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Many campers and recreational vehicle owners are always looking for a smaller, lighter solar solution. My Renogy 50 watt solar panel review could provide a portable weight and size answer. In the shape of the E. Flex 50 portable solar panel. It has a built in charger for directly charging electronic devices. The DC port makes charging a solar power station dead easy. And adding a solar controller means charging 12V starter and leisure batteries becomes possible.
Product: Renogy E.Flex 50 Portable Solar Panel
Best Place to Buy: Renogy
Price: $139.99 (but there are usually discounts available)
Dimensions Folded: 19.9 × 16.1 × 0.8inch/506 × 408 × 20mm
Dimensions Unfolded: 32.5 × 19.9 × 0.2inch/826 × 506 × 5mm
Warranty: 12 months
Renogy E.Flex 50 Portable Solar Panel Review
The review will be investigating the E.Flex 50w and matching it up with the Phoenix 200 power station. I will be checking out other products in the E.Flex range and taking a look at the competition. In the shape of the ACOPower LTK 50w portable solar panel. And my not to be forgotten What’s Good and What’s Not So Good section. All with the intention of helping to provide you with a comprehensive overview. So you can make an informed decision if the E.Flex 50 watt portable solar panel is for you.
A bit about Renogy
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 produces a wide range of solar products and solutions. These include the recreational vehicles, home, truck, marine and commercial sectors. With solar power becoming more popular and more widely used as an alternative source of power generation. 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. E.Flex portable solar power kits are engineered to fit into these high standards. That’s enough about the company, it’s onto the review proper.
How Does The Renogy 50 watt Solar Panel Work?
The Renogy 50 watt solar panel is made from 2 x 25w monocrystalline solar panels. The panels are sewn into a polyester canvas frame. They fold in the middle to produce a smaller easily transported package.
E.Flex 50 Watt Specs
|Efficiency||21% – 23%|
|Dimension Folded||19.9 × 16.1 × 0.8inch/506 × 408 × 20mm|
|Dimensions Unfolded||32.5 × 19.9 × 0.2inch/826 × 506 × 5mm|
|USB Port-C x 1||5V/3A max|
|USB Port-A x1||5V/2,4A Max|
|DC Port x 1||19V/2.4A – 16V/2,8A max|
|Open Circuit Voltage||21.6V|
|Short Circuit Current||3.04A|
Solar panels are made from Photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells react to sunlight and convert its energy into usable Direct Current (DC) electricity. The cells are encased in a metal or plastic frame to form the solar panel. There are generally three accepted types of solar panels:
Are single (mono) solar cells manufactured from the purest silicon. The solar panels are recognizable by their dark colour
Are manufactured from multiple crystalline solar cells. The solar panels are recognizable by their blue speckled colour
Made by covering a material with one or more thin layers of PV cells. The solar panels are recognizable for their extremely thin and lightweight characteristics.
The Renogy 50 watt portable solar panel houses monocrystalline solar cells. ( Source: Wikipedia) These are the most efficient because the solar panels are made from single PV cells. Its official efficiency rating is given as up to 21% – 23%. I suspect it is termed in this way taking account of weather conditions. Still the average efficiency benchmark within the solar industry is 17-19%. Some solar panels are even lower than this. So overall the efficiency rating of the Renogy 50 watt is pretty good.
The 50 watt portable solar panel is manufactured using Industrial-strength PET polymers and polyester canvas. This means that it is very tough and rugged it will survive most outdoor weather scenarios. Liquids spilt on it will do no damage, but it is not entirely waterproof. This is because the electrical circuit box and USB ports are not waterproof. They are protected with a zipper pouch, but I would still be careful around water.
Weighing just 5.25lbs/2.38kg you shouldn’t encounter any back problems lifting it. With folded dimensions of 19.9 × 16.1 × 0.8inch/506 × 408 × 20mm. You should be able to fit it into any vehicle with little difficulty. In fact I would wager you could take it hiking if there were 2 or more of you. Finding room in the tent to stow it away at night shouldn’t be too much of a problem either.
