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In this Renogy 200 Watt Solar Suitcase review. I will be covering many of the questions you may have about buying and using a portable solar panel.
The Scene is set.
Because, you have decided that you are not going to fit solar panels to your RV, camper, caravan or boat. You are now looking for a portable alternative to charge its leisure batteries.
Enter the Renogy 200 watt.
Product: The Renogy 200 Watt Solar Suitcase
The Best place to buy: Renogy
Price: $399.99 (there are often discounts available)
Folded – 35.6 x 25.9 x 3.1inch
Unfolded – 51.8 x 35.6 x 3.1inch
Warranty: 25-year power output.
5 year/95% efficiency rate.
10 year/90% efficiency rate.
25-year/80% efficiency rate.
5-year material and workmanship.
Simply the best of Renogy solar suitcase reviews
The Renogy 200 Watt Solar Suitcase Review
Renogy was started by students at Louisiana State University. Renogy LLC was organized in 2010 and in 2013 they launched their online store. By 2013 they incorporated as the RNG Group Inc. In 2016, Renogy won two bronze-level Golden Bridge Awards. One of them for best product of the year with the Lycan solar power station.
Today Renogy produce a wide range of solar products and solutions. These include the recreational vehicles, home, truck, marine and commercial sectors. With portable solar power becoming more popular. Their product range and technological innovations are bound to expand. To meet the challenges of global warming and reducing the world’s carbon footprint.
Renogy products are well-made and respected. The company has a reputation for quality workmanship, reliability, durability and customer service. The Renogy 200 Watt Portable Solar Suitcase is a chip off the old block.
In Case You Don’t Know What The Renogy 200 Watt Suitcase is?
For the more technically minded among us; The Renogy solar suitcase is a ready to use mobile application. For safely and efficiently harnessing the power of the sun. Converting its clean, abundant energy into usable electricity. To charge a 12v leisure battery in an off grid setting.
The term solar panel is used colloquially for a photo-voltaic (PV) module. A PV module is an assembly of photo-voltaic cells mounted in a framework for installation. Photo-voltaic cells use sunlight as a source of energy and generate direct current (DC) electricity. (Source: Wikipedia)
For the rest of us; The Renogy 200 Watt suitcase is a solar panel that generates (DC) electricity from sunlight. It charges 12v leisure batteries when there’s no electrical hook-up available.
How Does The 200 Watt Solar Suitcase Work?
This solar suitcase has a built in 20A controller, so no need to go to the trouble of buying a separate one. And you will save on the extra cable and the time taken to connect a separate controller. This combination provides an easy to use plug and play system. Because the Renogy portable solar panel already has a controller built in. You wouldn’t use it with a solar power station. The power station would usually also have a one already built in. A solar suitcase without a controller is available, discussed later in this post.
Portable, reliable and long-lasting
The Renogy 200 watt suitcase is a 12v monocrystalline folding solar panel. Made from 2 x 100w solar panels, that fold in middle with hinges like a paste table. Fitted with a heavy-duty handle and latches to keep it tightly shut. It has a protective casing, that will provide longevity.
The 200 watt suitcase is easy to move around and transported when folded. It comes with a protective storage case for those little knocks and bumps. Because the 200 Watt is 2 x 100w solar panels together, it will save space in your recreational vehicle. Leaving you fewer worries about fitting everything in for the journey.
When unfolded it has a built-in adjustable stand. This will tilt the solar panel to find the perfect angle. And absorb the maximum amount of sunshine.
The 200w suitcase is completely waterproof. Because of this it is exceptionally useful to charge the house batteries on a boat. No need to worry about inclement weather when camping. Stay in your RV or tent, let it get wet, while you stay warm and dry.
The solar suitcase is compatible with several deep cycle battery types. The battery type you are charging can be selected with the touch of a button. The types of batteries that can be charged are:
Easy battery connection
The alligator clips to attach to the battery are included and are very easy to hook-up. If a battery type needed a different end terminal there isn’t a problem with that. Because, the clips are attached to the controller via a standard MC4 connector.
Can I charge two or more 12v batteries?
Yes you can charge more than one battery as long as they have the same capacity. They must be wired in parallel as a single 12V battery bank.
This means, if you have leisure batteries you may have upgraded from the one provided to two or more. You can charge them and keep your vehicle or boat starter battery topped up as well.
The Renogy 200 Watt Suitcase has many safety features. You can rest assured that your safety is taken care of with:
- Reverse Polarity
- Reverse current from battery to solar panel protection at night.
Temperature compensation and charging correction automatically improves battery lifetime. Anything that helps with battery lifetime is welcome, considering the cost of them!!!
The Voyager 20A Charge Controller
The Controller has a back lit LCD display that is very simple and easy read. With the LED bar, you will be able to read charge state and battery information. It also shows other system operating information and error codes. This means you will always know what is going on during the charging process. Giving you complete control.
Smart PWM Pulse
Width Modulation (PMW) technology. Means that the controller produces pulses of current to charge the battery. This makes charging more efficient. Because it charges according to its current charge level.
The PMW technology utilizes five stage charging. Soft-Charge, Bulk, Absorption, Float and Equalization.
How Useful Is The Renogy Solar Suitcase?
You’re camping or boondocking or out at sea, there isn’t a hook-up. The noise of the generator or engine drives you mad with its constant racket.You think. I wish there was a way I could charge my leisure batteries without all the noise. The answer is sun power, keeping your Rv, Boat, Caravan or Camper Van powered has never been easier.
All you need to do is unpack your Renogy 200 Watt Suitcase from its protective case. Point it toward the sun, south in the northern hemisphere, north in the southern. Hook it up to your battery bank and hey presto your batteries begin to charge. And it won’t cost you dime.
