Best Portable Solar Panels: Unleash the Sun's Power (2023)

RV living is exciting for travel bugs who want new experiences every day and refuse to be tied down to one place. One of the main challenges of life in an RV is access to the power supply.

Solar energy is a good choice when you are away from grid energy. While you can go in for a fixed rooftop solar panel system on your travel trailer if you are living in it permanently, for camping needs portable solar systems may be a better choice. Or you can have a portable solar panel system as an additional power source to supplement the rooftop solar panels.

Portable solar systems come with a variety of advantages for camping. Foldable and lightweight, these are easy to carry around. They can be set up without much fuss as they come with foldable stands. Their flexibility allows you to make the best of the available sunlight.

However, the popularity of portable solar systems makes it harder for you when it comes to shopping. The market is flooded with so many choices with diverse specifications that you end up feeling confused and unable to make a decision.

This article attempts to make sense of the endless jargon given by solar system marketers and offers you some solid leads on the best portable solar panels in diverse price ranges. Here, you will also find a buyer guide for portable solar systems. This will list all the things you need to consider before buying a portable solar system.

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    Best portable solar panels for camping

    Best Portable Solar Panels: Unleash the Sun's Power (1)

    Just a simple search on an online or offline store for portable solar panels will yield hundreds of results. It would be impossible for you to go through the specifications and reviews of each one of them before deciding which one to buy.

    To make it easier for you, the best portable solar panel systems in each price category are listed here.

    If price is not a concern and you want to consider only the most efficient portable solar systems, look no further than Zamp. Zamp is the market leader in portable solar panels. Not many brands can compete with the quality and variety of Zamp portable solar panels. However, one of the major deterrents is its price. Zamp portable solar panels are the most expensive ones on the market.

    Renogy has become the byword for affordable solar panels in recent times. Though their range of portable solar panels is not as vast, you may still be able to find an affordable portable solar system to suit your requirement without burning a hole in your pocket among the Renogy products.

    When you are on a tight budget, you may have a hard time finding good quality portable solar panels, even though there are plenty of products in the range. Eco-worthy is a good choice for you if your solar power requirement is limited and intermittent.

    Best Portable Solar Panels - Luxury Range

    Best Portable Solar Panels: Unleash the Sun's Power (2)

    Zamp Solar Legacy Series – Portable Solar Panel Kit

    If you want to buy the best portable solar system that is high in efficiency, excellent in construction quality, and most importantly, made in the USA, Zamp Legacy Series is the best choice for you. However, all these come at a high price.

    Zamp Solar Legacy Series solar kit includes:

    • Foldable solar panel
    • Digital solar charge controller
    • 15-foot cable
    • Nylon carrying case


    • Monocrystalline cells for high energy efficiency
    • Wide range of wattage ratings to choose from (45-watt, 90-watt, 140-watt, 180-watt, and 230-watt)
    • Charges all 12-volt batteries including lithium
    • Comes with both an SAE plug and alligator clips to connect
    • Integrated weather-resistant digital PWM charge controller
    • 25-year output and 5-year electronic parts warranty
    • Made in the USA


    • Expensive

    Among portable solar panel kits, Zamp is a clear winner. However, the price is a huge concern even if you can afford it. It’s natural to wonder why you should pay this much when good choices like Renogy are available at half the price. Is Zamp actually worth the hype?

    That is a question only you can answer. Here, you will find the highlights of both brands laid out for easy comparison. Check them out and take your pick.

    Here are the portable solar panels in the Zamp Solar Legacy Series.

    Best Portable Solar Panels - Affordable Range

    Best Portable Solar Panels: Unleash the Sun's Power (8)

    Renogy Portable Solar System – Eclipse and Legacy Series

    If you are searching for the best portable solar system in an affordable range, Renogy is a good choice. This brand has gained popularity in the last decade with its affordable range of solar panels. Their Eclipse and Legacy series are worth checking out.

    Renogy portable solar panel kit includes:

    • Solar suitcase
    • 20A Voyager PWM Waterproof Charge Controller
    • MC4 to Alligator Clips w/ Fuse


    • Monocrystalline solar cells for high performance
    • Capable of generating electricity even in low light conditions
    • Adjustable and corrosion-resistant aluminum stand
    • Built-in 4-stage solar controller to prevent overcharging
    • Good balance of performance, quality, and price
    • Protective casing for longevity
    • 25-year performance and 3-year material and workmanship warranty


    • Lower construction quality compared to Zamp

    Even though Renogy portable solar panels are not as good as the ones from Zamp, price-wise, Renogy is a clear winner. For half the price of Zamp, Renogy solar suitcases offer a good choice in the affordable portable solar system segment.

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    Renogy portable solar suitcases come in two series – Eclipse and Legacy. Now, the question is, which is better?

    Of the two, Eclipse and Legacy, the former is the latest one from Renogy offering higher-efficiency solar panel systems. Legacy series portable solar panels tend to be heavier, bigger, and less efficient than those in the Eclipse series. However, the Eclipse series are more expensive.

