Getting power out in the forest doesn’t require loud generators or home-charged battery packs. Set up some solar in the sun! To find the best portable solar panels for camping, you should have some idea of what you want to charge. Two of the recommendations on this list are smaller, cheaper solar panels sufficient for phones and not much else. The other two recommendations are larger power stations which can handle RV setups and refrigerators.
Renogy’s starter pack is all you need for a great camping solar setup, including a negative grounding controller to protect the electronics you hook up to it. With a 12V deep-cycle battery, it’s enough to power a laptop, tablet, and phone all at the same time. The dimensions make it a little clunky (4 feet by 2 feet), but it’s only a couple inches thick so it slides nicely into a truck bed or the side of a van. Excellent charge time, even on cloudier days!
When you’re headed camping, packing space is essential. And solar panels, for all their great energy benefits out in the forest, can be heavy and clunky. Renogy’s suitcase is one of the great portable solar panel kits for camping. The entire system folds down into a compact, easy cary suitcase. It’s the most expensive option on this list, but it features great charge time and easy packing. If you’re a frequent camper in need of frequent power, the Renogy may be worth the price tag.
The Hiluckey Solar Charger is a foldable solar panel that will charge your phones without draining your finances. Four solar panels fold out for a great surface area for sunlight, and two USB ports charge 2 devices at the time. Waterproof construction, and a 12-month warranty make it a trusted, durable panel. Enough power to charge phones 8 to 10 times (or tablets 3 to 4 times) for great usage per charge.
If you’ve been reading product descriptions wondering why none of these solar panels have built in lights, then you and GoerTek have some like minded ideas about what makes the best camping solar panel. GoerTek’s solar power bank not only has solar to charge your phone, it also has a 36 LED interface to light up your campsite for some night time shenanigans. Less power than some other options, but ideal if all you need is some phone charging and site lighting.
How to Choose The Best Solar Panels for Camping
When looking at camping solar panel reviews, there’s a few different specs you need to consider. Most importantly, you’ll want to know what you want to charge. Solar panels for camping vary greatly in power and cost, and you don’t want to overpay for phone charging.
What do I want to do with the solar panel?
Two of the items on this list are $200 and above, and the other two are around $50. This is because the cost of the ideal camping solar panels vary depend on what you’re trying to charge. If you’re looking to jump car and RV batteries, power fridges, and run an electronics store amount of electronics--you’ll need one of the expensive ones. If you want a camping solar panel to power a couple appliances and make sure your phone doesn’t die, the cheaper ones should be sufficient.
Also think about where you want to put it. You can set it up at your campsite, sure, but you can also easily mount it on your car, like this video shows.
The small solar panels on this list are about 50 bucks a pop, while the larger ones will run you 200 and 300 respectively. These price points are pretty standard when looking at solar panels for campers. Something to charge your phone will be about 50, and trying to get 12V will push you closer to the 200 mark. If you keep these price points in mind when looking for the right amount of solar panel, you probably won’t overpay for your wilderness power.
Size and Aesthetics
While camping solar panels aren’t exactly string lights for the bedroom, you should purchase a panel that is appropriately sized and doesn’t look ugly. Why should it not look ugly? People don’t like ugly products--if you buy an ugly solar panel, you’ll want a new one in a year, trust me. Get something sleek, and something you’re proud to pop open in front of your friends.
The Renogy suitcase and GoerTek solar bank definitely look the coolest, and both of them are appropriately sized for their respective powers. The suitcase folds into a small carry size, and is only 30 pounds. Meanwhile, the GoerTek fits in your backpack.
All of the products listed here are technically waterproof, but the solar panel suitcase has a control panel that is not waterproof. The Renogy starter kit is fully waterproof and ready to go.
The most obvious factor. Check the voltage requirements on the devices you plan on charging. If you’re under 5V and USB compatable, a smaller system might do the trick. But if you want to charge a handful of electronics, or anything over 5V, go for one of the bigger options.
Best Portable Solar Panels for Camping Reviews
Unquestionably the best foldable solar panel for camping, Renogy’s 100 Watt 12 Volt behemoth folds down into a 2 x 3 foot flatscreen sized carry case that weighs only 30 pounds. Powerful enough to charge RV and car batteries, and get the electricity up and running at your campsite. Runs DC power which can be converted to AC for powering TVs and laptops if needed. It’s powerful enough to run a refrigerator all day!
An excellent choice for getting into the solar camping game, Renogy’s starter pack is powerful enough to charge all your electronics, and features a grounding controller to protect them. It’s a little unwieldy for packing, but provides the power to back up the space it takes up. Can be mounted permanently on an RV or boat, or carried around to your next camping adventures.
The sleekest, smallest portable solar panel. If you need light and phone charging, then this is your best option. It is the best charge panel for the price, and you don’t need to rack up hundreds of watts and a dozen volts if you just want to keep your phone powered. Waterproof, less than a foot long, and fits in a backpack!
Foldable solar panels give you a quick charge time and great exposure without taking up space in the backseat. Dual USB outputs are sufficient for a couple phones on a full sunlight day. It’s a great price, but you’ll also get what you pay for. You can only charge electronics under 5V, and the charge time is slow and eats up a lot of sunlight to do it. Great charger if you’ve got a phone you want to keep boosted on the go, but definitely not a campsite power station.
It’s so hard to recommend a solar panel when they range from refrigerator-powering super panels for $200 to small phone chargers at $50. If you need a phone charger, snag the GoerTek. But honestly, you might want to spring for the Renogy Solar Starter Kit to give yourself some options down the road.
Sure, right now you only want to charge your phone, but it gives you a higher ceiling later on. Mastering solar energy can bring some great new options to your camping game, and closing yourself off by limiting your power supply to USB cords isn’t a long term option. If you do a decent bit of wilderness adventure, you probably want to invest in the solar panel that will keep devices and appliances powered down the road.