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Small Solar Panels - The Ultimate Reviews + Pros and Cons

By Benjamin Strusnik January 14, 2022

Small Solar Panels

Solar panels use the power of the sun to generate electricity, but there’s so much variety among solar panels that it can be tough to choose the right one.

Smaller panels are ideal for a DIY project, going off-grid, or just taking them along on a camping trip to charge your smartphone. If you’re looking for a good solar panel setup for your RV, a small panel is the right place to start.

We put together a list of what we consider to be the best small solar panels that are available today. There’s an advantage to each of them, don’t be surprised if more than one of them suits your specific needs.

Small, Powerful Solar Panels (Our Review)

Rockpals Foldable Solar Panel 100W

The Rockpals Foldable Solar Kit features monocrystalline solar cells that can generate 100 watts of electrical power. Its compact design makes it one of the best portable solar panels, perfect for any sort of trip without adding too much additional weight.

small solar panels for home

It can be used to charge household electronics or even to power smaller appliances: quite handy when the power grid is offline. 

The foldable solar panel is also more than capable of charging your solar generator, and it’s compatible with most solar generators on the market. 

The Rockpals Foldable Panel 100W comes with all of the necessary adapters and connectors you’d need. It features three DC adapters, 8mm, 3.5x1.35mm, and 5.5x2.5mm as well as a 5V USB for smartphones and tablets.

The solar kit has a built-in IC chip that can identify the device you’ve plugged in, maximize its charging speed while also protecting it from overcharging and overloading. 

It can even automatically adjust the charging current of the USB ports according to the amount of sunlight it’s getting.

You’ll find that this solar panel kit is usually available at a price ranging from $200 to $250.

What We Love

  • High-efficiency rating, 20-24%
  • Water-resistant
  • Durable
  • Folded dimensions are 20.5 x 14.2 x 2.6 inches

Who It’s For 

  • Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts 
  • Great for offline power-grid situations.

CIGS Flexible Solar Panel 80W

Flexible solar panels are suitable in almost any mounting position, and the CIGS Flexible Solar Panel isn’t any different. 

tiny solar panels

Its design makes it easy to mount as it doesn’t feature any mounting hardware and doesn’t need any alterations made to your roof. 

Once it’s mounted, it lies completely flat. Lying flush against the surface means that it avoids the wind totally, so there’s less chance of weather damage. It’s reasonably durable, too, with added hail resistance.

Its flexibility allows it to fit various roof types and shapes, and it sticks to any surface because of its adhesive feature. The adhesive is pretty tough, so removing it can be difficult to do without the right tool but it also means it’s not going to get stolen.

The flexible nature makes this an ideal solar panel for your campervan.

The solar panel features a pair of panel leads, each of them being 12AWG and 2 ft. long. It also has an IP67 rated waterproof junction box and connectors. 

The CIGS solar panel reliably outputs 80 Watts, with a maximum voltage of 19V. The maximum current sits at a comfortable 4A.

To get all these lovely features, the CIGS Flexible solar panel is available for under $260.

What We Love

  • No screws or brackets needed for mounting. 
  • Suitable for most projects.

Who It’s For

  • It’s ideal for DIY projects, RV campers, and small off-grid projects

Renogy Solar Panel Kit 50W

Going off the grid can be challenging if you’re not fully prepared. The Renogy solar panel kit makes it easier for anyone who doesn’t have enough experience with solar panel kits.

smallest solar panel

The kit includes many of the essential items you need when you’re not connected to the grid. 

It has a 50W solar panel, a set of z-brackets, a 10 Amp P.W.M. charge controller, a 12 AWG tray cable measuring in at 8 ft., and a 20 ft. 12 AWG MC4 adaptor kit.

The solar cells are fairly efficient, too, with a rating of 18%. This is just above the average 15% efficiency rating most solar panels usually get. 

The design features bypass diodes that minimize any drop in power that could be caused by shade or cloudy weather. So, even if it’s not a sunny day, the kit will still generate a good amount of power.

