Portable Solar Panels: vs. Removable Solar Panels

The accessibility of solar energy has increased astronomically in the past decade thanks to the introduction of portable solar panels and removable solar panels. Campers, students, and anyone with access to sunlight can easily generate free electricity by using these devices. Considering making the move to solar? Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting the right ype of solar panel to invest in.

What’s the difference between portable solar panels and removable solar panels?

Portable solar panels

Portable solar panels are good options for the novice ‘solarist.’ The perfect product for getting your feet wet, portable solar panels can be moved around frequently to chase the sun. Removable panels mounted to the roof of an RV, for example, would only generate power if the vehicle was parked directly in the sun. Portable panels allow the owner to keep cool in the shade while the solar unit bathes in nearby light.

Removable solar panels

Also described as roof-mounted or semi-portable solar panels, these are great for small-scale, long-term use. Uses might include powering an RV or a rental property.

These units are often larger than portable panel systems and have less flexibility. But, they generate more power and provide a cleaner connection.


Portable vs. Removable: Use Cases

Common uses for Portable Solar Panels include:

  • Backpacking/overnight camping trip
  • Hiking
  • Using electronics outside (working on the patio of a café or on the lawn of a college campus)
  • Cycling
  • Hanging by the pool or beach
  • Picnic
  • Tailgating
  • Traveling

The opportunities for portable solar panels, like this sleek, foldable unit from Goal Zero that provides a direct USB input, are essentially endless. If you have access to sunlight, you have access to your very own electricity generator to power any devices you like.

Perhaps you want a portable system with the ability to produce a bit more power to connect to a generator for an all-day tailgate. These products from Boss Watt are great options when you need power for a longer period of time.

Common uses for Removable Panels include:

  • RV or Camper
  • Vehicle with large roof surface area (road trip anyone?!)
  • Rental property (apartment, condo, small home)

Removable panels function the same as traditional solar panels but on a smaller scale. The removal and subsequent re-installation is much easier. They can generate more electricity in a shorter amount of time than the portable option but require a larger investment. This panel type is encouraged for frequent use in the same area, like a cross-country road trip or your apartment window.

Can I use portable and removable solar panels together?

You can absolutely pair your removable system with one or more portable solar units. Portable solar panels can be used to expand the power generation potential of an installed removable system.

I want to get into solar! How much should I be prepared to spend?

There are foldable solar systems starting at under $100, and solar-powered backpacks under $60. The larger-scale portable units range from around $300-$1,000. Yolk, a solar start-up established in 2014 using a Kickstarter campaign, is now selling solar-powered energy banks called Solar Paper ranging from $60-$150.

The installation costs of a semi-portable/removable solar system can be a bit higher. You should expect to spend a few thousand dollars getting your equipment up and running. Think of all the money you will save on utility bills!

No, go forth and solar!