The 7 Best Portable Solar Panels of 2021

Harness the sun’s energy while you travel.

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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.

The Rundown
A versatile, sturdy, and efficient panel at a moderate price.
An excellent alternative to mounting panels on the roof of the RV.
A full charging station by a trusted manufacturer.
A lightweight and powerful panel at an affordable price point.
With an IP67 waterproof rating, these panels are made for active adventures outdoors.
Weighing just over a pound, the Sunjack is ideal for charging smaller devices.
A simple, yet sturdy design that gets the job done and is built to last.

Best Overall: Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable Solar Panel

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable Solar Panel

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 a 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

Go Power! GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit with 10 Amp Solar Controller

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 electricity 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

Jackery 400-Watt Peak Output Solar Generator SG290

If you’re interested in a solar panel for traveling but also require a battery charge station, Jackery Power Outdoors is a leader 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 the voltage and output of the solar panel, adding up to 23 percent more efficiency, and can charge up to seven devices at one time.

Best Budget: Dokio 160W Portable Foldable Solar Panel

Dokio 160W Portable Foldable Solar Panel

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 another 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

EcoFlow 110W Solar Panel

When bringing a solar panel on camping trips, you’ll want to look for something 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 of up to 22 percent. 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. 

Best for Phones: SunJack 15 Watt Foldable ETFE Monocrystalline Solar Panel Charger

SunJack 15 Watt Foldable ETFE Monocrystalline Solar Panel Charger

If you primarily need to recharge phones or small gadgets, the SunJack 15 Watt Foldable ETFE Solar Panel is a cost-efficient option that’s both compact and powerful. When not in use, the Sunjack is the size of a computer tablet and weighs just 1.3 pounds. The three interconnected, foldable panels are weather-resistant, shockproof, and stain-proof.

Its protective coating helps maximum energy conversion of the sun, while built-in smart technology identifies the type of device to avoid overheating. Although you can charge directly from the sun (using dual USB ports), the panels work best (and have the most consistent charge) when used in combination with a portable power bank.

Best Briefcase: Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel Briefcase

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel Briefcase

Goal Zero got its start in 2007 by designing solar products for rural communities in Africa that never had access to power. Since then, the company has become one of the most recognized names in durable solar equipment, and the Goal Zero Boulder Briefcase is a popular, rugged option for keeping things running smoothly at basecamp.

The two folding 50-watt panels can be angled using the kickstand and are built with a sturdy aluminum frame with reinforced corners and strong tempered glass. The simple design makes it easy to connect additional panels for even more charging, or combine it with other stations like Goal Zero’s Yeti series of chargers.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Renogy 100-Watt Monocrystalline Panel (view at Amazon) that’s an easy choice for RVs, boats, van travel, or a day at the beach. For something a little more affordable, the Dokio Portable Monocrystalline Controller (view at Amazon) is an attractive lightweight alternative. If you’re just looking for a solar panel to keep a phone or camera charged up, go with SunJack 15 Watt Foldable ETFE Solar Panel (view at Amazon).

What to Look for When Buying a Portable Solar Panel

Power Output

When buying a panel, consider what you’ll be charging to calculate what size panel you’ll need. Smaller devices like phones will do just fine on the 15-watt panel, while larger devices like coolers will need a larger panel (and usually a battery to store that energy). The wattage refers to the DC maximum output during optimal conditions, but keep in mind cloud cover can prevent it from achieving maximum output. 

Durability

Since you probably plan on taking the panel with you while traveling (or at least moving it around the yard), you’ll want something that’s sturdy, weather-resistant, and compact enough that it can be easily stored and transported. Keep in mind the type of travel you’ll be doing: if you’re hiking and carrying your gear on your back, the lighter the panel the better. Heavy-duty latches, rust-resistant materials, protected glass, and reinforced parts are important to the panel’s longevity. 

Size and Weight

Depending on how you’re traveling and the storage space you have available when not in use, the size and weight of your solar panel are important factors. Many of the panels can fold into easy-to-carry cases, but you may require something even smaller if space is limited. Although panels with nylon exteriors may be lighter, they may not be as durable as ones with a metal frame. 

FAQs

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 (panels must be angled toward the sun). However, direct sun charging can be inconsistent. It’s best to use a solar panel to capture energy and store it in some kind of battery (like a solar controller, battery pack, or charge station), and then connect devices to that—particularly with stronger panels. 

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 it’s 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 aren’t likely to last that long. They run the risk of becoming damaged during transport or after prolonged use outside, so it’s best to purchase a durable panel that can withstand the hazards of travel. 

Are portable solar panels waterproof?

Most portable solar panels are water or weather-resistant—meaning they should not be submerged underwater but can be left outside in light rain. However, that doesn’t mean that every portable panel should be left outside permanently. Check with the manufacturer to ensure the panel will meet your needs.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Amber Nolan has been using solar power in her houseboat for several years. When traveling, she personally owns the Jackery solar panel.