I’m a huge fan of solar power systems, in particular, those you can build yourself. But, I understand if you want something that’s already done for you. Enter the portable solar power station in the form of the Solar Suitcase.
This is a complete portable solar power kit where you can use both an DC and AC plug and get power out. They have kits that range anywhere from 10 watts output up to 500 watts output. This is important to understand because it’s NOT the same thing as a 10 or 500 watt solar panel.
Be sure to read the product descriptions to understand exactly what you’re getting with each particular solar suitcase before buying. For example, it seems the smallest 10-watt unit (PSK10) only outputs DC but also has a USB plug and even a radio whereas all other units output both DC and AC. They also have a 20-watt suitcase that boasts a lithium battery; it costs significantly more but lithiums are quite durable and hold a charge very well.
In addition, pay particular attention to the solar panel and battery capacity numbers as they differ a bit from unit to unit. Last, be sure to purchase one of the actual suitcases and not one of the multifunction generators kits if you want it all to be self-contained, which I think you would.
In my opinion, the featured 200 watt solar suitcase (currently on sale for $349) should be plenty to charge cell phones, a tablet, or run a laptop. Depending on your equipment you could also easily run some DC lighting or a radio too without any trouble. The largest solar suitcase option–at 500 watts power output–probably isn’t necessary for most situations.
The downsides to most of these suitcases is that you will have to drag it out every few months and recharge the battery because they will drain down. After all, the last thing you want is to expect to rely a piece of gear when you need it the most only to find it’s out of charge. Fortunately, it seems that some of the solar suitcases have the ability to accept AC input to charge the battery but not all of them.
Regardless, these solar suitcases look to be a reliable portable solar power station that will last for years to come.