There are several ways you can use the Renogy 50 watt portable solar panel.
- Directly charging electronic devices like phones and tablets using the USB-C port. The chip inside the charger unit should detect the type of device you have connected. This will enable the solar panel to deliver the best possible charge speed.
- Directly charge laptops using the DC output port. A 5.5mm adapter is provided for this purpose and there is a 16v and 19v switch choice. You will need to check if your laptop will accept the 5.5mm adapter. If your laptop isn’t 16V or 19V the Renogy E.Flex 50 will not directly charge it. Use a power station instead.
- The E.Flex 50 watt is great for charging portable power banks. It may be safer to charge a power bank than your smartphone. Directly from the E.Flex 50 watt solar panel. This is because you will not then run risk of smartphone battery discharge.
- Charging smaller solar power stations like the Renogy Phoenix 200 isn’t a problem. The 50 watt solar panel will also charge other makes and models too.
- Adding a separate solar controller to the solar panel means you can charge vehicle batteries. Without having to buy a power station. If you own an RV or camper this would give you the ability to charge your starter and leisure batteries. Just hook up to the controller with crocodile clips.
What’s in the box
- 1 x Renogy E.FLEX 50 Portable Solar Panel
- 1 x Solar Panel Connectors to 5.5mm DC Adapter Cable
- 1 x 5.5mm DC to 5.5mm DC Power Cable
- 8 x 5.5mm DC Adapter Connectors
- 1 x User Guide
What Is The Renogy Phoenix 200 Power Station?
Although the E.Flex 50w has a built in charger that you can directly charge electronic devices with. The solar panels’ best use is for charging small solar power stations. The Phoenix 200 Power Station is the perfect accompaniment to the E.Flex 50 Watt.
What is a solar power station?
The usual way to power or charge electrical things off-grid is to use a fossil-fuel generator. You have probably seen them being used at a traveling fair. On building sites, roadworks and at outdoor events. They are dirty, smelly, noisy and pollute the atmosphere. But because of relatively recent innovations. You can enjoy the benefits of off-grid electricity generation using portable solar panels. Hooked up to a portable solar power station. This is called a portable solar generator. And is clean, quiet, with no smell and won’t pollute the atmosphere
A solar power station is an electric battery with a built-in solar controller, MPPT and Inverter. They vary in size and weight dependent on their power output. To give you a feeling for the size and weight of a solar power station. Some are the size of a small car battery. These tend to be at the lower end of the power output spectrum. To stations that need wheels to move them around. These are the most powerful stations, capable of powering a domestic fridge freezer.
The Phoenix 200 Solar Power Station
Has an easy to carry handle and attractive industrial looking exterior. With various operational buttons and LED status indicators. I would say the best thing about the Phoenix is that it is small and light. Married up with the E.Flex 50, this makes it really easy to transport. The combined solar generator weight is 9.87lbs/4.48kg. Even if you have a back problem or disability. With help you shouldn’t have too much of a problem moving it around.
|Size||7.1 x 6.1 x 5.6 inch/181 x 155 x 143 mm|
|Circuit Protection||Short Circuit, Over Current, Over Power, Overcharge, Over Temperature|
There are 3 ways to charge the Phoenix 200
- Solar Panel – Recharge and keep it charged at your destination. The E.Flex 50 will charge the Phoenix 200 in 7 to 8 hours.
- AC wall outlet – Charge it before you leave. So it is fully charged when you arrive at your destination.
- Car socket – Charge it on the way to your destination.
The solar panel and car socket charging options are particularly useful. Such as in an electricity emergency like a power outage.
Battery Management System
This manages things like voltage and temperature control. Circuit and overcurrent protection and other advanced safety operations
- AC outlet Pure Sine Wave: 150w and 200w peak
- 3 x USB-A: 5V/2.4A max
- 1 x USB-C: 5V/3A max
- Car Socket: 9.6 – 12.6V/10A max
The E.Flex 50 has built-in 1.6w LED flashlights. These will provide light in blackouts and other emergency situations.
