The great outdoors is a feast for the eyes and a playground for the imagination. But it also presents challenges that can be overcome with savvy, preparation, and know-how. Whether you’re setting up camp in the desert or out in an isolated cabin, there are some essential tools you need to make things easier on yourself. One option is to bring along a solar panel — yet given advances in power generators, this might not be your best choice anymore.
Benefits Of Solar Power
One of the first things to understand about solar panels is that they are available different types. While most operate best in direct sunlight, some are also designed to work in low-light conditions.
One of the biggest selling points of solar power is that it’s clean. Unlike gas-powered generators, there are no carbon emissions or foul odors when you run them. You don’t have to worry about contaminated groundwater or other damage to the natural environment. Another area where solar panels win over power generators is their eco-friendly construction. The typical solar panel is comprised of thin layers of photovoltaic cells that turn sunlight into energy.
If you’re going to camping, it’s important to make sure you’re not waking up the neighbors with your generator. Running an engine can produce a loud racket that wakes people up in their tents and possibly scares away night-owls. There’s also the issue of noise pollution.
Unlike gas-powered generators, there are no moving parts to break down or wear out. Solar power won’t be able to run your refrigerator and lights, but it will also keep your TV from shutting off when the batteries die.
Safe Application Via Low Direct Current Voltage Output:
Unlike a gas-powered generator, solar panels tend to give you a lower output of voltage. Some models will even alter the way they convert sunlight into energy not to exceed the power requirements of your devices.
Portable Panels Can Be Strategically Repositioned:
Solar panels come in a multitude of styles. They are installed on your roof or in remote areas, and they can even help you cut your power bill.
Can Be Cheaper Than A Generator:
Keep in mind you will have to pay a premium for higher wattage units. The bigger the panel, the more expensive it can be. But when you compare it to the yearly cost of a generator, solar power may actually be your best option for filling your energy needs.
Cons Of Solar Generator Panel
Variability: The true disadvantages of solar power come into play when the cloudy weather takes an unexpected turn. If the sun isn’t shining, you’re not getting any energy.
Longer To Charge Up: The most obvious issue is that solar panels take a lot of time to charge. While the cells in your panel can store energy, it’s still going to take hours to get your battery fully charged.
Initial Set-up Costs: The biggest disadvantage of solar power is that you have to highly invest in the technology before you can see any benefits. It will take some research to find the best solar panel for your needs and budget.
Roof-mounted Panels Are Susceptible To Damage: Now that the price of solar panels has come down so much, more people are installing them in their RVs/homes. If you’re going to install panels on your roof, you need to make sure they’re safe from weather damage and vandals.
Restricted To Running Low-current Appliances: While you can run most appliances with a solar generator, you may have to turn the wattage down. This can also affect how effective your battery charger on your other power devices.
Portable Panels Require Safe Storage: Even with their superior power output, it’s not uncommon for portable panels to run out of juice if you’re away from the sun for an extended period. It’s important to keep them dry, and in a secure area so they don’t become damaged.
Basic Parts Of A Solar Kit
A solar generator kit usually consists of a panel, a control box, and either an inverter or batteries. The first thing you need to do is determine how much the wattage of your panel needs to be.
Panels: Depending on your needs, panels can range in size from 6 inches to 24 inches in diameter. The most common size for residential solar generators is 12-volt panels; however, they’re also available as 24-volt panels.
Charge Controller: Your solar charge controller is the device that tells your battery when to accept energy. There are two types available:
MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking): This is the newer technology of charging controllers. It will allow you to enjoy a better charging experience and see faster results.
Constant Current: This is the type of controller that takes in electricity at a consistent rate.
Battery Capacity: Batteries come in both 6-volt and 12-volt models. As mentioned before, you will need to make sure your solar generator kit is compatible with your appliance’s power requirements.
With the right parts in place, it’s time to get ready to camp out.
Different Types Of Battery For Solar Generator
- Lithium-ion: Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that use lithium salts as an electrolyte. This lithium battery can be used in a variety of situations, such as powering boats, cars, and mobile homes.
- Gel-cell: These are best suited for starting an engine. They can also be used for emergency lighting and medical procedures.
- Lead-acid: Lead-acid batteries have been around the longest and are most commonly used in solar generators. They’re relatively inexpensive, so they are the most common option for solar-powered devices.
- Nickel-based: Nickel-based batteries are known for their power and long lifespan. However, they can be very expensive.
- Nickel-metal-hydride: This is similar to nickel-based batteries, except they’re heavier.
- Zinc-air: Before this battery came into play, all batteries were based on lead. Zinc-air is a cheap and lightweight battery that can be used in small devices.
- Deep cycle: These deep cycle batteries are loaded with more energy than conventional batteries of the same size. You can actually discharge the battery, then recharge it to 100 percent before recharging it again.
Benefits Of Portable Generators
Generators must be used as much as possible because they provide several important benefits. When using them for camping or backpacking, it is easier to use them with the help of a powered generator winch. They also produce electrical power and energy that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
*Instant And Reliable Power: If you are camping in an area that does not provide power, a generator can help you generate power. With a portable power station, you can even sit in your tent and watch television.
