Are Folding Solar Panels Any Good
Foldable solar panels can also be referred to as portable solar panels. Folding solar panels are not as efficient as ground-mounted or roof-mounted solar systems.
Ideally, their purpose is not to power the whole home. What makes them better is its portability. They can charge lead-acid batteries, RV battery by using an extension cord, thus beating noisy generators.
The advantages of using a foldable/ portable solar panel include:
. Easy to move around for optimal sunlight therefore easy repositioning of the panel
. Easy to operate thus money saving unlike other power sources of generators and electricity
. are also quieter if compared to gas generators
With the best folding solar panel, with solar chargers, you will charge your electronics like battery packs, cell phones, and any other gadget that you may need for your camping.
Best Portable Solar Panels In 2022
Portable solar panels are a great way to recharge your RV batteries when dry camping.
With portable panels, you can easily dip your toes in the solar power waters.
They are also great if you only need to generate electricity via solar energy on occasion.
Also, portable solar systems are a great way to complement an existing installation of rooftop panels.
They give you a bit of flexibility when it comes to parking in less than ideal solar locations.
On this page, you will find reviews of three different price points for portable solar panels.
You will also learn some things to consider before purchasing portable solar.
How Long To Portable Solar Panels Last
A quality, permanent, fixed solar panel should continue producing a solid energy output for 25 to 30 years, but its a good idea to check if the panel includes a warranty. We’ve seen firsthand our fair share of cheaper panels that quit working after a couple of years that did not include a warranty.
Many portable solar panels are made of more lightweight materials and arent likely to last that long. They run the risk of becoming damaged during transport or after prolonged use outside, so its best to purchase a durable panel that can withstand the hazards of travel.
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Multiple Device Charging Speed
As you might guess, when tasked with the challenge of charging multiple devices at once, the more powerful models performed better than lower wattage models. Smaller panels such as the 5W and 7W models don’t have the power to sustain two gadgets at once. If this is a priority for you, then select a panel with a higher wattage. Generally, our testing found lower watt models to be less capable in this metric than the higher watt devices that can charge two devices.
The Big Blue, Anker 21, and SunJack were high scorers, as was the Goertek. As discussed above, the results show that models with higher wattage are more effective at charging multiple devices at once. We were impressed by the SunJack’s overall power and efficiency in this metric. Panels with built-in battery packs also excel in this metric, with the Goertek holding its own.
How Do You Use Portable Solar Panels
Portable solar panels can be used to recharge devices directly or to charge batteries or solar generators. Some panels can be connected directly to phones or small devices for charging when the sun is out . However, direct sun charging can be inconsistent. Its best to use a solar panel to capture energy and store it in some kind of battery , and then connect devices to thatparticularly with stronger panels.
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Best Camping Solar Panels Reviews Australia 2022
- Power Output: 400W
- Weight: 33kg
This Renogy fixed camping solar power system is a good choice for those looking for solid, reliable panels for installation on their RV, van or other vehicle for camping.
Made with high performance monocrystalline cells, the large panels offer 400 watt output and are made with thick tempered glass with enhanced stiffness to increase strength and resistance. Corrosion resistant frames mean that these panels will last for decades of use, too.
Additional features of this kit include pre-drilled holes for easy mounting, TPT backsheet for improved performance of the panels over time, remote monitoring and a 4-stage battery charging process. You can extend the kit by adding more panels if needed, too.
This Renogy kit has many happy customers and is a great choice for those looking for the best solar panels for RV camping to fit to rooftop or other similar surfaces.
- Power Output: 7W
- Weight: 0.36kg
Something much smaller for those in search of a portable solar panel for camping trips is this Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel review.
Measuring 25 by 16 centimeters, this panel is about the size of a laptop and is handy for allowing you to charge smaller electronic items like phones directly from the sun via a USB or 12V cable. Weighing just 360g, its easy to take on any camping trip or day out.
- Power Output: 60W
- Weight: 1.35kg
Other features include a 10-in-1 adaptor kit for easy charging, DC to clamp and DC to DC cables. The panel is weatherproof too.
Sizing Your System While Touring Outside The Uk
In this guide so far we have assumed you will be camping in the UK in the summer. So what if you wish to travel to places with different climatic conditions?
The map below shows the solar potential across Europe. Travelling south into mainland Europe would generally mean you would need smaller panels as you can capture more intense sunlight for longer. However, you need to consider the efficiency of the panels as the temperature rises. So over 25C the panel will lose 0.08V per degree C rise. Conversely below 25C the efficiency increases by the same amount.
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Waterproof Solar Charger Controllers
The best RV solar panels come with a solar battery charge controller that is waterproof.
That said, there was a time when Renogy’s solar controllers were not waterproof.
However, they have since corrected this and are using waterproof charger controllers.
So, both Zamp and Renogy controllers on the foldable solar panels are waterproof.
