10 Best Camping Solar Panels Reviews and Buying Guide
Keeping their auxiliary batteries charged with the help of camping solar panels is something that camping enthusiasts have been doing for years. Apart from bringing down the impact on the environment, solar energy that the panels generate will help with saving money as well. They help with power generation to recharge your smart devices and even some small appliances in your camping van. You can do this even when you are spending days in a place without an on-grid power supply and use it as a RV solar generator.
With the best solar panels available in the market, it will be possible to generate a renewable and green source of electricity. With the solar generators for camping, you can spend your vacation right in your camper van without having to look for an electrified site to stay at. When you have a portable solar generator that is powered by a solar panel, you can go to any place without worrying about ways to power your appliances.
The Best Solar Panels for Camping – A Brief Summary
During camping, solar panels are important for portable generators. Here are the best camping solar panels on the market:
- Best Panel with Water-proof and Weatherproof Junction Box: 110 Watt Portable Solar Panel from EF Ecoflow
- Quick charging solar panel: Foldable Solar Panel Charger Kit 60W from POWOXI
- The Best Panel for Jackery Solar Generators: SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel for Explorer Generator from Jackery
- The Best Easy-to-setup Solar Panel: SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel from Jackery
- Solar Panel with the Best Design: 100W 12Volt Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase from Renogy
- The Best Overall: Solar Generator with 18W Solar Panel from Eco-Worthy
- Panels with four-times Better Light-Absorbing Ability: Portable Power Bank with 4 Solar Panels from Hiluckey
- Panels that have Passed the Best Quality Control Steps: 18V Portable Solar Panel from PAXCESS
- The Best Panel for Solar Generators from BLUETTI: SP200 200W Solar Panel from Bluetti
- The Best Panel for First-time Solar Panel Users: RP082 100W Foldable Solar Panel Charger from Rockpals
You have the option to buy solar panels alone or you can buy solar panel kits for your camping needs. Different from portable inverter generators, The good thing about solar generator kits is that they will have everything required for power generation to the storage of generated power. It can be used as portable home batteries and solar battery chargers to provide clean and reliable energy. But, if you feel that panel alone is enough for you to function as a solar charger for your smart devices, you can save money, of course.
Now, let us get into the review of the top 10 solar panels from the list given above:
1. 110 Watt Portable Solar Panel from EF Ecoflow
This unit is one of the best outdoor solar panels because it is offered as a foldable solar charger. The waterproof IP67 rating and adjustable kickstand make it the best choice for outdoor use. You can adjust the kickstand in such a way that the panel generates the best power from the sun by better exposure to the sun.
The unique feature of this panel is that it is compatible with more solar generators in the market. The reason is that EcoFlow offers this unit with different connectors in different sizes. Also, the chainable feature makes this panel unique. With this feature, you can chain an utmost four or more EcoFlow panels together using the MC4 cable. It means that within a few hours of charging, you can get the power required for charging many devices.
This solar panel has been designed with a rubber handle. Even, it has a flexible bracket stand. You can adjust this stand from 0-180 degrees. Even, it is possible to store it in a storage pouch for easy transportation. The storage pouch has also been made using a special durable fabric material. It safeguards the panel from occasional rains. Not only for camping generators, but these features also make this product the best choice for hiking, climbing, and picnic as well.
The water-proof feature of this panel has been designed in such a way that you can immerse it in water for around 30 minutes. Even when you do this, there will not be any detrimental effect on its performance.
- Panel with adjustable kickstand
- Durable waterproof IP67 rating
- Possibility to generate more power by connecting more panels
- High conversion rate
- Monocrystalline silicon cells
- High Cost
2. Foldable Solar Panel Charger Kit 60W from POWOXI
This is one of the best solar panels because it has been designed to recharge solar generators from any brand. The reason is that it comes with connectors of varied sizes to meet your different needs. Apart from helping you recharge your smartphones, tablets, power banks, digital cameras, and GPS systems, it is the best choice for recharging solar generators from different brands like Jackery and Rockpals. Even, it helps charge different models of solar generators from these brands.
The high conversion efficiency of this folding solar panel is an impressive feature that you will love. Yes, it has a conversion rate of up to 24%. Further, this unit comes with a built-in smart IC chip. The good thing about this chip is that it can intelligently identify the device that you charge. This identification protects the device from overloading and overcharging besides increasing the speed at which the device charges. Further, this panel is equipped with a QC 3.0 USB and one USB-C along with a DC port. When the panel is charging from the sun, you can see a red light glowing.
The foldable design along with a handle makes this panel convenient to carry wherever you go. All you have to do is just adjust the angle of the stand in such a way that it is straight to the sun. Also, you can get 25% more power from the sunlight when you place the panel straight to the sun.
- Waterproof and durable
- 11 different size connectors to power different devices
- Double times faster than other panels
- Uses advanced technology.
- The charging rate reduces even when one panel is placed in a shady region.
3. SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel for Explorer Generator from Jackery
Among the other solar panels for camping, this panel stands out because it weighs only 6.6 lb. It is easy to carry and also comes with a kickstand. It is handy, thereby making it the best for camping with its foldability feature and TPE Rubber handle. The kickstand has been designed in such a way that it leans to an angle to help the panel soak in solar energy with ease.
Also, this solar panel assures higher conversion efficiency. This is because of the monocrystalline silicon solar cells that this panel uses. It ensures a conversion efficiency of 23%. It means that if you buy Jackery 160 or 240 Power Station separately, you can charge the power station within 4.5 to 6.5 hours with this panel.
Further, this panel comes with an ETFE-laminated case. It is durable enough to extend the lifespan of this panel. Further, it is IP65 water-resistant. It means that it can stay protected against any damages in the case of a water splashing. The pocket in which this panel comes has zippers. They help with safely holding the power cords when you travel.
You can directly charge your tablet and smartphone from this panel because it comes with USB-A and USB-C ports.
- The best safety features
- Durable and splashproof design
- 23% high-efficiency rating
- Best suits solar generators from Jackery
- Does not perform well with solar generators from other brands.
4. SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel from Jackery
This easy-to-setup solar panel features 2 kickstands. They are designed in such a way that they can stand firmly on any surface. Within a few seconds, you can ensure that the solar panel can start generating energy from the sun. It comes with a TPE rubber handle that permits you to carry the panel around with ease.
This Jackery solar panel has also been designed for a Jackery solar generator. Particularly, it can power right from Jackery 240 to 1500 Power Stations and everything in-between. It ensures higher conversion efficiency of 23%. The reason is that it is covered by monocrystalline silicon solar cells. Also, the panel adopts Multi-Layered Cell Technology for the generation of energy from the sunlight.
It is made durable and splash-proof with an ETFE-laminated case. Also, IP65 water-resistant rating will safeguard the panel from water splashing. This ETFE case has zippers to safely hold the power cords.
- Easy to setup
- Higher Solar Efficiency
- IP65 water-resistance rating
- Safety features
- Even though it is foldable, it has a bulky design
5. 100W 12Volt Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase from Renogy
The very design of this panel impresses anybody seeing it for the first time. Yes, when you fold it, it will not look like a solar panel. But, it looks like a suitcase. Further, it comes with a corrosion-resistant adjustable aluminum stand and heavy-duty handle and latches. All these ensure easy carrying and longevity of the panel as well.
Depending on the availability of sunlight, it can generate 500Watt hours per day, thereby meeting your camping needs effectively. As it is compatible with multiple types of batteries, you can use this panel for powering any portable power station.
This panel is compatible with flooded, lithium, sealed and gel batteries. It comes with a charge controller with an LCD display. It offers overcharge protection, thereby bringing down the risk of fire.
