Whether you are a seasoned camper or just getting started, you most likely already know that portable solar panels have become a necessary component to bring along on camping trips. This is especially true if you're traveling with family, or doing so in a rural area without easy access to essential amenities such as lighting.
One of the most fundamental uses of portable solar panels for camping is to keep your batteries charged so they can continuously power your electrical appliances. They accomplish this without using conventional power sources like generators, which are noisy and require an ongoing supply of fuel to function. In this article, we will explore how you can use portable solar panels for camping, so without further ado, let’s begin!
How Do Portable Solar Panels Work?
Portable solar panels work in a similar way to your typical roof-mounted solar panels. The potable panels have to be set up on a clear and open ground, somewhere that receives a good amount of sunlight. As sunlight strikes the panel surface, your panels start generating electricity which is stored in a battery so that it can be used at a later time.
If you plan to use your solar panels to run AC appliances, the output of your solar panels must first be converted from DC to AC using an inverter. Conversely, if your appliance(s) are DC-powered, they can be powered directly from the panels without the need of an inverter or any conversions. Generally, you can power both types of appliances with portable solar panel systems.
It is common knowledge that solar panels can only generate electricity during the daylight hours when the sun is shining. Therefore, battery storage is a vital component of your portable solar setup since it allows you to store energy during the day and use it at night when the solar panels are inactive.
Using Portable Solar Panels for Camping – How to Position Your Solar Panels
The location and orientation of solar panels largely dictate the output and performance of your panels, regardless of whether they are portable or fixed panels. Keeping this in mind, it is very important for you to carefully set up your panels in a location that receives plenty of sunlight and in an orientation where the sunlight strikes the panel surface at an optimal angle, preferably as 90 degrees.
Since Canada is located in the northern hemisphere, you should position your solar panels in a southward facing direction to ensure maximum sunlight exposure. As for the angle or tilt of your panels, it depends on the season and time of year.
For instance, during the winters, the sun normally hangs low in the sky and has a lower angle of elevation than in spring or summer. So, if you’re going camping during the winters, you’ll need to set your solar panels at a steeper angle, around 60 degrees, to maximize your solar output.
On the other hand, the sun achieves a higher angle of elevation during the summers and so, if you’re going camping during the summers, you’ll need to position your panels at a less steep angle, perhaps around 20 degrees.
One of the biggest advantages of using portable solar panels for camping is that they are extremely lightweight. Additionally, the portable panels offered by Bluetti also have an adjustable kickstand that allows you to set up your panels without much of a hassle.
This allows you to easily readjust the position and location of your panels, unlike roof-mounted panels or generators, and maintain the optimal performance angle throughout the day. This allows you to maximize the output and efficiency of your panels.
Using Portable Solar Panels for Camping – 7 Camping Essentials You Can Power with Your Panels
1. Coffee Maker
We simply couldn't get through half of our day without a cup of coffee in the morning, which is a mainstay of the Canadian routine. Fortunately, you don’t have to miss out on your morning coffee when out camping or some other remote adventure. By investing in portable solar for camping, you get the luxury of being able to power your coffee maker anywhere in the world.
With the sun out and about, your portable panels can generate enough electrical energy to power your coffee maker for hours on end. Pair your panels with a high-capacity battery and you’ll be able to enjoy your beloved cup of coffee not only in the morning, but also at night when the panels are inactive.
Hanging by fire, listening to some tunes, and gazing at the star-filled night sky, and enjoying smores, this defines a camping trip in its true essence. Good music can make anything better and more enjoyable and that is why speakers are no less than a camping essential.
With portable solar panels, you can enjoy your music non-stop, for as long as you like and whenever you like. Just connect your Bluetooth speaker to the panels and enjoy an extended energy backup that will keep your speaker running throughout the day, and night if you have a battery storage system.
3. Cooler or Mini Refrigerator
Coolers or mini refrigerators are one of the most important camping appliances that everyone should take with them, especially when camping out in the summers. Although quite obvious, these appliances help keep your beverages cooled and your food preserved. However, one can only truly appreciate the importance of these appliances when the humidity and summer heat is beating down on them and they have nothing cold to drink to refresh themselves with.
Furthermore, using solar for powering a cooler or mini refrigerator also saves you from the hassle of packing ice with you to keep your food and drinks cold.
4. Stove, Oven, or Grill
Any ambitious camp cook needs a reliable stove, oven, or grill, albeit not anything extravagant. Having a stove with you allows you the flexibility to cook, sauté, simmer, or boil if you enjoy cooking up delectable foods. Just imagine, grilling steaks or fish while surrounded by nature and wilderness, sounds amazing right!
In addition, electric stoves, ovens, or grills also don’t require any fuel, this can help protect the environment from harmful greenhouse emission and you from the trouble of packing fuel and matches or a lighter with you. Fortunately, using solar for camping, you can enjoy such a wonderful experience by using your portable solar panels to power your electric stove, oven, or grill.
Camping out in the great Canadian wilderness can be a very fun and relaxing experience. However, it can also be dangerous since there might be threats such as venomous snakes lurking around in the woods. In addition, it‘s also very easy to hurt and injure yourself in the untamed landscape, for instance, by tripping on exposed tree roots or scathing yourself from a thorny bush. The danger becomes even more intense as sunset gradually creeps in and the visibility grows poorer by the minute.
