Portable folding solar panels are important if you are going camping or on a long journey to the areas where electricity and fuels are not available. Besides, they are easy to carry and won’t hurt your budget. A must have power backup solution for your next camping trip!
Have you ever thought about using folding solar panels on your outdoor camping or fishing trips? Well, there are a couple of different sizes and types so let’s talk about a few.
Most of the people out there may give a puzzled look. It is not feasible to carry gigantic aluminum panels of 77inch x 39inches all the way with you.
But it’s true that modern technology has compressed solar panels now to a size of a notebook. These compact sized solar panels are portable, flexible and fit into your backpack easily without occupying large space.
Well, a standard 21w size of a portable solar panel will charge most of your USB devices like cameras, mobile phones, lantern, and two-way radios. Today’s more advanced portable solar panels come with 2 or 3 USB ports, letting you charge multiple laptops, mobile phones, and range of USB devices at the same time.
Having portable solar panels ensures you that your devices will be up and running, especially in emergencies. But what about larger solar panels to run a camping fridge and lighting? Well, we have the solution for you.
How Do Portable Foldable Solar Panels Work?
Portable solar panels work just like their roof counterparts do. Its cells collect energy from the sun and convert it into electricity, which is either stored in a power bank or battery inline with the panel or transferred directly to a connected device.
The next thing you want to ask about their power rating for electricity. The new model Eco-worthy 120w panel is a ready-to-use plug and play portable solar solution. It just requires folding open the solar panel and face its solar surface directly to the sun.
The pre-installed charge controller which is mounted on the back will convert a constantly changing voltage to a more smoother 12v for charging deep cycle batteries.
- Ideal for hiking, camping, fishing, boating, military use, off-grid solar panel system, caravan, RV, boat, Greenhouse solar panel system, and solar pump watering systems etc.
- The plug and play system quickly starts to generate energy and you can use it to power up any 12V DC devices. You are literally up and running in minutes.
This package includes 1pc 120W Foldable Mono Solar Panel Kit. This means there are 2 panels of 60W Monocrystalline Solar cells. There is also 1 pre-installed 15A charge controller & 10ft of solar cables with alligator clips. The quick adjust aluminum stand, will give you the perfect angle and latches into place.
What are the Benefits of Foldable Portable Solar Panels?
Portable solar panels are must for outdoor enthusiasts. Look at this post on a more technical knowledge on how Solar panels work. They are a lifesaver in areas where there is no electricity and fuel. In fact, they are as essential as your sleeping bag, clothes, blanket and other equipment.
Here I have rounded up some key benefits of portable solar panels.
Reliable Source of Power:
Given that solar panels collect the power from the sun, they remain consistent and reliable (as long as there is sunlight). With portable solar panels for camping, you can get the required power in a quick way. In short, the portable solar panels deliver optimum efficiency with the least energy loss.
But you must face the panel to the sun and continue to make fine adjustments to receive the best angle for sunlight and power generation. Stay away from trees that will shade your panels over time.
120w Portable solar panels for camping – Solar Inverter
So what else do we need to change the sunlight into electricity?
Most folding portable solar panels will include a charge controller but this is not enough to run high power draw electronics and appliances. You will need a 12v battery and an inverter.
It’s important to know that you must first charge a battery and then run a 12v to 110v inverter to make sure your electrical devices will work out in the bush. These inverters will change a DC voltage to an AC voltage.
There are two different types of inverters, Sine Wave and Modified Sine wave.
Pure sine wave is the best, but they are also slightly more expensive than a modified sine wave. Some sensitive electronics will not work under a modified sine wave inverter controller.
Aim to get at least a 600w inverter, this is the power rating for your electronics while camping. Think power for lights, TV, radio, fridge, chargers etc.
You can enjoy listening to music and watching small TV sets with portable solar panels. All you need to connect them through an inverter shown above. Perhaps your kids want to bring a remotely operated toy quadcopter or another device to the campsite; you can use the panel to charge their battery as well.
A portable solar panel also enhances the comfort level of your camping. For example, it powers your fan that cools the air and blows insects away. You like to use electric mug warmers on cool mornings. Then, you can plug in your laptop to the inverter and the solar panel battery to recharge it and check the weather for the day.
Portable solar panels also keep your communication devices like cellphone, walkie-talkies and GPS unit up and running. Even they can charge your notebook computers.
What great is if you have a boat these portable solar panels are great to run all your electronics like depth sounders and navigation lights.
Portable solar panels are cheaper than an electric generator. Plus, they are operated with the power of the sun, meaning that you get free energy all the time. Just place them in the sun to charge. In addition to that, the portable solar panels require less maintenance, and this may save you money in the long run.
Small Folding backpack solar chargers.
These smaller backpack solar panels are so small they can be carried and folded up like a small notebook. These are best to charge all your devices that accept a USB input like Phones, Tablets, Mini Car jumpstarters, GoPros, and cameras.
They are water resistant and are the perfect accessory when out camping, fishing or just when the power grid goes down. Check out our review on my favorite backpack folding phone charger solar panel.
Solar panels also provide clean energy, unlike generators that emit harmful fumes into the air. The solar panels are safe and quiet devices for the environment. Another reason to use them is that generators are banned in many national parks across the nation. This is why many campers have been switched to solar panels.
How to Choose Portable Solar Panels?
You should buy the one which ensures performance and convenience. So here are the things to look for while buying portable solar panels for camping:
How Much Energy Do You Need?
Your energy requirement is determined by the number of devices you will have at a camping site. For example, a 12V folding solar recharging panel is enough to charge your car battery. It may be good for the devices that consume less energy like mobile phone and notebook.
After Sales Service:
Does the panel come with a warranty? How to contact customer service if you face any after sales concern? It is essential to know the manufacturer’s policy before buying it. The more you know about the product, the better customer service you will have.
Availability of Sunlight:
A summer’s day will give 6-7 hours of sunshine in the USA. A 10W panel will give you nearly 60-70W in that day. On a winter’s day, the solid sunshine lasts between 2-3 hours, meaning that a 10W panel will give between 20W up to 30W in a day. Therefore you should know the sunshine duration of the area so that you can purchase the solar panel accordingly.
Therefore a 120w panel will give you around 840w of available power to run gear. This is why it’s important to store power in a deep cycle battery for later use.
Considering that portable solar panels will be placed in rugged terrain or outdoor areas, make sure they are durable enough to withstand the conditions. Apart from that, they should be waterproof.
Copper is said to be best on the durability, though it can be expensive. Budget models come with nickel plated alternative which is not as efficient in capturing power as copper.
Make sure it comes in a foldable pack which allows you to carry it conveniently. Today’s models also come with hooks for the smaller backpack solar cells that lets you hang it in a suitable position to collect sunlight.
The larger 120w folding solar panels that we use for camping and fishing have a stand that lets us angle the cell to face the sun for higher power generation. So make sure these features are available.
Cheaper solar panels will be missing these extra features.
Some models come with an LCD display which gives you data related to voltage, amps and total backup. It lets you know how much solar backup battery power you have left, helping you to manage the power accordingly.
Such displays keep you updated about your energy consumption.
My 120w camping folding solar panels have a Sunix CY1210 solar charge controller which shows Voltage as well as Current. A handy USB output is also included.
So this is all about the portable solar panels that we use for camping and their benefits. Apart from that, we have both types a small backpack solar phone charger and the larger 120w folding solar cell.
Each has its benefits but its great knowing we will never run out of power on our week long camping trips. So like the scout’s motto BE PREPARED….