Camping Power: Solar Panels vs Solar Blankets?
Adding solar to your campsite is one of the easiest and efficient ways to power your appliances and get extra power back into your batteries.
But choosing the right solar solution can be confusing. Before you get down into the nitty-gritty, the first choice you need to make is between solar panels vs solar blankets.
To help, our experts have put together a quick guide:
There are two main options: portable or fixed solar panels.
Portable solar panels are a brilliant option if you’re on a budget and aren’t looking to travel regularly. They can be heavier and bulkier than their counterparts, but if you’re only away for a week and taking just the essentials with you, that shouldn’t be an issue. Travel for longer and they might become a headache!
A big advantage of portable solar panels, like solar blankets, is that they are easy to set-up and angle to chase the sun.
Fixed solar panels are great if you just want to set and forget. They are attached to your vehicle, so you can charge while on the road and while parked at your campsite. On the flipside, solar panels must be in direct sunlight to get the best results – which isn’t always possible in campsites.
For frequent travellers concerned about space and weight, solar blankets are a good investment. While more expensive than solar panels, they offer excellent quality and durability. Convenience is the best thing about solar blankets; you can set it up anywhere – hang it off your awning, drape it over your trailer or bonnet, and start catching those rays. You can even place them across the windscreen so they keep your car cool while collecting amps!
Then when it’s time to move on, fold your blanket away and slot it into your car. Easy!
Solar Panels vs Solar Blankets: Which Should You Choose?
Choosing between solar panels vs solar blankets comes down to how you travel:
- Weekend campers: Portable solar panels will be the best option. They’re less expensive, while still giving you the flexibility of moving them to where you need them. On the downside, they are bulkier and heavier than their counterparts. But that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re only taking the essentials with you. A popular option for weekend campers is the Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase!
- Regular campers with 4×4 or camper trailer: For maximum convenience, solar blankets are the way to go. Solar blankets are lighter, watt for watt, than the solar panels and are much smaller when folded up, making them easier to store. At the same time, if budget is an issue, solar blankets might not be for you. They are generally more expensive (though prices are starting to drop!). The Redarc 112W Solar Blanket Amorphous Cells is a popular high end solar blanket. However, if it’s value for money you’re after, Baintechhas it covered. With high efficiency monocrystalline cells, the Baintech solar blankets provide more watts per dollar. Baintech offers two solar blanket sizes: 120W and180W!
- Grey nomads and full-time travellers: Fixed panels are the best option – they’re cost effective, simple to set up and easy to use. No need to pack down and set up every time you move campsites. But you compromise on flexibility as you will need to park in full sunlight to get the best results. A better option might be to have fixed panels with an additional solar blanket or portable solar panels to top up your battery. The Enerdrive 2 x 180W Fixed Solar Panel, Twin Pack is the most popular fixed panel in our range and comes with a huge 5 year warranty!
Need helping choosing a caravan solar panel size? Click here to use our solar panel calculator.