Foldable solar panels are a portable, efficient way to capture solar energy that you can use at home or while on the go. They are especially handy when you have limited or no access to another power source, as they can provide the energy you need to power up your devices, appliances, and more. Compared to solar panels that are installed on your home’s roof, this type of solar panel is designed to be folded up for easy transportation, set-up, and storage.
When shopping for foldable solar panels, Jeff Brandlin, licensed electrician and owner of Assurance Electrical Services, says that power output is the most important factor to consider. For example, do you want to want enough energy to power up small devices like a phone, or larger appliances? He also emphasizes the importance of durability and weather resistance. “Folding solar panels are usually bought for outdoor use, and you have to make sure that they are built with high-quality materials that can withstand extreme weather conditions, dust, moisture, and temperature fluctuations.”
With those factors in mind, we researched dozens of foldable solar panels, including options for home use, camping, backpacking, and more.
EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel
High energy conversion rating
Seamless design with IP-68 rating
Shoulder strap for carrying
MC4 connector compatible with many power stations
Heavier than other options
No USB charging ports
The EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel earns our top recommendation for its easy set-up, excellent conversion rating, and durable, waterproof design. If you’re looking for less or more solar power, it’s also available in 110-watt to 400-watt versions.
Regardless of which size you choose, the monocrystalline silicon folding panels are constructed using a one-piece design that eliminates seams where dust and moisture can collect. As a result, the EcoFlow Solar Panel is waterproof and has an IP-68 rating (the best weather rating of any solar panel on our list). With that in mind, the manufacturer says it’s suitable for use in exposed areas, including installation on an RV roof, outside your home, or on the ground while camping. The solar cells are highly efficient, converting about 21 percent of UV rays into usable energy.
To take advantage of the solar energy these panels collect, the EcoFlow Solar Panel is outfitted with a universal MC4 output connector that is compatible with most portable power stations. However, there are no USB chargers that allow you to plug small devices directly into the solar panel, so you’ll have to rely on a power station or solar generator to make use of the energy. At 15.4 pounds, this pick weighs more than some lightweight, portable options, but it does have a shoulder strap to make transporting the panels easier.
Price at time of publish: $349
Dimensions Open: 61.8 26.8 x 1 inches | Dimensions Closed: 26.8 x 16.5 x 1 inches | Weight: 15.4 pounds | Output: 160 watts
Topsolar SolarFairy 60W Portable Foldable Solar Panel
Compact dimensions when folded
USB-A and USB-C ports
Includes a variety of connectors
Solar intensity indicator so you can maximize sun exposure
Short cable length
Built-in stand may not be sturdy enough
The Topsolar SolarFairy 60W Portable Solar Panel is a great example of how versatile and affordable a solar panel can be. The 5-pound folding panel array has an output up to 60 watts but folds up smaller than a shoebox when not in use. It costs about $100 and can be used to charge up a variety of devices, including a 12-volt battery, solar generator, power bank, laptop, and more. As an added value, Topsolar includes a variety of adaptors and connection cables so you have what you need to use this solar panel with your preferred energy storage device. While some people complain about the short cable lengths, it’s worth noting that Topsolar includes two 6.5 DC-to-DC extension cables.
Setting up this budget solar panel is simple and straightforward. There are two built-in stands to support the panel when it’s fully open, however, some people find them to be flimsier than expected and recommend supporting the panel another way. When it comes to properly positioning the panel, we like that this version includes indicator lights so you know whether you’ve found an ideal angle for the panel to receive sun exposure.
It may not be the most powerful folding solar panel available but it offers more output than many portable solar panels used for on-the-go activities like backpacking. At the same time, it’s still more lightweight and compact than larger solar panels that are popular for camping or off-grid use. The price makes it a great entry to using solar energy for charging your devices or to keep a solar generator topped off and ready to go.
Price at time of publish: $100
Dimensions Open: 52 x 22.4 x 1.7 inches | Dimensions Closed: 9.85 x 7.90 x 2.40 inches | Weight: 5.1 pounds | Output: 60 watts
Jackery SolarSaga Portable 100W Solar Panel
High energy conversion rate
Water-resistant, not waterproof
The Jackery SolarSaga is a great choice for a folding solar panel that you can take anywhere. It only weighs 5.5 pounds but sets up quickly and offers up to 100 watts of power output with a high energy conversion rate. For the sake of convenience, it’s equipped with USB-C and USB-A ports so you can charge small devices directly from the panel but it’s also a popular choice to use along with rechargeable power stations.
