Summer is wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean that camping is over for the year. Fall foliage and a cooler breeze simply mean that you’ll have to pack heavier to prepare for the unexpected temperature dips. Since solar panels can still charge electronics in cooler weather, there’s no reason to leave them behind. With all of the end-of-summer sales going on, right now is a great time to pick out a portable solar suitcase. For those unfamiliar with these unique portable panels, you may not know where to begin. Below is a short cheat-sheet to help you select the best portable solar panel for your needs.
Renogy 100W Eclipse Lightweight Solar Suitcase with 10A Charge Controller
The Eclipse Lightweight Solar Suitcase is the newest addition to Renogy’s portable solar panel product line. This solar panel conveniently folds into a 21.25x21.25x.35’’ square for convenient and discrete transport. Weighing in at 7.25lbs, its easy to carry and perhaps even easier to set up, making it an excellent choice for longer hikes, frequent stops, or even emergencies. It comes with built-in cloth handles and cloth-back exterior, and even includes a built-in 10A charge controller. One difference between the Eclipse Lightweight and other suitcases is that this product does not include a built-in kickstand. Another notable difference is that it also contains higher efficiency solar cells, which translates to better efficiency per space. Overall, this panel is great for longer or extended hikes, or frequent cross-country stops. It’s also ideal for van travel, due to its space saving design and low weight.
Renogy 100W Mono Solar Suitcase with 20A Voyager Charge Controller
The 100W Mono Solar Suitcase happens to be Renogy’s oldest solar suitcase model, which was released in early 2016. The Mono Solar Suitcase comes with traditional Renogy Solar Cells, which are a little less efficient than the Eclipse cells. This suitcase also weighs 26lbs, making it heavier than some of the newer models. To make setup easier, this classic suitcase includes a built-in kickstand and carrying handles. The kickstand is a great tool because it helps to position the panel toward the sun, without having to lean it on another object. The included 20A Voyager Charge Controller is a better model than some included in other suitcases. The included alligator clips make connection to the battery as easy as 1-2-3. The 100W Mono Solar Suitcase is best suited to semi-permanent installations, emergency situations, or dry camping due to its weight and size.
Renogy 50W Eclipse Solar Suitcase
This 50W Solar Suitcase features the highly efficient Renogy Eclipse solar cells, which translates to greater efficiency per space. However, its still 50W less than the other 100W suitcases, so plan accordingly. Weighing in at 12.3lbs, this suitcase weighs less than half of the traditional 100W suitcase, and is considerably smaller (23.4x20.8’’). There is no built-in charge controller, which means you’ll have to select and purchase one separately. This could be a positive if you plan on using the 50W Eclipse Suitcase with other panels as part of a larger system. Like the traditional 100W Suitcase, this smaller suitcase includes a built-in kickstand and junction box with MC4 leads. Due to the smaller wattage and size, the 50W Eclipse Solar Suitcase is best suited for emergencies, dry camping, or at RV sites.
In sum, all of the Solar Suitcases mentioned above are great for emergencies or camping. One suitcase in particular, the 100W Foldable Lightweight Eclipse Suitcase, is light enough for longer hiking trips and quick setups. Happy camping!