Portable solar panels in the 100 Watt range have dominated the market recently. With many use-cases around a typical lifestyle outdoors to in your home, solar panels can really save you money and put you on a path towards helping the grid achieve 24/7 clean energy. In this definitive guide by our solar experts, we put together reviews of best 100-watt solar panels, what to look out for when buying solar panels, FAQs, and much more.
Best 100 Watt Solar Panels: Top 3 Expert Picks
1. Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Monocrystalline Review
Renogy develops excellent solar panels that are reliable and backed by strong warranties. Based originally out of Louisiana, they are now a major player in the consumer solar panel industry. They have named Inc. 5000’s top 500 fastest growing companies – not an easy feat at all.
The major features are as follows:
- 25-year power output warranty
- 5-year material and workmanship warranty
- Module efficiency of 18.44%
- Easy to mount on the ground, rooftop, shed, RV, etc.
- Compatible with on-grid and off-grid converters
These Renogy panels have received immense praise from customers. They stand by their product with a world-class warranty of 25-years to 80% power output. The Renogy panels are highly-recommended by TheEnergyFix.
Note: Renogy also makes flexible solar panels, if flexibility is a requirement in your application.
- 【Reliable】Advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet laminations enhance cell...
- 【Durable】 positive output tolerance (0-3%); withstands high winds (2400Pa) and snow loads...
2. HQST 100W Polycrystalline Solar Panel Review
HQST (High-Quality Solar Technology), a highly-rated solar panel producer, has developed one of the most affordable 100W panels on the market for consumer applications.
The features are as follows:
- 25-year power output warranty
- 5-year material and workmanship warranty
- Anti-reflective and tempered glass on top of solar cells for protection and highest production potential
- Waterproof electric junction box on the backside of the panel
- Rooftop or ground mount possibilities – predrilled holes
- Dimensions: 35.6 x 25.8 x 1.4 inches
- Weight: 16.5 pounds
The use-cases for HQST 100W solar panels are off-grid and on-grid. The best use-cases are for RV, camping, and small home appliances. As compared to the Renogy, the HQST has the same warranty and basic functions. The only difference is Monocrsyaline in the Renogy vs Polycrystalline in the HQST.
- High module conversion efficiency. Ideal output: 500Wh per day (depending on the availability of...
- Monocrystalline panels come with high-efficiency solar cells that help increase space efficiency....
3. ACOPOWER 100W Solar Panel Review
This all-black aesthetically pleasing solar panel is one of a kind. Typical solar panels are bulky and do not always look the best when mounted on your camper, RV, or even rooftop. The ACOPOWER solar panel not only looks good but performs well.
The major features are as follows:
- 20-years power output warranty
- 5-years workmanship warranty
- Based in California, U.S
- Anti-reflective, high-transparency, tempered glass for excellent protection
- Monocrystalline solar cells
- Weight: 20.9 pounds
- Dimensions: 40.2 x 26.4 x 1.4 inches
The major difference between the ACOPOWER and the Renogy and HQST is the 5-years less power output warranty. ACOPOWER provides a 20-year warranty. However, they are a U.S. based company out of Los Angeles, CA and so a good choice if you want to buy local. However, keep in mind though, while the company may be based in LA, the solar cells are usually manufactured overseas in China. China is the hub for solar cell manufacturing and ensures the cheapest cost of goods for these brands. The ACOPOWER is also heavier at 20.9 pounds compared to 16.5 lbs of the HQST.
This panel looks amazing so if looks are of importance go with this. If performance is important, go with the Renogy.
- Monocrystalline modules provide for the highest efficiency rate. This 100w mono solar panel provides...
- Advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet minimizations enhances cell performance and...
Buying Guide for 100 Watt Solar Panels
Here are major factors to take into consideration when buying solar panels.
1. Wattage Rating
The most important consideration for all users will be the wattage rating. The wattage is written on the product’s website, specification, or a quote from an installer is the most ideal rating in the case the sun shines perfectly. In reality, the actual wattage will be lower.
Expert note: Wattage (P) is determined by the multiplication of optimum current (I) and optimum voltage (V), i.e., P = I * V. If the sun shines for 3 hours, and you have a 300W solar panel, then the math is: 3 hours x 300 Watts = 900 watt-hours or 900 Wh of energy produced.
To understand if this is enough energy, you need to add up all the appliance’s power rating. For example, an LED lightbulb will consume 10 watts at any given time. If you decide to keep it on for 5 hours, it will consume 50 Wh. To charge an iPhone, it requires 10 Watts and about 2 hours; thus 20 Wh. You can continue adding these up for typical appliances, and understand whether the solar panel wattage against the amount of energy it produces is enough for your appliances. If not or very close, you will need another panel.
