In most cases, the main reason for packing up and going camping is to decompress and have some quiet time. We want to have a wonderful time reconnecting with nature, and in most cases, it will be off the grid.
Having said that, however, every aspect of our lives is somewhat affected by electronics. This is why an efficient and clean way of getting power to remote locations has become every camper’s key priority. Recent years’ innovations have made this possible by introducing solar panels.
Solar panels are now affordable, easy to transport and most important use renewable energy as opposed to using fuel.
While solar panels are a great option to go camping with, selecting the right one will need more consideration before purchasing. You will find a wide range of these devices on the market and might be quite a daunting task trying to tell them apart.
We will give you some guidelines and look at some of our best solar panels in the best solar panels for camping review below.
Suaoki 18V 12V 18W Solar Car Battery Charger Portable SunPower Solar Panel Trickle Charger
The Suaoki 18W is a portable solar power system compact enough to fit right into your backpack. It has a quality build. The panel array is made from industrial grade PET plastic as well as the weather resistant heavy-duty polyester canvas, great for hiking and outdoor activities.
It is made of high-quality SunPower solar panel with a great solar cell efficiency of about 22.5%. With the 18V output and 18W energy, you can effectively charge your car, motorcycle or even boats.
Another amazing feature of this unit is that it comes with a built-in blocking diode especially made to prevent backward discharging from your batteries through your solar panels at night when the charger’s voltage is low.
However, the manufacturer advice unplugging the charger during this time, in case the blocking diode does not avert all the reverse discharge.
The Suaoki 18V comes with a USB port, allowing you to charge your cell phone or other devices. However, this is not the most convenient option and may want to buy separate adapters in case you want to charge multiple devices.
A good thing though and probably an advantage over other kits is that it offers a second non-USB output port of 18V to power higher voltage appliances such as vent fans.
This kit does not come with an automatic switch that stops the device from powering, so you should keep an eye on your battery or electronics until they are fully charged.
At 18 watts, this portable solar power system will charge small devices such as cellphones quickly if it is in direct sunlight, almost as fast as charging from a wall socket.
There is also an 18-month warranty on this device, in case it has faults or you are dissatisfied with it in any way.
In conclusion, the Suaoki 18V is an affordable solar charger that provides nearly unlimited power on a long hike.
The included accessories are supported by most electronic devices, although it is probably best to charge the battery instead of charging your devices directly. This is because of the fluctuations from the energy given by the sun.
The kit is also light in weight and has a compact design making it truly portable. This is a great accessory to carry on your camping trips.
SunJack 5W Solar Charger Power Bank External Battery
The SunJack 5W Solar Charger is a compact, durable and weather resistant solar panel charging system, built to handle tough outdoors. Its lightweight also makes it extremely handy for traveling and backpacking. The slim make lets you easily slip it in your pocket or emergency kit.
It comes with a 10000mAh power bank, which in direct sunlight can fully charge its internal battery pack within 5 hours. The solar panel can also power and charge almost all your portable USB electronics directly and within no time.
The SunJack 5 Watt product also comes with four solar panels, two USB outputs, and one input jack so you can simultaneously charge two appliances at once while recharging the battery.
This is very convenient when camping. The power bank has the capability of powering 5V devices and is compatible with most mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, USB lights, digital cameras, and Kindles.
Using a micro-USB connection, you can link up two panels together to increase your charging capabilities.
The SunJack battery pack is not intuitive and must be turned on when you hook it up to recharge your devices. Additionally, the charger also has a small LED light built-in, with flash and strobe modes so you can use it as a flashlight during the night.
Ultimately, this SunJack charger feels like a solid choice for anyone who wants a small and affordable solar charger that does not compromise on quality. You will find this unit a good solution to powering your USB gadgets while outdoors.
SOKOO 22W 5V 2-Port USB Portable Foldable Solar Charger
The SOKOO 5V is a foldable, highly portable and waterproof solar panel charger.
This solar charger has very good build quality since it has a PCB cushion added in between the PET panels and a fabric that adds great rigidity. The said fabric is made of PVC and is water resistant while the ports can withstand water as well.
It is recommended, however, to minimize exposing it to constant moister to protect the electoral components.
The Solar panels themselves are made of monocrystalline solar cells that offer better conversion of energy, with a laminated layer of PET to provide protection from elements.
