during cloudy or rainy weather

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. The Levin Dual USB Port Solar Panel is the first rain-resistant and shockproof 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 1200 mAh for at least 8 hours.

Its rainproof design ensures the device functions smoothly even during rainy days. It also features a shockproof technology that ensures the device would be working properly even when it crashes or drops.

It has a high capacity, with built-in 6000 mAh Lithium Polymer battery which charges via a powerful 1.2W monocrystalline solar panel. Its LED flashlight works perfectly in the darkness, especially in 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. 

PROS:

  • Includes a very useful LED light
  • Very resistant
  • Waterproof 

CONS:

  • Doesn’t charge well with the sun 

Related: The LQQB Power Bank is commonly bought alongside this solar panel. It will allow you to charge the power bank and use it as an emergency reserve battery, whilst you can keep charging the panel for other purposes.

Check the price on Amazon

 

Eceen Zipper Pack Solar Panel Eceen Zipper Pack Solar Panel

Price: $25 – $90 

Weight: 12.8 oz

Dimensions: 11.5 x 0.5 x 6 in

Specific features: High efficiency, constructed of sunpower solar cells, 2 monocrystalline solar panels, stable output: unique voltage regulator design to ensure stable voltage and current, protects your device while charging, foldable, portable and lightweight 

Best use: Outdoors, preferably not cloudy weather

Description: The Eceen Zipper Pack 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, really easy to carry anywhere and keep the panels protected from scratches or items that could break them.

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.

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.

PROS:

  • Design is ideal for traveling purposes
  • Has a voltage regulator that protects devices while they are being charged
  • Very durable
  • Charges quickly 

CONS:

  • Can be a bit pricey
  • Has trouble when charging more than one device at once, not that efficient 

Related: The Lovri Charging Cables are a great addition to any solar panel purchase. They will enable you to charge almost any device you might have as they are compatible with pretty much anything.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

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. That’s why a portable solar panel is always a handy item to have with you.

Best Portable Solar Panels: Your Guide to Free Portable Power

We hope that we were able to provide you the right information for you to purchase the right model. Remember that features such as storage capacity and efficiency are fundamental if you are going on a longer hike or camping trip. It’s always key to think ahead and be prepared.

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!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Foster

Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.