Camping with solar power – what you should know?

Camping with solar power – what you should know?

Solar power and solar-powered equipment are very popular among campers due to many reasons. We can safely say, solar power will save you from many troubles that you have to face while camping.

But to get the most out of this technology you should have enough knowledge about how solar power and the solar system works. In this article, we will explain the points you must know about solar power while camping.

Why solar energy is more suitable for camping?

Solar energy is the most suitable energy source for camping due to following reasons;

  1. No need to worry about camping near a power station.

When we go camping it is not always easy to find campsites with power stations. If we try to always be near a power station then it will limit us from exploring more depths of the wilderness. Using solar power will help you to explore many places without worrying about not having a power station to charge your equipment.

  1. No need to pay for a power station.

Most of the time, you have to pay to get power from the power station. Some campsites allow you to charge your equipment for free but you have to pay to camp at those campsites.

  1. Do not have to carry lots of batteries or generator.

If you are travelling to further rural areas for days, most probably you will not get grid power. So you have to carry lots of batteries or a generator. Both extra battery storage and generator occupy most of your space. If you are travelling on foot carrying lots of batteries is not a practical option at all.

  1. Do not trouble other campers and the wildlife.

If you are using a generator to get power it makes lots of noise. This disturbs both the wildlife and other campers. Some campsites even do not allow generators as they disturb the wildlife. With the loud noise of the generator, you definitely will not get to experience the beauty of the wilderness.

  1. Do not pollute the environment.

Solar energy is a clean energy source.  The production of electricity using sunlight does not emit any pollutants to the environment. If you use a generator, it requires the burning of fuels such as diesel to operate. This process emits pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, etc.  These pollutants are the reason for global warming, acid rains, etc.

So using solar energy is the best way to prevent environmental pollution while enjoying the environment.

  1. Do not harm the wildlife.

The traditional way of cooking while camping was by a campfire. But this was very dangerous as the campfire was the reason for many wildfires. Wildfire causes huge damage to all the wild lives. But by using a solar oven or a grill/ oven powered by solar power, you can avoid such disasters.

What do you need for solar power for camping?

Solar panels (portable/ fixed) – the solar panel is the component of a solar system that converts the energy of the sunlight/ solar energy to electricity. Campers use both portable solar panel types and fixed solar panels.

Fixed solar panels are mostly suitable for RV camping. If you go camp in your regular vehicle, using a portable solar panel is the best option.

Also, there are solar blankets which is a good option for campers.

Solar battery- solar battery stores the energy produced by the solar panel. This is very important to get power at night time and on cloudy days.

Regulator – the regulator is also very important for a solar system. On a sunny day when there is good sunlight, a solar panel produces a lot of electricity. This can overcharge your solar battery. Overcharging a solar battery can harm the battery. By having a regulator you can avoid overcharging your battery.

Inverter – a solar panel gives output voltage as DC voltage. If you have any appliances that work from AC voltage then you need an inverter to convert DC voltage to AC.

What is the most suitable panel type for camping?

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most suitable solar panel type for camping.

The reason is energy conversion efficiency is high in monocrystalline when compared to the polycrystalline and thin-film solar panels.

Energy conversion efficiency is the percentage of energy converted to electricity by the panels from the energy absorbed by the panels.

The efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels reaches higher than 20%.

The efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels is about 15% – 18%.

Thin-film solar panels are also good for campers as they are foldable.

How to choose the right capacity for your solar panel?

If you have an idea about how much power your equipment needs for a day, choosing the capacity is easy. But if not, choosing the right capacity for your solar panels require a little bit of calculation.

  • First, you have to list all the electrical equipment you may use during camping.
  • Then find the Watt values of each piece of equipment – (this usually mention on the equipment label).
  • Then roughly think how much time you want to work each separately.
  • Then multiply the Watt value from the number of hours.
  • By doing that you can find the energy needed by each of equipment.

Eg – think your light bulb is 16W and you are going to use it for 4 hours per day. Then the energy the light bulb needed per day is 64Wh.

  • Then by adding all the values you can get the total energy.
  • Then you should have a rough idea about how many hours you will get the sunlight.
  • Then finally you have to divide the total number of Watt-hours by the number of hours you get the sunlight.
  • Then you can find the required total Watt value for your solar panels.

