Best Camping Solar Panel

Best Camping Solar Panel

Solar panels are a fantastic way to power your devices, and this is for a number of reasons. For instance, solar panels are environmentally friendly since they use sunlight as power. They are especially good options for camping or other outdoor activities, as they help you to power your devices when you do not have access to a source of electricity. 

Read on to learn more about solar panels, such as how to determine the best solar panels for what you need, as well as some of the best solar panels for camping that are out there on the market today. 

How Much Solar Power Do I Need?

If you are looking for a solar panel, then one of the things you will need to know is the amount of solar power you need. Below, we will go over some of the different situations you may find yourself in, and how much solar power you need in each type of situation. 

How Much Solar Power for Tenting

If you are camping out in a tent, then you will typically not need as much power as you would for some of the other situations that we will be going over below. If you are the only one on this camping trip, you will also likely need less power than in other situations, because you only need to charge and power your own devices, and not those of the rest of your group as well. So, how much solar power do you need for camping in a tent, or tents?

This will still vary based on the devices you have brought that you want to charge, or how long your trip is. As a general rule of thumb, though, it is said that in this situation, you would want between 120 W and 150 W of solar energy. This also accounts for non-ideal conditions that you might encounter, like dew or cloudy weather.

How Much Solar Power for Multi-Person Tenting or Van Camping

We went over tenting with a single person above, and now we will go over multi-person tenting, or sleeping in a van. This will typically have different requirements, as you will have more devices to power with your solar energy kit, for instance. In addition, it is important to remember that these are just guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules.

That is because every camper is going to have different expectations and will be going on different trips that require different things. A shorter trip, for example, may not require as much solar energy as one where you are out in the woods for multiple days.

Your needs will also depend on the types of devices and amount of devices that need to be charged or powered while you are camping.

Typically, in this kind of situation, you would need a solar energy kit that has between 180 W and 200 W of solar power. 

How Much Solar Power for an RV

When you are going on a more extended camping trip, or you do not want to be so Spartan about things, you may decide to bring along your camper or RV. This can be great, too, because it can carry a lot more in the way of supplies, gear, or even larger solar panels or solar energy kits.

Powering your RV, though, can also require more solar power, so this is something you should be thinking of as you shop for a solar energy kit. Some of the other things to consider are how long your camping trip will be, and how much usage of the RV or devices is going to occur.

For example, moderate usage of your RV devices, like your TV, will not require as much solar energy as if you are using them a lot.

We will discuss moderate usage here for the purpose of this solar power guideline. A 200 W solar panel or solar kit is typically estimated to be enough to power your RV for around 3 to 4 days— more than enough for a weekend camping trip!

How Much Solar Power Do You Need In Summer

Luckily, if you are camping in the summer, you have more sunshine hours, and the sun is closer! This can help with the collection of solar energy and can help you to have more power to work with on your camping trip.

However, there are also some other things to consider with the warmer summer weather. For example, are you using your RV? Is it air-conditioned, and will you be running the air conditioning to stay cool? Even if you are camping in a tent, you may want to use your solar kit to power a fan to keep you more comfortable.

With the AC or a fan constantly running, you will need to account for more energy usage. You will need more solar power to keep these devices running.

With an AC unit in your RV, a good estimate of the amount of solar power you will need is 450 W. Of course, this may vary, so it is always wise to do the calculations as pertaining to your own devices yourself. 

How Much Solar Power Do You Need In Winter

Like in the summer, winter can lead to you needing to implement some additional devices for your comfort. If you are camping out in your RV, you may need to keep your heat on.

If you are camping out in a tent, then you may want to bring a heater with you, and keep this running on solar power so that you can stay warm enough while enjoying your time outdoors. However, unlike in the summertime, you are not going to be able to collect as much sunlight or solar power in the winter.

That is because there are fewer sunshine hours in the winter, and we often see gray, overcast days in the winter, too— making it even harder to collect solar power!

Your heater will also require more power to stay running. An estimate of what you will need is between 400 W  and 450 W of solar power. Of course, you should still be sure to look at and calculate the specifics of your own devices and solar kit, as these are only guidelines. 

