Are Flexible Solar Panels The Best Solar Panels For Camping?

Are Flexible Solar Panels The Best Solar Panels For Camping?

Harnessing solar energy to keep your auxiliary batteries charged enough to power camping gear and electric devices has become quite popular among outdoor enthusiasts in Australia. And for a good reason. Using solar panels to power up your outdoor adventures is not only environmentally-friendly, you actually save money more on that in a bit.

And we have sung praises for solar panels here in this blog. Oh boy, did we talk about them. But most of our articles here have focused on caravan solar panels and folding solar panels and solar blankets. We realized we have not really discussed the possibility that flexible solar panels could also be a top choice for camping.

So, is it? Before we get into the nitty gritty and hopefully you get to decide for yourself, let us do a quick refresher on why campers love using solar panels for camping in the first place.

Benefits of using solar panels for camping

There are plenty of reasons why solar panels have become the go-to outdoor power source for campers. Allow us to give you the breakdown.

100% Silent

If you have ever set up a campsite using a portable generator before, you totally know why this is a huuuge benefit. Even inverter generators emit a low hum (assuming you are not using it on full power) that is about as loud as your typical refrigerator.

Maybe we are nitpicking a bit here because for a generator, that is already remarkably silent. BUT if you are really trying to spend a peaceful night outdoors, with nothing but the sounds of nature to lull you to sleep go for a solar panel instead.

Solar panels DO NOT emit any sound. It is completely silent, making them the absolute perfect choice if you are staying in holiday parks where the Karens of the camping world are probably next to your site.

100% No Fuel Needed

No, you do not have to lug around gallons of petrol to keep solar panels running. All you need is to make sure that these babies get drenched in sunlight for as long as possible throughout the day.

So, no fuel needed means there are no fumes. No smoke. Mother Nature is happy. Your wallet is happy because goodness have you looked at how much fuel costs these days? Who has extra cash for THAT to run your portable fan at a campsite?

100% You Can Easily Pack It Up In Your Car

This is of course if you have the solar blankets or folding solar panel variety. Fixed solar panels or the caravan solar panel types can easily be installed in the roof of your car. These do not take up a lot of space in your vehicle which is great if you do not have much car real estate to work with.

100% Last A Lifetime

Yep. Solar panels have a lifetime power output guarantee. If you want to be very specific about it, solar panels on average can be used for 30 years. After that, they remain efficient and still produce up to 85% of their original power output.

Basically the only time a solar panel portable or otherwise will stop generating electricity is when 1) It is night time, 2) You are totally not using it and keeping it in a box somewhere in your garage, 3) You put a sledgehammer to it for no apparent reason.

It's because of this that many people use solar panels for more than just camping. There are many residential properties that actually see a boost in value because they have solar panels installed. These devices just last a lifetime longer, actually. Obviously, they are great investments.

So there some of the biggest benefits of using solar panels for your camping trip. Now we move on to the next questions which are¦

What is a Flexible Solar Panel?

Flexible solar panels specifically the ones you can get from Outbax are made from monocrystalline solar cells. These are the most efficient solar cell technology in the market. These solar panels can still generate electricity even if the weather is cloudy. This is great if you are in the middle of camping and the weather suddenly turns on you.

Flexible solar panels work the same way that solar blankets and folding panels work. They absorb sunlight and convert that energy into electricity that goes to a solar regulator and inverter. The electricity is then transferred to charge solar batteries on which you hook up gadgets or appliances that need electricity to run.

The biggest difference is that a flexible solar panel does not have an aluminum alloy frame. It does not have steel backing, which makes it very lightweight and capable of adjusting to the arc of a caravan or a car roof. You can even use it on boats for when you need to charge batteries while you are out on sea.

What Can I Run On My Flexible Solar Panel?

This would really depend on the wattage capacity or power output of your solar panel. The Maxray 200 Watt Flexible Solar Panel for instance, can easily power up the following devices and gadgets:

LED lights

Table fan

Electric shaver

Tablets or E-Readers

Smart phones

MP3 player

Broadband router

It's important to understand though that you cannot run ALL of the stuff on that list at the same time. This is the reason why we advise campers to determine exactly how much power each of their devices will require and how long they plan to use it per day. This will help determine just how many watts you need your solar panel to have.

Is It Easy To Use A Flexible Solar Panel?

