The 7 greatest moveable solar modules of 2021 – Treehugger

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Whether you're planning a road trip, sailing adventure, beach vacation, or camping trip, charging electronics in remote areas can be a challenge. Solar power is an excellent, environmentally friendly option for staying powered on the go, but traditional modules are bulky and designed to stay attached in one place. However, there are now a large number of portable solar panels that are light, powerful, and designed to withstand the elements. They're also compact enough to store in case of an emergency in the event of a power failure.

We scoured a variety of products to find the best portable solar panels.

Final verdict

Our top pick is the Renogy 100-watt monocrystalline panel (view it on Amazon), that is an easy choice for RV, boat, van travel, or a day at the beach. The Dokio Portable Monocrystalline Controller is a bit cheaper (view on Amazon) is an attractive, lightweight alternative. If you're just looking for a solar panel to charge a phone or camera, go for the SunJack 15 Watt Foldable ETFE Solar Panel (view it on Amazon).

What to Look For When Buying a Portable Solar Panel


When buying a panel, consider what you are asking to calculate what panel size you will need. Smaller devices like phones do well for the 15 watt panel, while larger devices like coolers need a larger panel (and usually a battery to store that energy). Wattage refers to maximum DC power under optimal conditions, but keep in mind that cloud cover can prevent maximum power.


Since you are likely planning to take the panel with you when traveling (or at least transporting it around the yard), you want something that is sturdy, weatherproof, and compact enough that it can be easily stored and transported. Think about the type of trip you will be making: if you are hiking and carrying your gear on your back, the lighter the panel, the better. Robust bolts, rust-resistant materials, protected glass and reinforced parts are important for the longevity of the panel.

height and weight

Depending on how you are traveling and how much storage space you have available when you are not in use, the size and weight of your solar panel are an important factor. Many of the panels fold up into easy-to-carry suitcases – but if space is limited, you may need something even smaller. While panels with a nylon exterior can be lighter, they may not be as durable as those with a metal frame.

frequently asked Questions

How do you use portable solar panels?

Portable solar panels can be used to charge devices directly or to charge batteries or solar generators. Some panels can be plugged directly into phones or small devices for charging when the sun is shining (the panels must face the sun), but direct solar charging can be inconsistent. It's best to use a solar panel to capture energy and store it in some type of battery (like a solar regulator, battery pack, or charging station) and then connect devices to it – especially with stronger panels.

How long do portable solar panels last?

A good quality, permanent, permanently installed solar panel should provide solid energy performance for 25 to 30 years, but it is a good idea to check if the module has a warranty. We've seen firsthand our fair share of cheaper panels that stop working after a few years with no warranty.

Many portable solar panels are made of lighter materials and are unlikely to last as long. They are at risk of damage during transportation or after prolonged outdoor use, so it is best to purchase a durable panel that will withstand the hazards of travel.

Are Portable Solar Panels Waterproof?

Most portable solar panels are water or weather resistant – meaning they shouldn't 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 make sure the panel meets 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.


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