Portable solar panels serve many uses and there are plenty of advantages to them over traditional solar panels. Whether portable power is needed tailgating, at an off-grid cabin, jump-starting a car, keeping RV batteries topped off, or when there are blackouts at home and need to recharge a solar generator or power station.
Where & When to Use Portable Solar Panels
Portable panels can be used nearly anywhere. The #1 most common application for them is with a solar generator or RV. Many times the RV is powered by a portable solar generator or power station and needs to be recharged remotely. Boondocking with RVs has become very popular in the last couple of years and people do not like to pay $30 to $100+ per night to stay at RV parks.
Most people will opt to stay on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land where they can stay for free for up to two weeks. Often times campgrounds, national forest land, and even Wal-Marts are also used for boondocking. There is generally no access to fresh water which is the only downside. But that doesn’t mean they can’t go get water at any time from an RV station or gas station that has RV services.
This can help people save thousands of dollars when traveling with their RV. By having the portable solar panels it gives them the option to place the panels directly out front of their doorstep, or if the RV is parked in the shade due to the heat, they can easily run a solar cable to the portable solar panels farther away. The solar panels can be in the sun even 100ft away and they can be recharging their batteries and know they have all of the power they need.
As well during the winter when the RV is not being used, people will use a portable solar panel that can connect to their battery to keep it topped off all winter so the battery stays in good condition. This eliminates the issue of the battery draining itself, disinforming the cells inside, and needing to be replaced the next spring.
Portable solar panels are often used with solar generators or power stations. Think of a solar generator like a gas generator in the sense that it provides portable power wherever it’s needed. It can do the same work as a gas generator but without all of the noise, oil changes, fumes, and maintenance. They are not actually “generators” but the term solar generator helps people understand their purpose and use.
A solar generator can also be called a power station. Either way, they are effectively a combination of a battery, solar charger, and an inverter. This allows photons/light from the sun to be converted to battery power, then the battery power can be converted to run outlets to run appliances and devices. Solar generators are commonly used with RVs but also for emergency backup power for houses.
Off-grid cabins use solar generators and even Vanlife vehicles use them for easy power. The main advantage of a solar generator is all of the wiring, programming, and installation is done. People don’t have to earn a DIY electrical degree to put it together and then wonder if it’s going to catch on fire because they didn’t understand how to put it together properly.
But since they do not use gasoline, they need solar panels to recharge the battery in order to continue running their appliances. Portable solar panels are the easiest option because they do not need to be professionally installed on the roof of a house, RV, or ground mounted by a solar team. Portable solar panels typically fold open, use a kick-stand leg to sit upright facing the sun, and then connect directly to the solar generator. Then as soon as the power outage, camping trip, or off-grid job is done, it can all be packed up easily and put away until it’s needed next.
Jump Starting Cars
Besides being able to keep RV batteries topped off and recharge solar generators, many portable solar panels are capable of jump-starting cars. Or at least recharging the car battery to the point it can start again.
It is not too uncommon for portable solar panels to have a solar charge controller built onto the back of them. A solar charge controller simply is a tiny computer that converts solar energy to usable energy. Most commonly they are used to recharge batteries. That includes car batteries.
A portable solar panel with a jump start connector is a huge benefit to have when over-landing, off-grid, or camping remotely. For example, if you go on a 3-day camping trip but accidentally left the dome light on in your car, or the headlights on, the battery will be dead by the time you get back. If no one is around and there is no place to jump the car then the solar panel can recharge the battery to starting power level in just a couple of hours. It may not be an instant jump-start option, but it is an emergency backup option that is simple and easy.
By laying the solar panel on the hood or roof of the vehicle, and connecting the alligator clamp cables to the battery, the sunlight will hit the solar panel and transfer solar power into the battery and help it start again.
Portable Solar Panel Advantages
The number one advantage of a portable solar panel over a traditional frame solar panel is obviously the option of mobility. It can be easily stored, opened, and used nearly anywhere. As long as it’s in the sunlight, it’s going to produce energy.
Portable solar panels are the most common compact, light enough to move by hand, and even come with a plethora of connector types to connect to various appliances, chargers, and devices. With some portable solar panels, it’s possible to recharge cell phones directly from them. Or many will come with alligator clips for charging batteries directly. And many of them can be connected together to make a large solar array for maximum power for solar generators and off-grid sites.
They come at a bit of a higher price than normal solar panels, but the price is often worth it. The ability to pack it into a car, RV, or truck space easily is a major option. The biggest bonus is that they typically have a leg or stand built into them so they can be propped up and aimed at the sun to produce more energy. It is not uncommon to get 50% more power production out of a solar panel that is properly propped up towards the sun, versus a solar panel laying flat on the ground. The more perpendicular the solar panel is to the sun, the better it will perform.
Another major benefit is that the solar panels stand on portable solar panels will keep your grass from dying. When portable solar panels are in the sun, they get very warm. Oftentimes, hot. If they are laying flat on the grass, then the grass will get burned and die. It can take months before new grass comes in or new grass seeds may have to be planted.
Conclusion – Portable Solar Panels for Efficient, Renewable Solar Energy
For versatility, portable solar panels can be used in many ways. Powered Portable Solar tests solar panels regularly to find the highest quality and most powerful solar panels so everyone else doesn’t have to spend thousands of dollars finding out on their own.
If you need to run an RV, power a backup solar generator, recharge batteries off-grid, or simply need portable power, then portable solar panels may be one of the best options.