A solar briefcase is used in any situation where you need a portable solar panel. Combining the form factor of your typical briefcase and the energy creation of a typical solar panel, the solar briefcase is the ultimate in power portability and self-sufficiency. Ideal for activities like camping and hiking, or even long car trips, these briefcases allow you to power small devices using only the energy of the sun.
Goal Zero Boulder Briefcase
Renogy 100W 12V
Nature Power 55702 120-watt Portable
Read on below for our list of the top five solar briefcases, their pros and cons, and a list of features and things you’ll want to look for when choosing your very own briefcase.
1. Goal Zero Boulder Briefcase
An integral part of Goal Zero’s extensive line of environmentally-friendly products, the Goal Zero Boulder Briefcase solar panel can provide 100 watts of power, enough to charge small electronics like phones, tablets, and laptops. This solar briefcase is lightweight and durably constructed.
Goal Zero’s pride in their workmanship shows in their willingness to provide a one-year limited warranty in the unlikely event that you’re not satisfied with what you purchased. But given the overwhelmingly positive reviews of the users on Amazon (at the time of writing this solar briefcase had 102 reviews with a 4.5-star average), it’s unlikely that you’ll need to avail yourself of it.
Perfect for your next camping trip, this solar briefcase will allow you to retain some of the conveniences of home while temporarily living off the grid. The briefcase is specifically engineered to recharge Goal Zero’s Yeti Portable Power Stations.
As a reflection of the quality of the briefcase, this product has garnered an Amazon’s Choice designation as well as our coveted Editor’s Choice award. The combination of value, features, and usability leads us to wholeheartedly endorse this solar briefcase.
- Excellent warranty
- Reputable manufacturer
- Relatively high price
2. DOKIO 80W Solar Panel Kit 12V
This 80-watt solar briefcase is less powerful than the Gear Zero product mentioned in the previous entry. Despite that, it’s an incredible deal at less than $120. The briefcase weighs less than four pounds and even comes with its own solar controller.
It wins our Best Value award not only because of its generally low price but for the features you get at that price. The easy-to-use solar briefcase form factor and the included solar controller add a lot to the attractiveness of this product. The product has garnered over 70 customer reviews on Amazon and earned an average 4-star rating, which demonstrates the value it provides to the typical consumer.
The product is easy to use, environmentally-friendly, efficient, and aesthetically attractive. What more can you ask for?
- Amazing deal
- Included solar controller
- Pretty to look at
- The distributor is arguably not as reputable as Gear Zero
3. Nature Power 55702 120-watt Portable
Looking to head out to your nearest campsite or nature reserve to spend a couple of days living off the grid? Make sure to take this little wonder with you. Nature Power’s solar briefcase comes complete with all of the features mentioned in the previous two entries. It also includes a built-in diode to eliminate spontaneous discharge.
This solar briefcase doesn’t disappoint in the looks department either, with a cool and sleek finish. While it has far fewer reviews on Amazon than it’s competitors, the few reviews it does have are overwhelmingly positive.
At 120-watts, this briefcase puts out the most power out of any product on our list so far. You won’t have to worry about your small device running out of energy any time soon. You pay for that additional output though, with this product setting you back over $300.
- Excellent power output
- Cool aesthetics
- On the expensive side for what you get
4. Renogy 100W 12V
This tremendously popular solar briefcase from Renogy has a whopping 481 customer reviews on Amazon. And almost all of them are glowing. It’s easy to see why. This product is an unbelievable combination of value and performance, coming in at just under $190 and boasting a wide array of features.
What this product does exceptionally well is to gather solar energy in less than ideal environments. In other words, even if the weather isn’t cooperating and its a touch on the windy side, or if the perfect time of day has passed and the sun is starting to go down, this solar briefcase can still do its job. It will still collect and distribute energy at an impressive pace.
Peak conditions will allow this briefcase to put out an impressive 500 watt-hours of energy in any given day. Lastly, if you’re looking to include a controller with this unit, Amazon offers several different options to bundle one with this solar briefcase. You need only to select that option on the website.
- Can be bundled with a solar controller
- Works well in low-light conditions
- Widely user-tested with excellent results
- Less powerful than the previous entry on our list
5. HQST 100 Watt
Unlike any of the other solar briefcases on this list, the HQST comes in a polycrystalline variety. Slightly different than its monocrystalline cousin, polycrystalline panels are known for increased value, better performance in higher temperatures, and a more environmentally-friendly manufacturing process.
While the differences between polycrystalline solar panels and monocrystalline panels are relatively small, you’ll definitely notice all of the features packed into this little package. An included solar controller, wiring, sturdy aluminum frame, kickstand, and even an included temperature sensor to improve the accuracy of the battery charger all serve to make your life just a little bit easier.
104 customers have given this little beauty a combined 4.5-star rating, demonstrating just how much value it can bring to the table. And at under $150.00, the value can’t be beaten.
- Amazing price
- Polycrystalline option
- No warranty
Features to look for in the best Solar Briefcases
When you’re choosing the best solar briefcase for you, keep the following features in mind.
The entire point of these little guys, like is to improve your ability to travel while remaining off the grid. That won’t be served if you have to lug around a gigantic and heavy piece of equipment. What you’re looking for is a light, compact, and durable (much like these solar escape hats) solar briefcase. It should be able to withstand both the environment and the punishment associated with frequent packing and unpacking. For that reason, keep an eye out for any offered warranties, the materials the item is made of, its weight, and its dimensions. Similar to solar tents, you’ll need a reliable product.
Taking a solar briefcase with you on your next camping trip won’t be worth it unless you get a significant benefit out of it. That’s where power generation comes in. Most of the units on this list produce at least 100-watts of power, and that’s really the minimum that you’ll want to see from these items. Some budget items (like the Dokio on the list above) produce slightly less in exchange for a lower price tag, which will appeal to some shoppers, but you need to be careful not to allow that power generation number drop too low. Today’s small devices (like phones, tablets, and laptops) consume a surprising amount of energy and you’ll want to make sure that your solar briefcase can effectively charge those devices (like these little solar lighters).
This feature may or may not be important to you. Some people don’t care what a solar product looks like. They just want it to get the job done. For most people, however, a solar briefcase’s aesthetics are at least minimally important. You will, after all, be carrying it around with you in public. The products on this list vary in appearance, from sleek and futuristic, to kitschy and quirky. The appearance you choose will depend on your personality, the other gear you choose to use with your briefcase, and who else will be using it. Treat this purchase the same way you would a solar photography kit or solar trail camera. Looks matter.
Whether you like to camp without giving up all of the features and conveniences of home, or you want to stock up your vehicle with products designed to assist you in an unexpected emergency, a solar briefcase might just be the product for you. While we love the Goal Zero Boulder Briefcase, a more budget-conscious shopper might choose the winner of our Best Value award: the DOKIO 80W Solar Panel Kit 12V. Whatever you decide to go with, a solar briefcase can make your day just a little bit easier and a little bit more fun. (Looking for some more cool solar products? Check out these solar binoculars!)