Mini Solar Panels: The Top 5 Reviews & Buyer’s Guide 2020

Mini Solar Panels
Mini Solar Panels

Solar energy is a renewable resource that many have come to utilize in their daily lives in some way or another. Mini solar panels are used when full-sized panels are not necessary or may be impractical. Solar energy can reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, save a homeowner money, and improve the lives of the user with its many uses.

Mini Solar Panel Uses

Miniature solar panels offer one huge advantage over the traditional solar panels that are often seen on roofs, and that is versatility. They have the ability to be easily packed and taken anywhere. Mini solar panels provide an excellent source of power for smaller devices that do not require a great deal of energy. When a device’s battery dies, and there is no outlet nearby, a mini solar panel is a perfect answer. They are also great for powering LED lights.

Solar energy can be used for fun projects as well. Many toys can operate on solar power; most commonly a toy car. Many school children will use solar panels in their science projects too. There are even ways to create an outdoor oven using mini solar panels in conjunction with a few other common household items.

Mini solar panels, however, are not without their limitations. When a larger device needs charged the mini solar panel would not be sufficient enough to generate the power needed. They will need to work with a battery or charge controller in order charge the device.

How to Choose the Right Mini Solar Panel

Choosing the right solar panel depends on a few factors. One of the biggest is what the solar panel is needed or wanted for. Not all solar panels have the same efficiency rate and produce the same output. It will also depend on if it will need to be used alongside other devices (such as a charge controller) or if it can work alone, as some mini solar panels will have the necessary connectors. This will ensure all the needed components will be readily available once the panels are ready to be used.

  • Effectiveness
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    Intended use
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    Power the device needs
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    Durability

Understanding what power output in the solar panel is suitable stems from knowing what voltage a battery needs in order to charge. Most mini solar panels are suitable for charging a cell phone, tablet, and laptops just as they are. However, others will need to be connected to at least one more solar panel in order to create more power.

Lastly, how durable is the mini solar panel? This circles back to what the intended use of the panel is for. If it will be used indoors versus outdoors, it does not need to be highly durable. Outdoor panels will experience the weather and will need to be able to withstand rain, wind, snow, and high temperatures. It also depends on if the panel will primarily be stationary and not taken on travels, it does not need to be highly durable. Solar panels that are used for outdoor activities such as camping will need to be durable. The durability of a mini solar panel is determined by the type of materials it is made out of and if it is weatherproof.

The Top 5 Mini Solar Panels

Just like traditional solar panels, mini solar panels come in a wide variety of types. Some panels may be able to be used indoors while others may serve no indoor function at all. Mini solar panels are known for their portability and versatility. Below are some of the best mini solar panels on the market:

The ALLPOWERS Mini Portable Solar Panel is a perfect way to keep vehicle batteries from dying when traveling. It has a built-in blocking diode that will prevent reverse discharge from occurring, for reliable and efficient use. The panel creates ten watts of energy and has an output of 550mAh. The panel is also semi-waterproof. It will withstand light rain but not much more. This is ideal for cars, motorcycles, tractors, and even snowmobiles.

Mini Solar Panels

Price

$30

Product Dimensions

Panel is 12.9 inches in length, 9.5 inches in width, and 0.2 inches in depth

Pros

  • Has an 18-month warranty
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    Higher efficiency with the monocrystalline solar panel
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    Constructed out of ABS plastic for durability
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    Maintenance-free
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    Comes with four suction cups, a battery charging power cord, alligator clips, and a car cigarette charger power cord
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    Lightweight and portable
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    Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Only works as a battery maintainer

The Sunnytech Mini Solar Panel is a great, little addition to a home or workshop. It is excellent for charging small, DC batteries for various types of solar projects. It can power LED lights, radios, and toys. Panels can be added to increase surface area to create a small array, generating more solar power. Each panel has ten solar cells and collects sunlight, converting it into energy. It creates up to 1.25 watts with an output of 250mA. It has black and red alligator clips that are attached to three-foot-long wires. The panel has a blocking diode to prevent overcharging as well.

