Best Solar Panels for Camping of 2023
Top 4 Product Ratings
$299.00 at Amazon
$199.00 at Amazon
$329.99 at Amazon
|$319.89 at Amazon|
|Pros||Less expensive, charges devices quickly, easy to use, lightweight||Fast charging, waterproof, lightweight, portable||Portable, easy to use, multiple zipper pouches for accesories||Folds down very small, large zipper pouch for accessories, durable|
|Cons||Doesn't fold down very small||Charging cable sold separately||Not as efficient as some panels||Not very efficient, heavier than most|
|Bottom Line||This user-friendly solar panel charges devices quickly in most conditions and costs less than most of the competition||This is a great overall solar panel that charges devices faster than most||This solar panel is very portable and easy to use, but not as efficient as its competitors||This folding solar panel packs away into a small footprint but it's harder to unpack and surprisingly heavy|
|Rating Categories||Jackery SolarSaga 100||EcoFlow 110||Anker 625||Goal Zero Nomad 100|
|Direct Solar Charging Speed (35%)|
|Indirect Solar Charging Speed (35%)|
|Specs||Jackery SolarSaga 100||EcoFlow 110||Anker 625||Goal Zero Nomad 100|
|Advertised Power Output (watts)||100 W||110 W||100 W||100 W|
|Weight (measured)||10.3 lb||8.8 lb||11 lb||20.1 lb|
|# of USB Outlets||2||0||2||1|
|Max USB Output Current (amps per port)||3||N/A||3||2.4|
|Direct Sunlight Charging Time (from 20% to 80%)||101 min||100 min||170 min||150 min|
|Measured Output in Direct Sunlight (watts)||61 W||66 W||43 W||39 W|
|Indirect Sunlight Charging Time (from 20% to 80%)||197 min||193 min||275 min||314 min|
|Measured Output in Indirect Sunlight (watts)||19 W||20 W||14 W||14 W|
|Size When Folded (inches)||24 x 21 x 1.4 in||20.2 x 16.5 x 0.8 in||20.7 x 18.5 x 3.4 in||20.5 x 15.5 x 2 in|
|Size When Opened (inches)||48 x 21 x 0.2 in||20.2 x 62.5 x 0.8 in||56.9 x 20.7 x 1.8 in||20.5 x 59.5 x 1 in|
|Panel Outside Material||Canvas||Canvas||Canvas||Canvas|
|Panel Type||Monocrystalline silicon||Monocrystalline silicon||Monocrystalline silicon||Monocrystalline silicon|
|Battery Input (Volts)||20.7 V||22.1 V||20.1 V||19.8 V|
|Direct USB Plug||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Daisy Chain Ability||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Best Overall Solar Panel For Camping
Jackery SolarSaga 100
The Jackery SolarSaga 100 earned our Best Overall and our Best Buy award for this year's solar panels for camping review. This 100-watt solar panel is less expensive than most, easy to use, lightweight, and effective in both full and partial sun. Whether it's a sunny day or cloudy outside, this solar panel charges devices the fastest of any panel we tested. When you're not using it, the SolarSaga quickly folds flat and weighs a mere 10 pounds. This low weight and simple fold-in-half design make it easy to pack this panel into your car for your next camping trip. It is chock-full of useful features that make it portable and exceptionally useful. At the campsite, it has a built-in handle making it a breeze to carry. Its fold-out legs quickly deploy so you can point it directly at the sun and get the most out of those morning and evening rays. It has a USB-A, USB-C, and a DC output to plug directly into your solar camping power station. The hardwired DC charging cable and USB ports stow away handily in an integrated zipper pouch on the backside. This solar panel is impressive in almost every regard and a great addition to anyone's off-grid solar camping setup.
While the SolarSaga 100 is lightweight and collapses flat, it has just a single fold. This makes its folded size considerably wider than some of the other panels we tested. However, this panel is more efficient, and since it only folds once, it's thinner than many of the other panels we tested. It's about as packable as other panels, even if its footprint is larger than some. Additionally, this single-fold design makes it easier to pack up than most others, which more than makes up for its slightly larger packed size. If you're looking for an all-around great-value high-watt solar panel for your next camping adventure, look no further.
