Need portable solar panels for my power station

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Oldwolf

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I finally bought a mid-sized Bluetti power station (EBS70S) and am seeking advice about solar panels. I like the idea of portability and do not plan to permanently attach them to my van. The briefcase designs have frames that are aluminum and appear to be sturdy. On the other hand the portable panels (thinner with a fabric looking exterior) seem to be very convenient in terms of weight and storage requirements but are likely more susceptible to bending, moisture and wear. I'd likely start with a 100W panel and expand with a second panel if it doesn't meet my needs. Do you have real world experience with power stations and panels?

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Here are the VOC 24V units I am currently looking at.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B095Y9W18C/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A2AJVA0MHRKANJ&th=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08HZ25FSW/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?smid=A2YJPL4YRBZ3ZI&psc=1

This is the 24V version but I don't think it is compatible since the VOC is 30.2V.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B095Y957G4/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?smid=A2AJVA0MHRKANJ&psc=1
 
I don't have experience with owning any, but I've also been comparing what's out there.

I'm curious why you've only posted one brand. Also, if money is a concern, there are less expensive panels.
 
Years ago I bought a 100 watt “suitcase” model renology solar panel for my camping trailer. I have been impressed with the durability of the frame and panels. I did have a pack rat chew the wire up and had to splice it back. It is easy to adjust and move and requires no extra braces or frame. I do put a heavy rock on the leg supports and yes wind has violently flipped them with little or no damage. The carrying case while very protective is bulky and heavy. I now just use it mounted stationary.
 
Frankly, there are so many to choose from that it can get quite confusing, I have looked at alot online but the BigBlue models I highlighted look well designed and have decent carrying cases.

Carla618, what models are you looking at and why?
 
I use Renogy folders x 2. I use them to recharge all my power stations and they do a good job. Never had a problem. Just make sure you have the correct connectors to plug into your brand of battery. I'd avoid those which have proprietary connectors only good with one brand of battery.

Cheer!

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DOKIO 110w 18v Portable Foldable Solar Panel Kit (21x28inch, 5.9lb) Solar Charger With Controller 2 Usb Output https://a.co/d/9MkbJIc

I like the DOKIO foldable kits too. But do you think the fabric that is used for the carry case might be too fragile when repeatedly scuffed against the ground and folded and stowed into a vehicle? Other kits have hard cases that would seem to be sturdier.
 
Good to know. I missed that followup video.

Will Prouse doesn't like flexible panels. Have you read up at his site? From Will:

Flexible Solar Panels? Don't Buy them!​

You have been warned:​


Every single flex panel on the market is garbage. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong on this. I have destroyed stacks of these things. The cells crack easily and take out a whole string of cells when the bus bars break. Or they have extreme degradation after a few months of summer. Even the latest "CIGS" panels that I was so excited about, are having delamination problems.

Do yourself a favor, and avoid the flex panels. None of them are good.

https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/solar-panels.html
https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/
 
I used the brand/model below when car camping for 3 months last summer and it worked well in good sunny conditions.
Although the solar panels specs say 120W wattage, the max output I noticed was 90W. I plugged it into my Bluetti ac50s.
It was helpful to have it for my summer trip and I liked the fact that I could just fold and store it without it taking too much space.

https://www.amazon.com/TWELSEAVAN-Portable-Foldable-Explorer-Generator/dp/B0817V8N5P
 
I located this long term review of the DOKIO foldable panels that Bob put out a short time ago.
It is worthwhile watching this before you buy.


I have a 2 panel 100 w Dokio Flex. I use it when I don't have time to set up my Renogy's, as a backup when I have a lot to charge, and as an emergency standby. It's done a good job but it's definitely not a regular use piece of equipment. It's covered in fabric and doesn't have enough rigidity to really standup, it scratches easily across the cells, and the edges will fray easily if you put it to heavy use. The most charge I've ever seen it put out is in the low 60w range and it's usually no more than 55 w even in direct sun. My Renogy's regularly put out in the 70 - 80 w range. Having said that, I'm completely satisfied with it. It is what it is and for what I use it for it's just fine. I usually pair it with one of my GOLABS. I'll drag it out tomorrow and take some pix.

Cheers!
 
The fabric covered folding panels are nice for being light weight and compact but longevity is not going to happen. The fabric edges on the solar cell side will get UV damage and degrade within the first 2 years of frequent use in winters in Southern Arizona. You are better off investing in other styles of portable panels with metal frames.
 
Here are some pix of the Dokio 100 w I have. I haven't got any complaints but as I wrote above, it's not made for heavy everyday use in rough environments. I keep a towel in between them to avoid scratching - they scratch easily. The panels have an SAE connector integral to them which is one of the reasons I bought it. I've used adapters to convert all my solar connections to just SAE for interoperability. They're well made but as you can see from the side view, they aren't too rigid and the fabric covering them will fray if dragged around on rough surfaces. UV will also damage them if constantly out in the sun (especially out West). Overall though, I'm still happy with them and they have a specific place in my solar arsenal.

Cheers!

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Flexible panels and foldable panels are usually not the same thing. They CAN be...and most foldable (suitcase style) panels are flexible, but some foldable panels are rigid glass and aluminum.

Flexible panels tend to have a short lifespan, usually 2 years or less, but this depends on several factors. Permanently mounted or used as a raw portable panel, they just dont seem to last very long.

High quality foldable panels can often last much longer because they are protected more than a raw flexible panel, and since they cost about double what an equivalent raw flexible panel costs, I think most owners take better care of them.
 
One of the people I am camped with has 2 regular pals ling flat on the ground as his current solar setup. That I actually working out just fine. He has physical and budget limitations. Eventually when he has the funds for martials and labor or goes to a van build they will be mounted on the of his cargo tailer.

No problems with them getting blown away as the wind can't get underneath the edges of the aluminum frame to lift them up. So basically you can use a regular panel as a portable. Tilting is a help for better input but flat will work. He is using them in monsoon season and the ground has had standing water on it during the those heavy rain/wind events but no problems other than cleaning them afterwards to remove the splashed dirt.
 

I agree with Tx2Sturgis and frater secessus on their comments. I run multiple EB70S like the author has. I have used flexible panels, rigid and folding. There are often very good reasons for not installing a rigid panel and a folding or portable panel works fine. The latest folding 200 watt panel I use is a Bluetti. It is consistently outputting more watts in the shade or partial sun than even my Renogy rigid panels. (note: The EB70S cannot take a full 200 watts but with where we camp, we usually only have partial sun). With the Bluetti PV200, partial shade doesn't kill it like the cheaper solar panels. I realize we all have different budgets, but if efficiency is a priority and getting charged back up quickly, I recommend spending the extra dollars for a high quality panel. The folding panels like the Bluetti PV200 is expensive but is very well built and stores very easily at 16lbs.


Jon
VanLifeWired
 
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