There are so many ways to enjoy the great outdoors in . However, and spending time with family and friends, or even just relaxing outside in the winter can be tough without a good . In the last few years, lithium battery technology has come a long way, making it easier, safer, and quieter to charge energy intensive devices like portable space heaters.
A is one of the safest and most eco-friendly ways to stay warm during a winter trip. Campers can avoid using a loud, toxic diesel generator and to warm their , or a dangerous outside the .
is also a great backup resource for your home during an unexpected and can provide a for the entire home, even powering large appliances like a refrigerator, microwave or television.
Since they first came out on the market a few years ago, the technology behind these generators has improved significantly, prices have gone down, and their charging capacity has gone up.
What is a Solar Heater?
A camping heater is a small electric space heater that is powered by solar energy. The system requires 3 components to generate heat – an electric space heater, a portable battery and a portable solar panel.
Why Switch to Solar?
Traditionally when camping in the winter, people use propane powered tent heaters. As you can imagine, these types of heaters can be dangerous in the small, confined space of a tent. Fossil fuel propane used to power space heaters releases carbon monoxide, which is toxic and eventually fatal to animals and humans.
The great thing about a solar camping heater system is that it doesn’t require diesel, gas or propane to operate, which makes solar power safe, non toxic and efficient. Once exposed to direct sunshine, solar devices get their energy from the sun itself!
In this post, we’ll outline some of our top picks for solar camping gear that will help you enjoy nature no matter what season it is.
How Does it Work?
A solar powered heater just means that your electric space heater in the tent is connected to a portable battery that is charged by sunlight. The battery can recharge even if the sun is not out – the solar rays can penetrate cloud cover. If there isn’t enough sun, the power supply can be recharged using or a 12V car port or an electrical wall outlet.
This type of heat output does not require gas or propane to operate, making it much safer. These heaters also include safety features that will automatically turn the device off after a preset amount of time, or if the heater is knocked over.
A solar powered heater can warm your tent just as effectively as gas or propane if you follow these guidelines.
- Choose a solar power station with a battery capacity that is at least twice the wattage of the space heater you have chosen. This prevents damage to you and your solar generator. For instance, if your power station’s battery capacity is 1000 watt hours, the maximum wattage of your space heater should be 400 watts or less.
- Make sure that your tent capacity is not too large for your electric heater. For example, a 200 watt heater should be used with a 2 to 4 person tent.
- Maximize insulation to retain as much warmth as possible when you turn the heater on. For example, use a rainfly or storm flaps. However, make sure there are 1-2 ventilation points on the tent so you maintain healthy airflow.
- Make sure your battery is fully charged by sundown. If you have not reached 100% charge using solar alone, use a car or other power source if possible
- Do not expose your batter to freezing temperatures. Batteries tend to malfunction in extreme weather, including sub-zero temperatures.
Our Top Picks for Low Wattage Electric Heaters
We recommend buying low wattage, inexpensive space heaters. Since you’re warming the relatively small area of your tent, you don’t need a large heat source. In addition, you want to keep your wattage as low as possible so you don’t deplete your solar battery too quickly.
- A 200 watt space heater is sufficient to warm a 2 to 4 person tent.
- A fully charged 1000 watt to 1500 watt solar power station should run the heater for 5 to 7 hours, depending on your use.
Lasko Model 100 MyHeat Personal Space Heater
Honeywell Heatbud Ceramic Personal Heater
Vornado Velocity Space Heater
Our Top Picks for Solar Power Stations
Fastest Recharge Time: EcoFlow Power Station
EcoFlow DELTA Portable Power Station
EcoFlow 160W Solar Panel
- Battery Capacity: 1,260 watt hours
- Continuous Output: 1,800 watts
- Surge Protection: 3,300 watts
- Number of hours to power a 200 watt space heater: ~6 hours
- Charges a 200W – 300W space heater for 12 – 14 hours, providing plenty of heat to warm your tent throughout the night
- Approx. 7 hours to fully recharge the power station using solar – faster than the Goal Zero Yeti 1500x and Jackery 1000
- Powers household appliances like a blender, portable refrigerator, toaster, and tea kettle, among others
- Charges up to 13 devices at one time
- Battery storage capacity of 1,250 watt hours
- Heavy at 30 pounds
- Solar panel must be purchased separately from power station
The EcoFlow DELTA is a must-have for the tech-savvy camper. The battery generator has three different charging options available. It takes roughly 1.5 hours to charge a device using a conventional AC wall socket, about 7 hours with full sun to charge a device using 400 W solar panels, and about 11 hours with a vehicle. The EcoFlow DELTA is solar chargeable when combined with 160W Solar Panels, so you can take it with you on the go and never have to worry about running out of juice.