Read more: Jackery SolarSaga 100 review
Best Portable Solar Panel
Among portable solar panels, the BigBlue 3 is the cream of the crop in our Solar Charger Review, which tests smaller panels. It has seriously efficient charging capabilities and performed well in all our testing. This packable model is one of the fastest of the bunch and delivers consistent charging through variable cloud cover and changing conditions. It has a built in ammeter that lets you monitor its real-time output. Three USB ports ensure you can keep your electronics plugged in when you need them. And when you're ready to hit the road, simply roll up this panel and stick it in your backpack.
It's not the absolute quickest charging portable panel, but the BigBlue 3 is still pretty quick. If you're after an ultralight solar option, this panel is still rather large and bulky. But if you need plenty of power in changing light conditions, while still on the go, the BigBlue is a great and affordable option we highly recommend.
Read more: BigBlue 3 review
Why You Should Trust Us
For this review, we researched dozens of 100+ watt solar panels for camping. After carefully selecting and purchasing every product in our lineup, we developed rigorous side-by-side tests to perform in the field and the lab, pitting these sun-gathering machines against each other. Much of our testing involved measuring how long each solar panel took to charge a battery in the same location at the same time to ensure the most accurate test results. We hooked up each solar panel to matching batteries simultaneously to ensure identical conditions, then recorded how long every panel took to charge the battery. Since everything from ambient temperature to the sun's angle to ozone levels can affect solar panel efficiency, we tested every panel side-by-side simultaneously.Our testing of solar panels for camping is divided into 4 rating metrics with weights corresponding to their overall importance:
- Direct Charging Speed (35% of overall weighting)
- Indirect Charging Speed (35% weighting)
- Portability (15% weighting)
- Functionality (15% weighting)
Our expert panel review team is led by Sam Schild. Sam is an avid outdoor adventurer who has spent thousands of nights camping far away from the nearest power outlet. He has ridden a bicycle across the country multiple times and thru-hiked several American long-distance hiking trails. His first experience using a solar panel while camping was a small battery pack with an integrated solar panel that he used bike touring. Solar panels have come a long way since that fateful tour. When he's not adventuring far and long, he's often camping somewhere in Colorado or across the American Southwest, based out of his minivan, where his solar camping setup keeps all his technology charged so he can stay connected.
Analysis and Test Results
After extensive research and testing of over 60 more portable solar panels, we selected 4 finalists for our large solar showdown. We chose each contender after extensive research on quality, popularity, innovation, and effectiveness, as well as consideration of what makes a top-notch large solar panel for camping. We aim to provide practical and easy-to-understand information to help you decide which panel to purchase for your solar camping setup. We want to ensure that the solar panel you choose will have charged your power station so you can keep the lights on in the dark at camp.
After years of testing and researching solar panels, we've found that all the best panels are made with monocrystalline silicon, or single-crystal silicon, cells. Every panel we tested for this review uses this solar panel technology, and we've found that this makeup is the most efficient at converting solar energy into electricity.
A solar camping setup can be quite expensive. With so many options, it can be difficult to know which are worth their high price tags and which are not. When you rely on your tech devices to stay connected, entertained, and safe, you know how important a good solar panel is. Based on the results from our extensive testing, expensive solar panels aren't always the best. While we never consider price in our testing or scoring, we recognize that it's an important decision-making factor for most people.
The Jackery SolarSaga 100 offers the best overall value for a large solar panel for camping and off-grid living. This panel is one of the least expensive we tested, yet its performance and efficiency are some of the best we've seen, both in direct sunlight and on overcast days. The SolarSaga charges a power station nearly as fast as the most efficient panel but costs less than all the other panels we tested. What's not to love about that value?
The EcoFlow 110 charged our test battery slightly faster than the SolarSaga. Though it has a higher list price, we often see it on sale. If you catch this panel at a discount, the EcoFlow 110 is also a great value buy with excellent performance. It is the only large solar panel we tested that is fully waterproof, which means you could leave this set up at your campsite while you're out or even mount it to the top of your overland camping vehicle.
