If you're looking to purchase a portable solar panel kit, you should consider many factors to help you make the best decision to meet your needs. Portable solar panels come with easier-to-install options for people who want to use the sun to power things like recreational vehicles or outdoor activities. In this article, we will talk about what to consider when buying portable solar panel.
- Power Output. Power output refers to the number of watts a solar panel can produce. This key factor determines the number of devices that can be powered at a given time. If you want to power a small boat's batteries, a 100W portable solar panel will provide you with reliable energy for up to 3 hours. Camping applications may require higher output, depending on what power you want in the woods. Generally, the higher the power output, the higher the price of the panel.
- Efficiency. Solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of electricity a panel can absorb and convert into usable electricity. For example, a solar panel with a 20% efficiency rating can convert 20% of the total sunlight it receives into usable energy. Portable solar panels are typically between 10 and 15 percent efficient, compared to 15 to 20 percent for rigid panels and as high as 22 percent for high-efficiency solar panels. Likewise, the more efficient the solar panel, the higher the cost.
- Longevity. Pay attention to the expected life of the panel. Service life usually depends on the type and quality of materials used to make solar panels. In general, panels made of plastic degrade faster than panels made of glass and aluminum, due to the nature of the material. For example, thin batteries mounted on metal surfaces typically last longer than solar panels mounted on plastic surfaces. However, plastics can offer some longevity advantages that metals cannot, especially in humid environments where plastics can prevent rust and corrosion. If you choose plastic, flexible panels made from ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) are generally more durable than those made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
- Bend Angle. The reason people like portable solar panels is that they can be mounted on curved surfaces. However, the amount by which they can bend without breaking is called the bend angle. Portable solar panels can usually bend around 30 degrees, but if you have specific needs that require more extreme bend angles, some particularly flexible panels can bend up to 248 degrees.
- Dimensions and Weight. Size and weight may seem like aesthetic preferences, but they are important factors when shopping for portable solar panels, and portability is a major consideration. While a 4 to 8 pound panel might be acceptable compared to portable solar panels used in RVs, the weight is too much if you want to hike with them.
- Easy to install. Installing portable solar panels is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to traditional rigid panels. You need clear instructions, no matter how portable these panels claim to be.
- Warranty. A strong warranty means a high quality solar panel. A shorter warranty may reduce costs, but if the panel stops working after a few uses, it's not a good deal.