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The Best Portable Solar Panels And Solar Power For Camping

Do you dream of escaping the hustle and bustle and truly immersing yourself in nature, but don’t want to be quite so disconnected and in the dark? Portable solar panels can provide the perfect power solution while you’re enjoying being off grid. 

There is no need for noisy generators. You want to enjoy the peace and quiet of camping while keeping your essential devices powered. 

At Planet Camping, we’re passionate about helping you experience the joy of camping to the fullest. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on portable solar panels.

In this blog, we’ll break down everything you need to know to harness the power of the sun and achieve true off-grid freedom on your next camping adventure.

So, ditch the worries about dead batteries and limited power outlets. With this guide and the right portable solar panel setup, you can focus on what truly matters: enjoying the beauty of nature and creating unforgettable camping experiences.

Why use solar energy for camping?

There are numerous compelling reasons to embrace solar power for your next camping trip. Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source that produces no greenhouse gas emissions or harmful pollutants, helping to reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment.

While purchasing solar panels and batteries involves an upfront cost, solar power is a cost-effective option for powering your campsite in the long run. Once you have invested in the necessary equipment, you can enjoy free energy from the sun for years to come.

Solar power also allows you to camp in remote locations without access to traditional power sources. With a portable solar panel and battery setup, you can generate electricity to power your lights, devices, and appliances wherever you go.

Another big bonus is unlike generators, camping solar power systems operate silently and require minimal maintenance. Once set up, you can enjoy a peaceful camping experience without the noise and hassle of a generator.

Lastly, portable solar panels are lightweight and easy to transport, making them ideal for camping trips. They can be set up quickly and easily, providing a reliable source of power for all your camping needs.

What can you power with portable solar panels?

The ability to power your devices with a portable solar panel depends on the panel’s wattage output. Here’s a breakdown to give you an idea:

Low-wattage panels (10w-50w): Ideal for charging smartphones, tablets, cameras, and other small USB devices.

Medium-wattage panels (50w-100w): Can power laptops, portable speakers, and even small fridges depending on their efficiency.

High-wattage panels (100w and above): Suitable for powering larger devices like laptops, drones, and even some power tools (with proper adapters).

What can’t you power with portable solar panels?

While solar panels offer a fantastic way to keep essential devices powered, it’s important to manage expectations. 

Portable solar panels generally aren’t powerful enough to run high-wattage appliances like hairdryers, microwaves, or kettles. 

These appliances require a significant amount of energy to operate, and exceeding a solar panel’s capacity could damage it or drain any stored power quickly.

What is the difference between a solar panel and a power station?

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. However, this electricity needs to be stored for later use. This is where a solar power station or power bank comes in. 

It acts like a portable battery that can store the electricity generated by your solar panel. This allows you to charge your devices even when the sun isn’t shining.

Sizing a solar panel for UK use

Since sunlight availability can vary in the UK, choosing a solar panel that can meet your needs even on less sunny days is crucial. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Average Sunlight Hours: Research the average daily sunlight hours for your camping location and during your travel season.
  • Your Energy Needs: Estimate the total wattage of the devices you plan to use and the duration you’ll need to power them each day.
  • Buffer for Cloudy Days: Factor in a buffer for cloudy days by multiplying your daily wattage needs by 1.5 to 2.

Estimating your energy needs while camping

To estimate your daily energy needs, simply follow these steps:

  1. List your devices: Make a list of all the electronic devices you plan to use while camping. Include everything from smartphones and cameras to tablets, laptops, and even small appliances like portable fridges (if applicable).
  2. Find the wattage: Locate the wattage rating for each device. This information can usually be found on a sticker on the device itself or in the user manual. The wattage indicates the amount of power the device consumes while operating.
  3. Estimate usage time: Consider how long you plan to use each device daily. Be realistic about your phone usage, camera use for taking photos or videos, and how long you’ll need to run your headlamp each night.
  4. Calculate watt-hours per device: Multiply the wattage of each device by the estimated daily usage time in hours. This will give you the watt-hours (Wh) for each device. For example: Phone (5w) used for 4 hours/day = 5w * 4 hours/day = 20Wh
  5. Total Daily Energy Use: Add up the watt-hours (Wh) for all your devices to determine your total daily energy needs. This represents the total amount of energy you’ll need from your solar panel each day to keep your devices powered.

Choosing the best solar panels for camping

Selecting the perfect portable solar panel for camping boils down to a few key choices. First, consider the power you need. Low-wattage panels keep smartphones and headlamps happy, while high-wattage options tackle laptops and tablets. 

Next, think portability. Backpacking or tight car space? Foldable designs save the day. Durability is key too. Look for weatherproof materials that can handle the elements.

Finally, consider how you’ll connect your devices. Most panels have USB ports, while some offer connections for solar power stations. These factors are all important in helping you find the perfect solar panel to power your off-grid adventures within your budget.

Portable solar panels for camping: our top recommended

Now that you understand the benefits and considerations of using solar panels for camping let’s explore some of the best options available.

Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel

This well-regarded 100w solar panel is a versatile choice for powering various devices. It features a foldable design for easy transport, integrated kickstands for optimal sun positioning, and an ETFE coating for weather resistance. It connects directly to most devices via USB-A ports. 

BioLite SolarPanel 5+

This innovative product combines a 5w solar panel with a built-in 6,200mAh power bank. It’s ideal for charging smartphones, tablets, and other small devices on the go. Additionally, it boasts a built-in LED light for added convenience. 

TP-Solar Foldable Solar Panel Charger 120W

This 120w option offers efficient solar energy conversion if you require a higher wattage output. It features a foldable design and comes with various adapter cables for charging different devices. 

Solar panels with portable power banks: our top recommended

For extended off-grid power needs, consider pairing your portable solar panel with a solar power station.

Jackery SolarGenerator 300 Plus

This solar power station boasts a 300w capacity and can be charged using either mains electricity or with its compatible solar panel. It’s small and quiet, so perfect for taking away camping. 

Jackery SolarGenerator 1000 Pro

This powerhouse offers a 1002Wh capacity and can be charged via AC mains or solar panels. It features multiple AC and DC output ports, making it suitable for powering even demanding devices like drones and power tools (with proper adapters).

Solar chargers for devices: our top recommended

These compact options are ideal for keeping specific devices powered on the go.

Luminaid PackLite Max 2-in-1 Camping Lantern and Phone Charger

This innovative product combines a solar-powered lantern with a built-in power bank for charging your smartphone. It’s a great option for campers who need both light and a way to keep their phone charged.

X-Dragon 70W Foldable Solar Panel Charger

This powerful 70w solar panel charger is perfect for laptops, tablets, and other larger devices. It features a foldable design and comes with various adapter cables for compatibility with most devices.

Powertraveller Solargorilla Solar Charger

This versatile option offers a 10w solar panel for charging directly from the sun. It’s a great compact solution for keeping your smaller devices powered on camping trips. 

Looking to Outfit Your Campervan or Caravan?

While this blog focused on portable solar panels, there are also solar panel options specifically designed for campervans and caravans. These typically offer higher wattage outputs to meet the increased power demands of on-board appliances.

For more information on outfitting your campervan or caravan with solar panels, we recommend checking out the advice from the Camping and Caravanning Club.

Here’s to solar powering your next adventure

Harnessing the power of the sun with a portable solar panel can significantly enhance your camping experience. Don’t forget to consider your energy needs to ensure you choose the right panel for your camping style. 

Potentially pairing it with a solar power station will mean you can enjoy the freedom of off-grid camping while keeping your essential devices powered day or night.