Are you tempted by a solar charger?

by | May 21, 2024

It can be quite tempting to try and go a bit self-sufficient when you’re keen on camping, and one way to do it is to use solar power. So, if you fancy powering your trip as much as possible using the sun, here are a few things to consider.

  • Using solar power on your camping trip can make you feel a bit more self-sufficient.
  • Before you buy any new kit, think about what may suit your needs best.

Inevitably, the higher the wattage of a solar panel, the larger it will be and the larger surface area it will have, so you need to decide whether you’re willing to have the size or quantity of panel you need to power the equipment you want to power, or whether size will dictate what you are able to power.

Put simply, for more power, you need larger panels with larger surface areas. If you opt for more power then you’ll probably be looking at flexible panels to make storage easier and you’ll probably need stands so that you can position them for optimum exposure.

Solar panels suitable for camping are one of those things where you need to really consider your budget. Inevitably, their efficiency will deteriorate over time, but many panels claim around 99% efficiency for anything from 3 to 25 years and obviously this will be reflected in price.

This means considering the cost implications as some panels cost significantly more than others – you will have to pay for better performance – and even then the amount of electricity you can generate will depend on the weather in general and sunlight in particular.

Also think about where you’re going to use them. In optimum conditions outside they should work efficiently, but if you’re leaving them inside the car, not only it may affect how much sun can actually reach them, the glass will reduce their charging efficiency quite a bit, so it’ll take longer.

Realistically, the best use for solar chargers when you’re camping is going to be for smaller devices like portable battery packs, torches, lamps or phones rather than a portable beer fridge or a quick-boil kettle.

So unless you’re convinced, here in the UK it may be worth simply booking a pitch with an electric hook-up if you want to power more than your smaller devices.