Direct Solar Charging Speed
The main use of a large solar panel is to effectively convert sunlight into energy that you can use to power your life. We, therefore, weighted direct solar charging speed heavily. If the panel at the heart of your solar camping setup doesn't work well in direct sunlight, then it isn't worth buying. We developed our tests with this in mind.
We used four identical Jackery Explorer 160 batteries to perform direct solar charging speed testing. We hooked up each panel to one of these identical batteries, then set them each up in the same open area, in direct sunlight, at the same time. At the start of the test, every battery had a 20% charge. During peak sunlight hours, we ran our tests to see how long each panel took to charge its test battery to 80%.
The EcoFlow 110 performed the best in direct solar charging speed testing. This panel charged our test battery the fastest of any we tested, taking just 100 minutes to fill its battery from 20% to 80%. It also had the highest peak-sun output in volts. At first glance, this panel doesn't have a way to point it at low-angled sunlight, like during the early morning and toward dusk, making it less convenient to use when you're away from camp all day. You can use the included carrying case to prop up one side of the panel, but this is less convenient than models with included legs for accurate angling.
In our direct sun charging speed tests, the Jackery SolarSaga 100 was almost as fast as the EcoFlow 110. The SolarSaga took just one minute longer to charge our test battery, so it's very nearly as fast as the top performer in direct solar charging speed. However, the SolarSaga had a slightly lower peak-sun wattage output than the EcoFlow (measured at 66 watts and 61 watts, respectively).
The Goal Zero Nomad 100 took 150 minutes to charge its battery from 20% to 80% in direct sunlight. We measured its sunny day output wattage at 39 watts. And coming in last place, the Anker 625 needed a full 170 minutes to achieve the same charge level as the rest. However, it put out a slightly higher wattage than the Goal Zero Boulder in direct sunlight, which we measured at 43 watts.
Indirect Solar Charging Speed
Sometimes that sunlight is obscured by a layer of clouds. And while there's still solar energy making it through the cloud cover, many solar panels are less able to convert solar energy into electricity on overcast days. We weighted this metric just as heavily as charging speed in direct sunlight because what good is a solar panel if it only works during cloudless days? We still need to charge our tech gadgets when the sun goes away.
We used a thin white sheet to simulate conditions on a cloudy day to test these panels' indirect charging speed. Every model took longer to charge their test batteries during this test, but some panels performed better than others. On average, most panels took about twice as long to charge our test batteries under the indirect sun as they did in the direct sun.
We performed this testing in sunny Colorado, where there aren't many cloudy days. During a briefly overcast period, we repeated our side-by-side testing to compare the panels' outputs under actual cloud cover to their output under our simulated cloud cover (aka the Big White Sheet). Every panel registered a higher watt output under the natural cloudy conditions than under the white sheet. However, since cloud cover is extremely variable, we didn't quantify these differences in our test results.
Once again, the EcoFlow 110 came out on top here, charging our test battery the fastest under indirect sunlight. It took its connected battery from 20% to 80% in 193 minutes — just shy of double its charging speed under direct sunlight. This solar panel consistently had the fastest charging speeds and output wattage. Impressively, the narrow gap between this panel and the rest of the competition grew slightly during indirect solar charging testing.
Again, the Jackery SolarSaga 100 almost charged its test battery as fast as the EcoFlow 110. While the gap was slightly wider than the narrow 1-minute difference under direct light, the SolarSaga was only a few minutes behind the EcoFlow 110, taking 197 minutes to bring its battery from 20% to 80%. They also measured similar wattage outputs under our simulated cloud. The SolarSaga pumped out 19 watts, while the EcoFlow pushed 20 watts. Unless you're really in a hurry to charge your devices while camping, either of these panels is a great choice when considering indirect solar charging speed.
During our indirect solar charging test, some panels saw an increase in relative charging speed. Though the Anker 625 was the slowest to charge its test battery in direct light, in indirect light, it beat the slowest-charging panel, the Goal Zero Nomad 100, by well over half an hour. While the Anker 625 still took a drawn-out 275 minutes to charge its battery, that's far from the doubled charging times we saw from most other panels.