Easy to use push button operation
- Main power
- AC Power
- USB Type-C
Led operation indicators
- Battery Level
- Port Status
- Flashlight Status
What can I power or charge with the Phoenix 200 Solar Power Station?
You can power any AC or DC appliance under a 150 watt rating and maximum 200w rating;
- Mini Fridge
- Electric Blanket and more.
You can charge most electronic devices;
- Tablets and more.
The Phoenix 200 Power Station can also be used in electricity emergencies such as a power outage.
Manage Your Expectations
Up to now I have only told you about the Phoenix 200’s product specifications. But it is a small power station. And if you are expecting it to power large appliances for long periods of time. You need to know, it won’t. Smaller appliances like a 5w light for the tent will power all night. Or a 15w fan for 12hrs and a laptop for 10hrs or so. But a larger appliance like a 60w TV will power for 3 hours.
So if you are looking for a light portable power source to take to the beach or for short trips. That will charge your electronics and run some small appliances. The Phoenix 200 and E.Flex 50 solar panel will do the job nicely. If your expectations are higher you will need a larger solar generator.
What other power stations are available in the Renogy Range?
- Phoenix 300 Power Station 200w/377Wh
- Lycan Powerbox 1200w/1075Wh
What Other E.Flex Portable Solar Panels Are Available In The range?
There are three other portable solar panels in the Renogy E,Flex Range. It should be noted they are not for charging a solar power station like the Phoenix 200. They are solar chargers meant for charging electronic devices like a smartphone only.
|Specs||E.Flex 10||E.Flex 21||E.Flex 30|
|Efficiency||High Efficiency||Up to 22% – 25%||Up to 22% – 25%|
|Dimensions Folded||9.5 x 5.9 x 0.26 inch||11.0 x 7.3 x 1.2inch /280 x 185 x 30 mm||11.8 x 6.3 inch/30 x 16 cm|
|Dimensions Unfolded||9.5 x 12.2 x 0.13inch||23.0 x 11.0 x 0.8inch /585 x 280 x 20 mm||25.4 x 11.8 inch / 64.5 x 30 cm|
|Weight||13oz||28.9oz/820g||1.6 lbs /716 g|
|USB Port||1 x 5V/1.92A Peak||2 x 5V/2.4A max||3 x 5V/2A|
|Warranty Panels||N/A||25 Year Output|
5 year Material and Workmanship
|25 Year Output|
5 year Material and Workmanship
|Warranty Accessories||12 Months||12 months||12 months|
What’s Good About The E. Flex 50 Watt Portable Solar Panel?
I feel the E.Flex’s greatest asset is its portability. Moving, storing and transporting it is made easy because of its weight. It won’t feel like too much of a burden taking it on days out or trips away. It’s size means that you will easily find a place for it to live. In the car, RV, camper van and trailer/caravan. Or in the garage if you want to store it for a while. You could take this portable solar panel virtually anywhere with ease.
The Monocrystalline solar cells make the unit highly efficient at capturing sunlight. It’s robust PET polymer and polyester canvas build will ensure the solar cells are kept safe. So the solar panels retain their efficiency for many years to come.
It’s multiple charging applications are a big asset. Electronic devices, power banks and small power stations can all be charged when you are out and about. Adding a solar controller means you can then charge car and recreational vehicle batteries.
What’s Not So Good About The E. Flex 50 Watt Portable Solar Panel?
The initial cost of the E.Flex 50 might put you off. (there are frequent offers). You might be thinking for a few dollars more I can buy a 100w solar panel. This is true, but you would then be giving up the size and weight advantage. Because after all, this would be the reason you would buy a 50 watt solar panel.
