Portable solar panels are a fantastic resource for RVers, those renting a home or apartment, or anyone looking to decrease their dependency on non-renewable energy sources. Still, do all portable solar panels come at approximately the same price?
Not all portable solar panels are the same price. The price range of portable solar panels varies between $100 and $900. However, portable solar panels bundles (panels that come with batteries or generators) can cost upwards of $6,000.
Have you been considering investing in portable solar panels? If so, read on to discover how the prices of these devices vary.
How Much Do Portable Solar Panels Cost?
Portable solar panels generally cost between $100 and $900. Portable solar panels with additional devices, like batteries or generators, can cost thousands.
When browsing portable solar panels, you’ll quickly discover that these devices are available in various sizes, capabilities, and price points. These variations ensure buyers can select portable solar panels that suit their unique preferences, needs, and budget.
Factors Influencing Portable Solar Panel Prices
Portable solar panels vary significantly in pricing due to several factors.
For example, smaller folding portable solar panels are generally more affordable but feature a comparatively low maximum power output. On the other hand, large portable solar panels can be far pricier, but they typically also offer greater power output.
All-in-all, the most significant factors impacting portable panel prices include the following.
- Solar panel size
- Maximum watt (W) output
- Solar cell material
Let’s discuss these aspects in greater detail to discover how they influence a portable solar panel’s price.
Portable Solar Panel Size Affects Price
The more material required to make something, the costlier it’s likely to be.
Solar panels that are several feet long and wide tend to be pricier than those that can fit into the palm of your hand or on a small folding table.
This relationship between size and price comes down to the fact that it requires more materials, including silicon-based solar cells, to create expansive solar panels. Larger panels also have a greater surface area, allowing them to output more energy than smaller models.
Maximum Watt Output Influences Portable Solar Panel Price
Because larger solar panels can produce more power than smaller ones, higher-watt panels are almost always pricier than low-watt models.
Portable solar panels with a greater maximum watt output are also more desirable, especially among those hoping to power larger appliances and devices.
For example, RVers often prefer to invest in large portable solar panels over small ones. The larger ones are far more likely to produce enough energy to power their vehicle’s interior appliances.
While these larger, higher-watt solar panels require a more significant initial investment, the long-term cost savings they provide can make them well worth the higher price.
Solar Cell Material Affects Pricing
Most solar cells are made of silicon, the second-most abundant element on Earth. However, this doesn’t mean that all solar panels are made of the same configuration or type of silicon solar cells (also called photovoltaic (PV) cells).
The three main materials used to create portable solar panels include the following.
- Thin-film solar cells
- Monocrystalline silicon solar cells
- Polycrystalline silicon solar cells
The least expensive of these materials is thin film; the priciest is often monocrystalline silicon.
After all, thin-film solar cells require fewer materials to produce, and they’re typically housed in a foil matrix instead of glass. Monocrystalline solar cells are thicker, require more raw resources, and take more time and energy to construct.
For these reasons, the most affordable portable solar panels are often made of thin-film or polycrystalline silicon. Alternatively, the priciest models are almost always made of monocrystalline silicon.
Portable Solar Panel Price Tiers
One of the best ways to illustrate pricing differences among portable solar panels is to classify them into three distinct price tiers.
Each tier has a specific price range, and products within each tier tend to share several common qualities (design, power output, included accessories). By exploring these tiers, we can better understand how and why portable solar panels differ in price.
Price Tiers: A Quick Cost and Power Output Comparison
Because there are dozens of portable solar panels from which to choose, selecting the most appropriate options for your needs and budget can be challenging. Fortunately, we can quickly compare portable solar panel costs and power outputs using a chart!
The chart below offers a simplified breakdown of portable solar panel prices and their associated output ranges, helping you better understand the differences between portable solar panel price tiers.
|Price Tier||Price Range||Power Output Range (Watts)|
|Budget-Friendly||$50 to $150||6W to 100W|
|Mid-Tier||$150 to $500||100W to 300W|
Budget-Friendly Portable Solar Panels
Although individual solar panels can cost as little as $5 apiece, these panels aren’t designed for immediate use. For example, you typically can’t connect these panels directly to your devices and begin charging them.
Consequently, when we talk about budget-friendly portable solar panels, we focus on pre-wired panels that are ready for operation as soon as they’re removed from their packaging.
These budget-friendly portable solar panels can cost as little as $50 or as much as $150. Their power output varies between 6W and 100W.
Many budget-friendly portable solar panels share similar features, including
- The ability to fold.
- A built-in battery or power bank.
- Built-in charge points for electronic devices.
- Side handles for ease of carrying.
- Thin-film or monocrystalline solar cells.
Let’s briefly explore a few examples of budget-friendly portable solar cells to understand what to expect from this price tier.
The Hiluckey Outdoor USB Solar Charger (available on Amazon.com) consists of four individual panels that can fold against each other for easy storage. When these panels are exposed to full, direct sunlight, they can produce 6W energy.
If the solar charger isn’t currently in use (aka charging something), this energy is saved in the power bank, which has a capacity of 25,000 mAh (milliamp hours), or about 83 Wh (watt-hours).
This charger is about the size of a smartphone when folded, and its waterproof and shockproof design makes it one of the most durable pocket-sized options.
The BigBlue 18W Solar Charger (available on Amazon.com) is a flexible PET-based four-panel system similar to lightweight thin-film solar panels. It only weighs about 1.28 lbs (20.5 oz), making it exceptionally easy to carry around.
