Kings Solar Blanket Review; are they total rubbish?

After losing a fixed solar panel on our Reconn R2 somewhere between Albany and Perth (you can read about that here – Where’s my solar panel gone?), we needed to get some extra solar capacity happening, and the Kings Solar Blanket popped up online.

Now, we’ve only ever bought a couple of very small items from 4WD Supacentre, and are well and truly familiar with the reputation that they have. 

The gear you buy is extremely cheap, and whilst there are a lot of happy customers, there is no shortage of unhappy ones.

Regardless, I’d been wanting to test a solar blanket for a while, and after seeing my brothers Kings 200W Solar Blanket in use for some time, decided to give it a whirl, as a backup panel in addition to our existing setup.

We also have a 180W eBay folding solar panel which has been pretty good, but its heavy, awkward to set up and doesn’t quite fit in our Reconn R2 storage hatch properly, which makes it even more annoying.

If you aren’t sure what solar panels and batteries you need to run your appliances we have a guide for that here; Solar Panels for Camping.

Solar Blanket vs Panel
Comparing our 180W folding solar panel to the Kings Solar Blanket

Ordering the Kings Solar blanket

Like a couple of previous orders with 4WD Supacentre, delivery was reasonably quick, although it did come in two individual deliveries as we opted to get the 10 metre extension cable (which is extremely important, so you have more options for using the solar blanket.

The cable it comes with will work if you are in full sun, but if you need to move the blanket around a bit, you can be at the end of the run pretty quickly.

Kings Solar Blanket
The Kings Solar Blanket arrived fairly promptly

Testing the Solar blanket

I’d read so many reviews from people who purchased the Kings Solar blanket only to have it not work at all, or only put out a very minor amount of its capacity. I’m all too familiar with the cheaper solar panels being falsely advertised on eBay, and was not expecting the full 200W from our new blanket.

The regulator that comes with these is well known to be average at best, and most people ditch them and replace them with something that does a better job at converting the suns rays into usable power.

My intention was to keep the regulator with us in case we needed it (as we also purchased an Itech 120X as a backup battery which had no other way of being charged), but primarily using it through our Enerdrive DCDC in the Reconn R2.

I set some tests up at home, and managed to get about 110W out of the blanket, but it became very obvious that to maximise the generation you had to face it directly at the sun, which is pretty hard (almost impossible) to do.

I tested our 180W folding panel at the same stage, and consistently got higher generation, despite it being a smaller rated panel.

Both tests were done through our Enerdrive DCDC, minutes apart on a cloudless day.

Enerdrive DC2DC
Our Enerdrive DCDC battery charger in the Reconn R2 makes it easy to compare different panels

Our electrical setup

Our electrical system is basically split between the Dmax and Reconn R2, and they run as separate units (with the ability to connect together and change things around as required).

Camper setup

Inside the camper, we run an 82L Evakool fridge freezer, and have been using it entirely as a freezer, set at around -15 degrees. The camper also runs lights, a water pump, phone chargers and the occasional inverter for laptop use.

Its all charged from our Enerdrive DCDC unit, which has a 120W fixed panel on the roof (it was 240W until the other panel came off!) with a solar input on the back of the camper for unregulated panels (which is where we plug the blanket, or portable panel in as needed).

For storage, we only have 240aH of battery capacity, which is enough for about a day and a half of use with no charge going in, and then we are at 50% capacity.

The DCDC pumps 35 amps (about 500W) in when we are driving along, which helps hugely. Without the regular driving, or portable panels, we’d be in trouble quite quickly.

I purchased an Itech lithium battery before leaving too, as they came on sale for very cheap, and I wanted some additional redundancy should we have a couple of cloudy days when we were parked up and unable to move. 

EDIT – We now run 340aH of Renogy Lithium Batteries, and 600W of Renogy Solar Panels on the roof.

Portable Solar Panels
Using lots of portable panels and blankets at James Price Point

Dmax setup

The Isuzu Dmax runs a 200W fixed panel through a Projecta DCDC, feeding a 150aH Bosch AGM and it runs our inverter for laptop and camera charging, drone batteries and the 85L Bushman upright fridge.

I had very little concerns about the Dmax system knowing it would be driven at least every couple of days, and the 200W panel easily kills any consumption we use (unless you get cloudy days in a row).

Interestingly, I also worked out I could use the 400W Enerdrive inverter in the Dmax to power our camper trailer 240V battery charger, to charge the batteries.

It wouldn’t do 25 amps, but it hummed along happily at 12 amps. Inefficient, yep, but if you did it on a cloudy day prior to taking the Dmax for a drive it worked pretty well.

EDIT – We upgraded, and built a 230aH DIY Lithium Battery, and have a 2000W Renogy Inverter now.

Dmax solar
200W of fixed solar panel on the canopy of our Dmax

Using the Kings solar blanket up north

For the first part of our trip, I kept the Kings Solar Blanket as a backup only. We were lucky with the weather, and power draw from our appliances and I only got our folding panel out at camp sites we were at for more than a couple of days. 

Eventually, I tired of using the portable panel, and started using the Kings solar blanket. It was easier to get out, plug in and despite delivering a bit less than the folding portable panel, it easily allowed the DCDC to fully charge the batteries by the end of the day.