Consider When Choosing a Solar Panel

When you are choosing a solar panel, it is important to be aware of the number of different options you have! There are many factors that make up a good solar panel, and what works for you may not be the best choice for the needs of another person.

Take a look below for details on what you should pay attention to when shopping for a solar panel.

Packed Size

When it comes to packed size, this refers to the size of your solar panel when packed up for travel, but also when unpacked and ready for use. Luckily, there are plenty of different sizes of solar panels, in addition to there being different wattages and power capacities.

Be sure to pay attention to the dimensions of a solar panel when doing your shopping.

For instance, if you do not have a very large space at your campsite— or in the vehicle or bag you are transporting your solar panel in— then it is wise to go with one of the smaller options that are out there. 

Power Output

Power output is another important factor to consider when you are looking at different solar panel options. On a very general note, the larger the solar panel, then the bigger the power output of this panel.

Of course, you will still want to pay attention to the power ratings on each solar panel that you are talking about.

The solar panels we see for camping are usually folded at least twice, in order to maximize the amount of surface area covered while in use, but minimizing the amount of space that they take up when they are packed up and no longer in use. 

External Battery

You will also want to look at the external battery of your solar panel or solar energy kit. Most of the solar panels that are intended for camping are also designed to be paired with a power bank for camping trips.

This is how the solar panel stores the energy it collects. One of the considerations you will need to make is whether your solar panel kit has a port to match the high-voltage output port on your chosen power bank.

This is important because the USB ports that are located on solar panels typically limit the voltage output to avoid damaging your smaller electronics. 

Chaining Solar Panels

What does chaining solar panels mean? This is when campers link together multiple solar panels so that they can increase the efficiency of the solar energy system.

Chaining solar panels is something that helps you to collect more sunlight during the sunniest parts of the days so that you have more power stored to access later when you need it. You should think about whether or not you will want to chain your solar panels, as this is something you will want to shop for accordingly! 

How Do Solar Panels Work

It is also important that you know how solar panels work if you are going to be using them! Solar panels are constructed of cells that convert sunlight to energy.

The cell has two different conductive layers, and there are two different layers of silicone in between. One silicon layer has space for electrons, while the other has extra electrons. As sunlight hits the solar panel, photons enter the solar cell, knocking one of the extra electrons loose.

The extra electron goes to the layer with space for electrons, and as it does so, creates a positive charge on one side and a negative charge on the other. The solar cell collects the energy of the photon as it moves by channeling the movement of the electrons. This is happening in multiple cells across the solar panel to collect a significant amount of energy. 

Certain solar panels are also better at regulating the output of energy than others are, which is something to be aware of. This is important when it comes to capturing the energy on the other side, such as in a power bank or into a device like a solar generator. 

Best Camping Solar Panel

Solar panels can be a great option for you to power your devices with, whether you are using them at home or taking them on a camping or backpacking trip with you.

We’ve rounded up a list of great solar panel options to jumpstart your research. Take a look below to learn more about some of the solar panel options that are out there, and how these solar panels can be beneficial on your next camping trip. 

Best Overall Panel- FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank

The first solar panel we will be discussing is the FEELLE Portable Solar Power bank. It is a solar power kit that is actually made up of 4 different panels that are all connected. They can be folded up into an easily transportable rectangle that is the size of just one of the panels.

Then, they can be unfolded again once you set up your campsite, so that you can use the solar kit to its full capacity. It is also just about the size of your smartphone when all folded up, so it is perfect for when on the go!

It is a good fit for you if you expect to be moving from place to place on your camping trips, or when you are backpacking or hiking a lot. These panels can also generate 6 W of solar power. 

Another great perk of the FEELLE model is that it is waterproof, which is especially important when you are using a device outside, like on camping trips. For solar panels, durability is key!

The device has protection against overvoltage, overcharge, overcurrent, and short circuiting, too. It is also lightweight, at 1.18 pounds. When it comes to the USB ports on the FEELLE power bank, there are dual USB ports so that you can use the power bank to charge more than one device at a time.

