Solar panels have improved significantly in recent times and are becoming quite affordable too. They have evolved into an efficient and reliable power source, offering unlimited clean energy for residential and recreational applications.
This is great for the planet and great for overlanders, 4×4 enthusiasts, and outdoor lovers.
Solar Panels bring so much comfort and convenience when living remotely, they are now becoming common features on overland vehicles, trailers, caravans, and RV’s. They can power your devices and small appliances, and keep your food and beverages cold.
They also offer sufficient lighting at night, warmth in winter, and even the luxury of a warm outdoor shower.
A Solar Panel (photovoltaic module), is an assembly of photovoltaic cells, and for installation purposes, these cells are mounted on a frame. It harvests sunlight as a form of usable energy and then converts the stored energy into direct current electricity (DC) for our convenience.
Solar Panels allow overlanders and campers substantial comfort and convenience, regardless of how remote one may be.
Let’s take a look at some premium overland solar panel systems to figure out which is the best option for you.
Best Overlanding Solar Panels
- ECO-WORTHY 120W Foldable Solar Panel
- ROCKPALS RP082 100w Foldable Solar Panel
- Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
- Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
ECO-WORTHY 120W Foldable Solar Panel
The ECO-WORTHY 120W Solar Panel is ideal for Overlanding, camping, and in case of a blackout at home. It offers a 20A Controller for a 12V Deep Cycle Battery and is compatible with Rockpals and Jackery Generators. It works well with external devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
This Solar Panel offers two USB Ports, male-female connector and weighs just 9 pounds (4.2 Kg’s).
On the downside, I consider the ECO-WORTHY to be expensive especially when considering it offers slightly less out-put than others in its class.
The ECO-WORTHY 120W Solar Panel features:
- A compact and lightweight design that enables easy storage and transportation. The Control and electrical cords are presented and can be stored in a convenient zippered pouch.
- A Tilting Kickstand which enables you to capture 25% more solar energy when compared to Solar Panels which lie horizontally.
- A three-meter cable which allows for portability and safety.
- 10 x DC adapters compatible with 95% of Power Stations available today Including Rockpals, Flashfish, and Jackery.
- An upgrade from 100 W to 120W which results in a 20% increase in DC charging speed. This system can now generate 0.5 kWh each day with under four hours of sunlight.
- A 20A LCD controller which protects lead acid, gel, and lithium batteries, from short circuit and over-charge.
ROCKPALS RP082 100w Foldable Solar Panel
The ROCKPALS RP082 100W Foldable Solar Panel is one of my favorite Overlanding products. This unit is packed with features and is perfect for Overlanding and camping.
What I don’t like about this unit are the bulk and weight, it’s not a massive difference but I do prefer the smaller and lighter design of the Jackery Solar Panels.
The Rockpals Portable Solar Panel features:
- An upgraded Rockpower 100W Solar Panel which is compatible with the majority of solar generators on the market including Rockpals 250W, 300W, 350W, 500W, and Jackery Explorer 1000.
- A parallel cable that allows you to connect 2 x RP082 solar panels, results in a significant increase in power.
- High Conversion Efficiency of up to 23.5%, it excels in direct or strong sunlight and is ideally suited for Overlanding and camping.
- 1 x USB QC 3.0 and 1 x USB C Output (5V/9V/12V) with 3.4A Max. This technology quadruples the charging speed of tablets and smartphones.
- A foldable and portable design with Kickstand, with a built-in handle for easy transporting. The Kickstand allows for 25% more solar energy to be harvested when compared to solar panels which are lying horizontally.
- Durable and water-resistant technology, and is made from premium Oxford cloth. This results in a solar panel that is water-resistant and capable of standing up to extreme conditions. It is unfortunate that the Junction Box isn’t water-resistant and should be kept dry at all times.
Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
This Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit from Renogy is an excellent Solar Kit and is ideal for Overlanding, camping, and any recreational outdoor activities.
It weighs 19.84 pounds with an input voltage of 18.9 Volts. Although this is a decent set-up, the design seems slightly inferior or even a little flimsy when compared to the RockPal, Jackery, and ECO-FLOW products.
This Renogy Solar Starter Kit features:
- A 100W Solar Panel with a 30A PWM Negative ground Charge Controller. All solar panel connectors, mounting brackets, and an 8ft 10AWG Tray Cable.
- Monocrystalline Solar Cell Technology results in a 21% increase in efficiency.
- An upgraded Charge Controller. The Renogy Wanderer 30A PWM charge controller will allow you to expand your system to a maximum of 400W.
- An ideal output of 500W per day, which allows 50% charged 50ah Battery to be fully charged in just three hours.
- A negative grounding controller, which offers protection from overloading, over-charging, or a short circuit. This feature allows for broader and more remote applications.
- A Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame, which has been designed to be durable and offers many years of outdoor use.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
Jackery has been around since 2012 with humble beginnings in California USA. Now, industry leaders specialize in providing outdoor power solutions to overlanders, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar panel is an excellent solar panel and is compatible with the Explorer 240, 300, 500, and 1000 power stations.
This is a good product but I find it quite expensive when compared to the Rockpals solar panel, which offers more.
The Jackery Solarsaga features:
- A High Conversion Efficiency Solar generator that generates significantly more energy, and offers superior performance when compared to conventional solar panels. Efficiency is increased by up to 23% and excels in particularly hot weather.
- 1 x USB-C (5V, 3A) outdoor port and 1 x USB-A (5V, 2.4A) outdoor port. This allows you to charge multiple devices simultaneously including laptops, digital cameras, smartphones, and tablets. It is important to note that the USB-C port doesn’t support PD charging.
- 1 x Jackery Solarsaga 100W Solar Panel.