A pair of built-in kickstands provide support for the panels when the unit is set up for use. An included storage pouch keeps the adaptor cord handy and also covers the power port when not in use. While the ETFE-laminated case protects the monocrystalline solar panels inside, keep in mind that this model only carries an IP65 rating, meaning that it’s water-resistant (for example small splashes) but not waterproof, so don’t leave it unattended if rain is in the forecast.
Price at time of publish: $330
Dimensions Open: 19.69 x 45.66 x 2.36 inches | Dimensions Closed: 19.69 x 22.83 x 1.18 inches | Weight: 5.5 pounds | Output: 100 watts
Goal Zero Ranger 300 Solar Panel Briefcase
Lightweight for the size
Magnetized corners for easier folding
Kickstand legs automatically fold down
Case doesn’t offer much protection
Not very sturdy in windy conditions
If you’re willing to invest more in a high-output solar panel, we think the Ranger 300 from Goal Zero is an excellent choice. This briefcase-style folding solar panel has four connected monocrystalline panels with an output of 75 watts each, for a total of 300 watts of solar power under ideal conditions. The size of the solar panel array makes it slightly unwieldy for a single person to set up, but the fact that it has kickstand legs that unfold automatically as you extend the solar panels makes it easier to successfully set up the panels for use.
What impresses most reviewers about the Goal Zero Ranger 300 is its lightweight construction. Instead of a tempered glass surface as you’ll find on some folding solar panels—including the Boulder 200, another of Goal Zero’s high-output solar panels—the Ranger 300 utilizes an ETFE polymer and trims down the aluminum frame. The solar panel weighs 39 pounds, compared to 42 pounds for the Goal Zero Boulder 200. While the lighter weight of the Ranger 300 is an advantage in most situations, keep in mind that it can be unsteady in high winds, according to some reviewers.
When paired with a compatible power station or solar generator, this powerful solar panel is a great source of zero-emissions energy. It can be used in a wide variety of scenarios, but it’s a popular choice for camping trips or off-grid use. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to protect the panels during transport. Although a carrying case is included, it doesn’t offer much padding for the panels inside.
Price at time of publish: $800
Dimensions Open: 31.26 x 94.29 x 0.9 inches | Dimensions Closed: 31.26 x 23.39 x 3.8 inches | Weight: 39 pounds | Output: 300 watts
Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel
Easy to fold and store
Multiple panels can be chained together for more output
Functions well under low light conditions
Not designed for charging small devices
One of the most popular folding solar panels is the Goal Zero Nomad 50. Reviewers describe it as being portable, powerful, and easy to use. It features four monocrystalline solar panels that fold flat into a nylon canvas cover. While there is no handle to make it easier to carry the solar panel around, it is outfitted with four loops for hanging the panel or a kickstand to support the panel on the ground.
Most people use the Goal Zero Nomad 50 to charge a solar power bank or power station. A built-in 8mm cord makes the connection from solar panel to device quick and easy—if you use a Goal Zero device like the Sherpa Power Bank or Yeti Power Station (many other solar generators require an MC4 connector). It’s also worth noting that while the Nomad 50 has a USB-A port, it’s not designed for charging small devices directly. It lacks a charge controller and can result in battery damage.
Reviewers rave about the performance of the Goal Zero Nomad 50, even in less-than-ideal sunlight conditions. It’s frequently taken along on camping, hiking, or beach trips to keep a power bank charged up when electricity isn’t readily available. For even greater solar energy capture, you can link multiple Nomad 50 solar panels together with the built-in connector.
Price at time of publish: $250
Dimensions Open: 53 x 17 x 1.5 inches | Dimensions Closed: 11.25 x 17 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 6.85 pounds | Output: 60 watts
Best for Home Use
Renogy 200-Watt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel with 20A Charge Controller
Includes 20A charge controller
LCD screen to display data
Compatible with multiple battery types
Multiple units can be linked
Soft case provides less protection when not in use
This suitcase-style solar panel from Renogy is heavier than most portable solar panels but it’s a good choice for home use. A pair of 100-watt solar panels unfold to absorb the sun’s rays while a 20A charge controller with LCD screen provides you with data from the panels and reduces the risk of fire by preventing overcharging.
This folding solar panel works with multiple types of batteries, including gel, flood, lithium, and AGM batteries, so you can store collected energy in your preferred way. To maximize the amount of energy absorbed by the solar panels, a built-in adjustable kickstand is part of the aluminum frame. When not in use, you can store the folding solar panels in the included soft case, but keep in mind that it doesn’t offer much impact protection.
When picking a folding solar panel for home use, another factor to consider is interlinking. If your solar energy needs grow over time, you can link together multiple Renogy units (as long as you use a separate controller and bypass the controller on each individual unit) to maximize the potential of your set-up.