Sure you have the initial outlay, but the solar suitcase will quickly pay for itself in fuel savings.
The most usefull thing about the 200w solar suitcase is it can save you thousands of dollars. Installing fixed solar panels can be very expensive if installed by a workshop. And time-consuming if you do it yourself. That’s if you have the required DIY skills of course.
Sun time is the biggest advantage of the Renogy 200w suitcase. Compared to solar panels fitted to the roof of your leisure vehicle. This is because on average when fitted to the roof you will get about 4hours of sunshine. Were as, the portable solar panel can be moved around and can receive constant sunshine all day.
When it comes to off-grid electricity generation portable solar panels carry the day. Just find a safe place to store your solar suitcase while traveling and you will have few problems.
What Other Solar Suitcases Are Available In The Renogy Range?
There are 6 other types of solar suitcases available including the Eclipse range:
- 100 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase without a controller
You would use this kind of solar suitcase with a portable power station like the Lycan Power Box. You might already have a controller with your vehicle, so you wouldn’t need one fitted to the solar panel.
- 100 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with the Voyager controller. The higher the wattage of a solar panel the quicker it will charge your battery. Compared to the 100w version the 200w will charge much faster. Especially if it is a dull day with little sunshine.
The Eclipse Range
This is what Renogy say about the Eclipse range;
The Eclipse includes a tempered glass layer that is .8mm thicker than that found on the normal line of Renogy panels.
Although the tempered glass makes the panel put on an additional 1.5lbs, it is well worth the extra weight. The extra tempered glass contributes to the added durability and long-lasting quality of the panel.
Even though this panel weighs a little more than the standard Monocrystalline Solar Panel. It is significantly smaller in height—6 inches. This makes the Eclipse ideal for installation in smaller areas, where space is at a premium
Your next question may be, “well why is this panel smaller?” The Eclipse is smaller than a standard 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel. Altogether, the Eclipse has an 18.5% efficiency rate, while a standard panel has a 15.47% efficiency rate.Renogy
- 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase without a controller
- 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with the Voyager a controller
- 200 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase without a controller
- 200 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with the Voyager a controller
What’s Good About The Renogy 200 Watt Suitcase?
Durability, reliability and performance
The corrosion resistant industrial aluminum casing with heavy-duty handle and latches. Make the Renogy 200w Solar Suitcase durable and reliable. Producing 13 Amps + on a bright sunny day it’s performance is second to none. When cloud sets in, it performs well too.
The unit is completely waterproof, and the frame and stand are water resistant. Of course you need to be sensible about leaving the panel out in the elements for very long periods of time. The casing is metal after all. So to protect it properly you should always store it in its protective case. You don’t want to chip or scratch the solar cells do you?
Workmanship and warranty
The quality and workmanship of the Renogy Portable Solar Suitcase is beyond question. The Renogy warranty is very comprehensive.
As a reminder it is:
25-year power output.
5 year/95% efficiency rate.
10 year/90% efficiency rate.
25-year/80% efficiency rate.
5-year material and workmanship.
You will be enjoying free energy on your off-grid adventures for many years to come.
What’s Not So Good About The Renogy 200 Watt Suitcase?
I was scratching my head a bit when it came to thinking about what pitfalls the 200w solar suitcase might have. I guess if you had a back problem 35.9lbs might be an issue. But you wouldn’t be carrying the solar suitcase very far to position it to capture the days’ sunlight. Plus you could always look at the 100w version at 26.6lbs
If storage space is limited the 35.6 x 25.9 x 3.1 inch folded size might be a roadblock if you have a smaller camper. So again, the 100w version could be the solution with folded dimensions of 19.9 x 27.2 x 2.8 inch.
The solar suitcase could probably benefit from the addition of an MPPT controller. But I might be being picky about it, because that would mean changing the supplied controller. You could change it for the Rover Elite 20A MPPT Solar Charge Controller. This has an MPPT built in but it’s $100, and how is your DIY know-how?
In case, you didn’t know;
Maximum power point tracking (MPPT). Optimizes the DC match between the solar panel and the charging 12V battery. This means the MPPT keeps the power transfer between solar panel and battery, at its highest efficiency.
Solar Power Has Some Limitations
Solar power is fantastic, because it provides an environmentally friendly energy source. Let’s be honest. Without solar panels the world would be relying on smelly, noisy gasoline generators. You just need to be aware of a few things.
- When it is overcast, the PV cells will receive less light. Reducing the rate of charge, meaning it will take longer to charge your leisure battery. This isn’t a major problem, if you reduce the amount of devices you are using during these periods.
- Shade will stop charging altogether. Keep an eye out for this now and again and move the panels into the sunlight if necessary. This is important if you are near an overhang or obstruction such as in and around a forest. You will need to check for shade more often.
The Renogy 200w Foldable Solar Suitcase Is Value For Money
Renogy are a company who always strive to give value for money within their product range. Producing innovative, high quality solar products at a more affordable cost. The 200 watt solar suitcase fits right into that category.
Compared to goal Zero’s Boulder 200w Briefcase Solar Panel the Renogy wins hands down. In terms of price, the Boulder is $499.95 without a controller. You would have to add another $50.00 or so for a charge controller. The Boulder also weighs more 42lbs and is larger, 40 x 26.75 x 3.5inch when folded.
While this is only a comparison against one other product. Goal Zero are one of Renogy’s major competitors and you can see the difference straight away. The 200 Watt Suitcase is simply the best.
So if you are looking to get into solar or don’t fancy the potential outlay on an installed system. The Renogy 200 Watt Suitcase is a perfect fit, I would say.
I hope you enjoyed this review and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about The Renogy Solar Suitcase. Or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below