Portable solar panels come in many different sizes depending on your power needs. Ultra portable solar panels can give your phone that extra little bit of power it needs to keep you going to the end of the day. Pocket sized units are available that are perfect for this application.
For those with more demanding power requirements you can get portable solar panels that are set up at the camp site and are used to charge the phone, power the camp fridge and everything in between. 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.
Recent advances in technology have created solar panels that are stronger and lighter than ever before. This has opened up the possibility of taking solar panels everywhere you go. Do you need your laptop with you out in the bush? You can even get portable solar panels that fold or roll up and will fit nicely in your backpack. The larger ones can produce sixty watts of power on a sunny day which is plenty to keep your laptop powered for quite a few hours. You can unroll them and put them anywhere.
Your power needs should be calculated before you decide on a panel that is right for you. Find out the power requirements of all the devices you usually take with you on your trips and write them down. Next to the power usage number you need to write down how many hours a 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.
People with high power requirements may need to have a lead acid battery as a storage unit. All your equipment is powered by the battery and the solar panel keeps the battery charged up. When you are working out how much power your solar panels need to provide only use an average of four hours a day for your calculations as this is a pretty good average of what you can expect.
Your solar panel needs to be powerful enough and get enough sunlight during the day to completely recharge your battery. Less than these amounts and you risk having 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. Longer trips require careful monitoring of your power usage as a dead battery won’t help anybody.