For many of us, retreating into the wild with only our overland vehicle and ourselves is a great way to recharge both physically and mentally. But how do you replenish your energy while exploring off-the-beaten tracks?
Exploring the backcountry can be made safer and much more comfortable with today’s modern overlander gadgets. GPS devices, tablets, 12v refrigerators for food storage, cameras to capture every moment of your journey, drones for documentation purposes, laptops as well as Starlink internet connection, so you won’t miss out on work opportunities while off-the-grid – all these remarkable items require one thing in common: power. Fortunately enough, multiple energy sources are available now that will power up any type of device imaginable!
You can idle your engine to recharge the house batteries from the alternator to produce that electricity. However, this approach reduces your range and fills your campground with fumes. Carrying a gasoline-powered generator is an option, too, but it’s heavy, smelly, and, quite frankly, one of my least favorite sounds when I’m out enjoying nature! However, if you still prefer generators and battery banks, I urge you to check out our Editor’s Choice of the best quiet generators If you’re headed off on an outdoor adventure! Get ready for smooth sailing and uninterrupted power during your trip.
How To Solar Power Your Overland Journey
Are you looking for a dependable, long-term means of producing and stashing electricity as you explore the world? Consider building a solar power system for your rig. It may seem overwhelming to master all there is to know about solar energy products but don’t be daunted – I’m here to help make it easier! Let’s get started.
Solar System Components
Three main pieces make harnessing solar energy possible: photovoltaic solar panels, charge controllers, and batteries. Solar panels absorb the sun’s rays while a charge controller converts and regulates electricity to be utilized in a useful manner. Batteries store any extra current for future use, and all of these instruments are wired together via a wiring system. Let us dive deeper into each element!
When selecting a solar panel for your energy requirements, you should first look at wattage. Usually falling between 60 to 200 watts, several factors must be considered when deciding the right number of watts needed. How much power (measured in amps) do you usually consume daily? Contemplate all appliances and gadgets that draw electricity from your rig – including phones and fridges. Reality check: how many hours of sunrays can you find each day? In winter or under tree coverings, the capacity will decrease significantly! Lastly, it’s vital to understand how much battery storage capacity is accessible before making a final choice.
As a reference, phone chargers require 5 watts to charge, and 12V fridges need roughly 40 watts per hour. Calculate the wattage of each device you plan on using so that you know exactly what your energy needs are.
1. Solar Panels
When choosing between solar panel configurations, you can opt for either the more flexible soft panels that are able to fold up or rigid panels, which tend to take up much more space in your overland vehicle. Although they’re prone to breakage, rigid solar panels can be easily affixed onto hard surfaces like a rooftop tent or roof rack. Soft panels offer similar benefits with even greater portability; these may also be stored away in drawers and attached on top of hard shell tents!
2. Solar Charge Controllers
As you move forward on your solar journey, the next step is selecting a charge controller. This device monitors where electrical power goes and serves as a middleman between your solar panel and the battery or storage system. The newer generation of charge controllers has DC to-DC capabilities which are especially helpful in Overlanding circumstances like ours: serving as both an intermediary when powered by the alternator while driving and acting as a direct connection from the panel to the battery. Therefore, I can’t think of any other type of charger that would be more suitable than one with this feature!
Charge controllers come in all sizes, depending on how much energy they need to manage. The greater the capacity, the more space it will occupy – including fans and fins for efficient heat dissipation.
3. Solar Batteries
If you’re looking for reliable energy storage from the sun, there are a few options available. Lead acid batteries were once popular but can be heavy and difficult to transport, making them less desirable in most builds. Instead of lead-based AGM batteries, lithium-ion (L-Ion) ones provide an ideal solution with 50 pounds less weight than their traditional counterparts. If that wasn’t enough reason to choose L-Ion batteries over other models, they also boast improved performance – just like OPTIMA Lithium Batteries!
To get the most out of your overland journey, consider using a portable generator powered by solar energy. With the right solar power components, you can generate your own electricity without relying on noisy, smelly generators or draining your vehicle’s battery. You’ll be able to power all your gadgets, stay connected, and enjoy nature without any energy-related worries. So why not embrace the power of the sun and set off on your next adventure with confidence!