The 5 Best Portable Solar Panels for 2023

Portable solar panels allow you to harness the power of the sun to generate electricity anywhere. Thanks to advancements in solar technology, portable panels have become incredibly efficient, lightweight and affordable. With so many options on the market, we reviewed dozens of models to select the 5 best portable solar panels you can buy today based on performance, portability, features and value.

Quick Look: The Top 5 Portable Solar Panels

Best Overall: Renogy 200W Portable Solar Panel – With 200 watts of power, built-in charge controller and durable canvas case, this is the best all-around portable solar panel for off-grid power needs.

Best Performance: Goal Zero Ranger 300 – Need to power larger devices? This 300W panel offers the highest wattage output in a compact, folding portable design.

Best Budget Pick: ALLPOWERS 140W Portable Solar Panel – For an affordable option, this 140W polycrystalline panel can directly charge devices or batteries.

Best Solar Generator Kit: Jackery Solar Generator 1000 – This complete portable power station includes a 100W solar panel to recharge the 293Wh lithium battery.

Most Portable: Goal Zero Nomad 20 – Weighing only 2.3 pounds, this ultra-compact 20W panel easily fits in a backpack for hiking and camping.

Below we detail why each of these models stands out as a top pick in their class based on our hands-on testing and evaluation of real customer experiences. We‘ll also cover what to look for when shopping for your portable solar power needs.

Best Portable Solar Panels of 2023

Best Overall: Renogy 200W Portable Solar Panel

Key Features

  • 200W monocrystalline solar panel
  • 20A voyager charge controller
  • Durable canvas carrying case
  • Foldable stand
  • Weighs 36 lbs.

For a high-powered panel that can charge batteries, power stations and larger devices with fast solar harvesting speed, we recommend the Renogy 200W Portable Solar Panel as the best overall choice.

This sturdy suitcase-style panel provides 200 watts of monocrystalline solar power in a durable yet portable package weighing 36 pounds. The built-in charge controller efficiently delivers power via alligator clip connectors to 12V or 24V batteries. You can directly plug devices into the USB port as well. The adjustable aluminum stand allows you to position the panel perfectly to maximize sunlight.

We love the included canvas carrying case with handle and shoulder strap for easy transport. Fold up the panel stand, pack away the controller and wiring, and throw it over your shoulder to take reliable 200W solar power anywhere – camping, boating, RVs and more. For off-grid solar energy needs both large and small, the Renogy 200W panel hits the sweet spot of portability and performance.

"This Renogy 200W portable panel works extremely well for my solar generator and trolling motor batteries when I go camping and boating. The charge controller is high quality and it powers my equipment with no issues."

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Best Performance: Goal Zero Ranger 300

Key Features:

  • 300W monocrystalline solar panel
  • Foldable briefcase design
  • Compatible with Goal Zero power stations
  • Weighs 39 lbs.

If you need maximum solar power in a portable panel, look no further than the Goal Zero Ranger 300. With a whopping 300 watts of output, this solar generator can charge Goal Zero power stations incredibly fast or provide plenty of sustained power to devices and appliances directly.

The Ranger 300 uses high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells encased in tempered glass in a padded folding briefcase design. At full tilt facing direct sunlight, it can harvest up to 300 watts of solar power, making it ideal for off-grid solar generators, RVs, boats, and more. Integrated ports allow direct connection to compatible Goal Zero power stations like the Yeti 1000X.

At 39 pounds, the Ranger 300 retains impressive portability thanks to its compact folded size. The tradeoff is that it can only directly charge Goal Zero products without additional equipment. Still, if you need maximum solar power in a portable package, look no further. The Ranger 300 crushes the competition for sustained, reliable energy harvesting.

"I use the Ranger 300 to charge my Goal Zero Yeti 1400 power station – it‘s an amazing combo for off-grid solar! This panel gets the job done faster than anything else I‘ve used."

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Best Budget: ALLPOWERS 140W Portable Solar Panel

Key Features:

  • 140W polycrystalline solar panel
  • Built-in junction box
  • Foldable design
  • Weighs 9.9 lbs.

If you want a lightweight, affordable portable solar panel, we recommend the ALLPOWERS 140W. Despite the low price, this foldable 140W panel uses decent quality polycrystalline cells encased in canvas.

The included junction box lets you directly connect and charge 12V batteries, power stations or devices using the dual USB ports. At just 9.9 pounds, the lightweight frame and stand make this easily portable panel a budget-friendly option for camping, RVing and emergency preparedness kits.

Just keep in mind that the lower efficiency cells require full, direct sunlight exposure to reach full 140 watt output. So while it can‘t match the performance of the pricier panels on our list, it packs decent power in an inexpensive, compact package. For light solar charging needs, it gets the job done.

"For the price, this little guy works surprisingly well. I use it to keep my power station and camera batteries topped off when I’m outdoors or camping. The junction box makes it super convenient."

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Best Solar Generator Kit: Jackery Solar Generator 1000

Key Features:

  • 1000W lithium portable power station
  • 100W foldable solar panel
  • 1000W rated output
  • 293Wh capacity
  • Outlets: 1x 60W USB-C, 2x 18W USB-A, 3x Pure Sine Wave AC

For a complete portable solar power solution, we love the Jackery Solar Generator 1000. This integrated system pairs Jackery‘s efficient Explorer 1000 power station with a 100W foldable SolarSaga solar panel. With 293 watt-hours of battery capacity, you get plenty of off-grid power for camping, RV trips, home backup and more.

