What is a Foldable Solar Panel and Why Should I Care?

Foldable solar panels may be the next sustainable step of freedom for remote workers, backpackers, and #Vanlife.

Foldable solar panel propped on the grass, beside a van and water view.

We all know that solar panels are better for the environment, but to many, they are completely inaccessible. Solar panels are massive boxes atop equally massive houses. However, companies like Jackery and Renogy are condensing the solar panels, making them more portable and appealing to those who don’t want to fully commit their house to solar energy.

The panels still convert the sun’s rays and produce electricity, but they are smaller and more affordable. They come in many sizes – campers may mount a larger one to their van and backpackers attach a smaller panel to their bags. They are flat and can be purchased in small sizes, so users can reap the benefits of portable and renewable energy, while keeping the option of going home to traditional electricity.

In this blog post, we’ll be going over:

  • Benefits of foldable solar panels
  • Solar energy as a renewable, eco-friendly resource
  • Target audiences of foldable solar panels and how each group may find different uses

Without further ado, let’s jump into it!

What are the benefits of foldable solar panels?

There are no maintenance or installation costs

Foldable solar panels are simply a matter of setting them up and positioning them towards the sun. Because they are not directly connected to a house, they do not require professional installation and can be cleaned yourself.

They are completely waterproof

Portable solar panels are durable and can withstand the elements like any other solar panel.

Less expensive and less commitment

The cost of one or two foldable solar panels is a fraction of wiring up an entire house. While portable panels do not generate as much power, there is no long-term commitment to solar energy, in case problems arise.

Portable and outdoor friendly

Panels can be stowed away in a vehicle or basement and removed for use anywhere, anytime (except when the sun is down, of course). As already mentioned, foldable panels are no less durable than their roof-mounted counterparts.

Eco-friendly energy source

Unlike gasoline, sunlight is a renewable energy source that doesn’t damage our planet. It requires no fossil fuels, and purchasing solar panels of any kind encourages the production and sales of even more solar panels.

Free power

After the initial purchase, no additional money needs to be spent on energy. In case of emergency, financial or environmental, the sun will serve as a free resource for you.

Man installing solar panels outside
Solar energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate oncoming side effects of climate change.

Solar’s Contributions to Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has turned into a buzz-word recently. The media constantly tells us it’s good for the environment, but it doesn’t feel grounded in reality. This is because energy is not something we physically see. But that is no excuse to deny the science. Renewable energy is power from resources that naturally replenish. This means that they (arguably) will never run out. Common examples are water, wind, and the man of the hour, solar.

We need renewable energy because our typical sources of energy are being depleted. Coal, oil, and natural gas are being overmined. Nonrenewable energy depletes our natural resources and contributes to the abnormal warming of Earth that will lead to the inability for humans, plants, and animals to survive.

Solar energy only accounts for 3.7% of all global electricity in 2021, and renewable energy only makes up 28%. By switching to renewable energy, such as solar power, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, and the planet has a bit longer for us to live.

It’s not easy to feel a responsibility to commit to sustainability when a handful of companies (and people) contribute the most to pollution, but it is everyone’s duty to contribute what they can. This is why even if fully switching to solar panels for your home is daunting, foldable solar panels may be a good compromise.

Who can use portable solar panels?

The short answer is anyone! There are no restrictions on who can purchase and use solar energy.
The extended answer is that foldable solar panels are targeted towards the outdoorsy type who wants to stay connected while off the grid. But, with remote work and #Vanlife on the rise, more people than ever are interested in working outside or not in a standard office.

Backpacker admiring a Mountain View
Hikers can use miniature foldable solar panels to stay connected and charged during their trips in the open wilderness.

Backpackers and Hikers

Foldable solar panels are often used by hikers on long expeditions. In the past, backpackers have used power banks to keep their GPS trackers and electronic devices charged. However, once drained, you’re out of luck. This is why solar energy has become popular for extended excursions: as long as there’s sun, there’s power.

Many foldable solar panels have kickstands to point directly at the sun to maximize the energy converted. Otherwise, it can attach to a backpack and allow hikers to charge their phones and cameras while trekking the terrain. The smallest panels are under one pound, adding minimal extra weight to an already stuffed backpack.

Ted Weirum is an adventurer who posts YouTube videos about his travels and backpacking gear. In this review, he explains his uses for the portable XSTORM SOLARBOOSTER 21 WATTS PANEL.

Woman with laptop in a park.
Working outdoors has many benefits and with portable solar panels, working from home doesn’t have to be strictly at home!

Remote Workers

While the extreme outdoorsy types have used foldable solar panels for charging power banks and GPS devices, those with corporate jobs can utilize the panels to work from home, or from mother nature herself.

The amount of people working primarily remotely has tripled since 2019, with about 27.6 million people no longer going into the office regularly for their desk jobs. 72% of workers prefer a hybrid system that doesn’t require transportation to their cubicles everyday.

Some of the main reasons employees prefer working from home or a hybrid in-person/WFH is the ability to be with their pets, exercise during the day, and avoid extensive daily commutes. All this to say, people work from home because they want more freedom in their day-to-day schedules.

There are numerous benefits to switching up your routine and enjoying time outdoors. Working outside has proven benefits such as lowering symptoms of depression and increasing your ability to recover from stress. Being in the great outdoors releases stress, lowers muscle tension, and reduces heart rate.

Foldable solar panels let remote workers reap the benefits of nature while completing their tasks without fear of running out of batteries or losing precious internet access.

Woman reading a book in a converted van with a full-sized bed and forest view.
#Vanlife does not necessarily mean sleeping on a dingy mattress in the backseat of your vehicle. Many nomads convert their vans to makeshift houses to travel the world with the conveniences of stationary homes.

There are many reasons these Vandwellers decide to give up a stationary home and live a nomadic life in a moving vehicle. Less possessions often mean less stress, buying a van is much cheaper than buying a house, and freedom to control how much and where you work.

For those living a #Vanlife, finding electricity is a major challenge. Foldable solar panels, and solar panels in general, have become a common power source for those living in vehicles. Not only are they a renewable energy source, they are portable (an essential for this life), and provide heat for the coldest of nights.

Foldable solar panels are an excellent choice for those who do not want to mount panels onto their vehicle's roof. The panels can be stored away and brought out on a sunny day for charging batteries.

Doomsday Preppers

I’ll admit, this example is a very specific group of people: but doomsday preppers deserve renewable energy too. Apocalypse preppers aim to build bunkers that can withstand the elements (of nuclear fallout, zombies, extreme weather, etc.). In the event of such a large-scale disaster, resources like coal and gasoline will be scarce at best, and completely unavailable at worst.

Foldable solar panels are an efficient use of one resource that isn’t disappearing anywhere soon: the sun. Having a stash of foldable solar panels in your bunker is a convenient way to prepare for the future without investing in an entire bunker/box solar panel system. You can have heat and power in your bunker without an expensive generator which is incredibly difficult to obtain. This can also be useful in rural areas where power is not guaranteed and propping up a foldable solar panel is a good short term solution while waiting for electricity to be restored.

Doomsday preppers and anyone interested in off-grid living are another example of how foldable solar panels allow more freedom. You can keep connected and safe anywhere you go thanks to eco-friendly solar power.

That’s it for our beginner’s guide to Foldable Solar Panels!

A foldable solar panel is not a cheap investment. However, the freedom it offers and the individuality it fosters make it an ideal way to work remotely, as well as conserve energy. Think about whether a foldable solar panel is right for you.

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