Solar panels are definitely one of the best ways to keep your appliances powered when you're going off-grid. They supply a clean, renewable source of energy plus they help minimise costs which is why they are also getting more popular in homes. Household solar power installations usually use fixed solar panels or solar shingles mounted on the roof for maximum sunlight absorption. While this can be an option for your caravan too, another great alternative that will give you ample power as well are portable solar panels.
Portable solar panels are a win for outdoor lovers. Pay once and get free power generation for years. There's no need to worry about fuel and without flammables involved, this is a safer way to run your equipment. Plus, compared to fixed panels, portable ones are easy to move around and point in the sun's direction. Backed with improved technology, they're now even more convenient with fast charging features and an easy-to-maintain structure.
When buying a portable solar panel for camping, you can either go for folding solar panels, flexible solar panels, mini solar kits, or solar blankets. Each is designed differently but offer the same reliable power in a lightweight form that you can easily cart around whether you're going camping, caravanning, or boating.
Among the most popular ones in the market currently are folding solar panels. These were originally built with two banks of cells hinged in the middle and enclosed in a thick aluminium frame. Recently, lighter and thinner versions of foldable panels are available for added convenience. Another top pick is solar blankets, which are made up of smaller banks of cells and finished with extra durable materials instead of glass. They can be folded to a smaller size than normal folding panels, making them easier to set up and transport. Lastly, flexible panels are also gaining traction lately. They are a relatively new type that can bend around 30 degrees to easily fit in RVs with curved roofs like caravans and even yachts.
What Can I Power With a Portable Solar Panel?
Typically, portable panels are designed to run smaller or mini versions of appliances. They're also suited for charging gadgets like laptops and smartphones. To give you an idea, a 100W solar panel can power lights, a mini-fridge, and a ceiling fan but it cannot operate air conditioners and full-sized fridges. If you want to run larger appliances with it, you need to pair it with a battery bank like a lithium battery. Deep-cycle LiFEPO4s are great partners for this as it provides greater efficiency, enhanced safety features, and a longer lifespan. Keep in mind that if you’re planning to hook a solar panel to a battery, you must have a solar charge controller as this regulates the voltage coming from the solar panel which flows into the battery. Solar regulators can either be MPPT regulators or PWM regulators, depending on what fits your solar system better.
How Long Do Portable Solar Panels Last?
Longevity is another good news about portable solar panels as most of them last for 20-25 years before you see a decline in their energy output. Not bad for something that costs an average of $100 to $500, right? In fact, when properly cared for, it can even last longer! Of course, note that other factors might play in your solar panel's lifespan as well such as the type of panel, installation, and climate. The average degradation rate of solar panels, which is the rate when your panel efficiency reduces, is at 0.5% yearly. This means that a standard panel backed by a 25-year warranty will provide an 87.5% output rate after the guarantee expires.
Do Solar Panels Work in Rain?
The majority of solar panels are designed to withstand all kinds of weather so yes, they will work on rainy or cloudy days. The solar power production is lesser though, as there are lesser particles of light available to generate a high electricity flow. Despite this, you will still end up saving more compared to not using solar panels. Also, the rain can be of benefit too in some cases like for solar panels mounted on a pitched roof. Whenever it rains, the water washes down on the panel and instantly cleans them for additional maintenance.
More from Outbax
Did you say you need solar panels? Then you’ve come to the right site! Outbax has a variety of solar panels available that would make a great addition to your camping essentials or home. We also have a section for solar panel accessories in case you need something to install your solar power system like cables and electrical connectors. If you want alternative sources of power that you can easily bring to your outdoor adventures, you might want to have a look at our inverter generators or power stations too. Shop now!