Camping is great in so many aspects, however, to really make your experience in nature worthwhile you also need to bring with you the right camping essentials. Besides picking out the perfect tent, sleeping bags, and camping pillows, many people decide to add solar panel mats as well, to ensure they will have enough energy coverage to keep all their devices running for most of the time.
Whether you are a first-time camper or an experienced one, you will soon learn that solar panels have become the must-have camping equipment pieces you should consider taking with you. These pieces of camping gear are especially useful in case you are planning to travel for extended periods of time, or to some remote places where it may be challenging to find different power sources to recharge most of the electronics you carry with you, such as your phone, camping stove or lights.
But how do you pick the right solar panel for camping? Before we take you through the factors you need to consider before choosing a camping solar mat, blanket or folding panel, let’s first explain exactly what solar panels are.
What Is a Solar Panel for Camping?
Portable solar panels are a great way to supply yourself on your camping trip with all the power you need. They are made out of solar cells which are attached to a flexible cloth backing, which provides additional flexibility and convenience. They work on the principle of converting the sunlight, which is made out of photons into electricity. Obviously using them is one of the most efficient and easiest ways to charge batteries and power up all your camping supplies.
However, choosing the best solar panel or camping can be tricky especially if you are new to camping. But don’t worry, as we gathered for you all the necessary features you need to pay attention to, so you can make a better and more informed decision.
Things to Consider Before Choosing One
Have you wondered which type of portable solar panel should you get? Well, there are three different types of solar panels used for camping including the hard frame folding panels, solar blankets, and solar mats. The camping solar mat is the newest form of portable solar option available combining the benefits of both the hard frame and solar blankets. The main difference between solar blankets and solar mats is in the number of folds. Whereas solar blankets are usually set up in a 2×5 or 3×4 configuration, solar mats only fold in one direction, which makes them more suitable for free-standing.
Size and Weight
If you ever went on a camping trip, you will probably agree that keeping all your needed equipment with you in order and not cramped can be difficult. That’s where choosing a design that is lightweight, and easily foldable can be of great advantage when choosing a camping solar panel. Moreover, smaller designs are always more practical as you don’t want to haul a big bulky panel with you around whenever you decide to go camping.
Choosing the right solar panel also involves finding the sweet spot between the preferred size and weight. Most often larger panels can be pretty heavy as they are made from high quality and durable materials that will serve you for many years. The foldable and lightweight design is usually more convenient but they are less durable and need to be replaced more often.
Consider How Often You Go Camping
If you are a keen camper or an outdoors person you probably want to consider investing in a piece of equipment that will last you for many years. For this reason, it’s best to consider sturdy and robust aluminum frame designs that can withstand different weather conditions and the wear and tear of being packed away every time you plan to hit the road. On the other hand, if you only use them once or twice a year, and most of the time you keep them stacked in your garage you should consider buying a less expensive model.
You should also make sure they are waterproof and come with a warranty so you can easily replace them if some issues arise. Besides, you should look for the ones that come with a dustproof cover and handles, if you wish to make the maximum use of your investment.
Consider Your Budget
The prices of most solar panels used for camping can vary depending on the size, and capacity they offer. For instance, you can find good quality portable solar panels for camping for around $30 while those meant for longer camping trips can cost up to $100 or much higher. Therefore you should always have your budget in mind and pick something that is of good quality and not necessarily expensive as well.
Match a Panel Suitable for Your Appliances
Before making your purchase you need to make sure the panel you choose can charge your camping appliances. For instance, if you consider buying a camping radio or a fridge make sure that they are compatible with your panel. The chosen panel needs to provide enough power so you can charge and recharge all your appliances, besides having battery storage for an extra two-thirds on hands.
Check for Weather Updates
Having your panel all the time charged is also mostly dependent on the weather, therefore you should always check for weather updates before going camping. Besides, you will also have to consider the time of year, your location, and the expected temperature that play a vital role in fueling your panel mat.