Best Solar Panel Consumer Reports

Are you tired of seeing your energy bill increase over the years? Are you looking for a sustainable solution that will allow you to reduce the cost of your consumption? Or are you a traveler looking to provide you with energy during your vacation? So you must have already inquired about buying a solar panel.

In recent years, we have been able to observe more and more constructions and recreational vehicles that have solar panels. They have become the ecological solution par excellence in the face of rising energy prices. Are you still hesitating to take the plunge and get started in solar energy? Reading this article will allow you to learn everything you need to know about solar panels.

Why install a solar panel?

A solar panel is a device that captures part of the solar radiation to be converted into electrical or thermal energy.

This solution is very ecological. It does not use fossil energy, which is becoming scarce over the years. On the contrary, it uses solar energy, which is free and renewable. It thus helps to reduce gas emissions. For backpackers, being equipped with solar panels is a sure way to have energy in all circumstances.

It is considered that a solar panel becomes profitable 8 to 12 years after its installation. This figure varies according to the purchase price, the cost of its maintenance, and the price of electricity. The average life of a solar panel is around 40 years for crystalline lenses. This is reduced to 30 years for the amorphous. We will see in detail the difference between the 2 a little later.

What is the best solar panel Consumer Reports?

Having better knowledge about solar panels, you should be able to make a more informed purchase. We have selected for you the 5 best solar panels available online in 2022. All are suitable for providing energy for simple needs, such as for small chalets or recreational vehicles during your travels. 

200W 20A Foldable Monocrystalline Solar Panel

We start our selection with this solar suitcase including two panels of 100 watts each. It rests, once opened, on corrosion-resistant aluminum support. To facilitate its transport, it folds in 2 on itself, thus protecting the panels inside. In addition, it is transported in flexible protection for more safety.

You can easily control the inclination of the panel’s thanks to sturdy handles and the cables are waterproof. The suitcase has a charge controller with an LCD screen that informs you of its operation but also protects against overloads. The low voltage system also avoids the risk of electric shock.

This set of two solar panels will be perfect for all travelers looking for panels with great power to supply themselves with energy in complete safety.

Pros

  • Ease and safety of transport
  • Overload and electric shock protection
  • Tilt control
  • 200W power

Cons

  • Expensive
  • heavy suitcase

BougeRV 180 watt 12 volt monocrystalline solar panel

These 180-watt panels have anti-glare technology that increases their efficiency by up to 90.5%. They, therefore, work very well even in low light. Therefore, it is ideal if your destination is not the sunniest. In addition, they are also very resistant to gusts and snowfall. The seller also guarantees 25 years of longevity on your panels.

Pre-drilled holes in the back of the panels allow for quick and easy installation. You will have understood: these panels are perfect for bringing energy to a recreational vehicle leaving for a cold, windy, wet, and/or snowy area. Unlike a solar suitcase, these panels are much more affordable.

Pros

  • More affordable than a suitcase
  • 25 years warranty
  • Anti-reflective, increased efficiency
  • Resistant to gusts and snowfall

Cons

  • No transport protection

Togo Power 120W 12V Foldable Portable Solar Charger

This time, we find a suitcase a little less powerful than the first, but also less expensive. The power of the panels is also lower. It weighs just under 5 kilos so can be carried by almost anyone.

Adjusting its angle provides 25% more efficiency compared to laying flat. Although the panels are waterproof, the junction box is not waterproof.

This suitcase is therefore a good one if you want solar panels combined in a suitcase while remaining within a reasonable budget.

Pros

  • More affordable than the first product
  • Light suitcase
  • Angle adjustment

Cons

  • Leaky junction box
  • lower power

PAXCESS 120W 18V portable solar panel

In the same price and power range, here is a solar suitcase which, this time, includes 4 solar panels. These fold up in a way to form a desk suitcase once the operation is complete. Again, adjusting the angle of the panels increases efficiency by 25%.

The brand highlights the speed of its product. For the record, it can recharge the iPhone 11 pro by 50% in just 30 minutes.  

However, some consumer reviews are quite mixed. Some are thrilled with the product while others cite various issues. We find in particular low-end materials, especially the feet, and too little power. We invite you to read the comments to find out if this product is really the right one for you.

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Transportable suitcase
  • Lightness of the suitcase
  • Quick charge

Cons

  • Users claim that the power would not reach 120W.
  • Some complain about the quality of the materials

Jackery SolarSaga 120W Portable Solar Panel

We end this article with the most affordable suitcase of our selection. This plastic case, once closed, has pockets that can contain all the cables of the device. It is extremely light since it does not even reach 3 kilos.

