Are Portable Solar Panels Worth It? Updated for 2022

By Matthew Joseph Nandirio •  Updated: 08/14/22 •  12 min read

Yes. However, it depends on how you want to use solar panels. The portable solar panels are small size equipment design for the emergencies.

Think about the places such as cities affected by the hurricane, and heavy rain washed away the residential areas or the earthquake hit in the remote area where human-made infrastructure is damaged.

Solar Inverter
Solar Inverter

In such conditions, the portable solar panel would make a big difference. Portable solar panels are lightweight and can be carried in the back of the cars.

These panels are power-generating sources that produce electricity using the sun rays. Installation of the solar panels is easy.

Are Portable Solar Panels Worth It

You can lay down the panels pointing to the direct sunlight, and it will start producing the electricity.

People will have free electricity restored in time and make them warm up in the bad weather condition.

Watch the below video to know more about the effectiveness of the portable solar panel.

 

What are Portable Solar Panel Systems?

Portable solar panels are small-sized equipment that is easy to install, and you can carry them anywhere while travelling. You can find various types of portable solar panel in the market. The small size solar panel that looks like small size iPad can sufficiently charge your smartphone during the day.

It is a handy tool that doesn’t require much space to install. The mid-size solar panels are quite easy to install on your RV.

Once installed on the RV, you will generate energy for powering your equipment during the vacation.

You can connect your portable solar panel to the batteries. During the day batteries will get a full charge, and in the night time, you can use to light up the RV.

The portable solar panel is a great invention that has solved many problems we deal during our lifetime.

Every second there is always a place where the sun is shining bright. If we can harness all the solar energy that reaches the surface of the earth, we will be able to change our world.

How portable solar panels work?

Portable solar panels are designed to produce energy in the remote areas where it is difficult to reach the local power grid. The portable solar panel also provides emergency electrical service to the people affected by the natural disaster. Portable solar panels have several benefits that you can enjoy.

Therefore, it is vital to know how portable solar panels work.

Step by step guide to the portable solar panel

1) Core equipment:  

Each portable solar panel comes with the energy-producing solar panel kit. It is a flat aluminium sheet made with the solar cells that cover the top of the solar panel.

To protect the solar cells from environmental damage such as dust and rainwater, the top of the panel is covered with the transparent glass.

The glass protects the shield. It allows the Sun UV rays to pass through the glass and reach the solar cells that eventually produce electricity.

2) Electricity generation:  

When the sunlight hits the photovoltaic cells, it allows the electron in the Silicon bond to move from the negative charge to the positive charge.

This movement is known as the flowing electricity. When the electrons start moving through the connect cable, it is directed to the batteries where the electricity is stored.

You will see the common box patten in the solar cells. Each group solar cells are fitted to make the electron move freely when the bond is broken by the suns UV rays.

The heat produced during electricity production is what heats the equipment. So it would help if you assembled solar panels in a way that no one would touch them during the electricity production.

3) Role of batteries:  

The batteries are not the mandatory component of the solar panel system. Your solar panel system can produce electricity without using the batteries.

However, batteries would help you to utilize the solar panel at the optimum performance. During the day when your solar panel generating the electricity, there will be a time when the solar panel has reached its optimum capacity on a bright sunny day.

The portable solar panel would be generating more than what you consume in a day time. So it would wise decision to store the excess electricity using the batteries.

The batteries will get charges during the day, and you can use them in the night time. This way, your solar panel would system would be used at its optimum capacity. You will be able to save the cost on the electricity bill.

4) Solar panel stand:  

The solar panel system would require the supporting device to mount or keep the panel in the ground’s standing position.

To produce the maximum output from the solar panel system, you should keep the portable solar panel on the right angle. Your solar panel system should be directly pointed to the sunlight.

The direct exposure to the sunlight enables the panel to produce more energy. Hence, the solar panel stand would help you place your solar panel in the fix position and adjust it according to the sun’s current position.

The stand mechanism allows you to easy change the direction without needing you to re-assemble the whole system. You can easily change the direction of the panel to direct it to the sun.

5) DC or AC Cables:  

Portable solar panel would come with the cables. These cables are made of high-quality material that protects you from getting an electric shock.

The cables are transporting device that moves the electricity from the portable solar panel to the inverter. It would help if you learned to connect the wires.

6) Inverter:  

The inverter is the device that converts the direct current generated from the solar panel to the alternate current.

The direct current can produce a high amount of pressure on the connected device; therefore, it is wise to convert them in the alternative current which generally operates in the moderated manner.

It gives protection to electronic equipment and makes the equipment work in a safe environment. Even if the production on electricity increases through the solar panel, the inverter adjusts the flow of the electron to the device before moving them to the connected batteries.

The high voltage current shift in the connected device may burn the whole system due to excessive heat.

I used portable solar panels for

There are several usages of the portable solar panel system. We get bright sunlight every day. Even in the rainy days, there will be a good amount of the sun passing through the cloud, which can generate solar energy with lots of advantages. Well, there are some slight disadvantages too.

