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Understanding the Different Types of Portable Solar Panels

Nowadays, there are many different types of 12v solar panels for camping available on the market. They range from the older style glass-fronted variety which have been available for nearly 10 years, to the newer solar blankets and solar mats that have been developed more recently. Over time, 12v solar panels have become lighter and more durable, whilst the efficiency of the solar cells has also improved.

The Evolution of Camping Solar Panels

Early Portable Solar Panels

The first models of portable solar panels for camping were ground-breaking in their time; but compared to products available nowadays, they were cumbersome and inefficient. These first-generation camping solar panels were glass fronted, which made them fragile, inflexible and heavy. The earliest solar panels were neither efficient nor practical for camping. They weighed upwards of 25kg, which meant they took up a lot of room in the cargo area of your 4x4 or camper trailer and were difficult to load or unload. What’s more, any minor impact when loading could result in a broken cell. When one cell was broken the entire panel became virtually useless, and little or no power was generated.

The Camping Solar Blanket With Folding Panels

The second generation of 12V portable solar panels was known as the solar blanket. This was the first product of its type with foldable panels and represented a significant leap forward from its heavy, rigid predecessors. At one-third of the weight of the first portable solar panels, these folding blankets were more portable and impact resistant. Due to its smaller size it was also much more convenient to take on long trips where storage space is at a premium. However, while it was superior in every way to earlier models, it was by no means perfect. The epoxy-covered solar cells were still inflexible, and if bent were liable to crack. In addition, covering up one part of the panel would result in the whole blanket’s power output dropping to near zero.

The Latest Camping Solar Panels

Ultralight Folding Solar Mats

Ultralight folding solar mats are the latest in portable solar panel technology. First introduced to the Australian market in 2017, they were a substantial improvement on solar blankets and light years ahead of the earliest portable solar panels for camping. Improvements to engineering and manufacturing meant that the solar mat’s cells could be made significantly thinner and lighter compared to older 12v solar panels, resulting in almost a 50% reduction in the weight of the unit. A reduction in the number of folds meant increased durability under frequent heavy usage, and a shadow or damage to a single cell no longer caused total panel failure, which was an issue with camping solar blankets. However, when solar mats were first introduced, exposure to extreme temperatures (for example placement directly on top of a metal surface) sometimes caused buckling. This meant that early solar mat owners had to be careful about where they placed their mats when setting them up.

Hard Korr’s Next-Generation Folding Solar Mats with Crocskin

Now in 2018, Hard Korr has written the next chapter in the history of camping solar panels. We’ve taken all the benefits of ultralight solar mats, added in a custom stiffened baseboard and our exclusive Crocskin cell armour, to create a truly practical, hardwearing and efficient solar product. Just like we did with LED camp lighting and automotive lighting, our latest range of Crocskin folding solar mats incorporate new innovations that make them more reliable, durable, useful and cost-effective than all other camping solar panels on the market today.

Our exclusive Crocskin solar cell armour takes impact, scratch and UV protection to the next level, and our proprietary backing material is both lightweight and extremely strong. Together, they allow our Crocskin solar mats to withstand even the most extreme temperatures. This means they will survive even the toughest Outback travel much better than all other camping solar panels. In fact, our Crocskin coating showed no signs of deterioration even after an accelerated weathering test that simulated 30 years’ sun exposure.

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