Best Portable Solar Panels Reviewed For 2021

You may want one to help keep your phone charged during your camping trip, or you might need one to keep the light on in your RV. Whatever the reason is, portable solar panels have become favorite to many people who spend a lot of time outside their homes.

Here’s our summary of the top portable solar panels in 2021:

Renogy KIT-STARTER-100DBest Overall 4.6/5
ECO-WORTHY Off-GridBudget Pick4.4/5
Goal Zero Nomad 28 PlusMost Compact4.5/5
Jackery SolarSaga 100 WBest Value4.6/5
Goal Zero Boulder 100Best Premium4.7/5

However, you don’t want to buy a panel that’s bad for you. In fact, you don’t want to buy a panel at all if you don’t need it. So we’ll make sure that you don’t make that mistake. In this article, we’ll be covering your options of buying portable solar panels, defining exactly what they’re good for and how you can use them, and which one you should get. Let’s get started!

What Features Should I Look For When Buying Solar Panels?

Portable solar panels are a great alternative to regular electricity, and more and more people have started to take notice.

Before we begin listing all of the panels you can get, let’s take a look at some of their features. We’ll be differing the panels by type and defining the quality of each panel.

Materials and Technology

Different types of portable solar panels were created by using different technologies and materials. The most popular portable solar panels are crystalline panels, which are used in both off-grid and on-grid solar panel systems. Crystalline panels usually come in two different subtypes: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline models are more efficient than their polycrystalline counterparts, meaning that they get more energy from the same amount of sunlight. They’re also more expensive.

Next, we have the thin-film panel, which is sometimes called the amorphous silicon panel. These panels are cheaper and less efficient, but this is because they’re very portable and flexible. They’re also foldable, so you won’t have any problems with finding room for these panels.


Efficiency should always be your top priority when you’re looking for a portable solar panel. This tells us the rate that the sunlight converts energy to the DC current that powers our homes and appliances. If you take two identical portable solar panels, with the only difference being that panel A is more efficient than panel B, panel A is going to collect more energy than panel B, within the same time period and while being just as large. In this context, efficiency means quality, and that’s what you should always aim for.


Weight shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you’re travelling with a vehicle, but if you’re going on foot, then it could be a key feature. You need to choose a light yet reliable model, otherwise you’re defeating the whole idea of portability. If you’re on the move constantly, then having a foldable and portable solar panel can be a lifesaver. It won’t take too much room in your pack, and you’ll always have power with you.

There are some differences when it comes to how much power you can get from a solar panel. Obviously, solar panels have major differences in size, and different sizes of solar panels offer different outputs of energy. Generally, the larger the solar panel, the greater the amount of sunlight it can absorb. This will result in a larger energy output.

Temperature Impacts

Something worth mentioning is that solar panels tend to function better in cooler areas (contrary to the popular belief). Areas that keep the temperature at 20 degrees Celsius or less are better for solar panels. However, warmer areas don’t really take away too much – solar panels are only 0.3% less efficient in warmer areas.

Your needs will define the differences between the solar panels you’re using. There are panels that can be secured to the top of your RV, there are panels that you can take camping, and there are panels that can power entire camping sites. You’ll need to take your needs into account before making a decision on this.

The most important thing with solar panels is placement. You don’t want any part of your panel to be in the shade. You don’t want dust to get on it either. Clearly, you can’t control the wind, so make sure to clean your panel if you notice any dust on it.


It’s important to think clearly about how much energy you’ll need to produce. You don’t want to buy a portable panel that won’t allow a large enough output of energy. You also don’t want to waste money on a panel that’s producing energy in excess. This will mean that you can’t spend as much energy as your panel is producing, so you’ll ultimately overspend.

You can easily calculate how much power you’ll need by adding up all of your appliances’ power draws, often shown on the products’ labels. The amount of energy your panel can produce is usually defined in the description.

