The 8 Best Portable Solar Panels of 2023 | by Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure / Marcus Millan

Portable solar panels are game changers for travelers outdoors enthusiasts, who are all too familiar with the struggle of relying on few-and-far-between power sources. Whether you’re camping, hiking, or heading exploring a place where outlets are limited, portable solar panels can keep your devices and appliances powered up by capturing and converting solar energy. Unlike permanent solar panels, these are designed with portability, carrying convenience, and solo-setups in mind, folding up and often coming in handy protective suitcases to make transporting them easier.

The most relevant factor when shopping for a portable solar panel is identifying what sort of devices you’re planning to charge with it, as that will determine the size and wattage you need to look for. Portable solar panels designed to fuel your phone will be much smaller and lighter than those intended to charge solar batteries, which can power several devices — everything from your phone to a minifridge and TV — all at once.

Whether you’re looking for ultra-lightweight options for backpacking, or more robust and reliable panels for setting up on an RV trip, we’ve researched and rounded up the best portable solar panels on the market for every kind of trip and traveler.

Our Top PicksBest Overall:Bluetti PV120S Solar Panel at AmazonJump to ReviewBest Budget:Topsolar 100W Foldable Portable Solar Panel at AmazonJump to ReviewBest With Battery:Jackery Solar Generator and Panel at WalmartJump to ReviewBest for Phones:SunJack 15 Watt Foldable Solar Panel Charger at AmazonJump to ReviewBest Suitcase:Renogy 12 Volt Monocrystalline Portable Foldable Solar Panel at AmazonJump to ReviewBest for Backpacking:Lixada Solar Panel Charger at AmazonJump to ReviewBest Compact:Topsolar 100W Foldable Portable Solar Panel at AmazonJump to ReviewBest for Appliances:Goal Zero Ranger 300 Solar Panel Briefcase at AmazonJump to Review

Best Overall

Bluetti PV120S Solar Panel


View On AmazonView On Bluettipower.comWhy We Love It

It performs exceptionally well, even in lower-light conditions, and is crafted from top-quality materials that are made to stand the test of time.

What to Consider

It’s designed for use with portable generators, so you can’t charge your devices directly with the panel.

Bluetti’s PV120S Solar Panel tops our list thanks to its durability, efficiency, and notable features like shading performance. The four folding panels are made from monocrystalline solar cells, which boasts a whopping 23.4 percent conversion rate of sunlight into solar power and is more resistant to severe temperatures than other materials. Designed for powering portable generators, this can fully charge a smaller battery in just five hours, ensuring you have enough power to set out worry-free on all sorts of outdoor excursions. (Bluetti has their own line, but this is compatible with most generators on the market.) For casual users, this may require too large of an investment (as generators will add an additional cost), but frequent campers and those who enjoy going off-grid will appreciate the impressively high performance of the PV120S, including in cloudy conditions. There’s even a sensitive shading performance feature, which allows you to maximize the amount of energy harnessed even when parts of the panel are shaded.

The compact design is another draw, as you can fold it up and carry it by the handle. If you’re looking for a reliable and portable option for camping trips or RV excursions, you’ll appreciate the heft of this 15-pound solar panel, which holds its own on windy days better than similar models that are more lightweight. It also features built-in kickstands to ensure you can easily angle it to capture the most sunlight throughout the day. While it’s not fully weatherproof, it has an ETFE coating and an IP65 waterproof rating, meaning it’s built to withstand scratches, splashes, and everything in between.

Price at time of publish: $299

The Details: 69 x 22 inches open; 18 x 21.7 inches folded | 14.9 pounds | 120 watts

Best Budget

Topsolar 100W Foldable Portable Solar Panel


View On AmazonWhy We Love It

It’s an efficient, travel-ready panel that gets closer to its maximum output than similar budget-friendly models.

What to Consider

The included cables for connecting to certain devices are very thin and may need to be replaced quickly.

