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BioLite Solar Panel 100 Review

A super portable product with tons of versatile features that make it easy and a joy to use
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BioLite Solar Panel 100 Review (Testing the Biolite 100 on a sunny Colorado day.)
Testing the Biolite 100 on a sunny Colorado day.
Credit: Sam Schild
Price:  $400 List
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Manufacturer:   BioLite
By Sam Schild ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 19, 2023
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Direct Solar Charging Speed - 35% 7.0
  • Indirect Solar Charging Speed - 35% 6.0
  • Portability - 15% 8.0
  • Functionality - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

The BioLite Solar Panel 100 is both easy to use and highly portable, making it one of our favorites. While it's not the absolute smallest, this panel balances portability with a high level of functionality in a way that makes it stand out in a crowd. It's also not quite the lightest panel we tested, but it folds down and carries better than any other panel. And, it's very thin when packed, so you can slide it into a fully packed trunk. It has tons of features that take the guesswork out of setting up your solar charging system, like a sundial to help you point it directly at the sun and fold-out legs to keep that perfect angle once you've found it. This is a great-looking panel with a user-friendly design that will have you on your way to your first large solar panel camping setup.
REASONS TO BUY
Very portable
Easy-to-use features
Simple setup
Lightweight design
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the fastest charging speeds
Fairly expensive

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Bottom Line An easy-to-use panel that's small and light enough to carry just about anywhere you need a chargeThis option works better than the competition at a lower price, and is super easy to useThis efficient and portable all-weather model will keep you charged rain or shineA hard-sided folding model that is powerful and durable enough to leave outside for days, weeks, or foreverAn inexpensive panel that outperforms its price and is a great value overall
Rating Categories BioLite Solar Panel... Jackery SolarSaga 100 EcoFlow 110 Renogy 100W Foldable BigBlue SolarPowa 1...
Direct Solar Charging Speed (35%)
7.0
9.5
9.0
9.0
8.0
Indirect Solar Charging Speed (35%)
6.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Portability (15%)
8.0
6.0
5.5
3.0
8.0
Functionality (15%)
9.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Specs BioLite Solar Panel... Jackery SolarSaga 100 EcoFlow 110 Renogy 100W Foldable BigBlue SolarPowa 1...
Energy Generated in 1 Hour Direct Sun 42.4 Wh 54.3 Wh 53.6 Wh 53.5 Wh 49.9 Wh
Energy Generated in 1 Hour Indirect Sun 14.9 Wh 17.6 Wh 20.0 Wh 20.8 Wh 14.4 Wh
Power Output Rating (Watts) 100 W 100 W 110 W 100 W 100 W
Measured Output in Direct Sun (Watts) 47 W 61 W 66 W 56 W 50W
Measured Output in Indirect Sun (Watts) 19 W 25 W 25 W 24 W 11 W
# of USB A Outlets 2 1 0 0 0
# of USB C Outlets 1 1 0 0 0
Max USB Output Current (Amps per Port) 5 amps 3 amps N/A N/A N/A
Weight (Measured) 9.5 lb 10.3 lb 8.8 lb 21.2 lb 8.8 lb
Size Folded 14.5 x 20 x 1.5 in 24 x 21 x 1.5 in 16.5 x 20.2 x 1.5 in 24 x 20 x 3.5 in 25 x 21 x 1 in
Size Opened 57.5 x 20 x 0.5 in 48 x 21 x 0.5 in 62.5 x 20.2 x 0.5 in 48 x 20 x 1.5 in 42 x 25 x 0.5 in
Battery Included No No No No No
Tablet Charging Yes Yes No No No
Laptop Charging Yes No No No No
Charge iPhone/Smartphone Yes Yes Yes No No
Panel Outside Material Canvas Canvas Canvas Canvas With Rigid Foam Clamshell Case Canvas
Panel Type Monocrystalline silicon Monocrystalline silicon Monocrystalline silicon Monocrystalline silicon Monocrystalline silicon
Battery Input (Volts) 21.8 V 20.7 V 22.1 V 21.7 V 22.6 V
Able to Daisy Chain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
12-Volt Connection Yes No No Yes Yes
DC Output Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The BioLite Solar Panel 100 is a highly portable and versatile solar panel for your solar camping setup. This panel folds and unfolds faster than most panels, and it packs to the smallest size of any panel that still has a carrying handle. It's about average in solar efficiency, but this panel is small and light enough that we aren't disappointed about this. This will easily pack into a trunk stuffed with camping gear and will leave plenty of space for the rest of your solar camping setup in that trunk, too.

Performance Comparison


biolite solar panel 100 - the biolite solar panel 100 working hard on a sunny day in colorado.
The Biolite Solar Panel 100 working hard on a sunny day in Colorado.
Credit: Sam Schild


Direct Solar Charging Speed


The BioLite Solar Panel 100 performed decently in our direct sunlight charging speed tests. Though it wasn't the fastest and most efficient panel, it generated plenty of charge to keep all our tech powered up and running at the campsite.


During our side-by-side tests, this 100-watt panel generated 42.4 watt-hours of energy over the course of an hour in full sunlight. Those results are about in the middle of the pack among models we tested — respectable but not outstanding.


The BioLite Solar Panel 100 is made up of four 25-watt panels utilizing monocrystalline silicon solar cells well-known for their efficient energy conversion. While this particular panel isn't really a standout in direct solar efficiency, it doesn't stand out for performing poorly, either.

The BioLite Solar Panel 100 is efficient in direct solar charging speed tests.
Credit: Sam Schild

We also monitored watt output during direct solar charging tests. As the sun conditions shifted above us, we noted that the watt output from the BioLite Solar Panel 100, like most panels, fluctuated within a fairly consistent range.


