Gone are the days when camping trips meant inadequate power supply. Across the country today more and more campers and families are investing in portable solar panels as an eco-friendly solution to their power supply needs while on their road.
Buying your own solar panel for the first time can be quite a daunting task.
But it doesn’t need to be! We’ve created this guide to help you choose and check out the camping solar panels that will suit your needs, budget and preferences, as well as all the requirements around your camping trips and location.
Portable Solar Panels: Factors to Consider
Smart, diligent research can save you a great deal of money, stress and time when choosing the right camping solar panels.
Take note, however, that it will likely be a more complex task to purchase the best camper van solar panels than your regular camping gear due to the advanced technology involved in the picture.
As a starting point, here are a few important features to look for when deciding to get solar panels for your outdoor adventure.
Type of solar cell
One of the fundamentals of choosing portable camping solar panels is the panel cell type.
There are three main types of solar cells, namely the following:
Monocrystalline solar cells
The most common type of solar panel available, these are cut out of a single pure crystal, which makes electrons easier to flow through every cell.
Monocrystalline solar cells are higher priced, yet they maintain the highest performance and efficiency versus other solar panel types.
Polycrystalline solar cells
The first form of solar panels developed at affordable costs, these solar cells are made of low-grade materials but nonetheless offer adequate power as needed.
You can expect around 15% to 17% efficiency rate when it comes to this type.
Thin film solar cells
New technology offers this type of cell, which can be deemed a lightweight and flexible solar panel. It's simple to install but comes with a downside: expect lower efficiency in output.
Now comes another crucial consideration to make when buying camping solar panels. Lightweight options on the market are preferable to heavier solar panels, as they can be packed more easily in your car or backpack.
Bigger solar panels, of course, will offer more power output. Be prepared, however, to provide greater effort to move them around and to mount them onto your campervan.
Now another major factor to consider: power output. Coming into play are the types of appliances and gadgets that you plan to use during camping. Are you bent on just charging small devices like your phone and camera, or will you be bringing a coffee maker and fridge with you?
Choosing small portable solar panels involves determining the power as well as energy demand you need.
You can use a simple method to calculate how much power output each of the solar panels provides. Multiple the average number of sunlight hours by the amount of watts. PLEASE PROVIDE EXAMPLE HERE
Since you’re on the move, it pays to consider getting a fixed, flexible or portable solar panel for your camping.
Solar panel accessories
While mostly nice to have, these optional features make your life easier when setting up or maintaining camping solar panels.
A kickstand is convenient for you to set up and position your solar panels best.
A wireless charging pad is again optional, but totally nice to have as it makes it easier to charge the solar panel without using a cable.
Finally, how about a carry bag to transport your portable solar panels safely and hassle-free?
FAQs: Solar Panels for Camping
Before we dive deep into our official list of camping solar panels for 2022, here are some frequently asked questions on the best portable solar panels. You might find your own questions answered here.
How long do portable solar panels last?
The answer depends on the type as well as function of your solar panels. Polycrystalline panels, for instance, last from 3 to 10 years, while monocrystalline panels live from 25 to 30 years on average.
What’s the solar panel size I should go for?
This depends on how you use your solar panels. Smaller handheld ones, for example, can very well charge your phone or camera. As for the bigger ones, you can set them up on your vehicle or more permanently at a campsite.
What should I mainly consider when choosing solar panels for camping?
This can be a tricky question for many. But as a general rule, you would want to go for a solar panel that produces over 100 watts of power.
This is powerful enough to use a fridge and charge a battery that can power your laptop or phone.
What should I choose for my caravan?
You would want to opt for larger 200-watt solar panels. You may attach the panels to the roof of your motorhome and they will be able to power your appliances inside, from the fridge to the small oven and your kitchen lights.
What’s a solar blanket and is it the same as a solar panel?
You’ve probably heard of and wondered about solar blankets. These are similar to solar panels in that they convert power from the sun into energy you can use.
The difference, though, is the use of the two; solar blankets typically help prevent heat loss while solar panels are for power generation.
Are solar panels for camping worth it?
We won’t sugarcoat this for you. Portable solar panels require significant upfront investment. However, their long lifespan, coupled with their effectiveness at producing power, makes it worth the money.
And who says you have to be limited to using them for camping or caravanning? You may use them in your daily life, such as for saving on your everyday energy bill.
2022 Best Solar Panels for Camping Reviews: Find the Best on the Market Today
Now let’s go through the best camper solar panels or best RV solar panels that you can explore for your next trip to the big, wide unknown (at least in Australia!).
