Portable Solar Panel Kits For Camping: What Are Your Options?

Maybe you’ve used solar before (perhaps on your home), but maybe this is your first time looking into it.

If you are interested in portable solar panels kits for camping, this guide will teach you a thing or two you didn’t know previously.

Below we will list and quickly explain:

  • What portable solar panel kits are
  • What portable solar panel kits you can get for camping
  • What you’ll need in a basic portable solar panel kit to get started

 

Portable Solar Panel Kits For Camping: What Are Your Options?

1) What are portable solar panel kits?

Portable solar panels are solar panels that can be taken off grid i.e. away from the main electricity grid that powers your home.

They can be used in remote locations and provide power from direct sunlight.

The large portable solar panels (50 Watts +) are used to charge either 12 volt batteries for your large items like RV’s, camper trailers, camper vans, cars and boats.

The smaller portable solar panels (less than 50 Watts) are used for charging smaller handheld devices like tablets, phones, lights, radios, GPS systems etc.

They are highly portable as you can use them for activities like camping, backpacking, hiking, bike touring and kayaking.

A solar panel kit is a basic or advanced kit composing of a solar panel, and the accessories you need to charge whatever you need to charge.

 

2) What portable solar panel kits can you get for camping?

Larger solar panel kits come as one of the following:

Small solar panel kits are mainly folding solar panels like the Goal Zero Nomad 20 Watt panel.

 

3) What will you need in a portable solar panel kit to get started?

There would two types of portable solar panel kits you might look at getting.

The first would be a basic kit, and the second would be a more advanced or extensive kit that includes a regenerator and/or inverter.

1. Basic Portable Solar Panel Kit For Camping

A) A large basic portable solar panel kit (rigid, flexible and large folding panels) would consist of something similar to –

  • A solar panel
  • Connectors from the junction box
  • A solar controller (controls the charge coming from an 18 volt panel into your 12 volt battery for example – these controllers usually have a display to show you charge levels and performance)
  • Cables that run to your charging point
  • The battery you are charging – your RV camper van batteries for example
  • For rigid solar panels you usually have Z brackets that you’ll use to fix the panels to a camper van roof or surface

 

B) A small portable solar panel kit is usually just the panel, with an inbuilt charger chip and inputs/outputs where you connect your devices to. You might also get given a battery in the kit, and sometimes you might buy a separate DC charger cable to plug into your panel and your device.

 

2. Advanced Portable Solar Panel Kit For Camping

Whether you have a large portable solar panel, or a small one, the extras in an advanced kit are mostly the same. The most common extras are:

A) A Regenerator

A regenerator is essentially a storage battery that allows you to store DC energy from your solar panel, so that if it’s night time, or it’s a cloudy day – you have a source to power your devices.

Some regenerators just have round DC plug in points, while others also have USB points.

An example of a regenerator would be the Yeti Solar Generator models that complement the Goal Zero solar panel range.

 

B) An Inverter

As a basic explanation, an inverter converts DC energy to AC household energy for your devices that only charge or function from household electricity.

Inverters might come as a standalone device, but they often come as an inverter box that might also function as a solar regenerator.

For example, the Yeti 400 Solar Generator from Goal Zero comes with a 300 Watts pure sine wave inverter.

 

With both regenerators and inverters, make sure you buy the appropriate adapter cables for the devices you want to charge.

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