    You will find 100W portable solar panels in both Eclipse and Legacy series. If price is a deciding factor, the Legacy solar suitcase will be the best choice. But if you want smaller, lighter, and more efficient portable folding solar panels, Renogy Eclipse would be the best one for you. A Legacy 100W solar system is also available without a solar charge controller.

    If your requirement is a 200W portable solar panel system, you can buy Eclipse panels with or without a solar charge controller. However, Legacy 200W solar panels come with a solar charge controller.

    Here are the portable folding solar panel choices from Renogy Eclipse and Legacy series.

    Best Portable Solar Panels - Budget Range

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    Best Portable Solar Panels: Unleash the Sun's Power (15)

    Eco-Worthy Portable Solar Panel Kit

    In the low-budget category for portable solar panels for camping, the brand that stands out for its quality and performance is Eco-Worthy. Though priced reasonably, these solar panels come with high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells.

    Eco-Worthy solar panel kit includes:

    • 100W portable solar panel with kickstand


    • Monocrystalline solar cells for high performance
    • Compact and lightweight
    • Sturdy kickstand with adjustable angles for 30° and 40°
    • IP65 water-resistant material
    • 118-inch extension cable
    • Compatible with most power stations and solar generators
    • Expandable capacity with provision to add more solar panels
    • Budget pricing


    • Quality is not good compared to Zamp and Renogy
    • Carrying case not included
    • Limited adjustments of panel angle
    • Charge controller doesn’t have a digital display

    When out camping outdoors, Eco-Worthy portable solar panels offer you a budget-friendly way to ensure power to charge your phone and other small electronic devices.

    Which one should you buy?

    This is a question only you can answer. But you will find here all the facts about portable solar panels for RV that you may need to make an informed decision. But the truth remains – the more you pay, the better the quality and performance.

    This will ultimately lead to the undeniable question – should you compromise on quality and efficiency for the sake of small savings in the price? In the long run, won’t it be better to buy a better quality product that will help you generate more solar energy even in low-light conditions?

    Unless your budget is really tight, you should go with the best product available in the market.

    When you choose Eco-Worthy, you save almost $100 compared to Renogy. However, what you get is a solar system much cheaper in construction and a charge controller that doesn’t offer you any information about the charge remaining in the system.

    Zamp, though the best portable solar panel, is priced almost double that of Renogy. It may be too much for regular campers. Renogy offers the perfect balance between price, efficiency, and quality.

    Portable Solar Panel Buyer’s Guide: The Best Solar Panels for RV

    Best Portable Solar Panels: Unleash the Sun's Power (16)

    If you want to make the selection on your own, you may want to know all the aspects that go into making a portable solar system the best in the market. Read on to learn more about the features of the best portable solar panels for RV.

    Waterproof/water-resistant charge controller

    This is a vital feature that can extend the lifespan of a solar panel system. Not long ago, solar charge controllers were not manufactured to resist damage from rainwater. As the solar panels along with the charge controllers are kept out in the open, they are exposed to the elements of nature including rain. So, it makes sense to make them waterproof or at least water resistant.

    Most good quality charge controllers come with IP65 waterproof rating, which is good enough for this purpose. All three portable solar panels recommended in this article come with waterproof solar charger controllers. In case, you decide to go with one without a waterproof feature, be careful about where you are keeping it. Take extra precautions to make sure it doesn’t get drenched in rain.

    Selection of electrical connectors provided

    These are provided in portable solar panel kits to hook up the system with the devices you want to use. This is definitely not a deal breaker as you can always get the right ones if needed. However, it will be helpful if the portable solar kit you are buying has a variety of electrical connectors to suit every occasion.

    A typical user of a portable solar system will use alligator clips to connect the solar system to the battery bank of their RV. Because of the popularity of this, most solar kits will come with a pair of alligator clips.

    However, your RV may come equipped with a port for a solar system. This means you can just plug the cable into the RV battery if you have the right connector. In case, the connector provided in the kit doesn’t fit with the socket for the solar system provided in your RV battery, all you need to do is change the end of the connector.

    You may have to use extension cables to connect the solar system to the RV battery. This means you will need an MC4 connector. Unfortunately, there is no standardization in this area. This means you may find incompatible connectors in some solar kits.

    If you are reluctant to buy additional electrical connectors, you better check carefully if the connectors provided in the kit are suitable for your devices.

    Some of the common electrical connectors used to connect solar systems with batteries or other devices are:

    You may also not find any other electrical connectors in the solar panel kit. Some kits come with only the alligator clips. If this is the case, you may have a hard time using an extension cable.

    Though this is not as big as some other issues mentioned here, it is still worth checking whether the kit has a good selection of electrical connectors. In case, you find that the one you need is not there, you may have to buy it additionally.

    Typically, the premium solar panel system comes with a good selection of electrical connectors. You may face issues only if you buy from the budget range.

    Does it include an extension cable?

    Unlike fixed rooftop panels, portable ones have the advantage of being moved to the right place. Solar panels are the most productive when exposed to direct sunlight. With a portable solar panel, you can move it to face the sun.