These panels aren't designed to be permanently mounted on the top of your camping rig or house. They're meant to be packed up in the back of your car or under the seat in your RV or van, to be pulled out and placed in the sun when you need them. You might be cramming a lot of gear into your car if you're going on an extended trip, so you don't want your solar camping setup to take up any more room than it needs to.
We tested portability by weighing every panel and measuring its dimensions when folded. We packed them up and carried them around. We considered all the features that add to a solar panel's portability, such as whether it has a handle or carrying case to make transportation from your car to where you'll set up your solar charging station easier.
The Anker 625 is the most portable solar panel we tested. This panel folds up into a small size, is lightweight, and has an integrated handle. It's not the absolute smallest and not quite the lightest, but it is the lightest and smallest panel that has an integrated handle, making it very convenient for transporting.
The EcoFlow 110 is the lightest panel we tested and comes with a carrying case to make transporting it from your vehicle easy. This panel is very portable overall. However, once we added the weight of the carrying case to the weight of the panel itself, the EcoFlow wasn't much lighter than the other panels in our lineup. We also discovered that finding a spot to store the carrying case while the solar panel was being used was an annoying extra step the other panels didn't have.
The Goal Zero Nomad 100 folds up impressively small, making it the smallest packed-up model among all the panels we tested. However, it's also the heaviest panel in our lineup by far — nearly doubling the weight of most others, at just over 20 pounds — and doesn't have a handle to carry it. However, this is the easiest panel to stash in especially tight spaces, fitting into a small, jam-packed trunk or even a large backpack.
Our functionality metric evaluated how user-friendly a camping solar panel is. To test this fairly broad metric, we considered aspects such as ease of setup, multiple device charging capabilities, cable integration and storage, fold-out supports to angle the panel toward the sun, and anything else contributing to how well a solar panel functions during real-world testing.
The Anker 625 and Jackery SolarSaga 100 stand out regarding functional features that make them easy to use.
The Anker 625 has two zippered pockets. One of these pockets holds the XT 60 solar charging cable and both USB-C and USB-A outputs. This allows you to charge three devices simultaneously, though if you're splitting the output wattage three ways, it will slow the charging speed. The other zippered pocket will hold any other accessories you want to keep with your solar camping setup. It also has an integrated sunlight alignment device that lets you quickly ensure the panel is angled at the sun to maximize efficiency.
The Jackery SolarSaga 100 was the easiest solar panel to use. It only folds once, whereas most other panels fold two or three times. This makes the SolarSaga a little larger, but it was consistently the easiest to set up. It also has a pair of folding legs to angle it toward the sun. Since there are only two sections of the panel to support, the two legs of this panel are the sturdiest out of the entire testing lineup. The SolarSaga has a USB-A, USB-C, and hardwired DC output to charge a large battery, so it can also charge up to three devices at once.
It's also worth noting that every panel we tested comes with the necessary cable to hook up to a battery, except the EcoFlow 110. While this panel charges the fastest and is the only completely waterproof solar panel in our testing lineup, to charge most large batteries or power stations, you'll need to purchase an MC4-to-XT60 cable. The MC4 connection is waterproof, though, so this is likely a benefit for some people, even if it is inconvenient — not to mention more expensive — to purchase extra cables for your solar camping setup.
Choosing the right panel for your solar camping setup can seem daunting. There are tons of solar panels out there, and choosing the right one can be the difference between having a piece of gear that lasts a long time and one that leaves you short on electricity and money. Armed with the info we've provided, we hope you have what you need to decide which camping solar panel is best for you. Whether you're camping in a front-country campsite or boondocking far off the grid, having the right solar camping setup can make or break your experience.If you're looking for a solar solution that's easier to stick in a backpack, we've tested the best and most portable small solar chargers around. For long days without enough sun for charging, an excellent portable charger can keep you juiced. When you're ready to take your off-the-grid lifestyle to the max, consider a multi-device charging station to simplify your setup.
— Sam Schild
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