Yesterday I reviewed the Rockpals 300W Portable Power Station, finding it to be an efficient and convenient way to keep your devices charged while living off the grid. In that article, I also mentioned that the company had sent me one of its 100W Solar Panels to test as well.
I was so impressed by what it brought to the table that it deserved its own review. As promised, here are my thoughts on that product, which offers quite a bit of features and functionality in a relatively compact design.
On the surface, the Rockpals solar panel looks a lot like most other solar panels designed for use in the outdoors that are currently on the market. In fact, it even resembles the Jackery 60W model that I reviewed last week.
As you dig a little deeper, you start to see a few really nice touches on the Rockpals version that helps to set it apart from the crowd.
For instance, the device ships with all of the cables and adapters you need to make it work with virtually any portable power station on the market, including ones made by Jackery, Goal Zero, Suaoki, and others.
It’s true that many of those models use a standard plug to connect to a solar panel, but others use a non-standard adapter instead. Either way, you’re probably well covered with this model.
100 Watts of Pure Solar Goodness
As with most portable solar panels, the Rockpals 100W folds out to reveal four large, independent photovoltaic cells that are used to collect energy from the sun. As the name implies, the unit is capable of generating as much as 100 watts of power using solar energy alone.
If you’ve ever used a solar panel like this one before, you know that achieving those levels of power are fairly challenging, with variables such as cloud cover, the position of the sun, and the amount of direct sunlight available all playing a role.
That said, on a clear day with plenty of sunshine, the unit does produce a steady stream of power that can recharge USB battery packs and portable power stations at a surprisingly fast clip.
In order to do that however, Rockpals had to use larger solar panels, which means this model is a bit larger and heavier than some of the others I’ve tested. It weighs in at 10.8 pounds (4.9 kg) and measures 20.5×14.2×2.6 inches (52x36x6.6 cm) when folded up.
That means that this particular solar panel won’t fit into a backpack for instance, which could limit its portability to a degree. A built-in handle does make it easy to carry, and for base camp situations it is ideal, but you probably aren’t going to take it with you when traveling just anywhere.
Three USB Ports
One of my favorite features of this solar panel is that it comes with three standard USB ports built directly into its controller. One of those is even a Quick Charge 3.0 port as well. This makes it easy to plug smartphones, tablets, or even smaller battery packs directly into the solar panel without the need for a larger power station at all.
This is a really handy feature to have and as you can probably imagine, under the right circumstances, a solar panel this large can charge small devices extremely quickly.
Rockpals has even baked in some throttle controls to ensure that the solar panel can automatically detect the kind of device plugged into these USB ports and limit the amount of power being sent to them appropriately.
On the one hand, the Rockpals version has the ability to generate more power and is versatile enough to be used with almost any type of power station on the market. It also has those three built-in USB ports as well, which Jackery’s solar panel lacks.
But, it is also larger and heavier than the Jackery model as well, which makes it a bit more challenging to travel with. For those looking to travel light and fast, Jackery’s solar charger is a much more viable option.
From a price stand point, Rockpals offers a lot of bang for the buck.
Their unit costs just $199.90, while Jackery’s is priced just a little less at $179.99, even though it produces less power and doesn’t have the USB ports.
Still, there is something to be said about portability and the smaller, lighter Jackery solar panel will definitely appeal to a lot of travelers, although they’ll need a compatible power station to take advantage of it.
If you’re looking for more versatility and out-of-the-box features, the Rockpals is the clear winner. It can be used with more devices and battery packs, can generate up to 40 watts more power, and it is better suited for use in situations where you need to keep a variety of things charged.
The fact that it is only $20 more is also an attractive selling point.
Find out more about the Rockpals 100W Solar Panel on the company’s official website.
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