Best Solar Panel Kits
Solar panel kits are a great solution for powering hungry electric and electronic devices in various off-the-grid situations like camping, fishing trips, or simply when having issues with mains power.
Solar panel kits usually consist of one or more solar panels and a power/charge controller. To complete such a system, one also needs a deep cycle battery or battery pack and a DC-AC power inverter to provide electricity to AC electric devices. Of course, deep-cycle batteries and power inverters are usually sold separately.
Updated: April 28, 2023.
Solar Panel, Power (Charge) Controller, Deep Cycle Battery Kits
Solar panel kits consisting of solar panels, power (charge) controllers, and deep cycle batteries are solar kits intended for permanent and semi-permanent installations.
Foldable solar panels ensure easy and fast installation and are often used for camping, RVs, in emergencies, during blackouts, and similar off-the-grid situations.
These kits usually feature one or more solar panels, but the charge controller has the option to accept even more solar panels later, allowing the user to scale up the system if required.
A deep cycle battery (or battery pack) is required for storing the electric energy for later use, while a power inverter is tasked with powering AC devices using energy stored in the batteries.
How Many Solar Panels Are Needed
Each solar panel is labeled with its nominal power, which is how much electricity it can generate in ideal conditions. However, conditions are not always ideal, on the contrary.
Also, other components of solar panel kits are far from ideal, and each features some energy loss. For example, in real-life conditions, the efficiency of solar panel kits is:
- Solar Panels: 50-70% - for example, a 100W solar panel provides 50-70W on average, depending on the season, weather, orientation, dirt on the panel, etc.,
- Solar Charge Controllers: 85-95% - for example, if solar panels provide actual 100W, solar charge controller charges the batteries with 85-95W,
- Deep-Cycle Batteries: 40-85% - batteries feature energy losses when being both charged and discharged. Without going into too many details, lithium batteries are much more energy efficient and should be the first choice for solar systems, even for stationary systems. If the system price is important, weight unimportant, and the system is discharged slowly, lead-acid batteries are also a viable option.
- Power Inverters: 85-95% - power inverters convert DC electricity into AC electricity and provide electric energy for the devices during off-grid situations.
So, for short, most solar panel kits consist of solar panels and solar charge controllers, requiring users also to buy deep-cycle batteries and power inverters.
And if we do math in reverse order, we get the following (this example is for a system that is constantly loaded with 200W):
For example, if we need a power inverter (we assume 90% energy efficiency of the power inverter) to supply 200W, then:
Power Inverter input power P(W) = 200W / 0.90 = ~222W
Battery output power equals the power inverter input power, which means that if we have a high-quality lithium deep-cycle battery with an energy efficiency of 85%, then the battery charging power is:
Battery charging power P(W) = 222W / 0.85 = ~262W
Battery charging power equals to solar charger controller output power, which means that the solar charge controller (we assume 90% energy efficiency) input power is:
Solar charger controller power P(W) = 262W / 0.90 = ~291W
Solar charge controller input power equals solar panels output power, which means that (let's assume 70% energy efficiency, which is a rather good value), we need:
Solar panels installed power P(W) = 291W / 0.70 = ~415 Watts
If the weather is cloudy and the energy efficiency of solar panels is 50%, then we need at least:
Solar panels installed power P(W) = 291W / 0.5 = ~582 Watts
In short, don't expect to run 50 Amps RV with a few 100W solar panels...
Solar Panels and Power Station/Solar Generator Kits
Solar panel kits consisting of solar panels and solar power stations (solar generators) are usually portable solar panel installations.
Since solar power station consists of a charge controller and a battery, the total energy stored in these systems is rather limited unless the power station can use both external and internal battery.
Solar power station simplifies the solar panel kit setup since the solar power station also features various output ports for charging USB units and powering AC devices - practically a Plug'n'Play system.
Here is a list of several very popular solar panel kits with their short reviews.
Note: many other kits are available on the market, and since most of them can be combined with other components to achieve desired performances, options are practically endless. Also, whatever you do, be sure to read the manual/instructions thoroughly to get accustomed to your new gear. And if you are unsure, ask for some professional help - most of electronics these days come with a set of safety features, but one never knows.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel is a very popular portable solar panel featuring 100 W peak power, 18V voltage, and 5.55 Amps current. Short circuit current is ~6 Amps.
Although the solar panel is not waterproof, it is mechanically rather sturdy, and it even bends slightly before breaking - don't try, of course.
Cell efficiency is ~23% which is very good, allowing the solar panel to be relatively compact, considering the output power.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel features two 5V/2A USB-A outputs (20 watts max) for direct charging tablets and smartphones.
