Benefits of Camping Solar Panels and how to install them
Travel destinations are opening up, and now is a good time to go for that postponed camping trip with your family. An old-fashioned camping trip is the right way to connect with your family and disconnect from the world. Well not entirely, because you need access to your mobile phone and the occasional glance at the laptop. And also, you would appreciate a fridge along with camping lights to make you feel more comfortable with those chilled beers—a home far away from home.
Going for a camping solar panel installation seems a good idea to relax and unwind after a stressful year. You also get a chance to be a part of Australia’s clean energy revolution by making some simple changes. While generators have been the go-to option for campers in the past, now there’s an effective alternative to this fuel-consuming and smoke-emitting machine.
Portable Solar Panels – A green alternative
A portable solar (camping) panel will go a long way in meeting your energy requirements without leaving behind an irreversible carbon footprint. Also, some national parks and caravan parks have a ban on the usage of generators, so investing in solar panels seems like the right thing to do.
With a solar panel installed on your caravan or camping trailer, you can enjoy the mobility of going places without worrying about trivial things like getting your phone charged, keeping your food fresh and having LED lights to recharge repeatedly. So, let’s introduce you to the world of camping solar panels.
Benefits of solar panel installation for your camping trip:
- Practically free electricity for use during your entire camping trip where you can travel to remote locations with no access to electricity. And also enjoy basic amenities like LED camping lights and a working fridge.
- Installed on either your caravan or placed on the ground, solar panels do not make any noise, so you won’t be accused of disturbing the peace of your camping neighbours, out there in the wild.
- You can store the panels in the vehicle boot as they are portable and convenient to travel with.
- Did we mention free energy from the sun where the solar panel installation costs aren’t that high? That’s a great incentive in itself!
- Worried about adverse weather situations? As most portable solar panels come with a waterproof kit, you can ensure that rain won’t hinder your camping.
- A 45W mini portable solar panel is good to help you charge cell phones, iPad, tablets, music players and similar devices.
- A 120W solar panel can power basic appliances like a small fridge and LED lights used while camping.
- A 160W solar panel installation helps you with powering systems and appliances inside your RV.
- A 320W solar panel is what you need to heat water and use multiple appliances at remote locations during your camping trip.
How will you decide the number of solar panels needed for camping?
To gain a better insight into what your solar panel installation costs are going to look like, let’s understand how the panels work. This will help you assess your camping trip requirement.
Photovoltaic cells made of layers of silicon to harness the energy from the sun are present in portable solar panels. Photons are released when the sunrays hit the panels, this creates an electric field between the silicon layers in every cell. The panel has metallic strips attached to it that help channelize this electric field and send it to a battery or grid depending on the system. Long story short, this is how power is generated in solar panels. The power output is regulated with a charge controller.
1) A 140-Watt portable solar panel will come with a 10 amp controller charger to manage the battery charging. With a long cable wire, you can either mount the panel on the top of your RV with brackets or park somewhere in the shade. While the solar panel charges up in the sun.
2) A 100watt foldable monocrystalline solar panel is good enough to meet your basic requirements. Also, you can connect it with a 40-watt panel and expand your system as per the requirement.
Depending on your budget, the estimated energy consumption you are looking at and the set-up, you can decide which solar panel installation you should go for.
How to install camping solar panels?
A list of everything you need to set up solar panels all by yourself:
- Solar panels also known as solar blankets as per your energy requirement. You can buy a basic system and then attach more panels to it and expand your system power.
- To protect your battery from overcharging you will need a solar regulator.
- To store the power produced by your camping solar panels, you will need a deep-cycle battery. AGM type is preferable.
- Make sure that you carry 12-volt sockets. This basic 4-piece set-up will help you charge 12V appliances like LED lights, fans, air and water pumps, mobile phone, tablets, cameras and even a car fridge.
- You will need mounting brackets to place your panels sturdily on the RV or on the group along with a long cable wire that helps you with mobility.
The energy efficiency of camping solar panels
Multiple factors will affect the efficiency of your solar panels. Here is a checklist for you to go through.
- The lifespan: With the number of years of usage, the efficiency of panels will reduce. Even though the maintenance requirement after solar panel installation is quite low and the lifespan is in decades. You can expect the efficiency to drop by 0.5% annually. Still, it is much better than opting for a gas-guzzling and noisy generator.
