Do you have a portable solar panel? Imagine this... You have planned meticulously for your hiking trip, all the way down to your satellite phone for emergency use. You have just finished hiking all day through the beautiful Peruvian Mountains and are ready to rest and call home. You reach into your pack for the satellite phone and realize that it was accidentally left out of its protective holster and has been jostling around in your backpack all day. Some how its power button was pressed and now the battery is dead. You are two full hiking days from your first check point with electricity. Is it time to panic?

No, because you also planned for this contingency. You have a portable solar panel. All you have to do is plug your satellite phone in and start charging! Now throughout your hike, every step can be made with confidence. You have all the portable power you need to recharge your satellite phone and other electronics. All you have to do is strap your portable solar panel to your backpack. You can charge your phone using the power of the sun.

Portable Solar Panels available from Outfitter Satellite

Outfitter Satellite offers several portable solar panels that are ideal for hikers and hunters. Lightweight compact fold-up solar panels are available in sizes up to 26 watts. Each 26-Watt panel weighs 1.7 lb. Three 26-Watt panels can be "stacked" to produce up to 78 watts in full sunlight. This type of solar panel solution has the draw back that you must be in camp to collect solar energy. Now, smaller panels with built-in battery packs have been designed to strap directly to your backpack or trail bike so you can collect solar energy all day long -- even while you are going down the trail.

Our 4-Watt compact portable solar panel is the smallest backpack-mountable solar panel that we offer. It weighs only 1.45 lbs and includes a 15-Watt-Hour Li-Polymer battery pack. Most small USB-rechargeable electronics are compatible, including the following phones:

  • Iridium 9575 EXTREME satellite phone
  • Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 satellite phone
  • Thuraya XT
  • Thuraya SatSleeve
  • iPhone and Android smartphones
The solar panel is built into a thin-line soft case that can be used to carry any one of the above named satellite phones or other small electronics. Since the interior of the soft case can become hot when it is in direct sunlight, we recommend that the zipper to the internal pouch of the soft case be left partially open to allow air flow. This prevents excessive heat exposure to the battery pack or other electronics stowed inside.

Outfitter Satellite offers a larger 10-Watt compact portable solar panel which is designed to attach onto technical backpacks or tents. This solar panel system incorporates an ample 72-Watt-Hour battery pack. It takes roughly 15 hours of full sunlight to completely charge the battery pack. In addition to a USB output port, this battery pack has a 12 volt 4 Amp (max) output port that can be used with various adapter cables (see below). A cigarette lighter output cable is included for use with devices that use auto-accessory chargers. The battery pack can recharge most Iridium, Inmarsat or Thuraya handheld satellite phones three to four times before needing to be recharged itself.

Avoiding Brownouts while using Portable Solar Panels

Most electronics are designed to use a steady flow of electricity at a well regulated voltage. When you are using solar panels, clouds or shadows passing over the solar panel can cause significant changes in the output power. This is called a brownout. If your electronic device is not designed to withstand voltage fluctuations, brownouts can potentially cause damage. For this reason, Outfitter Satellite recommends you avoid charging your electronics directly from a solar panel. Instead, use the solar panel to trickle charge a battery pack, like the ones integrated into the 4-Watt and 10-Watt compact portable solar panels kits discussed in this article. The power supplied by the battery pack is safe for your electronics.