Solar energy alternative
Photo by mnwatsson

In today’s world, energy is king! Without the electrically powered machine to energise all our modern day appliances and gadgets, we feel the niggling tug, urging us to get reconnected and tap into our virtual realities, our convenient modes –before we start to feel our identities unravelling, this is the world we live in! One crutch thought, all the creature comforts tend to need to be connected to a power source of sorts, in order to operate.

So, what to do when you are ready for your next road trip, Camper or 4×4 style? You know all about the negative effects fossil fuels and carbon emissions have on our planet; and you are actively trying to make adjustments to your daily living to compensate for the decay of our environment… what to do?

Well, alternative energy sources are indeed the next step to fusing our modern day lifestyles with the proactive approach of saving our earth and going green for life. One phrase sums it all up: ‘solar power for Camper.’ Simple!

Solar energy - the Sun
Photo by Kendrick Shackleford

Fact: these days electric power grids are predominantly old, weak and falling behind demand daily. Random blackouts and unreliable electricity delivery is something us South Africans are well familiar with, so surely it’s time for the alternative energy sources to stand up and be counted.

My task today is to open up a school of thought directed at Camper users, avid travellers and highlight the sheer genius of solar power for Camper as an alternative energy source while on the road in your camper, quintessentially ensuring you “rough it in style.”

Let us start at the very beginning.

What is “solar energy”?

Solar energy, also referred to by many as “solar power,” is energy originating from the Sun. This occurs in two forms of radiation, namely: heat and light. These two forms of radiation occur as a result of the fusion of helium and hydrogen atoms from within the Sun.

With the aid of technology today, it is possible for us to capture this radiation and use it to create heat as well as electricity. These two forms of solar energy sources are harnessed by utilizing solar panels, each varying type of solar energy requires a specific type of solar panel.

One is called a “solar collector” which is used to capture the heat emitted from the radiation of the Sun; the panel ensures the heat is captured and then stored in a tank for distribution when needed.

The second type of panel is called a “photovoltaic panel”, or more commonly known as a “solar panel”. These types of panels collect the light radiation from the Sun and convert it into direct current electricity, which can then be converted to alternating current using an inverter.

Solar Panels
Photo by buildingresults

What is a solar panel?

A solar panel (aka a photovoltaic panel or photovoltaic module) is a device that converts photons of light (from the Sun) into an electric current.

Soalr Panel up close
Photo by Salohurk

How do solar panels work?

The process whereby solar panels convert photons of light into electrical current is known as the “photovoltaic effect”. Basically, the electrons in a solar panel become ‘excited’ when they come into contact with sunlight. These electrons are then directed into an electric current via a built-in electromagnetic field. This direct current electricity can then be used to power many electric loads. Also possible is the conversion of the direct current to an alternating current by means of inverting the current, thus making it possible to utilise the energy harnessed by the solar panels in your home, or in this case in your Camper.

Tent with Solar energy
Photo by Brad Cantelo

Solar Panels (photovoltaic panels) are a great way to power up your Camper, for a few reasons:

Campers equate to mobility.

It’s all about “taking your home and bringing it around with you.” The general consensus is that an Camper allows for the comforts of a home, whilst gallivanting the country side and experiencing new terrains. As we all know, these days it is kind of impossible to enjoy the benefits of modern technology without some source of power or energy. This is where the camper solar panels step in to save the day.

You might say, why bother with the hassle of solar energy sources when I can just as easily keep using my industrial batteries and charge them up at gas stations and applicable outlets? Well, the simple answer to that is: It is pretty wasteful and inefficient, not to mention defeating the purpose of going green.

With a set of Camper solar panels (photovoltaic panels) attached to the top of your Camper, you will be collecting and generating energy and electrical power everywhere you may roam. A camper user generally seeks the open road, and often the open road and the highway equates to zero shade and minimal obstructions – allowing for the sun to continually beat down on the roof of the exposed Camper. With all that sunlight belting its energy-powered rays onto your roof; it only makes sense to capitalise on the reservoir of energy supply, attach a few camper solar panels onto the roof! You’re already out there, you’re already receiving all this untapped energy – you might as well make the most of it and convert the endless supply into something useful.

Camper fitted with Solar panels
Photo by Richard Thuillier

Besides all the obvious advantages solar panels offer, the most practical reason why solar panel conversion is the obvious choice is because of its sheer convenience. There is a certain sense of ease knowing that as long as the sun is shining you’ll have all the electricity that you could need or want.

Now for the more complicated part: installing solar panels onto your camper.

Install Solar panel
Photo by Tara Wagner

Cons to Solar panels

Though there are so many advantages to solar energy as an energy source for your Camper, you will NOT be able to power your air conditioner, however, this is a minor set back, as the solar energy will definitely allow for you to make use of a fan or any other such electrical appliances.

Indeed, it is time for us all to begin the pursuit of utilising power from alternative energy sources. We have been making use of coal and fossil fuels for long enough now; to the detriment of the world we live in – as our current energy sources have only succeeded in doing significant, if not immense damage to the world environment as we know it.

The changing of our ways when it comes to energy use and consumption, the proactive approach to mending the damage already done can hopefully produce positive effects, such as healing of our environment, and perhaps the reversal of all the detrimental effects brought about by carbon and fossil fuel use will be reached in our lifetimes yet.

Solar panel at night
Photo by Kerry

Be the change! Keep discovering!

If you would like to have the freedom to explore the area you are visiting independently, you might want to look into car hire South Africa for the perfect set of wheels.