I have just returned from a weekend away camping. Generally the question is, do I choose a powered or unpowered site? However, we now have another option. Solar panels with solar power! Now all I have to do is take my solar panels with me and I can be totally independent! So we took off to the great Australian bush, freed from power restrictions.
The camping area at Wee Jasper in south-east NSW, is fairly primative but with two solar panels lying flat attached to the roof of the vehicle and an extra panel propped up by a chair following the sun, (which I had to manually move), I had all the power I needed. So, before and after our walking trecks I could check my email and touch base with my websites without worrying about the battery running flat.
Obviously, the key to effective use of solar power is being able to use that power after the sun has gone down. Two heavy duty batteries each weighing approximately 35kg, was all it took, which was easy for my van to cope with, it is only the same weight of another adult in the back. This gave us more than enough power for lights and computer for the night as well as power for a range of adaptors to recharge mobile phones, torch batteries and ipod.
Camping in remote areas is designed to take you away from all the modern conveniences, but my wife would probably refuse to go if she couldn’t be guaranteed access to her computer! The nights did get fairly chilly, and the solar power was not quite enough to power a heater, so we had to rely on a campfire to keep us warm. I think that was more fun anyway! In short, this holiday allowed us to use the best of both worlds…. enjoying the peace and beauty of the outdoor lifestyle and the convenciences of a computer and watching a movie.
No matter how much power I collect in my solar panels, it cannot replace the warmth of an open fire in the cold of the evening.