Solar energy has become a viable alternative to fossil fuels and an environmentally friendly option to power not only homes, but personal electronics, construction tools, camping gear and medical equipment. Learn how portable solar panels are changing the power game and helping consumers save money and the environment.

  • Personal Portable Panels & Chargers

    In the market for personal solar products? From chargers to backpacks, the list below will help clarify the crowded marketplace of portable solar power equipment.

  • Portable Solar Camping Equipment

    Whether traveling in an RV or backpacking on the trail, portable solar camping equipment can keep your gear charged even when you’re off grid. Learn more about your options below.

  • Solar Gadgets

    Harnessing the sun’s power is more than about powering batteries or smartphones. Find out more about the sheer variety of solar-powered accessories and fun products below

  • Mobile Solar Panels & Chargers

    From the campsite to the jobsite, power is required to finish the job even when the grid is miles away. Discover how mobile solar panels can power everything from generators to power tools.

Solar panels, power packs, chargers and equipment come in all shapes and sizes. Learn more about the different types of solar products available to consumers below.

Camper Student Medical Device User Traveler Mobile Professional Construction Contractor
Campers can use solar generators, RV- and car-mounted solar panels, solar backpacks and device-specific solar equipment (e.g. lanterns) to make their time at the lake, trail or river less frustrating. The on-the-go student can use portable solar rechargers the size of a smartphone to keep their personal devices powered, even if they are not near an electrical outlet on-campus. Solar suitcases, portable solar panels, solar chargers and solar kits are available to power medical equipment, such as CPAP devices, oxygen tanks, and infusion pumps. Whether US- or international-bound, travelers can use solar backpacks, portable solar panels, and small rechargers to keep their vital electronics operating in absence of power outlets. Road warriors can turn to personal flip chargers, solar rechargers and airplane and car chargers to keep their tablets, phones and GPS systems at the ready. The off-grid contractor can turn to solar generators, light towers, and powerful portable solar panels to generate the juice required to keep a job site humming and workers happy.
How solar power works for these types of users
Solar power is a cost-effective option for today’s camper. Portable solar panels can power everything a camper needs, including the battery on an RV or ATV. Instead of relying on traditional batteries or gas, campers can turn to lightweight, flexible solar options for their power needs. Whether on their backpack or on their bike, in their vehicle or dorm room, students can use solar power chargers as a flexible, low-cost alternative to always carrying a power cord among their crowded backpacks — or having their laptop not save their last-minute term paper. Solar energy can power critical equipment in rural or international areas without access to electricity or keep health care facilities and lifesaving equipment operating when power outages occur during natural disasters and other events. Travel is packed (pun intended) with power difficulties. Power outlets are a premium at airports, public transit vehicles may not have outlets, and some countries don’t offer reliable energy sources, while others have different outlets. Solar power helps travelers hit the road without worry. If a phone or tablet powers off during a presentation or while on the road, today’s mobile professional may be stuck without a sale. Solar power offers a reliable alternative to packing batteries and heaps of power cords. In construction, solar power reduces not only noise, but reliance on expensive diesel- or gas-fueled generators and equipment. Its portability is vital for jobs that are far from the standard electrical grid.

Portable Personal Solar Panel Chargers

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 64 percent of Americans own a smartphone. That represents a major need for power – especially for those on-the-go or going off-the-grid. You can use personal solar panel chargers for more than just charging a smartphone to access email, make phone calls or use an app. They are lightweight, portable and offer an array of features that can be used to charge and power items such as tablets, cameras, GPS devices, 12-volt batteries, wireless ear buds and other mobile electronics. Learn more about the breadth of personal solar equipment in the table below.

