Solar Panels Demystified

Solar Panels Demystified

For portable solar panel options, whether you are a seasoned camper or just want a backup power source for emergencies, investing in a quality, portable solar panel is a wise choice. But with so many options on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? Here are some things to look for when shopping for a portable solar panel:

Power output: The power output of a solar panel is measured in watts and volts and determines which types of devices your panel will charge as well as the speed at which they will charge. Consider how much power you need and choose a solar panel with an appropriate wattage and voltage.

    Wattage: The higher the wattage, the more current will flow to the device being charged and can be more effective in cloudy conditions, but a panel with too high of a wattage can be overkill due to the device only being able charge at a certain amperage. Since Watts/Volts = Amps, if the panel is 60 watts and the volts are 20, you are able to generate approximately 3 Amps, but this is in ideal conditions.    

    Voltage: The voltage determines the type of devices that can be charged by the panel, and also affects the speed at which they charge.  Many portable solar panels only provide an output voltage of 5-12 volts, which is ideal for charging smartphones, tablets, and other small electronic devices. However, if you need to charge larger devices such portable power banks (like the EXP PRO), you will want to look for a solar panel with a higher output voltage (18 to 22 volts).

    Efficiency: A solar panel's efficiency rating tells you how much sunlight the panel can convert into electricity. Higher efficiency means your panel will charge your devices faster and work better in low-light conditions. Look for a panel with an efficiency rating of at least 20%.  Monocrystalline cells are more efficient, since they’re made of single silicon crystals of high purity. On the other hand, polycrystalline cells are made of multiple crystals, and this impacts their efficiency.

    This does not mean that polycrystalline solar panels have a lower quality. They have a lower conversion efficiency due to their material properties, but there are high-quality solar modules of both types.

    Size and weight: Since you'll be carrying your portable solar panel with you, size and weight are important factors to consider. A larger panel may offer more power output, but it can be more difficult to transport. Look for a panel that strikes a balance between power and portability.

    Durability: Your portable solar panel will be exposed to the elements, so it needs to be able to withstand harsh weather conditions. Look for a panel with a rugged, waterproof design that can withstand extreme temperatures and is resistant to dust and dirt.

    Compatibility: Make sure the portable solar panel you choose is compatible with the devices you want to charge. Some panels come with built-in USB ports, while others may require an additional adapter.

    Price: Portable solar panels can range in price from under $50 to over $500. Determine your budget and find a panel that offers the features you need within that range.

    Ultimately, the best voltage for your portable solar panel depends on your specific needs and the devices you want to charge. If you're not sure which voltage to choose, look for a panel that offers multiple output options, so you can use it to charge a variety of devices.

    By considering the output voltage, along with the other factors mentioned in this post, you can choose a portable solar panel that will meet your needs and provide you with a reliable source of renewable energy wherever you go.

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