Getting away from the city and camping with friends and family can reduce stress and give you a lot of happiness. So the idea is undoubtedly a good one. But going out in forests will mean you will either need to ditch your electronic goods or look for costly charging stations.
In this situation, solar energy can be beneficial. However, the lingering question for most campers would be regarding the transportation and carrying of these bulky panels.
This article offers a comprehensive guide on portable solar panels for camping.
What are solar panels for camping?
If you are a regular camper or camping enthusiast, you’ll need a backup to charge all your devices and accessories. But, unfortunately, getting a plug-in connection out there in the wild will be impossible.
In such a situation, a portable solar panel for camping may be handy as they are lightweight and compact
They come with solar batteries that allow you to store the harvested energy like a typical off-grid setup.
If you decide to use luxury or heavy-duty products like a coffee maker or hair dryer, the seller might suggest you buy a sine solar generator. It is a device that converts direct current (D.C.) into alternating current (A.C.)
Why use solar panels for camping?
There are numerous advantages of using solar panels for camping.
Firstly, dedicated solar panels for camping are very lightweight and portable. They are also very compact, allowing you to carry them without considering the space they take up.
Additionally, using solar energy will save money by avoiding expensive power sites near camping areas.
Finally, nothing will hold you back from camping and exploring the wilderness, as you’ll be able to go wherever you want without worrying about the availability of electricity.
How much power can you get from solar panels?
The answer to this question will depend on certain factors. The first thing that comes up in this discussion is the availability of sunlight.
If you camp in a place covered with trees and bushes, you can expect to receive a minimal amount of sunlight. On the other hand, if you camp in an open area, the panels will receive more sunlight and generate more energy.
Another factor is the quality of the silicon used in making the panels. Those made with better quality materials give better output and vice versa.
A 610W solar panel can easily replace a 100Ah battery. Simply put, 610 W with a 24V battery can run LED lights, ceiling fans, mini-fridge, water heaters, T.V., cellphones, laptops, and laptops, considering the panel receives 5-6 hours of peak sun hours.
Types of solar panels for camping
There are various kinds of solar panels available out there. Some are mentioned here :
Portable solar panels are lightweight and compact, making them easy to get around. Usually, campers need more space to put their things. In such a situation, a portable panel (ex- Renogy 10W Solar Battery Solar panel) can save the day.
With technological advancements, solar panels are no longer just limited to homes. Today you can fold them and take them with you wherever you go. For example, folding solar panels for camping (e.g.,Liarba 40W Foldable Solar Panel) are travel friendly and can be easily carried in a backpack.
Mobile solar panels for camping are very lightweight and easily transportable. Mobile solar panels will be the most appropriate choice if you want the comfort of your home while you’re out in your van or R.V. They are usually set up on the roof of your van or R.V. and can provide power to your appliances and sockets in your van.
4. Roll up
The functioning of roll-up solar panels is just like a regular solar panel. However, the additional benefit it provides is that it’s flexible. The panels can be folded, even rolled up, which makes them highly portable and suitable for camping purposes.
As the name suggests, flexible solar panels are flexible and agile. They can be folded, which makes them convenient to carry around. Flexible panels can be used in forests and beaches or almost anywhere. They don’t require mounts like traditional panels and can be laid anywhere.
Things to consider before buying a solar panel for camping
First, you need to know your power needs and decide to buy the panels accordingly.
For example, if you want to charge just a smartphone or a laptop, a 15-watt panel will do just fine. However, if you want a solar panel to charge camping fridges or other such appliances, you will need at least a 150-watt solar panel.
When you are out in nature, far from grid connections, the best way to ensure you always have power is to store the gathered solar energy in storage devices.
External batteries will allow you to charge and run your devices even when the solar panels do not generate electricity, such as on cloudy days and night-time.
These mobile solar panels come in various sizes, so it is important to invest in a solar panel that is manageable when you are outside.
Chaining the solar panels
You will have increased power production if you line up your solar panels in a series of connections by connecting each panel’s positive terminal with the negative terminal to form a series circuit.
This kind of setup provides a portability advantage. For example, you can buy separate mobile solar panels and add them in series instead of purchasing a single significant panel that is difficult to carry.
How to set up solar panels for camping?
To set up the panels for camping, make sure you have the following :
- Solar panels
- Battery box
- Pure sine wave solar inverter
- Solar regulator
When you have these items, connect the battery to the battery box and ensure the wires are properly tightened with a plus. After that, connect the battery box with the panels in a proper manner. Then attach the regulator to the panels.
You can adjust the settings of your solar regulator. Then connect the inverter to the batteries, which convert the direct current into alternating current, just like in your home.
For heavy-duty appliances like coffee machines, microwave you can directly connect them to the batteries. However, ensure that you charge smaller appliances like laptops and phones through the sine wave inverter. The inverter will protect your devices.
What Are The Best Solar Panels For Camping?
The best solar panel for camping can widely vary according to your needs.
For example, if you want a lightweight and portable panel, choose a model that will be easy to carry.
On the other hand, if you need a good amount of power to run various appliances, it will be sensible to go with a powerful solar panel. In that scenario, one might have to ditch the portability factor.
We have made a hand-curated list of the best solar panels for camping.
- Best for R.V., trailer, tent – Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Portable Waterproof 20A Charger Controller Foldable 100W Solar Panel Suitcase with Adjustable Kickstand for Power Station, Panel-20A, Black
- Best for Backpacking – 5V Solar Panel Power Supply 2W USB Polycrystalline Solar Battery Charger for Charging Mobile Phone
- Best Lightweight – Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger for Camping – 21W Foldable Solar Panel Charger 2 USB Ports – Waterproof
- Best portable – Nekteck 21W Solar Charger(5V/3A Max) with 2 USB Port, IPX4 Waterproof Portable
What is a good amount of solar panels for a camping trailer?
Generally, solar panels for trailers are within the range of (100-400) watts, and R.V.s require around 120 watts of power on average.
Therefore if you buy a 400 W panel, you will need three, and if you decide to go with a nominal size, for example, a 200 W, you will need ten panels.
However, buying a single unit 800 W panel will eliminate the need to purchase many panels. Applying the science, if we consider the panel gets 5-6 hours of sunlight, it will produce 4000Wh of energy per day.
You can opt for a single panel set up or break the whole unit into separate pieces for better portability.
How much do solar panels for camping cost?
The cost of foldable solar panels depends on various factors, namely efficiency, power output, and portability.
If you decide to choose a solar panel that is portable as well as powerful, it can be pricey.
Typically a 100 W solar panel will be around 200 USD. At the same time, a lightweight 1.5-watt panel will cost nearly 40 USD.
If you go for a foldable 28-watt / 4.8 A solar panel, it will be worth around 70 USD.
In today’s world, it is almost impossible to leave your phone or a laptop at home while you go on a camping trip.
One may still seek the comfort of electronic gadgets despite being in the wild. Although, today, there are various camping solar panels with different features and energy output options, the type of solar panels you choose is entirely based on your convenience and affordability.