Five essential solar gadgets for camping

Next time you go out for caravanning, camping or  trekking than the following 5 gadgets can not only add richness to your experience but also make your trip more environmental friendly.

Going outdoors is actually good for the environment. How? Well given that when we stay at home, we eventually end up using energy (heating and electricity). The energy usage per person can range from 2 kWh per day to 8 kWh per day depending upon location.

Air-conditioning and heating requirement take up bulk  of our energy usage. When one is out and about, this generally does not happen.  However, even staying outdoors is no guarantee that we will not end up harming our planet. For instance if we are burning fuel through our car engine, we end up releasing more CO2 than we would have had if we stayed indoors. Therefore, our love of nature should also reflect in our care of nature when staying outdoors.

Listed here are five gadgets will help cut down emissions. They will help a great help the next time when you go to a festival or an outdoor event.

Solar Phone Chargers

Solar chargers have come a long way. They are now available in packaging that is robust and water proof. There are several products in the market. However, the one that is a cut above the other is RAVpower 24 Watt charger.

It provides 3 USB charging ports. Note that most phones are charged at a rate of 5 Watts (5 Volts and 1 ampere). Most laptops are charged at 10 Watts (5 Volts and 2 ampere). With a 24 Watt Charger, one can charge three phones simultaneously or a laptop with two phones. Using a battery bank in conjunction with power charger increases its flexibility and utility. One can leave the power charger in the sunlight through the day to charge the battery bank. This way the devices (phones and laptops) can be charged during the night.

Solar Power Charger with USB ports

Solar Power Charger with USB ports

The RAVpower charger can be easily tucked inside a rucksack. It has four SunPower PV panels that can be folded making the dimensions 30 cm x 80 (almost similar to a tablet). For those who are not aware, SunPower Corporation provides the most efficient PV panels in the industry (23.5%). The higher efficiency makes the RAVpower charger almost 30% smaller compared to other solar chargers of similar power. This product is also water proof, the USB ports can be tucked into a pouch. Note that a 16W version of the Ravpower charger is also available at a lower price (£30).

Solar Shower Bag

Solar shower bags with a capacity to store 10 litres water can be purchased for as low as 5 USD (£3.50). These shower bags can be filled with water and hung on a tree branch. As the sun rises, the black surface of the soaks up the sun and within a couple of hours of exposure can provide water at comfortable shower temperature. For best results, the wide side of the bag should face due east during middle summers .  It should be noted that for showering purposes the comfortable range of temperature varies from (23 degrees to 33 degree) which is less than body temperature. At temperatures of 40C and above, one can feel a burning sensation.  Solar shower bags are although cheap but are durable and can be reused over and over again.

Solar Camp Shower bag

Solar Shower Bag

Heating water can take up a lot of energy that is why it is best to burn wood to heat water and even better to use solar energy.  For raising the temperature of 10 litres of water from 15 to 40°C, the energy needed can drain almost half the charge in a car battery. This is because of high specific heat of water. Therefore it is best to use solar energy to meet this heavy requirement.

Solar Vacuum Tube Cooker

There are a variety of solar cooker designs. Some are more efficient than other. Many cookers like the breadbox collector are also extremely easy to make at home.   However, depending on the design, the cooker efficiency can vary significantly.  More recently a company called GoSun, launched a stove that has become really popular because of its efficient design.  It should be noted that a solar cooker is more efficient if it is able to track the movement of sun, can retain heat and is able to heat the food from the bottom. The GoSun cooker is able to do all three because of its evacuated tube design. The cooker is available for $59.

Cooking is also an energy consuming process. With The GoSun evacuated tube cooker, the parabolic concentrators provides a wide catchment angle. This means the cooker does not have to be tended frequently for adjusting the dish to track the sun.

Solar Car Battery Charger

If you have an old car battery, chances are that after returning from  your holidays it would have lost its charge. Similarly caravan batteries although are deep cycle and more robust also lose charge unless they are topped up by the on-board alternator which means burning fuel. Therefore, it is imperative to use a solar car battery charger the next time you go out for camping. Whenever you plan to park the caravan for a while than solar battery charger will keep the battery topped up. The car battery charger is different from the electronic device charger because the cells are connected such that they produce slightly higher than 12V instead of a 5 V output. Most solar car battery chargers can be purchased for under $20 ( about £12). They also have a flashing LED, indicating their state of operation. For more details on solar car battery charger, click this link.

Solar Camping Lights

With solar camping lights, one doesn’t have to worry about batteries for torches or winding up in the case of dynamo lights. Solar Camping lamps and lanterns are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Not only they provide light enough to do reading but can be also handy in keeping the insects away. LED’s are the most efficient form of lighting and even with a small battery these lamps can provide light all the way through the night. LED lights were expensive to begin with but prices have come down substantially. Solar camping lights can be purchased for as low as $10 (£7). Options include PVC based inflatable camping lights that are waterproof. The inflatable camping lights make night-time fishing a bit more fun.

Solar Inflatable Camping Light

Solar Inflatable Camping Light


It should be noted that solar PV devices tend to work as long as there is light. Even if its cloudy, but there is daylight than PV panels do provide some output. The solar thermal products on the other hand (shower bag and cooker) tend to work with direct sunlight i.e. when its sunny.

There is no reason why these devices cannot be used at home. They can be used in your back garden. No point in buying Solar panels and tuck them away to gather dust. Why not invite your friends and enjoy a solar BBQ in the summer.

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