Portable Solar Panels –What Are They?
As the name portable solar panels suggests, it's power systems that are portable. That means you can carry the device from one place to other, use it and store it. Portable solar devices are alike conventional fixed rooftop solar panel system in appearance. But you can fold them away and do not need attachment to a roof. Fold out, connect, use, packed up and take away.
Portable solar power is mobile; it's a simple and practical solution for providing power on the go. It is helpful to meet roadside emergency needs. The emergency need includes camping and using mobile charging. Where regular electricity is unavailable for infrequent outdoor activities like rural sporting events. A portable power unit will keep power to the tent for computers and cash machines while the sun shines.
The picture below shows the back of a portable solar panel. It's a panel, some wiring and some battery connector clamps.
Getting electricity is a easy thing while the sun is shining. Take it out and face it towards the sun. You need to make sure that its solar access is not interrupted by static or moving shadows.
Portable Solar Panel Kits
Portable solar systems come in kits. Some designs intend an all-in-one solution and often include built-in solar batteries. The many designs mean some configurations suit particular applications better than others.
A portable solar panel kit design will recharge a single small USB powered device such as a GPS unit or a tablet PC. A portable solar unit on a truck the size of a mobile small building could power factory appliances.
Even larger kits find use in high demand situations in military applications. Also, during emergency disaster situations for power post-flood /rain events, after fire-fighting applications.
Necessity Of Portable Solar Panels
Portable solar is an option where a rooftop panel installation isn’t. Rooftop solar panels aren't always practical or possible. A roof may fact the wrong way to get direct sunlight. Nearby buildings provide too much shade. Another roof structure may not be compliant for mounting a solar panel system.
Sometimes local authorities place restrictions on the placement of panels on their roof.
Portable solutions provide choice for offsetting particular energy needs of rental accommodations. The renter can install portable solar panels without changing the property structure. Also the renter can remove an installation if they decide to move.
Target Audience For Portable Solar Panels?
The goal for any portable solar system is to provide power where there is none. The power appliance has nowhere to plug in for electricity. Portable systems must be easy to set up. They are mobile and effective for providing electricity where there is a demand.
People use portable solar systems for recreational camping trips (‘glamping’) in their off-road vehicles. Hunters and fishermen use them and so do humanitarian operations.
Here are some applications where portable solar power is useful.
- 1Recreational Off Road Vehicles
- 2Hunting and fishing camps
- 3Military or humanitarian operations
- 4Search and rescue support base
- 5Off grid travels
- 6Remote Communication devices
- 7Adventure Safaris and travel to remote places
- 8Scientific research base
- 10Charging mobile device- phone /tablet/camera/radios
How Much Power Can Portable Solar Produce?
Solar output depends on sunlight available at a particular time. Power production depends on the efficiency and the size of panels in use. Portable solar power systems operate at about 14% efficiency. That means the panels can convert 14% of captured solar energy into power. 'Thinksolar' research data provided the following example.
A 144-watt solar system will produce about 120 watts of power. This is enough energy to charge a standard battery in about 4 hours. It'll power a laptop or other portable electronic devices for about 3 hours. These are devices like camera, ipads/pods, radios and mobile communication. This system costs approximately $600 and may weigh about 12lb/5 kg.
Benefits, Advantages of Portable Solar Power
The ease for carrying portable solar power anywhere means they're convenient.
These devices have other benefits and advantages including the following. The assembly of portable solar equipment is easy. They have very few wires. Portable solar devices augment other wireless devices. Used as mobile chargers for batteries they're good companions for backpackers and travellers.
These systems provide enough voltage for radios, phones, laptops and mobile TV sets. Portable solar can support commercial applications like remote CTV and surveillance systems. Portable solar power is good in those situations when grid power fails or living off the grid. In a remote location, emergency responder personnel may want solar power for backup. Fishermen huts, recreational off-road vehicle users and hikers need convenient power.
To meet their power need lightweight portable solar devices work well?
The benefit of portable solar is they're convenient to use and pack up small.
Pros And Cons Of Portable Solar Panels
- 1No Fuel to carry. Portable solar panels need no external fuel source to generate electricity. They only need sunshine to excite the cells to convert light into energy.
- 2No Trace of fuel: Solar panels generate power from the sun’s energy. There is neither carbon pollution emitted nor residue of fuel to clean. Portable solar is both efficient and zero impact energy solution.
- 3Silent: Portable solar does not produce any noise. It is a quiet environment friendly system.
- 4Modular: Portable solar can be 'daisy-chained' together. To generate more power add more portable solar panels. It's a faster and quicker way to meet an urgent power gap.
- 5More power: The portable solar units can orient to track the sun. It might be a manual task but this generates more power compared to fixed rooftop panels.
- 6Lightweight: Portable solar panels are light in weight and compact too. Many of them have battery storage as an integrated feature.
- 7Waterproof: The on demand solar power panels are waterproof. The solar charge controller is waterproof. It's an energy system we can use the system in all weather conditions.
- 1Need Batteries. A separate battery pack to store power in low light conditions. Solar cells can only convert solar light to energy. You need to store some solar generated power. The solar device must integrate with a battery bank or some external battery storage.
- 2Variable output issues. The angle of sun on the panels influences the power output from a solar panel. It’s an ongoing task to re-orient the solar panels as the sun moves across the sky.
- 3Possibility of damage. Portable solar panels can damage when handled. We transport these portable panels more so damage risk is high.
Solar Panels -Polycrystalline vs. Monocrystalline
The solar cells are the energy generation part of a portable solar system. These panels' dark faces points at the sun and convert sunlight to electricity. The solar panel for a portable system can contain polycrystalline or monocrystalline cells.
The major difference in these two cell types is the purity of the silicon used. Monocrystalline structure has near to perfect alignment of silicon molecules within the cell. This means that the solar cell will be better at converting solar energy to electricity.
Solar cells made of single-crystalline silicon are mono-crystalline cells. The cells are blackish-blue in color and cut slivers form silicon ingots. Mono-crystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates (15-20%). That is because they derive from the highest-grade silicon.
High conversion efficiency means less space compared to other types of solar panels. Mono cells tend to perform better than other cells in low-light conditions. Monocrystalline cells are more expensive to manufacture. Their cells perform well in hot weather, and any light. Any solar cell or panel circuit is prone to breaking down when solar cells become shaded.
The polycrystalline cells have a bluish color. Mono cells come from a single silicon crystal ingot. To manufacture polycrystalline cells they pour molten silicon into a rectangular pot. A mono cell slice is round and polycrystalline cell slice is rectangular.
The simpler process of manufacturing polycrystalline cells is faster and thus costs less. The polycrystalline silicon ingot is less pure than a single crystal ingot.
A polycrystalline solar cell has lower efficiency (13%-16%) because of silicon purity. They are not as efficient as monocrystalline cells. Polycrystalline panels needs to be larger to output equal power to monocrystalline panels.
Portable solar panel systems use monocrystalline solar cells because of their greater efficiency. That means it's a smaller panel system so it is easy to transport and store.
Choosing The Right Portable Solar Panel
Select the portable solar panel and batteries according to your needs. Selection is an important consideration. Panels that have CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) use thin film technology. You harvest energy using very light and inexpensive technology. They are ideal for use in mobile applications, for robotics and recharging devices.
For mobile solar applications the system must remain portable. We need to use the technology that works best for all conditions. Both panel size and weight impact panel portability while travelling. Monocrystalline panels are smaller, lighter and efficient so they perform well. That makes them the right choice as portable solar panels.
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