The government might be fussing about the viability of solar power, but campers are well aware of the benefits the sun can bring when out bush and off grid. And if you have a solar panel (or two) on board, there’s a slew of awesome gear you can power with just a basic setup.
What You Need for a Solar Power Camping Setup
The most basic solar panel camping setup involves four things:
- Solar panels or a solar blanket. Solar blankets are more portable and recommended for frequent campers, while folding solar panels are a more affordable choice if you just go camping on long weekends a few times a year.
- A solar regulator. This will prevent your battery from overcharging.
- A deep cycle battery. This will store the power produced by your solar panels.
- A battery box (Hard Korr). This will protect your battery from damage and provides multiple power outlets for several devices.
- An inverter. You’ll need this if you’re going to be powering 240V appliances such as laptops.
This self-sufficient solar panel camping setup will help you power most of your appliances for your camping trip and is both compact and efficient. Another handy thing to keep on hand can be 12V sockets (like what you find in your car’s cigarette lighter), which can help you run 12V appliances such as car fridges, radios, mobile phones and more – but they’re not essential for your setup.
How to Choose Portable Solar Panels for Camping
Choosing the right solar panel for your camping experience will depend on your budget, camping frequency, and how much space you have to haul your gear.
There are different forms of solar panels including:
- Thin film amorphous.
Mono-crystalline panels are your top-of-the-line panels, being more efficient than a poly-crystalline panel of the same size and able to gather more solar power. However, they are more fragile and harder to store, as their glass is laminated in order to adequately protect them. In general, mono- and poly-crystalline panels are better suited to people who spend a lot of time on the road camping, as they usually require a roof-top mount.
Then you have amorphous panels. These need a greater surface area than mono- and poly-crystalline panels to gather solar power, but the beauty of amorphous panels is that they can be rolled or folded for compact storage when not in use, making them more suitable for short-term campers.
No matter what type of solar panel you choose, you’ll find there’s a 150W solar panel that’s suitable for your next trip.
Now, you have your solar panel camping setup. But what about our first question: what can a 150W solar panel power?
Keep the cool drinks coming for your entire trip by looking for solar panels for camping fridges. A 150W solar panel will do the trick for most campers, though your camping fridge will use up approximately 60% of your stored solar power. Be sure to check all the specifications on your model to make sure it’s compatible with your portable solar panels for camping.
A 150W solar panel will easily power most of your camp lights, torches and their rechargeable batteries, especially if those lights and torches are LED. These draw very little power from your solar panel battery and are known to be longer-lasting than incandescent bulbs.
Portable solar panels for camping can be handy when you need to cool a space, and plenty of fans operate using a simple solar panel camping setup. The Sirocco fan is famous for its minimal power draw and still be able to operate at maximum output. Ideal for caravans and campervans the Sirocco fan is the perfect addition to any road trip, especially when you don't have the largest 12v power system.
Where would we be without our smartphones? Portable solar panels can keep your smartphone battery full, although they can’t help you check your Facebook when you’re at a campsite with no signal…
Perfect for inflating your 4WD or mountain bike tyres if you’re in a tricky spot, air compressors can be run via your solar panel camping setup. Some models can be powered by a 150W solar panel and can get the job done in just a few minutes.
Stereos and Radios
Stereos and radios are typically low wattage, so your 150W solar panel will easily be able to keep your favourite tunes going or lines of communication open throughout your camping trip.
Want to take your drone out camping with you to capture some muddy 4x4 action or get some sweeping landscape shots that make you go “how’s the serenity?”. Your 150W solar panel will keep plenty of juice in your drone’s rechargeable battery – as always, just check your drone’s specifications.
Ready to say goodbye to powered sites and enjoy a few more home comforts no matter where in the country you’re camping? Check out our full range of solar power gear, tents, and plenty more camping essentials, and get yourself set up for a grand new adventure.