Price at time of publish: $470
Dimensions Open: 51.8 x 35.6 x 3.1 inches | Dimensions Closed: 25.9 x 35.6 6.2 inches | Weight: 35.9 pounds | Output: 200 watts
Best for Camping
Anker 625 100-Watt Solar Panel with Adjustable Kickstand
USB-A and USB-C charging ports
High energy conversion
Sun alignment indicator
Doesn’t use MC4 connectors
Solar panels are popular for camping or off-grid energy use since they produce no noise or fumes but can generate power for charging devices or powering small appliances. The Anker 625 is a portable, 100-watt solar panel that can be used just about anywhere the sun shines. It’s designed with travel in mind—the monocrystalline panel has a scratch-resistant finish, is weather-resistant (but not waterproof), and is lightweight with an integrated handle and storage pouches on the exterior.
Solar panel expert Jeff Brandlin points out the panels are very dependent on direct sunlight to get maximum performance. “If your panels are not positioned correctly facing the sun, their efficiency can be affected.” To solve this challenge, Anker equips this solar panel with a visual indicator that lets you know when the solar panel is angled to receive optimal sun exposure. This means more efficient charging—if you are around to reposition the panel as the sun moves throughout the day.
On the subject of charging, this folding solar panel has one USB-A and one USB-C port, so you can plug small devices like tablets, phones, or cameras into the panel itself. However, most people use the Anker 625 in conjunction with a solar generator. If that’s your plan, check the compatible connectors of your generator; the Anker 625 uses an XT-60 to DC7909 connector rather than the more common MC4 connectors. It’s not a problem if you plan to use Anker’s solar generators to complete your off-grid solar setup, but is something to consider if you have another generator in mind.
Price at time of publish: $330
Dimensions Open: 56.9 x 20.7 x 1.8 inches | Dimensions Closed: 20.7 x 18.5 x 3.4 inches | Weight: 11 pounds | Output: 100 watts
Best for Backpacking
BigBlue 28W SunPower Solar Panel
Waterproof materials with IPX-4 rating
Dual USB charging ports
Can be clipped to a backpack
All four panels must be exposed for charging
Can be inconsistent in generating energy with overcast conditions
If you’re carrying your gear with you, it’s important to keep weight to a minimum. At the same time, you may need a power supply for your phone, camera, and other small electronics. The BigBlue 28W SunPower Solar Panel is a great option for backpacking, since it weighs only 1.5 pounds, is waterproof (IPX-4 rating), and charges up to two devices simultaneously. It also boasts a high-efficiency conversion of up to 24 percent.
All four panels must be unfolded for the solar panel to work but it includes four carabiner clips that mean you can hang it from your backpack or secure it to another location at camp. It has a peak output of 28 watts, which is subject to how much sun exposure the solar panels receive. Inconsistent charging under overcast conditions is the biggest complaint about the BigBlue SunPower, but it’s a consistent problem for just about any small solar panel for backpacking. The bottom line is that this solar panel is lightweight, has a compact folding design, and offers dual USB-A charging ports.
Price at time of publish: $79
Dimensions Open: 33.1 x 11.1 x 0.2 inches | Dimensions Closed: 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Output: 28 watts
The EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel stands out as the best foldable solar panel because it produces up to 160 watts of solar energy, has a waterproof IP-68 rating, and includes MC4 connectors that make it compatible with a wide range of solar power stations. If you need even greater energy output, you can also choose a model with up to 400 watts of capacity. But if you’re not prepared to spend a few hundred dollars for a folding solar panel, you can still reap the benefits of solar energy with the budget-friendly Topsolar SolarFairy 60W Portable Foldable Solar Panel. This model has a lower energy capacity but folds up into a compact size and costs about $100. It’s capable of charging small electronics with a USB-A or USB-C port but can also be connected to solar power banks, generators, 12-volt batteries, and more using the included accessories.
What to Look for in Foldable Solar Panels
Foldable solar panels come in various sizes. Look for the panel’s closed and open (or folded and unfolded) dimensions to determine how much space it requires for set-up, transport, and storage. Small folding solar panels are perfect if you need a lightweight source of solar energy for activities like hiking or backpacking.
The lightest solar panel on our list is the BigBlue 28W SunPower Solar Panel. It weighs just 1.5 pounds and takes up minimal space in your bag. On the other hand, larger solar panels that can support more energy output will weigh more and require more set-up space. This is the case for the Goal Zero Ranger 300 Solar Panel Briefcase. It’s the heaviest solar panel on our list at 39 pounds, but it still offers a highly portable design that makes it easy to set up and dismantle in a hurry.
