Who wants to know which portable solar panels are best for emergencies and power outages? Blackouts have happened to us all at one time or another and there is nothing worse than no power. Some of us have even been involved in disasters with the power out for long periods of time. And there is nothing more frustrating than the power going off at night leaving you in the dark. With just a candle and a box of matches to light up the night. So how can you use portable solar panels to be prepared for emergencies and power outages?
Which Portable Solar Panels Are Best For Emergencies And Power Outages?
“A portable solar panel can be used for electricity emergencies and power outages but not on it’s own. This is because a portable solar panel doesn’t store energy. They charge batteries like 12v leisure batteries, power banks and power stations. And to keep the batteries charged ready for action you can use a portable solar panel. I KNOW, you can keep batteries charged from mains power but that isn’t free. You do want to charge for free, don’t you? The sun is the best option because portable panels can be used over and over again. Mains power isn’t just expensive, you have to keep paying for it !!“
Some Facts About Emergencies And Power Outages
Emergencies and power outages are on the rise all over the world. And there is a growing problem not just from natural disasters. But the effects of climate change due to global warming. Imagine if there was no electricity at all for a week or two or even longer. What would life be like? I think if you asked anybody from New Orleans caught up in the 2005 flood. They would tell you to have some sort of backup power in place,
I am not some kind of survivalist enthusiast.
But if you live in a coastal area it might be time to start thinking about flooding. Because with higher sea temperatures and melting ice caps comes rising water levels. If you live inland, very dry arid conditions can cause wildfires which will also knock the power out. And of course there is always the threat of tornadoes and hurricanes causing power outages.
For example in 2020 from October 26 to 28, an ice storm, bringing snow from New Mexico into the state of Oklahoma and northern Texas, left over 400,000 people without power in Oklahoma for multiple days, with over 40,000 still without power 10 days after. (Source: Wikipedia)
Generally power outages last 6 hours on average at the time of writing. But that is the average and they can last for prolonged periods of time. Not just keeping you in the dark but knocking your wi-fi out. And leaving you unable to charge your phone or laptop or make a hot drink.
Charging Power Banks With Portable Solar Chargers
Portable solar chargers are smaller portable solar panels. They are soft fold-up with between 1 and 4 panels sewn into a polymer carcas. They usually have a junction box fitted into a protective pouch. That houses between 1 and 3 USB charging ports. The ports can be used to directly charge a mobile phone’s battery. Or a small portable battery called a power bank.
Power Banks are small and very light portable batteries. They are capable of charging electronic devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and fans. Very useful to have during a power outage or emergency. Because they will keep your devices charged keeping you in touch with the outside world.
This means you would be able to call for help or speak to relatives and friends. If it was very warm it would run a USB fan to keep you cool. And if you were fortunate enough to have a USB light. It would provide some illumination at night and not be totally reliant on candles.
What other Uses are there for a portable solar charger and power bank
A portable solar charger and power bank is also very useful for hiking, camping, cycling and generally traveling around. This is because anytime you are off grid the solar charger and power bank. Will keep your essential electronics charged and fully functional and you in touch with the rest of the world.
Charging Power Stations with Portable Solar Panels
Portable power stations and solar panels are the best solar solution you can own when the power is off. This combo will not only charge electronic devices. The portable power station will also power household appliances. This is because it has a built-in inverter.Tthe inverter turns the DC current the solar panels produce into AC mains power.
What will the portable power station power?
This means you can power anything from lights, TV’s, electric blankets, coffee makers to a CPAP. And of course keep the wi-fi going. It’s funny how life has changed so much that wi-fi is more important than food. But I digress. This all means that you will be able to keep tabs on what is going on. Make a hot drink, keep warm, have light and have some entertainment.
And if you were fortunate enough to be a camper and you had a camping grill and mini fridge. You could use the DC outlets to cook and have refrigeration. Larger power stations will power domestic fridge freezers and some electric cooking rings. But they drain the battery very quickly. So if you are worried about or are experiencing power outages and emergencies. It might be a good idea to think about investing in camping equipment.
Keeping the power station charged in case of a power outage or emergencies
I know what you are thinking. What if you haven’t kept the power station charged and the lights go out? The solar panels do not work at night so what do you do? The station can be charged in three ways. With the portable solar panels, a household power outlet and your vehicle’s cigarette port. So the solution is to start the car up and plug it into the cig port to charge. But as a rule of thumb keeping the power station charged to at least 80%. Will give peace of mind if there does happen to be a power cut.
What other Uses are there for a portable solar panel and power station
The power station can be used around the home for various charging and powering duties such as;
- Ice Shaver
- Coffee Maker
- Pressure Cooker
- Wall mounted air conditioning units
- Garden/Exterior Lights,
- Sound Systems
- Drills and more …….
- All Electronic Devices
This will save on your electricity bills because you will be charging the power station with the solar panels. And as the saying goes every little helps. If you are environmentally conscious. The solar panel/power station combo will help reduce your carbon footprint. And if you are looking to start to become energy self-sufficient this kind of combo is a good way to start.
Off-grid electrical power generation
The solar panel/power station combo is fantastic for off-grid electrical power generation. The applications are endless. With the right power station you can be virtually energy self-sufficient. Especially if you have a recreational vehicle or camper. This is because if you add a separate solar controller. You can also charge your 12v leisure batteries with the solar panels. Great uses for the combo include;
- Recreational vehicles
- Days out
- Road Trips
To name just a few but whatever you use the combo for it will save you money and is environmentally friendly.
Charging 12V Leisure Batteries With Flexible Or Rigid Portable Solar Panels
You can also use 12v leisure batteries and solar panels for emergency back-up. This method is a little more messy than using portable solar panels and a power station. This is because you would have to buy all the components separately. And the leisure batteries need to be kept in dry, cool conditions. Which means keeping them in an outbuilding or boxing them in, making sure it was watertight.
But if you are good at DIY you could make a very good backup system. This could be achieved by linking several deep cycle batteries together in series. The components you would need to achieve this are;
- Flexible Or Rigid Solar Panels
- Deep Cycle 12V Batteries
- Solar Controller
- All Cabling
The solar panels could be permanently mounted on an outbuilding roof. Or mounted in a frame in the garden or yard. The great part about this kind of setup is that the solar panels would be constantly charging the batteries. This means that if there were an emergency or power outage and it occurred at night. The power would be there already on tap.
You might be thinking that if the batteries were charging all day every day. They would overcharge and become unstable or unusable. The solar charger takes care of that and makes sure that doesn’t happen.This type of system may have a disadvantage during flooding. If the batteries are housed at ground level. This is because the system would short if water came into contact with the batteries.
My Closing Thoughts
The 3 best methods I have presented to use portable solar panels in emergencies and power outages. Have their different advantages but really it all boils down to how prepared you want to be. If you are thinking that it would be nice to keep your phone charged. Then a portable solar charger/power bank combo is appropriate. A portable solar panel/power station combo might be better. Because you also might want to be able to power electrical appliances. But a more permanent, always ready system like a portable solar panel and 12V leisure batteries. Might be what you are leaning towards.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be prepared for emergencies and power outages. They are growing in frequency. And there is nothing worse than being caught in the dark with your pants down !!!
One of the best emergency power back-up solar panel/power station combo’s comes from Bluetti. It will even charge an electric vehicle.
I hope you enjoyed my post and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about portable solar panels, emergencies and power outages . Or want to leave your own personal thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment below
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