Everything You Need To Know About Portable Solar Panels

Categories: Solar PV Panels.

Portable Solar Panels –What Are They?

As the name portable solar panels suggests, it's power systems that are portable. 

That means its a portable power generating device you can carry from one place to another like a briefcase, use it (plug and play) and stow it.

Portable solar devices look a bit like conventional rooftop solar panel systems. The have the appearance of an unfixed mini solar panel. Bring them out of the case, fold them out directed towards the sunlight (propped up on legs) and generate electric DC power for use in the field.

But at the day's end, you can unplug, fold them away and never need to make it an attachment to your roof. They are the best portable solar panels for an RV. Take out, fold out, connect, use, packed up and take them away.

portable solar panels

Portable solar power is mobile; it's a simple and practical solution for providing power on the go. It is helpful to meet roadside emergency needs. The emergency need includes using it camping and for mobile charging. Find a suitable sized solar power charger that is effective for a range of uses, the most efficient portable solar charger being a monocrystalline type. The types of panels are discussed further below.

Where regular electricity is unavailable for infrequent outdoor activities, like rural sporting events, use portable solar panels for camping at the sporting events oval. A portable power unit will keep power to the tent for computers and cash machines while the sun shines. You might even consider smoothing out the flow of solar power by directing the panel output into solar storage batteries and taking the power from the batteries.

Getting electricity is a easy thing while the sun is shining. Take it out and face it towards the sun. You need to make sure that its solar access is not interrupted by static or moving shadows.

Portable Solar Panel Kits

Portable solar systems come in kits. Some designs intend an all-in-one solution and often include built-in solar batteries.

The many designs mean some configurations suit particular applications better than others.

Disadvantages Of Solar Energy

A portable solar panel kit design will recharge a single small USB powered device such as a GPS unit or a tablet PC. A portable solar unit on an RV the size of a mobile solar array for small building could power small factory type appliances.

Even larger kits find use in high demand situations in military aid applications. Situations like during emergency disaster settlements for powering a post-flood event, or after a fire-fighting clean-up could use a portable solar kit for small appliances.

Necessity Of Portable Solar Panels

Portable solar is an option where a rooftop panel installation isn’t. Rooftop solar panels aren't always practical or possible. A roof may face the wrong way to get direct sunlight. Nearby buildings might provide too much shade to the location intended for the panels. Adding another roof structure may not be compliant with planning and a patio roof for mounting a solar panel system may require approval.

monocrystalline portable solar panels

(source: www.easyacc.com)

Sometimes local authorities place restrictions on the placement of panels on your roof if it is visible from the street. You might consider placing portable solar panels in a temporary location to power a shed, garden cabin or at an unpowered site while doing repair work.

Portable solutions provide choice for offsetting particular energy needs of rental accommodations. The renter can install portable solar panels without changing the property structure. Also the renter can remove an installation if they decide to move. The temporary solar power panels can't be connected to the house electrical mains but the solar power kit can be used for standalone appliances that use power. Protect your house members by having a trip breaker or residual current device (RCD) connected between the mobile solar panel and the appliances.

Target Audience For Portable Solar Panels?

The goal for any portable solar system is to provide power where there is usually none available. The power appliance has nowhere to plug in for electricity. Portable systems must be easy to set up. They are mobile and effective for providing electricity where there is a demand but no fixed supply.

People use portable solar systems for recreational camping trips (‘glamping’) in their off-road vehicles. Hunters and fishermen use portable and mobile solar panels; so do humanitarian field operations.

Here are some applications where portable solar power is useful.

Portable Solar Panels
portable solar panels

How Much Power Can Portable Solar Produce?

Solar output depends on sunlight available at a particular time. Power production depends on the efficiency and the size of panels in use. Portable solar power systems operate at about 14% efficiency. That means the panels can convert 14% of captured solar energy into power. 'Thinksolar' research data provided the following example.

A 144-watt solar system will produce about 120 watts of power. This is enough energy to charge a standard battery in about 4 hours. It'll power a laptop or other portable electronic devices for about 3 hours. These are devices like camera, GPS, iPads/iPods, radios and a range of mobile communication. This system costs approximately $600 and may weigh about 12lb/5 kg.

Benefits, Advantages of Portable Solar Power

The ease for carrying portable solar power anywhere means they're convenient.

These devices have other benefits and advantages including the following. The assembly of portable solar equipment is easy. They have very few wires. Portable solar devices augment other wireless devices. Used as mobile chargers for batteries they're good companions for backpackers and travellers to have at their home base.

