While there are plenty of campsites with electrical hookups, many people enjoy the experience of going off-grid and fending for themselves. Although camping means getting back to nature for some, others set up camp and work remotely or simply want the added convenience of creature comforts.
No matter where or how you like to camp, read on to learn how beneficial a portable power station could be on your next outdoors adventure.
Benefits of Camping with Solar Generators
If you’re still on the fence about purchasing a solar generator, then keep reading to learn why they’re the best power source for camping.
Quiet & Odorless
Solar powered generators are completely silent and produce no emissions so that you can enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings without any obnoxious smells while still powering your camp.
One of the most appealing features of a solar generator is that it creates clean energy. It lends itself perfectly to camping in a natural environment, where burning gas to cook or power lights harms the global and local environment.
Since portable power stations don’t use fossil fuel to run they’re a safe option, especially if you’re camping in the woods. Unlike gas generators, you can safely use them inside a tent or RV to power lights and appliances.
Solar powered generators have a lifespan of 25-35 years, depending on the quality and brand. While they may appear expensive at first, they can be considered an investment in the long run.
A portable solar generator includes all the technology needed to recharge and power your home appliances. Simply plug in your solar panels, connect to an EV charging station or the grid to charge the unit, then connect your devices when you’re ready to power up.
The best portable power stations hold all the essential components that you need for solar power. So unlike kits used to wire a home or RV, it’s easy to take with you anywhere. Pair with travel-friendly solar panels that fold up when they’re not in use.
Multiple Ways to Charge
It may be called a solar generator, but some portable power stations can also charge using different sources. While solar panels are the most eco-friendly way to recharge, you can also charge from the grid when the weather isn’t ideal. Many of EcoFlow’s units can recharge to 80% in less than 2 hours. If you get caught short, you can also top off the battery while you’re in the car using your 12v charging port. Since this is the slowest charging option, it should only really be used as a last resort.
Charging using an electric vehicle (EV) charging station is still a fairly unique charging option, but it’s extremely handy since over 43,000 public stations are in the United States alone.
Even if you’re considering purchasing a portable solar generator for camping, they can be used in other ways, too. Since they’re so easy to use, you can pick them up and go wherever you want. It can go with you in the car, to the office, shed, or any event where you might need backup power.
How to Charge Your Portable Solar Generator While Camping
You don’t want to run out of power while you’re off the grid, which is why there’s more than one way to juice up your portable power station.
Portable solar panels are the ideal way to top up your generator when you’re off-grid. They’re convenient to store and transport, as they fold away when you’re not using them. Solar panels typically require an MC4 connector that plugs into the generator to begin charging.
AC Wall Outlet
Solar generators allow you to plug into the wallet socket at home and recharge. This is by far the fastest charging method and is perfect for if you decide to take off last minute, as EcoFlow portable solar batteries have the fastest charging technology in the world.
12V Car Charging
Car charging is the slowest option, but using your 12V socket can give your solar generator a boost when you’re on the go.
EV Charging Stations
This is a relatively new addition to portable solar generators, and currently, only EcoFlow’s DELTA Pro has this function. With tens of thousands of available stations located around the USA, and 150 thousand in Europe, DELTA Pro can recharge using an EV charger in less than 2 hours.
While not the same as charging, Extra Batteries can be attached or plugged into a central unit to offer additional power. Extra Batteries are available for RIVER, RIVER Plus, RIVER Pro, DELTA Max, and DELTA Pro. You can see all Extra Batteries here.
What to Look for in a Solar Powered Generator for Camping
Camping has changed considerably over the years, and you no longer have to rely on a pack of cards and a guitar for entertainment (but you can, and that’s awesome). Now, you can take tech with you wherever you go, just make sure to factor in how many outlets you'll need for all your gear.
If you’re only planning to charge a laptop, mobile, and a drone, then you might only need a handful of ports. If you're powering a full family's gear, and high wattage appliances, you'll need something larger.
Weight and size are essential factors to consider when you’re camping. You have a finite amount of storage space in your car or RV, and once you’ve packed your basic camping equipment, there’s not a whole lot of room for extras. You also need to be realistic about the size and weight of a portable power station, especially if you want enough watt-hours to illuminate Yellowstone.
Charging Rates & Time
Charging rates are usually affected by the size of the battery itself. So the larger the generator, the longer it will take to charge. Solar chargers can recharge up to 80% using a wall outlet from 2-12 hours. EcoFlow's portable power stations have the fastest recharge speeds in the industry, so even our biggest units charge in under 2 hours. Yep, that fast. Using solar to recharge a solar generator depends on how much input it allows, the solar panel’s efficiency rating, and wattage. A 12V car charger takes a while to recharge but works fine if a solar generator needs a quick power boost.
The capacity of a solar battery you choose for camping depends on a combination of factors, including the kind of appliances you want to power and how many. For example, if you plan to run a 60W mini fridge for approximately six hours, you’ll need a solar battery with a capacity of at least 360Wh.
When they first kick in, some appliances, especially those with an electric motor, such as a refrigerator, have a surge of power that is much higher than their typical wattage. A fridge that may only need around 800W will have an additional power surge of 1200W when the compressor starts. This means that if you're planning to power a fridge, you'll need a solar generator with a surge rating of at least 2000W.
What is the Best Solar Generator for Camping?
Depending on how long you’re camping for and the types of devices you’re powering, we’ve got a range of portable solar power stations that can fit your needs.
For a simple overnight camping trip, a small power station with a capacity of around 200Wh, like EcoFlow’s RIVER mini, is enough. You can easily charge your phones, laptops, and light up your campsite, and RIVER mini can even boil a low-wattage camping kettle for coffee in the morning. Top up RIVER mini using its 100W solar input capabilities.
200-300Wh could be enough to keep you powered over the weekend, and even if you run low you can top up with solar panels. EcoFlow’s RIVER can not only recharge using solar panels but also connects to an Extra Battery to double its capacity to 576Wh. RIVER can power most electric appliances, including weekend must-haves such as a mini-fridge and electric frying pan.
For dry camping, you might require a larger capacity solar battery if you’re unable to recharge using solar during the daylight hours. Alternatively, with a portable power station, such as RIVER Max, you also have an additional battery that doubles the capacity. The battery is removable, so you can take it off if you won’t be using it.
Road Trips & Overlanding
If you’re planning on traveling long distances in your RV or jeep, then a solar power station that balances portability, capacity, and ability to charge high-wattage appliances is essential. If you’re frequently off-grid choose a larger capacity battery, such as a RIVER Pro. Add an Extra Battery, and its capacity increases to 1440Wh. With an output of 1800W, you can power a hairdryer, travel washing machine, and more.
If you’re looking for a power station with even more power, take a look at our DELTA Series. With an expandable capacity of up to 25kWh and output of 7200W, you can stay powered for days, even using high-wattage appliances.