With an output of 45-50 watts (and an average of 47 watts), the BioLite 100 occasionally peaked at wattage levels in the mid-50s and 60s — if you use its integrated sundial to point the panel directly at the sun — putting it nearly on par with other top models in our lineup.

biolite solar panel 100 - the biolite solar panel 100 has a sundial to help you angle this...
The BioLite Solar Panel 100 has a sundial to help you angle this panel directly at the sun.
Credit: Sam Schild

Indirect Solar Charging Speed


We also tested charging speeds in indirect light because it's not always bright and sunny. A panel needs to perform well in cloudy conditions, too. Or else you'll be left waiting around for those clouds to pass to charge your tech.


To ensure fair testing, we suspended a white sheet over all the panels in our lineup, side by side. The BioLite Solar Panel 100 performed once again in about the middle of the pack for charging efficiency.


Over the course of one hour in our “cloudy day” test, the BioLite generated 14.9 watt-hours of energy. In other words, it didn't do terribly, but there are also plenty of better options we've tested.


In our measurements of power output in indirect light, the BioLite 100 still managed to pump out about 19 watts. Here again, this is a respectable performance without being particularly good or bad.

biolite solar panel 100 - the biolite 100 generated a charge under our simulated cloud well...
The Biolite 100 generated a charge under our simulated cloud well, but it didn't perform the best.
Credit: Sam Schild

Portability


The BioLite Solar Panel 100 is very portable. It weighs only 9.5 pounds and folds down to 1.5 inches thick, making it easy to pack it into your trunk with everything else you'll need for a long weekend camping.


This portable panel has a comfortable integrated handle that makes it easy to carry to wherever you plan to set up your solar power station at the campsite. The BioLite 100 folds four times to a small size, and when folded, it measures just 20 inches by 14.5 inches.


This is the smallest folded size of any panel that also has a carrying handle. It's also exceptionally simple to fold and unfold this panel — there are no clips or velcro pieces to fight with when setting it up or taking it down, and the panels are thin and light, so they're easy to handle. The Biolite Solar Panel has a zippered pouch on the back to store your charging cables and other solar accessories. This pouch technically adds some thickness to the panel, but only in one area.

biolite solar panel 100 - the biolite solar panel 100 is one of the smallest panels when...
The Biolite Solar Panel 100 is one of the smallest panels when folded of any we tested.
Credit: Sam Schild

Functionality


The BioLite Solar Panel 100 is versatile and adaptable models we tested. It has three USB outputs (two USB-A and one USB-C), a DC charging cable (hardwired directly to the controller), fold-out legs to point it at a low-angled sun, and an integrated sundial to take the guesswork out of getting that angle perfect.


With two USB-A outputs, a USB-C output, and a DC cable, this panel is technically capable of charging four devices at once. However, during our testing, we found that the DC charging cable was the most energy-efficient when used alone. This is true of most panels we tested — you're better off charging a battery or power station with the DC cable and charging your devices from that external power bank than charging all your gadgets straight off of the panel itself.

The Biolite 100 folds easily, is lightweight, and portable.
Credit: Sam Schild

This panel can be daisy-chained together with other BioLite panels to increase energy drawing capacity for more power-hungry camping setups. The fold-out kickstand legs of the BioLite deploy easily to point this directly at low-angled sunlight. It's one of the only panels we tested with an integrated sundial, too. This sundial, along with the kickstand legs, makes pointing the panel directly at the sun simple and easy.

biolite solar panel 100 - the biolite 100 has three usb outputs and a hardwired dc charging...
The Biolite 100 has three USB outputs and a hardwired DC charging cable.
Credit: Sam Schild

The fold-out legs aren't the most stable in a strong wind, but they're pretty par for the course among similar models. Just two legs support the four panels, adding extra wobbliness. We didn't find any four-panel folding designs that used more than two kickstand legs, but the Biolite would be more secure if it had a support leg behind every panel. This would increase the weight and packability, though, so we're willing to accept the two-leg design. When not using the fold-out legs, they securely fasten against the back of the panel with Velcro.

biolite solar panel 100 - the sundial and fold-out legs let you easily point the panel...
The sundial and fold-out legs let you easily point the panel directly at the sun when it's lower in the sky.
Credit: sam schild

Should You Buy the BioLite Solar Panel 100?


The BioLite 100 is super portable and extremely versatile, and its small footprint allows you to set it up in places where larger panels won't fit. It also is easy to find a place to fit this panel into a car stuffed full of outdoor gear. It has a bunch of useful features that make it a great option for someone who's just getting into the world of larger yet still portable solar panels. This panel is expensive, but if you're prioritizing packability and useability over all else, it may be the right choice for you.

biolite solar panel 100 - the biolite 100 is a joy to use because it's straightforward...
The Biolite 100 is a joy to use because it's straightforward, portable, and versatile.
Credit: Sam Schild

What Other Solar Camping Panels Should You Consider?


If you're looking for a great overall panel that performs well in any weather conditions and is still full of handy features, check out the Jackery SolarSaga 100. For a waterproof and portable model with excellent energy conversion in direct and indirect light, consider the EcoFlow 110. If you're looking for a 100-watt panel that's high-performing at a lower cost, check out the BigBlue SolarPowa 100 ETFE. Or perhaps you need a smaller portable solar panel for fast and light adventures, in which case, check out our review of the best portable solar chargers.

biolite solar panel 100 - testing the biolite 100 on a sunny colorado day.
Testing the Biolite 100 on a sunny Colorado day.
Credit: Sam Schild

Sam Schild
 

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