Sooko solar charger uses 3 Solar panels with a conversion power of 21% to 23.5%. The charger has the capability of Outputting 22Watts of power and each of the two USB ports has a charging speed of 5V/2.4A and a max output of 3.3A.
This solar charger can power all USB gadgets, including, iPhone, Android devices, iPads, GPS, digital camera and many more.
When the two ports are simultaneously being used to charge, then each port is going to give a charging speed of 5V/1.65A.
There is a built-in smart IC chip, which intelligently identifies your device and maximizes its charging speed. This protects your devices from overcharging or even overloading. The chip monitors the USB ports’ charging current and automatically adjusts according to the level of sunlight.
Note that this solar charger does not come with a built-in battery, however, If the panels are getting full sun exposure, you can easily recharge a power bank with this solar charger. This way, you conveniently store the power that Solar panels collect into a portable charger for later use.
Included with this solar charger are a user manual, 2 attachment hooks as well as a 24-month warranty.
That said, the Sokoo 22W performance is better than most other similar foldable chargers. You will also notice that the devices overheat from sitting in direct sunlight. However, to remedy that, consider keeping your devices in the shade while the charger sits in the sun.
Other than that, this solar charger is more than capable of charging any 2 standard USB devices you want to. Its build quality also offers versatility and strength.
Anker 21W PowerPort Solar Charger
Anker PowerPort solar charger is an excellent portable solar charger a perfect solution for your camping and emergency power needs.
The charger is incredibly lightweight for its capabilities. It is also portable coming in a length of 11.1 inches, a width of 6.3 inches when folded and 26.4 x 11.1 x 0.2 inches when opened. It has a thickness of 1.1 inches and weighs at 14.7 ounces, so it will not add too much weight to your pack.
The Anker 21W has Industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar cells covered by heavy-duty polyester canvas. This construction offers weather-resistance to the Anker panels, making them durable, robust and easy to clean.
There are handy stainless steel eyelets on every corner of the charger to tie it in such a way it covers the whole back of a backpack. This allows the charger to get a great amount of sun exposure while hiking.
The Anker PowerPort is made up of three polymer-faced solar panels, which deliver 21 Watts, however, this will vary depending on the sunlight. There are 2 USB charging ports which uses Anker's exclusive PowerIQ technology, to match your device's charging speed of up to 2.4 amps on each port and 3Amps being the max output.
This means charging two smartphones with solar panels sitting directly to the sun is going to give a fast charging speed. You can also charge tablets with max charging speeds of 2.4 Amps and 1.5 Amps if charging two of them simultaneously.
Finally, for its price, the PowerPort does exactly what it says if not more. It has a quality build and the panels offer great flexibility.
This solar charger offers two USB ports and, on a sunny day, it can deliver enough power to charge two devices simultaneously. It features PowerIQ technology that optimizes charging speeds and ensures device safety. We would say this portable solar charger is a solid choice.
The RAVPower 24W Solar Charger
The RAVPower 24W Solar Charger is quite a small solar charger that is extremely portable and highly efficient.
It is lightweight and weighs at 748g. With measurements of 84 cm when unfolded and 30cm x 16.5cm, It will not take up too much space when folded and can easily fit into a backpack.
The solar charger features four carabineers to attach to your backpack or tent. There is also pouch to accommodate the devices you will be recharging or an external battery. However, the devices in the pouch tend to get hot in direct sunlight, so it is better to charge them from the shade as the device sits in the sun.
RAVPower 24W does not come with a built-in battery, so you have to plug in your devices directly through its three USB ports for charging. To use this charger effectively, you need direct sunlight as it will not charge in diffused sunlight.
When opened, the RAVPower 24W has four panels. Combined, the panels offer a 24W and 4.8A output giving excellent performance and fast charging. This is enough to recharge most of your devices via the three available USB ports.
It can charge tablets, Android smartphones, iPhones and any other USB powered devices. In addition, the panels have great efficiency with a max conversion rate of 23.5%.
Despite lacking an internal battery for power storage, this solar charger can charge an external battery that you buy separately as the RAVPower 26800mAh. With strong sunlight, it takes about 10 hours to recharge this battery backup. It will allow you to charge your devices when there is not enough sunlight, or during the night.
Bottom line, the RAVPower 24 W Triple USB Ports Charger perfectly combines portability with power efficiency. It is probably one of the best portable solar chargers, perfect for camping enthusiasts or people going off the grid.
The solar charger has a high charging speed and with ample sunlight, it will keep your devices juiced up. It is a decent device for its price.