These systems provide enough voltage for radios, phones, laptops and mobile TV sets. Portable solar kits can support commercial applications like remote CTV and surveillance systems. These lightweight portable solar charger kits work well to meet their power needs.

Portable solar power is good in those situations when grid power frequently fails or you decide to live off the grid. In a remote location, emergency responder personnel may want solar power for backup. Fishermen huts, recreational off-road vehicle users and hikers need convenient power. Mobile solar power kits can provide the power during daylight hours. The benefit of portable solar is they're convenient to use and pack up to about the size of a suitcase.

Pros And Cons Of Portable Solar Panels

Top 5 Portable Solar Chargers


  • No Fuel to carry. Portable solar panels need no external fuel source to generate electricity. They only need sunshine to excite the cells to convert light into energy.
  • No Trace of fuel: Solar panels generate power from the sun’s energy. There is neither carbon pollution emitted nor residue of fuel to clean. Portable solar is both efficient and zero impact energy solution.
  • Silent: Portable solar does not produce any noise. It is a quiet environment friendly system.
  • Modular: Portable solar can be 'daisy-chained' together. To generate more power add more portable solar panels. It's a faster and quicker way to meet an urgent power gap.
  • More power: The portable solar units can orient to track the sun. It might be a manual task but this generates more power compared to fixed RV-top panels.
  • Lightweight: Portable solar panels are light in weight and compact too. Many of them have battery storage as an integrated feature.
  • Waterproof: The on demand solar power panels are waterproof. The solar charge controller is waterproof. It's an energy system we can use the system in all weather conditions.


  • Need Batteries. A separate battery pack to store power in low light conditions. Solar cells can only convert solar light to energy. You need to store some solar generated power. The solar device must integrate with a battery bank or some external battery storage.
  • Variable output issues. The angle of sun on the panels influences the power output from a solar panel. It’s an ongoing task to re-orient the solar panels as the sun moves across the sky.
  • Possibility of damage. Portable solar panels can damage when handled. We transport these portable panels more so damage risk is high.

Solar Panels -Polycrystalline vs. Monocrystalline

The solar cells are the energy generation part of a portable solar system. These panels' dark faces points at the sun and convert sunlight to electricity. The solar panel for a portable system can contain polycrystalline or monocrystalline cells.

The major difference in these two cell types is the purity of the silicon used.


Monocrystalline structure has near to perfect alignment of silicon molecules within the cell. This means that the solar cell will be better at converting solar energy to electricity.

Monocrystalline Cells


Solar cells made of single-crystalline silicon are mono-crystalline cells. The cells are blackish-blue in color and cut slivers form silicon ingots. Mono-crystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates (15-20%). That is because they derive from the highest-grade silicon. Any solar cell or panel circuit is prone to breaking down when solar cells become shaded.

High conversion efficiency means less space compared to other types of solar panels. Mono cells tend to perform better than other cells in low-light conditions. Monocrystalline cells are more expensive to manufacture. Their cells perform well in hot weather, and any light. 

Portable solar panel systems use monocrystalline solar cells because of their greater efficiency. That means it's a smaller panel system so it is easy to transport and store.

Polycrystalline Cells

polycrystalline portable solar panels

The polycrystalline cells have a bluish color. Mono cells come from a single silicon crystal ingot. To manufacture polycrystalline cells they pour molten silicon into a rectangular pot. A mono cell slice is round and polycrystalline cell slice is rectangular.

 The simpler process of manufacturing polycrystalline cells is faster and thus costs less. The polycrystalline silicon ingot is less pure than a single crystal ingot.

A polycrystalline solar cell has lower efficiency (13%-16%) because of silicon purity. They are not as efficient as monocrystalline cells. Polycrystalline panels needs to be larger to output equal power to monocrystalline panels.

Thin Film Solar Cells

Panels that have CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) use thin film technology. You harvest energy using very thin, light and inexpensive technology. They are ideal for use in mobile applications, for robotics and recharging devices.

Choosing The Right Portable Solar Panel

Select the portable solar panel and batteries according to your needs. For mobile solar applications the system must remain portable. We need to use the technology that works best for all conditions. Both panel size and weight impact panel portability while travelling. Monocrystalline panels are smaller, lighter and efficient so they perform well. That makes them the best choice as portable solar panels.

I hope you found something new in this article. Share this with your network if you enjoyed it.

Feel free comment below if you have experiences you would like to share.


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