For quality measures, the solar modules have been EL tested. This is to make sure that there’s no hot spot heating occurring within the solar panel kit. Hot spot heating can prevent the overall output of the entire unit because of a single cell that went bad.

The panels are also corrosion-resistant thanks to their aluminum frame, making them suitable for outdoor use. Pre-drilled holes also make for easy mounting while still providing a secure mount. You could easily use this as a solar panel kit for your van for your next adventure in the wilderness.

It’s not the cheapest for a beginner-friendly kit going for anything between $100 to $120. But as always, you get what you pay for, and the Renogy solar kit gives

What We Love

  • Entry-level kit
  • Consistent power output
  • Quality tested modules
  • DIY mounting is possible

Who It’s For

  • Ideal for beginners 
  • Suitable for off-grid activity

Renogy Suitcase Folding Solar Panel 100W

This kit is built with a highly efficient 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel, along with a tempered glass and aluminum frame.

where can i buy small solar panels

It also sports a kickstand for an improved placement angle. The suitcase solar panel has additional protection at each of the frame’s corners and is 100% weatherproof. 

Its maximum power output is 100W, while its maximum power voltage is around 18V and its current output is a little more than 5A. The open-circuit voltage is around 20V and its short circuit current is almost 6A. The maximum system voltage that the solar panel can put out is 1000V.

The solar panel weighs around 20 lbs. and measures 43 x 27 x 1.5 inches when unfolded. When folded, it collapses to a compact 27 x 22 x 2.8 inches.

The suitcase foldable solar panel is available for around $200.

What We Love

  • The solar panel is portable and suitable for travel.
  • For its size the solar panel is reasonably light.
  • It’s suitable for use with most solar generators.

Who It’s For

  • Can be used as a portable power station.
  • Back-up or off-grid power.

SolarEver USA Solar Panel 360W

The SolarEver 360W Solar Panel is an American-made model and features a 9 busbar solar cell, adopting the latest technology that improves the efficiency of its modules while also providing the panel with an improved look. 

small powerful solar panels

The solar panel also boasts a higher conversion efficiency up to 20% or so, and benefits from the half-cell structure which provides. The SolarEver also has a PID resistance that guarantees minimal power degradation.

The monocrystalline solar panel performs well in low-light conditions, with the added benefit of the glass and cell surface designs meant to provide further support. 

The solar panel is certified to withstand a wind load of 2400 Pascal and a snow load of 5400 Pascal. It also has additional resistances against salt, mist, and ammonia corrosion.

The solar panel comes with 14-inch output cables and has a built-in junction box with an IP67 rating. 

The SolarEver panel can be bought for around $300 and is the most costly panel out of the entire list.

What We Love

  • Weather-resistant features for added durability
  • High conversion efficiency
  • Suitable for use in low-light conditions.

Who It’s For

  • Meant for larger projects and uses
  • Ideal for roof mounting

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to small solar panels. Each has its own uses and features which will prove sure to suit any need you have. 

So, depending on what you need or what you feel is a good solar panel to get into DIY or off-grid systems, we have the best options right here for you. 

Small Solar Panels FAQs

Does Size Matter?

The size of your solar panels does matter. 

The physical size, which determines where the solar panel will be mounted whether on the roof of your home or cabin. The larger your solar panel is, the more area there is catching the sun’s rays.

However, small solar panels still have their uses. For example, because you’re limited with space, small panels are the ideal size solar panel for your RV.

Why Opt For A Portable Solar Panel?

A mobile solar system uses the same energy-capturing technology as stationary ones do. The only difference is that portable panels are lightweight and compact. This allows for more application options as you need them.

Why Is Efficiency So Important?

Efficiency determines how many solar panels you need to power your devices. 

A lower-efficiency solar panel would mean that you need more panels to do the job. Being more efficient means you need fewer solar panels and you’ll see a quicker return on investment, too.

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