Maxray solar panels are quite easy to use, and pretty much plug and play systems. Although, you need to keep in mind and this is very important - that you cannot directly plug appliances or gadgets into the solar panels.

This is because the electricity produced from solar energy can be quite powerful and well not really stable enough to provide a continuous charge. This is why, unlike generators, you cannot directly plug in gadgets.

So, apart from getting a flexible solar panel, you also need to get the right solar panel accessories. These accessories include solar power regulator, a solar inverter and of course, your deep cycle battery. Your gadgets and appliances are hooked up to the battery which provides a stable 12 volt electric supply. The solar panel works to keep that battery charged.

Apart from that it is easy to set up a solar panel and hook it up to the regulator then the battery. Portable solar panels are specifically designed to be user friendly so first time campers will not be intimidated to use them.

It is also worth noting that there are portable solar panels that have built-in regulators. Solar blankets, mini solar panels and folding solar panels come with a regulator. So if you want to skip buying a separate regulator, you can go with those types of panels.

So, Where Do I Use A Flexible Solar Panel?

Flexible solar panels are the best choices for campers that have their own caravan or RV. People that enjoy boating trips and spend days out in the ocean also install flexible solar panels in the roof of their boats.

Because it does not have steel or aluminum backing, these solar panels easily bend and adjust to the roof of your vehicle. So, if you are going on a long drive to your campsite, you can start charging your auxiliary battery as you go since you have your flexible solar panel on the roof already absorbing solar energy to convert to electricity.

Is It Tough To Maintain A Flexible Solar Panel?

Solar panels are a breeze to maintain. And flexible solar panels used for camping and road trips are no exception. They do not require a lot of fussing around. Just make sure that you dust the surface to clear dust and debris. They have weatherproof surfaces and they are built to withstand the tough Australian climate.

Because they are specifically designed to be installed in vehicle roofs, they are very sturdy and can hold their own even on the longest and toughest road trips. If you are not using your solar panels, just keep them covered with a tarp, even if you have the vehicle on which the panels are installed inside a garage.

In the event though that your flexible solar panel gets damaged or you noticed something wonky with the wiring, do not try to fix this yourself unless you have experience with the technology. If your solar panel gets damaged or is not working properly for some reason, make sure that you call in qualified technicians to take a look.

What Else Do I Need To Look For In A Flexible Solar Panel?

Well, this really depends on what kind of a camper you are and how much power your gadgets and outdoor appliances would require throughout your trip. We have already given you a list of devices that you can run on a popular 200 Watt flexible solar panel. So, that question is pretty much answered. So, let us go over the first one: what kind of a camper are you?

There is a quiz that you can take to determine what type of camper you are and gives suggestions on what kind of solar panel would work for you. You can take that later after reading this blog. For the meantime, here is our take:

If you are the type of camper that wants to maximise vehicle space, and pretty much do not want to worry about setting up stuff once you get to the campsite, then flexible solar panels are perfect for you. Unlike folding solar panels and solar mats that you can or have to move several times throughout your campsite to get the most amount of sunlight throughout the day, folding solar panels stay put on your vehicle™s roof.

Once they are installed, they are pretty much done and you do not have to worry about anything else. While this is convenient and easy, you have to understand that in order to get the most power output, and fully charge your auxiliary batteries; you have to make sure that you park in an area where the roof gets direct sunlight. And yes we do mean DIRECT sunlight. Ironically, the flexible solar panel does not have that much flexibility when it is installed. But like we said you can™t win them all.

So if you are the type of camper above, then by all means the flexible solar panel will work for you nicely.

And there you have it everything you could possibly need to know about using flexible solar panels. Which then brings us to the final question, which is¦

Are Flexible Solar Panels The Best Solar Panels For Camping?

The answer we know you will be disappointed is: it depends. We can explain.

Does the flexible solar panel provide a safe, easy to use, 100% free back up outdoor power solution? Yes. Is it easy to set up? Yes. Does it last for a long time? Of course. And all these qualify flexible solar panels as ideal for camping use.

But using them makes the most sense for campers that have their own RV or boating enthusiasts that spend days out in the ocean. It does not offer much in terms of being able to move it around the campsite to get the most sun exposure. If you do not mind this, then this solar panel would definitely work for you.

At the end of the day, what matters most is making responsible choices whenever we spend time with our friends or family camping. And using solar panels whatever the kind you choose is a responsible choice. Happy camping!

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