- Great design looks like a briefcase
- A low-voltage system avoids electric shock hazards
- Corrosion-resistant and adjustable aluminum stand
- Heavy-duty handles for easy carrying
- Uses old technology
6. Solar Generator with 18W Solar Panel from Eco-Worthy
This unit is offered as a complete kit for solar power generation. Along with 18W Solar Panels, this set comes with an 84Wh portable power station, camp lamps with battery, flashlights and USB DC outlets to make your outdoor time with your family hassle-free.
This unit is one of the best solar panel kits because it has everything required for generating and even storing solar power. With its 12 years lifespan, it can bring a charge cycle of more than 3000 times. With this unit, you can power not just your mobile phones but also your LED lights. It has been designed to meet long and continuous lighting needs. The unit comes with three external lamps with individual switches. They can continue to light up your space for 40 hours. Above all, besides consuming less energy, they can bring high brightness up to 140 Lumens/W.
Even though it is offered as a complete set, it does not weigh more. Yes, the weight is only 2.1 lbs. Further, for portability, it comes with an easy-to-carry handle. Also, it offers two different ways to charge. Not only from the solar panel that is part of this kit, you can also charge it from your car battery and even wall plug. Above all, it comes with a LiFePO4 battery along with external and built-in lights.
- Lights up your space for longer
- Has in-built and external lights
- Solar panel with 10 feet extension cable
- Weighs only 2.1 lbs
- Comes as a complete set with accessories too for solar power generation.
- The user manual does not have clear instructions on how to use
7. Portable Power Bank with 4 Solar Panels from Hiluckey
This unit comes as a complete set for solar power generation. Most importantly, it comes with a high capacity 25000mAh Li-Polymer battery. With this battery capacity, this unit can recharge your tablets 3-4 times and your phones 8-10 times for an average of 9 days of usage after a single charge.
It comes with 4 foldable high-efficiency solar panels. It charges 4-6 times quicker as compared to other solar chargers. Apart from charging via the solar panel, the generator can be charged even using a micro USB cable. You can use this unit for charging a couple of devices at the same time. This is because it has two 2.1A USB ports with 2.1A high-speed charging efficiency.
This solar charger can automatically identify the devices you connect and can ensure optimum charging. This portable charger has been built for outdoor use. The reason is that it has a rugged construction. Above all, it is shock, dust and waterproof as well. For outdoor emergencies, it has been built with an LED flashlight that has SOS Mode.
For easy charging, it comes with a hook that helps with hanging the panel in an area that gets the utmost sun exposure. Above all, the panels have a four-times better light-absorbing ability.
- Ultra-high capacity 25000 mAh battery
- High-speed charging efficiency
- Four-times better light-absorbing ability
- Dual USB Ports enable charging two devices simultaneously
- Equipped with 9 LED flashlights
- Heavier than regular power banks
8. 18V Portable Solar Panel from PAXCESS
This upgraded 120W Portable Solar Panel from PAXCESS comes with a high-charging efficiency. It is the best solar panel for more portable solar generators in the market because it comes with four different sizes of connectors. It can charge generators from different brands like Bluetti, Joyzis, Westinghouse, Jackery, Rockpals, and of course PAXCESS.
This panel assures a high-conversion efficiency of up to 23%. It means that you can make the most out of the glowing sunlight. It has been equipped with USB QC and Type C outputs. It offers double-the-time faster-charging speed for your smart devices. Further, the solar panel is foldable and portable with a kickstand. You can slightly adjust the angle of the kickstand to get 25% more sunlight as against just placing the panel flat.
The 120W outdoor solar panels ensure that you can recharge within 20% lesser time as compared to a 60/100W solar panel. The panel assures safety to users with FC and ROSH Certifications with its set of safety features. The neat bag that comes with this panel makes it friendly for outdoor use as you can easily and safely carry it.