Mini Solar Panels

Price

$10

Product Dimensions

Panel is 4.6 inches in length, 4.6 inches in width

Pros

  • Ability to add more panels
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    Perfect for educational purposes
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    Can withstand humidity
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    Pre-drilled holes on the back for easy installation
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    Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Not as efficient on cloudy days

The ECOWORTHY 5W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel is yet another great mini solar panel on the market, although it is a bit bigger than most. It can be added to a home solar panel system or be used alone. The panel can be applied to several different DC appliances and is perfect for charging 12V batteries. The corrosion-resistant, aluminum frame adds durability and longevity to the panel for a long lifespan, even with daily, outdoor use. Each cell in the panel is A-grade for increased efficiency as well.

Mini Solar Panels

Price

$16

Product Dimensions

Panel is ten inches in length, 7.6 inches in width, 0.6 inches in depth

Pros

  • Portable for various outdoor activities
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    Has a five-year material and workmanship warranty (with proof of purchase)
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    Has a 25-year transferable power output warranty
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    Can withstand water, wind, and snow
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    20-year expected lifespan
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    Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Not for indoor use
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    Will need a charge controller depending on the project

The Aochike Micro Mini Solar Cells may not be a “panel,” but they are perfect for creating solar panels for do-it-yourself solar projects. The cells have a high conversion rate making them quite efficient for their size. The grey side of the solar cell is positively charged while the blue side is negatively charged. The output power and voltage can be changed depending on how the cells are connected: in a series connection, parallel connection, or combined connection. The individual cells can create up to 0.2 watts with an output of 0.4a. The cells are perfect for toys, gardens, charging small devices and batteries, educational purposes, and for various hobbies.

Mini Solar Panels

Price

$16

Product Dimensions

Cells are 2.5 inches in length, 0.75 inches in width

Pros

  • Comes in a set of 100 cells
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    Versatile and portable
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    Has around 17% efficiency
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    Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Are very fragile and can be easily broken

The ALLPOWERS 2 Piece Mini Solar Panels are encapsulated with epoxy which gives them a longer service life and higher efficiency. The surface is UV treated and constructed with a weatherproof printed circuit board. The solar panels are perfect for do-it-yourself projects and are highly versatile. They have a conversion rate of 17% and can generate a current of 500mAh. The mini solar panels are great for charging devices, powering small motors, toys, science projects, and more.

Mini Solar Panels

Price

$17

Product Dimensions

Panels are 5.9 inches in length, 5.1 inches in width

Pros

  • Comes with two mini solar panels
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    Has a five-volt output and can generate up to 2.5 watts
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    Comes with a protective film
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    Has a stylish design
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    Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Is a part of a kit that is sold separately
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    Comes with no wires for the positive and negative leads

How Solar Panels Operate

Solar power is renewable energy that can be continuously harnessed without running out. How is this done specifically? The solar cells within a panel with only capture certain types of solar radiation wavelengths. The captured wavelengths will then be converted into usable electricity. This is done when photons and electrons react to one another in the solar cell. Light rays are the photons which collide with the electrons. This causes the electrons to become loose, becoming captured and converted into the energy used to run devices.

Traditional solar panels will typically run as efficiently during cloudy days as it does on sunny days. Mini solar panels are mostly polycrystalline, a less efficient type of solar panel that will need direct sunlight to operate at its best. Solar panels are made from a form of silicone. They will either be a monocrystalline or polycrystalline panel. What makes the two different is the purity of silicone in each. Polycrystalline solar panels have a lower silicon purity which makes them less efficient. Mini solar panels do not necessarily need to be monocrystalline to be efficient because of their smaller size. While overcast days may interrupt the mini panel’s ability to operate at maximum, they can run just as efficiently as monocrystalline panels for charging small devices.

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