Solar blankets vs portable folding panels

We’ve done a comprehensive post comparing solar blankets vs folding panels, and the conclusion is simple; they both have their pro’s and con’s, and suit different arrangements.

After using both on and off for 6 weeks, I’m really not sold on one more than another; it will really depend on how you plan on using it, and how much solar you need. If you had to set up 4 blankets, you’d get over it real fast.

What do we like about the Kings Solar Blanket?

Its compact and less fragile

Like all solar blankets, these are quite compact. They are surprisingly heavy, but they fold up into a much more user friendly size than a 200W portable folding panel would.

This means you can tuck it down the side of seats, or up against the roof of your vehicle, on top of other gear.

I like the fact that it doesn’t have sharp edges, or glass that you could crack or shatter. I don’t have to worry about a camp chair leg smashing it to bits, or the corners of the panels putting a hole in anything that it rubs on (like portable panels can easily do).

It’s cheap

The folding blanket from Kings was about the same price that we paid for a cheap solid, portable panel from eBay. Compared to other brands they are insanely cheap, and we know how many people will buy a product on price alone.

I think the quality control is hit and miss, but Supacentre is big enough now that you can return it if it doesn’t work, and you just accept that if it fails after a year or two then the cost is on you.

However, one unexpected benefit for me was that I could comfortably leave the blanket out at a free camp, knowing that if someone decided they needed it more than me, I wouldn’t be too concerned.

There is zero chance I’d be leaving an expensive solar blanket out at a camp site for the day, when we go off and explore.

Could you imagine someone walking off with your solar blanket that cost over 2 grand? Some of them cost that much!

What’s not good about the Kings solar blanket?

Like always, there’s going to be downsides of every product, and some of these things are not specifically related to the fact that its a kings product, but that its a solar blanket

Hard to face the sun

In 6 weeks, I never found a better option for facing the solar blanket towards the sun. I just kept it laid down on the floor, but that has its own set of downsides.

For starters, you’d often end up with sand and dirt on the panel, or a leaf would blow down and sit on it, and kill its efficiency.

Our kids had to be told a number of times not to run over it when they were playing, whereas they’d never run over a folding solar panel.

The Kings solar blanket also has a small tab that you use when its packed up, which has a habit of blowing over the blanket. It blocks about 10cm x 10cm, and that’s enough to basically kill the generation completely. When you set it up, its important to ensure this tab is tucked under the blanket.

The Kings solar blanket comes with tabs that you could use to hang it, but at best for us we’d achieve a vertical position, which is almost no better than being on the floor.

I wasn’t prepared to rest it on my vehicle, as the paintwork would cop a hiding, and because it has no stands and folds so easily, its extremely difficult to prop up against anything.

I have seen some folding solar panels that come with stands so you can point them at 30 degrees or so, which would be far more user friendly.

Solar blankets
By far and away the most annoying thing is trying to get solar blankets to face the sun

Questionable quality

Every time you buy the cheapest option on the market, you know that there’s a chance its not going to work properly, or for long, or at all.

You only have to look at the Kings Solar Blanket Reviews online to see how many have arrived not working, or that don’t generate anywhere near what they are supposed to. 

Of course, people don’t jump online and rave about products; they only do it when theres an issue, so you’ll always see this one sided perspective.

The quality of these is obviously good enough for people to buy them, but I do wonder how many will still be working in 10 years time! Perhaps even the good quality units don’t even last that long; I don’t really know.

Power output is not as advertised

I mentioned above that we were never able to get more than about 100W from the kings solar panel. Its not terrible, but its a far cry from the 200W that is advertised. I suspect if you ran it through their regulator you’d get even worse, which is pretty poor. 

That said, its super common for panels to be incorrectly advertised, and if you see a panel that is stating more than 160W per m2, its probably a lie.

Kings Solar Blanket vs Allspark Solar Blanket

Out of curiosity, I borrowed a mates 160W Allspark Solar Blanket, and the difference is chalk and cheese.

The Allspark is much better quality, stands up nicely with its own integrated stands, easily does more than the Kings blanket (which is bigger in size and rated output), and is just a much nicer unit to use. Of course, you pay for this, but clearly there are much better quality solar blankets out there!

Allspark Solar Blanket
Testing an All Spark 160W solar blanket which destroyed the Kings one

Kings 200W Solar blanket review after several years

We’ve used the blanket quite a lot now over the last few years. If we just need a bit of extra power, its quick and easy to get out. I sold our portable folding panels as they were too big, fragile and didn’t fit our storage hatch properly.

The Kings Solar Blanket has worked each time, but I can see bubbles forming on the edge of the blanket, and am quite confident that it isn’t going to lead a long life.

It’s also got rub marks where the clear coating has rubbed off, despite doing my best to brush any dirt or sand off each time we pack it away.

I haven’t tested its output recently, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s tapered off quite a bit too.

I’ll keep updating this post as time goes on.

Would we recommend a Kings Solar Blanket?

I’m reasonably happy with our Kings solar blanket. I don’t usually encourage buying the cheapest product on the market, and I’m not going to stand on the cliffs and shout praise.

