Camping Solar Panels Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know
Are you gearing up for your next outdoor adventure? Feeling giddy with excitement at the thought of your next outing? Of course you are, nothing can beat the feeling of fresh air filling your lungs and warm sun rays tickling your skin. It’s your favourite form of escapism and you wouldn’t change it for the world. You’ve already had enough of your frantic big city life and hectic daily schedules. It’s time to recharge your batteries in the best way possible.
Speaking of batteries, keeping all of your electronic devices up and running while you’re out in the wild can be a challenge. What happens if your phone or flashlight runs out of juice? Sure, we get that you’re trying to disconnect from everyone and everything but it’s still a good idea to have some form of communication available. The good news is that there’s a way for you to keep your devices powered up the whole time – by investing in a few handy solar panels as part of the essential tools to make the most out of your camping experience.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
In simple terms, solar systems are made up of several panels which can generate about 200-350 W of electricity in bright sunlight. This is because each panel contains a multitude of cells made up of a semi-conductive material, with silicone being the most common one. When sunlight reaches these cells, an electrical current is generated. This current is then converted into electricity which can power up all of your devices and other essentials.
You might be relieved to hear that solar panels don’t always need direct sunlight in order to produce electricity. In fact, they’re more than capable of doing their job on even the cloudiest of days. But bear in mind that the stronger the light, the more electricity they’ll be able to generate. While they won’t stop working altogether in gloomy weather, they might not produce the expected electricity levels that you’d normally get on a bright and sunny day.
What Are the Different Types of Solar Panels?
Depending on the way you’ll use and handle them, there are two main types of solar panels.
Fixed Solar Panels
This is arguably the easiest type of solar system to build and maintain. The general build quality is the same as the standard one with only one difference – they need to be attached to the top of your caravan. Once they’re in place, they require little to no maintenance and are quite resilient since they have no moving parts. Apart from the occasional wipe to keep them neat and tidy, you won’t have to do much else. For this convenient reason, durable fixed solar panels for camping caravans are must-haves for nature enthusiasts.
Since they’re secured into place on top of your caravan, you won’t have to worry about setting them up every time you decide you want a change of scenery and move to another spot. This, in turn, can help you save up a lot of time and effort which would normally go to waste with frequent assembly and disassembly on numerous occasions. You’ve already got more than enough things you need to carry around with you anyway. Why would you add more items to the list? Work smarter, not harder.
But there’s one thing you need to keep in mind – fixed solar panels won’t always be optimally aligned with the sun to generate maximum levels of electricity. After all, the sun moves across the sky during the day so if you want to get the best results, you’ll have to align your caravan accordingly. In this way, you’ll reap the full benefits of your fixed solar panels for camping enjoyment.
Portable Solar Panels
If you’re willing to stick to traditions by constantly folding and unfolding your system, then portable solar panels are your best bet. Unlike their fixed counterparts, you can easily move them around and place them wherever you want on your camping site. In other words, you won’t have to move your whole caravan when the sun moves from east to west to get a reliable electricity source.
The good news is that portable panels are pretty lightweight and easy to carry so it won’t be too difficult to move them around. Kudos to you for having the energy and will to arrange and rearrange all of your panels all the time.
What to Know Before Buying Solar Panels
Last but not least, let’s have a look into a few factors that will help you pick the right solar panel model for your needs.
This mainly goes for the fixed models because they’re supposed to fit on top of your caravan. This is why it’s a good idea to measure the size of your vehicle before you shop for panels so that you know what you’re looking for. After all, there’s no point in getting extra-large panels that won’t even fit your caravan.
How many solar panels do you need for your camping adventure? A general rule of thumb is to go 20% higher than your expected requirements so that you don’t end up empty-handed if you use up all of your electricity. In other words, if the bare minimum is 300 watts of daily solar panel, you should go for around 500 watts as your average. In this way, you’ll be prepared for any and all scenarios.