Eg – think the energy requirement per day is 250Wh and the area is getting 6 hours of sunlight. Then the required capacity of the solar panels is 250Wh/6h = 41.66W

  • As the number of hours you get sunlight is varying from time to time and area to the area it is better if you increase the total watt value of your solar panels by at least 20% than the calculated value.

How to get good output from your solar panel?

  1. If your solar panels are fixed to your vehicle’s roof, then you have to park your vehicle in a spot where there is abundant sunlight. It does not have to be direct sunlight, but having direct sunlight will accelerate the production of electricity. If you are using portable solar panels, they also have to be placed at a spot with abundant sunlight.
  2. Make sure your solar panels are clean – dirt on the panels obstructs the sunlight.
  3. Make sure that your panels are not shadowed.
  4. Check your solar panels and the system regularly.

How to choose the right battery for your solar system?

There are different types of batteries available in the market. They come with different specifications. When purchasing a solar battery you have to mainly consider about following things.

Battery type – mostly used battery types for a solar system are;

  • Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries (FLA)
  • Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries
  • Lithium Batteries

Battery capacity – battery capacity refers to the amount of power a battery can store. You have to choose a battery with adequate capacity for you. Having less capacity than you need will fully drain your battery more times while using it. This will decrease the life of your battery.

Power ratings – this refers to the kilowatts of power your battery can release at once. If you think to use many appliances at once then you should purchase a battery with a high power rating.

Depth of discharge – if your battery has a high depth of discharge value that means you can use most of your battery capacity without damaging it.

Round trip efficiency – this defines the amount of power you can use from your battery as a percentage of the power stored in the battery.  If your battery has a high round trip value that means you can use more stored power.

Manufacturer – purchasing a battery from a well-known manufacturer can assure you that your battery is of good quality and it is safe to use. A battery has many chemical compounds in it. So if it is poorly manufactured it can cause accidents by leakages, fire hazards etc.

How to choose the right battery capacity?

When choosing a battery capacity you should have a clear idea about the way you think to use your battery.

The reason is if you are travelling for like 2 or three days most of the time you have to worry only about the nighttime. But if you are travelling for a prolonged period it is better if your battery can give power at least for a whole day.

By following steps you can find the battery capacity you need;

  • First, you have to list the appliances/ devices that you think to power up from your battery and find the watt value of each.
  • Then you have to decide how many hours you think to power up each of your appliances/devices by the battery.
  • Then multiplying the Watt value and the number of hours for each of the equipment separately you can find the energy.

Eg – think your light bulb is 16W and you are going to use it for 4 hours per day. Then the energy the light bulb needed per day is 64Wh.

  • Then add all the values you can find the total energy needed from the battery.
  • The dividing the final value from the battery’s voltage (v) you can get the battery capacity (Ah).

Eg – think the total energy required from the battery is 125Wh and your battery is a 12v battery. Then the capacity of your battery should be 125Wh/12 = 10.42Ah

  • It is better to select a capacity of the battery a value higher than the calculated value.

What are the types of equipment you can power with solar panels?

  • Small fridge
  • Small television
  • Radio
  • To charge laptops and mobile phones.
  • Lights (LED)
  • Small water pump
  • Fan
  • Small oven

You have to keep in mind heating appliances like heaters draw a lot of energy.

Appliances with built-in solar panels

There are appliances with built-in solar panels available in the market.

Such as;

  • Solar laptop/mobile phone chargers
  • Solar lights
  • Solar cooker
  • Solar oven
  • Solar water purifier

These will help you to decrease the power you draw from your solar system.

Also, even if you do not use solar panels, you can use these items to decrease the power use from your battery or the generator.

Also, some of these items such as solar laptop/ mobile phone chargers, solar water purifiers are good for campers who do not have space to carry portable solar panels/ solar blankets.


Using solar energy during camping will help you to get power without worrying about searching for a power station. Going solar also will let you explore nature without limitations and polluting the environment. You can either use a solar system or use equipment with a built-in solar panel. If you are using a solar system, selecting the capacity of the battery and solar panel has to be done carefully.

Next Post Previous Post
No Comment
Add Comment
comment url