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What Is the Best Thickness for a Solar Pool Cover?

A typical solar pool cover

Introduction

Do you want to get the most out of your pool and reduce chemical costs? Did you know that the type of pool cover you choose plays a big role in your pool’s upkeep? Just the thickness alone can make all the difference in the world. So, what is the best thickness?

To answer that, let’s look at some facts about pool covers. We’ll also dive into some frequently asked questions to determine what kind of solar pool cover is best for your needs.

Solar Pool Covers: How They Work

In this section, we’ll break down some important aspects about solar pool covers. This will help to give you a better understanding of how they work. You’ll know what to look for when it comes time to choose a cover for your pool.

Thickness

Every solar pool cover is designed to retain heat from the sun. This is what warms your swimming pool. Solar energy is stored underneath the cover and, in turn, raises the temperature of the water. While you might think a thicker pool cover will yield better results, the truth is that a thinner solar cover allows more heat to penetrate.

When shopping for a cover, you’re likely to come across different thicknesses. The most common are 8 mil, 12 mil, and 16 mil. The lower the number, the thinner the cover. You’ll find that the 12 mil cover is the most popular among pool owners. Sun2Solar’s 1200 Series Solar Cover is a good example of that.

So, why would anyone want a thicker solar cover? Well, some pool owners prefer them because they are heavier. As such, there’s less chance of them being blown off by strong winds. Conversely, they prevent harmful UV rays from degrading chemicals much better than thinner variants.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Do you want warmer water with the chance of needing to buy chemicals more often? Or do you want to preserve your costly chemicals and have cooler water? It is for these reasons that most people choose to stay in the middle with a 12 mil solar cover.

Color

Different colors of solar pool covers

Color plays a big role in the function of a solar cover. Pool owners rely on different colors to fit a variety of needs in their swimming pool. Solar energy has an easier time penetrating a clear solar cover. But a blue solar pool cover will trap in heat a lot better.

Darker colors are going to yield the best heat retention. That being said, it takes a lot longer to warm up your swimming pool water. There’s a trade-off for each, to be sure. But how do you know which is right for you and your swimming pool?

Well, if you want to heat your water quickly and don’t mind the sun’s harmful UV rays eating through your chemicals, a clear cover is going to be your best bet.

If you don’t mind waiting for your solar cover to heat up your water and you want to preserve your chemicals for as long as possible, a thick cover that has a darker color is right up your alley.

Whatever pool cover you choose, it’s important to factor in additional costs. While that clear cover might sound enticing, you need to remember how expensive pool chemicals are.

The Heating Process

If you look closely at a solar cover, you will notice that it’s covered with tiny bubbles. These bubbles work by trapping heat from the sun’s rays. It is this very heat that is responsible for the warming up of your pool’s water.

The heating bubbles on a Sun2Solar Solar Pool Cover

Solar covers are always placed with the bubble side down. This allows the bubbles to rest in the water. As the bubbles are heated up, so is your pool water. It’s a deceptively simple concept that works wonders on bright, sunny days.

As great as this process works, it’s important to keep that heat trapped in so that it doesn’t escape and render your cover useless. A well-made pool cover will prevent any evaporation from occurring, thus keeping your pool warm and comfortable.

Many pool owners buy solar covers to keep their costly chemicals intact and working. This not only saves them a lot of money on chemicals, but it extends the overall life of the pool itself. A pool cover is a wise investment that pays dividends in the long run.

FAQ

Is a blue or clear solar pool cover better?

You’re better off choosing a blue solar cover. This is due to the nature of the heat retention in the different plastics. Clear pool covers do a fine job of trapping in heat. But in doing so, they also allow more UV light to penetrate into the water. When this happens, chlorine is degraded quicker, thus increasing your need – and cost – of chemicals.

Blue covers also trap in the sun’s heat a lot longer. They might take a bit longer to heat up your water, but they are quite beneficial when it comes to preserving your chemicals.

What mil solar cover should I get?

If you don’t mind springing for more chemicals and you want your pool water warmed up as quickly as possible, an 8 mil cover is a good choice. Just be mindful of the fact that a thinner cover is more likely to be picked up by a strong wind. If this happens, you’re going to be losing out on its retentive qualities, thus losing precious warmth.

If you don’t mind waiting for your pool to heat up, and you wish to preserve your chemicals, a 16 mil solar cover is going to be a good fit. You don’t have to worry about chasing down your cover during strong winds, either. These solar covers do a great job of staying put. And, they keep heat in longer than thinner solar pool covers.

As you have likely figured out at this juncture, a 12 mil cover is a safe option for your pool. They do a fine job of retaining heat, and they have a decent amount of weight to them, as well.

Does a solar pool cover really work?

