Monday, September 2, 2019

5 Tips for Using Solar While Traveling

Solar phone charger charging iphone laying in the sun on the beach

This is a post from Kyle at Green Coast, a renewable energy and green living blog focused on helping you live a more sustainable life.

One constant worry for every long-distance traveler is how they will charge their gadgets while on the move.

When going to remote locations, it's important to have a reliable and portable power supply. A solar power panel is an ideal choice. 

In this article, we will explore a few tips for using solar while traveling. 

Carrying generators while traveling for long-distances can prove to be difficult because they are bulky, costly, and make a lot of noise. 

Therefore, harnessing solar power energy instead of a gas-powered alternative becomes both eco-friendly and economical.

The use of adequate portable solar panels enables you to travel to remote, unpowered locations without sacrificing items such as laptops, fridges, LED camping lights, mobile devices, and more since you can charge them with your solar power wherever you are. 



Looking for more travel tips?


Favorite Tips for Using Solar Panels While Traveling

Best tips and tricks for using solar panels and solar charging while traveling. How to choose the right solar charger for you and more! Perfect for those following their wanderlust or living the van life. #creativegreenliving #solarpower #travelsolar #solarpanels

Here are some of the tips for using solar while traveling that you need to know:

Choose a solar panel that can charge different types of gadgets 

Solar panels for traveling are ideal for charging your devices while on the move. This is because they create voltage smoothly and under minimum light conditions.

Some of the most common equipment that you can power with your solar energy setup includes camping lights, 12v compressor fridges, LED camping lights, compressors, and inverters which can charge 12v appliances such as televisions and laptops. 

Do not power the heating appliances such as hair dryers from the power inverter as they are energy-intensive and will waste a lot of power.

Best portable solar powered charger
Instapark Mercury 10M18U is one of the best portable solar power panels. The panel has 2 USB ports and can charge your small electronic devices such as your mobile device. 

If you integrate it with an external battery, you can charge even more gadgets, including a smartphone and a tablet.

Learn about the solar panel accessories and their importance to you

Most solar panels come with additional accessories such as adapters, charging lights, alligator clips, carabineers and extension wires. The modern ones also contain a USB connector.

You cannot quickly tell the accessories that have been paired with a specific solar panel. This can be pretty inconveniencing, especially when you want to charge a particular gadget like an old camera that cannot be charged via USB. 

Therefore, make sure that you know all the accompanying solar panel accessories that you will need for charging your devices before you leave on your trip.


Get the best panel size for your power needs and panels’ portability

You need to consider the size of your panel as well as the type of system that you will need for charging your devices. Identify the number of appliances that will need charging and then calculate the total wattage required for charging them.

It’s important to note that when it’s cloudy or if your solar panels are dusty, then you will need double the wattage. Consider the days that you can rely on the charger and the days of not using it, which is an off-grid mechanism where you can go for days with no sun input.

The portability of the solar panel is also very vital. If you are planning to go hiking or mountain biking, then you can use a solar backpack

These are portable backpacks with in-built solar panels that come in handy when trekking for long-distances. You can walk all-day-long with it, and your gadgets will have a power source when nightfall comes. 

At the end of the day, solar panels produce more energy than you realize. Recent technological advances have enabled solar to be more cost-competitive than alternatives.

Optimize solar energy while camping

When using solar power, you need to learn how you can maximize your solar panel's ability to gather energy. 

How you position and align your solar panels is crucial if you want to optimize its performance output.

A solar panel that lies perpendicular to the sun captures the maximum amount of solar energy. A slight 10-20 degrees inclination off-perpendicular angle can cause the sunlight to reflect off the glass, which can significantly reduce the amount of power that the panel creates.

Since solar panels produce electricity during the day, try and maximize your energy usage when the sun is shining.

Charge your gadgets during the day when the sun is shining. Also, set a timer for devices that consume a lot of power to switch off before sunset.

You can also maximize energy by using one appliance at a time. There are several apps that can help manage your power usage.

If you’re on tour and will be using a camper trailer or a caravan, then you can mount your solar panels flat on top of them as you travel.

If you are a camper, then the best option will be a compact thin film or folding the panel because it helps you save space. An amorphous foldable solar panel is ideal for compact camping and four-wheel driving.

Also, if you have mounted panels, then you need to regularly wipe the dust that gathers on your panels with a microfiber cloth. The dust can obstruct sunlight and weakens a panel’s performance. 

Decide on whether to go for monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin-film amorphous

A majority of people prefer using monocrystalline technology rather than the thin-film design. 

This is because they are more efficient, do not delaminate with time, and they offer a rigid surface treatment to the cells.

Polycrystalline panels, on the other hand, are cheap but less productive and not so pure.

Because of its superior quality, the monocrystalline panel is becoming the industry grade. Also, monocrystalline helps you save weight and charges quickly.

Thin-film amorphous, on the other hand, need a greater surface area compared to polycrystalline and monocrystalline ones.

However, you can easily roll out and fold in the form of new-age solar blankets the thin-film amorphous panels for compact storage.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are fragile and need lamination on the glass for better protection. 

Final thoughts on using solar while traveling

If you are going to remote locations where there is no power source, you can harness power from a solar panel.

I hope these tips for using solar while traveling will help you in ensuring that you have sufficient power energy to charge all your gadgets while going outdoors for an extended period.

About the Author:

Kyle is the owner and lead writer for Green Coast and has a strong passion for sustainability. Green Coast is a renewable energy and green living community focused on helping others live a better, greener life. He believes that energy and green living has become far too complex, so he created a number of different guides to build a sustainable foundation. You can follow updates on Facebook and Twitter.  
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