3 Ways To Use Renewable Energy For Camping

You are probably here because you love the outdoor life and want to know how to use renewable energy for camping. You’re concerned about protecting the environment you’re camping in and want to play a part in reducing global warming.  

But you want renewable energy production to be practical and easy to use around your camp while reducing your carbon footprint. The 3 ways I  present meet those needs and provide solutions for all camping budgets.

Renewable Energy For Camping

“Most portable renewable energy solutions are easy to use and don’t require prior electrical knowledge. You would need that knowledge if you intended to DIY install solar or wind power to a camper. But I will be concentrating on presenting 3 solutions for everyday camping.

This means I will be talking about easy-to-use solar power solutions covering;

Hiking/Backpacking with solar chargers.
Tent, camper, and trailer camping renewable energy solutions.
Charging vehicle house batteries with portable solar panels.

In a Hurry? You can jump to a section above you think will best suit your renewable solar energy needs.

Below is a video from National Geographic talking about renewable energy

Hiking/Backpacking With A Renewable Energy Solar Charger

Hiking and backpacking can take you to some of the remotest places with stunning views. A natural tonic for suburb and city life, ahh, the peace and quiet. Providing power in remote locations can be tricky, so what could be better than using the sun’s renewable energy. 

Portable solar chargers are small, lightweight foldable solar panels that fit easily into your pack. They usually have carabiners, so you can attach the charger to your backpack, collecting sunlight on the move. 

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Make sure the solar charger is connected to your pack facing the sun when you use it in this way.

After finding a suitable camping pitch, you can attach the charger to your tent or hang it from a tree.

Their polymer construction makes them waterproof; sounds great, doesn’t it? But the junction box housing the electronics and output ports are not. So if it starts raining more than a very light drizzle, you will have to pack it away or risk shorting it out.  

Renogy E.Flex 21 BackPack

Charging Using A Portable Solar Charger

The solar charger can directly charge a device because they have a built-in plug-and-play junction box. You connect your device to a USB output charging port, and if the sun is out, charging will begin.

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Directly charging a device from a portable solar charger can have a drawback. During cloudy and low light conditions, the charger can drain charge from your device’s battery instead of charging it. To stop this from happening, make sure the charger is fitted with a blocking diode.

But the safest way of charging from a solar charger is to charge a power bank instead of directly charging a device. This method of charging has a couple of advantages;

  1. If charging stops because of the cloud, the power bank will automatically cut off from the charger. It means there is no chance that the charger will drain your device’s battery.
  2. You can charge the power bank during the day and use it at night; this will prolong your device’s usage time.

What Devices Can I Charge Using A Solar Charger?

A solar charger is designed to charge any small device with a rechargeable battery such as;

  • Apple phones
  • Android phones
  • Cameras
  • Watches
  • Tablets
  • Power Bank
  • Other USB Supported Devices

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When charging a device directly from a solar charger, it is best to use the manufacturer’s original cable. This is because most chargers use technology that recognizes the device. if you use a compatible device cable, the charger might not recognize it or charge at all.

The addition of a power bank will enable you to use a USB light at night and a USB fan if it is hot. 

A solar charger is a light, portable, renewable energy resource that is an excellent addition to your pack. It will provide charging for your devices and some light around camp using a power bank.

There are loads of different chargers to choose from. but you can look at my review of one here:

Renewable Solar Energy For Tent, Camper, And Trailer Camping

Providing off-grid power around your camp has traditionally been provided by gas generators. These generators are noisy, smelly, need maintenance, and are definitely not a renewable energy resource.

But now there is a clean, environmentally friendly way you can provide power for your camping trips. A solution suits all budgets, including using a small solar charger discussed in the previous section. 

However, if you are looking for a renewable that provides more bang for your buck. A solar panel or two and a generator can power your camp to a reasonable level, from charging your devices to providing 24 hr refrigeration to cooking with an electric grill.

I will be honest with you, it’s going to cost to provide your camp with more luxurious appliances.

Using Solar Panels And A Generator

You might be thinking it’s all too technical, but using solar panels with a solar generator is very easy. They are plug-and-play systems that require no previous electrical knowledge. Quite simply, you connect your solar panel to the generator and point the panel at the sun.

Using Solar Panels And A Generator

There can be a tricky part when connecting more than one solar panel to charge the power station. You do not need to worry about which connection type to use; the manufacturer will tell you in the manual. 

