Video by GoalZero
Tips for Choosing a Portable Solar Panel
Few pieces of techie survival gear pack the cool factor punch of portable solar panels. But before you fall under the spell of any portable solar generator, there are some things to keep in mind.
Portable Solar Panels: How Much Energy Do You Need?
Remember that prepper rule of thumb that says too much is never enough? It's still a good rule, but it does not apply nearly as much with portable solar panels. Overkill means you'll be wasting money and space.
For example, this GoalZero Guardian 12V Solar Recharging Kit will juice a car battery. At $200, that's too much if all you're only looking to keep your $100 cell phone charged.
A better option for small gadgets would be the Goal Zero Switch 8 Recharging Kit. It offers a smaller panel and a sleek, rechargeable battery to take anywhere. That's it in the video above.
Aim for the Goldilocks zone. Not too much. Not too little. Then go ahead and buy multiples of that particular model.
Portable Solar Panels: How Much Abuse Will You Put it Through?
“This is cool” or “this is good” isn't enough of a qualifier when it comes to portable solar panels. “It didn't fall apart when it fell out of my truck and got mauled by a bear” is better. If it can't stand up to conditions, it's not worth your money.
This is another Goldilocks scenario. There are portable solar panels with reinforced shells, such as this Goal Zero Escape, that can take a beating and then some.
However, if your portable solar panel never leaves the backyard, all that armor is just going to cost you extra. Go with something more efficient for your dollar, like the Goal Zero Nomad.
Portable Solar Panels: Is it Easy to Use?
Simplicity equals versatility with all survival gear, and that's especially true with portable solar panels. If you can't tell how to use it without opening the box, it's probably not worth the time.
On that note, check to see if the portable solar panel comes with the adapters you need (USB, cigarette lighter) before you buy it. It can be a big headache to mess around with scores of cords, plugs and wires just to get you the point of actually using the portable solar panel.
Don't forget that those adapters and cords need to be on-hand. If they don't fit in the carrying case for the portable solar panel, chances are they could wind up lost.
Portable Solar Panels: What Do You Think?
What sorts of portable solar panels have you used? What did you think? Leave a comment below.