Creating electricity from the sun is an amazing thing and as the cost of solar panels continue to fall, they are able to serve in more and more scenarios.
FlexSolar has built up a range of portable solar solutions to fit a wide range of applications. They reached out about the FlexSolar G200 200 watt Briefcase Solar Panel Kit and sent us one to run through the paces.
Disclaimer: FlexSolar sent this product to the author free of charge for the purposes of this review.
Unpacking the System
The FlexSolar G200 showed up on my doorstep in a form fitting cardboard box that left little to the imagination. Cutting open the box revealed the padded carrying case with its sturdy handle at the top, providing an extra layer of protection for shipping.
Unzipping the system from the carrying case revealed a pair of solar panels fastened together with a hinge with the solar cells facing outwards. This layout allowed FlexSolar to tuck all the wiring and a solar charger in the gap between the panels for a really slick package.
Using the FlexSolar G200
The hinges and clasps are not of the highest quality and might need to be replaced farther down the line if you’re using the system daily but should be fine for occasional use. The corners of the panels are protected with plastic covers that provide some protection for occasional bumps and knocks. Opening up the system reveals a pair of fold out legs that make it easy to unfold the panels and set them up facing the sun with no shadows hitting the panels.
With a 21.5% efficiency, the panels themselves are absolute workhorses and start cranking out the power as soon as they’re exposed to the sun. As with all solar panels, setting them up directly facing the sun with no shade falling on them ensures maximum output from the system.
From the factory, the panels come prewired to an onboard 20A, 12v/24v charge controller with an integrated pair of USB ports. This charge controller can be directly wired to a battery system with a pair of bare wires or through some of the included adapters. The system comes with alligator clips for direct wiring to a 12 volt battery, an adapter to wire it up to a system with a large barrel adapter, or directly to a panel with an adapter that bypasses the charge controller and connects directly to a battery system with an Anderson connector.
When it comes to production, the system absolutely cranks out the power. For such a small package, the 200 watts of solar is a powerful system in such a smart package. The folding legs are sturdy and seem up to the task of holding up the panels without hardly flinching. Maneuvering the hefty panels can be a bit awkward, but their weight actually helps keep them in place once the legs are out.
If you’re keeping them out all day, it’s worth manually adjusting them to face the sun in the morning, midday, and afternoon to maximize their output. As with any solar panels, your mileage will vary depending on your geographical location, time of the year, shade, and angle relative to the sun, but wow. They pushed out full power for much of the day here in Southern California, though it is worth noting that we are in our peak sunny period.
The FlexSolar G200 200 watt Briefcase Solar Panel Kit is a solid solar panel system that packs in a lot of generating capacity into a compact, folding package. The carrying case protects the pair of panels and comes with a handle to make it easier to lug around.
At 38.6 pounds, it is a hefty unit that can be challenging to move around. Once setup, the sturdy fold out legs provide a solid base for the panels to start cranking out the power. Around back, the individually wired panels come wired directly into an included solar charge controller that makes it quick and easy to wire it up directly to a 12 volt battery.At $419.99, the FlexSolar G200 is a pricey option relative to comparable monocrystaline systems. It can regularly be found on sale online (currently on sale for $369.99 at FlexSolar), it can compete in the space. Head over to FlexSolar.com to learn more about it or to purchase one today.
- Solar Cell Type: Monocrystalline
- Dimensions (LxWxD): 55.2 x 36.5 x 1.3 in (1402 x 928 x 33 mm) – unfolded 36.5 x 28.3 x 2.6 in (928 x 720 x 67 mm) – folded
- Net Product Weight: 38.6 lbs (17.5kg) with Junction Box
- Charge Controller: 12V/20A PWM
- Rated Peak Power (Pmax |W): 200 W
- Open Circuit Voltage (Voc | V): 22.8 V
- Short Circuit Current (Isc | A): 11.2 A
- Maximum Power Voltage (Vmp| V): 18.6 V
- Maximum Power Current (Imp | A): 10.8 A
- Module Efficiency (%): 21.5%
- Power Tolerance: 5%
- Operating Temperature (F/C): -40°F t o 180°F (-40°C to 82°C )