When I decided to make overlanding a priority in my life, I sat down and enumerated the gear I needed to make my overlanding setup more functional, more comfortable, and more reliable. There were a lot of things on that list, but ultimately, the linchpin for the success of my setup was having reliable solar power.
Without solar power, I can’t top off my batteries. Without battery power, I can’t run my fridge, my trailer lights, the water pump, or charge my devices. Without my devices, I can’t keep in touch with my family or conduct the occasional business call from the road. You get the point…reliable power is a must!
So, I added a 180-watt Expedition panel from Sunflare XPLOR to the mix about a year ago, and it’s been a rockstar ever since. In today’s article, I’d like to give you a long-term update of what this panel can do, how I’ve used it, where I’ve used it, and so forth.
Table of Contents
- Why Sunflare XPLOR?
- Portable Solar Panel: Sunflare XPLOR Expedition Panel Specs
- How I Installed the Sunflare XPLOR Portable Solar Panel
- Real-Life Applications of My Sunflare XPLOR Portable Solar Panel
- Final Thoughts: Is a Portable Solar Panel Worth It?
Why Sunflare XPLOR?
Sunflare XPLOR was a no-brainer because this company is on the leading edge of innovation. It helps that they have a range of solar panels to choose from, too.
As I noted, I picked up the 180-watt Expedition panel for my rig, but Sunflare also offers a 105-watt Weekend panel and a 126-watt Adventure panel so that you can customize your panel to your specific needs. Heck, if you need more power than one of the three options provides, you can mix and match as needed. More details on these portable solar panels in a moment…
As for Sunflare, it’s hard to beat its commitment to quality and doing so while being environmentally friendly. For example, Sunflare’s arrays use CiGs (Copper, Indium, Gallium, and Selenide) technology for its modules, rather than traditional silicon, making these panels much more rugged and reliable. Yet, the manufacturing process produces 90 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than traditional solar.
Additionally, Sunflare uses a patented cell-by-cell manufacturing process, which is far more precise and produces panels that are of higher quality than the traditional roll-to-roll panel manufacturing used by many companies.
Heck, Sunflare even puts a QR code on its panels that tracks the conditions of each manufacturing step. This is done to ensure the highest quality products and uniform quality across the portable solar panel lineup. If that doesn’t speak to Sunflare’s dedication to quality, I don’t know what does!
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Portable Solar Panel: Sunflare XPLOR Expedition Panel Specs
When investing in a solar panel for my overlanding rig, I wanted a portable solar panel that was lightweight. The 180-watt Expedition panel from Sunflare XPLOR ticks that box by weighing just 11 pounds. What’s more, the panel is only 65 x 39 inches, so it was the perfect size to put on the roof of my tent.
A critical feature of these panels is that they are extremely durable. The cells on these panels are made from stainless steel rather than silicon, which is prone to micro-cracking. Stainless steel is also light and flexible, so the panel adheres to the contours of my rooftop tent like a glove.
What’s more, the cells on my 180-watt portable solar panel are laminated with 3M plastic rather than using glass and metal frames. Again, this is a more durable and lightweight option that’s ideal for overlanding setups.
Yet another reason why I chose Sunflare XPLOR is because these panels incorporate bypass diodes on every single cell. In typical setups, if one cell is shaded, the entire series of cells stops generating electricity. But with this bypass diode design, that’s not an issue with my Sunflare XPLOR portable solar panel.
Add in a 25-year warranty, and you have the makings of the ideal solar panel for off-grid adventures!
How I Installed the Sunflare XPLOR Portable Solar Panel
The XPLOR panels are incredibly easy to install using double-sided tape, rather than the typical mounting bracket and hardware system.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – there’s no way that double-sided adhesives work as a long-term mounting solution. That’s what I thought too! But a year on, these panels haven’t budged an inch.
Sunflare tested this mounting method and found that the panels were completely fine even when cruising down the highway at 85 mph. Even if I could tow my trailer that fast, I could do so knowing that my portable solar panels would be right where I left them as opposed to laying on the freeway behind me.
Honestly, it’s a few minutes, and you’ve got your panels in place and ready! You can check out how I installed these panels in the video above.
Real-Life Applications of My Sunflare XPLOR Portable Solar Panel
I’ve been to the beach, the mountains, the desert, and many points in between on my adventures in Southern California with my Sunflare XPLOR portable solar panels installed on my rig. Never once have I had to worry about whether I’d have power for my trailer’s batteries. Never once have I had to get up on my tent and fiddle with the panels. Like I said before, they have been absolute rock stars.
This includes camping in bitterly cold temperatures during the winter and experiencing 100+ degree heat in the summer. Truly, no matter what I’ve thrown at these panels, they have absolutely killed it. What a fantastic investment, to say the least!
It helps that I have these panels installed with top-of-the-line gear that enhances the reliability of my solar power system.
For example, the XPLOR panels feed electricity to my REDARC RedVision Manager 30 kit, which takes all the worry out of monitoring my trailer’s electrical system. I also upgraded my trailer’s batteries to two 100ah Ultimatron lithium-ion batteries (shown above).
Lithium batteries are the way to go, if you ask me, as they provide many benefits over AGMs. Additionally, Ultimatron batteries have a host of features that made them the ideal choice for me:
- A built-in heater, which is ideal for my cold-weather camping adventures
- A built-in battery management system with Bluetooth connectivity
- IP65 weather protection
- Approximately 3,000 cycles at 80 percent depth of discharge
- No memory effect and no need for full charge and discharge cycles
- Five-year warranty
On top of all that, these Ultimatron batteries are smaller and lighter than typical AGM batteries. As we all know, overlanding necessitates bringing a ton of gear, so anywhere you can save space and weight helps. I was able to tuck these batteries into the nose of my trailer with room left to spare.
I mentioned before the durability and reliability factor of the Sunflare XPLOR portable solar panels. Well, the same principles apply to these batteries. When I head out for an adventure, I want to have the confidence that the gear I’ve installed will do its job and do it well. That’s precisely what I get with these Ultimatron batteries and my XPLOR solar panels.
Final Thoughts: Is a Portable Solar Panel Worth It?
At the end of the day, there are plenty of choices out there for your overlanding solar needs. But for my money, Sunflare XPLOR is the best option, hands-down.
From the quality of their panels to their environmentally-friendly manufacturing process to the 25-year warranty, there’s a lot to love. Add in easy installation and top-notch performance, and you can see why I’m all-in on Sunflare XPLOR.
If you’re ready to upgrade the electrical system on your overlanding rig, I highly recommend Sunflare XPLOR. The last year has gone on without a hitch, and there’s no reason to think the next year will be any different!
Where to Buy Sunflare XPLOR Solar Panels: