Let’s face it, camping isn’t what it used to be. Where you’d typically take things that don’t require electricity, you can now make them part of the experience. Now, some people might argue that camping is the whole point of getting away from appliances that make life so much easier, but you can’t ignore the risk of setting up your tent in the middle of a veld or forest you don’t know. Besides, is it really so bad having some “home-style” comfort while you sleep under the stars?
There are certain solar panels you can actually take with you on your camping trip, and you can use the energy for all kinds of things. This is especially useful if you feel like setting up beside a river or dam where there’s no electrical outlets in sight. Nobody is stopping you from building an atmospheric campfire, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a solar panel to keep your mini-fridge cool.
This article is going to focus on two things. Firstly, we’ll be looking at heavy duty solar power and the different types of panels you can use. These are useful for bigger appliances you’d typically have in a caravan. Secondly, we’ll take a look at some interesting gadgets that can be carried around.
Heavy Duty Solar Camping
If you want to get a good idea of what it’s like to live off the grid, get some portable solar panels, a regulator, an inverter and some batteries for storage, load them in the caravan and hit the open road. Obviously this is for hardcore campers who plan on spending a few days out in nature. Before we get into the details, here are some pictures to give you an idea of what it looks like.
As you can see there are many different ways they can be used and they come in several different designs. Are these panels the same as those that get attached to the roof? Yep, the same principles apply. You can choose between monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film and amorphous panels, whichever one will fit your camping needs. The most efficient models will obviously be mono and polycrystalline panels, which you can’t fold up for comfort. Even though they will put out more energy, they will be a little more difficult when it comes to packing. The thin film and amorphous panels are more “camp friendly” so-to-speak because they can bend or even get rolled up. But this comes at the cost of efficiency.
If you are planning on using a television, laptop or fridge then you’ll want to invest in a solid solar kit. As mentioned earlier, you’ll require an inverter, regulator and a battery if you plan on storing some of the energy for nighttime use. The regulator will ensure that the panel doesn’t over-charge the battery.
In one of the above pictures, you’ll see a tent that’s been transformed into a little solar station. This is just one of the ideas currently on the market and you can find many more. Some campers fix the panels to the top of the caravan, or they lay them out on the car when it’s parked. The point is, you don’t have to be without electricity when you camp.
Cool Solar Camping Gadgets
Investing in a full kit will set you back a little bit financially and not all campers want to have luxuries on the trip. But they do like the fact that they can charge their phones or GPS through their backpack, just in case of emergencies. Here are some cool gadgets that are currently on the market specifically for camping.
An Inflatable Lantern
This one is for hardcore backpackers who want to use their backpack space as effectively as possible. These lanterns are tough, they weigh next to nothing, and they provide light for about 12 hours. They’re also waterproof! It has LED lights, and although the light might be a little softer than usual, it’s very handy when you least expect it.
The Solar Shower
How cool is this, or rather, how hot? Is taking a cold shower preventing you from extending your camping experience? Here’s your solution. Just fill it with water and hang it on a tree. Within a few hours you’ll be able to enjoy a rather warm shower.
Solar Water Purifier
This is definitely something all campers should take a look at. In fact, there are some areas in South Africa where you need to walk around with one permanently! Just like the shower, you fill it with water and place it in the sun. If the manufacturers are telling the truth, these purifiers can effectively clean contaminated water?
This is not really something new, but we’re still mentioning it out of necessity. Camping and flashlights just go together.
Solar Power Backpack
That’s right my fellow South Africans. You can now charge your phone, tablet and GPS just by walking in the sun. How much they will charge these items will most likely depend on the quality of the solar cells, but it seems like something that can come in very handy.
If you ever wanted to bring camping into the modern age, then solar power is the best way to do it.