There are many times when it can be useful to be able to carry along your own power supply, and having one that is truly portable is indispensable. Portable power sources in the form of batteries are great for camping, using in your RV and more, but unfortunately the batteries don’t last long before they run down. A solar panel that could be carried along and used to charge a battery seemed a good way to maintain portable power, and the Sunforce 50033 15-watt solar charging kit fit the bill well enough.
Supplied in the kit is a solar panel, a charging controller and a wiring kit. The kit was somewhat basic and some work was needed to make the wiring safe and easy to use. Though a quick enough task, it was somewhat annoying that the kit could not be put into use right away, and instead needed the preparation.
Initially the solar panel was tested when camping, using it only to recharge a number of batteries that ran the radio, and the lights in the largest tent. Once the battery was completely charged the panel was unable to completely recharge it, partly because the following day was a little more cloudy. However it did partially charge the battery.
Ultimately it was realized that moving the kit all of the time is somewhat of a hassle. Despite how easy to use it is, its size means that it it better suited to larger spaces, and that doesn’t really go along well with a tent. The lack of security involved in just leaving it outside of a tent was worrying too, as it was too expensive an item to leave unattended.
Fitting the solar panel to the outside of the RV gave us far more peace of mind and meant it could charge throughout the day. The design appears sturdy, and stands up well to the less favorable weather.
The leak back protection seems very effective in preventing the power from leaving the battery once the sun goes down and the charging stops. The LED charging light lets you see when the battery is charging and also when charging stops, so that you can reduce your power usage if necessary.
The power output is relatively small, but this isn’t too surprising from so small a panel. It was enough to top up the charge on the battery through the day so that we could run a light off it at night and it recharged it the following day when the power was not in use. It would be lacking for heavier use, but few people go camping or away in an RV in order to watch TV and live as though they were at home.
Compared to the majority of solar panel kits this one is very inexpensive. For the price it is excellent value for money, and with the savings in power costs it should pay for itself eventually if it is used frequently enough. In the meantime it brings added convenience to trips away.