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Understanding How Solar Fits Into Your Camping 12v System

June 8, 2021   |   By Brendan Seymour Understanding How Solar Fits Into Your Camping 12v System - image 210211-AKSR-BK120W_03-Lifestyle-Resized-5-of-8 on https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/news

Camping sure has come a long way over the last decade. Even as recently as 2010, things like a camping solar panel were high priced items, luxury bits of gear that only a very fortunate few amongst us could afford. Here at Adventure Kings we are extremely proud of the fact that we make camping better and more affordable for everyone, and that we’ve been able to help drive down the prices of quality camping solar blankets to a level that anyone can afford.

For those just starting out on their camping adventure, or for those who are coming back to camping after a hiatus, who maybe haven’t been camping since they were a kid, it can all be a bit confusing. And understandably so – there are so many different camping electrical power options on the market, and if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and aren’t sure whether you need a solar panel for camping or not, then fear not – because you’re not alone.

Okay, let’s start with the basics. Camping these days definitely does NOT mean roughing it – in fact it’s very easy and affordable to setup a really comfy camp site that allows you to bring all the conveniences of home camping with you. And it’s your camping electrical system that lets you do things like run bright camping lights, charge your phone, run a camping fridge and more. Here’s where a solar panel for camping comes into it!

To properly understand the importance of a camping solar panel, we’ll use an analogy that we often describe. Think of your battery that you’re using to power everything you want to run while you’re camping as your bank account. But if it’s an AGM deep cycle battery you’re running, then we need to add a little something extra into the mix – a withdrawal limit of 50% of your total bank balance. You shouldn’t drain more than 50% of the electrical power out of your battery, otherwise you risk not being able to charge it back up again.

So everything you connect to the battery is essentially like withdrawing money out of your bank account. Soon enough you’ll have an empty bank balance, or at least you’ll hit your withdrawal limit. Your camping solar panel then has the ability to deposit money back into your bank account – your battery – so that you can then spend it by running more electrical accessories.

CAN MY CAMPING SOLAR PANEL RUN MY FRIDGE?

This is one of the most common camping electrical questions we get asked. The truth is a camping solar panel cannot ‘run’ a camping fridge – that’s not its job. It’s job is to produce power, but you still need a battery to store that power. So the question isn’t ‘can this particular solar panel run my fridge’ but moreso ‘how big a solar panel do I need to recharge my battery after my fridge drains it?’

OKAY THEN SMARTY-PANTS, SO HOW BIG A SOLAR PANEL DO I NEED?

Well, the answer to this then all depends on how much time you’ve got up your sleeve. I’ll say this – there’s no such thing as TOO MUCH battery or camping solar panels. If anyone ever asks me I answer with ‘as much as you’ve got space to carry and can afford’. The bigger the camping solar blanket, the quicker you can recharge your battery every day. Think about it like this – after a typical night’s camping, most people will draw somewhere around 30amps out of their battery. That’s running a fridge for 24 hours, running camp lights at night, a couple of phones being charged up, etc. A 120W solar blanket may only produce a maximum of 6.75Amps per full hour of sunlight, meaning it would take somewhere around a good solid 5 hours of full sunlight to recharge your battery fully.

On the other hand a big 250W folding solar panel for camping with an MPPT solar regulator could produce a thumping 20A per full hour of sunlight, theoretically pumping your battery back up to completely full in about 90min.

However, those timeframes come with a big caveat – and that’s the issue of ‘full sunlight’. Problem is you can never truly guarantee the sun will be out when you need it to, which is why the idea of ‘the biggest solar panel for camping’ that you can afford and can carry, is such a good idea!

That means you can make the most of the sun while it is out, and even if you aren’t super stringent about angling your camping solar panel or solar blanket kit directly at the sun, you’ve got plenty of excess power to spare so you can still get your battery charged quickly.

Being able to run all the electrical accessories you want each day and then know that you can recharge your battery back up to full the next day thanks to your camping solar panels takes your camping experience to a whole new level. You’ll wonder how you ever went camping without your trust solar panel!

In the southern hemisphere, the sun tracks across the northern part of the sky during the day, and especially so during summer when the days are longer.

If you’re planning on leaving your camping solar panel out for long periods while you’re off somewhere else, then point it north to get as much sun as possible throughout course of the day.

Adventure Kings solar panels are made from highly-efficient monocrystalline solar cells, which are excellent at producing power even in cloudy conditions. Make the most of the sun by pointing your Adventure Kings solar panel north, and keep your 12v system humming!

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