Portable Solar Power System: What is Needed?

What is needed for portable solar power system

If you’re thinking about building a portable solar power system for your RV or for general road trips so that you can get benefits from solar power. You came into the right place.

in this article, I’ll explain “what is needed for a portable solar power system?”

1- Portable Solar Panels

First thing first, if you’re thinking about building a portable solar power system portable solar panels are the obvious component of the solar power system. Portable solar panels are generally small in size versus rooftop solar panels so they are easy to carry on and easy to install as well

These portable solar panels are made of solar cells which absorb the sunlight energy into them in the form of Direct Current (DC) which we convert later on into Alternating Current (AC) to charge applicants.

There are many types of solar qualities available in the market, what’s the difference between them and which one is better, I have discussed this in detail in this article Click here

Just to give you a rough quick idea about the qualities of portable solar panels, there are the most popular two types of portable solar panels Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline solar panels. the main difference between them is efficiency rate (how much sunlight can be converted into electricity)

Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels, which means you can get more power output from monocrystalline solar panels than from polycrystalline of the same sizes.

Here’s a table of the same company’s solar panels in different types. (Newpowa) Polycrystalline & Monocrystalline

Type Size Output Watt
Polycrystalline 58” x 26”160
Monocrystalline 57″ x 26”175

2- Charge Controller

Charge controller as it says in its name stables the voltage coming from solar panels according to battery voltage

The power output from solar panels doesn’t come in a stable voltage, it varies depending upon the sunlight it’s getting. the variation of this voltage can be dangerous for charging batteries by using the direct current from solar panels to charge any electronics.

So at that time, the charge controller comes into place which controls the voltage output of solar panels into a very stable

Some portable solar panels come with a built-in charge controller so you don’t need an additional one but if your solar panels don’t have a charge controller built-in so you’ll have to purchase one to run your electronics directly from the solar panels.

I have a Renogy 200W portable solar panel for my portable power system which comes with a built-in charge controller, Click here to read the in-depth review

Just to give you an idea about charge controllers if you’re looking to shop for one, there are mainly two types of charge controllers available in the market right now. MPPT (Maximum power point tracking) PWM (Pulse width modulation)

MPPT vs PWM Charge Controller which one is best?

PWM charge controller is an older technology that is much less efficient than the MPPT. MPPT uses the latest technology and is about 30% more efficient than PWM. PWM also requires the same voltage of batteries and solar panels but MPPT doesn’t.

if you’re thinking about investing in a charge controller I would say go for MPPT which is a little bit more expensive than PWM it will be worth it in the long term

3- Batteries or Portable Solar Generators

Batteries are simply storage tanks for power, they store the DC current from solar panels in them which we convert into AC with the help of Invertor to charge laptops, phones, etc…..

you can also charge your RV or electric car batteries like tesla with portable solar panels which I have discussed in detail in “how to charge your EV with portable solar panels” Click here

there are 3 types of batteries available in the market, here’s the difference and for which one you should go for

Difference Between (Lead Acid, AGM & Lithium)

  • LEAD ACID – These batteries require maintenance and they vent corrosive hydrogen gas. these batteries are made of old technology and don’t do well now because there are more new technology batteries on the market. I don’t recommend them
  • AGM – Stands for Absorbant Glass Mat. These are the most commonly used batteries right now in the market and are 2nd best quality batteries. These batteries contain a glass separator that wicks the electrolyte solution between the battery plates
  • Lithium – These are the latest technology batteries available in the market right now which are lighter in weight and have a lower self-discharge rate.

From these 3 types, I would recommend if you can afford, go for lithium batteries and if you’re on a tight budget then you can have AGM batteries.

Read More: Guide: Maximum Charging Current & Voltage For 12v Battery

Portable Solar Generators

Portable solar generators are like the latest form of batteries, they are the best replacement for standard batteries. portable solar generators contain (batteries, a charge controller, and an inverter) so you don’t need any extra electronics for the system

simply plug the portable solar panels with them through wires and the generator will store the energy in it, and then you can use the stored energy in AC output to run your applicants.

I have a jackery 1000 portable power station click here to read my full in-depth review

I have discussed in detail how to connect portable solar panels Click here

4- Inverter

the inverter is used to convert the DC current from the battery into AC current so you can run electronics. Because solar panels generate energy in DC and our electronics need AC current in order to work.

Normally batteries store power at 12V and e.g if you wanna run a coffee maker you’ll need about 110V power. So in this case the inverter will consume 110V power from the battery in order to run the coffee machine

Well there are 3 different types of inverters in the market right now (modified sine wave, pure sine wave, and square wave inverters)

in Short, Just go for the Pure sine wave inverters with chargers installed in them for your RV. other 2 are the oldest technologies and can make a damage

5- Wires

Wires are essential to building the portable solar power system, there are different wires or connectors which you’d need according to your need and the brand of panels, batteries, or portable solar generators.

here’s a list of some connectors which you’ll need

1- MC4 to Charge a Battery

To connect your solar panels with batteries.

Click here to make a purchase from amazon

2- MC4 to Anderson for a portable solar generator

if you have jackery’s solar generator then you’ll need this to connect your solar panels with the solar generator. Click here to check my review on Jackery Explorer 1000 after using it for more than a year.

Click here to make a purchase from amazon

3- MC4 to 8mm for portable solar generator

Some solar generators come with an 8mm port to charge them.

Click here to make a purchase from amazon

4- Adaptor Wire Extension

if you need some in-depth knowledge so, I have discussed in detail how to connect solar panels with batteries or solar generators. Click here

Click here to make a purchase from amazon

How do portable solar systems work?

Portable solar panels produce (DC) from sunlight and then with the help of a charge controller we transfer the energy from panels into batteries and then with the help of an invertor we use that stored energy from batteries to run applicants

How do you make a portable solar system?

To make a portable solar system you need portable solar panels, charge controllers, inverters, batteries, or portable solar power generators. This combination is known as a portable solar power system or portable solar system

What do I need to set up a solar camping system?

  • solar panels
  • charge controller
  • batteries
  • inverter

Summary

To make a portable solar power system you just need a handful of things, Portable solar panels to convert the sunlight into electricity, a charge controller to control the fluctuation of wattage output from solar panels, batteries to store solar panels’ energy, an inverter to convert the DC into AC so you can run electronic applicants and this will also provide you the required output voltage for electronic to run them and last but not least wires which will help you to connect these pieces of equipment.

and if you are just looking for a simple solution and don’t wanna rush into this complicated stuff then I would recommend you to purchase a portable solar power generator that will store the solar panel’s energy with one plug so you can run the electronics without worrying about batteries, inverter, and wires.

Here’s a quick and straightforward video of what I have explained in this article to make your doubts even clear

I'm an experienced Sales Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the renewables and environment industry. Skilled in Photography, Customer Service, and Sales.