Topsolar’s 100W folding panel blends power and portability at a fantastic price point — it boasts six times the wattage of the SunJack 15 Watt Foldable Solar Panel at only double the price, making this a very solid value purchase. It comes with a kickstand to help you angle it towards the sun and eke out as much wattage as possible — solar panel wattage is based on lab conditions, so the real-life output is typically significantly lower, but this gets far closer to its intended wattage than similarly priced 100W models. It’s got a bit of heft but is still easy enough to carry around thanks to a handle that you can use when it’s folded up. Use the USB-A and USB-C ports to charge your phone, tablet, or laptop, or the DC-14.4V for a car or boat battery or portable generator.

While the panel itself feels durable, the accessories it comes with — particularly the alligator clip cable for a 12V battery and the extension cable for an MC4 connector — are flimsy. If you plan to use those, you may want to invest in upgraded versions.

Price at time of publish: $150

The Details: 50.79 x 20.28 x 1 inches open; 19.98 x 20.28 x 1.38 inches folded | 6.4 pounds | 100 watts

Best With Battery

Jackery 1000W Peak Solar Generator SG550 with 100W Solar Panel


View On WalmartView On Campingworld.comView On Home DepotWhy We Love It

The battery can charge up to seven devices at once and helps you make the most of the energy captured by your solar panel each day.

What to Consider

The generator adds an extra 13.8 pounds, making it better suited to RV excursions or car camping versus hiking and backpacking.

If you’re heading out into the wilderness and may need some backup power, consider opting for a solar panel that comes with a solar battery. Solar batteries store the excess electricity generated by solar panels during the day, helping you to make the most of your energy even at night or on cloudy days when the panels can’t produce as much. Jackery Solar Generator 550 provides peace of mind that you’ll always have ample capacity to charge your devices — up to seven at a time, including a phone, laptop, camera, mini fridge, drone, rice cooker, and more — even during stretches of bad weather.

The compact generator provides fuel-free energy, making it perfect for indoor or outdoor use. It comes with The Solar Saga 100-watt panel, which folds shut and features a convenient carrying handle. The splash-proof panel boasts two kickstands for stability, an impressive 24.3 percent solar conversion efficiency rate, and can fully recharge the battery in eight hours. You can use it to charge your camera, phone, tablet, and more using the USB-A and USB-C ports. As far as panel and battery combinations go, this is one of the most reliable value buys on the market.

Price at time of publish: $749

The Details: 22.83 x 19.69 x 2.36 inches open | 5.5 pounds | 100 watts

The 13 Best Portable Chargers of 2023

Best for Phones

SunJack 15 Watt Foldable ETFE Monocrystalline Solar Panel Charger


View On AmazonView On WalmartView On Sunjack.comWhy We Love It

It achieves wall-outlet charging speeds and features a mesh pocket to make sure your phone doesn’t overheat while plugged in.

What to Consider

There’s no kickstand, so it won’t capture quite as much sunlight as a panel that you can set at an angle.

Three interconnected panels fold up to the size of a tablet on this small but mighty pick from SunJack, which features both USB-A and USB-C ports for charging your phone, portable battery pack, or tablet. You can feel confident taking it on any excursion thanks to its shock- and drop-proof exterior. It also boasts a rugged, weatherproof ETFE coating — which not only protects from the elements, but also improves its efficiency by upping the UV permeability to 95 percent, unlike other waterproof coatings (like PET) which only allow for 80 percent. There isn’t a kickstand, so it needs to be laid flat or propped against something — but we love that it can also be attached to a backpack via the included carabiner, which makes this a standout pick thanks to its true portability.

Price at time of publish: $60

The Details: 20 x 10.5 x 1 inches open; 10.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches folded | 1.3 pounds | 15 watts

Best Suitcase

Renogy 12 Volt Monocrystalline Portable Foldable Solar Panel



View On AmazonView On WalmartView On Home DepotWhy We Love It

The case is intuitive to use and features rugged hardware designed to protect and store the panels on the go.

What to Consider

At 21.2 pounds, this is the heaviest option on our list.

