Portable solar panels come in all sizes from units that you can carry in your pocket to fold up panels that end up not being much bigger than the average brief case. It all depends on what your needs are.
Regular campers have slightly more demanding needs in terms of powered devices. There are some excellent units available that can put out a decent amount of amperage and yet still remain small enough to pack in the car for every trip.
Advances in technology have improved the efficiency of solar panels that are also lighter and stronger. It doesn’t matter how rough you travel as today’s solar panels are up to the task. They are even powerful enough to run laptop and certainly the less power hungry net books. Need to travel light. No problem as some manufacturers have recognised the need and make solar panels that roll up much like a blanket, are extremely light and take up minimal room in your backpack. They can also pack quite a punch as far as power output goes. They can be laid out anywhere you can find a flat spot in the sun.
It’s important that you figure out your power needs first. Your devices will usually list how much power they need so write those down. Next you need to jot down the number of hours per day you will be using the device. If you add these numbers up you will get a good idea on how much power your solar system should provide.
You may need to factor in a lead acid battery especially if you are running fridges and TVs. All your equipment is powered by the battery and the solar panel keeps the battery charged up. When working out how powerful your panels need to be it’s recommended that you only use 4 hours of direct sunlight in your calculations as this will account for inefficiencies in the system and give you a more realistic average.
It’s recommended that you have a battery that can store twice as much power as you will use in a day and that your solar panel can replace the energy in a single day. Anything less and you will create a power deficit. You could get away with a small deficit on short trips as a large battery can supply power for a couple of days and then when you get home you give it a bit of a top up. For longer trips you will eventually flatten the battery if you don’t carefully monitor your power usage.
Leigh is passionate about camping and likes to share his enthusiasm online. For more ideas on what’s available visit the website at camping equipment.