If you happen to purchase a portable solar panel without a waterproof controller, be very mindful of the wet weather.
Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Solar Charger
Available Wattage: 5 | Weight: 1.3 lbs | Dimensions: 6.1 x 3.4 x 1.4 in
One of the best portable solar panels for camping, the Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Solar Charger can easily be attached to your backpack and give you all the power you need for your trip. It folds down to 6.1 x 3.4 x 1.4 and only weighs 1.3 pounds. It has a built-in 25,000mAh Li-polymer battery so you can charge all your devices multiple times. The charger has four foldable panels with up to 1 amp of current in the sunlight. It can be charged with a USB cable and has dual USB outputs. The charger even includes a built-in LED flashlight with SOS mode which is perfect for outdoor emergencies or if you forgot your camping headlamp. You wont have to worry about your phone dying while youre out on the trail when you bring along the Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Solar Charger.
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Solar Panel Extension Cables
Portable solar panels have one big advantage over rooftop-mounted solar panels. The ability to move panels to a location that has full sun.
Also, you can angle them to point directly towards the sun throughout the day, maximizing solar energy harvesting.
Trust us, it comes in very handy to have a bit more power cable than comes standard with the portable panels.
Indeed, this can help keep your panel in the sun. Have no fear, you can purchase extension cables.
We BOTH have used them and we both HIGHLY recommend getting extensions.
The most commonly available extension cables have MC4 connectors on the ends.
These are the connectors that come with Renogy portable solar panels. Zamp portable panels use SAE connectors.
It’s a lot harder to find the properly sized wire in this style of an extension cord.
Zamp does offer the 15-foot extension cord, but sometimes it’s not available on Amazon.
Don’t forget to choose what wire gauge and wire length you want for your solar panel extension wires.
Solar Extension Cables
How Long Do Portable Solar Panels Last
Averagely, solar panels have a life expectancy of about 30 years. However, it all depends on panel quality, maintenance, and elements of exposure. Since it has a long lifespan, a few issues accompany them like how to recycle and their disposal.
However, since portable solar panels produce the eight amount of power to charge the battery and other few appliances, you can rely on them for all your RV camping activities.
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Goal Zero Boulder Solar Panel Briefcase
Available Wattage: 50, 100 | Weight: 25.9lbs | Dimensions: 40.0 x 26.75 x 1.75 in
If you need a solar panel for campervan trips, check out the Goal Zero Boulder Solar Panel Briefcase. Inside the briefcase youll find a 100 watt monocrystalline solar panel. Constructed with tempered glass and rigid, anodized aluminum the briefcase is lightweight. It weighs about 26 pounds and measures 40 x 26.75 x 1.75. Truly one of the best portable RV solar panels, the briefcase features an adjustable kickstand to help with portability and a carrying case to protect it while youre traveling or its in storage. While youre sitting around the campfire after youve stopped for the night youll really appreciate having the Goal Zero Boulder Solar Panel Briefcase with you.
Foxelli Dual Usb Solar Charger 10w
- Charging twice faster than the regular solar chargers
- Built-in smart charging technology
- Portable, lightweight and solid design
- Works with most USB connected devices
- The font size of the instructional guide is too small
The promise of Foxelli dual USB solar charger is efficient and quick charging, and it is a commitment that they can meet and keep. The brand understands that your outdoor experience can be made even better when you have the power to use on your devices.
This is one of your solar-powered charger options if you want portable power. It doesnt matter what the outdoor agenda is. You can be backpacking, camping, hanging at the beach, or traveling in your RV, and you can conveniently just attach it to your bag, tent, or even on trees.
Thanks to this lightweight solar panel, you wont mind its meager 1.1 pounds weight, and when folded, it is fragile measuring to only 1.2 inches. It comes with 11 integrated loops and two carabineers so again that hanging it around wont be an issue. It also has a convenient pocket, so you dont have to worry about your device while it is being charged.
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The 5 Best Solar Panels For Camping
To narrow down our list of the best solar panels for camping, we looked at the industrys top products and ranked them based on factors including durability, ease of setup, charge time, run time, portability, total power output and cost. Based on our findings, these are the five top portable solar panels for camping on the market:
|Best Solar Panels for Camping||Our Award|
|FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank||Best Overall|
|Renogy E.POWER Portable Solar Charger||Best Pocket Solar Charger|
|Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel||Best Folding Panel|
|Goal Zero Boulder 50 Watt Solar Panel||Best for Long-Term Camping|
Below we will compare the main features and specifications of each portable solar panel system, along with its pros and cons.
Types Of Solar Panels For Camping
Solar panels for camping can be classified into two main types:
- Stand-alone solar panels generate electricity but do not store it. They can be used to charge devices directly when sunlight is available, or they can be used to charge an external power station. Some of them are foldable, while others have a rigid construction.