Goal Zero Nomad 10 Solar Panel
A monocrystalline type, the Nomad 10 solar panel one helps eliminate worries about the battery levels of your small handheld devices.
It also comes with an LED indicator, which tells you the strength of solar conditions for the day and makes for a great choice when you’re backpacking.
Noteworthy, too, is this solar panel’s lightweight quality: it’s easy to use, fold up when not used, and practical in any serious traveller’s backpack.
Also worth mentioning is its built-in kickstand, which clicks into place at multiple angles. This allows you to position the solar panel for optimal solar collection, ensuring it stays in place.
An integrated USB port charges your phone, power bank as well as other small devices.
The good and the bad
The Goal Zero solar panel has an LED indicator, is easy and practical to use and provides a detachable kickstand for improved placement and stability.
The downside is you would need constant and direct sunlight. Charging also takes longer than other solar system models, so you might want to make a note of this.
Dometic Portable Solar Panel PS120A
Another monocrystalline solar cell on this list is the Dometic PS120A solar panel, with a 120-watt power output and weighing 14kg.
Dometic is a popular name in all things camping and adventure, and this portable folding solar panel kit doesn’t disappoint. It has a built-in 10 amp heavy-duty voltage regulator and adjustable feel, letting you direct it towards the sun throughout the day.
As it’s equipped with top-performing monocrystalline silicon, this Dometic solar panel has a strong, sturdy build that offers good value for money. Expect a battery temperature sensor, a protective carry bag and one-year warranty for your peace of mind.
The good and the bad
There’s no doubt about the quality and marketability of this best camping solar panel contender. It’s portable, folds up easily and gets the job done with its specifications.
One price to pay, however, is it’s one of the heavier options in this guide. If it’s a price you’re willing to pay, then well and good: you’ve just might found your match.
Camec Portable Folding 120W Solar Panel Kit
The Camec monocrystalline folding solar panel features 120W in power and a potent 15amp PWM charge regulator, which from the vantage point of most other folding solar panels supplied with a 10A regulator is a standout and a more reliable, flexible choice.
While a 10A regulator may work close to its maximum current capacity on larger solar panels, Camec’s regulator is particularly dependable in strong sunlight during the summer.
For smaller solar panels, it also offers flexibility to safely control a second solar panel in the system.
Expect each solar panel to have alligator clips and an in-line 50A Anderson plug, which enables it to be quickly connected to your motorhome that already has an Anderson plug wired up to the battery system.
There’s also an integrated sturdy fold-out stand allowing the solar panel to be angled for maximum sunlight exposure.
The warranty is also outstanding with its 25-year solar panel and 5-year accessory warranty.
The good and the bad
The solar kit is a little on the heavy side at 12kg.
Nonetheless, it has all the power and features you’d probably like to see in your solar panels for camping in the forest or on a remote beach.
Projecta 120W Folding Solar Panel
This Projecta folding solar panel is one of the superior options on the portable solar panel market today. With 120W in power output and only 5-7kg heavy, this monocrystalline solar panel is an ideal companion for any camper wanting reliable power supply in the vast outdoors.
The upgrade from polycrystalline hardware to monocrystalline technology is a welcome change. Simply unfold the kit and connect it to your vehicle’s battery.
This beauty comes frameless, with the solar panels housed in durable canvas for safe and easy travels and packing in your boot or trailer.
A hard fibreglass backing also lets the solar panels get angled towards the sun optimally. Support legs, built-in 8.5amp solar controller and 5m lead with battery clips all come with the package.
The good and the bad
Black, sleek and with a solar controller to preserve battery, this Projecta solar panel is one of the fairest deals you’ll find out there.
It’s hard to find a solid drawback, but the price may not be for everyone.
Now That You Have the Best Solar Panels for Camping: Why Get Panels Anyway?
In order to make an informed decision on the solar panel you’ll buy, it’s important to be certain of the benefits that you’ll get out of your own solar system.
Apart from clean and unlimited energy, power from the sun is among the most beneficial that humans can ever harness. The benefits are simply astounding:
- Solar is guaranteed natural and renewable
- It’s free with limitless sunlight and the right equipment
- Solar panels can be used free of restrictions, unlike generators, as long as safe and installed properly
- You can generate power anywhere even in the most remote places, as long as the system is set out to charge during daylight
- It translates to cash savings, as some campsites charge fees for charging and power services
We hope you find the portable solar panels for camping that you need here. Have a good time exploring the outdoors this year!