BigBlue New 28W Portable Solar Charger
The BigBlue 28W portable solar charger is well made and with a durable design.
This charger uses four separate mono-crystalline solar panels that produce a total of 28W. These panels are highly efficient with a max conversion rate of 23.5%.
It generates a lot of energy enough to power devices such as iPads, smartphones, and other USB powered devices. However, it will not charge a laptop.
An amazing feature that comes with the BigBlue 28W is the built-in ammeter and chip. This digital ammeter gives the user a glance of the f Amps readings, while the internal chip ensures a stable charge.
This is a very beneficial feature especially if you need to note and keep track of your charging. Note that the ammeter only displays the ampere output when there is a device connected to the USB port.
The BigBlue 28W conveniently folds up and is well secured with a Velcro seal. When unfolded, there is a pouch where you will find the ammeter and two USB ports. In addition, you will get to enjoy a zipped pouch where you can put your phone when charging.
This solar charger weighs about 1.06 pounds and comes with a height of 11.1inches, a width of 6.3 inches and a thickness of 1.3 inches. This makes it very portable when folded up.
The BigBlue is one of the most durable foldable solar panels. It is built with a special Polymeric fabric that makes the panels waterproof.
This means that small splashes and rain will not harm this solar charger. In addition, the two USB ports have rubber grommets that help protect them from water ingress.
Overall, the BigBlue 28W is a well-made foldable solar power battery charger that packs a ton of features that other panels do not have.
It has the adequate amperage to charge a couple of devices at a fast speed and features an ammeter for accurate output readings.
All these features make it a great option for outdoor activities such as camping.
Paxcess Foldable 50W Solar Panel Charger for Suaoki Portable Generator
The Paxcess Foldable 50W Solar Panel Charger for Suaoki Portable Generator is an efficient backup power source.
It is designed to be compatible with most of the solar generators in the market today. There are different sizes of connectors included.
An 8mm DC Adapter for Goal Zero, a 5.5 by 2.5mm DC Adapter for Suaoki portable Generator as well as 3.5 by 1.35mm DC Adapter for the Paxcess portable Power Generator.
Additionally, it also works with 5V USB devices, which include smartphones and tablets, GPS, digital cameras and more.
The generator features a 3-USB Smart Charging Technology. This built-in smart IC chip is intuitive as it recognizes your device and allows it to charge at its maximum speed.
In addition, the chip helps protect your appliances by keeping them from overloading and overcharging. It also monitors and adjusts the USB port charging current depending on the level of sunlight.
The USB ports give an output of up to 2.4A, 5V DC on each port with an overall of 6A max of charging current. The solar panels have a high solar power conversion efficiency of up to 21.5-23.5% of into free energy.
This Paxcess charger measures 10.6 X 13.8 X 1.8 inches in dimensions and comes in a portable, unique foldable design. It weighs 5.1 pounds. This makes it very easy to carry it just about anywhere, great for camping and hiking.
The charger is made from a long-lasting Oxford fabric. Its solar panel is also water resistant and can resist all types of weather. However, the junction box should not be exposed to water as it is not waterproof and should be kept dry at all times.
The charger comes with a user manual and a 12-Month warranty since the date of purchase date and lifetime customer service.
To conclude, the Paxcess Foldable 50W Solar Panel Charger for Suaoki Portable Generator is a great source of power when camping or on other outdoor activities.
It is compact and extremely lightweight making it easily portable. You can use it to charge directly to your USB devices or battery on the go.
What are the benefits of a having solar panel for camping?
If you are considering using solar panels for camping, have a look at the benefits that will make you not go any other way.
- Solar power is a renewable, clean source of natural energy, meaning it is completely eco-friendly.
- They save you more money since the energy comes from the sun and eliminating fees from powered sites.
- Solar panels do not make noise so you can camp in peace and quiet while powering your appliances.
- The panels give you the freedom to camp anywhere without electricity access.
- They are user-friendly and a convenient power solution to power as they come in highly portable designs.
- Solar panels are highly robust and hard wearing, which means they will last a long time even with constant use.
Types of solar panels
Solar panels for camping come in three forms. Look at how they differ from each other.
These are the most expensive of the three types. However, they are more efficient owing to their high-grade silicon make.
They are also space efficient as they require the least amount of space, and lastly, they are long lasting compared to the other three kinds.
These types of solar panels are not as efficient as mono-crystalline as they tend to have a lower heat tolerance.