    However, this also means you are moving the panel further away from the travel trailer. So, to connect the solar system to the RV battery, the cable provided may not be long enough. You may need an extension cable. You may find an extension cable in some high-end solar panel kits.

    This is a significant drawback of budget-friendly solar panel kits. While the solar panels are free to move, without an extension cable, you cannot take advantage of the direct sunlight a little further away.

    But this again is not a deal breaker. You can always buy the right extension cable. But this means extra expense.

    Most extension cables come with MC4 connectors at both ends. While Renogy uses MC4 connectors, Zamp solar kit is compatible with SAE connectors.

    Though theoretically, you can always buy extension cables, it is not as easy as you would imagine. The extension cable with the right wire gauge, length, and connectors is hard to find. So, it is better to ensure the solar kit has the right kind of extension cable you may want.

    Easy to carry solar panel hold-down

    You may consider this unnecessary and ridiculous to have unless you’ve used a portable solar panel while camping in places having high winds. As portable solar panels are not fastened to the ground, winds can topple them or even carry them away. Either way, it can cause damage to the panels.

    The simple solution is to keep something heavy on it to hold it down. This has to be heavy enough to withstand the winds but lightweight enough to carry around. This is what a hold-down device is all about. You won’t find a solar panel hold-down as such in stores but can improvise from things available. Such as a metal rod and a collapsible water container.

    Most portable solar panels have foldable legs like that of Renogy. For a hold-down for this, you will need a metal rod that is longer than the distance between the legs when deployed. A 5-gallon collapsible water container should add enough weight to hold the panels down in windy conditions.

    Keep the metal rod on top of the panel legs and the water container on top of the rod. Five gallons of water means more than 40 lbs of weight. In case you run out of your water supply, you can always have this to fall back on.

    With Zamp-like panel legs, you won’t need the metal rod. You can manage with only the 5-gallon collapsible water container. Just place the container over the horizontal bar.

    Does your RV come with a solar port?

    Some RVs are pre-fitted with solar ports to connect directly with portable solar panels. Most of these ports have SAE connectors. If your RV has a ready-made port for solar panels, it would simplify things for you. This is a “plug-and-play” kind of arrangement for solar panels.

    Zamp portable solar panels come with SAE connectors, making it easier to connect them to your RV. That doesn’t mean you can use only Zamp solar panels with your RV. You can hook up your RV with solar panels from any brand, as long as it has a dedicated port for solar panels and the connectors match.

    A word of caution if your RV comes with a Zamp Sidewall Solar Port. With this, you need to connect the positive terminal of the RV battery to the negative side and vice versa. If you connect positive to positive and negative to negative, it may result in damage.

    If you find it hard to remember this, you can always buy an SAE polarity reverser. And, if you want to connect a Renogy solar system with an MC4 connector to a Zamp Sidewall Solar Port, you need to buy an SAE to MC4 adapter. This adapter will also reverse polarity to make it easier for you.

    Solar battery Maintainer

    When your RV is not being used, if you leave it unattended for long, it will get completely discharged. When the charge of RV batteries goes below 50%, it can cause permanent damage to them. The best solution to this would be to use a solar battery maintainer to keep it topped up when being stored.

    Even when an RV battery is not connected to any devices, over time, the charge in it will get slowly discharged. Solar battery maintainers help in maintaining a healthy level of charge by adding just enough charge as and when required to maintain a stable charge in the battery.

    Solar battery maintainers are available in a wide range of power outputs and prices to suit your RV battery’s requirements. Just remember that if you choose a cheap product, it may come with a solar panel with very low wattage. This may not be enough to maintain your RV batteries in stable condition.

    Moreover, cheap solar battery maintainers may not have a digital charge controller with “smart” features. This means it may end up overcharging your RV battery, resulting in damage.

    Best Portable Solar Panels: Unleash the Sun's Power (21)

    BatteryMINDer Solar Battery Trickle Chargeroffers the best solution for your RV battery storage problems. It comes with a 15-watt amorphous silicon solar panel and a solar controller that works with all sizes, types, and brands of 12V lead-acid battery starters, deep cycle, and hybrid batteries.

    With this charger, you need not worry about overcharging, regardless of how long you leave it connected. This charger can maintain up to 4 batteries at a time. You can mount this permanently on your travel trailer as a fixed rooftop panel or use its legs for a temporary setup.

    Final thoughts on portable solar panel

    Portable solar panels are the best additions to your travel trailer while out camping. Even if you have fixed rooftop panels on your travel trailer, it makes sense to have a portable solar system to make the most of the sunlight available without parking the RV itself under the sun.

    A portable solar system allows you to harness free solar energy even when you are relaxing in the shade nearby. This is essential when you are boondocking or dry camping in an RV with no access to grid power. Even if your battery can store power, if you are away for long periods, your batteries need to be recharged.

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    Though diesel generators can manage the same, they cause air and noise pollution. This is definitely not desirable while camping in pristine remote locations. Portable solar panels are the best answer to this.


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