The dimensions of the solar panel are extremely important to consider based on your application. While we all want the smallest footprint, most solar panels in the 100W range will be at the typical range in size. That’s because, if you look closely at a solar panel, you will see that it is made up of many “blocks” or also known as solar cells. Solar cells are a certain size to generate a certain amount of power. Therefore by connecting cells together in series, a panel is built with an inherent length and width dimension.
Typical average sizes are as follows as a function of the wattage (W) rating:
|Power Rating (W)||# of Cells||Length||Width||Height|
|100W||36||47 inches||21 inches||1.4 inches|
|200W||–||62 inches||32 inches||1.4 inches|
|250W||60||64 inches||38 inches||1.85 inches|
|300W||60||77 inches||39 inches||1.97 inches|
|400W||–||79 inches||40 inches||2 inches|
You will see that overall as the wattage increases, the length, and width increase. This is because as stated, higher wattage means typically more solar cells in quantity or larger solar cells based on size. The height is based on the manufacturer’s choice on how to design their electrical wiring and metal mount that packages the cells. The height varies widely by manufacturer. It is usually expected that if you are mounting solar panels, the height is a non-issue because you need to place the panels in an open area with nothing on top of it in order to capture the sun’s energy.
The dimensions and number of cells vary widely by the manufacturer (check out this article on 60 vs 72 solar panels). Use this above chart for quick reference but always refer to the specification sheet for the solar panel you are buying to get exact dimensions.
Similar to dimensions, the weight will be primarily dependent on the type of materials used to build the mount, and somewhat on the number of cells. A single solar cell does not weigh much. Solar panels must be strong, able to withstand various types of wind and rain, and mountable on rooftops or other such places. The larger the weight, the more stable overall.
Check out the table below for typical weight ranges:
|Power Rating (W)||Weight|
As you can see from the table, the larger the wattage rating, the larger the weight. This is because the amount of solar cells increases significantly from 100W to 400W, and thus more mounting metal is needed to hold everything together.
Weight is important if your use-case requires constant movement of the panel (e.g., camping, hiking). However, if you plan to mount on your RV, home, car, etc., it may not be that relevant. Everything depends on the use-case!
Most solar panels range from 20-25% efficiency. In general, the higher the efficiency, the more proprietary the solar technology, and thus a higher price (again, in general). If you can get away with having the “average” efficiency in the market, you will save money. We recommend staying around the 20-22% efficiency range (in 2020) to get the best solar panel for your money.
Overall, solar efficiency is the measure of how much of the sun’s energy can be turned into usable watts. Therefore with a 20% efficiency, for example, 20% of the sun’s energy that hits the panels is turned into useable energy for your use-case. Researchers from around the world are constantly trying to increase solar cell efficiency. While some have been able to get high efficiency (i.e., 44.5%), it does not mean it’s always the cheapest to be mass-produced for everyday use.
We can collectively hope that one day there is a good balance of high efficiency, quality, and cheaper solar panels in the market.
5. Cost of Solar Panels
The price factors in all aspects from wattage rating, efficiency, dimensions, weight, etc. The cost of a solar panel is dictated by the market price of solar in units of $/watt. Therefore, the higher the wattage rating the more expensive the panel.
It may sometimes be more economical to purchase two 200W solar panels with higher efficiency ratings as opposed to one 400W panel with lower efficiency. The pricing may roughly come out to the same since it’s based on $/Watt, but the higher efficiency will result in more energy being produced.
FAQs about Solar Panels
What voltage do I need?
Most if not all solar panels output 12V or 24V direct current (DC) which are perfect to directly connect to devices, chargers, etc. to be powered. If you plan to use the solar panels for large appliances (e.g., microwave, HVAC, water heater), then you need alternating current (AC). This requires a DC to AC converter to be attached to the panel.
How many 100W panels can I install together?
As many as you want. Panels are set up to be integrated into series and in parallel to increase the current and voltage rating. Increase current or voltage results in an increase in wattage accordingly.
Just ensure that your auxiliary equipment (e.g., solar inverter, wiring) can handle the increased current, voltage, and wattage ratings.
Are solar panels safe?
Yes. In general, they are. You should exercise the same caution as you do with any electrical appliances though.
We reviewed the best 100 watt solar panels on the market. There are many knock-off brands that claim to use world-class solar cells. Such companies do not provide warranties and are just hoping that after you use the solar panel for a year or two and it dies, you won’t bother making a claim. The panels reviewed above have been tried and tested by experts in the industry. The companies are legitimate in producing quality products.
Out of the three, TheEnergyFix experts highly recommend the Renogy 100W solar panel. It has superior performance over the others and is versatile for all applications either on-grid or off-grid.