Did you know that the amount of energy produced by all of the world’s nations is still less than the amount of energy provided to Earth by the sun in a single hour?
The sun is, without a doubt, the biggest power plant on the planet, and for that reason, everyone who leads a self-sufficient lifestyle ought to consider natural energy sources as part of their homesteading scheme.
Clean Homesteading Starts With Solar
Since you cannot predict when a storm hits and the lights go out, it wouldn’t hurt to have a backup plan, and invest in one or more portable solar power systems. Also known as a solar backup generator, or emergency solar power generator, a portable solar power system can get you up and running again, even if you’re on the move.
Living without electricity is entirely possible, whether you are fixed to a particular location or prefer to roam off-grid in a campervan.
So long as the semiconductive material is in clear view of the sunlight, you can depend on a portable system to provide free fuel, without worrying about ongoing costs following the initial purchase.
Why Go Solar?
Interest in solar power technology has grown continuously over the last decade or so. The solar industry has expanded by 68% every year in the United States. In fact, approximately 30% of electric technologies installed in the US in the first quarter of 2017 were solar-powered, according to The Solar Foundation and GTM Research.
Already Own A Solar-Powered System? No Problem!
Even if you already have a number of solar panels fitted on or around your property, this doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from a portable solar power system.
These systems require minimal maintenance and will function come rain or shine. Portable solar power units do not consume fossil fuels, meaning that you can lead your ideal homesteading lifestyle without leaving a big carbon footprint.
Finally got all the components together to test our new solar system out! This all happened because our original fridge died ? First up is our 130w folding solar panel from @humlesspower, which includes a carrying case, spring loaded handle, and standard MC4 solar plugs. Next, gotta rock the solar input decals done by @nrwstr and available soon from @gowestycampers. Then to connect it all is a power port with Anderson Powerpole connectors by @powerwerx, allowing both solar input and power output using the existing "city water" hookup box. I changed the color scheme on the Anderson connectors so I wouldn't confuse power in and power out ⚡, really modular connector system made swapping easy. Also from @powerwerx is the 25 foot 10 gauge extension cord with Anderson connectors and an MC4 to Anderson adapter. And last but not least is the @victron_energy solar controller with Bluetooth dongle, allowing us to check our solar power and battery voltage from our phones. This is one of the biggest solar suitcases you can fit behind the upper bunk, and it requires shifting the upper bed forward on the hinge to gain a few inches. I figured the tight fit was worth the extra 30w of power for those cloudy days. If you have any questions let me know ? — #Westfalia #westylife #vanlife #vanagonlife #vanagon #portlandvanagons #solar #solarport #solarpower #solarvan #portablesolar #foldingsolar #humless #victron #gowesty #nrwstr #powerwerx
Not to worry if you don’t know a whole lot about photovoltaic (PV) systems, because we’re about to teach you what you need to know. In a nutshell, a flow of electricity is generated with a solar panel, which is made up of photovoltaic cells.
Once the light hits the solar cell, electrons and atoms separate from one another, thus creating the electricity that we rely on for lighting, cooking, heating and everything in-between.
The Advantages Of Going Solar
If you are still not sold on the idea of using a portable solar power system, whether it is for camping purposes or simply as an aid to your existing solar panels, think about the fact that a solar panel system is installed every four minutes in the US. The cost of solar panels has actually decreased by a whopping 80% since 2008.
Combine this with the fact that you could save money on a long-term basis with clean energy, and there’s no wonder why the market is expanding so rapidly! Solar energy is a non-polluting form of renewable energy that is being adopted by people on a large scale for the following reasons:
Power When You Need It Most
Regardless of your reasons for investing in a portable solar power system, whether it is to charge your gadgets for a camping vacation, fishing trip, or off-road adventure, going solar will provide you with peace of mind.
Should an outage occur for some reason, a portable setup will ensure your daily power needs are met.
It Will Reduce Your Use Of Fossil Fuels
Finite resources, like fossil fuels, are depended on for the production of energy by means of burning fuels like gas, coal and oil. Solar energy, on the other hand, is kind to the environment.
Described as “the world’s most efficient and environment-friendly solar cells” by the University of Oslo’s (UiO) Professor Bengt Svensson, solar power units are modernizing by the day and can be used to convert energy from the sun into electrical power whenever necessary.
It’s Quiet And Won’t Bug Your Neighbors
There’s no need to be concerned about losing sleep when your portable solar power system is running, because these units will typically function without causing a disruption. Despite operating silently, they pack a mean punch in terms of power, and particularly if you select one that connects to an alternative external battery system for extra power.
