Why should I use solar energy? The default answer from many is going to be, “For the planet, of course.” However, that answer is not good enough, though it is among the reasons to adopt solar power. Let us look at a few reasons why you should consider using solar power.
1. It Is Renewable
Solar power provides renewable energy. Unlike gasoline for a generator, it is free, once you own the solar panels. It is readily available every day, as long as the weather does not get in the way. The extra energy from solar panels can be stored in batteries for later use. If you are concerned about the environment, solar power is one of the few choices available to you that deliver enough power to support a modern lifestyle while being available to the average homeowner.
Best of all, solar panels today are several times more efficient than their predecessors. You can set up a large solar panel by your campsite and run several small devices overnight or recharge one or two energy-intensive smart devices. Or recharge your RV’s house batteries without having to connect to the power grid. That can save you money when you are camping, and it gives you more flexibility regarding where you camp.
2. It Is Ideal for Off-the-Grid Applications
Solar power is ideal for off-the-grid applications. Hydroelectric and wind power are equally renewable, but it is difficult to take a small wind turbine or water turbine with you. Conversely, solar panels can be affixed to the roof of your RV, and you are done. Unlike hydroelectric and wind power, you can find suitable sites for solar power anywhere. You can even sit in the shade of the solar panels you have strung up from a tree or tent poles.
You can also buy flexible solar panels. These can be rolled up for easy storage and taken with you. They are so light, they can be carried by hikers before being used to partially recharge electronics.
3. It Is Versatile
You can use solar energy to power lights and small electronics designed for 12-volt power directly. Run the solar power through an inverter, and you can deliver solar power to your AC devices. An inverter is essential to providing the necessary level of power quality so that you do not accidentally fry your laptop computer with a power surge. Unlike a little wind turbine standing up on a pole, the solar panels are likely to generate some spare energy that is stored in the batteries.
Better yet, many solar power kits come with the cables and connectors you need to set everything up, but they are designed with growth in mind. For example, many solar power starter kits come with two to four solar panels but have the connections and capacity to connect more solar panels.
4. It Is Low Maintenance
Solar panels have another point in their favor over both other types of renewable energy and standard fuel sources – it is low maintenance. Once you set up the solar panels, you do not have to do much. You may need to push off dirt, leaves and snow as the situation requires. However, this is much less work than the standard generator.
For example, gasoline generators need to have their fuel filters and air filters replaced periodically. You have to empty the tank before you store it for the winter or take other steps to winterize it. Then there is the constant need for fuel. Propane burning generators require some of the same regular maintenance, though finding and transporting propane tanks is a greater challenge. In the case of propane tanks, you have to take the empty tank back to get a full propane tank at a reasonable cost.
Suppose you want to use another renewable fuel source to keep warm in the winter – wood or charcoal. In the case of wood, you have either to arrange delivery or chop the wood yourself. That is physically demanding. In the case of charcoal, few of us have the knowledge to make it properly, and you still need a supply of wood to make it. Yet you could set up solar water heaters, solar panels and passive solar heating in your cabin. Now you are relatively warm and comfortable in the winter. Moreover, you do not have to go outside to pick out a few logs or cut up a tree to cook dinner tonight. Nor do you have to worry about the woodpile attracting insects.
5. It Is Safer
One of the biggest arguments in favor of solar power over the alternatives is safety. Once you have set up solar panels, there is no risk to you beyond the standard risk of electrical shorts causing a fire. You can minimize this risk with an invert with various built-in protective measures and learning the right way to wire things up in the first place.
Gasoline and propane generators bring the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because it is not burning the gas cleanly. The fumes are always going to pose a suffocation hazard if you do not have adequate ventilation. Gasoline fumes will often trigger asthma attacks and aggravate emphysema. Making matters worse, the smell of spilled fuel can make people ill, and spilled gasoline is toxic in its own right. Someone knocking over a gas can would get chemical burns if the gasoline remains on their skin very long.
Propane tanks will not leak liquid fuel on the ground that could catch fire. If they get too hot or are suddenly punctured, they will simply explode. Conversely, a stack of gas cans is a fire hazard, too. So, too, is a large woodpile and the roaring fire in the fireplace.
If you have children or loved ones with limited mobility, relying on solar power for your campsite or as a backup source of power is simply the safer choice.
A side benefit of solar power is that it is quiet. There are horror stories of people being robbed of their generators and fuel after a natural disaster. You can set up solar panels and run critical equipment, and you won’t attract the attention of would-be thieves. Nor will you disturb your neighbors or the wildlife around you if you’re camping.
Why should you use solar power? Environmental concerns are one reason out of many to consider going with solar power. This is true whether you need power for an off-the-grid location, backup power for emergencies or a way to power your life while on the go.