Nitecore is on a mission to bring durable tech to the outdoors, and their FSP100W promises to be a solar panel you can depend on in the backcountry. I currently own the Goal Zero (GZ) Yeti 1250 and their Boulder 100-watt panels and love them, but I’m intrigued by some of the cheaper alternatives. That said, the FSP100W is by no means a budget option at $350, making it just $50 cheaper than the comparable GZ Nomad 100W $400. The question is, do you get the same quality for less, or should you make up the marginal price difference and commit to the industry leader?
One critical observation is the FSP100W is pitched as a “waterproof” solar panel, and whilst it does offer an IPX5 rating, the marketing is a little misleading as it’s not fully waterproof. In the small print, the company states: “Do not submerge the product in water or rinse it in a strong water flow.” Thus, in terms of waterproofing, it’s only offering a level of water/dust resistance that you’d expect from any solar panel (the ports are “splash proof”). Nevertheless, for most outdoor enthusiasts, the IPX5 rating will be sufficient; just don’t assume the panel is submersible. The FSP100W showcases a translucent ETFE unibody laminated structure that has “excellent water, dirt and corrosion resistance,” whilst the panel comes in at a lightweight 5.7 pounds (2.6 kilograms). Nitecore states it has “outstanding cell efficiency of 23 percent,” which is “60 percent higher than conventional solar panels.”
Consequently, when the sunlight is sufficient, this solar panel can charge Nitecore’s NPS Series portable outdoor power stations as follows (number shown is minimum time): NPS200, 2 hours; NPS400, 4.5 hours; NPS600, 6 hours. In my experience of using comparable products, it’s very unusual to hit these “minimum” charge times unless you have strong direct sunlight. The panels have a customized DC output port that is “compatible with Nitecore NPS Series portable outdoor power stations and more devices.” The FSP100W is highly portable, featuring useful hanging loops, an ergonomic handle, integrated storage pocket, and folds smaller than a laptop.
Nitecore is evidently focused on the outdoor sector, producing tech designed to work in tough conditions. Companies such as GZ have dominated the portable power scene over the past decade, and this has demanded a premium price. Recently, there’s been a wave of more affordable alternatives, which promise all the performance but without the hefty price tag. The Nitecore is not a budget option, but if the performance is on par with GZ, it’s still a notably cheaper competitor. On paper, it ticks all the boxes: durable, lightweight, impressive cell efficiency, highly portable, featuring an output port compatible with multiple devices. It’s early days for the Nitecore FSP100W, but I’m excited to see how it performs in the field.
$350 | nitecore.com
Unfolded: 1,294 x 606 x 5 millimeters (50.9 x 23.9 x 0.2 inches)
Folded: 385 x 300 x 45 millimeters (15.2 x 11.8 x 1.8 inches)
Weight: 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds)
IP rating: IPX5
Panel number: 8
Cell efficiency: *≥23% (*tested in the Nitecore lab)
Operating current: DC output 5.6 amps
Operating voltage: DC output 18 volts
Total output power: 100 watts (max)
Output port: 7.9*5.5 millimeters