Whether you’re a weekend warrior looking to enjoy an off-grid camping trip or an overlanding enthusiast who desires to venture far off the beaten path, a reliable solar setup can provide you with all the energy you need. This eco-friendly source of power allows you to keep your electronics, small appliances, and/or lights working smoothly even when you are miles away from civilization.
Let's take a closer look at a solar setup recommendation tailored for weekend warriors:
1. Solar Panels: Depending on your energy needs, you may need a small or midsize system. If you're not planning on running anything major, a 100-200W solar panel will suffice for lights, phones, and laptop charging. If you plan to power a fridge or use power-intensive gadgets/appliances, a larger setup ranging from 300W to 400W might be needed.
2. Solar Charge Controller: This device protects your batteries from overcharging. The capacity of your controller should be in line with your solar panel output. You might choose either a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) or MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) solar controller, though MPPT controllers are more efficient. It also depends on what batteries you plan to use as some charge controllers aren’t compatible with certain battery types. Most people prefer a small 10A or 20A MPPT since they run small to mid-size systems.
3. Batteries: The power generated by your solar panel system needs to be stored somewhere, and that’s where batteries come into play. Lithium-ion batteries are a top choice due to their long lifespan, depth of discharge, and efficient power storage. A weekend warrior may do well with a 12V 100Ah or 12V 200Ah battery depending on the devices/appliances that need to be powered.
4. Inverter: If you plan to use appliances that require AC power, you'll need an inverter. The size you require will depend on your max power draw at any given time. Make sure to calculate your energy requirements when choosing your inverter. Most people choose a 1200W or 2000W Inverter.
5. Solar Generator: A convenient option that rolls the battery, inverter, and often the charge controller into one portable box. Though less customizable, they're user-friendly, and have a plug-and-play setup.
6. Cable and Mounts: Don't forget the importance of quality cable and mounting systems. The gauge of cable you need will depend on your system's voltage, current, and distance to charge controller. As for mounting, if you opt for rigid solar panels, sturdy roof racks or roof mounts can be a great choice. Whereas portable panels will often come with tilt mounts pre-installed.
Remember that the above-mentioned setups/ideas might vary based on your specific needs, applications, and energy requirements. It's crucial to do the math on your power consumption to estimate your daily energy needs before you choose your solar setup. Lastly, quality components and proper installation are essential to the lifespan of your system.
Be Wise, Go Solar!