Review: Ugreen 200W Portable Solar Panel Cuts The Grid Cord
Many people have come to the conclusion that a portable battery power station is a smart investment these days for home emergency backup in the event of a blackout. This is a scenario that seems to be happening with increasing frequency as more areas get hit with wild weather. A portable battery power station is also an invaluable accessory to have on hand if you are a camper. With one of these, you don't need to rely on a campsite having an electrical hookup to enjoy niceties like a fan, a coffee maker, or to keep gadgets charged.
However, what happens if you are without power for an extended period? When that battery is depleted, you either have to find an electrical outlet or a vehicle to recharge it. There is a third option, though: solar power.
Folds for easy carrying or storage, cables included.
When my kids were much younger, we used to go camping and I brought along an early generation portable solar panel to trickle charge our trailer's battery. It literally was a trickle charge because despite being huge and heavy (it used a lot of glass and metal), solar panels those days were not all that efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. That has very much changed, as shown by the Ugreen 200W portable solar panel I just tested. It weighs under 20 pounds, it folds up with a handle for easy carrying, it plugs directly into Ugreen's portable power stations, and it is capable of putting out up to 200 watts of power.
It's quite simple to set up this portable solar panel. It folds up nicely for easy carrying and storage with a comfortable plastic handle with magnetic closure, plus magnetic fasteners on the built-in kickstands to keep things tidy.
This view shows the four built-in kickstands.
To set it up, you unfold the four sections (each with its own kickstand), positioned to face the sun. This becomes a sizeable panel, nearly eight feet wide. Ugreen includes a handy heliostat on the front of the panel to aid with properly adjusting the angle of the panels. On the back is a covered XT60 port. Plug in the included XT60 to AXT60 cable and connect that to one of the company's PowerRoam power stations (like the PowerRoam 1200 I recently tested) and that's it. It's all up to the sun at this point.
The XT60 port used to connect to Ugreen power stations.
The ETFE construction feels almost like thick wafer board, but it's actually plastic. It's IP67 water resistant – so a few splashes won't hurt it – but the panel can't be left out in the rain.
There's a corresponding XT60 input port on this Ugreen PowerRoam 1200 power station.
Ugreen actually offers packages with a power station plus one or two of these 200W solar panels, or you can buy the panels on their own for $499. With limited space I set up a single panel. I was working from home and spending a lot of time on Zoom calls, so I wasn't exactly on top of moving the panels around to optimize their position, but the solar panel still performed impressively.
I used the Ugreen mobile app to keep an eye on the solar input to the power station and the highest I happened to see was 121W. Over the course of 16 hours (a good chunk of that time in shadow as the sun moved behind the tall pine trees at the back of my property), the 1024Wh PowerRoam 1200 power station's battery gained 65% of its charge. Two of the panels would easily have fully charged it in less time. If I had been on top of moving the panel with the sun, I probably would have come close to a 100% charge as well.
Ugreen's mobile app shows the solar panel is currently putting out 99W.
It's worth noting that these panels keep producing power even with cloud cover, although it's reduce compared to full sunlight.
The point is, with a solar panel like this, you are effectively free of the reliance on the power grid for keeping your battery power station charged. This would be especially handy on a camping trip...
The Ugreen 200W portable solar panel charing a Ugreen PowerRoam portable power station.
The Ugreen 200W portable solar panel is an excellent option for keeping a portable battery power station charged without any need to plug into an electrical outlet. In the case of an extended power outage or wilderness camping, not having to rely on the grid to keep your devices powered and running is extremely freeing.
This solar panel is designed to work seamlessly with Ugreen's EasyRoam power stations, including the EasyRoam 1200. You could use it with a different make of power station, but pay attention to solar input ports as you will need an adapter if the power station does not have an XT60 or MC-4 input.
If you really want to ramp up the charge capability and cut the charging time, you may want to invest in a pair of these 200W panels. On the other hand, if you find the $499 price too steep, you do have the option of picking up a 100W model instead for considerably less – you won't get the same kind of charging speed, but you’ll at least be able to top up your power station on a daily basis.
Disclosure: Ugreen provided a solar panel for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.