If you're one of the 20 million or so Americans who own a boat or RV, your off-grid energy options just got bigger.
A 220-watt solar panel specifically designed for recreational vehicles and boats just hit the market.
The new portable panel is being manufactured by Renogy, an Ontario, California-based firm that specializes in off-grid power, and it's packed with impressive features.
It's got an efficiency rating of 18.6%. That means that almost 20% of the sunlight hitting it winds up getting converted into usable solar energy.
20% may not sound like much if you don't know a lot about solar panels. But it's incredibly difficult to design one that captures even half of all the sun's available energy. So difficult, that it's never even been done.
As for mass-producing a solar panel with anywhere close to 50% efficiency—forget about it.
Most panels for the residential solar market fall somewhere between 15% and 20% efficiency—with even the most expensive, top-end, high-performance models maxing out at 23%.
So, mass-producing a portable solar panel with an 18% rating is a pretty impressive achievement.
Not surprising that Renogy's new panel scored the highest efficiency rating among all its under-300-watt models.
Even more impressive, Renogy's new panel is also bifacial.
While conventional solar panels only produce power from one side, bifacial panels can generate energy from sunlight striking either side. That allows a single solar panel to collect both more indirect and diffuse sunlight.
Unlike conventional panels, it's also easy to change their position and tilt, which reduces the amount of solar energy lost to shading.
And weighing in at only 28 pounds, re-orienting the panel to get the biggest solar bang for your buck ought to be a breeze.
Renogy's new panel also comes equipped with the firm's state-of-the-art IP68 junction box. The IP68's rugged insulation protects it from water and wind damage, making it suitable for more extreme marine or off-road applications.
Likewise for the panel itself. Renogy is so confident in its durability that they're offering a 25-year performance warranty—meaning it's likely to outlast any vehicle it's powering.
Renogy was founded in 2010 with the goal of increasing the number of Americans who are energy independent to 50 million.
Since then, the firm has sold over 5 million solar panels, as well as other products like mounting hardware, cabling, and fusing specially designed for off-grid applications.
The new portable panel currently sells for $249.99.
But if it sounds like a great option for powering your boat or RV, you might want to act fast.
The current price is part of an introductory promotion, and Renogy says the panel will cost around $330 once the dust settles.
Still, not a bad price for adventurous travelers looking to escape the maddening crowds but unwilling to dispense with all the wonderous comforts that electrical power can provide.