Over the past few years there has been a huge increase in the number of households in Australia that are connected to solar power. And the simple reasoning behind the widespread adoption of these panels is clear. They provide a relatively cheap, efficient and green way to harness something we have plenty of, sunlight, and convert it to useful power for use in our homes.
But what about our travelling homes?
The caravan and camping industry has always been adept at converting modern conveniences into adapted products that can be used on the road. And solar panels are no different.
The stumbling block for having mobile and easily transported solar panels was that they were inflexible sheets that were framed by glass. This made them bulky and difficult to pack and stow, which in turn made them highly impractical for use in caravans.
But then solar blankets came along. As the name implies, the solar cells are now placed on a flexible fabric, which can then be folded and rolled much like a sleeping bag when it is not in use.
The removal of glass means that they are also much more able to handle the everyday wear and tear of travelling, including light impacts or accidentally being stepped on, though we would still try and avoid that!
The fact these blankets are portable and flexible gives them a whole array of applications. For example, if you are parked for a short break, you can unroll your solar blanket on the windshield of your car to collect power while you relax.
Similarly, if you have an sun-exposed area away from your campsite, you can simply unroll your blanket there without the need to move your car or do any other time-consuming relocation.
There are some minor limitations to solar blankets when compared to their rigid cousins. Because they are less common, the price is higher than traditional solar units, although as with traditional solar, prices will fall over time as both supply and demand increase.
To get the best use out of your solar blanket, the peak UV times of the day will give you the most charge in the least amount of time. Generally speaking, between 11am and 3pm is the time when UV exposure is extreme.
Also, having your blanket pointed at a right angle to a direct line of sunlight will increase its efficiency. In simple terms, that means that when it’s midday and the sun is directly overhead, the blanket should be flat, and when the sun moves away, you should adjust it to make sure it is getting the most “direct” sunlight.
Solar panels are a great innovation for homes, and solar blankets mean that this efficiency, cost saving and green way of generating power can now come on the road as well.
Photo by: http://www.arb.com.au/