One of the most prominent specs you’ll see for folding solar panels is watts. How much energy the solar panel is capable of producing is measured in watts. You might also see the watts listed as the energy capacity of the solar panel. “Choose a solar panel that comes with high wattage and high capacity if you're powering up a lot of devices and equipment,” says Brandlin.
A solar panel with limited capacity (less than 100 watts) may be fine for supporting a few small devices like a phone or laptop, but if you want a solar panel to charge a solar power station that can operate appliances, tools, and lights, then you will find better success with a higher wattage solar panel. For home use, many people use a folding solar panel with 200 watts or more, like the Renogy 200-Watt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel. For an even greater source of solar energy, you can chain together a few of these panels.
Keep in mind that the wattage listed is peak performance. Cloudy or overcast conditions will reduce how many watts of energy a solar panel produces. To produce the most energy possible, the solar panel will need to be properly positioned in full sun and adjusted throughout the day to maintain optimal sun exposure. Some solar panels, like the Anker 625 100-Watt Solar Panel, give you a visual indicator when the panel is ideally positioned for receiving sunlight.
Efficiency is the measure of how much of the received sunlight is converted into usable solar energy. It’s expressed as a percentage and for most solar panels, the efficiency rating is between 20 and 24 percent. “If you need a lot of energy production in a short amount of time, choose a solar panel with higher efficiency,” Brandlin suggests. “High efficiency solar panels come at a higher cost, but can generate power faster.”
When charging solar generators, a high-efficiency solar panel can make quick work of replenishing the battery. Instead of taking more than a day, some high-efficiency, high-capacity solar panels can restore power levels to a solar generator in a day or less (depending on sun conditions). As an example, the Goal Zero Ranger 300 Solar Panel Briefcase can recharge a nearly 1,000-watt hour solar generator in 4 to 8 hours.
Since solar panels are designed to be used outdoors, you can expect some exposure to the elements. However, some folding solar panels have better weather-resistance ratings than others. The most common weather ratings for solar panels are IP-67 and IP-68.
“Both ratings offer great protection against dust and water damage but IP-68 can provide you a higher level of water resistance,” says Brandlin. “Thus, IP-68 is a much better choice especially if you're going to areas with extreme weather conditions like heavy rains…it [an IP-68 rating] can also provide protection and water resistance in case your solar panels get submerged in water.”
Our top overall pick, the EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel, has an IP-68 rating—a claim that no other solar panel on our list can make. It can withstand precipitation and has no seams for moisture or dust to accumulate.
Are folding solar panels any good?
Folding solar panels are worth it for many people looking for an alternative energy source that is noise-free, produces zero emissions, and easy to transport. Of course, don’t count on seeing the same performance metrics that you’ll get with a larger, installed solar panel. Says Brandlin: “Since they are portable, expect to have lower power output compared to large solar panels. They are smaller in size and they are designed to have fewer solar cells. This means that they may take longer to charge your devices.”
What can I run off a foldable solar panel?
You can use a foldable solar panel to produce energy for a wide variety of applications at home, camping, in a vehicle or RV, and more. For instance, Brandlin lists some of the following as popular uses for foldable solar panels:
- Charging electronic devices while camping or other outdoor activities
- RV and boat charging
- Emergency power kit
- Off-grid power for tiny houses or cabins
Keep in mind that some foldable solar panels generate electricity to be stored in a power station while others also have USB ports for directly charging small devices.
Do solar panels require a lot of maintenance?
According to Brandlin, not much is needed to keep your folding solar panels in good working condition. He says, “Periodic cleaning is necessary just to remove the dirt and debris that can accumulate on your solar panels. You can use a soft brush or cloth to take the dirt off.” Aside from routine cleaning, Brandlin also suggests that you regularly inspect the panels for any signs of damage like cracking or loose connections.
How long do folding solar panels last?
“On average, high-quality folding solar panels can last anywhere from 10 to 25 years or more,” says Brandlin. “The lifespan of folding solar panels can vary depending on factors such as the quality of materials, construction, and usage conditions.”
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Erica Puisis, a professional writer who specializes in large and small home appliances, along with home improvement features and additions. To find the best foldable solar panels, she considered large and small models, evaluating features like capacity, efficiency, weather-resistance, and output ports. All of the solar panels that made this list use highly-efficient monocrystalline solar cells.
For more information on what to look for in the best folding solar panels, Puisis interviewed Jeff Brandlin, a licensed residential, commercial, and industrial electrician. Brandlin owns and operates Assurance Electrical Services in Prescott, Arizona, and specializes in helping homeowners looking to take advantage of solar energy. Brandlin provided tips on what factors are most important for folding solar panels, what type of applications are ideal for this type of solar panel, and how to maintain your solar panels for a long life of service.