RVers will love this option, which is sturdy enough to set up just about anywhere and comes with an ultra-convenient carrying case that will keep your panels safe from the elements when not in use. The case itself boasts heavy-duty handles that offer an easy and comfortable grip, plus smooth latches that won’t catch when opening and closing. At over 20 pounds, it’s seriously hefty, which rules it out for hikers and backpackers but makes this a worry-free choice for those setting up camp in windy areas. The monocrystalline cells are highly efficient, easily reaching over 90W in sunny conditions. While you can’t charge your devices directly with this panel, it hooks up easily to 12V batteries, which will store your excess energy for later use.

Price at time of publish: $250

The Details: 50.79 x 20.28 x 1 inches open; 19.98 x 20.28 x 1.38 inches folded | 6.4 pounds | 100 watts

Best for Backpacking

Lixada Solar Panel Charger


View On AmazonWhy We Love It

At less than 0.25 pounds, it’s an extremely lightweight option that can be easily attached to your backpack.

What to Consider

It’s not efficient in cloudy conditions.

Backpackers know that every ounce counts when it comes to packing, whether you’re heading out on a weeks-long trek or a months-long trip around the world. Having a backup power system is not only handy, but a safety precaution, especially for those backpacking in more remote areas where power stations may be few and far between. This panel is ultra lightweight and can easily be hung off a backpack via the four eyelets in order to achieve solar charging while you’re on the move. While we wish it folded up for even more compact carrying, we found this to be the best value purchase that offered effective charging at the lowest possible weight. It’s best used in sunny conditions for charging smartwatches or smartphones.

Price at time of publish: $27

The Details: 10.2 x 5.5 x 0.1 inches open | 3.56 ounces | 7.8 watts

The Ultimate Backpacking Packing List

Best Compact

Topsolar 100W Foldable Portable Solar Panel


View On AmazonWhy We Love It

This lightweight panel folds up into a secure, easy-to-carry briefcase.

What to Consider

You may want to add a protective covering to avoid scratching yourself during assembly as the corners are somewhat sharp.

While there are plenty of super small, tablet-sized options designed just to power up your phone, this is our top pick for a compact, easy-to-carry panel that offers some more serious charging capabilities for camping, RV trips, and other remote adventures. It folds down a noticeable few inches more than other similar models, but still expands out to 67 inches, allowing it to capture a maximal amount of sun. Made of monocrystalline, this panel has a solid conversion efficiency rate of 20-22 percent. It’s designed to power up your portable batteries as well as directly charge your devices, including smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, and more. Note that the corners don’t feature a protective covering, so you may want to add padding if you’ll be handling them frequently.

Price at time of publish: $150

The Details: 67.08 x 16.1 x 1.3 inches open; 17.1 x 16 inches folded | 8.8 pounds | 100 watts

Best for Appliances

Goal Zero Ranger 300 Solar Panel Briefcase


View On AmazonView On WalmartView On REIWhy We Love It

It only takes four hours to charge a portable generator, which can then be used to power appliances.

What to Consider

It’s the most expensive option on our list, and you’ll need to invest in a portable solar generator on top of it.

If you’re a frequent camper or travel in an RV, investing in a sturdy portable solar panel that will stand up to the elements over the years can help you to power your most crucial appliances. These four interconnected monocrystalline panels each boast a 75W capacity, adding up to 300W that can rapidly charge a portable power station — it can fully charge the Yeti 1000X in just four hours — which can in turn power everything from your phone and tablet to a mini fridge or CPAP machine. While the heft and size of this panel makes it difficult for a single person to set it up on their own, there’s an automatic kickstand which helps by unfolding as you open up the panel. We appreciate that it folds up into a handy briefcase for easy portability — just note that the case doesn’t offer a lot of padding, so you’ll want to be mindful while transporting it.