But once the panels are daisy-chained together, usually in parallel. You will still have only one cable connected to the generator.

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You do not have to worry about a separate solar charge controller or AC inverter as solar generators have them built-in.

What Can You Power Around Camp?

Depending on the size of your solar generator, you can charge or power:

Air ConditionerHair DryerAir Pump
Electric GrillPressure CookerFan
RefrigeratorBlenderCamera
Coffee MakerKettleLaptop
CPAPIronSmartphone
LightsRadioTablet
ProjectorGames ConsoleDrone
TVSpeakersWatch
MicrowaveElectric BlanketElectric Toothbrush

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To run higher watt consuming AC appliances like an electric grill, it will cost $2000 to $3000. But to run lights, smaller AC appliances, and charge electronics will cost between $300 and $400.

Loads of power station/solar panel combos are easily transported even in smaller vehicles. However, larger generators will require a bigger car, and you need to consider their weight. If you have a back or physical impairment, you might find the largest difficult to handle.

As a renewable energy source, a solar generator/panel combo is both practical and environmentally friendly. Instead of hooking up to the mains, use your power station, recharging with the solar panels. It can even save you a few dollars at a campsite that has electricity hook-ups.

You can take a look here at a range of solar generators in my Allpowers review;

Charging Vehicle House Batteries With Portable Solar Panels

Taking your recreational vehicle or trailer on a camping trip is always an exciting time. Its mobility allows you the freedom of the road, and you can visit some great locations.

But you think you might want to have your camping adventures in a more environmentally friendly way.

Running the generator to power your appliances creates CO2 emissions adding to the greenhouse effect. You don’t want to go to the expense of having solar panels fitted to your van or trailer. 

But you know you can keep your house batteries charged using solar. So how about a portable solar panel?

Renogy 200 Watt Solar Suitcase
Renogy 200 Watt Solar Suitcase

Using A portable Solar Panel To Charge Your Vehicle House Batteries

Portable solar panels come in different sizes, from 100w to 300w. The panels can be daisy-chained to charge larger battery banks providing a mobile renewable energy resource.

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Unlike installed panels which rely on the sun being directly overhead to collect the best sunlight. Portable’s can be tilted and moved to follow the sun all day putting more amps into your batteries.

The panels fold down to the size of a suitcase, and you will have no issues finding a space for them. However, the higher wattage panels can be pretty heavy, so you need to be careful if you have a back problem.

Set up is very easy; hook the panel/panels up to your battery bank with crocodile clips. Point the solar panel at the sun, and your house batteries will start charging.

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If you want to use a single panel to charge your batteries buy one with a built in solar charge controller.

Using portable solar panels can be a less expensive way to charge your batteries than a full-blown installation. But the benefits are the same no more running the noisy, gas-guzzling generator at night.

I think you might find not having to run the generator will save you a few dollars. If you use your recreational vehicle a lot, the panels will pay for themselves quite quickly.

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To be more environmentally friendly, why not use the panels at an organized campsite where there is a hook-up. This will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.

Using portable solar panels to charge your house batteries will make your camping trip greener. But you will not have to compromise powering your recreational vehicle’s appliances.

You can take a closer look at a portable solar panel with a built-in solar charge controller here:

My Closing Thoughts

Being eco-friendly and using renewable energy around camp is not a crackpot idea. It is very practical. Living off-grid has its electricity-generating challenges, and solar power solves them.

Yes, it’s not as efficient as it could be in inclement weather. But a power bank, solar generator, or vehicle house battery will see you through until the sun returns. 

Overall solar panels provide a way to make camping a more luxurious experience. Plus, they do it in an environmentally friendly manner with little noise and, more importantly, no CO2 emissions.
If you want to look back over any sections of my post again, go back to the menu here.

I hope you enjoyed my post and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about camping with renewable energy. Or want to leave your own personal review, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Spread The Solar Love

2 Comments on “3 Ways To Use Renewable Energy For Camping”

  1. My son is going camping over Christmas and want to be in an area where they are off-grid, so portable solar panels will be perfect for their electricity supply. It will certainly make for a far more sustainable trip. I actually have a blog called https://ecoworldonline.com/ which highlights eco friendly products and sustainable living.
    I’ll be sharing this post with my son to decide what would be best for their needs.

    1. Fantastic Line I hope your son isn’t off-grid on Christmas day but using portable solar panels as a renewable energy source is both practical and environmentally friendly. I will check out your site

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