- High-efficiency outdoor solar panel
- High-conversion efficiency of more than 23%
- Ensures faster charging of your smart devices with QC3.0 USB Port
- Comes with waterproof Oxford cloth bag for easy carrying
- Passed through the best quality control processes
- Even though it is not heavy it is bigger
9. SP200 200W Solar Panel from Bluetti
This 200W panel from Bluetti comes with 200-W Monocrystalline cells, which ensures a higher conversion efficiency of up to 23.5%. This number is higher as compared to other solar chargers. Also, it assures 95% transparency, thereby performing better as compared to similarly-rated polycrystalline solar panels in low light conditions. This is much higher than the market average.
Also, the panel has been made with advanced laminated technology. Further, it comes with long-lasting ETFE material on the surface. These features make it the most scratch-resistant and durable solar panel. Further, its IP65 water resistance will safeguard the panel from water splashing.
These camping solar panels work great with solar generators from Bluetti. Even though it is compatible with generators from other brands, Bluetti recommends using these panels with the generators from the same brand. To make it suitable for camping, this solar panel comes in a foldable design with a weight of only 14.3 lbs. Also, it has a good cable length of 9.8 ft.
- Easy installation
- Durable outer material
- Cable length of 9.8 ft
- Foldable design with rubber handles for easy carrying
- Overall these panels have a clumsy design
10. RP082 100W Foldable Solar Panel Charger from Rockpals
This solar panel is compatible with most solar generators in the market. The reason is that it comes with Anderson Connector for solar generators from Jackery, Rockpals, and other brands. To produce more power, this panel offers you the option to connect two RP082 panels as it comes with a parallel cable to do the same.
Apart from being foldable panels, these panels offer high conversion efficiency as well as up to 23.5%. In other words, it can generate more energy and can perform better as compared to other panels when it is left under strong sunlight. It is the ideal choice if you look for solar panels for your outdoor life.
This panel assures four times faster charging time to your smart devices. The reason is that it is equipped with one USB QC and one USB C output port. It has a foldable design with a handle, thereby making it convenient to carry. Also, the adjustable kickstand ensures that you can place the panel straight to the sun to ensure 25% more power generation as compared to placing it flat. To withstand all weather conditions, this panel has exteriors made using Oxford cloth. Also, it is water-resistant. However, the junction box is not waterproof and it should be kept dry.
These panels have been made well and also perform great. Its portability makes it the best companion for campers to keep their devices charged on the move.
- Connectors in this panel are beginner-friendly
- It has a portable design
- It has an attractive pricing
- The quality of this panel is very impressive
- The junction box is not waterproof
What Are Camping Solar Panels?
Camping solar panels are devices with the ability to convert sunlight into electricity. They generate light-electricity and so they are also referred to as photovoltaics. You might be a keen camper. Otherwise, you might be just starting. In both these cases, you need the right equipment to generate power from the sun. This is what a solar panel can do for you. This is particularly important when you plan to travel with your family for an extended period. This equipment will help if you plan to camp in a place without an on-grid power supply. It is suitable for solar generators which are different from normal portable fuel generators, such as dual fuel generators, gas-powered generators, and portable propane generators.
It does not mean that you should get solar panels only when you visit places without any electricity. Even when you visit a fully-electrified place to camp, these panels will help. You can keep your smart devices like mobile phones, tablets, and other devices charged directly from these panels. As they are compact in size and foldable, you can just fold them and place them in your vehicle. Once you visit the camp spot, you can unfold the panels and can place them in an area, where they can get the utmost light energy from the sun. Now, with this knowledge, you might be interested in learning how do they work? Here are some details:
How Do Camping Solar Panels Work?
The best camping solar panels work by capturing the rays from the sun. Then, they convert the captured rays into useful power. They do this by using a device named charge regulator or controller. This regulator then connects to a battery for charging it. However, not all panels come with batteries. You will have to buy them separately if you wish to save the power generated by panels.
What is a solar regulator?
