5 Best 100 Watt Solar Panels

I spent weeks testing 5 of the best 100 watt solar panels on the market.

The best 100 watt solar panels
I tested all the solar panels in this review. I bought all of them with my own money, except for the Newpowa panel which Newpowa sent me for free for review purposes.

I tested their power output, inspected their build quality, and used them in my solar power systems.

Here are my reviews and recommendations based on my test results.

Quick Recommendations: Best 100 Watt Solar Panels

Here’s the TLDR version of this list:

Keep reading for my full 100 watt solar panel reviews.

Top Pick: Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Solar cell type: Monocrystalline Max power (Pmax): 100W
Max power voltage (Vmp): 18.6V Max power current (Imp): 5.38A
Open circuit voltage (Voc): 22.3V Short circuit current (Isc): 5.86A
Dimensions: 42.4″ x 20″ x 1.38″
(1077mm x 508mm x 35mm)
Weight: 13.6 lbs (6.2 kg) weighed
14.3 lbs (6.5 kg) listed

Note: All the specs listed in this review came from the labels on the back of the panels. They may differ from the specs listed online.

Renogy Solar Panel Review

Performing an output test with all the 100w solar panels
Performing an output test

Pros: Good power output, good build quality, lightweight, most compact panel tested, lots of mounting options

Cons: A bit pricey

Review: The Renogy panel was an all-around top performer. It placed second in my power output tests, outputting 71.6 watts.

(If you’re new to solar, 71.6 watts from a 100 watt panel might sound paltry. But it’s common for solar panels to output only around 70% of their rated power output at STC. You’ll only see a 100 watt panel output close to 100 watts in perfect conditions.)

I was impressed with the Renogy panel’s build quality, too. It has a thick frame and the most pre-drilled mounting holes of all the panels I tested, making it the easiest to mount and install out of the box. Its MC4 connectors were also my favorite.

Renogy 100w solar panel mounting options
The Renogy panel has a thicker-than-average frame and the most pre-drilled mounting holes, making it the easiest to install out of the box.

It’s also the most compact panel I tested, making it a great option for RVs, vans, boats, and other applications where space is limited. If weight is a concern, it’s the second lightest panel of the bunch.

Size comparison of 100 watt solar panels
Size comparison of all panels tested in order of size (in square inches). From left to right: Renogy Mono, Newpowa Mono, HQST Poly, Rich Solar Poly, and WindyNation Poly

The only real downside is its price. As of this writing, it has the highest retail price of any panel in this review. Renogy is a popular brand, and it commands a small but noticeable price premium. The panel is also a monocrystalline panel, which cost around $10 more on average than 100 watt polycrystalline panels.

Its power output combined with its build quality makes it the best 100 watt solar panel I tested. For most people, it’s the one I’d recommend.

Full review: Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Review

Budget Pick: Rich Solar 100W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Rich Solar 100W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel
Solar cell type: Polycrystalline Max power (Pmax): 100W
Max power voltage (Vmp): 18.5V Max power current (Imp): 5.41A
Open circuit voltage (Voc): 22.6V Short circuit current (Isc): 5.86A
Dimensions: 39.6″ x 26.4″ x 1.4″
(1006mm x 671mm x 36mm)
Weight: 15.7 lbs (7.1 kg) weighed
17.5 lbs (7.9 kg) listed

Rich Solar Solar Panel Review

Pros: Good power output, good build quality, good bang for your buck

Cons: Bigger and heavier than most 100 watt panels

Review: The Rich Solar poly panel has the lowest average price on Amazon of any panel in this review, according to an Amazon price tracker. It also performed well during testing, making it an easy Budget Pick.

It output a max of 71 watts, placing third in the my power output test.

Its build quality was also among my favorites. It had the second most pre-drilled mounting options of any panel. It also came with a thick 1.4-inch frame that makes mounting a bit easier. The panel back has a nice waterproof seal around the rim as an extra level of waterproofing.

Frame thickness of two 100 watt solar panels
The standard 30mm (1.18 inch) frame on the HQST Poly panel (left) next to the thicker 35mm (1.4 inch) frame on the Rich Solar Poly panel. I’ve found even a difference of 5mm makes a difference in how easy a panel is to mount.

The Rich Solar panel is a poly panel, which means it’s bigger and heavier than the mono panels on this list. In fact, it was the second biggest and second heaviest panel I tested.

It’s a great option, as long as you don’t need the smaller footprint of a mono panel. I think it’s one of the best 100 watt solar panels for the money.

Full review: Rich Solar 100 Watt Solar Panel Review

Honorable Mention: WindyNation 100W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel

WindyNation 100W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel
Solar cell type: Polycrystalline Max power (Pmax): 100W
Max power voltage (Vmp): 18.00V Max power current (Imp): 5.56A
Open circuit voltage (Voc): 21.90V Short circuit current (Isc): 6.13A
Dimensions: 40.1″ x 26.4″ x 1.4″
(1020mm x 670mm x 35mm)
Weight: 15.8 lbs (7.2 kg) weighed
19.6 lbs (8.9 kg) listed

WindyNation Solar Panel Review

Pros: Best power output of all panels tested, good build quality, great value if you buy on WindyNation’s website

Cons: Biggest and heaviest panel tested, arrived with the least amount of packaging

Review: A solar panel’s main job is to generate power. In that regard, the WindyNation panel excelled. It output 72.7 watts in my output test, the most of any panel by a slim margin.

It’s a well-built panel, and the only one I tested not made in China. According to the label, it’s made in Canada.

I docked some points for its size and weight. It’s the biggest and heaviest panel I tested, over two pounds heavier and 200 square inches bigger than my top pick, the Renogy Mono. If space is limited, it’s not a good option.

A solar panel with a dented frame
The WindyNation Poly panel (top) arrived with a couple minor dents in the frame, perhaps due to its minimal packaging. They didn’t affect power output, however.

It arrived with minimal packaging and — perhaps as a result — some minor dents in the frame. The dents didn’t affect power output. I’m all for reduced packaging, but in this case it was a bit minimal for my taste.

As of this writing, it’s one of the cheapest 100 watt panels available if you buy through WindyNation’s website. That makes it a top performing panel at a great value — definitely worth a close look.

Full review: WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Review

Newpowa 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Newpowa 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Solar cell type: Monocrystalline Max power (Pmax): 100W
Max power voltage (Vmp): 16.77V Max power current (Imp): 6.26A
Open circuit voltage (Voc): 19.83V Short circuit current (Isc): 6.56A
Dimensions: 44.49″ x 19.88″ x 1.18″
(1130mm x 505mm x 30mm)
Weight: 13.5 lbs (6.1 kg) weighed
14.55 lbs (6.6 kg) listed

Newpowa Solar Panel Review

Pros: Lightest panel tested, compact, good build quality, great price for a mono panel

Cons: Performed second worst in power output test

Review: The Newpowa panel was so close to being one of my recommended picks. It’s a great mono solar panel at a great price.

In fact, according to a price tracker, it’s on average the second cheapest solar panel on Amazon in this review — even cheaper than the HQST and WindyNation poly panels. That makes it the best 100 watt monocrystalline panel for those on a budget.

Its compact size is great when you have limited mounting space. I’ve seen people mount these panels on trucks, campervans, even school buses. If you’re living the vanlife, I’d recommend a mono panel for space-saving reasons.

And the build quality is good. It has a couple nice touches, such as the waterproof seal on the inside of the panel back and thicker 12 gauge cables compared to the more common 14 gauge ones.

It only lagged a bit in my output tests. I recorded a max power output of 68.6 watts, the fourth best of five panels. Not a great showing.

But to keep things in perspective, that’s only three watts less than my top pick, the Renogy Mono. And when you factor in the price, the Newpowa panel starts to look like a great deal. I certainly wouldn’t blame you for overlooking a few watts to save more than a few bucks.

If you’re buying multiple panels to build a solar array, those savings can compound to the point where you could even buy an extra Newpowa panel. The more solar panels the better, no matter how much they output.

Full review: Newpowa 100 Watt Solar Panel Review

HQST 100W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel

HQST 100W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel
Solar cell type: Polycrystalline Max power (Pmax): 100W
Max power voltage (Vmp): 18.2V Max power current (Imp): 5.5A
Open circuit voltage (Voc): 21.4V Short circuit current (Isc): 5.7A
Dimensions: 35.6″ x 25.9″ x 1.18″
(904mm x 657mm x 30mm)
Weight: 14 lbs (6.4 kg) weighed
14.3 lbs (6.5 kg) listed

HQST Solar Panel Review

Pros: Cheaper than most 100 watt panels, compact and lightweight for a poly panel

Cons: Performed worst in power output test

Review: The HQST panel holds a special place in my heart because it was the first 100 watt solar panel I ever bought. However, it took last place in my testing.

To start, the build quality is average. It has the standard mounting options and frame thickness. The standard 14 gauge cables, MC4 connectors, and junction box.

Solar charging an electric bike with a 100w solar panel
Using the HQST to solar charge my electric bike

In my output test, it generated a max of 68.1 watts, the least of all the panels.

What it lacks in power it makes up for a bit in size and price. It’s the smallest and lightest poly panel I tested by a long shot. In fact, it’s not much bigger than the Newpowa mono panel. It’s impressively compact for a poly panel.

And its price is often quite low on Amazon. If you catch it during a discount, it’s worth considering. Otherwise I’d stick with my recommended picks.

Full review: HQST 100 Watt Solar Panel Review

How to Choose the Best 100 Watt Solar Panel for Your Needs

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

100 watt monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panel
A 100 watt monocrystalline solar panel (left) next to a 100 watt polycrystalline panel

One of the first things to decide is whether you want to get monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels. 100 watt mono and poly panels are rated to output the same amount of power — the real differences are in their size, weight and color.

