Portable solar panels are an excellent solution if you’re thinking about a good power source for outdoor activities. A lot of people plan hikes or camping trips but worry about not having power for the phone, EV, laptop or tools. They don’t know how to stay powered while they’re out and far from their home.
Portable solar panels are portable powerhouses. They can charge your devices and help you stay powered when you’re not connected to the grid. In this article, we look at how you can enjoy the outdoors with solar energy.
How Do Portable Solar Panels Work?
Portable solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that capture and convert solar power into electricity. These easy-to-move solar panels are connected together to form a panel, which is connected to a battery to store the energy produced by the sun. You can then use the power generated to power electronics such as your laptop or phone in the same way you would use battery power alone.
You can use portable solar panels for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities, as they are relatively portable, lightweight, and easy to use. They come with an attached inverter, so you don’t need any additional equipment – just plug your device into the inverter, and it’s going to charge up like usual.
Outdoor Uses of Portable Solar Panels
Thanks to their portability, these solar panels are typically used by hikers, campers, travelers, or anyone who needs an electricity supply when not able to access grid power. However, since they come in numerous sizes, there are a number of other uses too!
Hiking and camping are the most common outdoor uses of portable solar panels. You can place the panels on the roof of your vehicle to work as an alternative to a portable generator. Compared to a noisy and smelly gas or fuel generator, a battery charged by solar panels is quiet, clean, and odorless. You can also place the bigger portable solar panels on your RV, tent, or camper in the sun while your tent or vehicle stays in the shade.
If you are going on a long hiking expedition into the backcountry and wish to keep your mobile charged for emergency purposes or GPS use, a small solar panel that fits inside your backpack can help you stay connected. Bigger panels can weigh 25 pounds or more. Thus, they’re better suited for camping trips than hiking excursions.
Place solar panels on the deck or other flat surfaces of your boat, and you can power an electric motor using the energy stored in the battery. The panel can even work as a canopy to protect you from the sun when you’re out at sea. When connected to a solar battery, solar panels let you sail without needing wind or the smell and noise of a gas-fired motor. And as long as the sun continues to shine, you can sail nonstop without worrying about refueling.
3. Outdoor Media Production
Portable solar panels are a great choice for outdoor media production. From remote broadcasts and live feeds to field reporting, these panels can easily be carried from one place to another without sacrificing energy. You can use solar energy to keep your camera running at all times. This means you won't need to worry whether or not it’ll be recording when you need it to. This is particularly important if you’re a wildlife photographer.
4. Outdoor Cooking
Did you know that you can even cook with portable solar panels? If you like cooking outdoors and are interested in adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle or living off the grid, an electric stove or oven powered with portable solar panels might be the perfect addition to your outdoor kitchen.
This green cooking option allows you to make rice, roast potatoes, melt butter, bake bread, and do almost everything else you would do in your normal kitchen but without the use of gas or grid electricity.
Compared to barbecue grills that typically use fuels that pollute the environment and are damaging for your family to breathe, an electric oven powered with solar panels lets you cook outdoors using nothing more than sunlight.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you need to give up barbecuing meat or having fresh corn on the cob from your barbecue. However, it would offer you another outdoor cooking option for preparing side dishes or baking bread to go with your barbecue food.
5. Food Trucks
It can be difficult for food truck owners to find a reliable and affordable power source. For instance, if you’re selling ice cream at a music festival or hot dogs at a baseball game, you’ll need electricity to keep your food fresh and your cash register running seamlessly. Portable solar panels offer a perfect way for these vendors to stay connected with their customers while reducing electricity costs.
How to Make the Most of Portable Solar Panels in Outdoor Situations
Here are some ways to make the most of portable solar panels in outdoor situations.
1. Place the Panels in Direct Sunlight
Make sure trees or buildings don’t block the sunlight. If you keep the portable panels under share, it’s going to lower the amount of energy the machine can produce. Many people do this and fail to reap the maximum benefits of portable solar panels.
2. Clean Your Panels Regularly
One of the simplest ways to get the most out of your portable solar panels is to ensure they’re clean. Dirt and dust can lower the amount of light that panels can absorb. Thus, your panels need to work harder to generate the same amount of energy. Debris on your solar panels can even block some of the panels from receiving direct sunlight. Thus, they won’t be able to produce as much electricity as possible if they are clean.
Outdoor activities such as hiking or camping can inevitably make the solar panels dirty. The best way to get rid of the dirt is by using soap and water. You can use a mild detergent to get rid off the grime and dirt from your solar panels. Remember that you should avoid using harsh cleaning agents or chemicals on your solar panels, as they can reduce their absorption efficiency.
It’s also important to avoid using a high-pressure hose to clean the panels. The right way to clean your panels is by using a soft brush or rag along with a bucket of water. This is going to prevent the solar panel cells from getting damaged.
3. Use Reflectors
Use reflectors to boost efficiency to make the most of your portable solar panels. Reflectors are basically pieces of metal that reflect the sun’s rays at your solar panel, which maximizes its exposure to sunlight and allows it to generate more electricity.
Reflectors can even be made from simple materials such as aluminum sheets or foil. You might even use mirrors in place of aluminum sheets. They work in the same way as reflectors made with aluminum sheets or foil but are costlier than these materials. If you’re using larger reflectors, such as those designed for RVs or caravans, then you can set them up on a tripod so that they don’t move around in windy conditions.
4. Use the Right Cables
If you have portable solar panels, you need to make sure they’re connected to the right connectors and cables. You cannot simply connect any connector or cable to the panel – it won’t be effective. However, what you can do is use a suitable cable for your system.
For example, if you have a 12-volt battery and wish to charge it using a solar panel, you need to get a 12-volt cable. If you don’t have a suitable cable, it won’t be able to charge your battery as efficiently as possible.
Things to Consider when Investing in Portable Solar Panels for Off-Grid Solar Power
Here are some things you need to keep in mind when shopping for portable solar panels for camping or other outdoor uses.
If weight or space is an issue, you need to compare the efficiency of different portable solar panels. The solar panel’s efficiency indicates how well it converts sunlight into electricity. Solar panels with an efficiency higher than 20% are excellent products. A panel with a higher efficiency requires less room to produce the same amount of electricity as a bigger panel with lower efficiency.
2. Know Your Requirements
Understand what you will need, and don’t purchase more than that. You can determine the energy you require by using a basic energy calculator. This calculator will tell you how many watts various appliances consume. You can also check the voltage requirements of any gadgets. For instance, most laptops need 19 volts of continuous power.
3. Consider the Watts and Watt-Hours
A watt is a unit of power. It indicates the amount of energy an appliance or device is going to generate or use at a single point in time. You will need a portable solar panel that can generate 100 watts to power up two 50-watt light bulbs.
A watt-hour indicates the amount of energy consumed in an hour. If you wish to light two 50-watt bulbs for 10 hours, you will need a solar panel that can generate 1000-watt-hours. Keep in mind that there doesn’t have to be a one-to-one correspondence between the watts and the number of watt-hours a device can output.
Portable solar panels, coupled with a battery or a generator, allow you to enjoy the comfort and convenience of your home while outside. You can take the generator with you to beaches, camping trips, and any other kind of outdoor adventure.
At Bluetti, we have a vast range of portable solar panels, generators, and accessories. So, what are you waiting for? Get your portable solar panels today to make your next outdoor adventure more fun.