8 Portable Solar Panels For Planet-Friendly Power
Portable solar panels are taking the eco-charger world by storm—but how green are these off-grid essentials?
In other words, are solar panels sustainable? With no easy answer, the question illuminates a spectrum of pros and cons of this form of renewable energy.
Still, if you’re heading out for a hiking adventure or want to give off-grid #vanlife a go, portable solar panel companies creating more responsible products can have your back (or roof).
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Sustainable Portable Solar Panels
Offering portable solar panels for backpacking, Goal Zero’s are lightweight, weatherproof, and produced without child labor.
Arguably the most ethical portable solar panels around, BioLite‘s Parallel Innovation business model provides green energy to Indian and African communities in need.
Used portable solar panels are both money- and planet-saving. When they’re from EcoFlow they’re fully refurbished and tested to be good as new.
Flip the switch (by which we mean click here) to shed light on what we look for in the best portable solar panel.
Portable Solar Panel Brands
About BioLite’s Portable Camping Solar Panels
Out of the most popular portable solar panel brands, BioLite is a sure contender.
A household name for adventurers, they’re a go-to for eco-friendly camping gear, too.
In addition to camp stoves, cooking accessories, headlamps, and lighting, BioLite is an industry leader in portable solar panels, power stations, and battery banks.
And with some of the best portable solar panels with a battery, the flexible, lightweight solar panels have USB outputs that make charging phones, tablets, cameras, and other gear easy.
The monocrystalline panels themselves feature an integrated sundial to optimize power from the sun.
Add a power bank, and you can meet (nearly) all of your charging needs.
BioLite’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
BioLite leverages the revenue stream from outdoor markets to supplement growth, product research, design, and implementation to provide affordable access to solar power and cookstoves for those living without access to the energy grid.
Families in India and Africa have benefited from affordable access to solar power and the HomeStove, a cookstove so energy-efficient that it was issued carbon credits for its performance.
They have an Emerging Markets (EM) team headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya which works to provide training and financing to remote customers.
By 2025, they hope to reach 20 million people with access to clean energy.
Already, the Climate Neutral Certified company has supported over 3,612,951 people in Asia and Africa with 4.812,600 kwH of electricity—offsetting 718,964 tons of CO2 in the process.
About Anker’s Portable Solar Panels for Camping
Anker is the global leader in charging technology.
The Chinese electronics manufacturer is behind innovative smart devices for travel, entertainment, and smart homes.
These include some of the best rated portable solar panels that fold up for on-the-go use and portable power banks.
The 100W solar panel uses monocrystalline cells to convert up to 23% sunlight into solar energy, even on cloudy days.
Some of the lighter, smaller-wattage affordable portable solar panels offer a 21.5% – 23.5% efficiency.
The solar products are scratch and weather-resistant and backed by an 18-month warranty.
Anker‘s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
Anker firmly abides by anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws and opposes unethical practices.
The company is also “committed to responsible and sustainable procurement”.
Recognizing that e-waste is a massive problem, they try to re-use as many lithium-ion batteries, electronic components, and materials as possible.
They also have a line of efficient and mercury-free, cadmium-free alkaline batteries produced from recycled components.
They’re currently in the process of producing highly efficient rechargeable batteries that are a greener alternative to conventional lithium batteries.
They’ve donated healthcare equipment and millions of masks to countries around the globe.
3. Goal Zero
About Goal Zero’s Portable Solar Panels for Hiking
If you’ve previously researched portable solar panels for living off the grid then it’s likely you’ve come across Goal Zero.
They’ve been supporting roadtrippers and adventurers with innovative portable power stations, solar panels, and solar generators—before they were mainstream.
You can even shop by adventure (vanlife, RV, overlanding, etc.)
Their monocrystalline portable solar panels include a lightweight, backpacking-ready option and Briefcases in 100W and 200W. They’re rugged and weather-proof and backed by a two-year warranty.
The Boulder Series may be a little too big to strap to your backpack, but these briefcase folding designs make for excellent portable RV solar panels, with no roof mounting required.
Any model can be paired with Goal Zero’s numerous power stations—including the ultra lightweight and portable Yeti200X—which are made with metal to withstand the test of time.