Monocrystalline solar panels use more efficient solar cells so they tend to be smaller and lighter. However, they are often more expensive. Mono panels also have black solar cells.

Polycrystalline solar panels use less efficient solar cells, so to make up for this the panels are often bigger and heavier than monocrystalline panels. They are often cheaper. Poly panels have blue solar cells.

A third type you may read about is thin-film solar panels. These are currently much less common in DIY solar power systems. They are usually flexible, making them best suited for curved surfaces. I most often see them on vehicles with curved walls and roofs, such as boats and teardrop campers.

Mounting Space (Solar Panel Size)

Size comparison of mono and poly panels

One way to decide whether to get mono or poly panels is to consider your space constraints.

Monocrystalline panels are smaller and thus better when mounting space is limited — such as on a van, boat, RV, or small roof. In some cases, if you go with mono panels over poly panels you may be able to fit an extra panel or two in the space you have.

Polycrystalline panels are bigger and thus better when you have lots of space to mount your panel(s) — such as with a ground-mounted solar array or a large roof.

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline: Size Comparison

Just how big are these size differences?

To answer that, I charted the size (length * width) of all the 100W solar panels I tested:

The mono panels have an average surface area of 865 square inches, while the poly panels have an average surface area of 1009 square inches. That’s a difference of roughly 150 square inches.

That’s not a big difference if you’re just getting one panel. But if you’re mounting multiple, the space savings add up.

Price

The other main difference between poly and mono panels is price.

100 watt monocrystalline panels tend to cost around $10-20 more than 100 watt polycrystalline panels.

Once again, that’s not a huge difference if you’re buying one or two panels. Buy if you’re buying lots of panels, the cost savings from choosing polycrystalline could add up to the point where you could afford, say, eight poly panels for the price of seven mono panels.

Solar Panel Color

Close up of a polycrystalline panel
Polycrystalline solar panels have blue solar cells. The cells are made of silicon fragments that have been melted together, resulting in a fragmented appearance when viewed up close.

The last difference worth noting between mono and poly panels is their color.

Monocrystalline panels have black solar cells. The cells are also one continuous hue.

Polycrystalline panels have blue solar cells. They can range from light blue to dark blue. The cells are composed of silicon fragments that have been melted together, so from up close they have a fragmented look.

The choice here comes down to personal preference. Some people care about the color of the panels on their roof.

Power Output (Wattage)

Measuring the power output from a solar panel
Performing a power output test

All 100 watt solar panels will output around the same amount of power — regardless of whether they’re mono or poly panels.

To illustrate this, here are the results, once again, of my power output test:

All the panels output about the same amount of power. They’re all 100 watt panels, so this was expected.

Note: Just a reminder, panels typically generate around 70% of their rated output. So 100 watt panels generating around 70 watts is expected. I also tested the panels in November, when the sun isn’t as strong in the northern hemisphere.

Want more or less power? You’ll have buy a bigger or smaller solar panel. Or, buy multiple 100 watt panels and connect them in series or parallel.

Nominal Voltage

Most 100 watt solar panels are 12 volt panels. I have seen 100W 24V panels, but they are much rarer.

You can connect multiple 100W panels in series to make solar arrays with higher voltages, such as 24V or 48V.

Note: A panel’s open circuit voltage (Voc) and max power voltage (Vmp) will be greater than the nominal voltage. For example, my top pick, the 100W Renogy Mono panel, has a nominal voltage of 12 volts but a Voc of 22.3 volts and Vmp of 18.6 volts.

You’ll be pairing your 100 watt panel(s) with a solar charge controller. Use our solar panel voltage calculator to find your solar array’s maximum open circuit voltage. Choose a charge controller with a PV voltage limit that is greater than this number.

Weight

Monocrystalline panels tend to be lighter.

Polycrystalline panels tend to be heavier.

Here is a chart comparing the weight of the five panels I tested:

Note: These are my recorded weights, which differ from the listed weights on the panel labels. The panels were all lighter than their listed weights.

Of the panels tested, the mono panels were around 1.5 pounds lighter than the poly panels on average.

Rigid vs Flexible Solar Panels

Rigid vs flexible solar panel
A flexible solar panel on top of a rigid solar panel

All the panels I tested for this review were rigid panels because they are the most popular kind of 100 watt panel. But it is worth comparing them to flexible solar panels.

Rigid solar panels are the industry standard. They have a glass front and a metal frame for protection. They are typically cheaper and heavier. They do not bend.

Flexible solar panels are much less common and typically much more expensive. They’re made from ultra-thin solar cells placed between a protective layer typically made of plastic. They have no metal frame. They are much lighter and can bend, making them better suited for portable solar builds or curved surfaces.

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Alex Beale
Alex Beale
Hi, I'm Alex. I’m a DIY solar power enthusiast on a journey to learn how to solar power anything. Footprint Hero is where I’m sharing what I learn – as well as the (many) mistakes I’m making along the way.