Solar Power Blog
Solar Suitcases: Foldable, Renewable, & Free Electricity
Solar suitcases, sometimes referred to as solar briefcases, allow you to access free solar energy from any location. The compact and portable design of solar suitcases makes them easy to transport and a breeze to set up. Don’t worry, their smaller size doesn’t mean they won’t deliver all the power you need to charge your electronic devices or run small appliances.
Here at Solar-us-shop.com, we’ve compiled this complete guide to solar suitcases so that our readers and customers can find what works best for them. Whether you’re looking for some extra power on your next camping or RV trip or wanting to prepare for any unexpected power outages, we’ll lead you through all the pros, cons, and potential uses for solar suitcase panels. Let’s jump right in so you can learn if solar suitcases are right for you.
What are Solar Suitcases?
A solar suitcase is essentially a portable and packable solar panel, which when folded resembles the shape of a suitcase. By harnessing solar energy from the sun, they offer easy and reliable energy. They usually feature a convenient handle for easy transportation and are designed to be used in situations where conventional power is not available. Other names for solar suitcases include:
- Solar panel suitcase
- Solar briefcase
- Portable solar panel
- Portable solar charger
- Foldable solar panels
- Folding solar panels
- And more
Best Uses for Solar Suitcases
While there are many ways that solar suitcases can be utilized, we’ve outlined some of the most common applications. As long as you have access to sunlight, you can count on your solar suitcase to provide the power. Here are a few of the best uses for solar suitcases.
Boats, RV’s, & Vanlife
Having an adequate supply of electricity to charge phones, laptops, or to power lights is crucial when spending time off-grid in your RV, van, or boat. For those who don’t have solar systems already installed on their vehicle, solar suitcases can be a space-saving and cost-effective way to keep your batteries charged.
Most solar suitcases can fold up into easily storable sizes, so they won’t take up much room when overall space is limited. Since they are not designed to be permanently mounted on RVs, Vans, or Boats, they won’t provide power while moving. However, due to their convenient size, they can then be quickly unpacked, set up, and maneuvered to soak up the maximum amount of sunlight. By choosing solar suitcases, you’ll never be without power, even when your journey takes you far from civilization.
Camping, Tailgates, & Festivals
A solar suitcase may not be ideal for long backpacking trips, but they can be perfect for car camping, tailgating, festivals, and other outdoor events. In these situations where you’ll most likely be away from conventional power sources, your solar briefcase can keep your batteries and power stations charged.
This means you’ll have continuous power for your mobile devices, tablets, laptops, speakers, or other electronic accessories no matter the duration.
Solar suitcases, and solar energy in general, are very unobtrusive methods of energy generation. With no large or noisy components, you won’t disturb others who may be in the vicinity. Compared to loud gas generators which also produce fumes, fellow campers, tailgaters, and festival attendees will appreciate the subtlety. Not to mention, they also have a more pleasant overall appearance.
You never know when you might be faced with a blackout or other emergency situation. Having a backup energy system is always a smart and responsible idea. Solar suitcases can help alleviate some of the stress brought on by unexpected situations.
While solar suitcases won’t provide enough electricity to fully power your home, they can keep your spare 12V batteries charged so you can continue to use your mobile phone, computer, or medical devices. In today's world, having consistent access to power helps you stay safe and remain in communication with others during periods of uncertainty.
Unlike gas generators, you won’t have to add fuel to maintain power. Solar suitcases only require sunlight, which is a free and renewable energy source. You also won’t have to deal with any costly repairs or regular maintenance. For the times when emergency electricity isn't needed, these compact solar panels can be folded and stored with no issue.
Pros & Cons of Solar Suitcases
In the case of solar suitcases, the positives seem to outweigh the negatives. Solar energy is a growing market, and choosing to invest in a portable solar suitcase can be a great introduction to the world of solar power. That being said, we’ve outlined some of the major pros and cons of solar suitcases so you can make an informed decision.
- Cost-effective - provides free energy from the sun
- An environmentally friendly energy source
- Portable, compact, and easy to store
- Quiet and inconspicuous
- Durable and long-lasting
- Power output dependent on sunlight conditions
- Additional equipment usually necessary (battery, inverter, charge controller)
- More than one panel may be required to power larger appliances
How Does a Solar Suitcase Work?
Solar suitcases operate essentially in the same way as standard home solar panels. The solar panels themselves are positioned to absorb direct sunlight, which is then converted into DC electricity.
Next, the charge controller sends that electricity to the battery, regulating the flow and preventing overcharging. The battery can then store the electricity for later use. 12V batteries are most commonly used with solar suitcases.
Finally, the inverter allows for the DC to be converted to usable AC, so you can utilize the generated electricity to power your devices and appliances. Solar suitcases require no outside power source, so they can operate independently from an electrical grid.
You can find more in-depth information on the different components of solar suitcase kits in this helpful article.
What Can a Solar Suitcase Power?
Depending on your total battery capacity and inverter size, solar panels can power basically anything that runs on electricity. However, considering that individual solar suitcases are limited in their size and wattage output, they are only able to generate a limited amount of power per day.
That doesn’t mean that solar suitcases can’t get the job done. Even compact solar suitcases can provide enough electricity to power items such as:
- Mobile phones
- Wi-Fi routers
- Lamps and lighting
- Medical devices
What is the Best Solar Suitcase?
There are a ton of great solar suitcase options on the market today, each offering their own unique benefits. While it’s tough to narrow it down and decide on the best solar suitcase, we’ve chosen the Nature Power 120 Watt and the Nature Power 80 Watt Solar Suitcases as our top picks.
The appealing design, power output, durability, and included charge controller are a few of the reasons why we chose these models.
Nature Power 120 Watt Monocrystalline Suitcase Solar Panels
The Nature Power 120 Watt Monocrystalline Suitcase Solar Panel is an aesthetically appealing and powerful solar suitcase. With closed dimensions measuring only 21” x 3.07” x 32.8”, and weighing only 26.5 pounds, this is a highly portable option that can provide enough power for all your electronic necessities.
The monocrystalline solar panel allows for higher efficiency and gives this solar suitcase a long and dependable lifespan. Ideal for RVs, boats, outdoor events, or even for extra power at job sites, you won’t be disappointed with this stand out model.
The weather-resistant construction keeps the 120 Watt solar suitcase functioning even in harsh conditions and protects it from damage caused by water or wind. The fold-out legs let you adjust the panel to the optimal position for direct sunlight intake. For the times when conditions are too rough, or power is no longer needed, you can simply fold the solar suitcase in half and tuck it away for another time.
Nature Power 80 Watt Monocrystalline Suitcase Solar Panel
Similar in many ways to the 120 Watt Monocrystalline option, the Nature Power 80 Watt Monocrystalline Suitcase Solar Panel has some of its own benefits. First off, this solar suitcase is even more compact. Measuring just 20.7” x 2.6” x 21.6”, you’ll save even more space when storing and setting up this panel.
With a weight of 18 pounds, it is even lighter to carry and transport when on the go. This smaller size leads to a lower price point, saving you money.
While not quite as powerful as the 120 Watt option from Nature Power, this 80 Watt solar panel suitcase can still charge devices or provide much needed backup lighting when the situation calls for it. Weather-resistant and maintenance-free, this solar suitcase features a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, so you can feel confident with your purchase. One of the best features of both the Nature Power 120 Watt Solar Suitcase and the Nature Power 80 Watt Solar Suitcase is the included charge controller.
The removable charge controller comes attached to the back of the panels and provides a steady and reliable flow of current to the battery. By eliminating the need to purchase a separate charge controller, these Nature Power Suitcase Solar Panels help reduce overall costs.
Whether you’re searching for an answer to dead phones and low batteries when on the road or off the grid, or wanting to have a backup power supply in an emergency, solar suitcases can provide the solution to all of your portable energy problems. Now that we’ve covered the basics, hopefully, you’ve learned more about the pros and cons of solar suitcase panels and the ways they can best be utilized.For more information on solar suitcases and other solar energy products, please feel free to visit us at Solar-us-shop.com.