Reliable Energy That’s Free
Let’s not forget about the fact that portable solar power systems do not cost a thing to run once you have purchased them and hired an expert (if need be) to install them. But just how reliable is solar power, you ask?
Well, solar energy is infinite, as long as the sun is shining. Although the photovoltaic cells on a solar panel will generate the maximum amount of energy when the sun is shining directly on them, you can still expect a portable system to function when it is cloudy outside.
By now, you should be feeling enlightened about the benefits of portable solar power systems and how they could prove useful for your homesteading lifestyle. Don’t rush into buying just any appliance, though. With so many options on the market, you ought to consider a few things prior to making your decision.
The build and quality of materials used to manufacture a solar power system will depend on the brand. The US market is made up of hundreds of major solar power brands. It’s advisable to use the EnergySage panel rating system to determine which brands meet the basic quality criteria.
Always ask about warranty prior to making a purchase and pay attention to the nameplate rating, which indicates the particular brand’s power output.
To put it simply, the more energy you want to generate, the more you will have to pay. With that being said, prices can vary from $200-$1,000 or more for a quality portable generator. And as with most products, you get what you pay for.
Premium panels will always cost more than lower-quality panels. Since portable systems are incredibly versatile, you can expect to make your money back based on the electricity costs you will save.
Type Of Solar Panel
Monocrystalline are said to be the longest lasting types of solar panels, whereas polycrystalline are made up of clusters of microscopic crystallites. These crystallites tend to be less efficient. However, they cost less than monocrystalline panels. Another type of solar panel is a thin film amorphous panel, which is the cheapest option of them all.
Last, but not least, you should consider exactly what you will be using the portable solar power system for. Every homesteader will have their own unique energy consumption requirements. That’s why the market is so diverse.
The simplest solar power systems use around 12 volts. Higher voltage appliances, such as 120-volt systems, will produce the most energy at peak output.
5 Best Portable Solar Power Systems
Taking the above information into account, you can now narrow down your search for a portable solar generator based on your personal requirements. Below, we give you a rundown of the highest-rated portable solar power systems, based on cost, quality, and functionality:
Estimated Price: $555.99
This solar power source really cannot be faulted. Reasonably priced, the EasyFocus operates on a pure sine wave output. It is designed in an easy-to-carry casing and is ideal for use in the home or outdoors. Some of its main features include a 3-way input charging capability, 1.5-hour backup time, 20W energy-saving lamps, an intelligent CPU control mode, and LED display.
Estimated Price: $1,279.99
A homesteader’s dream, this portable solar power system can be used to charge drones, cameras, tablets, phones, computers, and a whole lot more. While it may require a rather large initial investment, the Goal Zero Yeti will not disappoint with its 1250Wh lead acid battery and no-fume design. Buyers can benefit from the US-based customer service center, too.
Estimated Price: $226.99
Suitable for outdoor use, this solid solar generator will function for approximately five full hours. It has two USB ports and conceals a high-energy density lithium ion battery beneath its robust silver exterior. The AcoPower has a handle for carrying and there is minimal chance of it overheating, due to its built-in cooling fan.
Estimated Price: $499.99
Perfect for use when embarking on agro-tourism adventures, such as ranching, animal care, and farming, the Anker PowerHouse truly lives up to its name. This impressive portable solar power generator is said to be the world’s smallest. It can be charged with electricity or solar. Available to buy with a 400Wh inverter, it features a wide selection of AC and DC power inputs/outputs and contains a reliable battery management system (BMS).
Estimated Price: $699.99
It might look like a briefcase from the outside, but this portable system actually boasts a pair of 10W monocrystalline solar panels. Chargeable by car, AC or solar power, the Phoenix offers limitless power, making it a worthwhile investment for staying safe (and powered) during emergencies.
Things to Consider Before Buying Portable Solar Generators
Being educated on the subject of portable solar panel systems is the first step to leading a greener lifestyle. With your budget and requirements in mind, you can select a system that is both long-lasting and reliable. Remember that the level of efficiency depends on the standard of installation, not to mention the quality of the unit itself.
Take the time to calculate the power usage of the equipment you use on a daily basis, as this will ease the process of finding a unit that can effectively gather enough sunlight to power your devices.
Bethan is a full-time wanderluster, traveler, and digital nomad with 7 years of experience writing for brands, businesses, and websites on a global scale. Currently based in Bali, Indonesia, she has mastered the art of beating jet lag and using hammocks as an office for content curation.