When the power grid goes down as the result of a natural disaster, an EMP attack, or a solar flare, your options for creating more power will be restricted, but they will not be gone.
One of your best options for a self-sustaining power source will be solar panels, and specifically, portable solar panels.
That being said, portable solar panels are still not the best choice for everybody. To be more specific, they’re not the best choice if you plan on bugging in at home or at the homestead.
Rather, what portable solar panels are an excellent choice for is for bugging out in an RV, motorhome, or similar vehicle. The idea is that you would use your portable solar system to keep the batteries of your RV or motorhome charged.
Portable Solar Panels vs. Fixed Solar Panels
When you decide that you need solar panels, you will always have to make a choice between fixed panels (like the kinds that you can keep mounted to your roof at all times), or portable ones, which you can carry with you in your vehicle and pull out of storage when you stop traveling.
Even for an RV, you will still have to choose between portable solar panels and fixed ones. It’s not like you only use portable solar panels for RVs and vehicle and fixed solar panels for home.
For example, you can use fixed solar panels for your RV by keeping them mounted on the roof of your RV, much like you would for a house. Portable solar panels, in contrast, are usually set on the ground before being hooked up to the RV to use the sun to provide power.
Which approach is better? There are definitely pros and cons to each, which we will dive into next.
Fixed Solar Panels: Advantages and Disadvantages
By and large, the biggest advantage to a fixed solar panel is its convenience. Once you set it up, such as by affixing it to your roof, you’re all good to go and you won’t need to deal with it much afterward other than routine maintenance.
But on the other hand, if you don’t use solar panels often, it may not be worth it to invest in fixed ones that you’re not even going to utilize all the time. And if you like to park your RV underneath shade to get it out of the sun, fixed solar panels are not going to receive much sunlight. In contrast to this, portable solar panels can be set out on the ground under the sunniest spots for the greatest effect.
Finally, fixed solar panels attached to the roof of the RV will be constantly exposed to the outside elements, and it’s up to you to maintain them and keep them clean,
To summarize, the advantages of fixed roof-mounted solar panels are:
- It’s out of the way
- Convenient (set it up and leave it alone, other than maintenance)
- Can collect more sunlight than portable solar panels
The disadvantages of fixed solar panels are:
- More expensive than portable solar panels, so make sure it’s worth the expense (is it a wise investment for your or not?)
- Your RV must be under the sun for them to collect sunlight (can’t park your RV under the shade, which will sometimes be a major bummer)
- Must be kept clean, as they are exposed to the elements
Portable Solar Panels: Advantages and Disadvantages
An individual portable solar system will max out at just two hundred watts at a time. For this reason, to power an entire motorhome or RV, you’re going to need to purchase several portable solar systems and then connect each and every one of them to a solar controller.
So even though portable solar panels are cheaper than fixed panels, you’re likely going to have to buy more of them if you want to power the RV, and this really offsets the lower individual cost.
As we discussed previously, portable solar panels are typically laid out on the ground. The convenience here is that you can park your RV under some trees for shade, but then you can lay out the solar panels on the ground under a sunny spot and connect them to the RV to provide power.
On the flip side of things, portable solar panels require more work than fixed solar panels. You have to organize them away into storage and then pull them out and connect all of them each time you want to use them. Needless to say, it’s a hassle that’s going to pull time away from other tasks.
In summary, the advantages of portable solar panels are:
- Can be used while parking your RV under the shade
- Cheaper than fixed panels
And the disadvantages of portable solar panels are:
- You’ll need to buy several to power an entire RV
- Not the most convenient option (it’s a hassle bringing them out and putting them away all the time)
- You will need to constantly adjust the panels so that they are always underneath the sun
Portable solar panels are not the best choice for providing power to a home, either in your everyday life or in an SHTF situation. Leave that to the fixed panels that can collect more sunlight and just be left alone.
But for bugging out in an RV or motorhome, portable solar panels truly are a great option, and perhaps even better than a fixed panel setup.
Sure, you can still use fixed solar panels if you want to, but portable solar panels can be laid out underneath the sun even while your RV rests underneath some nice shade to cool you off. That will definitely be nice for a number of reasons.
But the simple fact of the matter remains that you need a self-sustaining way to create power for if and when the grid goes down, and solar panels, whether they are fixed or portable, are a highly effective way to achieve that.