List of Mini Solar Panels That Have an Outlet

There are few manufacturers that produce true mini solar-power panels that can provide the relatively high energy needed and that can be conveniently transported with you on your outdoor adventures.

Solar4Power

Some commercially produced mini solar panels are as small as the palm of your hand, but most lack the power to warrant the use of electrical outlets.Some commercially produced mini solar panels are as small as the palm of your hand, but most lack the power to warrant the use of electrical outlets.
True mini solar panels can't meet the needs of those appliances that run on 120 volts to operate. Most mini solar panels charge batteries, both AC and DC, while others siphon enough juice directly from the panel to recharge those batteries. Still others come with as many as eight different adapters, but the bottom line with most mini-panels is that solar energy is insufficient to power little more than your phone, or recharge your laptop or other small portable device that uses USB cords, principally, to get its power.

Solar4Power makes a number of different sized mini-panels that are supplied by Advanced Energy Group. They call them mini, but compact might be a better description when compared to the wallet-sized mini-panels on the market. At a maximum output capacity of 2000 watts, it makes the top-end unit the most powerful mini-panel. It charges a battery that is capable of handling either 120-volt AC or 12-volt DC loads and has standard receptacles. Its retractable handles and wheeled base make it extremely mobile. Typically, you can run 100 watt loads from the battery alone for about 8 hours, and much higher loads for shorter periods of usually about an hour. The battery is also chargeable via home outlet or car battery if you want to fully charge it before setting off on your trip. Along with all that power comes one of the steepest price tags among mini-solar panels, at nearly $1,800. Oddly enough, the unit itself has no specific name or part number, but is available through the company website.

Brunton 26 Watt Foldable Solar Array

This 26-watt solar panel folds up and when open is the size of a sheet of paper and one-inch thick. It weighs only 28 ounces. The panels have cords to interconnect more than one panel. Single panels alone are sufficient to run iPods, MP3 players, cellular phones and GPS tracking units. However, the receptacles are limiting and will require an adapter if you want to plug equipment into an outlet like those in the walls of your home. The unit offers one set of cables with clamps, much like you would attach to the posts of a car battery, and another female receptacle much like a cigarette lighter you would find in a car. If the type of outlet you seek is a regular two- or three-prong AC receptacle, you can purchase an adapter for the lighter cable at a local Radio Shack or electronics store for about $30 or less to make the cigarette style outlet more functional. A single panel will charge your laptop or other battery-rechargeable electronics, but the adapter and second panel is recommended to run the laptop real-time while charging, or if you want to use a satellite phone or other units that require more power than a single panel can deliver.

Powertraveler Powermonkey-eXplorer

The powermonkey-eXplorer's slim bifold solar panel connects to a separate compact battery pack. This is one of only a very few true mini solar panels that in addition to nine USB charging tips (for its cable for laptop and iPod and playthings) offers 110-volt and 240-volt outlets with adapters for travel overseas. It can be charged by sunlight, plugged into a wall outlet or from other charged battery-powered units via USB. The manufacturer recommends that the battery remains charged at all times. It has indicators to tell you when it's fully charged and running low of electricity, and and has built-in protections against over-charging and over-spending its available power. The unit lists for $130 but can be found slightly cheaper online.

About the Author

Chuck Ayers began writing professionally in 1982, breathing life into obituaries, becoming a political and investigative reporter at a major East Coast metropolitan newspaper. He now freelances and is a California communications and political consultant. He graduated from American University, Washington, D.C., with degrees in political science and economics.