Anyhow, here are some of the ways that I use my portable solar panels. obviously you can do the same too.

1) As a renewal power source:

 One of the common use of the portable solar panel is the generate electricity without needing significant infrastructure or technical knowledge. Portable solar panels come in small sizes.

I install them instantly on the rooftop of the house, assemble it on your RV or place them on the ground with the help of the solar stand.

I get the free electricity generation source anywhere I travel in the world. Usually, I connect my solar power system to the batteries to store the excess electricity and use it in the night.

2) Water heating:

Solar energy can be used for water heating systems. It would provide you with the heating solution in the cold weather.

The portable solar panel is placed on the rooftop, directly connected through the cable to the heating system or the batteries.

Whenever I want to have the hot water, I keep my heating system on, and the batteries are used to power the heating system. I get 24 x 7 hot water in the home without spending a dime on the electricity bill.

In some areas, the heating solution is used to warm the swimming pool water. Imagine the heating system used to heat the swimming pool using the grid energy source.

That may add a burden on your electricity bill. Using a portable solar panel system, you can save money too.

3) Solar Lighting

Solar lighting is an innovating product that is widely used all over the world. It has become ubiquitous, and people who live in the villages are adopting the technology with an open hand. The solar lighting system comes with the portable solar panel assembled on the lights.

I do have solar garden lights. When I place them under the sun, it charges the batteries throughout the day, and in the night it lights up the surrounding.

The mini sensing system is installed in each light that controls the system and makes the light on and off based on the lighting condition.

The technology helps the homes to light the room with renewable energy sources. The automatic function saves energy when not in use.

What does a portable solar system cost?

The cost of the portable solar panel depends on the size of the panel. I do have a small size portable solar panel capable of producing 100W power. It cost me approx $215. The panel come with the connection cable. If you purchase the whole setup that comes with the stand, then the portable solar system’s price will go up.

The portable solar system cost is calculated based on the amount of energy it can produce. If the higher the energy output, the cost of the device would be higher.

Here are some of the best portable solar panel systems.

Renogy 100-watt 12 Volt Foldable Portable Solar Panel

Key Specifications:

•             Wattage: 100 W

•             Weight: 26.6 lbs

•             Foldable size: 19.9 x 27.2 x 2.8 inches

•             Cost: $239.21

Jackery SolarSaga 100 W Portable Solar Panel

Key Specifications:

•             Power Output: 100W

•             Weight: 11.65 pounds

•             Dimensions: 26 x 22.5 x 2.5 inches

•             Cost: $299.99 

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase

Key Specifications:

•             Power Output: 100W

•             Weight: 25.9lbs

•             Open-Circuit Voltage: 18-22V

•             Cost: $299.95

Goal Zero Boulder 50

Key Specifications:

•             Power rating 50W

•             Dimensions 21.75 x 26.75 x 1.75 in (55.2 x 70 x 4.4 cm)

•             Weight: 12.4 lbs. (5.6 kg)

•             Cost: $149.95

Goal Zero Nomad 20

Key Specifications:

•             Wattage: 20 W

•             Voltage: 12 V

•             Dimensions: 13 x 1 x 8.5 inches

•             Cost: $149.95

ACOPOWER UV11007GD 100 Watt

Key Specifications:

•             Wattage: 100 W

•             Efficiency value: 15.4 %

•             Weight: 25.6 pounds

•             Cost: $241.24

These are the things I look for when buying a portable solar panel

1) Compact design:

When you decide to buy the portable solar panel, you should think of the compact design.

Several solar panels get to fold in the small backpack size packets. You can comfortably store them in your backpack. The mid-size solar panel may fit in the back of your car.

Remember that you will be carrying the portable solar panel with you. So it should not bother you during the travel. Since I’m travelling a lot, this factor comes as first I checked.

2) Size:

Check the exact size of each solar panel covers. Know your end-users and decide which size fits the best for your need.

One time, I got wrong idea for a portable solar panel that I purchased through online store. It put me lots of troubles. Always remember to check sizes and their units in online stores.

3) Weight:

This is a vital aspect of the portable solar panel. The new technology is allowing manufacturers to build a lightweight solar panel.

 If you choose the old version of the solar panel design, they might be heavy. So when buying the solar panel always look for the lightweight system.

4) Wattage:

The portable solar panel wattage will tell how much energy it can produce per hour. The wattage should be enough to power your equipment, smartphone and other devices. Low wattage portable solar panel would take time to recharge your batteries.

5) Efficiency:

There are several types of solar panel design available in the market. Always look of the highly efficient portable solar panel system.

Watch below Portable Solar Panel Buying Advice to know more about the details. I’m sure this will give you some additional info too.

Final Verdict

Do your research before deciding to buy a portable solar panel. Keep the future upgrade in mind and choose the solar panel system that is easy to upgrade. It should allow you to add more solar panel to increase the capacity of the power generation.

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Matthew Joseph Nandirio

Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar. After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as an electrical and electronic engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies. He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research. He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website. Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.

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