However, the process used to make them is much simpler and less expensive, ultimately making them cheaper.
This is the least efficient type of solar panels but least expensive.
These solar panels have the advantage of being highly flexible, opening up many potential applications especially when camping.
They also have the most appealing look owing to their homogenous appearance.
What can you power with solar while camping?
The common campers’ appliances powered with a solar setup include:
- Camping lights LED lights and flashlights.
- 12v compressor fridges. Note that these may take up more than half of your total power.
- Air compressors.
- Inverters responsible for charging your 12v devices such as laptops and small televisions.
- Solar showers.
- Solar backpacks.
Something to keep in mind, avoid powering heating appliances such as portable stoves or hair dryers from your power inverter. These are energy-intensive and may quickly run out your battery’s power.
Choosing the best solar panels for camping
In this section, we shall look at the essential factors to look out for when selecting the best solar panels for camping.
Weight and portability
If you plan to do some extreme sports or mainly travel by foot, then weight might be an issue and therefore should consider looking at rollable or folding solar panels.
However, if you are powering a base camp, then this may not be an issue and the rigidly framed module will do the job just fine. These kinds of kits will typically include a stand and carry bag for transportation.
Before purchasing a solar panel, you should check all the devices you intend to charge with it. However, wattage may vary depending on the type of solar panel you get.
While many brands will only offer a 4 or 5 watts solar panel, which will suffice for charging cell phones or mp3 players, most devices nowadays require more power to properly charge.
You will need to look for at least a 7 watts solar panel and even a higher wattage for larger electronic devices such as portable laptops. Remember to be keen on the wattage of the solar panel before buying.
Easy to setup and use
Outdoor activities will mean there no time to keep checking on your solar kits. One of the most convenient features that technology has provided in today’s solar kits auto-restart technology.
This technology will automatically switch your solar kit back on in case it ceases to function due to some sort of obscurity such as cloud cover.
A good solar kit should have an intuitive and overall user-friendly design, free excessive adapters and cord. However, all this will be dependent on your needs and personal preference.
Today, solar panel companies cater to the needs of technologically advancing gadgets such as smartphones and portable laptops.
They meet this kind of demand by integrating their solar panels with different kinds of USB ports that serve different gadgets. There are devices that do not use USB ports and for that, they utilize an inverter.
Additionally, there are convenient ways to use your solar panels. By using grommets, you can easily hang your solar kits on a tree, tent or on a backpack while walking. You can also Daisy chain several solar panels together for a maximum gathering of energy, which might come in handy in some situations.
Cables and connections
the solar charging kits normally have USB ports for charging, while others rely exclusively on USB ports. Now, there is the standard two-panel USB charging where one is equipped with a higher amp rating for laptops, while the other one comes with a lower one for charging mobile phones.
In addition, there are adapters and different types of ports available for charging other devices so you should be okay.
The battery, despite the size, is highly important and serves as storage for the solar energy gathered from the sun, either for immediate use or for later.
Note that for the power storage to maintain a constant level, the solar panel needs to gather enough energy into the battery same as the power amount going out of the battery, otherwise it will run out of the battery later on.
Complete solar charging kits have all kinds of accessories and connectors such as extension and alligator clips, adapters and many more.
You may want to consider what accessories you will need on your camping trip and if they are available for the panels you choose. However, if you chose to deviate from the already provided USB charging ports, you may need to consider how competent your wiring skills are. A lot of research will also come in handy at that.
No one wants to get flat batteries when out camping. Technology, however, saves the day with the portable solar panels that come in handy wherever we go as long as the sun shines. All you need is your initial purchase capital and hey, you are on your way to enjoying free energy as you marvel at nature.
As we have seen in the best solar panels for camping review above, you are spoilt for choice and the best one is wholly dependent on your needs as well as personal preference.
However, our best pick has to be the Anker 21W PowerPort Solar Charger. It is lightweight, extremely efficient and made of durable material that can withstand outdoor, rough use.
It is a product from a reliable and trusted brand, which comes in an amazing combination of specs, respectable output, and the price is very reasonable.
This solar charger will come in handy for people who do many outdoor activities such as camping and need to juice up their devices. As long as there is direct sunlight, it will continue to produce power for you.
The Anker 21W is a great product and great value for money.
Having looked at everything about solar panels for camping in this review, we hope that now you are in a better position to make an informed decision.
Give us your thoughts and or experience in the comment section.