Name Intended Use Panel Watts Charge Controller Features Inverter Features Battery Capacity Other Features Price
Goal Zero Switch 8 & Nomad 3.5 Kit Cell phones 3.5 watts Can be charged from sun, 12-volt outlet, or 120 AC None Lithium-ion NMC 8 Wh 11.2 oz. $100
Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit Tablets and smaller devices 7 watts Can be charged from sun, 12-volt outlet, or 120 AC None 4 AA-sized NiMH batteries with a combined capacity of 11 Wh (4.8V, 2300 mAh) Combined weight of 1.2 lbs. $130
Ironton Solar Panel Charge 12V batteries in cars, SUVs, boats and watercraft 1.5 watts Can be charged from sun None None Comes with 2 sets of suction cups and two 12V DC plugs $40
NPower Solar Trickle Charger 12V batteries in cars, SUVs, boats, lawn mowers and other equipment 4 watts Can be charged by sun or 12V adapter None None Weatherproof and connects to onboard diagnostic port in most vehicles $40
Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Power Pack Laptops, tablets and cameras Varies based on Goal Zero Panel used Can be charged by sun, wall outlet or 12-volt outlets Sold separately; 110V modified sine wave LI-NMC battery with 58Wh (5200 mAh 1.2 lbs. and compatible with multiple solar panels $200
Poweradd Apollo Solar Panel Charger Small, 5V USB devices, such as iPhones and tablets 7 watts Micro USB or solar charge None 7200 mAh lithium battery 8.2 oz. $215
Nature Power Persona Portable Power Pack Portable electronics, such as cameras, iPhones, GPS devices and tablets 6 watts Can be charged by sun, AC adapter or 12V adapter None Lithium-ion Dual USB outlets to charge two devices at once $132
EnerPlex Packr Executive Portable electronics, such as phones, wireless ear buds and cameras 3 watts Can be charged via solar power None None 2.98 lbs. $100
Go Power Portable Solar RV, car, ATV, boat and other battery charging 80 watts Can be charged via solar power (10 Amp) None Can use gel, sealed or flooded batteries; voltage varies Only 19.8 lbs. $388
Instapark 10 Watt Solar Panel Portable Charger iPhone, iPad and other portable electronic devices 10 watts Charged by solar power only None None 1.3 lbs. and has foldable design $40
Aspect Solar Duo-Flex2 Solar Charger Portable USB battery packs and electronic devices that use mini-USB port 13 watts Charged by solar power None Sold separately; 8,000 mAh portable battery pack or 10,000 mAh portable battery pack 15.5 oz. $119
Go Pole DualCharge Designed for GoPro, but charges point and shoot cameras, USB headphones and other mobile devices N/A Charge via USB or solar panels None 5,000mAh Water resistant and weighs 8 oz. $40
Tenergy Outdoor Foldable Solar Charger Portable electronics such as iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and other mobile devices 14 watts Charge via solar panels None Not included, sold separately Two charging ports, weighs 1.5 lbs. $30
StrongVolt Portable Solar Charger Smartphones, GPS and other mobile devices 7 watts Charge via solar panels None None USB port, 11.5 oz. $48
Olympia SB5500 Cell phones, tablets and other small electronic devices 5.6 watts Charge via solar panels, USB cable or micro-USB cable None 5500 mAh lithium polymer battery Two charging ports, 9 oz. $60
Brunton Freedom Solar Panel Small electronic devices 2 watts Charge via solar panels None 2200 mAh lithium polymer battery Water resistant, USB compatible $43

Portable Solar & Camping

Camping is all about unplugging and getting away. Yet, accessing power may be as important to the rugged backpacker as it is to someone in an RV. Portable solar power has made it possible for campers to leave gasoline-driven products at home and not have to worry about battery-powered equipment failing at the wrong time. Beyond indispensable smartphones, a range of camping equipment needs power – from flashlights to stoves, lanterns to campsite generators. For the camper, this equipment needs to be rugged, durable, water-resistant or water-proof, lightweight and easily transported. Learn more about how solar power can make camping lighter and quieter, without sacrificing access to critical gear, including weather band radios, GPS systems, smartphones, flashlights, lanterns, cooking devices.

Device Description Cost
SolarPanel 5+ Solar panel with integrated 2,200 mAh battery. Designed for charging cell phones and similar devices that can be charged with a USB charger. $80
Renogy Firefly A 20W 16Ah all-in-one solar kit that packs a battery, solar panels, and inverter in a 12-lbs, 15x11x4-inch attaché case. $500
Fuse 10W Solar
Laptop Charger
A 10-watt solar panel and battery designed to be attached to the outside of a backpack. With included adapters, it can recharge laptops, cameras, and USB-charged devices, including phone. Weighs 3.6 lbs. $300
Energizer Solar Rechargeable
9-LED Lantern
An LED lantern that offers 2.5 hours of operation or additional 165 hours of power using D batteries. Has two types of light: amber night light and bright area light $45
GEN RR Hybrid Solar
Powered Flashlight
Hybrid 1-watt LED light that can hold single charge for up to three years. Waterproof up to 80-feet and does not need to be in direct sunlight to charge. $17
Suntactics sCharger-5
Portable Solar Charger
Solar charger with 1000 mAh output. Waterproof up to 40 feet. Charges phones in 3 to 4 hours and tablets in 3 to 7 hours. $120
ECEENA Solar Backpack Wearable 7-watt solar backpack that charges a variety of portable electronics. Offers 10,000 mAh power bank and micro-USB charging cable. $116
MPOWERD Inflatable Solar Light LED light entirely powered by solar charging. Generates light for up to 12 hours on a single charge. Has three LED settings, hanging clips and is waterproof. $15
Absone Solar Panel Charger Outdoor, water-resistant solar charger. Has two LED lights and compass. Dual USB ports that can charge smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics. $21
Goal Zero Camping Base Solar collection with a Yet 400 Power Pack, Guide 10 solar panels, Guide 10 battery pack and two Lighthouse 250 lanterns to charge a variety of devices and provide bright lighting while camping. $785

Solar Gadgets: Fun and Useful Sun-Powered Devices

Some devices harvesting the sun’s rays fall slightly outside the norm. Solar power increases the usefulness of these items and helps consumers save time rifling through kitchen drawers or garages seeking the elusive C-size battery. The table below provides several examples of solar-powered accessories (e.g., Bluetooth speakers) and safety-equipment (e.g., emergency weather radios) that are finding their way to the market today.

