The 4 best solar panels for camping
Solar panels are a convenient way to recharge your vital technology while you explore the great outdoors. The best solar panels for camping have multiple connectors and are the right size for your specific needs, whether you are a backpacker or a car camper.
The size of a solar panel is important for two reasons: it determines how fast it can be charged and how portable it is. Larger solar panels have a larger surface area so they charge quickly and function better under cloud cover. However, smaller solar panels can still work fine if you no longer have to wait for a full charge. If If you are planning a long day hike, you should look for a smaller solar panel that can be clipped to your pocket.
It is not only the size of the solar panel that affects the charging speed, but also the output power. Solar modules have an output of watts. The higher the output, the more electricity can be generated. Smaller solar modules have an output of around 5 watts, but larger ones can achieve an output of up to 60 watts and more. For reference, the average phone charger connected to the wall will provide around 5 watts of power.
Finally, consider what extras you want. If you plan to use your solar panel For lights, you need one that comes with a power plant so you can use it long after sunset. Some solar panels are also equipped with several standard USB-A devices Ports while others have USB-C and DC ports. Solar panels with built-in flashlights are a must for emergency situations, and those with a stand design can receive more direct sunlight to charge faster.
With that in mind, read on for four highly rated solar panels for camping that will keep you powered.
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1. The compact solar panel
- Connections: 2 USB-A
- Power: 5 watts
With this portable solar panel with two practical USB ports, you can easily charge your devices on the go. Versatile and compact, it also has a built-in power bank so you can use it long after the sun goes down. Although this solar panel is small and only measures 6.1 x 3.35 inches when folded, it can charge an iPhone 8 up to nine times on a single charge and fully charge the average phone in just an hour. A must for emergencies, it has a built-in flashlight with three modes. This solar panel also has a cover that the brand says is waterproof so you don’t have to worry if you get stuck in a storm. At 1.18 pounds, this is the lightest option on this list, and it also comes with a micro-USB cable.
One reviewer wrote: “I bought this for a camping trip in July. I charged it at home before we left. I fully charged my iPhone twice while camping. When we got back from camping, I put it in the closet. Well, last night we lost power at home and my phone was almost dead. I thought hmm I was wondering if this could work. I could not believe it !!! It fully charged mine [iPhone] and still had something to do. “
2. The medium-sized solar panel
- Connections: 3 USB-A
- Power: 28 watts
If you need more power but still want to be portable, this medium-sized solar panel is the perfect choice. The four panels are highly efficient and, under good conditions, can convert up to 23.5% of the solar energy into energy, which can then be distributed to your devices via three USB ports and one Connected micro USB cable that is compatible with select Apple and Android devices. Since this solar panel does not have a power bank, it can only charge devices in the sun. However, the reinforced holes make it easy to attach to your bag for charging on the go. It also has a cover to protect against water and dust and is IPX4 waterproof.
This fully extended solar panel measures 33.1 “by 11.1”. When you’re ready to pack at the end of the day, it folds down to a compact size of just 11.1 x 6.3 inches. It’s also very light at just 1.29 pounds.
One reviewer wrote: “That worked better than I expected. My phone has a crappy battery and I recently went hiking in Zion National Park. We spend the whole day without electricity and in the end I had a well-charged phone. It works best in good lighting, of course. Overcast and shade will ruin performance […] My phone charges surprisingly quickly. Even if a second telephone is connected. I was able to take all the photos I wanted with no problem! […] I think this is a great buy! “
3. The big solar panel
- Connections: 1 USB-A, 1 USB-C
- Power: 60 watts
Bring plenty of solar energy to your campsite with this large solar panel that is over 4 feet long and 1 foot wide when fully expanded. The three panels can convert up to 23% of the solar energy into energy and can be angled to receive more direct sunlight with the practical stand. A powerful device, it can charge an iPhone 11 Pro to 50% in just 30 minutes. And while it doesn’t come with a power bank, it can easily be plugged into one thanks to the multiple ports that come with it. Although this solar panel is large, it can be folded down to just 14.6 “by 14.8”. It comes with a handle so you can take it with you wherever you go. However, at 7 pounds, it’s also the heaviest option on this list.
One reviewer wrote: “[…] This solar panel is extremely easy to use with the Paxcess power plant with the power cables supplied, but can also be used to charge phones / tablets / etc. directly via USB cable. Was able to charge the Paxcess power plant to 100% in a few hours of full sunlight. The solar panel is light and can be easily folded up for transport. Excellent combination for camping or emergency power needs. “
4. The solar panel with power plant and lighting
- Connections: 1 USB-A, 3 DC
- Power: 18 watts
This 3-in-1 solar panel set is a great choice for anyone with an idea for camping that is a little closer to glamping. It contains a power bank that can be charged at home or with the 18-watt solar panel, as well as three plug-in lights that can be hung on your campsite using the supplied S-hooks. If the sun conditions are good, the power bank can be fully charged with the solar panel in just five hours. It also has a built-in light that can run for 64 hours at a time. While this set isn’t as compact as the others on this list, the power bank weighs only 2.1 pounds and has a convenient handle so it’s not too difficult to carry around. The exact dimensions of the panel itself aren’t listed, but the entire kit weighs just under 6 pounds.
One reviewer wrote: “I was shocked to find that the solar panel was actually drawing significant power from the sun, even on a less than clear day. The battery can be charged quickly and easily. Impressive for the price! The lights work great and are useful in terms of switches and brightness. This is a fantastic tool for camping or outdoor activities where power may not be available. It would be better if the device was waterproof (obviously for outdoor use). But if you are careful with the placement and don’t use it in damp / rainy conditions … that should be fine. “