Portable Solar Power Systems: Charging On The Go

Categories: Review and Solar PV Panels.

Portable Solar Power Systems

The development of portable solar power systems provide us with a means of mobile renewable power for people on the go. Man discovered and started to use renewable energy forms like solar power, wind power and hydroelectric power in static locations when they discovered they worked economically.

People like to have a clean alternative source of energy and the preference for convenience has always been with us.  Then, innovation and the need to effectively utilize that energy source at any time has lead to mobile devices with batteries. Recently the mobile solar chargers gave an extended use to those mobile electronic gadgets.

portable solar power systems

These portable solar power systems whether they are rechargeable battery packs, portable solar panels and the like mean that mobile device users stay connected. Portable solar power systems are being used extensively by campers, hikers, beach goers, and adventurers all over the world.

These mobile solar panels, as one of the portable solar power systems provide flexibility to the user to harness the sun's energy during any travel day visit. There are small lightweight flexible solar panels that can be clipped to your backpack to get some charge into your devices while you are walking.

portable solar power systems

The Portable Solar Power Systems

The portable solar panels are being manufactured to be small in size and light in weight.  The small mobile devices can be charged through these solar panels but are dependent on the power generated by these panels. There is an assumption that the power panels will be out in sunlight all of the time you are walking.

In fact the sun access is intermittent at best. These portable solar power systems or small solar kits are perfect for topping up small mobile devices like a cell phone or your iPod and are sold in a handy envelop size. The charging output for them varies from 1 watt to 20 watts.

There are larger movable solar panels that can be shifted from the top of your RV and placed to catch sunlight while your RV is parked in shade.  The bigger mobile solar panels are used to charge a 12v battery to run gadgets like your mini fridge. The medium to large solar kits generate somewhere between 40 watts and 160 watts.

Benefits Of Mobile Solar Kits

In the early years of solar power, most solar kits available in the market catered to the fixed solar panel requirement. Anyone requiring a portable setup could modify the same to suit their needs. Today, we have particular solar kits being manufactured in various sizes and offering several benefits:

  • Easy to store after the trip is over
  • low maintenance requirement
  • Their lightweight and compact size makes them easy to unpack and setup
  • Most solar kits come with integrated inline charge controller
  • The wire length is long enough to move the panels around with the shift in sunlight
  • These solar kits are designed with legs that can be tilted to achieve maximum sunlight
  • Quick connect battery connectors
  • Accessories that can be easily set up by amateur campers

Making Your Portable Solar Power Systems Panel Purchase

There are four key factors you need to focus on while making your portable solar panel purchase. These include:

  • Set your budget,
  • How much storage space is available for the panels when not in use,
  • What add-on features are required, and
  • How much power do you normally require on your trips.

An important add-on feature for your portable solar panel charger is to include no-tear hooks, which allows the charger to hang from packs, tents, or trees. Another feature to consider along with water-proofing is its durability and robustness.

Portable solar power system

Your Typical Portable Solar Panel

Generally a portable solar panel consists of the following parts:

Solar Charge Controller

The controller enables the solar panels to charge the battery in case of additional power requirement. The charge controller reduces or stops the power to the battery, depending on its current charge condition. The different variants available are range Shunt Type, PWM, and MPPT, with the preferred choice being the PWM - or Pulse Width Modulation.

Rigid Solar Panels

Some portable units come with rigid solar panels as they prove to be sturdier in the outdoors during extreme weather conditions. 

Hinged Panels

There is a hinge provided at the center of the solar panels between two separate photo-voltaic panels. It allows easy folding of the panels at the time in preparation of storage.

Adjustable legs

The adjustable legs help with keeping the panel in the best position to absorb maximum sunlight. The panels can be easily angled with a slight adjustment to capture maximum sunlight and help in easy storage as well.

Solar Cable

Most portable solar kits come with a 15 to 30 feet length solar cable. This allows the panel to be shifted easily to better sunlit areas while giving enough space around the RV or your vehicle.

Battery Connectors

The battery connectors help in easy attachment and removal of the solar kit from your battery. Some solar power kits also include alligator clamps and Anderson connectors.

Check out one option for your portable solar power system below.

