Best overall portable solar panel
Thanks to its light weight and impressive capacity, we’ve chosen the Jackery SolarSaga 200 as our best portable solar panel overall, but there are solar panels for every situation.
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Portable solar panels (and the portable power stations they’re sometimes paired with as solar generators) mirror trends in rooftop solar panels and solar batteries. One big one is that your options as a consumer are rapidly expanding. Whether you’re looking for a solar panel to charge a battery while you’re camping off grid or charge your phone or power some tools, there’s likely an option for you. We’ve got CNET’s picks for best solar panels below and a few others that could still be a good fit for you. We’ll also lay out how we made our picks, so that you can make the best decision for you, too.
Best portable solar panels of 2023
Other portable solar panels we tested
Biolite Solar Panel 100: The Solar Panel 100 is the first larger offering from Biolite, which has offered smaller 5- and 10-watt solar panels for a little while. Its 100-watt offering is pretty much in line with the other options here but, without discounts, it’s a little more expensive to start than others.
Rockpals 60-Watt Solar Panel: Rockpals’ 60-watt offering is a good option for people looking to grab a smaller solar panel. It has the same strong efficiency rating (21.5-23.5%) as Rockpals’ 100-watt option (my pick for affordability above). This panel is cheaper than the 100W option, but you’re getting more capacity for your money if you opt for the larger one. I’ve seen both on sale for almost 50% off, which makes either a great choice.
Bluetti PV200: This 200-watt model from Bluetti could have been the choice for the best all-around portable solar panel, instead of the Jackery SolarSaga 200. It’s light for its size and cheaper per watt than the Jackery. It has an efficiency rating of 23.4%.
Anker 625: This 100-watt panel has an efficiency rating of 23% and weighs 11 pounds. It’s a little heavier and more expensive per watt than some others on this list, especially of the same size.
EcoFlow 110-Watt Solar Panel: The EcoFlow 100-watt panel matches our lightweight pick at 12.5 watts per pound. It’s a little more expensive for its size than others, but has a good efficiency rating and great, compatible power stations.
Goal Zero Nomad 50: This bite-size solar panel has the smallest capacity of any on this list. It’s a good panel, but you can get just a bit more capacity for less money in a few other places.
Renogy Voyager: The 100-watt solar panel from Renogy is actually a really good price for its size. It’s also a lot heavier than others, panels both its size and larger.
How to choose the best portable solar panel
Finding the best portable solar panel for you really comes down choosing the one that fits your needs and budget. Here are some things you might consider when looking for the best panels.
Price generally trends with size: the larger the panel, the more expensive. If you’re struggling to compare price across different sizes, quickly calculate the cost per watt of the panels you’re considering by dividing the price by the panels wattage rating. For example, you can get the 200-watt Jackery SolarSaga 200 for $699, or $3.50 per watt. Or, you can get the 350-watt Bluetti PV350 for $677 (when discounted), or $1.93 per watt.
The panels we tested for this list ranged from 50 watts to 350 watts. A larger panel will charge compatible devices faster, but will also take up more space, likely weigh more and cost more (though not always). You can calculate a standardized measurement for weight similar to cost per watt above. Instead of the price, divide the weight by the wattage rating. For example, the Jackery SolarSaga 200 weighs 17.6 pounds, which means it weighs .088-pound per watt. Bluetti’s PV350 weighs .087-pound per watt.
If you have your eye on a portable power station from a specific brand, you’ll want to make sure your chosen panel is compatible. (Most companies that offer both also offer them as a package.) You might also want to check to see if you can daisy-chain multiple solar panels together before deciding, especially if you think your solar charging needs are going to increase in the future.
What you plan to use your portable solar panel for is probably the most important consideration. Are you going to charge a portable power station with a capacity of 250 watt-hours or two kilowatt-hours? Do you want to carry it with you over considerable distances or just from the car to your campsite?
Read more: Just looking for an emergency backup? Check out solar batteries and solar generators.
How we test portable solar panels
Because of difficulties in getting accurate data in the lab, our ranking of portable solar panels relies more on research and comparison of each panel’s specs than an actual testing protocol. Where specs were not publicly available, we reached out to companies to get them. Then we compared them, finding ways to make comparisons across different sizes of solar panels. The watt-per-pound and watt-per-dollar measures were two ways we did that.
CNET editors also had hands-on experience with these solar panels, so we could notice anything out of the ordinary or poorly made.