However, it serves its purpose for us and I guess you can’t really ask for more than that. For us, its a backup system, and its not a critical part of our 12V arrangement. If it was, I’d be a bit more concerned about it.

Would we get another one? Sure, if it wasn’t something we had to depend on. Lets see how this one goes longer term.

Do you have a Kings Solar Blanket? What are your thoughts on it?

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  1. Hey Cheryl,

    You need to know what the battery is doing. You can do this with a multimeter. When you plug the solar in (panel to regulator, regulator to battery) you should see the volts go up on the battery.

    From there, its just a case of putting enough solar in to run the fridge, which a 200w solar blanket may not do.

    Are you running a 40L fridge, and a 15L freezer, or is it one unit? How much power does it draw? If its more than about 60Ah in a 24 hour period, you’re going to run out of juice

    All the best

  2. CHERYL MORLEY says:

    I bought the Kings 200w solar blanket, 120ah Lithium battery set in a bateery box thingo.. I have a kings 40litre fridge and a 15 litre I want to use for a freezer.. Premium MPPT solar regulator. I have no idea what I’m doing. I have set it up and used it but by morning the fridge is off and things are defrosting. Should I have more solar power or more battery?Any tips on where I can get info on how to set up and what the numbers mean.

  3. Hey Neil,

    That’s very average mate. My comments about the Kings solar blanket being robust were in relation to being able to move it around and bump it without having a normal solar panel crack, or break. Blankets are a bit softer and more forgiving in that way. It certainly wasn’t intended to say that they are well built, or going to last a lifetime.

    Ours is still going, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

    All the best

  4. I had a 200W Kings blanket. Took it out of box, plugged in, no current at all, panel too hot to touch, then noticed the couple of PV cells where the junction box, and controller is stored were cracked. Returned for refund. Pretty basic design flaw. So not as robust as you mentioned in the review. If I had one, I would slit open the inside of the pocket where junction box etc is and insert a piece of coreflute

  5. Hey Tony,

    Yep, when they are that cheap its hard to resist. As long as its not dead on arrival they work OK, but I’ve seen a huge number of people who haven’t had much luck with the kings regulators.

    Close to the battery is always good

    All the best

  6. Hi, not a fan of cheap and nasty but couldn’t resist a kings 120w blanket with 10m lead as it was so cheap and compact. Haven’t tested the output but has no trouble running the fridge. No regulators are 100% efficient so you need test output at the panel. Also I like the regulator being close to the battery so less voltage drop when using long leads. Cheers.

  7. Hey Andrew,

    We also keep the Kings solar blanket as a backup these days, and it works OK. I can see the panels are starting to scratch, and I have no doubt that it will eventually die (but I feel like all solar blankets have a limited lifespan compared to solid panels). I have the same mentality though – I’d happily leave the Kings solar blanket out at camp, but good luck feeling comfortable with one from Redarc!

    All the best

  8. I have a Kings blanket as a back up to better quality one and it works okay for what it is and the money spent. The controller was DOA but replaced in store . If it gets stolen at camp I will not top myself over it .

  9. Hey John,

    Good to hear its going well, and doing the job for you. I’m always happy to hear from both sides of the coin. Ours is still going for now, and we’ll probably take it with us on the lap. I can’t justify spending 800 bucks on something different!

    All the best

  10. John Williams says:

    We use the 120W blanket and have done so for over a year now. It keeps my back up battery in the tub full which runs our 55L fridge and charges phones etc when we are out camping in the tents , I also use it to top up the 2 x batteries on the camper trailer when it’s been sitting around for a few weeks. I do have a better quality fold out solar panel but as mentioned in the review I also find them a hassle and bulky. A thumbs up to the Kings Solar Blanket from us.

  11. Hey Brook,

    I’d never feel comfortable leaving a solar blanket out that was so expensive; sorry to hear yours got nicked. What a nightmare!

    How long have you been running the Kings blankets?

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen close to 200W, but interestingly I did compare our 200W kings solar blanket to a 160W All spark folding blanket/panel which flogged it in terms of generation time after time, and is significantly better built. You certainly pay more though, so its a fine balance.

    At the end of the day, if it does what you need it to you can’t really ask for more!

    All the best

  12. Work used to buy $1-$1,4k Redarc panels for the remote battery charging needs. After one got flogged at a campground, We decided to try a test and bought 8 of the kings 200 watt panels for the different work cars. Used each at least 2 times a month (We are techs and have to top up remote batteries for testing). All still going strong, whilst 200 watts is in absolute optimum conditions (AKA a test lab), we have seen 154 watts come out of a couple in bright sun. tested using a photovoltaic solar Multimeter made for testing solar panels.. Cheap enough to lose, and enough output to pass.. Can’t say we knock them. Tough outer case builds on them too. I think bang for buck is certainly there.

  13. Hey Di,

    You could be right. Ours is still going, but not sure for how long.

    They do sell like hotcakes though, along with the rest of their gear

    Take care

  14. s..t product, cheap imported rubbish! why do they have low low prices???? like l said they are rubbish! you get what you pay for! never again!!!