Unlike other products, the case does not have one USB port, but two. Despite the waterproof panels, the box, meanwhile, resists splashing water, but should not be placed in the rain.

Pros

  • Very light suitcase.
  • 2 USB ports.
  • Pockets for storing cables.
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • low power
  • Case not waterproof

The different types of solar panel

Thermal solar panel

This device captures the sun’s energy to transform it into heat. This is then transported to a storage tank, where the cold water will be heated. The system is therefore complex and is not limited to solar panels.

The thermal panels thus allow you to have hot water for sanitary facilities or for heating.

Photovoltaic solar panel

This panel transforms the energy of the sun into electrical energy and not into heat, unlike the previous one. They can thus supply all your electrical appliances.

Monocrystalline

Crystalline solar panels are made of pure silicon solar cells. The purer the latter, the more efficient the panel will be since these semi-conduction capacities increase.

It is the most powerful of the photovoltaic panels, with an electricity production ranging from 160 to 240 watts peak/m2. It also has the highest yield: from 16 to 24%.

These solar panels are more efficient when directly exposed to the sun’s rays. It is during sunny days that are not too hot that these panels will work best. In winter, the days are shorter so they will produce less electricity.

However, its weakness lies in the face of temperature increases. It is much less effective above 25 degrees. Avoid if you live in a region that is too hot.

As it is the most high-end panel, it is also the most expensive. It is strongly recommended if the space on which you want to put the panels is small.

Polycrystalline

The polycrystalline solar panel consists of silicon in an aluminum frame. This is made up of several crystals. Compared to the monocrystalline panel, its semi-conduction capacities are less important. It provides power between 120 and 180 watts peak/m2. Its yield is between 10 and 18%.

Like monocrystalline, it is more efficient when exposed to direct sunlight and weaker in high heat. Unlike the latter, it is more affordable since it requires less pure silicon. In general, it is the silicon offcuts from the manufacture of monocrystalline which are recovered and used for polycrystalline.

These panels are most suitable for moderate spaces.

Amorphous

This panel is made using a much simpler technique. In fact, thin-film technology is used to form flexible panels, without an aluminum frame. This flexibility gives them ease of installation.

An amorphous panel is satisfied with a diffuse solar ray to function. It then acts very well even in low light. In addition, it is not affected by temperature variations. That is why it is preferred by northern regions.

Also, these are the cheapest panels among the 3 types. However, its maximum power is much lower. You will have to put more panels in this way to have intensity, so you need a large surface.

The solar panel kit

This pack allows you to take care of the installation of your solar panels yourself. There are different types:

The booster kit

It is compact and often includes 2 panels, it can provide you with electricity for a small consumption. This kit is recommended for a motorhome or a chalet.

The autonomous kit

Like the previous one, it is isolated from the network. However, it is larger comprising up to 10 panels. It can thus supply a fixed zone.

The kit connected to the network

This requires more skill and requires more equipment.

A kit remains interesting for restricted spaces to be covered. If the installation is too large, the kit loses its interest.

Where to install solar panels?

Various solutions are available to you. The answer will depend mainly on your project, the condition, and size of your roof, the space you have on the ground, etc.

Integrated into the roof

This solution means that you remove part of the coating from your roof and replace it with solar panels. This solution, very aesthetic and offering good performance, is nevertheless the most expensive. In addition, it is better suited to new constructions and not recommended for old ones. Indeed, this could present a risk of ventilation and seal for the latter.

Overlay on the roof

This time, the panels are placed directly on the tiles, it is certainly less aesthetic, but also less expensive. The panels can also offer you better performance than if they were integrated into the roof. Indeed, you can tilt and orient them, thus making the most of their exposure to the sun.

This installation is perfect for flat roofs or those that do not have an ideal slope. It is suitable for both old and new constructions. In addition, it does not affect ventilation or waterproofing in any way. 

Facade integration

Here, the technique consists of replacing part of your facade with solar panels. This is ideal for buildings that have more area on their height than their width. However, there is a loss of yield due to the poor inclination to the sun.

Canopy on the facade

Thanks to this solution, you will not touch your house directly, the panels will be in the extension of the building. It also offers ideal performance since the solar panels can be tilted between 30 and 50°.

On the ground

If your roof is not ideal for the installation and you have a large enough plot, you can opt for this technique. Arranged on feet, you can tilt them again to benefit from the best performance.

The installation of solar panels and their maintenance is facilitated since they are at hand. However, bear in mind that a foundation must be created in the ground to anchor the panel supports.

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