- The maintenance: Alright, as mentioned, solar panels require little maintenance and so mild soap and water along with cleaning sprays are good enough. Over time your panels will accumulate dust, leaves, bird droppings and what not in the wild or otherwise, and that’s what you need to clean regularly. Make sure your panels have a good warranty and also a longer lifespan while making the purchase.
- The roof slope: Whether you place the solar panel on your RV, camping caravan or the ground, make sure that it gets a good amount of light. If your roof has a tilt to it then make sure you adjust the panel accordingly. This will help you get maximum energy stored in your system.
- The temperature: Too much heat can damage your solar panel system. If the solar panels are under intense heat like around 70 degrees Celsius, then they will perform with less efficiency. Optimum performance won’t be achieved at higher temperatures as the system heats unnecessarily. But, our team of experts are there to help you in such cases.
Pro tip: Invest in a solar panel that does not call for extra space to maximise its energy output.
There are various ways in which you can easily increase the efficiency and thereby the output of your solar panels.
Things to do for improving the efficiency and life-span of your solar panel:
- While buying solar panels in Brisbane it is suggested that you get a recommendation from people who have already used one. Also, look for new models that have inverters. Do your research before purchasing solar panels as they are long-term investments, even the portable camping solar panels.
- Do an energy audit, it is very simple. Just look at the power consumption rating of your appliances prior to the solar panel installation. The type of appliances you have will impact the functioning of the panel and so devices with high energy star ratings and fridges with smart inverter compressors are suggested.
- Make sure your panels are placed under direct sunlight from 8 am until 4 pm and make the most of the daylight hours. If you are parking in the shade, then mount your camping solar panel in the sunlight connected with long wire cables.
- Another pro-tip would be that solar panels in Brisbane or anywhere in Australia for that matter, get their best orientation at 219 degrees yearly. In both directions, the south and the west!
- If the weather looks bad or cloudy, then it is important to get the most of the available sunlight which can be made possible with a solar focusing device. A concentrating photovoltaic (CVP) will generate more power from a fewer number of cells. It works similar to the functioning of a magnifying glass. Different lenses you can invest in are: Fresnel lens, a luminescent concentrator, parabolic mirror and also a reflective coating would go a long way in getting the right amount of light to your solar panels.
- Solar panels are made of different materials, and investing in one with a high-power efficiency will be beneficial. An amorphous silicon cell is made of thin layers of silicon deposits. This provides more absorption than regular crystalline silicon. Good for installation in curved surfaces, and the cost is also on the lower end.
- With an efficiency of 18% – hybrid silicon solar cells are made of amorphous and monocrystalline solar cells. Even though this is the best solar panel existing in the market as of now, they are also the most expensive. So, depending on your budget you can invest in camping solar panels.
- Monocrystalline silicon solar cells have an efficiency rate of 15-20% and can also generate power at low light conditions. The list of cells does not end here, however, you must do your research keeping your budget in mind.
- Ensure your solar panel cells don’t reflect the light. Because then photons won’t be generated if the light just bounces off the panel. You can reduce reflection by using black silicone which contains Nano or microscale wires for this very purpose. The photons generated don’t bounce off but make their way inside the cell.
- If you have the budget, then opt for a solar tracker that automatically orients the solar panel to face the sun. Improves exposure and efficiency by 20-30%. The logic is pretty simple, like a sunflower, it chases the sunlight. A way to drive or camp hassle-free while the tracker makes sure that the solar panel is working in optimum conditions.
- Charge only one appliance at a time. This will reduce the load on your solar power system. You do not want to plug in all gadgets and appliances at the same time. Avoid that.
- Make sure your panels have an anti-reflective coating for maximum output and also, they are charged in well-ventilated areas as high temperature reduces their efficiency.
- Now for the final advice, you can invest in energy-saving devices. LED over CFL. Turning lights off when not in use. Opting for air drying instead of using the washing machine spinner. A gas stove in place of an electric stove works well too. In short, all your energy-saving practices can be applied in the wild.
We would love to urge all happy-go-campers in Australia and beyond to make use of solar camping panels. Not only do they give you the flexibility of travelling to the remotest location without worrying about basic amenities but also help you go green. Be a part of this green revolution and make the most of the subsidy provided by the Australian government that encourages the switch to solar power.
You can implement the system in your home, your business and community centres. With a one-time solar panel installation cost, you are good-to-go for decades. The maintenance is cheap and the energy generated is practically free. Go solar today! To know more about our Solar Panels in Brisbane and Solar Panel installation in other areas, contact us: 1800 789 470
Author: Harsh Patel
Date: August 13, 2021
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