Quite well, in fact. The best covers retain heat and prevent the loss of chemicals. Many pool owners rely on solar covers quite heavily to help keep the high cost of pool maintenance to a minimum. It pays to research the pros and cons of pool covers. You’ll often find that the positives far outweigh any negatives that might come along with them.

Furthermore, by using a solar pool cover, you stand to reduce your pool’s heating costs by as much as 70 percent! That’s nothing to sneeze at. Heating any pool can be a costly endeavor. When you compare the price of investing in a solar cover to an actual heating unit, you’re saving quite a bit of money.

Solar covers will often pay for themselves many times over during the course of their use. It’s a great way to get immediate results without breaking the bank.

Not only that, but consider the amount of bugs and other debris that the cover is going to keep out of your pool. This, too, will help in reducing the cost of chemicals over time. By preventing foreign objects from getting into your pool, you stand to prolong the life and effectiveness of your chemicals.

As you can see, there are a lot of advantages to owning a solar pool cover. It will save you money and give you more comfortable swimming conditions. You’re making a great investment any way you look at it.

How fast does a solar cover heat a pool?

A solar pool cover can heat an in-ground pool exponentially. For every 12 hours that the cover is on the pool, you can expect the water’s temperature to increase by about 5 degrees. So, if you have 70-degree pool water, it should increase to 80 degrees in just two days.

That’s assuming both days are bright and sunny (remember, your water won’t heat at night). The longer you leave the solar cover on your pool, the warmer your water is going to be.

It’s important to take into account things like cloud coverage, shade, and other weather-related factors. Not everyday is going to be ideal for solar heating. But the key is to be patient. Give the solar cover ample time to do its job. The results are well worth the wait.

Conclusion

You should now be ready to make a decision on the best solar pool over for your needs. If you prefer to play it safe, a 12 mil cover like Sun2Solar’s 1200 Series Solar Cover is a popular choice that delivers great results. It will protect your pool’s chemicals while adequately warming your water.

What type of pool do you have? Do you use a lot of chemicals as it is? You might be better off investing in a thicker cover. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any further questions that we can answer. We would be happy to assist you with your pool maintenance needs.

Remember, ask yourself the following questions to get a better idea of the type of pool cover that is best for you:

  • Does it seem like my pool uses too much chemicals?
  • Can I wait for my pool water to warm up?
  • How often do I currently buy chemicals?
  • Do I want my pool to warm up quickly?

Once you have answered these questions, you should know which solar cover is right for you.

How to Install a Solar Pool Cover

How to Install a Solar Pool Cover

Introduction

Solar pool covers are a great investment that yields excellent results. To get the most use out of the cover and your pool, it’s important that you take the time to properly install your new solar cover. Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

To ensure that your solar blanket is operating at its very best, let’s talk about the installation process and how it will benefit you the most. We’ll also answer some common questions that pool owners have about solar pool covers.

Installing Your New Solar Pool Cover

Depending on the shape of your pool, you may have an easier time putting your solar cover on. Pool shapes play a big role in the installation process. A pool that is round, oval, or rectangular in shape is a lot easier to deal with compared to one that is specially designed with an odd shape.

This is because solar covers are designed to fit the most common pool shapes. Oftentimes, you can find a solar pool cover that is fabricated to fit perfectly over your pool, thus making installation a veritable walk in the park. But don’t worry if you have a freeform pool. We’ll cover those, too.

If you have been fortunate enough to find a solar blanket that fits your pool, simply place the cover in the water. When doing this, you want to ensure that the bubble side on it is facing down. This is vital for the heating process to work properly. The smooth side always faces toward the sky.

For a freeform pool, it’s easier if you can get another set of hands or two to help with the installation. This makes it easier to stretch the cover so that it touches the perimeter equally on all sides. It’s a good idea to place weights around the outside in order to keep the material from blowing away and losing position.

This also goes a long way in reducing any wrinkles in the solar blanket. Just be doubly sure that you don’t use any weighted objects that might cause damage to the solar cover. Depending on the type of cover you bought, it’s possible to tear or puncture the solar blanket.

Cutting to Form

Now comes the cutting. When you install a solar cover over a freeform pool, you have to cut off any excess that isn’t going to be used. When doing this, it is important that you cut the solar cover material as close to your pool perimeter as possible. This ensures that there aren’t any gaps between the pool and the solar blanket.

You want it to fit in the pool like a glove, so that it lays on the water without any room to drift. Pool covers that move around are less effective than tight-fitting ones. This ensures that you’ll get the best use out of your new solar cover investment. Your water will be warmer, and it will stay warmer longer, as well.

Conversely, you may opt to leave some excess around the perimeter to keep debris from falling into your pool. This is often done by pool owners whose pools are under and around vegetation. You’ll find that this is easier to do with a pool that is rectangular in shape, as opposed to a round pool.

If you have an in-ground pool with a skimmer, you may want to cut an area that allows for easy access to it. Don’t worry about getting fancy and taking a bunch of measurements. It is much easier – and faster – to simply lay out the solar pool cover and make the necessary cuts from there.

Always use the sharpest cutting tool you can find. A razor blade works the best, as it’s easier to follow a path around the perimeter of the solar blanket.

FAQ

Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions that pool owners have about solar pool covers. Remember, if you don’t see the answer to a question you have, feel free to leave a comment. We will do our best to help you with your solar cover.

Can you run a pool pump with solar cover on?

Absolutely. You may run your pool pump with your solar blanket on. Pool pumps have no bearing on the cover, and vice versa. You can always feel safe to let your pump run when using a pool blanket. Solar covers will continue to work as intended either way.

Do solar pool covers really work?

Without question. Your solar pool cover will trap heat from the sun and slowly raise the temperature of your pool. Solar rings for pools are another great way to make your pool more comfortable. They collect heat much the same way that solar blankets do. Your swimming pool will not only feel better, but you’ll save money on chemicals, as well.

This is because the sun’s harmful UV rays aren’t coming into direct contact with your swimming pool water. Solar covers do a great job of blocking these rays while using their heat to your advantage.

Any time you cover your pool, you are keeping out bugs and debris, as well. This, too, goes a long way in preserving pool chemicals. They will be more effective as a result, lessening the frequency in which you buy them.

Regardless of which thickness or color you choose, you’re typically going to see noticeable temperature improvement. Most solar covers will raise your water temperature by 5 degrees every 12 hours. You’re usually looking at a couple of days’ time to get the results you’re wanting.

How do you keep a solar pool cover from blowing off?

It’s no secret that strong winds can lift pool covers out of the water. This is remedied a couple of different ways. Some people like to use anchors that attach to the covers. This keeps them weighted down in the event of high winds. Others prefer to leave excess material around the perimeter of their pool.

Weights are placed on top of the excess portions of the cover in order to keep it in place. As a refresher, be sure to choose heavy objects that aren’t sharp. You don’t want to risk tearing your new cover. Another option is to invest in a cover that is made with thicker material.

These are heavier by design, and therefore won’t blow away as easily as thinner pool coverings. Just keep in mind that thicker variations like Blue Wave’s 14 mil NS530 might take longer to heat up your pool’s water. The plus side of this is that a thicker cover will generally retain heat longer than that of a thinner one.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to properly install your new solar blanket, you will be sure to get the best use out of it. A solar pool cover that is fitted to the size and shape of your pool will heat your pool water better. You will now enjoy a much more comfortable swimming pool as a result.

If you still have questions or concerns after reading this guide, please feel free to leave a comment. We would be happy to assist you with your solar pool cover installation.

Solar blankets are a great way to save money on chemicals. But it’s vital that you take the time to install your new pool cover properly. To recap, here’s a handy list of tips you want to follow:

  • You may leave some excess cover around your swimming pool to keep out debris.
  • Cut the solar cover so that it butts up against your pool perimeter.
  • Use a thicker cover like the NS530 to ensure it stays in place.
  • Always place the bubble side down in the water.
  • Get some help with freeform solar covers.

Take your time with it. The benefits of using a solar cover are well worth it. You will soon be enjoying a comfortable pool all throughout the swimming season.

Pool Cover

Q&A: Pool Cover Bubbles Up or Down?

Pool covers have two distinct textures, a bubbled-side and a smoother-side. Some people accidentally put the wrong side down and don’t heat their pool properly! Installation for a pool cover is basically just “what side goes up?” Let’s get that one part right!

Pool Cover Bubbles Up or Down?

You should put the bubbles down. The bubbles need to face the water and the smoother side faces up. Solar covers work by trapping heat that would otherwise be lost. The pockets of air created between the cover and the surface of the water heat up, trapping heated air next to the water to keep your pool warm.

The solar pool cover first absorbs sunlight, heating up the air bubbles on the surface of the cover. The heat from the bubbles heats the pool water, raising it by anywhere from 10-15 degrees (Fahrenheit). That temperature increase is enough to extend your swim season by a few weeks to a full month!

Detailed Answer

The bubbles cause the cover to float above the water, while still transferring heat. So bubbles go down into the water when installing.

There isn’t much to “installing” a pool cover, but you may need to cut it to fit the shape of your pool, to maximize effectiveness. Usually, markers and scissors are enough to trim down the solar cover.

Since the pool cover heats your pool mainly by trapping heat, you’ll want to cut the cover around the edges fairly tightly to keep it flush with pool walls. You don’t want heat escaping through cracks at the sides, but you also don’t want the cover to have wrinkles that lose heat because it doesn’t fit properly.

Pool covers not only prevent heat loss during the day, but they prevent the cold night air from sucking away that valuable swim heat as well. I love the feeling of taking the tarp off at midnight and climbing into a pool that’s still warm from the day, while the night air is crisp!

Reducing Evaporation

Since up to 70% of water heat escapes through evaporation, Solar Pool Covers also maintain a hotter water temperature by preventing the heat from leaking out in the evening after peak sunlight has passed. Less evaporation is also good for the environment, because you’re using less water to fill your pool.

Evaporation causes your pool to leak valuable chemicals which can be expensive to replace to stabilize the chemical balance of the pool. The pool cover limits evaporation, preventing chemical loss, saving you money.

If you’ve noticed that chemicals get imbalanced in your pool quickly, try a pool cover instead of accelerating your chemical insertion!

Other Solar Pool Cover Perks

  • The bubbles retain heat at night and on colder days, using sunlight to heat up instead of the temperature.
  • If you have a heater for your pool, you should definitely use a cover to prevent the heat from escaping.
  • The best solar pool covers extend the swim season by heating the pool more than you’d expect. Enjoy those colder swim days in September at the start of the school year by snagging a solar cover!

Related Questions

 

How Do Solar Pool Covers Work?

The Solar Pool Cover first absorbs sunlight, heating up the air bubbles on the surface of the cover. The heat from the bubbles heats the pool water, raising it by anywhere from 10-15 degrees (Fahrenheit).

 

Can I Swim With A Pool Cover On?

No. This can be really dangerous. Depending on the pool cover, there might not be a way for air to get under the tarp if someone pops their head up. I remember hiding in a pool during a hide-n-seek game as a kid and popping up my head under the top only to find that there was no air!

I had to swim quickly to the steps, and I’m lucky I didn’t get disoriented or pass out on the way. Never swim with the cover on!

You’ll see a lot of information on the internet that says that the pool cover makes your pool “safer” by deterring children and pets from swimming. But know that the pool cover  doesn’t prevent kids and dogs from getting in the pool! Use a proper pool fence or enclosure to prevent accidents.

 

Do Solar Pool Covers Make My Water Dirty?

No. It might seem gross to have a tarp over the top of your pool, sort of cooking the insides, but solar pool covers actually make your water cleaner. A pool cover prevents dirt and debris from flying into your pool and clogging the filter systems. It prevents dust from building up around the steps when it falls into your pool.

Additionally, by preventing chemical loss through evaporation, the pool cover helps your pool retain important cleaning chemicals.

Best Portable Solar Panels for Camping

How to Choose the Best Portable Solar Panels for Camping

Getting power out in the forest doesn’t require loud generators or home-charged battery packs. Set up some solar in the sun! To find the best portable solar panels for camping, you should have some idea of what you want to charge. Two of the recommendations on this list are smaller, cheaper solar panels sufficient for phones and not much else. The other two recommendations are larger power stations which can handle RV setups and refrigerators.

Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

Top Recommendation

 

Renogy’s starter pack is all you need for a great camping solar setup, including a negative grounding controller to protect the electronics you hook up to it. With a 12V deep-cycle battery, it’s enough to power a laptop, tablet, and phone all at the same time. The dimensions make it a little clunky (4 feet by 2 feet), but it’s only a couple inches thick so it slides nicely into a truck bed or the side of a van. Excellent charge time, even on cloudier days!

Upgrade Option

 

When you’re headed camping, packing space is essential. And solar panels, for all their great energy benefits out in the forest, can be heavy and clunky. Renogy’s suitcase is one of the great portable solar panel kits for camping. The entire system folds down into a compact, easy cary suitcase. It’s the most expensive option on this list, but it features great charge time and easy packing. If you’re a frequent camper in need of frequent power, the Renogy may be worth the price tag.

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 50W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
Solar Charger 25000mAh, Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Power Bank with 4 Solar Panels, Fast Charge External Battery Pack with Dual 2.1A Output USB Compatible with Smartphones, Tablets, etc. (Waterproof)

Value Option

 

 

The Hiluckey Solar Charger is a foldable solar panel that will charge your phones without draining your finances. Four solar panels fold out for a great surface area for sunlight, and two USB ports charge 2 devices at the time. Waterproof construction, and a 12-month warranty make it a trusted, durable panel. Enough power to charge phones 8 to 10 times (or tablets 3 to 4 times) for great usage per charge.

Solar Charger, 25000mAh Battery Solar Power Bank Portable Panel Charger with 36 LEDs and 3 USB Output Ports External Backup Battery for Camping Outdoor for iOS Android (Black)

Alternative Option

If you’ve been reading product descriptions wondering why none of these solar panels have built in lights, then you and GoerTek have some like minded ideas about what makes the best camping solar panel. GoerTek’s solar power bank not only has solar to charge your phone, it also has a 36 LED interface to light up your campsite for some night time shenanigans. Less power than some other options, but ideal if all you need is some phone charging and site lighting.

How to Choose The Best Solar Panels for Camping

When looking at camping solar panel reviews, there’s a few different specs you need to consider. Most importantly, you’ll want to know what you want to charge. Solar panels for camping vary greatly in power and cost, and you don’t want to overpay for phone charging.

What do I want to do with the solar panel?

Two of the items on this list are $200 and above, and the other two are around $50. This is because the cost of the ideal camping solar panels vary depend on what you’re trying to charge. If you’re looking to jump car and RV batteries, power fridges, and run an electronics store amount of electronics–you’ll need one of the expensive ones. If you want a camping solar panel to power a couple appliances and make sure your phone doesn’t die, the cheaper ones should be sufficient.

Also think about where you want to put it. You can set it up at your campsite, sure, but you can also easily mount it on your car, like this video shows.

 

Cost

The small solar panels on this list are about 50 bucks a pop, while the larger ones will run you 200 and 300 respectively. These price points are pretty standard when looking at solar panels for campers. Something to charge your phone will be about 50, and trying to get 12V will push you closer to the 200 mark. If you keep these price points in mind when looking for the right amount of solar panel, you probably won’t overpay for your wilderness power.

Size and Aesthetics

While camping solar panels aren’t exactly string lights for the bedroom, you should purchase a panel that is appropriately sized and doesn’t look ugly. Why should it not look ugly? People don’t like ugly products–if you buy an ugly solar panel, you’ll want a new one in a year, trust me. Get something sleek, and something you’re proud to pop open in front of your friends.

The Renogy suitcase and GoerTek solar bank definitely look the coolest, and both of them are appropriately sized for their respective powers. The suitcase folds into a small carry size, and is only 30 pounds. Meanwhile, the GoerTek fits in your backpack.

Durability

All of the products listed here are technically waterproof, but the solar panel suitcase has a control panel that is not waterproof. The Renogy starter kit is fully waterproof and ready to go.

Power

The most obvious factor. Check the voltage requirements on the devices you plan on charging. If you’re under 5V and USB compatable, a smaller system might do the trick. But if you want to charge a handful of electronics, or anything over 5V, go for one of the bigger options.

Best Portable Solar Panels for Camping Reviews

Quick Take: OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR Portable Solar Panels for Camping

Renogy Solar Starter Kit

Top Recommendation Renogy Solar Starter Kit

Folds down into a compact suitcase for easy packing and easy maneuvering.

Renogy Solar Panel Suitcase

Upgrade Option Renogy Solar Panel Suitcase

Powerful enough to run everything from consumer electronics to a full refrigerator.

Hiluckey Solar Charger

Value Option Hiluckey Solar Charger

If you just want a light and a phone charger, this might be the best solar panel for you.

GoerTek Solar Power Bank

Alternative Option GoerTek Solar Power Bank

A great, cost-effective way to charge your phone while camping.

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 50W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller

Unquestionably the best foldable solar panel for camping, Renogy’s 100 Watt 12 Volt behemoth folds down into a 2 x 3 foot flatscreen sized carry case that weighs only 30 pounds. Powerful enough to charge RV and car batteries, and get the electricity up and running at your campsite. Runs DC power which can be converted to AC for powering TVs and laptops if needed. It’s powerful enough to run a refrigerator all day!

Pros
  • Folds down into a compact suitcase for easy packing and easy maneuvering.
  • Waterproof panel for those rainy afternoons.
  • Once the 12-volt battery is fully charged the device automatically switches to maintenance mode to keep you at full power.
  • Strong enough to run a refrigerator all day as long as there is enough sun.
Cons
  • Massive price tag makes it ideal only for the frequent camper who needs some serious power.
  • May actually deliver more power than you need, at 100 watts and 12 volts. Don’t overpay for power!

Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

An excellent choice for getting into the solar camping game, Renogy’s starter pack is powerful enough to charge all your electronics, and features a grounding controller to protect them. It’s a little unwieldy for packing, but provides the power to back up the space it takes up. Can be mounted permanently on an RV or boat, or carried around to your next camping adventures.

Pros
  • Powerful enough to run everything from consumer electronics to a full refrigerator, if you’ve got the batteries for it (a 100ah battery running at 6.5 amps per hour will give you about 15 hours of refrigeration).
  • The entire system, including the cables and connections, is waterproof and built to withstand outdoor weather conditions.
Cons
  • ​Still fairly expensive. While it’s cheaper than the Renogy suitcase charger, it’s still more than the other 2 options.
  • ​Not as much charge as the Renogy suitcase, and once you’re already paying hundreds for a solar panel, you may want to just get the better one.

Solar Charger, 25000mAh Battery Solar Power Bank Portable Panel Charger with 36 LEDs and 3 USB Output Ports External Backup Battery for Camping Outdoor for iOS Android (Black)

The sleekest, smallest portable solar panel. If you need light and phone charging, then this is your best option. It is the best charge panel for the price, and you don’t need to rack up hundreds of watts and a dozen volts if you just want to keep your phone powered. Waterproof, less than a foot long, and fits in a backpack!

Pros
  • Don’t overpay for power you don’t need. If you just want a light and a phone charger, this might be the best solar panel for you.
  • Extremely portable size fits in a backpack, great for hiking and camping, or a day trip to the beach.
  • 36 built in LED lights mean you can skip the clunky lanterns and battery packs. Light your picnic table for some nighttime card games, and charge your phone at the same time.
Cons
  • Not very powerful. You’ll only get a 5V output. USB outputs are suitable for basic electronics charging, like phones and tablets, but you won’t be able to charge anything stronger, like a laptop.

Solar Charger 25000mAh, Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Power Bank with 4 Solar Panels, Fast Charge External Battery Pack with Dual 2.1A Output USB Compatible with Smartphones, Tablets, etc. (Waterproof)

Foldable solar panels give you a quick charge time and great exposure without taking up space in the backseat. Dual USB outputs are sufficient for a couple phones on a full sunlight day. It’s a great price, but you’ll also get what you pay for. You can only charge electronics under 5V, and the charge time is slow and eats up a lot of sunlight to do it. Great charger if you’ve got a phone you want to keep boosted on the go, but definitely not a campsite power station.

Pros
  • One year warranty
  • Can’t beat the price. A great, cost-effective way to charge your phone while camping.
  • Compatible with any device that’s under 5V.
Cons
  • Only two USB outputs limit the charge ability. Really only suitable for phones and tablets, and small USB fans.
  • Long charge time–can take from 12 to 24 hours to fully charge a single phone. Not a good long term phone charging solution, as it can take 30 hours of sunlight to fully charge the battery pack.
  • All four panels need to be exposed to absorb sunlight, and a little clouds or shade can hurt your charge time.

Conclusion

It’s so hard to recommend a solar panel when they range from refrigerator-powering super panels for $200 to small phone chargers at $50. If you need a phone charger, snag the GoerTek. But honestly, you might want to spring for the Renogy Solar Starter Kit to give yourself some options down the road.

Sure, right now you only want to charge your phone, but it gives you a higher ceiling later on. Mastering solar energy can bring some great new options to your camping game, and closing yourself off by limiting your power supply to USB cords isn’t a long term option. If you do a decent bit of wilderness adventure, you probably want to invest in the solar panel that will keep devices and appliances powered down the road.

The Best Transmitter Of Solar Energy

Which Substance Is The Best Transmitter Of Solar Energy?

Due to the increased use of solar energy, solar panel manufacturers have come up with better photovoltaic panels. These new innovations are either introducing new products into the market or making the existing products better for increased efficiency.

Of course, the most improved panels will be offered at a relatively higher cost but it will produce solar power more efficiently.

Today, there are a horde of substances used as transmitters of solar energy including:

  • Crystalline silicon
  • Monocrystalline silicon
  • Polycrystalline silicon
  • Amorphous silicon
  • Other newer substances such as gallium arsenide

Which Substance Is The Best Transmitter Of Solar Energy?

For consumer applications, monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are the most common. There are several other substances used for transmitting solar energy though, and new ones under development. Each of these transmitter substances (photovoltaic materials) has its own advantages and disadvantages. Read on to learn more.

Crystalline Silicon

Silicon is the most used photovoltaic material with up to 90 percent of all panels produced in the world being made of silicon or its variant. In the US, for instance, 95 percent of all panels produced have crystalline silicon as the transmitter substance.

The cells of crystalline silicon are arranged in a crystal structure making it an excellent transmitter substance. When the crystal structure is perfectly aligned, silicon transmits solar energy better.

To enhance the transmission of energy, other substances might be added to crystalline silicon. For instance, crystalline silicon is coated with some substance to reduce the rate of reflection and enhance absorption of light. These added material makes crystalline silicon more expensive. However, crystalline silicon is able to produce up to 22 percent more energy compared to other photovoltaic materials.

Monocrystalline Solar Cells

Monocrystalline solar cells are made of pure silicon which is first purified into ingots and then cut into panel pieces. These way, the panels are made of a single continuous silicon structure. They end up having the same look. Due to the pure nature of the silicon and the continuity of the silicon structure, monocrstaylline silicon cells are the most efficient for consumer applications.

These panels last relatively longer and perform better in areas with low light intensity and higher temperatures. Due to their high efficiency, these solar panels are able to produce more energy in small spaces. For instance, small panels used on outdoor solar lights are mostly monocrystalline to increase energy output.

Their efficiency comes with a higher price tag since they are more expensive to produce. During production of these cells, the cells are produced in form of a cylinder and then trimmed into squares. In that process, a lot of panel goes to waste.

Even worse, the continuous crystalline nature of the panels make them susceptible to breaking when they are covered by shade, dirt of snow. Granted, consumers have to take great care of the panels for them to last long without breaking.

Polycrystalline Silicon Cells

Polycrystalline solar panels are made of raw silicon molded into small squares. Since the cells do not go through the purification process, these panels are less expensive to produce and therefore less expensive compared to monocrystalline cells.

When the raw silicon is molded into squares, the crystal structure of silicon is broken and this makes polycrystalline cells less efficient. Compared to monocrystalline cells, polycrystalline cells are 16 percent efficient while monocrystalline cells are 20 percent efficient.

To produce as much energy as monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, these panels need to be larger. The panels are also susceptible to high heat conditions and they do not last as long as monocrystalline panels.

Amorphous Silicon

These solar panels are made of amorphous silicon. They are commonly referred to as thin film solar cells. Because amorphous silicon does not have a crystalline structure, it is only 7 percent efficient in producing solar energy.

Besides the fact that they are relatively less efficient, thin film cells are light in weight and flexible enough to be used in small applications such as power calculators. The panels are inexpensive and can survive in high temperatures and shaded regions.

The fact that thin film solar cells are flexible makes them more useful in recent innovations such as calculators and tarps. Nevertheless, because they are less efficient in producing solar power, they have to be extremely large to produce the same energy as other photovoltaic materials.

Other Photovoltaic Materials

New photovoltaic materials are coming up. One of these materials is gallium arsenide. It is a highly efficient material with an efficiency of up to 12 percent. However, gallium is a rare material making it very expensive and arsenic is a hazardous material. Though it is an efficient material, its use in residential applications is not practical.

Which Transmitter Substance is the Best?

There are many more photovoltaic materials most of which are still under research. From the list of transmitter substances above, there is no one single substance that can be labeled as the ‘best’. Each of the units has its advantages and disadvantages; choose based on your needs and budget.

Best for Capturing Solar Energy

What Part of the United States is Best for Capturing Solar Energy?

Thinking about going solar? That’s great, for you and for your energy bill! But what you might not realize is that your geographical location can actually affect the performance of your solar panels. Certain places in the United States capture more solar energy than others.

Curious to learn more? This post will tell you everything you need to know about how your location affects your solar energy.

Which locations in the United States are best for capturing solar energy?

It would be hard to rank every city or state in the US by how well they can collect solar energy, but we can estimate. In general, the best places for capturing solar energy are in the South Western region of the United States. Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Southern California see more sunlight per day than most other regions of the country. 

Because these areas are farther South, the days tend to be longer – especially in the winter – compared to Northern regions. They are also arid areas that see more days of sunshine per year than other regions.

Why does location matter?

Solar power works by capturing energy from direct sunlight and converting it into useable energy. It is a great alternative to more traditional energy sources in terms of budget friendliness and sustainability, but if you can’t capture enough sunlight during the day, installing solar panels in your home probably won’t be worth the money.

There are two factors that can impact how much sunlight a solar panel will be able to absorb: the length of the day, and the strength of the solar radiation.  The best places in the US for solar energy are the places that see the most sunlight per day – that’s why areas in the South of the country are generally better for solar energy.

Solar radiation also makes a difference. Arid, dry regions of the country see stronger sunlight than others, which means solar panels will be able to absorb more energy while the sun is shining.

What other factors should you consider?

Of course, you don’t have to live in one of those regions to make the most of solar energy. There are a few other factors that you can take into account to know whether or not solar will be worthwhile.

For one, you should consider the amount of energy your home uses. How often you run electronics and other devices will make a difference in your energy consumption. If you live in a hotter area and have to run an air conditioning unit on a regular basis, that will also affect your energy consumption – the same thing can be said for heaters in cold areas.

Another important factor is what other energy sources are available to you. If you live in an area that does not see much sunlight, but has plenty of wind, you may want to look into wind energy as a more viable natural alternative.

Using multiple energy sources in your home is also an option. Get in touch with your energy or power provider to learn about adding solar to your regular energy plan.

Do I need to live in an area that gets a lot of sunlight to use solar?

While it is true that certain parts of the United States will be able to capture solar energy better than others, there is no reason you can’t install solar panels wherever you live. The only difference is that, if you live in a region that does not see as much daily sunlight, you will probably want to have an alternative energy source to fall back on in case your solar panels cannot absorb enough energy to meet your daily needs.