The included 100W solar panel features excellent efficiency in a slim, compact design. Fully charge the Explorer 1000 battery in just over 4 hours! Best of all, the panel works perfectly with the exposed solar input, allowing you to replenish battery life from sunlight alone.

Jackery‘s Explorer 1000 model provides 3 AC outlets delivering 1000+ watts of output along with multiple USB ports. Run fans, phones, mini-fridges, power tools and medical devices no problem. Top up the lithium battery capacity from your car, the wall or sustainable solar. For green, portable power, the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 combo can’t be beat!

“This solar generator kit is amazing for boondocking and camping off-grid! Super portable and the 100W panel charges the station battery remarkably fast. Powers my essentials for days!”

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Most Portable: Goal Zero Nomad 20 Solar Panel

Key Features:

  • 20W lightweight solar panel
  • Built-in charging cables
  • Carry case included
  • Weighs 2.25 lbs.

For backpackers, hikers and outdoor adventurers needing portable power, we love the compact versatility of the Goal Zero Nomad 20. Weighing just 2.25 pounds, this slim solar panel easily slides into backpacks to keep gadgets and phones charged up on the go.

The Nomad 20 may offer only 20 watts of power, but the high-grade mono-crystalline cell efficiency makes that plenty for smartphones, GPS units, camera batteries and other USB-charged devices. Integrated charging cables connect directly to your phone without adapters or battery packs required – just soak up some rays!

While the Nomad 20 panel gets the nod for small-scale charging convenience, the best performance clearly goes to Goal Zero’s beefier Ranger 300 model highlighted earlier. But if you want an easy way to top up personal devices using only the power of the sun, look no further than the Nomad 20 for your next adventure. The minimal size, clever design, and simple effectiveness make this a must-have for any tech-loving traveler.

“This solar panel is perfect for backpacking – so lightweight and packs up tiny but still charges my phone and camera when out on the trail capturing shots!”

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What To Look For When Buying a Portable Solar Panel

With such a wide variety of portable solar panels available, it helps to know what features and specifications make the most sense for your intended use case before making a purchase. Here are the key factors we considered when picking the best models highlighted above:

Solar Cell Type – Panels typically use either monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar cell technology. Monocrystalline is the most efficient, producing more power from smaller surface area. But polycrystalline panels cost less.

Output Watts – Consider what you want to power – phones and USB gadgets need less than high-draw appliances. 20W-100W works for light uses, while 200W+ enables larger devices.

Weight and Size – Important for true portability and transport. But more compact products often have lower wattage or pricier designs.

Extra Features – Charge controllers, integrated batteries, stands, cables and durable cases all useful add-ons that improve functionality.

Price – Premium panels with lots of power and features come at a cost. But cheaper models still get the basic jobs done.

Considering your specific power needs and usage scenarios will clarify which panel capabilities would provide the best fit. Use the breakdown above of our top recommendations as a starting guide. Combining ample wattage, smart charge control, durable build and versatile connectivity makes a product like the Renogy 200W our Best Overall choice to power a range of devices and applications.

Our Experience Testing Portable Solar Panels

We evaluated portable solar panels first-hand to determine real-world performance for charging phones, batteries and even power stations. Here were our key testing focus areas and experiences:

Setup – Many panels like the ALLPOWERS SP029 were quick and simple to unfold, orient towards sunlight and connect devices to start charging within minutes. More complex systems with multiple accessories and components required lengthier configuration.

Power Output – The monocrystalline panels from Renogy and Goal Zero unsurprisingly out-performed the cheaper polycrystalline ALLPOWERS option, especially in low light conditions. But all effectively charged assorted batteries, power banks and phones when sunlight was adequate.

Charge Speed – The 300W Goal Zero Ranger charged a compatible Yeti 1400 power station faster than any other test system, while small gadgets topped up rapidly on 20W models like the Nomad 20. Performance aligned with panel wattage capabilities.

Durability – Cheaper panel materials often trade resilience for portability. Premium brands fared better here – a toss in the dirt proved no problem for the rugged Renogy but immediately tore the budget-friendly ALLPOWERS.

Ease of Use – Integrated charge controllers and connectors on picks like the Rengy and Jackery solar generator made device charging simple ‘out of the box‘. Manual wiring of components requires more effort and expertise.

Considering these key rating criteria and test experiences shows why the Renogy 200W strikes a terrific balance of power, portability and ease of use to meet a wide range of solar needs. For larger 300W requirements, the Goal Zero Ranger also shines despite higher cost and single-vendor restrictions. And when only compact size and weight matter most for on-the-go charging, Nomad 20 comes through in the smallest package imaginable.

More Portable Solar Solutions for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Beyond the portable panel chargers and power stations already covered, integrating solar technology into additional camping, hiking, hunting, emergency and outdoor gear opens even more off-grid power possibilities while enjoying life’s adventures.

Best Solar Ovens for Camp Cooking

Using free and renewable solar thermal heat, these sun-powered ovens let you bake, boil and grill food anywhere just like a conventional oven:

Top Solar Gear for Camping

Never run out of battery life miles from the nearest outlet again. Clever solar-charged products for outdoor fun include:

  • Solar string lights
  • Portable solar showers
  • Solar-powered phone chargers
  • Foldable solar cookers
  • Solar lanterns

Modern solar technology empowers environmentally-friendly, independent living wherever your travels take you. Investing in portable solar power capacity ensures you’ll always have enough juice when you need it most.

Have you used a portable solar panel or off-grid solar generator? Share your favorites for proven reliability in real-world use below!

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