- Solar panels with built-in batteries can store electric charge, which means they dont depend on an external power station. These panels are generally smaller than stand-alone units, since high-capacity batteries are heavy. When you need more solar battery capacity, a rechargeable power station with external panels is easier to handle.
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Sizing A Solar Panel For Uk Use
Using the appliances listed in the chart above, if you camp on a site using all this equipment in summer you would need at least a 66W panel to top-up your battery assuming 5 hours of usable sunlight to give 5hrs x 66W = 330Wh. This allows for most of the typical losses that are experienced.
Remember to take into account the time of day when you use the appliances. For example, if you are draining all the power when it is still dark your battery may be dropping below 50 per cent charge before being topped up, which can reduce its useful life expectancy. It may, therefore, be worth upgrading your battery to a higher capacity to support your camping lifestyle.
An option for some may be a large Lithium Iron Phosphate battery – These are significantly lighter than traditional lead acid batteries and the DoD is greater.
Using Solar In Partial Shade Or Cloudy Weather
You can use portable solar panels in cloudy weather or partial shade, but bear in mind that their output will drop significantly compared to ideal conditions. From a 200W panel, you can expect up to 11A or more per hour in ideal conditions, but this can drop to 3A per hour or even less in full cloud or inclement weather.
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What Are The Benefits Of Using A Mono Solar Panel
The mono solar panel is widely accepted as the most efficient form of solar panel. These are ideal in situations where you need a good quality charge in a limited amount of time. When you only have a few panels, you need them to be working at peak efficiency, and this is often the case in camping situations. For large formats, you can afford to give up a lot of “real estate” to host many panels, but in smaller scale systems, it is best to make use of the panels you have available. Generally, you can expect to get about 15-20% efficiency out of a mono solar panel. They require less space than other types of panels because of this efficiency rating. In most cases you can get around 25 years of life out of these panels, which makes them the longest lasting of all the different types of panels. These panels can also deliver a better charge in areas where sunlight is low, which makes them perfect during cloudy situations and during low light times of the day .
Have a question? Ask our experts!
Renogy 21w Solar Panel Foldable Charger
Renogy is a well known name in the off-grid solar world. They produce a wide range of products including charge controllers, full size panels, and battery systems. Their 21W portable solar panel uses a folding design for maximum portability.
Its 5.9 x 11.8 inches when folded and weighs just over a pound. This makes it one of the lightest panels available for the watts produced. It uses high efficiency monocrystalline solar cells coated with a durable PET plastic cover.
It has two USB ports optimized with Smart Charging capability to provide the optimum charging conditions for any device. Theyre each capable of providing up to 2A of power.
The Renogy 21W is a lightweight panel from a quality manufacturer. It offers excellent performance at a very affordable price.
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How To Position Solar Panels
Many campers talk about 30 degrees as being the optimal angle at which to place your portable solar panels. While this is a reasonable approximation in many cases, the correct answer is a little more complicated. In fact, the optimal angle is primarily affected by two factors: the latitude of the place in which you are camping, and the time of year.
In ideal conditions , the angle of your solar panel should, as close as possible, match the latitude of the place in which you are situated. For reference, a table of the 25 most populous Australian capital cities and their latitudes is as follows:
You can see that there is actually a significant variance in Darwin the ideal angle is just 12.4 degrees, whereas in Launceston it is 41.4 degrees.
In the cooler seasons, you should increase the angle of your solar panels even further, as the sun will be in a lower position compared to the hotter seasons. The general rule is to increase the angle by a further 15 degrees.
Of course this is simply a rule of thumb and we do not recommend you get out a protractor to ensure your panel is exactly at the right angle!
Jackery Solarsaga 100w Portable Solar Panel
- The high conversion efficiency rate up to 23%
- USB compatible for multiple devices charging
- Eco-friendly and user-friendly design
- Leading brand in portable power
- Panels are not waterproof
Founded in the year 2012 in Silicon Valley, Jackery has since been an established leading brand in portable power. The brand provides one of the best power solutions like its portable solar system for camping, giving explorers and outdoor enthusiasts an enhanced overall experience.
The Jackery SolarSaga 100W portable solar panel is known for its eco-friendly power source, making it suitable for outdoor activities like camping and trekking.
Rest assured, you are not limited to outdoor use because you can conveniently use it at home during power outages and emergencies.
True to its catchphrase of Stay Powered, Be Prepared, this portable solar panel boasts a high conversion efficiency rate of up to 23% thus you can enjoy more energy that is being generated and allow your solar panels to have better performance compared to other conventional panels during the hot season.
With its 2 SolarSage 100W solar panels, you can quickly charge your Explorer 100 in about 8 hours. Whats more is, the system operates noiselessly, so you wont be bothered by any annoying sounds while it works in the background.
Jackerys SolarSaga 100W is a great buy and a smart investment if you want a reliable and high-quality solar power for camping.
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