Best Camping Solar Panels [2022 Solar Guide]
Looking for a way to charge your devices while camping? In this article, we’ll explore the following to learn how solar can improve your camping experience:
- Which solar panels are best for camping?
- Why use solar panels for camping?
- How to choose a solar panel for camping
- Types of solar panels for camping
This guide has helped thousands of campers like you choose the right solar panels for their next trips, which saves them time and money in the process. Let’s get started!
Campers, backpackers, and off-grid adventurers alike have all turned to solar energy as an eco-friendly way to enjoy their favorite activity: Exploring the outdoors.
Solar energy systems are popular among homeowners, but solar power can be used for more than just household appliances. In this article, we’ll review the best camping solar panels in 2022 based on a detailed comparison of technical specifications, costs, durability, and more.
What Are the 5 Best Camping Solar Panels?
To narrow down our list of the best camping solar panels, we looked at the industry’s top products and ranked them based on factors including durability, ease of setup, charge time, run time, portability, total power output, and cost.
Based on our findings, these are the top five portable solar panels for camping currently on the market:
|Best Camping Solar Panels||Our Award||Buy Now|
|FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank||Best Overall||Check Price|
|Renogy 10W Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer||Best Pocket Solar Charger||Check Price|
|Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel||Best Folding Panel||Check Price|
|Goal Zero Boulder 50 Watt Solar Panel||Best for Long-Term Camping||Check Price|
|Renogy PHOENIX Power Station||Best Camping Power Station||Check Price|
Below we’ll explore the main features and specifications of each portable solar panel system along with its pros and cons.
Best Overall: FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank
- 10W solar panel bank
- 1.18 lbs
- High-capacity 25,000 mAh
- Up to two days for full sun charge
The FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank has four panels that can generate 6W of solar power and fold down to a size slightly larger than a smartphone.
There is a built-in lithium battery with a capacity of 25,000 milliamp-hours (mAh), which is enough for around eight smartphone charges, with a charging time of about an hour. The device has dual USB ports to charge two devices at once, and it recharges its own battery at the same time when the solar panel is unfolded and in direct sunlight.
The FEELLE Power Bank has a tough waterproof enclosure, so you don’t have to worry if it gets wet. It also comes with a powerful LED light built in, which can be used as a flashlight after dusk, and protection against common electrical faults such as overcharge, overvoltage, overcurrent, and short-circuit.
Even with all of these features, the charger weighs only 1.18 lbs, making it one of the best solar options for camping trips and other outdoor activities.
- Foldable, lightweight, and compact
- Waterproof and durable carrying case
- 25,000mAh lithium battery for charging smartphones
- Includes electrical protection
- Holds charge for a long time if it has constant direct sunlight
- Can’t power larger devices — designed for smartphone and tablet charging only
- Lithium battery bank is vulnerable to high temperatures
Why Buy: The FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank offers smartphone charging and a powerful LED flashlight while having a compact and waterproof design. As one of the most lightweight options available, this is ideal for backpacking trips.
Best Pocket Solar Panel Charger: Renogy 10W Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer
- 10W solar charger
- 0.89 lbs
- 2.5 hour minimum for full sun charge
The Renogy 10W Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer is designed to charge and maintain all types of 12V batteries such as AGM, lithium, gel, and more. This plug-and-play system has three different connection options so you can easily charge your car, motorcycle, RV, boat, or other external battery packs.
With a wide range of operating temperatures, you won’t have to worry about overheating or freezing. Renogy’s efficiency guarantee means that you can use this solar charger for every outdoor need.
Customers praise this solar charger for its ease of use, fast charging capability, and sheer charging power. Useful for camping and backup power alike, this solar charger should be at the top of your camping gear list.
- Compact and lightweight enough for backpacking
- Dust-tight and waterproof
- Fast charging capability
- Competitive price point
- Not designed to power larger devices
- Full sun charge time may vary
- Some of the included cords may need to be replaced over time
Why Buy: The Renogy 10W Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer can power any battery in your arsenal. With a full battery after about 2.5 hours of direct sunlight, this solar charger is perfect for campers.
Best Folding Panel: Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel Kit
- 30W solar panel
- 1.9 lbs
- Two to six hours minimum solar charge time
The Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel can unfold into a 30-watt power source, and it converts 22% to 25% of sunlight into electricity, matching the high-efficiency performance of the best home solar panels.
This portable solar panel can recharge a cellphone or action camera in two to four hours, and a tablet in four to six hours. It can charge three devices at once thanks to its triple USB port.
