When you’re boondocking, or camping off the grid with limited access to amenities, you have a few different options to keep your rig running and devices charged. Some are more convenient than others. You can run your vehicle or generator to create a charge, you can drive into town to recharge your battery packs at a coffee shop, or you can become self-sufficient. Solar-powered products are widely available, providing a self-sufficient, clean energy option.
Harnessing the power of the sun also saves money. From portable solar-powered generators to self-charging string lights, you can turn roadtripping into a luxurious experience with these devices.
Tips for Purchasing Solar-Powered Devices
As solar-powered devices become more popular, it can be difficult to know which products are worth purchasing. There are a few qualities that can help you to determine which devices might support long-term use.
Does a solar panel charge at the same rate as a standard electrical outlet? How much power does the solar panel produce? Answer these questions prior to your purchase, and keep these tips in mind when shopping for solar-powered devices:
- Evaluate charge time and output. For example, the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 (listed below) takes about 8 hours to charge from 0 to 100 percent, using two solar panels. The resulting charge can keep large electronics fueled for the day, or small electronics charged for a week.
- Make sure your devices have a dust-proof, weather-resistant layer. Those of us who camp and live on the road tend to put our gear through the wringer. Make sure that your solar-powered devices are equipped with technology that extends their life—even when exposed to dusty or wet environments.
- Look for a manufacturer’s warranty. Many solar power device manufacturers include some type of warranty, which adds an additional layer of protection.
- Temperature controls. Most, but not all, solar-powered devices naturally have built-in temperature control features to protect the delicate components of your electronics. To avoid shorting out your electronics or potentially causing a fire, make sure that your device has emergency shut-offs or temperature controls.
Solar Powered Camping Products We Love
Jackery Solar Generator 1000
The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 comes with everything that a basic camper needs to stay self-sufficient for weeks at a time. It’s a portable power station with solar-powered capabilities, and users can choose how to recharge the generator. You can plug it into the auxiliary power outlet of your vehicle as you drive, and it’s compatible with a conventional wall socket. But it’s especially impressive when you pair it with two SolarSaga 100 solar panels. On sunny days, the solar panels can fully recharge the generator in about 8 hours, leaving you with 1,000 watts of energy.
The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 is equipped with AC outlets, two USB-C ports, and a quick-charge 3.0 port. You can expect this device to power laptops, small appliances—like a refrigerator or a coffee maker—and more. A refrigerator that’s less than 1,000 watts can be powered by the Jackery for nearly 7 hours. The Jackery can also charge a cell phone about 100 times, a drone 17 times, and a standard laptop about eight times before dying. It’s easy to use, utilizes green energy, and fits behind the driver’s seat in most vehicles.
SunJack 15 Watt Foldable Panel Charger
Campers don’t necessarily need a full-blown generator to charge small electronics like radios, cell phones, and headphones. Instead, you can rely on the SunJack 15 Watt Foldable Panel Charger to power your adventures. This foldable panel packs down to about the size of a tablet. It weighs 1.8 pounds and comes with two USB ports that can easily charge battery packs for later use. The waterproof layer on the solar panel helps protect your device from dust and water, making it useful in varied environments.
While some solar panels take much longer to charge devices compared to conventional wall sockets, this panel charger provides high-speed solar charging that’s on par with the speed of wall outlets. This device comes with a 1-year warranty and a satisfaction guarantee policy.
MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights
Set the mood at camp with stringed lights, like the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights. These lights come with an 18-foot-long cord that can easily be installed at campsites, around an RV door, or inside the RV. It comes with 10 nodes along the cord and lasts as long as 20 hours on a single charge. It can be recharged with the small solar panel that’s installed on the back of the storage container, or with a quick-charging USB port that takes about 6 hours.
The battery pack can also be used to charge other electronic devices, like phones or tablets. This set of lights weighs 11.3 ounces and can safely operate in temperatures that range from 32 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The solar lights are splash-resistant, so they can handle showers and light storms thanks to overcurrent protection.
LuminAID Sunfox Solar Speaker
When you camp with limited resources, you don’t usually find yourself jumping to power an electronic speaker, but you can with the Bluetooth-powered LuminAID Sunfox Solar Speaker. This speaker comes with a small built-in solar panel that yields 20 hours of playtime. It’s designed for outdoor use with the included IPX6 waterproof rating and a sand-proof design.
At 8.6 ounces, the speaker offers high-quality audio and still fits in the palm of your hand. Plus, it’s easy to operate. Charge it with the sun or via a USB port with an outlet or a generator.
LuminAID Solar Inflatable Lanterns
LuminAID also makes a lightweight, inflatable lantern that collapses flat for easy storage. When fully charged, the battery lasts for 24 hours. Recharge it via the top solar panel, which takes 10 hours of direct sunlight, or with a micro USB charger, which takes 1 to 2 hours. There are multiple brightness options for both indoor and outdoor use; the light covers a 125-square-foot area. It’s waterproof and attachable to tent poles, backpacks, and more with a convenient handle.
GOSUN Chill Solar Cooler
Keep your food and drinks cool while camping or adventuring with the solar-powered GOSUN Chill Cooler. Instead of using ice to stay cold, the 40-liter cooler works like an off-grid refrigerator. This keeps items from getting soggy as the ice melts. It’s powered by a lithium power bank that can be charged using solar panels, and it also comes with power cords and adapters to plug into AC or DC power when available.
The cooler can run for 14 hours in 80-degree weather, and for 10 hours at 40 degrees F. The actual temperature inside the cooler can be controlled using a touch screen.
Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower
Portable showers might be the norm for vanlifers, but they can also help conserve water when boondocking in an RV, allowing you to stay off the grid for longer. The portable Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower has a 5-gallon capacity, a temperature gauge, and an external pocket for toiletries. It takes about 3 hours in direct sunlight for the water to reach 110 degrees F. No matter your camping style, upgrade your portable shower to a solar shower so you can conveniently enjoy warm water on the go.
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