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Choosing Portable Solar-Powered Products

There’s nothing more rewarding than spending time in nature. But sometimes you need a bit of power to charge your phone or get some coffee brewing. When your camp site or boat is already just sitting there in the sun, why not add a small solar panel to create your own energy?

Portable solar products can solve most dead battery headaches simply by spending time under the sun. There are tons of ways to harness the sun’s power without needing to invest in an entire rooftop solar system. Whether you’re looking to reduce your electric bill or stay connected while camping, there’s a portable solar-powered product that can help!

Popular Types of Portable Solar Products

Solar panels: Most people picture huge solar farms or rooftop systems when they think of solar panels. But there is a wide variety of smaller, more portable solar kits for household use (can be moved around your property as the sun shifts) or recreational use (powering an RV’s appliances). Folding and flexible solar panels are great on-the-go options, especially for camping.

... Bring a little extra comfort on your next camping trip with a portable solar panel!

Generators: Having back-up power doesn’t need to involve gas. Solar-powered generators store the sun’s energy in their built-in batteries and use a small inverter to turn the energy into usable power for personal devices or household systems. They don’t emit any fumes and are very quiet, making them perfect for home use or during outdoor explorations. It’s a clean and easy way to always have extra power!

Batteries: Charging your phone or laptop from anywhere has never been so easy, thanks to solar-powered batteries. These can be almost any type of power bank that charges a device or appliance just from sitting in the sun. They’re perfect for adding to your backpack during a hike!

Lighting: Anything from large household exterior lights to small lanterns and flashlights can be powered with solar energy. Some options come with a custom solar panel while others are charged by a solar generator or power bank.

... A hanging solar-powered lantern can be used on a deck or in a camper.

Camping and recreation products: It’s easy to transition to solar for any outdoor gear because it’s already spending time outside. If you enjoy adventuring in nature, consider upgrading to solar-powered grills, speakers, radios, or watches. There are even solar-powered water heaters for showering outside after a long hike!

Factors to Consider Before Buying Portable Solar Products

Purpose and amount of power generated: Are you just trying to charge your phone in remote places or looking to power an entire RV? The intended use of the solar-powered product and amount of power required are the keys to deciding what to buy. Be sure to fully assess your current gas or electric usage to help determine how much solar energy would provide similar power.

Financial goals: Adding a solar-powered exterior lighting system to your home is a great way to improve your environmental footprint without breaking the bank. But the upfront investment required can vary widely, depending on the amount of lights needed and hours used every day. Before transitioning to any solar products, review your electric or gas bills to determine your current costs and compare these to the solar purchase price.

... There can be a large cost difference between powering an entire system vs. a few small appliances.

Size and weight: The true level of portability can make a huge difference in your solar experience. Solar panels with large surface areas generate a lot of power, which is ideal for a camp site or somewhere stationary. But carrying around a heavy charger won’t work for hiking, where every pound matters. For a truly portable solution, consider lightweight models with higher solar cell efficiencies, which use less area to achieve a larger wattage output.

Durability and water resistance: Most solar kits claim to be waterproof, but it largely depends on how you use them. Some models won’t survive an entire summer of rainy camping trips, so be sure to factor in your local climate and likelihood of frequent rain.

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