When deciding which portable solar panel is right for you, one of the most important factors to consider is how long it takes to charge your devices. While it depends on several factors, we can draw a high-level conclusion.
So, how fast can a portable solar panel charge? Portable solar panels are smaller than fixed solar panels, and their charging time varies based on the power output (wattage) and the battery size it is charging. A common moderately sized 20-25 Watts output portable solar panel can charge a phone battery of 1,500 to 4,000 mAh in 1.5 to 3 hours on a sunny day.
We highly recommend that you check out our article ” How Long Does It Take For Solar Batteries To Charge? How Long Will It Last!
Portable solar panels are quite often made much smaller than fixed solar panels, simply to allow you to move them around. Because the panels are smaller, you would expect them to take a lot more time to charge up your batteries than fixed panels. Being smaller in size, portable solar panels usually come with smaller batteries or power banks, but in some cases, they can provide up to 320 Watts of power from the battery.
On a side note! If you’re in need of a reliable and high-performance portable solar panel, We strongly recommend the Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel (Amazon Link).
With a high conversion efficiency and foldable design, this solar panel is easy to transport and set up, making it perfect for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and RV trips.
The US solar cell technology used in this panel ensures that you get the most efficient and reliable solar charging possible.
On a side note, check out Do Solar Panels Drain Batteries at Night? Most Common Batteries Issues
Here’s a comparison table demonstrating the approximate charging times for different brands of portable solar panels, alongside some critical factors that may influence your choice of solar panels.
|Charging time (0 to 100%)
|FEELLE Solar Charger
|6.1″ x 3.35″ x 1.37″
|4 x 5W
|12.6″ x 7.8″ x 0.8″ folded, 24.6″ x 7.8″ x 0.8″ opened
|21.7” x 11.8” x 2”
How fast do portable solar panels available in the market charge?
The Renogy E.Flex solar power system comes with a 1.92A USB port which charges your smartphone at almost the same speed as mains power.
The NekTeck 21W Solar Charger comes with a SmartIC technology that allows it to detect the type of device being charged. It enables this portable solar charger to charge Apple and Android devices at full speed, which is the same time as when charging from your wall charger, while also charging two devices at the same time.
The Riapow Wireless Solar Charger charges 4 devices simultaneously at full speed and is able to charge an iPhone 11 completely in 1.3 hours.
Does it matter if it’s dark?
The chart above assumes bright daylight conditions with direct sunlight shining over the panels, which isn’t always attainable. The amount of sunlight hitting the panels directly will depend on various factors such as the intensity of the sunlight in that particular location, the weather on that particular day, and the placement and inclination of the panels as well. Check this article for details on When Do Portable Solar Panels Work Best?
Climate affects charging time as well, as in the winter solar panels charge much slower than in summer. Under the bright summer sunshine, your portable solar panels may get charged much faster than normal, while in the winter you may get little to no charge during periods of rain and snowfall.
If the facts and figures are looking a little grim right now, let us show you the bright side of owning portable solar panels when it comes to charging time.
Do different types of portable solar panels affect charging time ?
Portable solar panels, like fixed solar panels, come in two different choices of material – monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are easier to manufacture and therefore cheaper to buy, but also less efficient when it comes to charging.
Monocrystalline panels are expensive to manufacture and come at a higher price tag but are much more charge-efficient than their polycrystalline counterparts. If budget is not an issue, monocrystalline panels are the way to go.
Aside from material, portable solar panels come in flexible and non-flexible varieties as well. Flexible ones are thinner, more lightweight, and cheaper in price. Check this article for details on Can Portable Solar Panels Twist? .Rigid panels, on the other hand, are more expensive but also more efficient, since they come in foldable varieties that can be set up in an inclined position to catch the maximum amount of sunlight.
More cumulative charging hours per day
Solar panels that are portable have the advantage of being able to be moved and adjusted anytime, anywhere. Even if you’re in the middle of a forest, all you need is a direct beam of light on your panels and they will begin charging rapidly.
While fixed panels have to wait for the sun to shine upon them, you can take your portable solar panels exactly where the sunlight hits. This way, you can charge your panels for short amounts of time here and there whenever you can, and it’ll be much easier for you to get thirty to fifty hours of charging time than a fixed solar panel.
We like it because it’s quick, easy and on the move
The typical phone battery usually has a capacity of 5000 mAh or less, while a laptop battery usually ranges from a capacity of 2,000 mAh to 6,000mAh.
Besides phones, tablets, and laptops, portable solar panels can also power a myriad of other small devices on the go.
What can be done to maximize charging efficiency?
Use more panels
The more portable solar panels you have, the faster your battery or power bank will charge. Opting for foldable panels can be a great option as you get more panels without the requirement of a lot of additional storage space.
Use a charge controller
A charge controller maximizes charging during sunny conditions, while minimizes discharging in dark conditions. It is an essential part of a portable solar panel setup.
A power inverter converts DC electricity to AC electricity, and a lot of power is wasted during that process. It’s best to leave DC electricity as is, and use DC appliances.
Make sure the panel surfaces are clean and facing the sun
Portable solar panels are normally used outdoors on the go, which makes them more prone to being covered in dust, dirt, leaves, etc. This will block sunlight from charging the panels. Keep the panels clean, and adjust their position and angles frequently to make sure they are always facing direct sunlight to ensure efficient charging.
Follow this guide to make sure you get the best output from your portable solar panels – When Do Portable Solar Panels Work Best?
Choosing the right portable solar panel for you
Committing to solar power is a big step in terms of responsibility, but the perks are usually well worth it. Not to mention, you are doing your part in saving the environment by using a renewable source of energy.
Perfect for wanderers
If you’re living the RV lifestyle, solar power is definitely a great long-term sustainable source of power for you. Having a portable system means you get to have full control of how often and how much your solar panels charge. A large multi-panel portable solar power system can be capable of powering the entire van.
Great for hikers
If you want something to charge your phone while you’re on a hike, or if you’re someone that likes to document your adventures, a small solar charger will be the best portable solar panel for you. It will easily charge your phone and camera gear on the go, and it’s small enough to not slow you down one bit.
There’s something for everyone
There are so many options when it comes to portable solar panels, you are guaranteed to find something to suit your needs. Find out your power requirements, and how much time you get in the sun every day. Choose the system that matches your requirements, and you may never look back.
Here’s an article that will help you decide the type of portable solar panels that will suit you best. What Is The Difference Between Portable-Solar Panels And Solar Power Banks?
Do portable solar panels charge fast enough? The verdict.
Yes, with the right budget and thorough research, you can definitely find a portable solar charger to meet your requirements. When the weather is sunny, you may find that your solar panels are charging up and also charging your devices at amazing speeds. On gloomier days charging can be much slower both ways, which is just a natural consequence of using solar power.
Under direct sunlight, portable solar panels will recharge your devices fast and efficiently. You can completely charge a smartphone in under 90-120 minutes, and a laptop in 7-14 hours. Some solar panels are able to charge cellphones at the same speed as they normally charge from wall outlets. Depending on the panels you choose, you may even be able to simultaneously charge multiple smartphones fully in just 2 hours.