Price at time of publish: $800

The Details:  31.26 x 94.29 x 0.9 inches open; 31.26 x 23.39 x 3.8 inches folded | 32.8 pounds | 300 watts

Tips for Buying Portable Solar Panels

Decide what you need to charge

Knowing what devices you want to power up is the most crucial factor when shopping for portable solar panels. If you’re just looking for a way to keep your phone charged on a weeks-long backpacking trip, a tiny 6W panel will do the job without adding much weight to your pack. But if you’re looking to charge multiple devices at once — a phone, smartwatch, and digital camera, perhaps — then you’ll want to look at devices with higher outputs. 100W is enough power to charge a phone, tablet, and laptop at the same time, depending on the devices compatible with your panels.

Some panels feature USB-A and USB-C ports, which enable direct charging of your devices. Others only feature an MC4 connector, which is designed to connect a portable solar battery, which stores excess energy and can in turn charge a wider range of devices and appliances.

Consider where you will catch rays

Now matter how efficient your solar panels are, they still require sufficient sunlight in order to operate. When planning out where you’ll set them up, consider where they’ll get the maximum amount of sun exposure. If you’re heading to the beach or camping in an open space, your options for set up will differ from when you’re on a rugged backpacking trip through a wooded area.

When shopping for your panels, check for a kickstand, which is great for propping it up at the ideal angle to maximize your conversion efficiency. Otherwise, you can lean it against another object nearby. Laying it flat will not convert as much energy as when it’s tilted perpendicular to the sun.

Plan how you’ll get the panels there

How you’ll transport your panels depends on what sort of trip you’re taking. Backpackers will likely be toting the most lightweight panel possible and can easily attach them to the outside of a backpack using carabiners or rope. Other panels fold up for easy portability, typically featuring a built-in handle to help you carry them more easily. Suitcase-style panels fold up into a compact case that looks like a briefcase, with built-in straps or handles that make them a breeze to tote around. Single-panel units that don’t fold will just need to be carried directly — these are typically smaller and still easy for a single person to carry on their own.

Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat can you charge with portable solar panels and how many watts do I need?

Portable solar panels are designed to charge everything from smartphones and cameras to batteries that store the excess solar energy captured for later use. While 6W is enough to power your smartphone, you’ll want to opt for a higher number — think 100W or above — to fuel up a portable power station that can in turn charge several devices and larger appliances at once.

Where should you place solar panels?

You should place solar panels wherever they can achieve the most direct sun exposure. The angle is the most crucial detail, as keeping the panel perpendicular to the sun helps to maximize the amount of energy it’s able to convert. The upside of portable solar panels is how easy they are to angle — most of the options on this list come with a built-in kickstand, which allows you to adjust the tilt of the panel throughout the day as the sun moves.

Can you use solar panels in the rain or around water?

Most portable solar panels are water-resistant at the very least. Check for their IP rating to get a gauge of how well they can stand up to water — a rating of IP65 provides strong splash-proof protection, whereas panels with IP67 ratings can withstand full submersion for a brief window. For the most part, leaving your panel out in light rain is safe and can even be helpful for cleaning off dirt and debris that can otherwise impact the power output. Most of the panels on this list are fairly lightweight and may not be able to stand up to severe thunderstorms.

Note that rainy conditions will also significantly reduce the amount of solar energy being captured by your panels.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this story, T+L contributor Sophie Dodd extensively researched the best portable solar panels on the market, prioritizing efficiency, carrying convenience, and overall value when narrowing down this list of the top picks. She also used her expertise as a travel and commerce writer to select options for every type of traveler and budget.

The 10 Best Tablet Cases for Travelers, Commuters, and More

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.

Edited byTravel + Leisure, where she writes and edits reviews about outdoor products. You can also read her articles on red carpet soirees, pop culture history, and health news in People magazine.” tabindex=”0″ data-inline-tooltip=”true”>Lydia Price Lydia Price Lydia Price is the commerce editor at Travel + Leisure, where she writes and edits reviews about outdoor products. You can also read her articles on red carpet soirees, pop culture history, and health news in People magazine.learn more

+ There are no comments

Add yours