With the increasing concern towards environmental effects and less amount of fossil fuels, the world is adapting more to the use of sustainable energy sources to use clean energy. One of the most effective sources is Solar energy. Since there are more nations near the equatorial line, most regions receive an average of 12 hours of sunlight a day, and regions closer to the poles receive an average of 5 to 8 hours of sunlight.
Traditional solar panels have come a long way with many technological advancements. Due to the ease of use, convenient and eco-friendly way of power generation etc., the popularity of portable solar panels is increasing day by day. They are helpful for indoor applications and outdoor activities and traveling. Here is a comprehensive guide to portable solar panels working mechanism, benefits and factors to make effective buying decisions.
What are Portable Solar Panels?
As the term “Portable” suggests, these solar panels involve compact-sized components. These panels are easy to install and can be carried anywhere. Like a typical solar panel, portable solar panels can convert sunlight into electricity using a solar power generator. Then you can successfully produce solar energy. They are easy to store and easy to transport. Here are some of the popular types of portable solar panels:
Foldable portable solar panels can transform the energy from the sun’s rays into electricity through a charge controller. The controller is connected to the device’s battery for charging it. They are typically made for outdoor activities. A foldable solar panel is typically made of durable materials with built-in handles.
Rollable solar panels are designed to offer ease of storage and transport. Due to the flexible material in use, they are ideal portable, lightweight solar panels to go for backpacking or camping.
As the name suggests, briefcase portable solar panels are designed to look like a briefcase and are compact enough to offer ease of carrying. They are made of durable materials to be used in various outdoor activities.
Backpack solar panels are designed to be carried like a backpack. So, they are very lightweight and compact in size. These can come with built-in charging ports to charge electronic devices on the go.
How do Portable Solar Panels Work?
Just like the standard solar panels, portable solar panels involve the photovoltaic effect for producing electricity. This effect is possible due to the application of semiconductors in the panel to convert light energy into electrical energy. One of the commonly used semiconductors in solar panels is silicon. When the sunlight hits the panels, the electrons get excited in the silicon atom and start to move to produce an electrical current. The solar panel is connected to a series to enhance current output and voltage.
The portable solar panel can have many components:
- Solar Cells:Solar cells are what convert sunlight into electrical energy.
- Charge controller:The charge controller in the portable solar panels prevents devices from overcharging or over-discharging by regulating the electricity flow from the solar panel to the portable solar battery.
- Battery:The battery stores the electrical energy generated by the solar panels. Later you can use them to charge your devices.
- Inverter:This converts direct current stored in the battery into an alternative currency to be used in most electronic devices.
If you are using portable solar panels, you can connect the charger cable of the device to the panels. The charge controller in the solar panel regulates the charge flow of the electricity to ensure the devices are charged safely and efficiently.
Portable solar panels enable direct and indirect charging. Direct charging involves connecting devices directly with solar panels without a battery but with a built-in solar charger. These are designed to receive low voltage and low current output. Indirect charging involves storing the electrical energy generated by the solar panel and then used for charging devices. Some of the common devices that can be charged using portable solar panels are smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras, power banks, portable speakers, camping lights, GPS devices, etc.
Benefits of Using Portable Solar Panels
Portable solar panels use several benefits mentioned below,
1. Environmental benefits
Unlike the use of fossil fuels, portable solar panels are able to produce clean energy. It is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative for going grid-free. You can power up your electronic devices without any harmful pollutants or greenhouse gases. These devices reduce reliance on fossil fuels, help reduce the carbon footprint, and mitigate climate change.
2. Economic benefits
Using portable solar panels also helps with improving economic benefits. When you become dependent upon the use of portable solar panels, you can significantly reduce energy costs and provide a free and renewable source of electricity. They require minimal maintenance and a long lifespan, so you can maximize your investment. They are also beneficial to live in remote areas and go practically off the grid.
3. Convenience and portability
Whether you are going hiking, on a backpacking journey or camping, portable solar panels are a reliable power source, rather than using diesel generators. Camping solar panels are convenient to carry around for their portability and other robust features to sustain the outdoor environment. You can easily set them up, requiring any power outlet.
4. Survival and emergency situations
A portable solar panel can be helpful during emergencies and natural disasters. These outdoor solar panels are a reliable source of electricity if no other sources are available. You can charge your cell phones, radios and other essential devices to keep connected with others and receive information.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Portable Solar Panel
1. Wattage and power output
One of the significant factors to consider while choosing a portable solar panel is your wattage and power output requirements. Determine the power requirements of the devices to charge and choose the solar panel wattage accordingly.
2. Size and weight
Many size ranges and weights of portable solar panels could be available in the market. Consider a device that is easy to carry and transport. Make sure to measure the size and weight of the solar panel while folded or rolled and after they are fully set up.
3. Durability and ruggedness
Portable solar panels are designed for outdoor uses in harsh weather and environments. Hence, choosing a portable solar panel with durable materials and a rugged finish is essential to withstand rough weather, bumps and knocks.
4. Accessories and features
You must also consider what other accessories and features they come with. They can enhance your panel’s functionality and convenience. Typically, they come with features like Integrated battery packs, USB ports, LED lights, carrying cases and waterproofing. So choose the solar panel with features as per your specific needs and budget.
Portable solar panels are lightweight and convenient alternatives over diesel generators for all your outdoor activities, whether you are going camping, hiking or backpacking in remote locations without a power source. They offer a sustainable way to power electronic devices by converting sunlight into electrical energy. They can be folded, rolled and carried like a backpack, and you are ready to enjoy your outdoor plans without hassles. Consider the buying factors mentioned above to make an informed decision with your portable solar panels.
1. How do solar panels convert sunlight into electricity?
Solar panels are made off of a thin layer of silicons. During the photovoltaic effect, i.e., the conversion of sunlight into electricity, the photons knock electrons off the silicon atoms. It creates an electric current that is captured by the wiring in solar panels. The semiconductor material in the solar panel contains two layers of silicon; one is of positive charge, and another is of negative charge. This flow of electrons can create a current which can be used as electricity. The DC electricity generated current then converts into AC electricity to power the home and business complexes through an inverter.
2. What are the advantages of using solar panels?
Solar panels can help you produce electricity as a form of renewable energy source and reduce the carbon footprint on your premises. There can be many other advantages to solar panel installation that involves:
- Generate free electricity to reduce the need for getting electricity from the grid
- It is a sustainable and clean energy source without producing any harmful emissions
- Reduced carbon footprint using fossil fuel means less impact on the environment
- Solar panels would require less maintenance with regular cleaning and inspection
- Home and business properties with solar panels installations can increase their property value and sell them faster
3. How much do portable solar panels cost?
The cost of portable solar panels can vary depending on the size, quality, and features. On average, a basic portable solar panel with a capacity of 100 watts can cost between $100 to $300. More advanced and efficient models can cost upwards of $500 or more. Keep in mind that additional accessories such as batteries, inverters, and charge controllers can also add to the overall cost. It is important to research and compare different brands and models to find the one that best fits your needs and budget.
4. How long do portable solar panels last?
The average lifespan of a portable solar panel can range from 25 to 30 years. But this can vary according to the panel’s quality, type and brand. The panel efficiency may gradually decrease over the years due to exposure to outdoor weather conditions and battery degradation. Make sure to do regular cleaning and proper storage of portable solar panels.