Camping solar panels are a great addition to a campsite if you would like to run some home comforts. Solar panel technology has made huge advancements in recent years, but be careful that your expectations are not a little too high. Do not expect to run a fridge or tent heater the whole day on a single solar panel, for that a camping generator is needed.
Before we get to the best camping solar panels, its best to make sure you know what your needs are. If you just want to charge your iPod to have some music, there is no need to buy a 100W solar panel with a deep cycle battery.
How do Solar Panels Work?
Solar (or photovoltaic) panels rely on the photoelectric effect to convert the suns rays into DC power. The solar panels are made out of silicone, a semiconductor (it shares similar properties of metals and that of insulators). Depending on your needs there will be an inverter in the circuit if you need to run AC appliances (120V/220V).
How much power can a camping solar panel generate?
This can be a tricky question and can get very technical. The amount of power a solar panel can generate depends on the amount of sunlight hours. Because an hour of sun in Alaska is different from an hour of sun in Arizona the industry have a measurement called Peak Sun Hour (PSH).
Imagine it as the same as measuring rainfall and one PSH is the same as one “bucket” of sunlight.
So for arguments sake, there are typically 5-6 PSH (or buckets of sunlight) in Arizona and only 1-2 PSH in Alaska.
The solar industry uses a different method of rating the panels and will only roughly deliver about 70% of the power it says on the box. So a 100W panel will only deliver 70W of power.
So multiply the panel rating with the PSH and you get your amount of power.
For example a 100W panel in Arizona:
70% x100 x 6=420 watt-hours