Efficiency loss when hot
All solar panels lose some efficiency if they overheat. But because of the material the EFlex 50 is made from. It may become hotter than a glass panel. This isn’t a problem under normal circumstances, But under very hot conditions the panel’s performance may be affected. Under baking hot conditions keep it standing up and not lying flat on the ground. This is so air can flow behind it to keep it cooler.
Limited charging power
As I mentioned earlier the E.Flex is a 50 watt solar panel. So it’s capacity to charge is limited to small power stations and batteries. If you are thinking of buying it because it is cheaper than a 100w panel. Don’t do it. This panel is designed for very easy portability not as an energy powerhouse.
Renogy E.Flex 50 Solar Panel V ACOPower LTK 50w Foldable Solar Panel
The E.Flex 50 is a 2 x 25w solar panel foldable suitcase. Whilst the ACOPower LTK 50w is a 4 x 12.5w solar panel foldable suitcase.
|Specs||Renogy E.Flex 50||ACOPower LTK 50w|
|Solar Cell||Monocrystalline||Monocrystalline (SunPower)|
|Efficiency||Up to 21% to 23%||21.5% to 23.5%|
|Dimensions Folded||19.9 × 16.1 × 0.8inch/506 × 408 × 20mm||14 x 11.4 x 1inch /355 × 290 × 25mm|
|Dimensions Unfolded||32.5 × 19.9 × 0.2inch/826 × 506 × 5mm||N/A|
|USB Port-C x 1||5V/3A max||No|
|USB Port-A x1||5V/2.4A Max||Charge Controller 5V/1.2A|
|Solar Controller||No||5A PWM|
|Warranty Solar Panel||12 Month||25 Year 85% Output|
18 Month Workmanship
|Warranty Accessories||12 Month||12 Month|
Both panels have Monocrystalline cells producing a similar efficiency rating. The ACOPower LTK 50w is smaller in size when folded. This gives an even greater space saving for transportation. But there is little advantage between either when it comes to weight. The LTK is a free standing unit but you might prefer the kickstand on the E.Flex.
The LTK doesn’t have any built in USB ports. Instead the 1 x USB port is on the separate solar controller. While the E.Flex has 2 x USB built-in and one of them is a faster charging port. The E.Flex quite plainly has a superior USB charging capability. If this is important to you then stick with the E.Flex.
The LTK’s solar controller is a real bonus here because along with the crocodile clips. Vehicle starter and leisure batteries can be charged on the fly. It can charge Sealed, Gel and Flooded batteries. But not Lithium-Ion or LiFeP04. Which is a shame because it would have made it a great all rounder. To charge a solar power station you unhook the controller then connect. This makes the LTK very versatile. But can you be bothered with the fuss of it all?
Renogy usually offer a 25 year output and 5 year workmanship warranty with their solar panels. It doesn’t seem to say it does on their website. So I have to assume it doesn’t apply to the E.Flex 50. But ACOPower are offering a 25 year 85% output and 18 month workmanship warranty with the LTK 50w. With little difference in price. And both portable solar panels offering various different advantages. It might boil down to which brand you know best.
The solar power station to couple with the LTK 50w is the ACOPower 150Wh.
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 batteries. This isn’t a major problem. Until full sunlight returns, limit the number of devices you are planning to power or charge .
Shade will stop charging altogether. Keep an eye out for this now and again and move the E.Flex 50 watt portable solar panel back 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.
Is The Renogy E.Flex 50 Watt Any Good?
Different portable solar panels are designed for different uses. The Renogy E.Flex 50 is not a panel that is designed to be a beefy sunlight gatherer. It will do its job well within the limitations of it’s 50w output. If you are looking for a lightweight, compact, well made, quality portable solar panel. The E.Flex 50 might just be the ticket. If not and you feel you want something with a bigger kick. Go look at some 100w portable solar panels like the Allpowers 100w Foldable Portable Solar Suitcase
I hope you enjoyed this review and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about the Renogy E.Flex 50 Portable Solar Panel. Or want to leave your own personal review, please feel free to leave a comment below.