I’ll bet that in1839, French physicist Edmond Becquerel (source: Wikipedia) who discovered the worlds first Photovoltaic (PV) cell, never dreamed that, portable solar electric power systems would ever come true. Enough of the history lesson, although without Edmund I wouldn’t be writing this blog.
Who would have thought back in 1839, that you would be able to pack the family into a camper van on a nice sunny day. Drive to the beach or a lake, having packed your solar panel which is the size of a briefcase. Your portable solar generator the size of a car battery safely stowed away. Ready to enjoy the day, sun bathing, swimming, or just kicking back. Feeling safe in the knowledge, that you packed the cooler for a nice cold drink, that your portable solar system will keep cool all day.
We have Edmund to thank for that, but not only that. His discovery is going to help the world overcome the effects of global warming. Fossil fuels as an energy source will eventually to be overtaken by Edmund’s PV cell, along with other forms of green electric generation. There are many portable solar power systems currently in use. From very small systems to charge your cell phone, to systems that have the capability to power a Winnebago.
Portable Solar Electric Power Systems
Portable electric generation systems have been around for a while. Usually powered by fossil fuels like gasoline or diesel, they are noisy, smelly and dirty. They can even cause death to the unwary, if used in enclosed spaces. As a by-product of their use, they emit the poisonous gas carbon monoxide (Co). Which, we all know contributes to greenhouse gasses.
However, there is another way to produce electric power on the go. A cleaner, greener, more environmentally friendly alternative, The sun can power almost anything and it’s energy is infinite. In fact according to scientists it will be around for another 4.5 billion years. Sunlight is fast becoming the go to option for portable electric power generation.
Instead of filling a portable power generator with gasoline or diesel, you can now fill it with the power of the sun.
How Does a Solar Electric Power System Work?
Portable electric energy is produced by the sun, in exactly the same way as a residential fitted solar power system. Sunlight is collected by solar panels’, that is converted into energy, which is stored in a battery (solar power generator). The battery is charged by the solar panels’, producing a direct current (DC). It is then passed through an invertor to produce an alternating current (AC). This then supplies a residence with usable electric energy to power the lighting, heating and domestic appliances. A portable system works in exactly the same way, but on a smaller scale.
What Can I Power With Portable Solar Systems?
Electric power has a wide range of uses, when it comes to portable solar systems. The battery/solar generator and panels’ can be easily transported to any location.
Common uses for portable solar electric power might be:
- Charge and power electronics – laptop, mobile phone. Tablet, PSP, watch or Fitbit
- Camping – lights or cooler
- Recreational vehicles’ – heating, TV, fans, air pumps, blenders, coffee makers, microwaves or electric grills
- On board electrical power for boats
- Temporary installations
- DIY in the home – power tools
- The garden – exterior lighting
- Building and construction areas
- During prolonged power cuts and outages
The solar panels’ are easy to set up for all portable solar systems and provide a reliable source of off-grid power.
What Portable Solar Panels?
The portable solar panels‘ for collecting the suns’ energy are light compact and easily transportable.
They are manufactured in three forms:
For most systems, to produce the most efficient electric power, monocrystalline PV panels’ work best. They come in a variety of sizes. For portable applications fold-up solar panels’ are fantastic, because they are easily stored and transported. However, they are more expensive, but worth the cost due to their greater efficiency. Both polycrystalline and thin film panels’ are very useful, the latter can be flexible and even roll-up. In the 1980’s thin-film solar panels’ were first used to power calculators and watches.
Fold-up solar panels’ have a 60w to 300w charging capacity. Lower wattage panels’ are used to store power in batteries for things like charging a mobile phone. Ideal if backpacking, hiking, jogging or out and about in the car. Standalone solar LED lights for the garden and security lights are charged with lower watt solar panels’.
The advantage of fold up of fold-up solar panels’ for a portable electric power system is they can be deployed virtually anywhere.
Brilliant for use when:
- Out and about in the motorhome or boondocking
- Out at sea on boat
- Having a picnic
- At the beach
- At a lake
- Enjoying an afternoon in the garden or out in a park
They do have some disadvantages though.
- Although panels’ will charge batteries in semi-cloudy conditions. An overcast day can lead to an extension of charge times. This means to preserve the stored charge in the solar power generator. Devices require disconnection until suitable weather conditions return.
- Shade can also be a problem, as under these conditions charging will be lost. Regularly check the position of the solar panel and make sure it is not shaded. This is particularly important when in a forest, but not so much when in a wide clear open space, with a clear view of the sun.
What Battery Or Solar Power Generator?
The battery stores the energy harvested by the solar panels’ in electric powered solar systems. A 12v battery on its own will handle the job. However, this means connecting messy cables to a car or recreational vehicles’ battery. That is fine if you are providing a trickle charge to it. There is a better way, by using a portable solar power generator. Essentially, they are a battery with a built in controller and invertor to convert the current to AC. The only wires that need to be connected to them are the one’s from the solar panel.
They vary in size however, lots will fit quite nicely into a car boot next to the fold-up solar panel. Most are fitted with a handle so they can be easily carried. Portable generator systems are rated in watt-hours (wh), ranging from 60wh to 10,000wh.
Even the smaller ones come equipped with:
- An AC mains socket
- USBA ports
- DC 12V car cigarette lighter port
- LCD screen for control and charge monitoring
Best of all, they require little maintenance. If required, they can also be charged at home from the electric mains supply. Great for use if lighting is required at a nighttime garden party or outdoor event.
Edmond Becquerel Would Have Been Proud
Edmund Becquerels’ discovery has led to increasingly advancing the technology surrounding green energy. I think he would have been proud of the current uses of PV panels’.
Portable electric solar energy generation, has become an everyday part of life. As the need to reduce the effects of global warming intensifies. Scientists and manufacturers, will surely come up with a way to increase a solar panels’ efficiency.
A good thing for everybody that requires the use of portable solar power. Hopefully one day, this will make portable fossil fuel powered generators redundant.
I hope you enjoyed my post and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about Portable electric solar energy generation. Or want to leave your own personal thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment below