A portable, foldable solar suitcase from Renogy is an excellent solution for those who need a compact solar solution on the go. Our premium solar products harness the power of the sun to deliver a substantial energy boost wherever your adventure takes you.
Choosing the right panel is critical for ensuring that your electrical needs are met, so let’s explore how to choose the correct solar suitcase.
What Is a Solar Suitcase?
Solar suitcases are a portable solar power solution. Made from the same premium solar cells and materials as our fixed-position solar panels, the solar suitcase folds in half and stows away in a carrying case for ease of transport. Portable folding solar suitcases make it easy to bring electricity to a primitive campsite or out in the boondocks. This allows them to fit easily in the trunk of your car, on the back of a motorcycle, or tucked away inside an RV.
The benefits of a solar suitcase are easy to see. The device:
- Provides a free, renewable, and portable power source
- Works with lithium, gel, or lead-acid deep cycle batteries
- Has a foldable design and portability so that you can bring it everywhere
- Features high-quality and long-lasting solar panel technology, so your suitcase can provide power for decades
- Provides incredible versatility
The portability of a solar suitcase means more than just convenience, though. Since you can reposition them to face the sun, they can produce more power throughout the day than a fixed position panel. You can also keep your vehicle parked in the shade to stay cool while your solar suitcase sits in the sun.
How Does a Portable Solar Suitcase Work?
A solar suitcase produces energy from sunlight via the photoelectric effect at the most basic level. As electromagnetic radiation from the sun hits a solar panel, electrons are released from the photons striking the panel, producing an electric current. This current is transferred from the solar panels through one of our solar charge controllers and ultimately to your batteries.
The setup process for solar suitcases is simple. Simply position the panel facing the sun and adjust the angle with the integrated tilt stands. For a solar suitcase with a built-in charge controller, connect the alligator clips directly to the positive and negative terminals on your 12V battery. A suitcase without a charge controller comes with standard MC4 connectors to connect to your charge controller, which in turn connects to your battery. That’s it! Your suitcase should begin supplying power to your battery bank immediately.
The Three Phases of Battery Charging
Our solar suitcases that come with a built-in charge controller charge your battery in three phases to ensure rapid absorption and battery longevity.
The initial phase rapidly charges your batteries with the full amount of power from your solar suitcase. This phase quickly charges your batteries from a low state of charge.
The second phase of battery charging, the absorption phase, provides a constant voltage to your batteries after they have reached about 80% charge. This prevents your batteries from overheating during the last percentages of charging.
This last charging phase provides the minimum amount of power required to keep your batteries “floating” at 100%. This prevents damage that can result from overcharging your batteries and is an essential safety feature.
Lithium iron phosphate batteries don’t necessarily need an absorption phase for charging, so make sure to set your charge controller to the correct battery type for maximum efficiency.
What Do I Need a Foldable Solar Suitcase For?
A solar suitcase produces electrical power in locations where you can’t hook up to an electrical outlet. They can be used at primitive campsites, car camping off-the-grid, or to recharge the house batteries in your boat or RV. Even if you have fixed panels producing power, a portable solar solution can give you an extra boost of energy at shaded sites, during short winter days, or when the angle of the sun means your fixed panels aren’t working at maximum capacity.
Just like traditional solar panels, you can leave your solar suitcase exposed to the elements without worrying about damage to the components. Our solar suitcases are built with durable, corrosion-resistant aluminium, reinforced corners, IP65 waterproof rated junction boxes, and IP67 waterproof cable connections. When you’re ready to move on, they quickly collapse to a stowable size and are easy to carry with the built-in heavy-duty handle.
Since solar suitcases aren’t built into any particular system but are rather a plug-and-play component, they can be a useful tool for somebody with varied electrical needs.
Versatility is perhaps the single essential feature of a solar suitcase. You can bring it on your motorhome vacation around the country, disconnect it and use it to charge your boat battery, then disconnect it again and take it camping with you. They can be used as a sole power source or an additional power boost to an existing electrical system.
How Much Does a Foldable Solar Suitcase Cost?
Renogy provides a range of foldable solar suitcase panels and typically cost between £399.99 and £199.99. Keep an eye on our sales page, though. We regularly offer discounts on most of our products! The price of a solar suitcase depends on a couple of key factors:
- Built-in technologies
- Quality of materials
Wattage is the most important metric to determine a solar suitcase’s value. A Renogy 100-watt 12 volt monocrystalline foldable solar suitcase provides half the power of a 200-watt solar suitcase variant and typically costs about half as much.
Technologies such as built-in solar charge controllers can also add to the price of a panel. They provide overcharge protection and advanced charging algorithms to promote battery longevity. A built-in charge controller means you can connect your solar suitcase directly to your batteries without any additional purchases required to function. If you already have a solar charge controller, we offer panels without this feature to reduce the price and fit your needs.
Lastly, the quality of materials plays a significant factor. Renogy solar products use only premium monocrystalline solar panels for our solar suitcases. Monocrystalline panels are more energy-efficient and longer-lasting than other materials. They also perform better in extreme temperatures and weather conditions compared to the older polycrystalline solar panels. While polycrystalline panels may come at a lower price, they lack the performance of newer panel technology.
What Size Solar Suitcase Do I Need?
The first step in deciding which solar suitcase best suits your needs is calculating your expected energy consumption. This can be a bit of a tricky endeavor, so we’ve created a handy solar panel calculator designed to help you determine what size panel you need. At Renogy, we offer premium monocrystalline solar suitcases in 100-watt and 200-watt models.
A 100-watt 12-volt panel working in perfect conditions will produce 8.33 amps per hour in a 12-volt battery system. However, conditions vary, and it’s unlikely that your solar panels will work at peak efficiency for all of the daylight hours. Cloud cover, temperature, and the sun’s angle all contribute to whether it will be able to function at its best.
As a general rule of thumb, you should size your solar suitcase to provide two watts for each amp-hour of battery you want to produce in a day, provided you leave the panel in the sunlight for its entire duration. Oversizing your solar suitcase is often a good idea since you can charge your battery banks in a much shorter period. Having an oversized system also means that you’ll be producing more power in the winter months and during overcast days.
Need more than 200 watts for your system? Our solar suitcases are built with expansion in mind. You can link as many of our solar suitcases together as required to meet your solar power needs, provided your solar charge controller can handle the additional charge.
Solar Suitcase Use Cases in the UK
The famously overcast weather patterns in the United Kingdom don’t mean solar power is an inefficient energy source in this country. Solar panels produce energy from daylight, not necessarily direct sunlight. Advancing solar technologies have made solar panels more efficient at producing energy from diffuse light sources, such as sunlight scattered by cloud cover.
There’s a variety of solar suitcase use cases in the UK, including:
- A renewable power source for your motorhome
- Providing energy to your campsite
- Charging your electronic devices when traveling away from traditional power sources
- A carbon-free solution for anyone who needs power off the grid
With portable solar power, the use cases for free energy are endless.
Portable Foldable Solar Suitcases: A Powerful Solar Solution
Renogy is committed to creating outstanding quality renewable energy products at great prices. Anytime you need a reliable power source on the go, Renogy’s portable solar suitcases can meet your needs. Check out our sales page to see what deals we’ve got running on solar suitcases, or explore other great products like powerful AC/DC inverters and affordable solar panel kits. Join us in the solar revolution.