So how do you find the best solar panels for your money? There are certain specifications you should use when evaluating your solar panel options, such as power output, efficiency, or even temperature coefficient. It’s not always clear from the get-go. “Best” will mean different things to different people. However, for the most part, people care about efficiency and long lifespan.
Perhaps you want something that gives you the best value for money.
We applied our own experience and expertise in solar panels to bring you handpicked recommendations of the best solar panels for your money.
What to Consider When Looking for the Best Solar Panels for the Money
But before that, we’ll give you a quick overview of the factors we considered before picking the best solar panels for you.
i) Cost Per Watt
Panels come in different sizes and shapes. Full-size panels provide around 250 to 400W of power, although you’ll find smaller panels for off-grid applications (such as RVing and boating)
The most important thing to consider is the cost per watt. Simply divide the panel’s price with the power output in watts. This will give you the true pricing number, which can be used to provide a comparison of other panels.
The efficiency rating of a solar panel refers to the amount of sunlight that it can convert into useful energy. To be considered deficient, the solar panels should be able to convert at least 14 to 20% of the sun’s energy.
As a general rule, monocrystalline cells are the most efficient technology that money can buy. You can also settle for polycrystalline and amorphous cells that are more affordable but less efficient.
iii) Temperature Coefficient
Most solar panels perform best when kept in climate-controlled situations. This isn’t always the case, especially when you’re going off-grid. Depending on how far off your climate conditions are, your system will lag behind its rated efficiency.
The impact of temperature on the panel output is measured with the temperature coefficient. It measures how much efficiency is lost for each degree above or below ideal test conditions. For the most part, the temperature coefficient isn’t the most important variable to focus on unless you live in an area that is very hot (or cold).
The 4 Best Solar Panels for the Money
Let’s go ahead and take a look at our top picks for the best solar panels for the money.
1. Zamp Solar Legacy Series
If you’re always on the go and need something to keep your equipment fully charged up, then this easy-to-use kit by Zamp Solar ticks all the right boxes. This product has been made in the USA and comes with a 25-year warranty, making it one of the best choices for outdoor use.
More importantly, Zamp allows you to use the solar kit right out of the gate without any installation required. So if you’re not in the mood to read confusing manuals or watch tiring YouTube videos, this product could be your solution.
The Zamp also comes with kickstand legs that you can tilt up to an angle of 45 degrees, giving you freedom on how you arrange your panels and receive the most amount of sunlight possible. The system also comes with a solar charge controller, giving you the ability to view the status of your panels and their power output.
- Easily set up
- No installation required
- Sturdy, high-quality construction made in the USA
- Can be a bit heavy
2. Go Power! Folding Solar Power Kit
Go Power! is a very well-respected brand when it comes to solar panels. Their folding solar power kit is a great product for people looking who are always on the go. The monocrystalline panels are very efficient and can be propped up with the help of durable legs that you can rotate to receive the most amount of sunlight.
Go Power! panels can be folded into a protective carrying case if you decide not to use them. Like Zamp solar panels, this kit is quick and easy to set up. It also comes with an impressive 25-year solar panel warranty to protect your investment.
- Can be folded into a carrying case for protection
- Quick and easy to set up
- Monocrystalline technology that is more efficient than amorphous
- You may need to buy a longer extension cable to camp out in an area that is further away from the sun
3. ECO WORTHY 200W
This solar panel kit by Eco Worthy is well built and will serve you well at this price point. As the name suggests, these panels are capable of a power output of around 200W. They can be folded together to look like a suitcase when not in use, so you can carry them around with ease.
Like the above two solar panel kits, this product is also easy to set up and start using. Simply open the panel, prop it up, attach it to your external battery system, and it starts to work. The provided charge controller makes the whole process stress-free.
- It delivers consistent power even when the sunlight is not as strong
- The panel is very cost-effective
- Connecting cable to the panel is very short. You may have to buy another cable
4. Renogy Solar 50W Eclipse Lightweight Suitcase
This solar panel system by Renogy packs a lot of punch at just over 12 pounds. Its tiny dimensions at 24 by 22 by 2 inches let you sneak the system anywhere you go.
More importantly, it comes with a convenient kickstand that can be set up on any surface to absorb as much sunlight as possible. The highly efficient monocrystalline cells are protected with a sturdy dark frame, while the corners provide further protection to the panel from bumps during your travels.
This portable solar panel may look small, but it is very reliable in outdoor areas, such as camping, boating, or anywhere else the sun shines.
- Sturdy, well designed, and cost-efficient
- You will get continued access to power
- The charge controllers have an operating temperature of -30°C to 55°C, so the solar panel kit may not be able to withstand extreme conditions.
Our Final Thoughts
The Zamp Solar Legacy Series is our top pick for the best solar panels you can buy right now. They are portable, durable, sturdy, and highly efficient. You won’t have to skimp out on using any of your devices when on the go.
What do you think we missed in our review of the best solar panels for the money? Do send in your comments below. We would love to hear back from you!