Device Description Cost
Solar Shower Freestanding, portable solar shower connects to a garden hose. 100% solar powered, no batteries or electricity required. Takes approximately one hour to heat water. $199.99
XD Design Window Solar Charger Portable solar charger designed to be placed on a plane, car or train window to capture sun’s energy. Takes 13 hours to charge a 1,400 mAh battery that can power a smartphone, tablet and other devices. $91
Eton Scorpion Charger Lightweight water-resistant radio, LED and USB cell phone charger that offers solar and crank charging. Requires 8-10 hours of solar charging for a full battery. $59.99
Goal Zero Rockout 2 Solar Rechargeable Speaker Portable and rechargeable Bluetooth speaker. Can charge via USB or solar power. Works with Guide 10, Switch 8 and Nomad 7 Goal Zero solar panels. Has an 800 mAh lithium battery that powers for 10 hours on a single charge. $129.99
Ambient Weather WR-089 Weather Band Small self-charging weather band device that offers a weather radio, LED flashlight and charging capabilities for smartphones and other small devices (e.g., Amazon Kindle). $20.99
Eton Rugged Ruckus Solar-powered blue tooth speaker that offers smartphone charging capabilities with an internal lithium battery. Water-resistant and the battery provides up to 8 hours of listening on a single charge. $99.99
Creative Edge Solar Charger Portable solar charger with a 1.2W solar panel charger that charges its built-in 5,000 mAH lithium battery. Can charge two devices at once and comes with multiple charging cables for smartphones and other devices: USB to micro USB and micro USB to Apple Lightning adapter. $79.99
Swiftly Done Outdoor LED Light Small LED lights that stick to different surfaces (e.g., wood, brick, stucco). Solar-powered with no wiring required. Offers motion detection and an auto-on and -off feature at sunrise and sunset. $13.00

Portable Panels & Chargers: Cleaner Camping and Job Sites

Construction sites, such as clearing acreage for a new access roads or building transmission lines, all require one thing: power. Usually, these sites will use grid power and, in cases where grid power is not available, construction crews will rely on noisy and expensive gas or diesel generators. Likewise camp sites are designed to be off-the-grid and campers use generators, campfires and battery-driven equipment. Solar power offers a durable, quieter and environmentally friendly alternative for the contractor and camper alike. Solar generators, light towers and portable charging systems can keep power tools and camping equipment running day and night. Find out more about the different types of portable solar options below.

Panel System Name Panel Capacity Charge Controller Inverter Included Hardware Sellers Cost
Grape Solar GS-200-Kit 200 watts Xantrex 35 amp Xantrex 450 watt Cables and connectors Costco, Home Depot, Lowes $600
Renogy 200 Watts 200 watts Renogy Wanderer 30 amp None 9in MC4 Adaptor Kit Renogy.com, Amazon $330
Harbor Freight 68751 45 watts Included but unknown capacity 12-volt and 5-volt USB charger Mounting hardware, 12v light kit, battery terminal clamps and universal DC power adapter Harbor Freight $180
Go Power GP-Flex-100 100 watts GP-PWM-30 30-amp None None Amazon, local RV dealers $600
NPower 39627 80 watts 7 amps 200 watts Folding stand, wiring Northern Tool + Equipment $179
Cabin AC 320 320 watts SunSaver SS-20L 20 amp 300 watts pure sine wave MP4 connectors, breakers, cables, capacity meter Wholesale Solar $1,330
Goal Zero Yeti Ultimate Solar Generator 240 watts 20A MPPT 1200W pure-sine wave 2 solar generators, linking cable, 8 solar panels, 2 tripods, 2 lanterns, 20 quick clips, 2 roll carts, 4 travel carrying cases EarthTech Products, Goal Zero $1,995 – $5,699
WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Panel 100 watts MPPT TrackMax 30L Controller 1500W Mounting hardware, solar panels, charge controller with LCD readout, cables Amazon, WindyNation $590

Resources

  • Interstate Renewable Energy Council: The IREC is a national nonprofit organization that supports solar power regulation and policy development and provides checklists for residential consumers considering solar power investments.

  • Solar Energy Resource Center: Resource hub from the Department of Energy and other sources which includes information about solar power financing, model standards, utility policies, zoning and other issues.

  • Solar Industries Association: National, membership-based trade organization for the solar industry that has 1,000 member companies that offers information into residential consumer solar policy—from financing to manufacturing.

  • Solar Living Institute: A nonprofit organization that operates the Solar Living Center, a 12-acre renewable energy site, and offers a range of IREC and NABCEP solar and sustainable living training courses.

  • US Department of Energy: The US Department of Energy provides a wealth of consumer resources, including home solar use, system components, electricity consumption and permitting.