You can place this portable solar panel flat on the ground, prop it up at an angle, or use the built-in grommets to hang it in a sunny spot. It comes with a USB junction box for quick and easy charging, allowing you to charge smartphones and tablets.
However, this solar charger doesn’t have a battery or power bank. Consequently, excess power generated by this folding four-panel system isn’t stored (unless you connect a USB power bank).
The briefcase-like design of the DOKIO 110W Foldable Solar Panel (available on Amazon.com) makes it easy to store in tight spaces. And with a maximum watt output of 110W, it’s one of the most powerful, budget-friendly options available.
This is one of the few budget-tier models with a charge controller, allowing users to charge USB devices or solar batteries directly from the panel output. It’s also worth noting that the panels are made of monocrystalline, one of the pricier solar cell materials.
These desirable features place it on the pricier end of the budget-friendly spectrum.
Mid-Range Portable Solar Panels
While budget-friendly portable solar panels are great for charging small devices like smartphones, they often can’t produce enough energy to power larger appliances.
As a result, those looking for panels capable of outputting more power (for charging laptops, tablets, and small kitchen appliances) might want to consider mid-range options.
Mid-range portable solar panels cost between $150 and $500; their power output range is 100W to 300W.
Some common qualities mid-range portable solar panels share include
- Fold-out kickstands.
- A wide array of power adapter cables.
- Folding body designs.
- Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells.
Let’s explore a handful of these mid-range portable solar panels to discover how they differ in price and capability.
The ALLPOWERS Solar Panel Charger (available on Amazon.com) isn’t the lightest option, weighing just under 10 lbs (about 4.5 kg). However, its maximum power output of 140W makes it significantly more powerful than most budget-tier options.
It also has a wealth of power cable connections, so users can charge everything from smartphones to car batteries. It’s made of flexible nylon and features a thin-film panel design ideal for tight storage spaces.
One of the unique aspects of the ROCKPALS Portable Solar Panel (available on Amazon.com) is that it features high-quality monocrystalline silicon solar cells. These cells are covered in a protective layer of PET, reducing the risk of damage to the cell surfaces.
Consisting of four joined panels, this model is compatible with many solar batteries, power banks, and generators. The briefcase-like design allows the panels to stand or lie flat for maximum sunlight absorption, though the maximum power output is a somewhat lackluster 100W.
Although the Renogy 200W Portable Solar Panel (available on Amazon.com) is foldable, it features a much thicker body design than many other mid-range options. This thicker design can make it more challenging to store but also boosts its durability and stability.
Users can lie this panel flat or unfold the rear kickstand for greater access to sunlight, and the 200W maximum power output is competitive.
Still, because this portable solar panel is more powerful than many other mid-tier options, it’s better suited to charging batteries and powering solar generators than small devices like smartphones. It’s also pricier than many other mid-range panels.
Top-Tier Portable Solar Panels
Are you searching for the most powerful portable solar panels? If so, you can expect to pay premium prices.
Top-tier portable solar panels are costlier than mid-range or budget-friendly models but can generate much higher power output, typically 300W or more. Starting prices for these panels hover around $500, but some can cost far more (especially when included in portable solar power bundles).
These pricier portable solar panels often:
- Come with charge controllers.
- Have sturdy fold-out kickstands.
- Feature an IP68 Waterproof rating.
- They are made of monocrystalline solar cells.
Check out the following top-tier portable solar panels to learn more about how they differ from panels in other price tiers.
This Zamp Solar Panel (available on Amazon.com) might be portable, but it’s one of the heaviest options within the top-tier category. Weighing about 44 lbs (about 20 kg), it has six columns (divided into two-panel sections) of square-shaped solar cells, each attached to a sturdy metal frame.
This frame comes pre-outfitted with a charge controller for immediate use. With a maximum power output of 180W, this portable solar panel isn’t the best choice for small electronic devices. Still, it’s a solid investment for RVers and homeowners looking to enjoy renewable solar power.
Additionally, the output warranty for this model is competitive, lasting more than two decades (25 years).
BLUETTI (available on Amazon.com) offers several mid-range and top-tier portable solar panels, including this 350W monocrystalline model.
This portable solar panel has a higher-than-average efficiency rating of 23.4% (most panels have a peak efficiency of about 22%), and its four sections can fold into one another for easier storage. It’s also exceptionally lightweight at only 30.6 lbs (about 13.8 kg).
But this increased efficiency, higher power output, and lightweight design come at a cost. This panel is significantly pricier than most budget-friendly or mid-range options.
The powerful EF 400W Portable Solar Panel (available on Amazon.com) is on the pricier end of the top-tier spectrum. Still, this higher-than-average price reflects the panel’s competitive power output and lightweight design.
This four-panel model only weighs 34.2 lbs (about 15.5 kg) and is made of high-quality, high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells. These cells are protected by a layer of ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) film for increased durability.
Although this solar panel doesn’t come with a built-in kickstand, the included carrying case doubles as a stand, allowing users to angle the panel for maximum sunlight absorption easily.
Portable solar panels cost between $100 and $900, depending on the size of the panel, the maximum power output, and the solar cell material used to create the panel.
There are entry-level, mid-range, and top-tier solar panels, and each group has a distinct price range and set of common qualities. The best portable solar panel depends on your needs (how much power output you require), available storage space, and budget.
- U.S. Department of Energy: Solar Photovoltaic Cell Basics
- Forbes Home: How Much Power Does A Solar Panel Produce?
- Royal Society of Chemistry: Silicon
Share this Post