Can you use a Solar Generator at my campsite? This writer is constantly being asked this question at outdoor product shows. Even though the truth is in plain sight, yes, it can is the answer. That does not mean the solution has to be expensive, however. Today we are going to look at various options that you can buy off Amazon that are complete systems and don’t require a great deal of technical savvy to get running in the field.
There are currently other systems out there like the Tesla Powerwall and its clones (below video) that could power a small business or a home easily. However, they require a bit more work and are not geared to being used by the average camper. These are more suitable for those who want to get off the Grid or sell power back to the utility companies and zero their electrical utility bill.
Some of the units we will be looking at could do this also. But, they are small enough to go with you on a car camping trip or be carried by an RV. So before, we get into the solar generators. You need, to ask yourself what you intend to power?
Is it for a game machine, tablets, and smartphones? Do you plan to power, small appliances like reefers, hair dryers, and the like? So, make a list of the things you want to power and then compare it to the following generators that we are about to highlight for you.
1. Wagan (EL2547) Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus
The Power Cube is one of this writer’s favorite solar generators for outdoor use. Everything is collapsed into a modular unit that opens like and origami puzzle when you need solar power to run your campsite. Here is a short video on the earlier version and give you a rundown of its core features. A second video provides you with some of the new features that we use with the plus version of the unit we will talk about after this video.
At the heart of the system is a 100 Amp hour battery and the solar cells charge at 80 watts of power coming from a 5-panel solar array. This is an upgraded version of an earlier configuration of the unit and has about 50% more capacity. This translates to 1500W continuous output and 3600 watts peak power. So, you see you have a lot of portable power in a compact bundle. It has various configurations for charging the battery aside from using solar. One is being charged from your car and another from line current.
The unit itself can be used in conjunction with this to charge other batteries as well, for example, a “Deep Charge Glassmat battery” for use with your trolling motor. Additional power panels can be added, and the charge controller determines how many the unit will support. The more panels, the faster you charge and then require less sunlight.
You can run two USB ports, and with the right cable, you can power 4-8 devices off each depending on the current drain. Therefore, your GPS, Smartphone, and your Survival Watch can be kept charged and ready to go. Your kids will love it also, because their iPad, iPod, and other electronics will continue to function. This keeps them from going stir-crazy at night in camp when the sun goes down. You, of course, can now run lights throughout the camp and recharge 12 VDC batteries via the 2 DC plugs.
In addition, with the twin, AC plugs you can draw AC power through the inverter and power a small refrigerator, TV, and shortwave radio. One, the wife will love the other two will keep you abreast of the situation of what is happening in the world.
This, for a Prepper, is great if the SHTF and you have to head for your redoubt in the high country. You have the means of knowing when it is safe to pop up and resume living your everyday lifestyle when things stabilize.
2. RAVPower 16W Solar Charger with Dual USB Port
At the other end of the spectrum, The RAVPower charger is more geared to the hiker than supporting a full-blown camp environment. It has 16 Watts of power through two iSmart USB Connections.
The charger is smear as well it automatically adjusts the current to give maximum charge rates to each device. Also, it automatically identifies the device as well. So, not matter what needs charging, up to 3.2 Amps it’s got you covered. You have one of the most efficient solar conversion rates at between 21 and 24%. This then lets you charge your tablet, GPS, and even your LED flashlight.
The unit is water-resistant, and you can fold it into a convenient size that fits your backpack. So, now when you hit the field, your electronics are always ready for action and with the minimum amount of charge time.
So, after you are down by the lake relaxing and taking in the quietude of it all. You can read your reader and catch up on your reading or be listening to tunes on your iPod or MP3 device. The outdoors are no longer a barrier to your personal eager, and now it goes everywhere the sun shines and they will work, and you get all the energy you need for free from the limitless power of the sun.
Just hook your device that requires power up to it, and it will start absorbing the right amount of current at the right amperage needed. That is if you need a CAP machine, you can charge a battery for it with the battery kit for it and then go camping with the family as you CAP recharges for you while you are out having fun.
For those who are doing SAR and child rescue in the wild. Smartphones don’t work very well, so you need to switch to a walkie-talkie to keep in touch with the team. Again, an RAVPower comes to the rescue. You have your team equipped with Cobra’s CXT545.
Then each member of the team takes their RAVPower with them. You are free to expand the search until the missing child is found. People with High Blood pressure can monitor their BP while enjoying an outing or even a fishing trip and still keep track of things. So, you see where once you were limited. You now can enjoy camping with family and friends.
3. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Kit with Nomad 20 Solar Panel
Here is a middle of the road solution to your energy needs when camping. This solar generator has the modular appeal of the ePower Cube. Its Solar Panel folds like the RAVPower Charger.
Its difference is that the power output is less. Therefore, you wouldn’t be doing appliances except for a small TV or reefer. However, also there is the cost factor. For those who are on a budget. You can buy the unit in installments.
Check Price and Buy @ Goal Zero Yeti 400 Kit with Nomad 20
The Base Module, which at first you can charge via tradition means. Next, you add the Solar Panel in your next installment. Later you can add a second panel to give you 40 Watts of charging energy. Finally, you can gang additional units together to build a solar collection farm and harvest more energy. Therefore, you see you have a system that grows with your needs and stays within your budget constraints. If you like, it has a big brother that puts our 1200 Watts and has the same type of set up.
You have most of the options for charging your camp and outdoor devices like your GPS, radios, and lighting for your camp. It will also handle the medical support devices we have mentioned earlier. The system is stackable, and you can set up a base camp that can support the needs of your party in their activities. A wheeled dolly is available and comes with certain configurations.
So, for camp life, setting up a cabin tent, you plan to spend the summer in or build a command center for use in SAR or other emergencies that require you to have electricity, and the grid is not available. For the Prepper this is an economical approach to building up your survival resources without straining your day-to-day lifestyle.
Also, let us not forget, it can be used for the backyard activities as well. Anywhere you need power you now have it from the sun free for the taking.
Today, we have only scratched the surface of what you can do with the broad range of solar generators on the market today. So, the next time you are planning a camping trip and your family want to take along their personal electronics you should consider one of the 3 units we have talked about today or one of the plethora of other portable solar generators (below video) as well.
Solar power is an excellent way to make you camping experience more enjoyable and is useful as well for use in emergencies when the grid is down. The Sun so far in the few billion years hasn’t let us down yet. So, now is the time to plug into it for your camping, outdoor activities, and survival needs.