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Solar Panel Buying Guide

Solar Panel Buying Guide

Unsure of where to start when looking to buy camping solar panels?

Fret not. We have designed this buying guide so you can make sense of the labyrinthine world of solar panels and purchase the one that is just right for you.

What exactly is a Solar Panel?

Simply put, a solar panel is a device that absorbs the sun's rays and converts them into electricity or heat.

It is a collection of solar cells (also known as photovoltaic cells) arranged in a grid-like pattern on the solar panel surface to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect.

Why is choosing a camping solar panel so confusing?

The short answer: Options.

Fixed or Flexible? Folding or solar mat?

How about the material? Monocrystalline! Polycrystalline! Did someone say Thin-Film?

The slightly longer answer: There are several types available, and extracting the maximum efficiency requires you to understand their interactions with weather conditions and factors such as mounting angles.

Going solar is not cheap, but there are several arguments in favour of why you should still always opt for good-quality panels. And while the price is the first consideration for most potential buyers, it's good to understand the available options and which ones meet your objectives. Ensuring you are in a favourable setting to use them effectively should also be one of the first few things to consider.

At Outbax, we have a range of carefully designed solar panels that are guaranteed to meet your power needs, whether on the road, in the bush, outback, or while off-roading around the coast. They are perfect for tents, caravans, motorhomes and 4WDs. Click here to check out the range.

What Are the Different Types of Solar Panels?

  • Fixed: Fixed solar panels are the most popular choice for 4WDs. They happen to be the most common type of solar panel and are usually mounted on the roof or tracker system. They require professional installation, whether you're setting them up on your house or RV. The top advantage of fixed solar panels is that they're highly durable and less prone to damage, even in harsh weather conditions. When selecting fixed solar panels, consider their mounting location and the necessary dimensions.

  • Folding: Folding solar panels are built with portability in mind. Although not as durable as fixed panels, the great thing about them is that they can be easily transferred from one location to another to get maximum sun exposure. Folding solar panels are lightweight and are perfect for day trips, especially if you only have a couple of devices to power.

  • Flexible: As the name suggests, flexible solar panels are, well, flexible. In most cases, you can bend them for up to 30 degrees. They're a newer innovation in the solar panel category and are well-suited for curved RV roofs. This type of solar panel is easier and more affordable to install because structural additions like racks and roof penetrations are not required.

  • Solar Blanket: Solar blankets are also referred to as solar mats. Solar mats are sometimes associated with the solar covers that heat above-ground swimming pools. A typical solar blanket looks like a picnic blanket that folds out and can be hanged or placed on most flat surfaces.

What Are the Factors to Consider When Buying Solar Panels?

Here's a checklist to use when choosing solar panels:

 Material
Solar panels can be classified into three material-based categories

    • Monocrystalline - This is the most efficient of all solar panel materials but also the priciest. Despite the increased upfront cost, it's highly recommended to ensure maximum output.
    • Polycrystalline - Polycrystalline solar panels are not as efficient but since they are cheaper than monocrystalline, they make an attractive option for most consumers.
    • Thin-film - If your priority is easy installation, thin-film solar panels are your best pick. They are lightweight and offer flexibility. The downside is that they have a lower power output than the first two panel types.

 Efficiency
A good solar panel efficiency rating ensures a fast-charging time for solar batteries and great energy production whenever you need it. The average efficiency level of solar panels is around 15%-22%. Anything within or higher than this range is worth investing in, provided you live in an area suited for solar power use.

 Application
Different types of solar panels are suitable for different applications. Some are excellent for home use, while others do well in outdoor settings. Be sure of the intended usage before you decide to buy solar panels.

 Location
Determining your location's climate and the number of peak sun hours per day are crucial for decision-making when it comes to buying solar panels. Some areas are advantageous for going solar; some are not. If you happen to live in a place favourable to solar energy use, see that your panels are mounted at the right angle for better sunlight absorption.

 Provider
As much as possible, choose a solar panel provider with a good reputation. You can check their reviews online and read blogs about their products to know how their solar panels perform.

 Warranty
Warranties protect your rights as a consumer, so choose a solar panel backed by a good warranty offer. It's always beneficial to partner with a provider you can easily reach out to in case of defects and issues to make the most out of your investment.

 Panel size
The size and number of solar panels you'll be getting are largely dependent on the roof space you have, plus your power requirements. Measure it out first and calculate the power output of the requirements you're planning to run using your solar panels for proper sizing.

Why buy from Outbax?

Outbax range offers various sizes and capacities of solar panels to accommodate different consumer requirements, whether home or outdoor. We also provide solar panel accessories to make installation easier for you.

Each one of our solar panels has an affordable price tag. What's not to loveit's top-notch quality at a budget-friendly price. And did we mention the fast and free shipping?