This portable solar panel comes with a 25-year power production warranty and a five-year material and workmanship warranty. It weighs only 1.6 lbs and measures a compact 12 inches by 6 inches when folded.
- Lightweight and water-resistant design
- Can generate up to 30W of power
- Charges a smartphone or camera in two to four hours
- CE and ETL electrical safety certifications
- No battery, so it can only charge devices on a sunny day
- Only suitable for small devices
- Vulnerable to piercing and squashing, so must be handled with care
Why Buy: The Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel has the same efficiency as the best rooftop solar panels while being lightweight and foldable. It can charge up to three devices at once.
Best for Long-Term Camping: Goal Zero Boulder 50 Watt Solar Panel
- 50W/18-22V solar panel
- 12.4 lbs
- Four hours minimum solar charge time
The Goal Zero Boulder 50 Watt Solar Panel is designed for long wilderness trips. As a tough and durable solar panel with an aluminum frame, a tempered glass covering, and a kickstand for easy setup, it’s perfect for hanging around the campsite.
The Boulder 50W solar panel has monocrystalline solar cells, which are the most efficient solar panel cells, and three units can be connected to generate up to 150W of power. Each panel has a weight of 12.4 lbs while measuring roughly 22 inches by 27 inches.
The Boulder 50W can be the power source for all your camping gear. When combined with a portable power station, this solar panel can provide electricity for many types of devices, from headlamps to laptops and even mini-fridges.
- Heavy-duty battery charger with an aluminum frame and tempered glass covering
- Generates up to 50W of power, or up to 150W by connecting three panels
- Weatherproof, durable design
- Larger and heavier than other solar panels for camping
- Requires a chargeable power station and is not designed to connect devices directly
- Due to its rigid enclosure, it cannot be folded
Why Buy: The Goal Zero Boulder 50 Watt Solar Panel is a reliable electricity source for car camping, thanks to its tough construction and high power output.
Best Camping Power Station: Renogy PHOENIX Power Station
- Up to 200 watts of power
- 4.4 lbs
- 6-7 hour minimum full sun charge
The Renogy PHOENIX Power Station can power electronics and small appliances, delivering up to 200W in total. Thanks to its many USB outputs —110V AC, 12-volt DC, three USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and a CIG port —the Power Station is compatible with many types of devices.
The Power Station has a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 17,500 mAh and two LED flashlights. Its total weight is 4.6 lbs while measuring roughly 7 by 6 by 5.6 inches. It can charge via a wall outlet, car socket, or solar panel. When combined with a 50-watt solar panel, the unit recharges in seven hours.
- Compatible with many types of devices — USB, 12V DC, 110V AC
- Recharges with wall power, car socket, or minimum 30W solar panel
- Includes a 17,500 mAh lithium-ion battery
- Compact, portable design
- CE and ETL electrical safety certifications
- Depends on an external solar panel or other power sources to recharge
- The charge is depleted in less than one hour when used at full 200W power
Why Buy: The Renogy PHOENIX Power Station provides up to 200W of energy, and it can power many types of devices — USB, 12V DC, and even 110V AC.
What is Our Favorite Solar Panel For Camping and Outdoor Use?
The best camping solar panels must meet a few requirements: portability, efficiency, and durability.
Portability comes first because when you’re camping — especially if you’re hiking or backpacking — you need a solar panel that can easily fit into your car and camping gear. If the panel is too large or heavy, then there is no use taking it with because it will consume too much space.
Efficiency is also important because the ultimate job of your solar panel is to turn solar energy into usable energy for your mobile devices. Panels that have a higher efficiency rating can do this more effectively, which is why this percentage matters.
Finally, durability is key because if you’re an avid camper, you are bound to encounter some bad weather. Your portable solar panel must be hardy enough to withstand high winds, rain, and even snow.
After evaluating each of these key components, it was clear that the FEELLE Power Bank was the winner. Not only can it fold up small enough to fit in your back pocket, but it’s waterproof and has the capability to charge several mobile phones at a time.
Why Get Camping Solar Panels?
Because they can be used to recharge smartphones and emergency devices when you’re off the grid, flexible solar panels make your trip safer. Many of them have built-in LED flashlights for night use, and larger models can power small 110V appliances.
Diesel generators can also be used for this purpose, but they have several disadvantages: they’re noisy, they’re polluting, they can be dangerous and you must also carry their fuel.
On the other hand, solar panels are completely silent, which means they won’t disrupt the natural environment. They’re an energy-independent option that uses nothing but the power of the sun.