A solar regulator part of solar generators and panels makes sure that the power generated by the panel is transferred to a battery. It does not transfer the power as such. It ensures that it is appropriately transferred based on the charge level and chemistry of the battery. Now, you can understand that it is an intelligent component in a solar panel.
A good quality regulator will encompass a host of electronic protection circuitry to protect the battery. Examples include reverse polarity protection, over-temperature protection, transient overvoltage protection, etc.
Solar panels in the best solar generators are composed of many individual solar cells. Even, these cells encompass layers of phosphorous and silicon along with boron. These panels absorb photons from sunlight. In turn, the electric current generates in these panels.
The energy generated from photons hits the panels. This triggers the process of knocking out as photons from their orbits. In turn, the power is let out into the power field that the solar cells generate. The cells then drag these electrons into a DC. The whole process is referred to as the photovoltaic reaction. The more light hits the cells, the more power is generated. This is why, panels part of a portable power station are recommended to be placed in a space, where they get the utmost sunlight exposure.
What Are the Benefits of Camping Solar Panels?
A solar charger can help you charge your devices almost anywhere. What are the other benefits you can expect from this device? Let us find out here:
1. Capable of charging batteries
Indeed, a solar panel can charge devices only when the sun is out. Nevertheless, when you pair it with a portable generator with a rechargeable power bank, you can save the power it generates to use it even at night.
2. Peaceful than regular generators
Camping solar panels with a silent operation can help with power generation peacefully as compared to regular generators. The reason is that they do not make noise and no fuel is required. When you take the case of conventional generators they are noisy and they are harmful to the environment as well.
3. Compact, lightweight and foldable
The good thing about solar panels is that they are compact and foldable. You can easily carry them. Even, some of them come with in-built LED lights. They can provide the lighting you need when camping outdoors without consuming much power from the panels. Also, some weigh very little such that you can carry them with ease.
You might wonder what if it rains when you camp? You might question what will happen if water gets into the panel. Some of them come in water-protective cases such that the panel can stay protected from water splashes.
5. Travel to remote areas
The good thing about the best camping solar panels is that they help you travel to remote areas with complete peace of mind. Even, you have the option to travel to areas that have grid power. So, even when you are away from your home, you can stay connected with your friends and family as the panels can help with keeping your smartphones and tablets recharged at all times.
6. Saves money
The good thing about solar generators with panels part of them is that after you pay the initial cost of buying, you can continue to generate power absolutely free. You can get free power from the generator for the next 15-20 years based on the system quality. Not only when you camp, you can use them even when you are in your home. So, you can even eliminate the potential monthly utility bills. Even, if your solar generator generates more power than what you consume in your home, you can make money by selling the excess power to your utility company at a premium cost.
7. Clean and renewable energy
Solar generators can produce clean and renewable energy. With global climate change, it has turned out to be more important as responsible citizens to bring down the pressure on our environment. As solar power uses solar power, the emission of greenhouse gases is eliminated. Also, a portable power station powered by solar energy does not contain any moving parts. In turn, they need only a little or no maintenance.
How to Choose Camping Solar Panels?
When you intend to shop for a solar charger, you will have to consider different factors. Here are a few of these them to make your shopping easier:
1. How much power do you need?
You might think how do I know the answer to this question. But, finding the answer to this question is easy. To know your exact power requirements, all you have to do is to add the power each of your appliances needs to operate. You can get to know this value right from your appliances. It is better to choose a solar panel that can produce more watts as compared to your actual requirement.
2. What yype of solar panel do you need?
Before you begin your shopping for a solar panel, it is better to know the different types of solar panels you will come across in the market. Here are the details about the two popular types:
When you take the case of multi-fold panels, you will find that the panel will be large in size when you fully unfold it. The reason is that multi-fold panels will have more panels. They are designed with multiple folds with easy transportation. However, when you unfold, they are not any more portable. So, do not forget this factor before you shortlist.
