In this modern world, people are more mobile than ever before, and to accommodate our itinerant lifestyles, our essential items have to be portable.
In light of this, everything is getting smaller, from phones to laptops to cameras… even our solar panels are getting the tiny makeover.
As a fully-fledged solar nut, I, of course, wholeheartedly support this process of moving to smaller items, which is what initially drew me to the topic of today’s review: the Topsolar SolarFairy 100W Portable Solar Panel Kit.One of the smallest-folding solar panels on the market, I had to give the SolarFairy a go, and having spent a few months with it at this point, I’m ready to pass on what I’ve learned to you.
- Compatible with most solar power stations
- Comes with adapters for multiple power stations
- Duel USB direct charging ports (one with PD technology)
- IC intelligent charging chip
- Fits in backpack when folded
- Great build quality
- ETFE coating protects against dust and debris
- Price isn’t bad
- Short warranty
- Not quite as efficient as some other 100-watt portable panels
- Metal kickstands are quite heavy
Topsolar SolarFairy Kit At A Glance
There is no shortage of “portable” solar panels on the market today, and, granted, some of them do fold up pretty small, but I’ve never seen anything like the SolarFairy. This panel may well be the first solar panel of this power rating to fit into the average-sized backpack, making it a serious consideration for all the adventurous souls out there who like to travel light and live hard!
Where Can You Purchase The Topsolar Solar Fairy 100W Foldable Solar Panel Kit?
Shop the Topsolar SolarFairy 100W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger Kit here
The SolarFairy is composed of high-efficiency monocrystalline cells, which is another reason I decided to add it to my solar arsenal. Made from a single piece of silicon, the cells don’t drop anywhere near as much energy as they would if they were “Frankensteined” together from multiple different sheets of silicon. Theoretically rated for 100 watts in optimal conditions, I hoped to hit within 25% of that max output, so I waited for an absolute scorcher of a day and headed out into my yard for some testing. After a quick angling session, they were up and running, pulling in between 75 and 79 watts, which isn’t bad at all. Cloud cover, of course, sent the output into the gutter, stabilizing at about 12 watts, but that’s to be expected.
The SolarFairy arrives with a bunch of different barrel connectors so it can be used with a variety of solar power stations from lots of different brands, including Bluetti, Jackery, EcoFlow, and Goal Zero.In a world where more and more companies are trying to lock customers into their ecosystem and throw away the key, this is a really nice touch.It also comes with an MC4 adapter cable for incorporation into an established solar array to boost the collective yield.
So, if you’ve already got a half-decent setup, and synergy is a big concern for you when looking for a new addition, the SolarFairy is a highly versatile choice.
Design And Durability
I wasn’t expecting much from the SolarFairy bag, as I’ve seen them before. But I received the new and improved version, and it’s pretty nice.Featuring a soft-touch handle, dedicated pouches for all the parts that come with the panel, and a sturdy zip, this bag is great.The panel itself is made of top-notch materials. I gave it a thorough inspection when I took it out of the bag, and, for the life of me, I couldn’t find a single imperfection.
There were no wafer abnormalities, no dents or scratches, nothing that indicated it had been built incorrectly or handled/shipped carelessly.As a fully laminated panel with an advanced ETFE top coating, it’s designed to thrive in harsh environments, so if your adventures lead you through some pretty gnarly terrain, this is the panel you want with you.Even the junction box seems to be made of really high-quality stuff.
I couldn’t see or hear any loose connections, and all the ports (of which there are many) were fully functional and responsive. However, the lack of water resistance may be a deal-breaker for some.
The port array on the SolarFairy’s junction box is unreal! Not only does it feature dual USB ports for charging small electronics, it also features a dedicated output for powering SLA batteries without the use of a charge controller or solar battery… but I’m getting carried away.
Let’s just focus on the USB facilities for a moment.Featuring USB PD 3 technology, the USB-C port is equipped to charge your phones, tablet, portable power packs, and digital cameras in record time!
Plus, the entire junction box is kitted out with IC intelligent sensitivity, meaning that it registers what device has been plugged in, so it can tailor the load to the device to keep charging swift and reduce battery degradation.I should also mention that these panels are chainable, so if you want to buy a second to double your output (and your fun) you can! And while we’re back on the topic of output, we need to talk about the solar intensity LED indicators.These little lights on the back of the panels inform you of exposure quality, acting as a guide during setup, so you can find the optimal angle no matter where the sun sits in the sky.That about covers the technological side of things, but there are a few practical features to consider, too. The metal grommets in the corners, for instance, give you loads of installation options.I use them to elevate the panel when camping with the family and friends, as, when the football’s getting kicked around, and kids are having water fights, the ground is no longer a safe place for solar gadgets.When the coast is clear, and it’s safe to bring the panel back down to Earth, you can use the adjustable metal stands to establish your perfect gradient.
This panel is made up of 12 sections altogether, 3 to 11 times the usual amount for a foldable panel. As such, it collapses down small — like… really small.The folded package is a lot wider than most other portable panels on the market (the cost of more folds), but I much prefer this way of doing things, as it feels like a more robust object.This is the first solar panel of this power level that I’ve come across that I can actually fit into my bag, making it my number one choice for a backpacking adventure, which brings me to my next point: the problem with metal stands.Don’t get me wrong, the stands are super handy, but they’re quite heavy, so if you’re backpacking with your panel, it’s probably best to leave those at home and use a rock or incline to angle the array.If you’re more of a car camper person/family, then the excess weight will be no imposition, as the bag has its own pocket to hold them, and your vehicle will do all the heavy lifting for you.
Value For Money
Topsolar is the undisputed king of the budget solar market. They provide high-quality products at a rate that puts the industry leaders to shame, and the SolarFairy 100W continues this proud tradition.I know it’s not quite as efficient as some of the more expensive foldable panels out there, but on a dollar-to-watt ratio, it still performs incredibly well, and in my eyes, the insane portability adds tons of value to an already reasonably-priced product.That said, there are a few 100-watt portable panels available that are both more efficient and slightly cheaper, but then you miss out on all the great things the SolarFairy brings to the table, such as a USB PD port, IC optimized charging, and backpack-ready dimensions.
Topsolar doesn’t exactly inspire confidence with their solar panel warranty. You get 1 year of material and workmanship cover, and that’s it. Disappointing? Yes, a little, but remember, Topsolar isn’t considered a premium brand.
Their products inhabit the low-to-middle zone of the market, where hefty warranties are a rarity.
The Final Verdict
Featuring wide compatibility, an awesome junction box port array, and great foldability, there’s very little to dislike about the SolarFairy.Yes, I would have preferred some integrated kickstands rather than the included metal ones, and a few more watts would have been nice too, but at this price point, we can’t be too picky.I see this panel having a huge impact on any form of cramped living situation, whether that be a small RV, boat, or tiny home, as it couldn’t possibly clutter up the place.It’s also a total game-changer if you love backpacking as much as I do. No longer will you have to dedicate a whole hand to lugging a foldable solar panel around. Simply pack this in your bag, hit the trail, and enjoy the experience.I give the Topsolar 100W Foldable Solar Panel 4.6/5