Types of Solar Panels for Camping
There are three major types of solar panels: thin-film, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline solar panels.
Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency ratings in the industry and can convert more than 20% of sunlight into usable electricity. Less efficient yet more affordable than monocrystalline, high-quality polycrystalline solar panels have an efficiency rating of around 17%.
Whereas mono and poly solar panels have a single silicon crystal and multiple silicon crystals per cell respectively, thin-film solar panels are not divided into cells. Instead, their entire surface is covered in layers of photovoltaic material. This allows for their enhanced flexibility and lightweight design.
Solar panels for camping can be classified into two main types:
- Stand-alone solar panels generate electricity but don’t store it. They can be used to charge devices directly when sunlight is available, or they can be used to charge an external power station. Some of them are foldable, while others have a rigid construction.
- Solar panels with built-in batteries can store electric charge, which means they don’t depend on an external power station. These panels are generally smaller than stand-alone units since high-capacity batteries are heavy. When you need more solar battery capacity, a rechargeable power station with external panels is easier to handle.
Cost of Portable Solar Panels for Camping
The cost of solar panels for camping depends on many factors, especially wattage. For example, you may find pocket solar panels below 10W for less than $40, but you can expect to pay over $100 for a larger panel with an output over 30W. Features like durability and sunlight conversion efficiency also affect the price of portable solar panels.
Additionally, there are larger systems available, and prices increase accordingly. For instance, if you’re looking for a 1,500-watt power station with its own solar panels for recharging, the price can exceed $2,000. This may sound expensive, but it can be well worth it if you’re using RV solar panels for camping or need a reliable long-term setup.
How to Choose the Right Solar Panels for Your Camp Setup
Any solar expert will agree that purchasing the right product is key — this applies to both portable solar generators and fixed installations.
When comparing solar panels for camping, you should look for products that are durable and easy to use. Since you’re dealing with electricity, safety is also important — the risk of electric shock is higher when using low-quality solar panels.
The following are some other important factors you should consider before purchasing portable solar panels for camping:
- Size, surface area, and weight. Solar panels with higher wattage can power more devices, but they are also larger and heavier. Carrying a larger system is viable if you take your car, but a lightweight and foldable solar panel is a better option when hiking.
- Design. Before purchasing a portable solar power system, make sure it has the right connectors and wattage for the devices you want to use.
- Portability and ease of setup. Compact solar panels are lightweight and easy to use, but most are limited to iPhone charging and LED lighting. Chargeable power stations with larger panels require more work to set up, but they also provide more electricity.
- Durability: If your portable solar panels will be exposed to dust and water, look for a product with a suitable enclosure.
- Power output and amperage: Portable solar power systems should provide the voltage, amps, and wattage required by the devices you plan to use.
- Charge time and run time. There are two important charging times to consider when purchasing solar panels for camping: the time needed to charge the battery of your solar panel set up, if it has one, and the time needed to charge your smartphone, etc, from your charging device. If you plan to go camping for several days, you need a solar panel system that can recharge daily with the available sunlight.
- Cost. Many factors determine the cost of portable solar panels for camping. With a higher budget, you can get more watts of solar power and more watt-hours of battery charge.
FAQ: Best Camping Solar Panels
If you choose the right wattage and battery capacity, you only need to carry one or two solar panels. For example, you can look for a compact and foldable 6W panel that fits in your pocket, and will produce enough power for your smartphone and an LED flashlight. On the other hand, a 50W panel produces enough electricity for several smartphones and small appliances.
We picked the FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank as the Best Overall since it unfolds into a 6W panel that meets the most important needs — smartphone charging and lighting. You will need a larger system if you want to use small appliances. For example, you can use the Renogy PHOENIX 200W Power Station with a 50W solar panel to power most camp amenities.
Yes — portable solar panels are silent, safer, and easier to use than diesel generators. In addition, there is no need to carry diesel when using solar panels. When compared with standalone power banks, the advantage is that they can be recharged over and over again without a wall outlet.
Portable solar panels have a lifespan of between nine and twelve years. This is much shorter than fixed panels, which have an average lifespan of about twenty-five years. The lifespan of your panels depends on how often you camp, whether you stay on top of maintenance, and the weather conditions the panels are exposed to.
Solar panels for camping are designed to be user-friendly and can be set up without needing a professional electrician. The smallest foldable panels fit in your pocket or backpack, and you can simply unfold them and connect your smaller devices.
On the other hand, larger panels are normally connected to a portable power station, which includes adapters for many types of larger devices and appliances.