Get­ting a lit­tle Vi­ta­min D in your tour­ing set up

Outer Edge - - Contents -

So­lar pan­els con­tinue to be one of the most pop­u­lar ad­di­tions to our tour­ing ve­hi­cles.

The tech­nol­ogy has changed sig­nif­i­cantly in the last decade where ef­fi­ciency in­creases have meant we can carry more power in a smaller pack­age mak­ing por­ta­ble or ve­hi­cle mounted sys­tems pro­duce more use­able en­ergy, and all at a cost that is so af­ford­able that tak­ing a so­lar panel is more prac­ti­cal for a long week­end away than adding an­other aux­il­iary bat­tery.

The amount of gad­gets that come along for the ride is grow­ing also, mean­ing keep­ing charge up to that bat­tery is be­com­ing more im­por­tant to make the trip com­fort­able. So what makes a good panel for your ap­pli­ca­tion, and what size should you con­sider?

A few ques­tions you need to ask your­self first:

• What elec­tri­cal equip­ment will you bring?

• How of­ten will you use the panel?

• What con­di­tions would you use it un­der?

• How big is the im­pact to you, if it fails when you need it the most?

The most crit­i­cal ques­tion you need to con­sider is the elec­tri­cal equip­ment you will bring with you as that has the big­gest im­pact on size and type of panel. For ex­am­ple, if you’re just bring­ing a 12v fridge, a cou­ple of LED lights, your phone and lap­top then a smaller sized por­ta­ble so­lar panel may be all you re­quire.

But if you’re brin­ing more power in­ten­sive ap­pli­ances, you may need to con­sider a big­ger panel, such as a 150 watt panel that can be mounted per­ma­nently on the top of a camper trailer. You’ll need to fig­ure this out first, then se­lect the right bat­tery and from there you can choose the cor­rect so­lar panel to match your needs.

Next ask your­self how of­ten you will use the panel. This could be ev­ery day, ev­ery week­end, or maybe even once a year. Ul­ti­mately this de­ter­mines the bud­get. If you are go­ing to be a heavy user and trav­el­ling a fair bit, you may want to in­vest in both a per­ma­nent and por­ta­ble so­lar so­lu­tion. If you’re a mod­er­ate user, then you might want to just get one or the other, and if you’re an in­fre­quent user, then per­haps a por­ta­ble so­lu­tion is all that you need.

Are you go­ing to be do­ing some hard-core off road­ing, go­ing beach fish­ing or trekking to na­tional park tracks? Ask­ing your­self this will de­ter­mine the type you get. You may re­quire a bit more flex­i­bil­ity, so hav­ing a fixed panel isn’t go­ing to help you very much. And then if you’re on a boat, a por­ta­ble panel is prob­a­bly go­ing to be im­prac­ti­cal with the sway and tides, so a so­lar blan­ket is likely bet­ter here.

Fi­nally, you need to ask your­self what are the im­pli­ca­tions for you if you don’t have ad­e­quate or proper charge go­ing into your bat­ter­ies? It’s easy enough to go for the cheaper im­ports, but is that a risk you re­ally want to take if you’re out in a re­mote lo­ca­tion? If it’s some­thing you rely on (not spend­ing half the trip stuff­ing around try­ing to get it work­ing prop­erly), some­thing you will use for many years, and some­thing that adds to your camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, then it’s worth buy­ing qual­ity.

REDARC have a new so­lar blan­ket range which al­lows for op­ti­mal charg­ing of 12v bat­ter­ies. It in­cludes a flex­i­ble 112 watt red So­lar Blan­ket Amor­phous Cell and three black So­lar Blan­ket Sun­power® Cells in 115, 150 and 190 watt power rat­ings.

What makes th­ese blan­kets dif­fer­ent is their qual­ity cells in an ex­tremely light weight pack­age. The blan­kets are highly flex­i­ble, so it’s easy enough to set them up on your boat, lay it on the grass, or hang it on top of your 4x4 and start charg­ing your bat­ter­ies straight away.

REDARC’S pre­mium blan­ket, the So­lar Blan­ket Amor­phous Cell is able to take bet­ter ad­van­tage of vary­ing light in­ten­sity with Uni-so­lar triple junc­tion cells. Th­ese cells fea­ture three sep­a­rate red, blue and green con­cen­trated cell lay­ers that ab­sorb a wider band of the vis­i­ble light spec­trum. This means that they are highly ef­fi­cient and per­form bet­ter un­der dif­fer­ent light con­di­tions com­pared to crys­talline so­lar pan­els. Crys­talline so­lar pan­els by their na­ture grad­u­ally loose a small amount of out­put as the tem­per­a­ture of the panel rises up­wards of 25°C. Amor­phous so­lar pan­els do not suf­fer this at all un­til re­ally ex­treme weather con­di­tions.

REDARC Sun­power so­lar blan­kets are even more ef­fi­cient be­cause they cap­ture more sun­light than con­ven­tional crys­talline cells due to the grid-line elec­tri­cal con­tacts be­ing on the rear of the cell, and in­cor­po­rate a solid cop­per back­ing for high strength which re­duces cell break­ages. In ad­di­tion, Sun­power cells do not suf­fer from par­tial shad­ing (for ex­am­ple if a leaf falls on the panel) com­pared to con­ven­tional pan­els where they will lose per­for­mance or in some cases stop work­ing all to­gether.

Hav­ing a matt, non-re­flec­tive sur­face, the range of blan­kets by REDARC are able to make the most of the light even at in­creased an­gles from the sun. Com­pared to so­lar pan­els, they do not have to be per­pen­dic­u­lar to the sun as much as pos­si­ble to achieve the best per­for­mance. Both the REDARC Amor­phous so­lar blan­ket and the new line-up of Sun­power cell blan­kets have ETFE flu­oro plas­tic lam­i­nate coat­ing which pro­vides high trans­mis­sion of sun­light with­out re­flec­tion. The coat­ing is also an­tire­flec­tive, scratch re­sis­tant and has non-stick, self­clean­ing prop­er­ties.

To give you an idea on how many ex­tra days of free camp­ing you can get, con­sider that all you would be pow­er­ing is a 12v fridge and an LED light us­ing a 120ah deep cy­cle bat­tery. Both the 112 Amor­phous and the 115 Sun­power watt blan­ket can give you two ex­tra days of free camp­ing. The 150 Sun­power watt gives you 5 days, and the 190 watt gives you un­lim­ited free days camp­ing. That’s pretty good if all you wanted to do was ex­tend your stay.

REDARC en­sures that trav­ellers get the most out of their bat­ter­ies while driv­ing by charg­ing an aux­il­iary bat­tery to a proven 100% while on the move with their BCDC In-ve­hi­cle bat­tery Charg­ers or The Man­ager range, Bat­tery Man­age­ment Sys­tems. The Man­ager range takes this to the next level by in­clud­ing Green Power Pri­or­ity where so­lar power is used first to charge an aux­il­iary bat­tery be­fore top­ping up charge from an­other source, The Man­ager range also ac­cepts power from 240 volt mains power and has a re­mote bat­tery mon­i­tor pro­vid­ing bat­tery charge in­for­ma­tion.

The range is tough, durable and made of high qual­ity so­lar cells so you can trek, boat, or pad­dle for years and years to come. At the end of the day, look to the brands you know and trust for other qual­ity prod­ucts on your rig and you are al­ready headed in the right di­rec­tion

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