*Most Practical Application For Running High-wattage Appliances: Camping is an activity that requires many things. When you are camping, you need to use coffee machines, heaters, or lamps because of the cold weather. With a generator, you do not have to worry about your high-wattage devices being affected by power outages.
*User-friendly: Portable generators are very easy to use. They are simple machines that do not need much effort to start. Even if you have no experience in their use, you can easily learn how to operate them.
*Better Cost-to-efficiency Ratio Than Solar: Wind and solar energy are not as practical as generators. In fact, they also have the same problem of producing power intermittently. Unlike these, generators are cheaper to run in most cases, and their output can be turned off.
*Not Weather Dependent: What makes generators more practical than solar panels and windmills is that they are not affected by the weather.
*Less Maintenance: You will not have to do any maintenance on generators because they are highly stable. They also do not need protection from moisture and dust, unlike solar panels that have to be constantly cleaned and oiled for proper functioning.
Cons Of Generators
There are also a few drawbacks of generators that you should know. The first is that they are heavy and storing them is not easy.
*Emissions, Noise, And Restrictions: Although generators have a lower emissions level than gasoline-powered vehicles, they still emit noise. Pollution and air quality are also affected by the emissions.
*Heavy And Bulky: Portable generators are quite bulky, so you will have to find a way to carry them when traveling.
*Vulnerable To Theft: Since generators are not attached in any way to the building they are powering, they can be stolen. This is a problem in areas where there is frequent theft.
*Barred In National Parks And Some Caravan Parks: National parks and caravan parks are places where generators are prohibited, so they can only be used in areas that do not have stringent rules.
*Ongoing Maintenance And Costs: Generators are very expensive to maintain and repair. In addition, they can also have maintenance costs that you have to pay for.
*Relatively Expensive Initial Outlay: To begin with, you will have to buy a generator. You also need to pay for maintenance and repair. In the end, generators are expensive without power.
*No Weather Protection: Generators are not equipped with weather protection.
*Fuel Dependent: Generators are only practical when they run on fuel. Therefore, they can affect the environment by producing carbon dioxide. This is a pollutant that also causes global warming.
Different Types Of Fuel For Generators
- Gasoline: This is the most common type of fuel for generators. It is also the most expensive type of fuel.
- Natural Gas: Natural gas can be used for camping stove. When you use it as generator fuel, you will have an easier time starting it.
- Propane: You can also use propane for your generator. This gas is easy to store because you can keep it in tanks. It is also cheap and efficient.
- Butane: Butane is similar to propane, except that you will have to buy it in cans.
- Natural And Synthetic Blend Fuels: These are available at hardware stores as fuel for generators. There are two types of this fuel: diesel and kerosene.
Reasons You Should Use Solar Power Instead Of A Generator
Most people don’t know that there are many benefits to using solar power instead of generators.
*Peace And Quiet: Solar panels are not as noisy as generators. They are also not heavy, so they can easily be moved from one place to another.
*Low Maintenance: Solar panels do not require any maintenance, regardless of the weather and the kind of terrain that they are placed on.
*Budget Friendly: Solar panels are much cheaper to purchase than inverter generators.
*Low Fuel Costs: The amount of fuel that generators consume is too much about the energy they produce. On the other hand, solar panels can produce energy even with low amounts of sunlight.
*Sustainable And Better For The Environment: Using solar panels is better for the environment than using generators. They do not require fuel and they don’t produce any fuel wastes.
*Easy To Set Up: Putting up solar panels is a lot easier than setting up generators. You also do not need any special skills to do it.
*Can Camp In More Areas: You can camp in areas that are not generator-friendly because you don’t have to worry about power outages.
Rv Solar Power Pros And Cons
- RV solar power systems are not as complicated to install as you might think. If you don’t want to be reliant on public power sources,
- RV solar panels are a great way for you to get off the grid and use your own backup power supply for your recreational vehicle.
- RV solar panels are the most effective in warmer climates, although they can work well in other areas as well.
- The solar panels used for RVs need to be up high because the sun’s rays are more intense when they hit a surface at an angle. It will not do you any good to put them low. Also, it is a good idea to use tempered glass instead of fiberglass panels.
- RV solar panels are much more durable than some other solar panel systems that are used in homes and businesses.
Capability For Solar Panel Vs Generator
- If you’re touring in your RV for long periods of time, you’re going to want a solar power generator kit that can give you all the power need.
- Solar panel systems are more expensive when compared to generator systems.
- Solar panels require more maintenance than generators.
- Although solar panels are more efficient than generators, they can only produce so much power.
- You won’t be able to use your RV during storms when using a generator.
- A solar panel on your RV will usually require more space than a generator system.
The bottom line is that solar panels and generators will give you the power you need for your RV. However, there are reasons why one is better than the other. You should consider your situation when trying to decide which one would be better suited for your needs. If you plan on being out in remote areas where there are no sources of public power, then you will need a generator. It is also a good idea to have backup power sources in case something goes wrong with the first one.