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Friday, June 21, 2024

Solar-Powered Camping: Harnessing the Sun for Sustainable Adventures

Photo by Voyagerix via iStock

As the call for sustainable living grows louder, more and more outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers are looking for ways to minimize their environmental footprint. Enter solar power – an environmentally friendly, innovative solution that allows people to fuel their camping adventures with 100% green energy.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into solar-powered camping. You’ll learn everything from the different types of solar panels and components currently on the market to factors affecting power output and the benefits of switching to solar. Additionally, we’ll recommend our favorite solar-powered camping accessories.

With that said, it’s time to sit back and buckle up as we explore the amazing world of solar power, why you should integrate it into your camping setup, and how it can help you enjoy sustainable, energy-efficient adventures!

Table of Contents

Solar-Powered Camping: What are My Options?

A male camper with curly hair setting up a solar panel at a campsite

Photo by halbergman via iStock

When deciding which type of panels you want to buy for solar-powered camping, you have two principal options: fixed solar panels or portable solar panels. Both systems offer unique advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the right ones for your needs and budget is crucial. 

Fixed panels are mounted directly onto the roofs of caravans, RVs, or trailers and were the first type of solar panels to become popular for camping. While they are typically more expensive, they are a good option for people who go exclusively car camping. 

On the other hand, portable panels are a newer technology that provides more versatility to adventurers. They can quickly be moved around a campsite or from vehicle to vehicle, making them ideal for tent camping. 

We use these Ascent 100 Solar Panels from Inergy. They are foldable, monocrystalline panels with aluminum legs and 100 watts of solar capacity. Their portable, lightweight design makes them perfect for any type of camping, and they are super easy to store when not in use. 

Speaking of solar capacity and power output, the three most common amounts are 100 watts, 200 watts, and 400 watts. One hundred watts is enough for short camping trips, but we recommend more if you like to travel for extended periods or have greater power needs.




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What Components are Needed for Solar-Powered Camping?

Ultimatron Lithium Battery

Solar-powered camping requires more than just solar panels, though. Three other must-own components are needed to complete any kit: a rechargeable battery, a solar regulator, and an inverter.

The battery is where the energy your solar panel collects will be stored, and it’s the beating heart of any solar-powered camping setup. Our go-to battery is this 100ah battery by Ultimatron. It’s a deep-cycle lithium-ion battery with a heater, Bluetooth, and an integrated battery management system you can control from your mobile devices, making it super easy to use with no fuss or muss.

ultimatron lithium battery review

Furthermore, it has no memory effect (which lengthens the life of your battery), uses the safest modern battery technology (no fire risk), and comes with a five-year warranty, so you can make your purchase confidently and worry-free. I’ve used these batteries in my trailer for over a year now, and they have been absolute rockstars!

As far as the other components in the system, the regulator is what charges your battery and keeps it from overcharging. Meanwhile, the inverter takes the 12V energy stored in the battery and converts it into 240V electricity needed to power your gear. This is a simplistic explanation, but you get the gist!

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Factors That Affect Solar Power Output

RV with Solar panels near the ocean

Photo by Voyagerix via iStock

The three primary factors affecting solar power output are weather, temperature, and power needs. Let’s look at how each one will affect you during a solar-powered camping trip and what you can do to always be one step ahead.

Since solar power relies on the sun, weather is the obvious one. For example, in the deserts of Arizona, your panels will absorb more energy than in the overcast Pacific Northwest. One way to be prepared is to fully charge your battery before leaving home.

Temperature also plays a role in power output. Extreme temperatures in either direction (hot or cold) will lead to a decrease in power output. Usually, solar power is the most efficient in moderate temperatures around 75 degrees. 

Lastly, there’s your power needs. Running large appliances like fridges or air conditioners will, unfortunately, drain your power faster. If that’s your case, you should invest in a more advanced system featuring powerful solar panels and a stronger battery.

What Kind of Camping Gear Can Use Solar Power?

Use Solar for Shade and Power

Photo by amriphoto via iStock

The short answer is just about ANYTHING! Anything that uses electricity can be run or charged with solar energy. That includes everything from giant televisions to small phone/laptop chargers. Now, here is a list of some of the best solar-powered camping gear:

  • Water heaters/portable showers
  • Portable AC/heating units
  • Camping stoves/grills
  • Electric kettle
  • Flashlights/lighters 
  • Speakers 

Benefits of Solar-Powered Camping

Young woman working on laptop with solar panels near camping tent

Photo by mixetto via iStock

Without a doubt, the biggest benefit of solar-powered camping is that it reduces your carbon footprint and contributes to a healthy and sustainable environment. Every day, more and more people are switching to solar to help protect our planet. What’s stopping you?

Other benefits of solar-powered camping are that you get “free” energy and have more freedom in the backcountry. Lastly, solar power systems are extremely durable and reliable, so the chances of them breaking down in a moment of need are next to nothing.

Check out the video above by EnergySage to learn more about the environmental benefits of solar power.

Disclaimer: Just so you know, some of the cool stuff we mention comes with affiliate links, meaning we earn a commission if you buy (no extra charge to you!). Plus, we occasionally feature sponsored content, but rest assured, we only shout out products we genuinely stand behind.

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