You’ll need to know what you’ll be using it for in advance. Boats and RVs demand much larger systems than what you’d need for a single camping trip. Going camping is completely different from going on a trip with your RV or boat, and usually requires less power. You’ll need to know how much wattage you’ll need, and you shouldn’t buy a panel that goes below that value.

The main selling point of solar panels is that they can charge your batteries anywhere, as long as they have access to direct sunlight. There are also many panels that have batteries included, so they’re able to store the energy they collect. You’ll be able to use it later on, even when the panel isn’t charging. This way, you can have power even during the night. They’re also pretty silent, so they won’t keep you up at night.

Stationary Solar Panels Are Cheaper Than Portable Solar Panels

Portable panels are usually cheaper than stationary panels, typically costing less than $100, with stationary panels costing more than 100$.

Another thing you should know about panels’ overall efficiency is that they can’t collect 100% of sunlight that they face. They can usually only absorb about a quarter of that energy, with the best solar panels absorbing 23% or more. Lower quality solar panels absorb about 20%.

Also, most solar panels only have two USB ports for charging, with the odd panel having three ports. They also usually have only 2.4 amps of power, which will charge your devices slowly. Only the highest-end panels have higher amperage and can charge your devices quickly.

Ease of Installation

Make sure that the panel you’re buying doesn’t require a master’s degree in engineering to install. There are many panels that are easy to use, sure, but there are also many panels that require an entire team to install.

Find panels that don’t require any special skills or special tools instead. This information is usually printed on the packaging or in the description of the product. There are panels that are simply rolled out or unfolded, and there are panels with adjustable stands.

Now that we’ve covered everything, let’s take a look at our choices for the best portable solar panels.

1. Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D – Best Overall 

This portable solar panel system is actually one of the best in the world. Its wattage adds up to 400W, so you won’t have to worry about powering several devices at the same time. It will power up your RV in no time.

Portable Solar Panel Features

This system is also very light, weighing in at just under 20 pounds, with the input voltage of 18.9 volts. The solar efficiency of this panel comes to 21%, with the charge controller upgrading to Renogy’s new 30A PWM negative ground charge controller. This charge controller is the reason you can expand your system up to a maximum of 400W.

According to the manufacturer, this system can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in 3 hours (depending on the availability of sunlight). The ideal output of the system is 500Wh per day.

A negative grounding controller with battery reversed, overloading, short-circuit, and over charging/discharging protection ensures broader off-grid applications and safety. It’s also great to use on vehicles that have a negative battery on the chassis.

It’s a great panel to mount onto your RV (or any other vehicle) for several reasons. The aluminum frame is resistant to corrosion, which allows the panel to last for decades. You’ll also get solar panel connectors, an 8 ft long 10AWG tray cable, and mounting brackets for RVs and boats in the packaging. With that, you also get the solar panel and a 30A PWM negative ground charge controller.

Portable Solar Panel Benefits

This panel system is made of monocrystalline, meaning that it’s incredibly efficient.

This starter kit is great for people who are just getting started in solar energy. It’s amazing for off-grid applications such as RVs, trailers, boats, sheds, and cabins. It can provide many benefits, including quiet power production and grid independence. This will extend your travels further than ever before.

You can install these panels onto your RV if you’re going on a longer camping trip. You won’t have to bother bringing a generator since you’ll never run out of power.

It will allow for heaters and lights to run all night, and the batteries will be fully charged when you wake up. Although a single panel would be enough for most campers, you could install more panels if you have a large RV with more devices that need charging.

These panels are easy to install, so you’ll never have to worry about hiring a professional to install them.

You can check it out here.

2. ECO-WORTHY Off-Grid Monocrystalline Portable Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase with Charge Controller – Budget Pick

If you’re on a tight budget, then this panel might be the one for you.

Eco-Worthy portable solar panels are some of the most affordable panels on the market nowadays.

This panel is both portable and foldable, with a ready-to-use plug and play portable solar briefcase. You also have a pre-installed controller and pre-wired battery clips, which you’ll need to charge the 12V battery. You also have a handle on the briefcase, making it much more comfortable to carry.

This panel is also very easy to set up! All you have to do is open up the folding solar panel, and the battery clips will allow for simple connection to the battery. That’s it! The aluminum stand will quickly start to generate energy and you’ll be able to charge any 12V DC devices.

Portable Solar Panel Features

According to the manufacturer, this panel is ideal for hiking, camping, and military use. It’s also great for off-grid solar panel systems, caravans, RVs, boats, greenhouse solar panel systems, and solar pump watering systems.

This system comes with a pre-installed controller protection. This means it protects the system from over-charge, over-discharge, overload, and reverse-connection.

Within the packaging, you’ll get the panel, the pre-installed 20A charge controller, 10 feet of solar cables (paired with a single pair of 30A alligator clips and a single adjustable aluminum stand), a handle, and latches.

The system is 31 by 20 inches in size, so it’s not too large. It only weighs 26.5 pounds, so it’s not too heavy either.

This system also uses monocrystalline, which means it’s great for collecting sunlight.

Portable Solar Panel Benefits

However, there are some issues with this panel that you should know about. This is the cheap option, so it’s natural that there are problems. The legs on the system (that are supposed to tilt it, so that it can adjust to the sunlight) are very short and don’t tilt the system very high up.

The solar controller doesn’t provide much information either, only a green light that illuminates when the panels are activated by sunlight.

However, there are numerous inexpensive solar controllers available on Amazon that install more easily. These not only have a display panel, but allow some user control of output voltages, etc.

You can buy this panel here.

3. Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel – Best Compact

If you’re looking for something that’s easily portable, then look no further from Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel.

This panel weighs just three pounds, and it’s only 12 by 7 inches long when it’s folded. This makes it great to fit in your pack, and it’s not too heavy for carrying around.

Portable Solar Panel Features

This device is amazing if you’re looking to pack tightly and save as much room as possible. The panel also produces 28W of energy. You can connect to it via a USB cable, so charging all your devices is easy.

The best word to describe the design behind this product is – rugged. It’s waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about rain damage. The removable kickstand also lets you choose the best angle for placement towards the sun. When it unfolds, the device is 12 inches long and almost 32 inches wide, so it covers a wide area when opened.

This device uses smart electronics and a dynamic auto-restart system. This means that out of all your devices, it optimizes energy output to match the device that needs charging the most. It can charge phones, tablets, and other USB-powered gear directly from the sun, even in cloudy conditions.

Portable Solar Panel Benefits

The LED indicator display is very easy to read, and you can gauge the strength of solar conditions here. It also offers feedback on the speed of charging.

The auto-restart system will ensure that the panel will automatically restart the connection to a device once it recognizes that the device is in need of charging. According to the manufacturer, this panel will charge a 30Wh power bank in a few hours.

This panel uses microcrystalline silicon, which is currently the most efficient material for solar panels on the market.

The system used for this panel is great. If you leave your smartphone to charge, the panel will stop charging it when it loses sunlight. It will automatically restart as soon as sunlight’s available again.

It’d be ideal to pair a power bank to this panel. That way, you could charge that power bank and only use the panel once it’s already charged.

You can check it out here.

4. Jackery SolarSaga 100 W Portable Solar Panel – Best Value

This panel is going to give you a great value for your money. Jackery is widely known, in solar panel circles, as one of the best companies in production of solar panels. They’ve been developing solar panels and other green energy solutions since 2012, and this solar panel system is no different.

Portable Solar Panel Features

This panel weighs in at just under 10 pounds, and is 23 by 20 inches in size. It’s very portable, and the comfortable handle allows for easy folding and carrying. The 100-Watt module implemented in the design separates into two panels. The panels have a kickstand that allows them to be positioned on any surface at a 45° angle. This is great because the panels can face towards the sunlight, which can and usually will make the difference between having enough energy and having a lack of the same.

Another amazing feature worth mentioning is the fact that this panel has the highest conversion available – 23%. Remember when we talked about conversion and efficiency? We highlighted that panels can only use about a quarter (or in some cases: a fifth) of all sunlight they receive. We also noted that only high-end panels can achieve 23% or more. Well, this is one of those panels, when we’re talking about efficiency – this is about as good as it gets.

