portable solar panels on rv

Portable solar panels: are they right for you?

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Solar power isn’t just for homes and businesses – with portable solar panels, you can use the power of the sun on the go. From portable solar panels and solar generators for RV trips to solar phone chargers, there are many kinds of moveable solar products on the market today.

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Key takeaways about portable solar panels

  • Portable solar panels are best for camping and RV trips if you need power on the go and don’t want to use a generator
  • There are many types of portable solar panels – phone chargers, foldable setups, and more for every need
  • Explore portable panel options on Amazon or other online retailers, and your home solar-plus-storage options on the EnergySage Marketplace

An overview of portable solar panels

Any solar panel that can be moved around and used for power away from your primary home can be considered “portable.” Portable panels are most commonly used for backup power generation on camping and RV trips. These panels are smaller than typical rooftop or ground-mounted panels – standard residential solar panels usually produce between 250 and 365 watts of power per panel, while portable panels produce closer to 100 watts.

Solar chargers are another version of portable solar; they are smaller, easily transportable solar devices used for charging phones and other small electronics. Most solar phone chargers generate between 5 and 20 watts of power.

While portable panels will never out-perform your typical residential or commercial solar panels head-to-head, they offer a few specific benefits in a few specific use cases compared to traditional options. Aside from being highly mobile and able to be moved to wherever you may need power at the time, portable solar panels are a low-cost way to benefit from solar energy while you’re off the beaten path. While they won’t provide enough energy to power much other than small appliances, a portable solar setup is a great way to use the natural energy of the sun for your on-the-go power needs during a camping trip, hike, or long RV drive.

Because of their smaller size, some portable panel options may come with unique features, such as a kickstand or foldable design that make for easier use on the go.

What are the best ways to use portable solar panels?

Portable panels are useful for some smaller solar projects, but won’t be able to provide enough power for your home. If you are interested in maximizing your electricity savings with a rooftop or ground-mounted solar energy system, the EnergySage Solar Marketplace is the best place to start getting quotes and comparing your options.

That being said, if you’re looking for a small amount of on-the-go solar power, portable panels are a solid option to consider. Here are some of the cases when portable solar panels might be right for you:

Camping and RV trips

A portable solar setup is a great option for RV owners who spend long periods of time off-grid (known as boondocking or dry camping). With a few portable panels, you can recharge a solar generator whenever the sun is shining and use that energy to run some appliances while on a trip. Portable panels allow you to leave that noisy gas-powered generator at home and enjoy the quiet natural landscape you’re traveling through.

Just like a rooftop solar system, portable solar panels need several accessories to produce and store solar energy. You’ll need the proper cables, a battery or solar generator, an inverter, and equipment to keep your panels mounted and secure when they’re in use. While portable solar panels can be useful in many circumstances, it is important to make sure you set them up correctly to reap their full benefits. It’s always a good idea to consult a professional electrician when starting to use any portable solar product for your RV or camper.

What are solar generators?

The best way for campers and RV owners to most effectively reap the benefits of a portable solar setup is to pair panels with a solar generator, which is a battery equipped to pair with solar panels. With a solar generator system, you can use your portable solar setup to produce free energy whenever the sun is shining, and store that energy for when you might need it later.

Charging your phone on the go

solar phone charger

Portable panels aren’t only useful for serious adventurers. You can purchase small solar chargers that fit in a backpack or your pocket and use them to harness power from the sun. These devices don’t generate and store much energy, but you can use them to recharge a phone or a laptop.

Unlike portable panels used for camping and RVs, solar phone chargers are usually all-in-one devices, meaning you don’t need to do any additional setup to start using solar energy. Simply place your charger in the sun to collect energy, and plug your phone or other devices into the charger when you need to power it up.

Products like the X-Dragon Solar Charger and the Wildtek Portable Charger offer clean energy on the go at a reasonable price for small electronic devices. These won’t power appliances like a microwave, but they can keep your phone up and running for much longer than it’s battery life alone.

Set your home up with solar today

You can use solar energy on the go to keep appliances and small electronics up and running, but solar will save you the most money when you install a rooftop or ground-mounted solar installation to cover as much of your electricity needs as possible. If you want to understand and compare your options for a solar installation on your property, sign up on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. By registering your property, you can get multiple free quotes from high-quality, local installers. If you want to start with some quick numbers on the savings you could see by going solar, check out our Solar Calculator.

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About Jacob Marsh

Jacob is a researcher and content writer at EnergySage, where he focuses primarily on current issues–and new technology!–in the solar industry. With a background in environmental and geological science, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and passion for conservation to help solar shoppers make the right energy choices for their wallet and the environment. Outside of EnergySage, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or learning a new, obscure board game.

6 thoughts on “Portable solar panels: are they right for you?

  1. AvatarGloria Walton

    Solar Power is a natural source of energy. It will also help us to save the environment. It will help you to minimize your electricity cost and also increase valuation of houses. In Australia, it is now one of the most powerful sources of energy.

  2. AvatarAndrew

    “My solar phone charger has been great for camping. I believe as batteries get better, we can replace fuel back up power generators with batteries kept charged via solar panels on the roof”

    I think we are already there and prices are coming down allowing for a system that has a bit of overcapacity for those rainy days

  3. AvatarVictoria Powers

    My solar phone charger has been great for camping. I believe as batteries get better, we can replace fuel back up power generators with batteries kept charged via solar panels on the roof. Just an idea I came up with while reading this. Thanks for the information.

  4. AvatarRaymond Cooper

    I like how you point out that portable solar panels for camping are nice since you don’t have to rely on a noisy generator. Part of the whole reason why I’d go up into the mountains is to enjoy the peace and quiet found in the outdoors. Being able to have energy for your camper while maintaining the tranquility of the outdoors would be awesome!

  5. AvatarNatasha Thomas

    Solar power is becoming more and more common, it maximizes your electricity savings with a rooftop or ground-mounted solar energy system. We can see an increase in the number of solar panel installation


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