Uses For Portable Solar Power Systems

portable solar power system

Charging your laptop

For some the laptop is as vital to a person’s survival as air or water. The laptop can be easily charged using the solar panel. While you are sitting on the beach, trekking your way through a forest or the Himalayas, this solar charger keeps the laptop alive. The charging time of the laptop depends on the sunlight availability, wattage offered by the solar panel, and the size of batteries in your laptop.

Cell Phone Charging

A cell phone is the most valued travel accessory of the traveler and the easiest to charge with a small solar charger. It keeps you connected to the world and gives you access to maps without depending on the mains power supply or a battery. You need to select a charger that has a higher and quicker Wh output. Around 10Wh gives you a slower charge so if you have an iPhone, it will take around 2 hours for it to be fully charged.

Charging Your RV

Installing a large size mobile solar charger atop your RV hands you a quiet and hassle-free trip. For a camper or a hiker that use the solar power option this is probably one of the critical areas as motorised electricity generators need fuel. You could say they are noisy, harm the environment and also lighten your pocket at the same time. 

You can easily park your RV under a shady tree to escape the heat, detach the solar panels off the RV and use them to charge batteries under direct sunlight. Solar power is a powerful and cost-efficient way of charging the RV along with its devices, lighting and even air conditioning.

You can use the car’s batteries for this purpose but that would require the RV electrical system and generator to work full time. The diesel generator’s fuel consumption is added to the cost of using batteries. The solar panels that you require for an RV can be smaller in size compared to the ones used in a home solar setup.

The video below is on the portable solar power set up.

Water Heating, Water Purification, And Cooking Requirements

For trips that are a little longer than just a few hours, portable solar power systems and panels come in handy for survival. You can use solar for heating water, solar cookers and grills for cooking are a must have for the traveler on the go. There are minute-sized solar water purifiers available that are a life saver in areas with water problems.

Portable Solar Power Systems devices

As a frequent traveler, buy devices and gadgets that have an inbuilt solar charger so they will not be dependent on your RV the solar power setup. Now that power can be used solely for your lighting and heating needs. 

Many smaller electrical devices like the music system, power banks, power stations, lanterns, navigation devices, camera and other gadgets come with a solar power enabled variant or add a solar power charger.

You’re going on a camping, hiking or a trekking trip because you love nature and like to relax so you wouldn't want to harm the pristine balance of nature by using fuels and generating noise. The single-use batteries are often left at the campsite, leading to harmful chemicals leeching into the soil affecting the flora and fauna as well. 

Using portable solar power systems and kit is suited to those of us who camp very frequently for durations of sufficient time to outlast single-use batteries. Swap out those batteries for rechargeable solar batteries

You might consider a combination of fixed and portable solar power systems. Maybe that fixed to mobile power system on the RV cannot meet all power needs so you might add additional capacity with portable solar panels.

The movable solar panels do have some disadvantages. The primary disadvantage is the effort involved in moving the mobile panels from one place to the other to stay in the sun. In case of a thunderstorm, strong winds or heavy rains, you would need to bring them in to protect them from damage.

Strong winds hitting from the back of the panels can easily flip them over. You can use temporary measures to secure the panels like a metal fence post and water jug to hold the legs of the panel in place.

Although most solar panels in the market are waterproof and have a shockproof exterior, the strength of wind in storms may damage them. You need to constantly change the position of the panel during the day to optimise power collection.

You have to be mindful of the panels’ placement when walking around at night in the campsite. In regard to the pricing, portable solar panels are more expensive than fixed solar panels.

portable solar power systems

Collapsible Water Bag

portable solar panel systems

Metal fence post

Portable Solar Power Systems Are Attracting The World

The functionality of wearable portable solar power systems have been upgraded, with the technology moving beyond watches to solar textiles. In the future your clothes will most probably be able to charge your laptop or your cell phone while you are walking.

These solar textiles have tiny solar panels stitched into the fabric of clothing to operate electronic equipment. The technology can be extended to the curtains you generally place in your camping vehicles.

In the field of water purification, Stanford’s new solar water purifier uses visible light and does not depend only on the UV rays of sunlight. And this technology is quick; it requires only a few minutes to give you reliable drinking water. 

The future for mobile solar power systems is going to be filled with solutions from creative innovation.

Feel free to share this blog and make comments in the section below. Browse other articles on this website about solar power.

Check out another option for your portable solar power system.

Feel free to share this blog and make comments in the section below.

Browse other articles on this website about solar power.




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