If you enjoy travelling light, solar blankets are a great way to get all the power you need.
Solar blankets are made up of solar cells attached to a flexible cloth backing, which provides flexibility and convenience. We take a look at the best options on the market and what you need to know to power your next camping trip:
Benefits of Solar Blankets
Solar blankets are really easy to set-up and even easier to pack-up and store. Drape it over your trailer, hang it off the side of the awning or spread it out across the ground to start soaking up those rays.
Then when it’s time to find your next camping spot, fold up the blanket and pack it away – a lightweight design saves space and weight in crowded vehicles. No need to struggle with heavy solar panels, while they are still designed to be tough and durable.
Drawbacks of solar blankets
The biggest drawback is the price-tag. Solar blankets can be expensive compared to solar panels, but it could be a small price to pay for convenience!
Which are the best solar blankets?
It all really comes down to your travelling style, budget and frequency of use. Lets take a look at what things you’ll want to consider in a blanket and then compare some of the best brands / models:
Here’s what to look for in a solar blanket:
Technology: Look for a solar blanket that use monocrystalline or amorphous cells. Monocrystalline cells are much smaller in area, though produce a similar amperage to the amorphous. The Baintuff 180w Folding Solar Blanket is an extremely popular monocrystalline solar blanket. While the Redarc 112W Solar Blanket is a popular high end amorphous cells solar blanket.
Size: Choose a solar blanket big enough to provide enough power to run your appliances and charge your batteries. Start by working out how much power your appliances will draw out of the system over a 24-hour period (in watts or amp hours). Your camping fridge will tend to be the biggest power drawing item. It’s always a good idea to choose a solar blanket slightly bigger than you need, as conditions such as overcast days and extreme heat will affect how much power your panels generate.
You might consider a fixed solar panel and then supplement it with an additional solar blanket to provide more sustainable power when using more devices at camp or if you’re parked in a shady spot.
Design features: Look for handy add-ons that will make camping life easier. For example, some solar blankets come with eyelets in each corner, making it easy to secure the blanket on windy days.
Solar blanket comparison
Trying to decide? Check out our quick comparison between 3 top solar blanket brands:
Made in the United States, Engel solar blankets are renowned for their rugged construction, which makes them extremely durable (fact: they’re used by the US military). Rather than using crystalline solar cells, Engel uses PowerFilm solar cells which are flexible and work well in low light conditions. At the same time, they still have all the benefits of lightweight design. They also come with a 3-year warranty.
Redarc is top-class in quality with lightweight yet solid construction, right down to the thick, durable wiring. Redarc solar blankets use the latest solar technology with SunPower amorphous cells and an anti-reflective scratch-resistant coating. They also come with built-in Anderson connectors which are simple and fast to connect to your battery, avoiding messy and risky wires. The Redarc solar blankets offer a 2-year warranty.
If it’s value for money you’re after, BainTuff has it covered. With high efficiency monocrystalline cells, BainTuff solar blankets provide more watts per dollar. The BainTuff 180W Solar Blanket will provide up to 10 amps an hour on sunny days. It boasts a solar panel efficiency of up to 18%, compared to 15% or lower for similar products on the market.
They also come standard with a BlueSolar PWM-Light Charge Controller 12/24v 20A, which is wired with Anderson plug connectors so you can directly connect solar blanket lead to the solar controller. Baintuff solar blankets come with a one-year warranty.