Rophie 200-Watt Portable Solar Panel review

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Rophie 200 Watt Portable Solar Panel 9

REVIEW – I have never had the opportunity to review a solar panel larger than 100-Watts before so when the 200-Watt Portable Solar Panel from Rophie arrived to be reviewed, I began scanning the future weather forecasts for sunny days to put this panel through its paces.

What is it?

The Rophie 200-Watt Portable Solar Panel is a lightweight foldable solar panel focused on being able to charge many solar power generators.

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What’s in the box?

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Rophie 200 Watt Portable Solar Panel 10

  • 200-Watt Portable Solar Panel
  • Universal MC4 to multiple connector solar charging cable
  • Owner’s Manual

Hardware specs

Rated Power 200 W
Cell Type Monocrystalline silicon
Monocrystalline silicon 23%
Open Circuit Voltage 24.48V
Short Circuit Current 11.67A
Standard Operating Voltage 19.44V
Standard Operating Current 10.80A
Dimension (folded) 24*23.6*2 inch
Dimensions (unfolded) 88*24*1 inch
Weight 16.2 lb (Solar Panel 13 lb)
Waterproof Certification IP67
Certifications FCC, CE, ROHS

Design and features

By far, the most interesting feature of the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel is the universal solar charging cable array which has a pair of MC4 connectors on the solar panel end of the cable, and an array of connectors, specifically; XT60, Anderson, DC7909, DC5521, DC6530, DC35135 on the solar generator end of the cable. This universal charging cable allows the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel to be mated with many different branded solar generators. The inclusion of the Anderson and XT60 connectors in the array of supported connectors are not a simple change in the radius of the various barrel connectors, but a complete change in the physical layout and structure for those two connectors making this solar panel far more flexible than some other multi-connector cable solutions that I have seen.

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The Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel has a very innovative folding mechanism, which is zipper free, uses magnets, and has a common handle to hold the entire solar panel together while carrying. The panel is light, IP67 rated and somewhat flexible/bendable which makes it easier to lug around and store compared to the other folding solar panels that I have access to which are made of more rigid, less flexible solar panels.

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I love that the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel also has somewhat adjustable, i.e., not rigid, inclination legs, allowing for the fine tuning of the solar panel’s angle to the sun. In addition, the legs can be snapped to the bottom of the solar panel to secure them during transportation. Including inclination legs allows this portable solar panel to be better aligned to the sun’s location without requiring some other kind of lean-to, to bring along to achieve higher solar panel output than is achievable when just lying flat on the ground. In addition, there are gromets surrounding the frame of the solar panel allowing for the securing of the panels to some other physical external structure.

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Finally, it is not hard to find the electrical characteristics for the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel as evidenced by them literally being posted everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. Starting with the box, you can see all the important information (e.g., open circuit voltage, short circuit current), the manual of course, but also printed on a label inside of the zipped pocket of the solar panel which contains the universal solar charging cable. More on the importance of that information later on.

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Rophie 200 Watt Portable Solar Panel 18

Setup

The setup of the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel is very straightforward. Simply open the solar panel facing it to the sun as best as possible, connecting one end of the included universal connector to the solar panel using the MC4 connectors and connecting the other end, using the matching connector to the solar generator that one is trying to charge. But before one makes the last of those connections, one must understand the key electrical parameters of the solar generator to be charged, and this is where another really nice feature of the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel comes in to play. If one has any experience with the multitude of solar power generators out there, then one is not surprised by the differing array of electrical limitations for any given device. If the reader remembers one thing from this review, remember that one cannot just hook up any ol’ solar panel to any ol’ solar power generator without risking damaging the generator without first making sure the open circuit voltage and short circuit current from the solar panel are not higher than the maximum input limits for each of these on the solar generator you are connecting the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel to. Thankfully, as mentioned above the information for the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel is very easy to find.

Performance

I thought the performance of the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel was as expected. My first attempt showed a high of 98 watts which I did not think was bad, however the output from a 100-watt panel that I had connected to a different solar generator was registering 72 watts. Positioning is so important to panel performance, that even a slight difference in the two panels alignment with the sun might explain some of the difference, but I think the biggest reason is the tree limb shadow that is visible on the 200-Watt panel, compared to the absence of such on the 100-Watt panel. You might also note that the 100-Watt panel is propped up on two chairs, as they do not have a way of providing any kind of tilt without the help of another structure.

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Rophie 200 Watt Portable Solar Panel 8

The next time I set up, I decided to see what performance was like just lying flat on the ground. As you can imagine, it was not that great given the time of the year (winter) that I tried this. Finally, I just set up the legs and repositioned to where the sun was. It should come as no surprise, but one can’t say enough about the location and orientation of the panels. The second graph shows the performance of the panel, on a different day, mounted at an angle the entire time.  Notice the variation that occurs with sporadic cloud cover, and tree shadows.

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The best set up that I achieved was going to a parking lot where there were no trees to get in the way. I had almost perfect skies that day and the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel achieved 175-Watts! I stayed out there close to an hour and the number really never dropped below 150-Watts, mostly staying in the 160-Watt range.

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Finally, I did some testing with parts of the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel going from 0% covered, to 25%, 50% and 75% covered. Given the instantaneousness of any given solar panel reading, it looks like the four panels are internally connected in parallel since blocking any one panel (quarter of the total) results in about a 25% decrease for each panel that is blocked. It is worth noting that the 100-Watt panel seemed to configured such that each pair of adjacent panels are connected in series, with each panel pair being connected in parallel. So covering one panel reduced the panel’s output by half, adding another one from the same pair does not seem to change the output much, but covering the third panel results in an output of almost 0-Watts.

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What I like

  • Universal MC4 to multiple connector solar charging cable
  • Easy to locate critical electrical characteristics.
  • Nice overall design.

What I’d change

  • Lower the price, because when you get to it, anything can be cheaper.

Final thoughts

As I am sure you may have surmised based on everything I have said above, there is really nothing to dislike about the Rophie 200-Watt Foldable Solar Panel. It is easy to carry, light, ultra-flexible with the included universal solar charging cable support and competitively priced. One would not go wrong adding this solar panel to their portable solar generator setup, assuming of course, the specs of this panel do not exceed the input limits of the system to be solar charged.

Price: $399.99
Where to buy: Rohpie (Save 15% with code: Gadgeteer (no expiration date) and Amazon (Save 20% with code: Gadgeteer123)
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Rohpie.

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