What is a good solar panel?

Tac Gunner

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My wife is asking what I'd like for Christmas and I think a nice solar panel charger and portable power bank set up is on my list. The thing is, I'm not sure what is a good brand of panels or power bank. I'm watching the power bank thread for that but the solar panel isn't covered. In googling I found goal zero but their website seems awfully cluttered and busy, seems like a company with cheap products and try to hype up their product through over the top advertising. Anyway what solar panels do you guys recommend? Looking to be able to charge an iPhone, galaxy tablet, and of course my flashlight batteries. It won't be used very often, mainly when we are out on the lake or during power outages. Would like to have the battery pack as a reserve when I don't have sunlight. Hope my post isn't to confusing lol.
Thanks,
Tac
 

Bigwilly

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Check out RavPower. They have a 15 watt portable solar panel that I told my wife to get me for Christmas. In my research it seems to be the best bang for the buck. I one their power banks and a wifi hot spot and have been impressed with both. You can find the solar panel on Amazon.
 

Str8stroke

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I have a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus. I also have a Cotton Picker among my many solar panel set ups and jig up rigs. I find the Cotton is neat for its crafty home brew. But it is a tad fragile set up. I have had to make a few, MINOR, repairs. But it works well and charges all my Android and Apple products. I haven't charged any flashlight batteries with it.

The Guide Plus is neat, it comes with 2 AA's that seem like a Eneloop. I haven't tested them, but they work well in my lights. I use the charger to charge up my Eneloops while camping. It is a more rugged set up. I got it cheap during Amazon Prime day. I think I paid $50 or so. It seems to be just worth that. Not sure about the $100 it sells for normally. In fact I would probably look around.

I can't find a link to the Cotton Picker I have. It is the basic set up. No bag or storage. Just panel, controller glued to back, bungie cord to hang it, and USB/Micro USB connectors. It has no problems topping off the charge in full sun on my iPad and iPhone.
 

scout24

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I really like the flexible roll-up panels. Sunlinq is the one I have. Not cheap, but they are a bit less fragile than some of the rigid panel options. There are other mfgrs. that make roll up options. I just like the portable factor.
 

KITROBASKIN

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Based on what you have written so far, seems like 15 (or so) watts would be effective for you. The smallest ones really don't harvest enough energy for practical use. Some have said the folding panels, when used a lot, might eventually break the connecting wires. I have a 15 watt Goal Zero I got on sale from emergency essentials (beprepared.com) but it is not particularly portable. I like the sturdy aluminum frame however. The retail price is too much, in my opinion.

Based on a thread here on CPF, I purchased a smaller Sunkingdom semi-flexible solar panel (6.5 watts?) that works pretty well but I am not sure how longlasting it will be. Perhaps you can narrow down your desired traits for such a device. Know that some chargers can double as a powerbank (Xtar is a favorite).
 
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Tac Gunner

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So far what I have gathered:

*Goal Zero isn't bad if bought on sale but not worth full price
*15 watts is about the output I need for a typical iPhone, galaxy tablet, and eneloops?
*Roll up or folding panels are best if only used on occasion?

I haven't found a charger that runs off usb andwill double as a power bank while still being able to charge both nimh and lithium cells. Kraus has some but HKJ said the charge current for 18350s isn't ideal.
 

sidecross

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I only use lithium batteries and for solar charging batteries I use a Xtar SP1 that can also be used as a power bank. For battery charging from a solar panel stay away from chargers with visual displays or too many LED's. You need sun to just charge batteries and not provide a light show of unneeded information.
 

KITROBASKIN

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I only use lithium batteries and for solar charging batteries I use a Xtar SP1 that can also be used as a power bank. For battery charging from a solar panel stay away from chargers with visual displays or too many LED's. You need sun to just charge batteries and not provide a light show of unneeded information.

Some display panels can be turned off. It should be noted that Xtar has a reputation amongst some CPF'ers of not being particularly efficient, but many of us like the protection they offer.
 

sidecross

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Some display panels can be turned off. It should be noted that Xtar has a reputation amongst some CPF'ers of not being particularly efficient, but many of us like the protection they offer.
It is my understanding that some chargers can turn off lighted display, there is current is still being used to provide the information. On small 14 watt solar chargers especially on cloudy days you want all of the potential sun light to power up batteries. The SP1 charger has a choice of .5 amp, 1 amp, or 2 amp. I like this choice depending on weather conditions and size of battery.
 
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KITROBASKIN

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The Xtar MC1 Plus is the charger I like to use when traveling and like it for solar panel charging. It can charge at 1 Amp if the supply is up to the task.

More than once I have written in error here on CPF. It is with respect when I point out that battery capacity can be described in milli amp hours mAh, and charging rate can be described in Amps, or milli Amps (thousandths of an Amp). It is my wish that members here would help correct the errors I make.
 

sidecross

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The Xtar MC1 Plus is the charger I like to use when traveling and like it for solar panel charging. It can charge at 1 Amp if the supply is up to the task.

More than once I have written in error here on CPF. It is with respect when I point out that battery capacity can be described in milli amp hours mAh, and charging rate can be described in Amps, or milli Amps (thousandths of an Amp). It is my wish that members here would help correct the errors I make.
Thanks for mentioning my error; I edited my comment.
 

Archangel72

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I have a goal Zero Nomad 20 and a Nomad 7 both work well especially for backpack camping

I admit they are both on the expensive side... I equate them to Apple Good easy to use product that functions well and is reliable however you pay for it.

I dont back pack camp I go out on a boat to our island which has no power or running water just a little two room cabin

I bring those and a GZ yeti 150 it keeps our cell phones and Ipads as well as the 4 lights I bring going well.

I just purchased their new Nomad 100 it looks good but its definitely not something you want to strap to a pack and go. Its a car camping panel for sure

Its way over priced and Im kicking myself for gushing all over it and buying it as soon as it came out but.. When I step up to a yeti 400 for my portable power I will have a nice Panel to recharge it with thats for sure as far as it recharging my yeti 150 it will do that and any other things I want in like 4 hours

Anywho my 2bits on GZ I like them just dont expect to get it on the cheap. Look for holiday sales they do put out packages that does make it much better to buy
 

Truglo

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I know this is an old thread. Has anything significant come into the market in the last 12 months that is much cheaper or better than previously available?
 

Sabrewulf

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I have a 3 year old ravpower solar for usb.
Ran over it with my jeep wrangler on accident and works normally.

I believe it's the 30 watt model.
 

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