REVIEW – Portable power is a great thing. You can use these portable power stations to keep your portable electronics running at the beach, at a party, well, you get the idea. But…what powers the power station? What happens when that runs out of electrons? If you’re out camping and burn through your electronics battery and have also burned through your portable power station…oh, the horror! Lucky for us, we have a source of energy a short 93,000,000 miles away. You may have seen it, a bright yellow ball lighting up the sky during the day, depending of course on where you live. If we could harness that, well, that would be a great thing.
BLUETTI, a premier maker of portable power has an answer. They offer a line of solar panels that are compatible with their line of portable power stations. Today, we’ll be looking at the PV200 200-watt solar panel that is compatible with their brand new AC60 power station and B80 expansion battery that I am in the process of reviewing. Let’s see how this solar panel can turn your portable power station into a truly off-grid power solution.
What is it?
The BLUETTI PV200 is a foldable four-panel solar panel capable of delivering up to 200 watts of power to your power station. It has a single integrated connection cable with an MC4 connector. There are no additional connections. It folds to a relatively small roughly 2′ x 2′. Unfolded, it is a monster at roughly 2′ x 7.75′.
What’s in the box?
- BLUETTI PV200 solar panel with an integrated pouch containing the connection cable, and integrated legs
- User manual
- Warranty card
- QC check card (not pictured)
- Dimensions (Folded): 23.2 × 24.8 x 2.5 inch
- Dimensions (Unfolded): 23.2 × 89.2in (the space needed for thickness will vary based on leg angle)
- Weight: 17.4lbs
- Power: 200W
- Panels: 4
- Lamination: ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene)
- Cell Type: Monocrystalline Silicon
- Cell Efficiency: Up to 23.4%
- Voltage at Max Power(Vmp): 20.5V
- Current at Max Power(Imp): 9.7A
- Open Circuit Voltage(OCV): 26.1V
- Short Circuit Current(Isc): 10.3A
- Connector: Standard MC4 (Multi-Contact, 4 millimeters) Connector
- Additional Power Connectors (USB, etc): None
- Operating Temperature: 14-149℉ (-10-65℃)
- Best Working Temperature: 77℉ (25℃)
- Cable Length: 118in (3m)
- Built-in Stand: Multiple fold-out legs with hook and loop storage
- Water Resistance: IP65 for the junction box – the panel itself is not water-resistant
- Certifications: FCC, CE, ROHS
Design and features
The BLUETTI PV200 solar panel is not small. Here it is sitting on a dining chair. It is covered in durable canvas or canvas-like fabric with a subtle hexagonal pattern. The front is emblazoned with the BLUETTI logo. The back features a storage pouch, closure clips, and one of the three adjustable legs.
The closure clips keep the PV200 a tidy package. Press on the middle, dimpled area to release the clip.
There are three legs integrated into three of the four panels.
The legs are attached at one end and held in place with a hook-and-loop closure at the other.
The snap ribbon on the outside of the leg can be unsnapped and moved to vary the setup angle of the panel. One snap is marked to indicate 45 degrees (+/- 5 degrees).
The zipped pouch is located above the leg.
Inside the pouch, we see the power cable. The cable is permanently attached to the BLUETTI PV200 solar panel. The ends are MC4 connectors that are designed to mate with the included cable that comes with the AC60 power station (or other power stations).
Here’s a closer look at the MC4 connectors.
The matching color cable’s connectors snap together, black-to-black, red-to-red.
You can see the snap tangs in the middle of the connector. Squeeze the tangs together to release the cable.
When the BLUETTI PV200 solar panel is folded and clipped together, a sturdy integrated carry handle makes toting this 17.4-pound panel relatively easy.
To set up this panel, you unclip the straps and unfold the panels to their full length. Unfold the legs, angle it to face the sun, and connect the cord to your power station and you’ll be supplying juice in no time.
Lucky for me, right after receiving the BLUETTI PV200 solar panel, we had a lovely central Florida day, although a little chilly by Florida standards. Mostly sunny, 62 degrees, light breeze – a great day for testing a solar panel.
I unfolded the PV200, set the adjustable legs for maximum up-tilt as the sun was very high in the sky, and placed it in the driveway.
Here’s a look at the business end with the six-foot cable awaiting a power station. If you look closely in the shadows, you can see the three support legs. The second panel from the right does not have a support leg.
I elected to not lug the B80 expansion battery out and just used the AC60 power station. Here you can see the AC60 behind the PV200 panel. I have both the iSinwheel i9 Pro electric scooter and the Inmotion Climber electric scooter plugged into the AC60 power station. The PV200 solar panel is also plugged into the AC60.
As whispy clouds moved across the sun, I experienced the expected variable charging rate. Here is a sample from the BLUETTI app that monitors the AC60 power station.
As you can see, the AC60 was supplying 232 watts to the scooters and the PV200 was supplying between 92 watts and 173 watts back to the AC60. Let’s talk about that.
The BLUETTI PV200 solar panel is rated at 200 watts. But getting 200 watts out of a 200-watt solar panel is another matter. That only happens on a perfectly clear day with the most intense sunlight available, at the perfect operating temperature of 77 degrees, and only when the panels are perfectly aligned with the sun. When does that happen? Never. Today, March 19, I had less than optimal sunshine, and a lower than optimal operating temperature, I took my best guess as solar alignment, and I still could pull more than 170 watts from the panel. As I checked it on and off over about an hour, it seemed to average about 160-165 watts unless a larger cloud drifted across. I’m pretty impressed with that.
Speaking of impressed, if you search for solar panel efficiency – essentially how good they are at converting light to usable electricity, in general terms, they all suck. A 15% – 20% efficiency rate is considered to be pretty good. The PV200 is rated as up to 23.4%. That is incredibly efficient, especially for a portable solution.
I mentioned solar alignment earlier. That is an issue with all solar panels. They do their best when pointed directly at the sun. You’ve probably noticed that the sun doesn’t sit still. It moves across the sky all day long. That means that if you plan to use this for more than an hour or two, you will need to go move the panel from time to time to ensure you’re grabbing the most photons you can.
When I tested the AC60 alone, it fully charged from an exhausted state in two hours using 250 watts from the wall. Assuming that you can average 165 watts from the PV200, that means you should be able to fully charge an AC60 with the PV200 solar panel in about three hours, of course depending on conditions.
The AC60 paired with one B80 expansion battery fully charged in 2.8 hours at 530 watts. Making the same solar assumptions, I estimate a full charge should take about nine hours.
What I like
- Reasonably portable
- Excellent power output
- Solid construction
- Adjustable leg angle helps with solar orientation
What I’d change
- Adding a couple of USB ports would certainly increase the usefulness of this panel
- It may harness light, but it isn’t light
- It can be a little unwieldy to setup without assistance, but it can be done
If you’re an on-the-go person with remote power needs, BLUETTI should be on your radar for products to help keep you powered up. The BLUETTI PV200 solar panel makes a great addition to any power station that can use it, like the AC60 power station and B80 expansion battery. With its excellent output and portable design, it can help keep your portable power solution in the juice and keep your lights on when you’re away from the grid. Keep in mind that if you opt for the AC60 +B80 + PV200 solution, you’ll be schlepping over 60 pounds of power gear. Hiring a porter may be in order.