The power bank charges its own battery at the same time that the solar panel is unfolded and sitting in direct sunlight to soak up the sun’s rays. 

Best Budget Panel- Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel Kit

If you are looking for a budget option for your camping trips, then the Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel Kit is a great solar panel choice. It comes in at around $100 for price, without skimping on the features!

Like most solar panels designed for camping, the Renogy E.FLEX model is one that folds and unfolds with ease, making it easy to pack up when leaving your campsite.

It makes it that much more portable! In addition, this model is lightweight, adding to its portability, as it only weighs 1.9 pounds.

When folded, it measures 12 inches by 6 inches. Then, this particular model can unfold into a 30-watt power source that is able to convert 22% to 25% of sunlight into electricity. This matches the output of most home solar panels! 

The Renogy E.FLEX Portable Solar Panel Kit is able to recharge small devices like your cell phone or action camera in 2 to 4 hours. Slightly larger devices, like a tablet, can be recharged in around 4 to 6 hours.

It also has a triple USB port, so you do not have to wait for one device to charge before you charge the rest. Instead, you can charge 3 devices at once!

This solar kit has a generous warranty as well. There is a 25-year production warranty, and a 5-year material and workmanship warranty. 

Best Panel for Backpackers- Renogy 10W Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer

If you are more of a backpacker than a camper or like to hike to see the sights of nature, the Renogy 10W Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer is the solar kit for you! It is incredibly portable, as it clocks in at under 1 pound— .89 pounds to be exact.

Another great benefit of the model is that it does not take long to charge up at all. It is able to fully charge in 2.5 hours or under, as long as it is placed in direct sunlight.

It comes with different cords and is designed with a plug-and-play system so that you can charge a number of different devices or even other external battery packs. It is able to charge varying 12 V batteries such as lithium, gel, AGM, and others, too. 

When it comes to durability, the Renogy 10W Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer is dustproof and waterproof, as well. This is key when you are using it outside and exposing it to the elements! Last but not least, it comes at a competitive price point. 

However, it is important to note that this particular solar kit is not designed for powering larger devices. This will likely not be an issue for you if you are backpacking, though, as large devices are hard to tote around with you! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of solar panel is best for camping?

There is more than one kind of solar panel. You may have assumed that all solar panels are the same, which is not true! The different kinds of solar panels are thin film panels, PERC, monocrystalline panels, and polycrystalline panels.

These are the 4 major types of solar panels available on the market today. The different kinds of solar panels work best for different things. If you are looking for solar panels for camping, for instance, monocrystalline solar panels are a great choice.

They are the ones with the highest efficiency ratings and can also convert over 20% of sunlight into usable electricity! 

What will a 100-watt solar panel kit run?

One of the things you will want to know when you are setting up a solar energy system is what your chosen solar panels can operate, or power.

You can determine this by first looking at the wattage of the solar panel kit. For instance, a 100-watt solar panel kit is able to power small devices. These include cell phones, lamps, ceiling fans, laptops, or routers for wifi. Larger appliances would usually require more than one 100-watt solar panel.

Some examples of these larger devices are TVs, heaters, air conditioning systems, or other similarly sized appliances.

How much will a 200-watt solar panel run?

If you are working with a 200-watt solar panel, you will be able to power a bit more than you would be able to power with a 100-watt solar panel.

A 100 watt solar panel is able to power small devices like cell phones, laptops, or routers for wifi. When it comes to the 200-watt panel, it will be able to run some additional devices, as well.

Some of the devices that the 200-watt solar panel is usually able to power are a laptop, several chargers at once, and a small fountain. Coffee makers and small projectors can also be run by a 200-watt solar panel.

What will a 600-watt solar panel run?

If you have a 600-watt solar panel, this is one that is able to power a lot of your devices! Smaller solar panels can power small devices like your laptop, cell phone, or TV.

A 600-watt solar kit is able to power these smaller devices too, of course, but it has the capacity for so much more! A 600-watt solar kit can also power certain vehicles, like boats or an RV.

Your 600-watt solar panel will be able to power small electronic devices and operating LED lights, too.