The Best Solar Panels For Camping And How To Use Them

Photo by @sponsoredbywifey

 

After camping for more than a few nights, you might find yourself missing some of the luxuries of modern life back home.

Don’t get us wrong — we can’t get enough fresh mountain air and sleeping out under the stars. But that doesn’t mean we don’t crave some creature comforts to make camping even more fun.

From bringing along a Bluetooth speaker and other camping gadgets to stringing up some lights or keeping your 12V travel fridge running, you need a power source to up your camping game.

And creature comforts aside, most of us need to stay connected to the real world in one way or another while we adventure. Whether for safety or because you’re living the #vanlife without the van, making sure your phone or laptop stays charged is a big priority for many campers.

That’s where a solar panel roof top tent rig comes in. You can use the solar panels to directly power small devices (like your phone or laptop), or to charge a portable battery so you’ll always have power when you need it.

Solar panels give you a ton of freedom on the road, especially if you freelance or work remote. You can use them to power a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, your laptop, and most anything else you need to stay connected while staying “off the grid.”

All our Roofnest models are designed for mounting solar panels directly onto the top surface of the tent.

But before you take the dive into solar, you’ll want to review the different options out there, the logistics of installing and using solar panels, and any potential challenges you might face along the way.

Here are some frequently asked questions about using solar panels on a roof top tent.

What Can You Power with Solar Panels?

A solar panel is only as good as what you can charge with it! It would be a bummer to get a solar panel setup all ready to go only to find out you can’t use it for what you were planning to.

For a Roofnest hard shell roof top tent, we recommend you use a Renogy or Goal Zero solar panel. These companies make the best solar panels for camping, which is why we sell them in our online store.

With these solar panel kits as your camping power supply, you can directly provide power to your laptop, phone, lights, iPads, and other low energy devices.

If you upgrade to a higher wattage setup, you can power 12V water pumps, fridges, and even an LCD TV! Now that’s what we call glamping.

Any of the solar panel kits we offer are also capable of charging a portable battery. Whether you’ve built your own DIY portable camping battery or invested in a Goal Zero battery, you can keep it charged for a steady supply of power whenever you need it, in the middle of the night or on an overcast day.

Shop solar panel kits here >

Are There Any Safety Issues I Should Be Worried About?

The solar panel kits we sell are self-contained systems that take care of everything you need. You won’t have to do any complicated wiring — they’re “plug and play” solutions, if you will. As long as you don’t get out the wire cutters and try to customize the electrical wiring, using these solar panels mounted to your roof top tent is perfectly safe.

The only potential area for extra caution is if you’re building, working with, or charging a homemade portable camping battery. You could end up giving yourself a shock if you don’t know what you’re doing with a DIY battery.

We aren’t electricians, so all we’ll say is be careful, do your research, and if uncertain, find someone who knows what they’re doing!

Can Anyone Install a Solar Panel on Their Roof Top Tent?

Yes! If you’re able to use a Roofnest hard shell RTT, you’ll be able to install a Renogy or Goal Zero solar panel onto the top of it.

How Do You Install Solar Panels on a Roof Top Tent?

Depending on the type of solar panels you buy, the installation ranges from super easy to moderately difficult.

Flexible solar panels from Renogy are a breeze to attach with adhesive velcro. Goal Zero solar panels can be stowed in their secure cases atop your Roofnest, but you do need to get them out and unfold them in order to use them while stationary.

Other solar panel options may require mounts and drilling into your hard shell roof top tent. You can find our guide to installing a DIY solar panel kit onto your roof top tent here >

How Do You Connect a Solar Panel to a Portable Battery?

The Renogy and Goal Zero solar panel kits are super easy to connect to a portable battery. Just follow the instructions provided with the kit and you’ll be set up in no time.

If you’re going the DIY approach, you’ll need to install a charge controller into your portable camping battery. This will connect to leads from your solar panels and funnel power from them into the battery.

Learn more about building your own DIY portable camping battery here >

More Roof Top Tent Upgrades You Need Now

When it comes to taking the Roofnest experience to the next level, solar panels probably top our list. But there’s a lot of other cool camping gear you can get to truly elevate your camping, like USB-powered camping lights, an extra comfy mattress, a portable shower, and more.

Read our guide to the must have camping gear you should get ASAP >