This type of solar panel is also made portable. This type will have three or four panels with canvas casings. These are portable as they are designed in such a way that you can easily carry them in your backpack. The good thing about this type of solar panel is that you can charge it even when you are moving.
So, consider which of these types will suit you and accordingly place your order.
3. Size and wattage
When you take the case of solar panels with higher wattage, they can power more devices. However, they will be heavier and larger. So, a portable generator with panels with higher watt capacity will weigh more. If you have planned your camping trip by your camper van or car, carrying such a generator might not be an issue. But, if you have plans to hike, this type of heavier variant might not suit you. So, these factors are also to be considered in your shopping.
4. What type of solar regulator has been used?
When you compare camping solar panels, you should not overlook the type of solar regulator used by the panel. The two common kinds of regulators you can find in portable solar panels are Pulse Width Modulation or PWM and Maximum Power Point Tracking or MPPT. Both these types have their own advantages and demerits. So, here are some details to know to identify the suitable type for your needs:
This kind of regulator will have a straight connection between the solar panels and the battery. This type uses a rapid switch mechanism for modulating the charge flow into the battery. Until the battery reaches absorption voltage, the switch in this type of regulator will remain fully open. Once this point is reached, the switch will start to open and close hundreds of times per second. This happens for bringing down the current and keep the voltage constant.
When theoretically speaking, this kind of connection can bring down the effectiveness of the solar panel. The reason is that the voltage of the panel is brought down to match the battery. Nevertheless, this effect is minimal in the case of camping solar panels. The reason is that in most cases, the utmost voltage of the panel is just around 18V.
Even though there will be a small efficiency loss, this type of regulator is generally considered a better choice for combining with portable solar panels. PWM regulators are known for superior dependability and lighter weight. These things are important when you camp for a longer period or in remote locations. The reason is that in remote locations, you might not find a replacement regulator with ease.
Maximum Power Point Tracking
Shortly called MPPT, these regulators are known for the ability to convert excess voltage into additional power. The good thing about this controller is that it will constantly keep an eye on the voltage of the panel that keeps changing regularly. Changes in voltage can happen due to different factors like the position of the sun, weather conditions, and the heat of the panel. It tracks the best combination of voltage and power using the full voltage of the panel. After doing this, it downrates the voltage to match the charge voltage of the battery. In turn, it can deliver additional power to the battery.
The issue with MPPT Controllers is that they are heavier compared to the PWM controllers. Further, they are less dependable. Due to these factors, this controller is not widely used in portable panels.
5. Charge time and run time
When you intend to buy one of the best camping solar panels, you should consider two crucial charging times. Yes, do not forget to consider the time you need for charging your devices. The other charging time you will have to consider is the time it takes to charge the panels.
6. Know the kinds of solar cells
The two common kinds of cells used in panels in solar generators are monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells. There is another type called amorphous or thin film. However, this type is used occasionally. It is less popular than the other two because it requires nearly double the surface area to produce the same amount of power. Also, this type is known for lesser durability. So, if you need a stable solar panel, look for one with polycrystalline or monocrystalline cells. The latter can even help with the quick charging of your devices.
A portable power station is undoubtedly an excellent investment for frequent campers. Do consider the features listed above so that you can end up finding the best suitable solar panel for your needs.
Now, with a detailed review of the best solar panels from different brands, your question will be which panel to choose. Here are some of our choice:
- For first-time solar panel users: RP082 100W Foldable Solar Panel Charger from Rockpals
- A Solar Panel that you can recharge quickly: Foldable Solar Panel Charger Kit 60W from POWOXI
- A Solar Panel that has passed multiple quality tests: 18V Portable Solar Panel from PAXCESS
The thing to remember here is that each of these solar panels for camping has its own pros and cons. One feature that is beneficial for your friend might be of no use to you. The idea here is to choose one of these panels that you feel will meet your off-grid powering needs.