The lithium batteries are rated for 500 cycles to 80% capacity and well over 2,000 life cycles in total.
Goal Zero‘s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
Goal Zero requires all partner factories to adhere to their health and safety standards, living conditions, child labor, and wages and benefits (they’re third-party audited, too).
Offsets are used for their shipping operations and corporate headquarters footprint, and they’re working on reducing the amount of virgin material in their packaging.
In addition to creating products that last, they try to recycle and refurbish returned products, so far having recycled more than 120 tons of material.
Each year, they send a portion of profits to disaster relief, community advocacy, and other social projects around the world.
Available: Goal Zero
About PortaMaxPower’s Portable Solar Panels for Living Off the Grid
If you’re looking for portable solar panels for your RV or to cover other high-energy needs, power up with PortaMaxPower.
What they call the “first Truly Sustainable Portable Solar Generator,” the PortaMaxPower Solar Sentinel 2400 fully recharges the battery in less than a day—quicker than the competition.
With a built-in power inverter, you can plug in and run anything just as you would a standard outlet.
It’s equipped with three 330W solar panels, either flexible or briefcase foldable, and equipped with high-efficiency SunPower solar cells.
PortaMaxPower‘s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
The LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) batteries are considered superior alternatives to lithium-ion batteries due to their ability to provide electrical power with exact stability.
That hyper-efficiency also means they have a cycle life that’s 4x as long.
While it has a higher up-front cost, it’s designed to last 2,000+ cycles and is backed by a 3-year warranty.
All products are designed and assembled in the USA.
About Jackery’s Sustainable Portable Solar Panels
Jackery has been the answer for adventurers around the world wondering where to buy portable solar panels that they can rely on.
Founded by a group of adventurous engineers (of course), they’re now a global top-selling, award-winning company and the #1 producer of portable power.
Praised by numerous full-time vanlifers and permanent RV dwellers, they’re some of the best rated portable solar panels in the industry.
Their foldable and super portable SolarSaga Series monocrystalline solar panels are also one of the most efficient on the market, at 23.7%.
Keep in mind the industry average is around 15%.
They can be connected to Jackery’s power stations to deliver charging capacity for off-grid activities—even high-draw appliances like air conditioning.
Jackery‘s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
All Jackery products meet or exceed conventional market regulatory, environmental, and safety standards.
We’re not sure where or how their materials are sourced or manufactured but will be reaching out to inquire.
During the outbreak of COVID-19, they donated solar panels and power stations to travel nurses.
Secondhand, Refurbished, and Used Portable Solar Panels
About EcoFlow’s Waterproof Portable Solar Panels
EcoFlow is a Chinese startup offering eco friendly (used) portable solar panels.
Paired with their portable power stations or integrated into their solar generators, the brand’s efficient monocrystalline solar cells are IP68 certified—AKA waterproof, durable, and able to handle all types of weather.
Even at sizes roughly 10% smaller, they still offer an increased charging speed thanks to a 23% conversion rate.
Like comparable brands, their DELTA power station is rated for 800 cycles of use, after which its capacity will drop to 80%.
EcoFlow‘s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
EcoFlow’s eco-differentiator is that you can buy refurbished models – perhaps the most sustainable portable solar panels on the market.
Their used portable solar panels are rigorously tested to ensure like-new quality and efficiency of 21% – 22%.
Along with power banks, the refurbished solar panels are pre-owned units returned by a customer.
While they may possess cosmetic imperfections, they’re meticulously tested, repaired (if needed), and reviewed for performance.
Like new solar panels, the refurbished ones are also backed by a one-year warranty.
About eBay’s Used Portable RV Solar Panels
If you’re looking for the best portable solar panels to buy on a budget, be sure to give eBay a peek before paying full retail price.
The OG of online resale marketplaces has a small—but growing—range of open box and used portable solar panels at amazing prices.
While you may see some panels offering 90-100W systems, it’s more likely that you’ll find smaller portable solar panels, better suited for charging devices like mobile phones and cameras.
eBay‘s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
If eco friendly portable solar panels are what you’re after, eBay may just be the place to find them.
