Buying a solar panel kit for your camping trips can be challenging.
This is because there are so many options to choose from with different panel configurations, power outputs and sizes.
Due to this variety you need to be careful to make sure that the solar panel that you choose is suitable for your camping power needs.
If the panels don’t provide enough power then you will not be able to charge up or power the devices that need electricity and, if they are too powerful then you will pay too much for your needs and will waste your money.
The best solar panel will be one that can provide your power needs with perhaps some surplus. It will be lightweight and easy to transport with simple to use connections that allow for quick and easy setup.
There is also the matter of durability, weight and quality of build.
Many solar panel kits are fragile and you’ll need to be certain that the system that you buy is suitable for camping and will withstand being moved around regularly without becoming damaged.
Luckily there are manufacturers that have come up with solar panel systems that are suitable for camping.
Below you will find details of some of the best products that are not only tough but that also provide enough reliable power for all your camping requirements.
Power output of solar panels and requirements
The typical power output of typical kits is around 10-15 watts which is enough to recharge most small mobile devices like cell phones, GPS units and tablets.
However you can also use these kits to charge larger items like laptops although this takes a long time. To charge a laptop you need at least 75 watts of solar power and ideally around 100 watts.
Whilst most lightweight portable solar panels operate at 5 volts, some have a higher voltage to provide a faster charge for larger devices such as laptops or LED lights.
A greater voltage and power output will also allow you to power more devices simultaneously from the same panel.
The larger the solar panel is in relation to your camping needs, the faster it will be able to recharge your devices.
If you are looking for a portable solution then get small lightweight foldable panels that are easy to carry around whilst hiking or cycling.
These are about 15-20% efficient meaning they can convert around 15-20% of the sun’s power into energy.
This foldable and portable panel on Amazon is one of the most powerful we’ve seen and it comes in at an attractive price too.
Larger panels will offer more power
If you need a solar panel that can provide more continuous power for larger devices, then choose one that is longer and wider to maximize its surface area.
DOKIO 220w 18v Foldable Solar Panel Kit (Lightweight 9lb) Monocrystalline Solar Cell with Controller 2 USB Outputs to Charge 12 Volts Batteries /Power Station ( AGM Lifepo4 Jackery) RV Camping Marine
This will ensure that it has greater efficiency and can produce more electricity in a shorter space of time.
Most larger panels are about 20% efficient but some high-quality options can be 30% or even 40%.
The main disadvantages with these large panels is their weight and size so they are not ideal if you plan on camping solo or backpacking light whilst travelling through remote areas.
They are great for RVs or for camping when you have a vehicle or trailer to transport the panels – you simply get them out when you setup camp and connect them.
With these larger panels you can run lights, fans or even TVs.
They can be used to charge batteries that will provide power for use after dark too.
Typically these panels are used for any camping activity that might involve the need to charge multiple devices or for providing power for larger items.
Recommended solar panels for all round use
1. DOKIO 300W Portable Camping Solar Kit
Dokio 300W Portable Solar Panel Kit is a portable and foldable solar panel kit that can be used to charge 12V batteries.
It comes with a controller, cables and MC4 connectors, and is easy to carry and store.
This Dokio solar panel kit has an output of 300W (12V) at peak power point tracking mode, which means it will automatically adjust the power output based on the current battery voltage.
The maximum current output is 10A, which means that you can charge your 12V batteries much faster than other similar products.
The panel is made of a durable material that is waterproof, UV resistant and corrosion-resistant with a lightweight frame to make it easy to carry on your next outdoor adventure.
This kit includes everything you need for powering multiple devices or charging larger ones like laptops, MP3 players and cameras.
2. DOKIO 200W Foldable Solar Panel Kit
DOKIO’s solar panel kit is a full and ready to go kit.
It comes with an easy to carry, foldable and lightweight 220W portable solar panel which can be used for camping, hiking, travel or emergency power supply.
The high efficiency monocrystalline solar cells provide up to 18V/220W of power output under the sun.
DOKIO’s solar panels are integrated with 5V 2A USB ports that can charge your USB devices directly from the sun.
With its intelligent protection against reversalse, short circuits and overcurrents, DOKIO’s solar panels are 100% safe to use.
This kit is perfect for camping or hiking trips.
3. DOKIO 160W Folding Camping Solar Kit
DOKIO 160W solar panel kit is an easy to carry, foldable and lightweight portable solar power system.
It comes with a high conversion efficiency monocrystalline solar cell and powerful controller.
The 9.85ft (3m) cable length from panel to controller makes it easier to mount, transport, hang and remove the system.
This complete kit works out of the box without any additional parts needed for use. It can be used in various locations where you may need clean energy such as camping, hiking, outdoor activities etc.
4. TP Solar 100W Foldable Solar Panel Kit
Topsolar SolarFairy 100W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger Kit is the perfect companion for your outdoor life.
It can be used to charge your phone, tablet or any other USB devices. You can also use it to power LED lights, fans and many more.
The foldable design allows you to carry this solar charger easily in your backpack when you are on the go.
The high efficiency monocrystalline cells provide up to 18V/100W of power output under the sun.
This solar panel is extremely durable and is made with waterproof material that can be used in all weather conditions.
It’s also corrosion resistant and backed by a warranty
5. TP Solar 60W Foldable Solar Panel Kit
The Topsolar 60W Foldable Portable Solar Panel Charger Kit is a portable solar charger that can be folded into a compact size.
It comes with 2 USB ports, QC3.0 and 2.0 (5V/9V/12V 2A max), which allows you to charge two devices at the same time.
The built-in smart IC chip intelligently identifies your device and maximizes the charging speed up to 5V/2A for any of your devices, such as smartphones and tablets (compatible with iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy), GPS devices,, Bluetooth speakers & headphones, MP3 players and many more.
Is is a good idea to have a solar panel for camping?
Camping is a fun experience for many, but if you find yourself away from civilization, you may struggle with charging all of your devices.
It can be hard to find an outlet in the middle of the woods to plug into and it means that some people may not get enough power to their phones or other devices.
This can lead to being out of touch with friends and family for days which can be dangerous in the event of an emergency.
Having a solar charger is a great solution for camping because you will never run out of power no matter how far away from civilization you are.
A solar panel kit can also be useful around the home, for use in the garden or for when you experience power outages.
Being able to have a backup and alternative source of power is always a sensible choice.
You will also need a solar panel charger
The best solar panel charger for camping will be one that meets your needs and is able to charge multiple devices at once and works well under varying conditions.
You should consider how much power you need and which panel setup will provide you with that power.
Some options on the market allow you to charge two devices at once and come with different power options to choose from.
You can also find smaller chargers that you may want to carry in your pocket, as these are the easiest ones to transport and store for your next adventure.
We found some great pocket sized chargers on Amazon and you can see them here.
Think about your power needs when buying a solar panel system for your camping trips.
It is always better to have more power and capacity than not enough but you should balance this against cost.
Look for portable and folding systems that have been specifically developed for camping and for general outdoor use, as these will be durable, last longer and will be less susceptible to damage.
If you are camping in an RV, or you have a vehicle to transport your gear, then you can go for much larger and powerful solar panels which will allow to power almost everything that you need.