How Big of a Solar Panel Do I Need for Camping?
Camping is a great way to get away from it all and experience the great outdoors. But one of the things you don’t want to leave at home is a reliable source of power. Having the right size of solar panel can make the difference in staying connected while on the road. Read on to learn how big of a solar panel do you need for camping.
Calculating Your Electrical Needs
The power needs of campers can vary widely, depending on what devices they want to power. For instance, if you’re bringing a small television and laptop charger, that will require quite a bit of energy. Having a larger refrigerator or a second tv would require a larger solar panel.
When it comes to figuring out how big of a solar panel to buy for camping, the first step is calculating your energy needs. To do this, you’ll need to gather information on all of the devices that will be powered by the solar panel. Write down their official wattage, or how much power they consume. Next, you’ll need to add up all of these wattage numbers to get your total wattage consumption per hour.
For example, let’s say you will be running a few LED lights, a small refrigerator, and a laptop charger. The LED lights are 18 watts total, the refrigerator is 75 watts and the laptop charger is 20 watts. That’s a total of 113 watts, so you would need a solar panel system that can supply an average of at least 113 watts of power an hour for your needs.
Types of Solar Panels
Now that you know how much power you need to generate each hour, the next step is to figure out what type of solar panel to buy. The two most common types of solar panels used in camping are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The monocrystalline panels are the most efficient, but they are also the most expensive. They are best for people with higher power needs, such as those running multiple devices. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels are cheaper and better suited for people with smaller electrical needs.
The efficiency of the solar panel is also determined by the angle it’s installed. Usually, a solar panel should be set up at a 45-degree angle to the sun for optimal effectiveness. If you’re frequently on the move, you can also invest in a solar panel that can be adjusted to the angle of the sun, no matter where you’re camping.
Which Solar Panel Is Right for Me?
When making a purchase decision, there are a few factors to consider. First, look for a solar panel that matches your energy needs. If your energy needs are low, choose a smaller panel or one with lower wattage. If your needs are higher, choose a higher-powered panel with the largest wattage you can afford. You can also look at the customization options available, such as adjustable angle and detachable panels.
Next, consider the size, weight and storage space you have available. If you’re traveling in a small vehicle, you’ll need a smaller and lighter panel that can fit in the available space. Additionally, look at the manufacturer’s warranty length. A longer warranty will ensure you’re covered for longer in case your panel stops working unexpectedly.
Solar Panel Maintenance
Once you have your solar panel set up, you’ll need to maintain it regularly. This includes cleaning the panels on a regular basis to remove any dust or dirt that can block the sunlight. It’s also important to keep the solar panel away from any large objects that can cast a shadow over it. Additionally, inspect the cables to make sure they’re in good condition and make sure the plugs and ports are clean and undamaged.
One final thing to consider is to install an MPPT, or Maximum Power Point Tracking, charger. These are special chargers that optimize the amount of energy the solar panel can produce by tracking and adjusting maximum power voltage as conditions change. This is especially useful for campers in areas with varying weather or shade levels.
Hopefully this article has helped answer the question of how big of a solar panel do you need for camping. Depending on your energy needs and budget, you can opt for monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels, and make sure to purchase one that’s large enough to meet your needs. Lastly, maintain your solar panel regularly and consider investing in an MPPT charger for bonus efficiency.