Of course, solar energy is not only used to power homes. There are tons of devices that are powered exclusively by solar, from outdoor lights to ordinary electronics. You definitely don’t need to live in a certain region to use smaller solar-powered devices – just leave them somewhere they will see plenty of direct sunlight during the daytime, and maybe have a backup power source in case sunlight isn’t available.

Conclusion

If you are considering powering your home with solar, you are on the path to a more affordable and efficient home – but where you live can make a difference. Hot, arid regions in the South of the country see more strong sunshine per day than other regions of the United States, so solar panels will be able to gather more of a charge there. Most of Arizona, Southern New Mexico and some parts of Southern California are great for capturing solar energy.

If you don’t live in one of those regions but still want to go solar, don’t worry – just monitor your home’s energy consumption, and have a backup source of power just in case your solar charge isn’t quite enough.

Best Appliances for Solar Power

What Are the Best Appliances for Solar Power?

Are you planning to power your home appliances with solar energy? What are the best appliances for solar power? The truth is solar has big benefits. Solar power is efficient and free of pollution. After the initial investment cost, it is completely free. There are lots of electrical appliances used in a home. If you plan to run these appliances on solar power, you should know their actual power consumption. Let us show you how solar energy can help power your everyday appliances.

How Much Solar Power Do Home Appliances Need?

Solar power is limitless and absolutely free. Installing a solar system at your home to power the many appliances is a good investment. The investment will help you save money and energy. Before you choose a solar system for your home, it is important that you do your homework. If you know how much solar power you will need, the appliances you will be able to choose the right system for your specific needs.

What Are the Appliances that Can Be Powered by Solar Energy?

The many appliances that can be powered by solar energy include:

  • Laptops
  • Televisions
  • Refrigerator
  • Small electric cooktops
  • Microwaves
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Coffee makers
  • Thermostats
  • Rechargeable flashlights
  • Toasters and much more

If the cost of making your entire home solar out of your budget, you can choose to add small items that are less expensive and help you save on money.

Solar Lights

patio, lawn, and outdoor landscape. The outdoor solar lights are sturdy and work well in adverse weather conditions. Solar walkway lights can be used to decorate your garden. The warm bright light enhances the look of your home. Motion sensor solar lights enhance safety and security of your home and family.

The installation process for these solar lights is simple. All that you need to do is to place the lights

Best Solar Powered Motion Security Light

wherever you want them and turn the solar panel towards the sun. The solar panel absorbs full direct sunlight, and this helps provide energy-saving illumination.

Device Chargers

Laptops, tablets, and smartphones need a daily recharge. Save on electricity bill by opting for solar device chargers. The best aspect of these device chargers is that they can be used both indoors and outdoors. Solar device chargers are really helpful for people who travel a lot or who love spending time outdoors. Portable solar chargers are ideal for people who love backpacking, camping, and hiking.

batteries recharge during the day and save energy. The solar energy is then used to charge phones, laptops, flashlights, and other electronic devices. Advancement in technology has enabled the device chargers to charge multiple devices simultaneously.

Kitchen Appliances

Small kitchen appliances like coffee maker, sandwich maker, small electric cooktops, and a toaster can be powered with solar energy. The savings on electricity bills will be significant over a period of time. When you use solar to power appliances in the kitchen, you will be able to cook even during electricity blackouts. All that you need is a small solar panel to charge the power bank. An inverter can be plugged into the power bank. This is quite easy to set-up. It will enable you to run the kitchen appliances on alternative power in an efficient manner. If you want to power large kitchen appliances (refrigerators) you will need a bigger solar power system. Before you choose a bigger solar panel, you will need to determine the amount of electrical power that the large appliances consume. Awareness about the total power consumption of all kitchen appliances will enable you to choose a solar panel that is big enough to power all of them.

Solar Water Heaters

Water heaters consume a lot of electricity. You will be able to save substantial amounts of money when you opt for solar water heaters. There are three different types of solar water heaters. You can choose as per your specific requirement. ICS (Integrated Collection Storage) systems are the oldest types of solar water heaters. They are simple to install. The water heaters need little sunlight to keep the water warm. Flat plate collector is another type of solar water heater. A heat absorbing plate collects heat from the sun. The heat is transferred to copper tubes. When the tubes heat up, the water also heats up. Evacuated tube collectors are the most efficient solar water heaters. A heat transfer fluid or metal or glass tubes full of water are placed inside large glass tubes. This creates a vacuum. Little heat is lost in a vacuum and this heats the water efficiently. Advancement in solar technology will enable more home appliances to be powered with renewable forms of energy. This will help lower energy bills and help save money.