- An eco-friendly and quiet Generator that is ideally situated for Overlanding, camping, and recreational outdoor activities.
Best Portable Power Stations
- Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500
- EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station DELTA
- Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500
This Portable Power Station from Jackery is perfect for Overlanding and outdoor Adventure. A pure sine wave inverter allows you to charge numerous appliances including an air pump, television, and mini-fridge.
This Power Station has a compact design and is offered with a durable handle for easy transportation and portability.
The Jackery Explorer 500 features:
- A built-in MPPT controller, this controller allows the Explorer 500 to be easily charged with a sufficient solar panel. It performs well when used in conjunction with a 100W Solar Saga solar panel.
- 1 x AC outlet (110V 500W 1000W Peak)
- 3 x USB-A Ports
- 2 x DC Ports
- 1 x car Port
- 518W/H lithium-ion Battery Pack (24Ah, 21.6V)
I am a huge fan of this Power Station and it significantly improves comfort levels when Overlanding and camping. It includes 1 x AC adapter, 1 x car charger cable, and 24 months of customer service.
Surprisingly it isn’t equipped with a USB-C output, I could call it a disadvantage, but I’ll just be nitpicking.
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station DELTA
The EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station is ideal for supplying power to your laptop, drone, camera, smartphone, CPAP machine, refrigerator, and in-car appliances. It is offered with three types of charging cables (1 x AC plug, 1 x Car Charge Cable and 1 x MC4-XT60 Solar panel cable.
It is professionally presented in a convenient EFDELTA Carry Bag. I like this power station, but just like the ECO-FLOW solar panel, this Power Station can be considered to be quite expensive when compared to other products in its class.
The EF ECO-FLOW Power Station features:
- High Performance to meet all electricity demands and delivers an impressive 1260Wh.
- An efficient Solar generator with triple rechargeable modes and can be charged with a 10-65V Solar Panel.
- Lithium Battery Pack
- X-Stream Technology which allows the EF ECOFLOW Delta to be recharged ten times faster than most portable Power Stations with a conventional AC adapter. This Power Station can be fully recharged in just two hours.
- 6 x AC outlets (100V 120V 1800W 3300W Peak)
- 2 x USB-C ports
- 2 x USB-A ports
- 2 x USB-A fast charging ports
- 1 x Standard DC 13.6V port
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160
The Explorer 160 is another fantastic Power Station from Jackery. It is equipped with a quality 167 watt-hour (46400mah/3.6v) lithium-ion battery pack, which is ideally suited for camping and Overlanding.
It has been designed to charge laptops, smartphones, GoPros, tablets and other small electrical appliances.
This generator is great for its size, but it’s not designed to run your larger appliances. It is still a great product but limited in its output.
The Jackery Explorer 160 features:
- Two types of charging cables (1 x AC Adapter and 1 x car charger cable).
- Durable Handle for easy transportation.
- A built-in LED flashlight with SOS mode.
- 1 x AC outlet (110V 100W 150W Peak)
- 1 x USB-C port
- 2 x USB-A ports
- 1 x Standard DC 12V port
Overland Solar Panel Buyers Guide
Choosing a Solar Panel Kit can prove to be difficult and even frustrating. There is so much information and technical specifications, that it can be difficult to know what to decide on.
Below is a simplified buyers guide, with tips on what to consider when purchasing an overland Solar Panel:
How much Solar Power do I need?
You must know how much power you are going to draw or use. Apart from adding up the numbers, there are a few simple mathematical equations that you will need to figure out.
To know how much Solar Power you are going to draw, you will need to work out how many watts you will use when running all of your appliances.
Convert the number of watts to amps, and compare with your battery bank or auxiliary battery capacity.
To do this calculation, you must multiply the amps by volts to get watts or divide the watts by the volts to get the amp draw.
Should I choose a Regulated or unregulated Panel?
Most premium solar panels are equipped with a built-in MPPT solar regulator, there is a reason for this.
When using a dual-impact DC-DC charger, you won’t use a regulator, so you will need to run the panel directly to your charger.
I prefer regulated panels because it gives me peace of mind.
A solar panel should always be connected through a regulator, and subsequently connected to the battery. It protects your battery from high voltage surges, which might occur during extreme light conditions.
How efficient is the Panel?
Panel efficiency is possibly one of the most important aspects to consider when purchasing a solar panel.
A decent quality solar panel should run at about 17 % efficiency.
A one square meter panel will generate 170 watts of energy. Panel efficiency can be described as the amount of electricity you can obtain from a specifically sized panel, direct sunlight supplies around 1000W per square meter.
Are cheaper Solar Panels a good idea?
When purchasing Overlanding Solar Panels, opting for a cheap product viewed online might come back to haunt you. There is so much riding on this system, and to have it fail when out on a trip will be catastrophic.
Not only will it spoil your supplies but it will spoil your trip too. Reputable manufacturers use premium components and the highest efficiency “A” grade cells.
Genuine industry-standard Anderson plug connections are used, they are wired and terminated to manufacturers’ specifications.
This results in a quality durable system, with a manufacturers warranty and customer service.
Solar panels have improved significantly in recent years, and have become more affordable and accessible than ever. They are becoming quite popular among overlanders and 4×4 enthusiasts.
They can supply power to your devices, fridge, small appliances, lighting at night and refreshing shower.
When purchasing a solar panel kit, I strongly recommend that you support well-known and reputable manufacturers.
There are numerous products available online that promise you the world and offer really attractive pricing, but when it comes to an Overland Solar Panel system, it’s just not worth it.
You might have to dig a little deeper into your pockets, but peace of mind is priceless, especially when you are miles from civilization.
Manufacturers like Rockpals, Renogy, Jackery, and ECOFLOW use only premium components to ensure the highest quality, customer satisfaction, and durability.