2015 Update: We have an all new improved solar set up. Click the button to see our most recent upgrades:
Rooftop solar is awesome (and we have plenty of it) but sometimes you just need to park it in the shade, especially when it’s 95+ degrees outside, which means the rooftop solar isn’t going to work so well. This is where a portable solar kit comes in to save the day.
We have the GoPower! 120watt portable solar kit and have come to two conclusions:
- If you don’t have any solar, a portable kit is the perfect (least expensive and invasive) way to start.
- If you have rooftop solar and don’t have a portable kit, you need one.
You can park in the shade and still get the juice. When a random heat wave hits (or you willingly endure 100+ temps to experience Burning Man or an Arizona Summer) you shouldn’t have to choose between melting with power or staying cool with no power.
It’s the early bird and night owl all in one. When the sun is super low on the horizon (like early morning and late evening), you can tilt and angle the panel in any and every direction to catch all of those power producing rays! It’s also a great addition during the winter months when the sun sits lower on the horizon.
It has wicked self control (unlike our drinking habits). The nifty built in 10 amp charge controller makes sure your batteries never over charge (which can lead to serious damage, much like drinking).
It’s more connected than Kevin Bacon. Ok, maybe not, but the kit does come with 15’ of cable and several types of connectors (clamps, direct wire, hard wire…) and the optional trailer adapter and extension cables (available in September) give you multiple degrees of connectivity. So whether you want power for tent camping, car camping, RV’ing, ATV’ing, boating or all the above, it goes where you go.
Size does matter. They’re compact, come in a durable case and there’s three different sizes 120, 80, and 40 watts (40 watt available in August). With all of our camera gear and computers for work (yes, we actually work sometimes) we opted for the big daddy 120 watt kit. It keeps all our gear charged no problem. If you’re a tent/car camper, or if you simply want to charge the batteries while you’re rig is in storage, the 40 watts should be more than enough.
If you want to research (or purchase) we’ve found the cheapest rates on are Amazon, here’s a link to our portable solar panel: Go Power! 120W Portable Kit
How to connect More than one PSK to a battery bank
We received several questions about connecting 2 or even 4 portable panels to one battery bank. Of course this type of install would be helpful for those who don’t want to install solar on the RV roof, or for those who camp in the trees and still want to get a solar power. Anyway we asked GoPower to draw a quick connection “map” and here’s what they drew for connecting 2 Portable Solar Panels to a 2 12v battery bank.
Here’s a little more detail from GoPower about the drawing:
In the drawing it is two 12 volt panels in parallel. We are connecting the 2 PSK’s to opposite ends of the battery bank. The reason for this is we are able to use the battery bank as a voltage buffer so the solar controller on PSK #1 does not get fooled by the voltage coming from PSK #2.In a series set up (two 6-volt batteries in Series) we are not able to connect to different sides of the battery because there is only one positive that you can connect to and one negative. Putting two six volt batteries together in series essentially make one big 12 volt battery. You cold however connect to four 6-volt batteries that are in a series parallel set up. You would connect the same way I have suggested in the drawing (just think of each set of 6 volt batteries as a single 12 volt battery.
So, there you have it. Got questions or comments? Post them below in the comment box!
Disclosure: Go Power! provided us with a complimentary panel for review purposes and helped fund the production costs of this video. As always, we are free to say whatever we want and have only written our honest opinions. If we didn’t love it, we would give it back and tell them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine…but we do love it and they can’t have it back.