Camping is a whole lot comfier than it used to be. Today, you can take home comforts with you. All you need is a portable power station and a solar panel. In this blog post, we’ll dive into some things you need to know when shopping for a portable solar panel for camping, how you can use them, and then round it off with some solar panel recommendations.
Why should I use a solar panel for camping?
With 97% of campers now taking tech with them on trips, comfort has become something you don’t need to sacrifice while out in the sticks. Think coffee machines, hot plates, or even projectors to watch a movie. Just charge up your portable power station via a camping solar panel and you can power it all.
Renewable and quiet
In the past, gas generators have been a go-to for campsite power. They’re loud, dirty, and require maintenance. A portable power station plus a solar panel is the polar opposite. Clean, quiet, and easy to use.
If you’re going out in the wild, it’s always best to have an emergency power source for your phone and essential electronics. A small portable power station such as an EcoFlow RIVER series and a 60W solar panel is enough to keep you powered anywhere.
The three most important features to look for.
Since you’ll be outdoors, it’s a good idea to pick up a portable solar panel that can handle a bit of rain, dirt, and dust. If you choose a fragile, rigid solar panel you might risk damaging the cells and reducing the efficiency of the panel, or worse. All EcoFlow camping solar panels are IP67 water and dust-resistant while being foldable too. Ideal as camping solar panels.
Portability & easy setup
The one thing you always lack when heading camping is packing space. Cumbersome rigid panels are a chore to carry and set up once you get to your campsite. It’s best to go for a foldable solar panel that’s lightweight and easy to set up. The most portable of EcoFlow’s models are the 60W and 110W panels. They fold up neatly into a small carry bag a little larger than a briefcase. That being said, all EcoFlow solar panels are foldable into similar carry bags.
Make sure the panel you pick is compatible with your battery/portable power station. Most portable power stations use an MC4 port to link to solar panels, all of EcoFlow’s models follow this standard too.
So let’s say you’ve got all the above features ticked off. It’s portable, compatible, and rugged. However, if you choose a cheaper, polycrystalline panel, you will be sacrificing efficiency. EcoFlow’s solar panels are all monocrystalline, drawing a whopping 21-22% efficiency. This makes sure you’re getting the most out of the sun to charge your power station as fast as possible.
How to set up your solar panels for camping.
Step 1: Set up your panels
First off, you’ll need to set up your panels. If you’ve just got one panel you can plug it right into your portable power station via your MC4 solar charge cable MC4 connector. If you’ve got more than one panel, you can chain them together to increase the amount of solar power you’re generating. Chaining in series is the easiest way providing you’ve got an MPPT controller. With an EcoFlow portable power station, you don’t need to worry about this as they all have built-in MPPT controllers to maximize efficiency.
To set up your panels in series, just plug the male connector into the female connector of your second panel, then take the loose ends from each panel and link them to your solar charge cable, plug that into your EcoFlow portable power station and you’re set. Here’s how it’s done.
Step 2: Angle directly towards the sun
To make sure you’re getting the most solar energy, ensure the solar cells get full sunlight coverage. Any shadows or obstructions will decrease the efficiency. EcoFlow solar panels make this easy since the carry case doubles as a stand, allowing you to prop the panel up at just the right degree.
The Verdict: Which are the best solar panels for camping?
The quick answer is… it depends. How long is your trip? How big is your portable power station? Is portability an important factor for you? You’ll want to take these into consideration when choosing a solar panel for camping, but as a rule of thumb, smaller solar panels are great for portability and short trips, with the larger models being great for a serious multi-day camp setup. Here’s a summary of EcoFlow’s portable solar panels:
Interested in diving deeper into the portable solar panel topic? Read our definitive guide here.