Portable solar panels have recently emerged as an alternative to diesel or gas generators as a portable source of electricity. One very common application for portable solar panels is on camping trips, where an energy source is not readily available, but where electricity is still needed to power various devices which might provide comfort and convenience to campers.
Portable solar panels can be very convenient to use, since they can be folded, and in some cases even rolled up and taken along to any location as a source of power. They are completely off the grid and self-sufficient, and can be used indefinitely for directly charging batteries and powering appliances in situations where utility power is not available.
Advantages of portable solar panels
There are some very appealing advantages to using a portable solar panel, as opposed to the traditional counterparts of diesel or gas generators. Obviously, some kind of fuel is necessary to power a diesel or gas generator, and this must be carried along on any camping trip or excursion, remote from a utility power source. The sunlight which powers a portable solar panel on the other hand, requires no input other than sunlight itself, which means nothing need be carried along, other than the solar panel itself.
Since it requires no fossil fuels to power it, a portable solar panel is also much cleaner to operate, and emits no pollution into the atmosphere during operation. A further advantage of using portable solar panels is that since they have no moving parts, they require no maintenance whatsoever, and simply do not break down. From almost every perspective that you look at portable solar panel usage, they are simply a better solution than any other portable power generation method. Read more about how to maintain solar panels.
Disadvantage of portable solar panels
The lone disadvantage to using a portable solar panel might be that its conversion of solar radiation into electricity generally operates at an efficiency percentage between 6 and 45%, with the norm being toward the lower end of that scale. Units which can operate at nearly 50% efficiency can be very costly to purchase, and as a result, typical portable solar panels are not quite as effective at generating power as are diesel or gas generators.
The practical implications of this are that when they are used to charge batteries, portable solar panels will generally take longer than their traditional counterparts, and they may be unable to power appliances which have huge power requirements. However, if you don’t take large appliances camping with you or into the field, and you don’t mind a somewhat slower battery charging process, a portable solar panel can be the ideal solution to your power generation needs away from home.