Knowing this, we can begin to understand why lights are an absolutely critical item for camping trips. Using portable solar for camping, you can keep your lights running all night long and maintain the visibility of your campsite and stay aware of your surroundings at all times. You’ll also be able to timely detect threats that might be lurking nearby. Additionally, using portable solar panels to power your lights can make it easier for you to navigate the camping site at night and avoid injuring yourself by accident.
Although the sole purpose of camping for most people is to take a break from technology, including cellphones, and enjoy the peace and serenity that nature has to offer, it would be a wise decision to have a charged cellphone on standby in case any emergency arises.
For instance, if you were to lose your way in the woods, a cellphone with GPS could show you the way out. With portable solar panels, you can keep your cellphone, and any other tech device, charged ensuring that you can always call for help in case of an emergency.
7. Portable Heater
Canadian winters can send shivers down a polar bear’s spine and as such, to say that Canadian winters are cold would be to understate it. Needless to say, if you’re going camping in the Canadian wilderness during the winters, you’ll need more than just a campfire to keep yourself warm.
Knowing this, a portable heater is one of the most important camping equipment you need to pack with you on such a trip. Using portable solar panels paired with a battery storage unit, you can keep your portable heater running for hours, keeping you warm and cozy during the cold frigid morning and night.
Benefits of Using Portable Solar Panels for Camping
One of the most obvious benefits of using portable solar for camping is that it supplies you with free energy. This is because solar panels function by converting the incident sunlight, which as we know costs nothing, into electricity. This means that you can generate and store free energy as long as the sun is shining.
This saves you from the added cost and trouble of purchasing fuel, had you used a conventional gas generator, thereby lowering the net expense of your camping trip.
Very Little Maintenance
Unlike gas generators and most other power generating systems, portable solar panels contain no moving parts and, therefore, require almost negligible maintenance. In fact, occasional washing and cleaning of the panels is all the maintenance these systems demand of you.
Compared to this, a gas generator would require much frequent and costly maintenance such as replacing bearings of moving parts and lubrication. This means that portable panels will cost you much less to use and maintain over the term of their lifespan compared to generators.
Noiseless and Odorless
One of the best things about camping trips is the fresh and pollution-free air and the peace and quiet you get to enjoy. However, using a gas generator can detract from the serenity of your trip by releasing unpleasant and toxic odors in the air and making a racket.
Solar panels, however, have the benefit of supplying you with clean and green energy without making a single noise or releasing harmful and unpleasant odors in the atmosphere. As such, using portable solar for camping isn’t just better for maintaining the peace found in nature, it comes with other benefits as well.
Portable and Space-Efficient
Another major advantage of portable solar panels is their portable and travel-friendly design. Compared to conventional generators, portable panels are much lighter and have a much less bulky profile. This makes them easier to set up, move around, and carry.
Moreover, portable panels offered by Bluetti come with a hard-frame foldable design. This means that you can fold your panels into a single flat sheet once you’re done using them. This, coupled with the grab handle, makes them super easy to carry and store, without sacrificing too much storage space.
Durable and Long-Lasting
Companies such as Bluetti specifically design their portable solar panels for remote and rough usage such as during hiking or a camping trip. That is why these panels are packed with features that enhance their durability and longevity. For instance, the ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) coating grants the panels enhanced resistance to scratches as well as light splashes of water. However, you should avoid exposing the panels to rain.
In a nutshell, this means that portable solar panels will hold up to wear and tear better than gas generators and will maintain their efficiency and performance for an extended period of time, all this without requiring much maintenance.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of portable solar panels, considering the current global climate conditions, is that they are completely eco-friendly and therefore, can help tackle global warming and climate change.
Portable panels, as mentioned previously, do not require any fossil fuels to generate energy and therefore, do not release any harmful greenhouse gases, unlike gas generators. This means that if we avoid the use of gas generators and instead, use portable solar for camping and other applications, we can reduce carbon emissions on a global level and help restore the planet back to its former healthy state.
Portable Solar Panels for Camping: Maintenance and Longevity Tips
In order for your portable solar panel to work properly, you must ensure that there’s no dirt, mud, or debris on the panel surface blocking out the sunlight. The best way to do this is to clean your panels after every camping trip, rain or snow. A quick wipe down with a moist cloth should be sufficient in most cases.
However, if you’ve been on extremely dirty, windy, or moist terrain, a more thorough cleaning will be required. Avoid washing your portable solar panels with soap and water since it can lead to watermarks which can lower the panels' efficiency and output. Also stay wary of using hard bristle brushes since they can scratch up the surface of the panels.
Check Connectors for Damage
Check your portable solar panel for damage or other issues once you’re done cleaning it. If your portable solar panel has connectors, check them for damage, especially if you frequently use them in unclean settings like camping trips, beaches or parks. When connected in, the connections should fit firmly without wobbling too much.
Also, try cleaning the ports by blowing air into it or with a dry cloth to get rid of any dirt that might have settled into them.
Protect from Scratches and Dents
When using your portable solar panel outdoors, take care not to damage or dent the surface in order to keep it functioning properly for years to come. Its performance might not be immediately impacted by scratches and dents. However, over time, they can make it more difficult for light beams to reach the photovoltaic cells inside your panel, lowering its net efficiency.
Portable solar panels are the ultimate power generation system for remote and off-grid applications such as camping trips, hiking, fishing, and more. Their lightweight construction and space-efficient foldable design makes them extremely easy to handle, store, and transport; all the qualities you would want from a portable power source. By now, we hope you understand why portable solar panels are a great investment and a wise decision for all seasoned and first-time campers.Shop Bluetti for all your solar needs!