What if you are helplessly trapped in the dark? It sounds like something out of a horror movie. However, if you choose to install the wrong portable solar panel, this could become a reality. Portable solar panels are a technology that has been in the making for a long time and there are many to choose from. Fortunately, you can follow these simple tips to find the best solar panel for your needs.
What are portable solar panels?
There is a perfect guide to help you discover the best portable panels for your needs. But first, we must define exactly what these solar panels are. A portable solar panel is basically the love child of energy storage (outdoor mobile power) and those solar torches you used to use on camping trips. It absorbs energy from the sun and can then be used to charge various devices such as mobile phones, iPads etc.
For better or worse, there are many kinds of options available. You can use the guide below to make the best choice.
1. Know the type
Not all solar panels are the same. In fact, there are three possible panel types for you to choose from. The first type is the monocrystalline silicon panel. They are known for being hard and heavy, but they are also durable and relatively efficient, with conversion efficiencies in the 20-23% range. Polycrystalline panels are similar to monocrystalline, but they are blue in color and slightly less efficient, with conversion efficiencies in the region of 18-20%. The final option is thin-film solar panels, and CIGS panels. This is an acronym that stands for copper, indium, gallium, and selenide. These panels are flexible and thin, but they are not as durable as the other options and have conversion efficiencies in the region of 14%, this material is largely unavailable now and they announced their closure some time ago. Ultimately, the panel you choose should be based on where you will be using it and how long you will need it.
2. Size matters
Some people say that size doesn't matter. Trust us: they never need to lug solar panels around! If you're hiking or camping, you'll need to have plenty of space. If you're going hiking or camping with a solar panel, you'll want it to be smaller, or at least foldable. This makes it easy to carry around. If you're using these panels for other outdoor activities (such as a backyard party or music festival), a larger panel may be more acceptable. And as a bonus, the larger surface area of such panels will usually provide you with more power.
3. Staying flexible
For those who intend to carry solar panels with them, there is an important choice to be made: to fold or not to fold. At first glance, a collapsible panel seems like a perfect choice. It's light, easy to carry and very convenient. However, such panels are less durable and may need to be replaced frequently. Another option is to get a panel that is the right size and shape for your needs. This will allow you to pack around it and create a special space for the panel. Such a panel will be more durable, but you will need to address the issue of weight.
With solar panels, size, and weight are usually directly proportional. Choosing the right panel usually involves finding a balance between weight and utility. For example, heavier panels may be hell on your back, but they are usually durable and offer more options for the user. Weight isn't an issue if you won't be hauling the panel very far, or if self-propelled travel moves it that way. Otherwise, you'll want to ensure the added weight doesn't weigh you down during various outdoor activities.
5. Weather or not
Quick question: Does it rain and storm a lot in your area? The answer may determine which portable panel you end up buying. If it rains a lot, then you'll want a more efficient panel. This is because there may be very little sunshine and you need a panel that makes the most of it!
6. Check the equipment carefully
Portable solar panels are not exactly the 'Swiss Army Knife' of electronics. Most of the time, they are mainly suitable for charging a handful of devices. Before you buy, you need to determine which devices you want the panels to charge. Next, you must ensure that the panel is able to charge them. For example, if you are a camper and want to buy a camping radio, check that your panel is rechargeable. For example, the wattage of a battery panel makes a big difference. If you're charging something that uses a lot of juice, you'll probably need something with at least 15 watts of power. Don't forget to see if your device needs any additional accessories before charging. For example, most laptops will need a DC/AC inverter to receive the charge from the panel.
An obvious consideration is a price. How much you are willing to spend should be determined by how often you think you will use the panel. Prices range from the cheap end of $30 to the very high end of over $1000. The best option for your needs is probably somewhere in between these two extremes. If you only plan to use the panel a few times a year, then it's fine to go for the cheaper option. It's not as much of a risk of wear and tear as a panel would be. However, if you are taking this with you on camping and hiking trips at every opportunity, then consider this purchase an investment in something nice.
8. The feeling of integration
Some models come with a battery on the panel. Depending on your needs, these may come in handy! These are separate batteries that are charged by the panel. You can then use the power they store at a later time, whatever the weather. These solar cells are also an environmentally friendly option and can be used in your home all year round.