Hardwire Solar Panels VS Portable Solar Panels

What is the difference between a Hardwired Solar Panel and a Portable Solar Panel? We'll walk you through each and help you decide which is best for you!

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In the realm of solar panels, not only do you have a variety of brands to choose from; each brand offers both a hardwired panels system and a portable panel system. Already being overwhelmed on choosing solar power as an option, these additional choices add to the confusion.  We at BundutecUSA want to help you choose which option is best for you!

Let’s start with the standard hardwired solar panel systems. In the broad scheme of things, here is a short pro and con list for the hardwired solar panels:



Permanently attached & secure

Less output when in the shade

Larger panel sizes available

Needs adequate surface area to mount

Always working

Can snag tree limbs

Can be added to

Holes into roof membrane


Dirt and snow can buildup on panels


Need a controller to monitor battery charge


When considering a hardwired panel, first, think about is what type of rig you own. Do you have the space on your roof for a hardwired panel and will the roof support the weight? A hardwired panel is permanently attached to the surface it is mounted to which means it will need space on the roof of your rig to be mounted. Some hardwired panels can get very large depending on the watts and if you will need to check to make sure your existing roof attachments will allow for the panel.

Hardwired panels do allow for larger watt panels usually starting at 100 watts. It is nice to have access to larger panels if you have a larger rig that requires more watts to keep you ahead of your daily amp draw.

Another benefit of the hardwired panels is that they are always connected to your battery and always working to charge your system. Without having to hook up the panel to your on-board battery. Direct sunlight is the best way to get the full benefit of solar power.  

Wires need to be run to a controller inside, most of the time this is through the fridge vent on hardwall campers. Pop-tops require a little more planning to get the power from the roof to controller.

Just like anything, hardwired panels also have some down-sides. One of these include that you will have less draw while you are parked under the shade tree at your camping destination. Another downfall is that you need to have the correct amount of surface area on the roof of your rig to mount the panel. If you have a lot of items already on your roof, you may not have the space needed for the size of panel you want.

Now that you have thought about the situations above which are relative to a hardwired panel, here are some pros and cons for the portable solar panels:



You can chase the sun

They need a place to be stored when not in use

They are compact

They could potentially be stolen

They are dual purpose


You only need to buy it once


Built in controller


Able to add in series


Use in multiple vehicles



Personally, I use a portable solar panel system on my BundutecUSA Bivak setup and I LOVE it. Here are some things to think about when it comes to choosing portable solar for your needs.

If you don’t have an awning that can keep you cool while you travel to the remote places your adventures leave you, tree cover is probably the best place to be on hot days. Portable solar will let you enjoy the benefits of parking the shade while still allowing you to chase the sun as it travels through the day.

Portable solar is also a compact way to enjoy solar power. Depending on the brand of solar you use they can be as small as a suitcase or even rolled into a convenient cylinder to place inside your rig as you travel.

Portable solar panels also serve a dual purpose, meaning you can use it to also charge your vehicle battery if needed without any extensive cables or hookups. Being portable, you can move the unit from your camping rig to your camping vehicle.

Portable solar is also something that can be used, not only in your current set up but in any setup. This means you will only have to fork out the cost of solar once, unless you decide to upgrade to a larger panel or expand on the panel you purchase in the future. Being portable means, you can take it with you anywhere in any rig!

Portable solar panels just like hardwired panels also have some minor draw backs. These include that you will need to have a place to store the panel while you travel or the unit is not in use. A second draw back that people seem to address is the possibility of them to be stolen. This is a possibility, as it is with any of your belongings in today’s world unfortunately. You can take steps to protect it, whether it be attaching a locking cable to it or simply putting it away at night or while you are gone.

I hope that this brief comparison between hardwired and portable solar options has made it easier to assess the type of panel you may need. If you still have questions we would love to hear from you and help you choose the best type of panel for your needs.

In our next segment, we will discuss how solar panels work and how they can benefit you in your upcoming adventures.




  1. Hi! In your pros column for portable solar, you mention the ability to add more panels wired in series. Any advice on the logistics of that? I have a 120w amp portable system am thinking of adding to it.


    • Hi Kelly,

      Connecting the Zamp portable solar panels in series may sound complicated but it is not.

      When adding additional portable panels, you could do it 1 of 2 ways.
      1. You could add an additional exterior solar plug port and then connect the wires going into the unit into 1 connection that is attached to your battery.
      2. You would disconnect the wires from one of the solar controllers and install lead wires to connect the panels together. They will have to be wired parallel as you can only use one solar charge controller at a time.

      The simplest of these 2 methods would be method 1.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to contact either us or Zamp solar direct for additional information on adding additional portable solar panels to your unit.

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