Their range of secondhand portable solar panels may come by way of non-profit organizations, with either a portion or the entire sale supporting charitable causes.
Either way, this ethical alternative to Amazon’s focus on recirculating used goods makes them an ideal place to buy sustainable portable solar panels for home or on the go.
8. Facebook Marketplace
About Facebook Marketplace’s Sustainable Portable Solar Panels
Arguably the most convenient platform to buy portable solar panels, you can check out Facebook Marketplace from your couch, mid-scrolling.
A compilation of both local and remote sellers, the platform’s range of used portable solar panels is continually updated with the latest products on offer.
You might find extremely affordable portable solar panels with batteries and kits from some of the brands mentioned above.
Just be sure to do your research so that you know what you’re getting and what you need to get powered up.
And be wary of scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Facebook Marketplace‘s Ethical & Sustainability Practices
The biggest benefit of buying from Facebook Marketplace is obviously giving second life to an already-existing and unwanted item.
If you select the Local Pickup delivery method, you can cut down shipping emissions, too.
Available: Facebook Marketplace
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What Are The Best Portable Solar Panel Companies?
Are portable solar panels any good?
From a powering-your-adventure perspective, absolutely. From an environmental perspective, not likely? From an ethical perspective, probably not.
For the best portable solar panels, ethical and environmentally-friendly practices and policies should be found at every step of the supply chain.
Unfortunately, at this stage of the green energy revolution it’s far from the reality.
Currently, quality and longevity are the forerunners for choosing the most sustainable portable solar panels.
And the majority of these brands seem to be doing a good job to ensure their portable eco camping solar panels can handle our adventures.
Ethical manufacturing is starting to shine a light on the industry. It’s heartening to see that some of these brands have giving back built into their business model, too.
Eventually, we’d hope that they tick these boxes:
Ethical and environmentally-friendly sourcing of raw materials:
The industry still has a long way to go to ensure that people + planet are protected—especially when it comes to raw material sourcing.
In the future, it would be great to see that the following are prioritized:
- No child labor in metal, lithium, cobalt, and quartz mining
- Fair compensation for mining communities
- Practices to minimize energy use during mining
- Use of recycled metal, glass, and plastic
Ethical and eco-friendly manufacturing:
Asking “What is the most eco friendly solar panel?” also requires us to look at manufacturing practices.
Harsh chemicals like trichlorosilane and hydrochloric acid are used, which can cause both acute and long-lasting health impacts—on both us and the environment.
Going forward, waterproof portable solar panels can support healthy water, soil, air, and humans by ensuring the following:
- Localization of production to reduce shipping emissions
- Practices to minimize or recycle chemicals used in production
- Proper disposal of manufacturing chemicals
- Transparent, monitored supply chains
- Fair wages and work conditions
Quality and longevity:
How long do portable solar panels last?
Unlike the 25-year lifespan boasted by their residential counterparts, portable RV solar panels and those used for camping undergo a lot more wear and tear.
As such, we can expect to get 9-12 years out of them. We hope that the portable solar panels of the future extend this timeframe by incorporating the following:
- Increases in efficiency and useful life
- Designs that embody waterproof, dust-proof, and weather-proof features
- More education around better maintenance
- Options for repairs and part replacements
Why use portable solar panels for camping? Besides the convenience, it’s a good question considering our green efforts are (mostly) negated by the fact that only 10% of solar panels are actually recycled.
The good news is that up to 95% of a solar panel can be recycled, so hopefully the future brings portable solar panel brands employing designs that embody circularity (i.e. recycled and recyclable) and take-back and recycling/reuse policies.
Final Thoughts On Eco Friendly Portable Solar Panels
So, what are the best portable solar panels?
Arguably, using any portable solar panels is better than fueling your adventure with fossil fuels.
While there is still significant cloud cover preventing this list of the best portable solar panel brands from being any longer, the silver lining is that there’s a lot of room for improvement—improvement that’s likely to happen given the push for renewable energy.
Sourcing innovations, efficiency upgrades, and recycling solutions are continually being developed.
So let’s keep the momentum going by supporting the brands that are moving this industry in the right direction.