With this panel, you get two USB ports, so you can charge both smartphones and small electronics. One of the USB ports is USB-C (5V/3A), and the other port is a USB-A port (5V/2.4A).

Portable Solar Panel Benefits

You can combine this solar panel with Jackery’s Explorer 160/240/500/1000 power station (sold separately), which is suitable for unexpected power outages and outdoor life.

This solar panel is also very durable, since ETFE material covers its surface, ensuring its longevity. This is also the reason for higher light transmittance and its weight. It can operate at temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius, and as hot as 65 degrees Celsius. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the solar panel is not waterproof (unlike many other waterproof panels that we’ve mentioned), so it’s not suitable for boats.

This panel is also one of the most highly rated solar panels on Amazon, with 86% of ratings being five-star ratings (at the time of writing), out of 1540 worldwide ratings and reviews.

The panel is very easy to set up and to use, and connecting it to any Jackery’s Explorer power station isn’t difficult either. This panel, however, isn’t really something that you can fit into your backpack or something similar.

It’s something you can transport in your vehicle and keep in your home. We still think that it’s great for camping, it’s just not that portable and flexible, that’s all.

If you want to learn more about this panel, you can check it out here.

5. Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase – Best Premium

This model is one of Goal Zero’s most portable solutions, and one of the most popular ones.

Goal Zero designed and manufactured this module with tempered glass, aluminum frame and reinforced corners, making it ideal for outdoor situations since it’s resistant to damage.

Take note that there isn’t a single piece of equipment, in any field, that’s completely damage-resistant. But this solar panel is a great example of what a rugged structure and tough materials can achieve.

Portable Solar Panel Features

This panel has kickstands built into the system as well. This allows you to find that perfect angle under which your system will get the most exposure to the sun. You can use this to increase energy production throughout the day. You can also remove this kickstand if you’d like to mount this panel.

This system was field-tested in a wide range of environments, from expeditions in the Arctic to job sites to the backyard. The Boulder 100 Briefcase is designed to pair with a Goal Zero Yeti power station. This is a great solar charging solution that you can use for camping, work sites, off-grid events, and backup power at home when the grid goes down.

There are two panels in this system, each one being 50-Watts, which add to the combined weight of 26 pounds. The panels have a briefcase design, meaning that it’s portable and you can take it wherever you’d like.

The Boulder 100 Briefcase comes with with an anodized aluminum frame. It has added corner protection and a tempered glass covering, making it weatherproof. The whole system easily stores away once you don’t need it anymore, making it perfect for camping trips.

The best thing about this product, though, is the fact that it comes with a 2-year warranty.

Portable Solar Panel Benefits

You also get a carrying case, making it easy to move it around. The system itself is 40 by 27 inches in size, making it large enough to collect a decent amount of sunlight when folded. Its rigid aluminum frame makes it lightweight yet tough, making it ideal for camping, emergency, or off-grid scenarios.

You also have the option to connect this panel to other panels, using Goal Zero’s easy-to-use combiner cables. This way, you can collect even more energy from the Sun.

Goal Zero also offers their customer service team, which you can reach by phone, email, or online chat – to answer any questions if you happen to have issues with this product.

This panel is definitely worth the money, as it’s incredibly convenient and very rugged, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll break it or damage it. It’s considerably heavy, though, and you should keep that in mind when purchasing this.

Here’s a link if you want to find out more.

Further Reading

Electricity on the go can make your travelling experiences much better. In you haven’t considered it, a solar car battery charger is a great safety option to recharge your car battery in remote areas.

If you are using an RV to travel across the country, you should check learn how to properly install a solar panel on your RV.

Lastly, you may want your portable solar panels to charge your electric vehicle. In that case, check out how to use solar panels to charge your EV.


I'm trying to make the world a bit greener every day, whether that's through my day job or helping others make green choices for their homes.

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