This solar is primarily designed for charging Jackery Explorer 160/240/500 power stations.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel may be used for charging other solar generators/power stations, while Jackery Explorer 160/240/500 solar generators may be charged using other solar panels.
But, it is always better to combine components from the same brand designed for each other.
The main features of Jackery Explorer 160/240/500 power stations are given in the following chart:
|Model||Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160||Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240||Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500|
|Stored Energy||167 Wh||240 Wh||518 Wh|
|AC (110V) Outlet Max||100 W||200 W||500 W|
|AC Outlet Peak||150 W||400 W||1000 W|
|USB-A Port||5V 2.4A (x2)||5V 2.4A (x2)||5V 2.4A (x3)|
|USB-C Port||5V 3A||-||-|
|DC 12V||7A||10 A||7 A (x2, 120W total)|
|Physical Dimensions||7.4 x 4.59 x 6.73 inches
18.8 x 11.7 x 17.1 cm
|9.05 x 5.24 x 7.87 inches
23 x 13.3 x 20 cm
|11.84 x 7.59 x 9.2 inches
30.1 x 19.3 x 23.4
|Weight||3.97 pounds (~1.8 kg)||6.6 pounds (~3 kg)||13.32 pounds (~6 kg)|
|Amazon Link||Jackery Explorer 160||Jackery Explorer 240||Jackery Explorer 500|
Note: Amazon links open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 perhaps features too small energy capacity for the Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel, but that is also a supported combination.
However, if Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 is more than large enough for your needs, instead of Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel, perhaps you should consider a smaller and cheaper Jackery SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel (Amazon link, link opens in the new window).
Of course, if you already have Jackery SolarSaga 60W solar panel and Jackery Explorer 240 fits your needs, there is no need to purchase a larger/stronger solar panel - depending on the location and weather, Jackery SolarSaga 60W can fully charge Jackery Explorer 240 within 6-8 hours.
However, if you need something like Jackery Explorer 500, go for a 100W solar panel - in this case, Jackery SolarSaga 100W is recommended.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
Renogy offers several 100W 12V solar panel starter kits, usually differing in charge controller, adapters, cables, mounting brackets and similar.
One of the most popular models is Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D consisting of:
- 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel,
- WANDERER Li 30A Charge Controller,
- Mounting Z Brackets (set of 4),
- 1 pair of 20ft 10AWG Adaptor Kit,
- 1 pair of 8ft 10AWG Tray Cables.
100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel features cell efficiency of up to 22% and provides electricity even in low light conditions.
Its main features are:
- Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc): 24.3V,
- Short-Circuit Current (Isc): 5.21A,
- Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 20.4V,
- Optimum Operating Current (Imp): 4.91A.
Wanderer Li 30A PWM Charge Controller supports up to four (4) 100W solar panels and can be used to charge wet, Gel-cell, and sealed lead-acid batteries and lithium batteries.
Also, it comes with a set of safety features, including reverse polarity protection, battery overcharging protection, overload protection, and short circuit protection.
Just to be sure, WANDERER Li 30A Charge Controller supports the use of the BT-1 Bluetooth module, allowing the user to monitor the system status in real-time through the DC Home app and the smartphone.
Thanks to the balanced design, good quality, affordable price, and the fact that it can easily be expanded to 400W, this Renogy 12V 100W Solar Panel Kit is one of the most popular solar kits on the market.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer 30A Charge Controller Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).
Renogy 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
This Renogy 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit is based on the Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit and it features everything that comes with it, plus it comes with one extra 100W solar panel kit and one pair of solar Y branch connectors.
Thus, the kit contains the following:
- 100W Solar Panel ×2,
- WANDERER Li 30A PWM Charge Controller,
- 2 Sets of Mounting Z Brackets,
- 1 Pair of Solar Y Branch Connectors,
- 1 Pair of 20ft 10AWG Adaptor Kit,
- 1 Pair of 8ft 10AWG Tray Cables.
This Renogy 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit is intended for people for whom the Renogy 12V 100W solar kit is simply too weak to collect enough solar energy.
Since both kits are based on the same solar charge controller, this kit can also be expanded to 400W by adding two more solar panels.
If you are looking for a 200-400W solar panel kit, consider this model.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Renogy 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).
Weize 200W 12 Volt Solar Panel Starter Kit
Weize 200W 12 Volt Solar Panel Starter Kit is based on cells that feature energy efficiency up to 21%, which is good and could be perhaps better, but in real-life situations, azimuth orientation and panel angle play a much more significant role.
The set consists of a pair of 100W solar panels, one 30 Amps charge controller, and the required cables and mount brackets.
The physical dimensions of a single solar panel are 39.96 x 20.27 x 1.18 inch (~101.5 x 51.5 x 3 cm), allowing the user to mount them almost wherever there is a small flat surface - panels are rigid and should not be bent in any way.
One of the very interesting features of the solar charge controller is its auto-sense ability - it can automatically recognize the battery voltage and can be used for both 12V and 24V battery systems.
Also, it comes with various safety features, including reverse polarity protection, overcharging protection, short-circuit protection, and reverse current protection.
This is a very interesting solar panel kit, but as usual with Weize (and a few more Chinese brands), the manuals/instructions could be much better - personally, if You are new to solar panel kits, stick to Renogy or some other brand with much more detailed manuals/instructions/Owner's Guides - just my 2c.
Nonetheless, Weize solar kits are very popular on the market since they offer very good quality for a reasonable price.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Weize 200W 12 Volt Solar Panel Starter Kit Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).
ECO-WORTHY 200 Watts 12 Volt/24 Volt Solar Panel Kit
ECO-WORTHY 200 Watts 12 Volt/24 Volt Solar Panel Kit is another 200 Watts solar panel kit that supports both 12V and 24V batteries, including Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries and practically all types of lead-acid batteries.
This solar panel is based on solar cells with maximum efficiency of 21.5%, which is a very good result.
The kit consists of the following:
- 2x 100W mono solar panel,
- 2x Z mounting brackets sets,
- 1x 30A solar controller,
- 1x pair of 16.4ft 10 AWG solar cables,
- 1x pair of 2-in-1 connectors,
- 1x pair of 4.92ft tray cables.
The physical dimensions of a single panel are 38.58 x 21.06 x 1.38 inches (~98 x 53.5 x 3.5 cm) and are designed to withstand relatively strong wind (up to 2.4 kPa) and snow load of up to 5.4kPa.
ECO-WORTHY 30A PWM solar charger controller comes with several safety features, including short-circuit protection, open-circuit protection, reverse protection, and overload protection.
Also, it supports charging both lead-acid and lithium batteries.
One of the interesting features of a charge controller is two USB 5V/2.5A charging ports.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the ECO-WORTHY 200 Watts 12 Volt/24 Volt Solar Panel Kit Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).
Topsolar 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit
Topsolar 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit comes with a 12V/24V 20A charge controller, allowing the system to be expanded up to 12V 260W or 24V 520W.
The charge controller features overcharge, over-discharge, over-voltage, and short-circuit protection and can charge Gel-cell, sealed, and wet/flooded lead-acid batteries.
The physical dimensions of the solar panel are 45.6 x 20 x 1.37 inches (~116 x 51 x 3.5 cm), and can withstand wind up to 2.4kPa and snow up to 5.4kPa. The cell efficiency is a very good 22%.
This starter solar panel kit features everything one needs, including 4x Z mounting brackets, one pair of red and black solar cables, a charge controller, a solar panel, and screws - but for powering AC loads, the user still needs a battery (or battery pack) and a power inverter.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Topsolar 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).
WindyNation 100 Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit
WindyNation 100 Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit offers the user almost everything one may need to start with solar power.
This solar panel kit includes the following:
- 100 Watt WindyNation Solar Panel,
- 30 Amp WindyNation P30L LCD Display Solar Charge Controller with Battery Temperature Sensor,
- 40 feet of UL Listed 12 AWG Solar Cable,
- all necessary mounting hardware.
100 watts WindyNation solar panel features maximum power of 100 watts, an open circuit voltage of 21.60 volts, a short circuit current of 6.32 Amps, a maximum power voltage of 17.4 volts, and a maximum power current of 5.75 Amps.
Solar panel dimensions are 40 x 26.4 x 1.2 inches (~101.5 x 67 x 3 cm), and it weighs 17.6 pounds (~8 kg).
30 Amp WindyNation P30L PWM Solar Charge Controller has user-adjustable settings, LCD display that shows system amperage, voltage, amp-hours, temperature, and DC load draw, and supports up to 4 solar panels in 12V systems (400 Watts) and up to 8 solar panels in 24V system (800 Watts).
This is a very configurable solar panel kit intended for RVs, boats, off-the-grid homes, backup systems, etc.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check WindyNation 100 Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Long Story Short: If you are looking for the best solar panel kit, write down your actual needs and wishes. Also, writing down your budget is a good idea.
A list of solar panel brands, their charge controllers, deep cycle battery manufacturers, etc is quite long and many of them offer rather good equipment.
These several examples are some of the most popular solar panel kits on the market. If they fit your needs, feel free to consider them - they have been tried and tested by many users and have proved themselves in real-life situations.
And whatever you do, read the manuals and stay safe!