With so many solar generators on the market right now, and some very good ones finally coming out like the Titan, it can be difficult to move everything around and keep things straight. This is why is spent months searching for, buying, testing and using different solar panel carry bags and cases. I needed something that would fit my panels, break down when not in use, was not over the top expensive and would last a very long time. I also wanted to keep my panels clean, protected and out of harm’s way.
Standard Solar Panel Carry case
There are three main solutions I have found work very well for solar panel carry bags. The first is the Standard Solar Panel Carry Case. It works very well and is made of felt. The felt keeps water out very well when it’s raining since it’s naturally water repellant. It also does a great job of keeping the dust off of the panels. I store my panels in my garage where I often do woodworking projects and everything seems to get caked in sawdust. Having the panels in the standard carry bag keeps them very clean.
It also does a good job of keeping them well padded and protected. The biggest downside of the standard carry bag is it does not have a shoulder strap. When I go camping with my family, we sometimes have to walk quite a long distance in order to reach the campsite. This can get a little tiring since I generally keep 5 or 6 panels in each case and each panel weighs 4lbs. I generally carry 20 to 24lbs in panels in each case which is easy over a short distance but over long distances can be tiring.
The second drawback is that it uses Velcro to close the top. I don’t find this too difficult to use and it’s nice when I have different amounts of panels in the case that it conforms to whatever thickness I need. It would be nicer to have a zipper though.
One big benefit to it is that it extends up to 59 inches in length which means it works for both 42-inch and 48-inch flexible solar panels. It will easily carry up to 35lbs without any worries of it breaking or ripping.
Deluxe Solar Panel Carry Case
The Deluxe carry bag is my absolute favorite of the three options. This is the one I use the most and recommend to everyone. It measures 42 inches long by 32 inches wide by 4 inches gusset (thick when full). Since the flexible solar panels, I use are 42 inches long they fit perfectly snug inside of it. 48-inch-long deluxe carry cases can also be obtained by asking about them here.
The biggest thing I love about the deluxe panel carry bag is that it is extremely easy to use and carry. At first, I didn’t understand why there was 32 inches wide when the average flexible solar panel is only 22 to 24 inches wide. But then I went to put my solar panels in it and realized that it’s much easier to slide the panels in when they can rest on a lip of the bag and then slide in.
The handle on the case is oversized so that it can be used to carry the panels by hand or over the shoulder. I always use it as a shoulder strap unless I’m just moving them a very short distance. The straps are extra wide because they are 2 inches wide which makes them very comfortable on the shoulder. Even when carrying up to 10 solar panels for a total of about 40lbs. I don’t notice any pain in my shoulder from the straps. They do not dig in at all.
The Deluxe Case also has a handle in the middle of the case on the outside. When the case is slung over my shoulder the extra handle is exactly at my hand level. This allows me to grab the handle and get extra support to alleviate weight off my shoulder if necessary. It also makes it easier to put onto a table. Generally, at a campsite, there are tables where we put all of our stuff before getting set up. Or even at home when the power is out, and I need to set the panels out I often set out a table to work on so I’m not in the dirt or snow.
When the side handle is pulled up the entire case will lay flat. This makes it very easy to walk up to a table, pull the handle up, and set the entire case down safely without worry of damaging the panels inside. Normally I would’ve had to live the entire case higher up, so the bottom edge gets on the table and then set it down and lay it flat. With the Deluxe Case, it’s easier.
To make sure that my panels are 100% protected I take the extra plastic foam that comes with the panels and I put at least two sheets inside the carry bag. This makes it even more protective because I add more padding to the whole bag. I put a large flat piece of foam that comes with the solar panel on one side of the panels in the case and another foam pad on the other side, so the panels are encased in foam, so they are more protected.
I sometimes will put a layer of foam in between the panels too but the foam is actually thicker than the panels, so each piece of foam essentially takes up about one pane’s worth of space. That can make it hard to fit up to 10 panels in there even though it’s possible.
The Deluxe Carry Bag also has a very nice zipper on it which rarely ever gets snagged. The only time I have it snag is when I a pulling on the zipper at a weird angle or the flaps are lined up together. I’ve never had any fabric get stuck in the zipper like what sometimes happens on jackets.
It is made of a tight weave Dacron fabric that has a waterproof coating put on it. This is 100% waterproof unless you’re really trying to get water in it. The only places I have seen water really come in is through the zipper and that was only during torture testing. I have never seen water get inside in normal rainy conditions.
It folds down to be extremely compact so when I am not using the case it doesn’t take up any space in my camper, tent, truck, cabin, house or whatever. It folds down to about the size of a 1” binder.
The Deluxe Carry Case is absolutely the best way to go when it comes to carrying lots of flexible solar panels. It keeps them well protected, it’s very portable, and the bag compacts down very small.
Ultimate Solar Panel Carry Case
There is another solar panel carry case that I have used and like a lot, but it is not designed for solar panels. It is the 50-inch LCD TV Gator Case. This thing is a beast when it comes to protecting solar panels. It is designed for carrying LCD and LED TVs to events like Expos and Shows.
I really like it because it has 2 inches of thick foam padding all the way around it so it’s nearly impossible to damage the solar panels inside. There is so much padding that they could literally fall out of the bed of a truck and essentially no damage would come to the panels. But it comes at a price.
Even though it’s extremely nice it is a bit pricey. Generally, around $200. The sad part is that there is a case that is meant for 40 to 45-inch TVs but it doesn’t work with 42” solar panels. The reason is that solar panels are measured along the length of the panel and TVs are measured along the diagonal length between corners. That means a 45-inch LED TV is actually only about 40 inches long. Since the solar panels are 42 inches long it just barely does not fit. The smaller Gator Case is normally about $70 more affordable which would’ve been a pretty good price around $130 for protecting panels that cost nearly $1,000 but the 50-inch Gator Case is normally about $200.
$200 is a pretty steep price to pay when the Deluxe Solar Panel Carry Bag is about half of that. Since the foam that ships with the solar panels is slipped into the Deluxe Case, I feel it is well protected and that the Gator Case is overprotected and not worth that much of a price for my solar panels.
The second drawback is that it doesn’t break down. When the case is not in use it still takes up the same amount of space as if the panels were in it. This makes it harder to store. But if there’s a need for tons of extra padding then it’s a great option.
The Best Way to Go
The Deluxe Panel Carry Bag is my favorite option because it has everything I need for carrying my panels as well as protecting them from damage, dust, and water. I think it’s one of the best investments to have after getting a solar generator and panels. It’s not fun at all to have just spent anywhere from $500 to $2,000 in solar panels and then have them get damaged. To me, I look at the Deluxe Carry Case as an investment in my investment. It keeps my panels working well so I can get more energy output from them.