It seems like everyone is releasing portable solar panels these days, which, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for, but it sure does get fatiguing after a while. You feel like you’re seeing the same thing with a different name on it time and time again.But sliding into this rut only makes it even more refreshing when you’re hit with something a little bit different, something like the Rockpals 100W Foldable Solar Panel.
Now, it’s not exactly an alien device – you’ll see a lot of similarities to other portable solar panels – but Rockpal has taken a novel enough approach to catch the attention of disillusioned solar nuts around the globe, me included.In fact, I was so intrigued, I decided to pick an SP003 up to see what all the fuss was about, and I’m happy to pass on my thoughts to you here today.
- Compatible with pretty much every power station on the market
- Durable materials
- Backer boards keep structure rigid
- 3 direct USB inputs for small electronics
- IC fast-charge technology
- Folds up nice and small
- Super high-efficiency cells
- Price isn’t ridiculous
- Water-resistant (except for the junction box)
- No kickstands
- Handle could be more ergonomic
- Doesn’t work in parallel with other SP003s
Rockpals 100W Foldable Solar Panel At A Glance
On the face of it, the Rockpals 100W Solar Panel is yet another foldable solar option, a facsimile of what has already been and gone, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve, and the thing about tricks up sleeves is that you don’t see them at first.Read on to learn about this panel’s unselfish compatibility, immaculate build quality, and smart-charging technology!Where Can You Purchase A Rockpals 100W Foldable Solar Panel?Shop the ROCKPALS SP003 100W Foldable Solar Panel, here
I don’t think I’ll be dropping any jaws by saying that the Rockpals SP003 100W is a, you’ve guessed it… 100-watt solar panel. But what might actually cause a run-in between your chin and the floor is just how close it comes to generating that 100-watt spec capacity.On a bright, almost cloudless winter day in my yard, the SP003 managed to generate 83 watts, a very respectable conversion rate for winter! In summer, I have no doubts that it will hit 90 watts without breaking a sweat. We have state-of-the-art monocrystalline cell technology to thank for this power-efficient performance. CompatibilityThe Rockpals SP003 arrives with a plethora of DC barrel adapters so you can use it with power stations from all the major names in portable solar energy — we’re talking Goal Zero, Jackery, EcoFlow, Bluetti… the lot!For the uninitiated, versatile compatibility may seem like a pretty obvious way to draw in more consumers, and I agree, but this is actually an incredibly rare approach to portable solar energy.Most brands are trying their darndest to localize every bit of gear they produce, so you’re forced to buy more of their products. I see it as captive commerce, whereas Rockpals have gone in the opposite direction, promoting free use with all major products on the market.In doing so, I believe Rockpals will eventually become one of the largest, most trusted names in the industry, especially as they clearly have the tech and eye for detail to make truly quality panels.
Design And Durability
The casing of the Rockpals 100W appears to be a highly durable Oxford cloth. Both tear and water-resistant, there’s no question that this panel can handle the rigors of the great outdoors. Beneath the fabric are some super tough backer boards to keep everything nice and structured and the solar cells safe.Having found zero loose connections or rust in the junction box, I can assure you it’s very well-made.
However, one limitation to bear in mind is that this part of the panel isn’t water-resistant, so do your best to keep it dry if you’re spending a few nights exposed to the elements.
The features I was (and still am) most excited about were the three integrated USB ports for charging small electronics such as smartphones, tablets, and modest portable battery packs.You can plug your devices directly into the panel using your typical USB charging cables, and it’ll charge them up within a couple of hours — weather permitting. You don’t need an MPPT, a PWM, or a discrete solar battery; just plug in a play, my friend.One of the USB ports even utilizes a built-in intelligent IC chip that identifies the connected device in order to tailor the output to minimize charge time and limit battery degradation caused by overcharge and overload.Unfortunately, the Rockpals 100W SP003 doesn’t work in parallel with other SP003 panels, which is kind of a let-down, as I would love to double up on these bad boys and multiply my output.
However, during my testing, I did discover that it chains perfectly well with solar panels from other brands, such as the mighty SunPower.
Composed of four small panels rather than the popular option of two large ones, the SP003 folds down to a smaller, more portable package than most other foldable options on the market.
After a spot of solar origami, it measures a minuscule 20.5 x 15 x 2”, so to say it’s easy to get from A to B is an understatement.I also noticed that this quad-panel format gives the structure more rigidity, so you don’t get that irritating flex you’ll see in dual-panel designs.At 10.5lbs, it’s a little heavier than most of its competitors, but not by enough to make it cumbersome, and, in my opinion, the extra weight combined with the smaller package size just makes it easier to carry in strong winds.If I’m being really picky, I’d like to have seen a more ergonomic handle, perhaps with some additional soft-touch materials, and a couple of kickstands would have been nice, too, but these are pretty small flaws in an otherwise fantastic portable solar panel.
Value For Money
I consider the price tag of the Rockpals SP003 Foldable Solar Panel to fall around the very limit of mid range.
There are plenty of more affordable options out there, but other big names in the industry are selling their 100-watt portable panels for considerably more.So, even though it’s not exactly a budget panel, I think it’s great value for money, because, in terms of craftsmanship and efficiency, it’s every bit as good as the premium options on the market.WarrantyYou get a 2-year warranty with the SP003, which is okay, but not great. Being that it’s such a well-built panel, I don’t think Rockpals would have been taking too much of a risk by offering a 3 or 4-year warranty.I would have thought that the longer warranty would inspire confidence in prospective customers, convincing more people to pull the trigger on the panel, but hey… I’m not a marketing executive, so what do I know?The usual list of warranty exclusions apply, i.e. purchased from an unauthorized seller, second-hand item, damage incurred from misuse or carelessness… you know the drill.
Furthermore, should you run into some quality issues with your SP003, the onus falls on you to cover postage.You’ll also need to prove that the panel is within its warranty, so keep that receipt, people!
The Final Verdict
Amongst all the near-identical hats being thrown into the portable panel arena, the Rockpals SP003 100W Foldable Solar Panel is a fresh breath of air, a decidedly different hat, if you will.Where other big-name brands are striving to hem their customers into their catalog exclusively, Rockpals, with their barrel adapters, create so many cross-brand options, it’s almost dizzying.In my opinion, this is the biggest selling point of the SP003, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
Rockpals also have all the essentials completely on lock: the solar cells are durable and super efficient (23%), the materials are robust, and it’s a good size and weight — frankly… it’s awesome!Would I like a kickstand for easy setup and angle adjustments? Yes. Is the handle a little uncomfortable towards the end of a long walk? Sure. Do these things really hold me or the panel back? No, not in the slightest. The positives completely outweigh the negatives with the SP003.It also has a very broad market appeal. Solar newbies will appreciate the direct USB charging facilities, while seasoned solar veterans will love, love, love the fact that it slides right into their established setup, no matter their brand loyalties of bygone days. This is why I’d recommend this panel to absolutely anyone interested in keeping their energy consumption green, but particularly those who spend a lot of time out in the great outdoors camping, exploring, fishing… whatever you’re into, as the SP003 is every bit as rugged as the terrain you enjoy immersing yourself in.I give the Rockpals 100W Foldable Solar Panel 4.9/5