What is really exceptional about the EcoFlow Delta is how fast it charges any device. Apart from your tent heater, plug your laptop or phone in and see it go from 0 to 80% charged in less than one hour. This is an estimated 10 times faster than comparable portable power stations, making it perfect for a quick boost of power during a busy day outdoors. Another bonus feature is that you can simultaneously power devices while you’re charging the EcoFlow Delta, so you never have downtime.
What is the EcoFlow Delta best for?
Off-grid winter car camping for extended periods of time. Basecamps or medical outposts that need consistent warmth and power. Plus, with the ability to simultaneously charge up to 13 devices, the DELTA is perfect for people with a large number of devices.
What is the EcoFlow Delta NOT good for?
Backpacking, trekking or mountaineering because it’s heavy at more than 30 pounds. Unless you have an efficient way to transport this around, this will not be easy to haul across long distances or up steep inclines.
Most Versatile: Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Solar Kit
Yeti 1500X Solar Kit
- Battery Capacity: 1,516 watt hours
- Continuous Output: 2,000 watts
- Surge Protection: 3,500 watts
- Number of hours to power a 200 watt space heater: ~7.5 hours
- Longer continuous output
- Integrated surge protector
- Solar panel is included
- ~36 hours to fully recharge using solar
- Heavy at 45 pounds
The versatility of the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X is shown by the fact that it can run everything from your tent space heater to energy hungry appliances like a CPAP machine.
Another great feature of the Yeti 1500X is the integrated 3,500 watt surge inverter. This is significantly more powerful than the EcoFlow DELTA or the Jackery 1000, and protects your devices if there is an unexpected surge.
What is the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X best for?
While not quite as energy efficient as the EcoFlow DELTA, the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Solar Kit is a solid choice for campers who need to power while off the grid and home owners who need an emergency power backup.
What is the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X NOT good for?
However, the downside of the Yeti is the significant amount of time it takes to charge the battery using solar. The battery could take almost 2 days to fully recharge using solar alone.
Most Lightweight: Jackery Solar Generator 1000
- Battery Capacity: 1,002 watt hours
- Continuous Output: 2,000 watts
- Surge Protection: 2,000 watts
- Number of hours to power a 200 watt space heater: ~5 hours
- One of the most lightweight power stations at 22 pounds
- Claims to be “near silent” when in operation
- Solar panel is included
- Small battery capacity
- 6.5 hours to fully recharge the power station using solar
With a maximum capacity of 1,002 watt-hours and a weight of 22 pounds, the Jackery Explorer 1000 is tailored for lightweight camping trips when you need to stay agile and warm with your low wattage tent space heater.
The Explorer 1000 is equipped with three conventional AC outlets, two USB-C connections, a 12-volt car outlet, and two USB-A ports. The Jackery can process solar input of up to 30V or 163W. Because solar panels produce around 18V, you cannot connect more than one 18V panel at a time. You also can’t operate more than two 100W panels since it will use more than 163W.
What is the Jackery 1000 best for?
Backpacking, trekking or mountaineering trips where you need to keep the gear as light as possible. The Jackery will still be heavy compared to ultralight gear, but it is considerably lighter than the EcoFlow Delta or Yeti 1500.
What is the Jackery 1000 NOT good for?
You cannot run higher-wattage appliances on the Explorer 1000 as you can with the Ecoflow Delta and Yeti 1500X. It will charge your phone, power your space heater and small refrigerator. However, it is not a good solution for those looking for a home backup solution.
Safety Tips for Using a Solar Camping Heater
If you’re planning on using solar camping gear, make sure to use them safely. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Put a safe barrier between the heater and anything that can catch fire, like wood or paper.
- Make sure that the area around the heater is free of anything that could catch fire.
- Make sure your tent has enough airflow when you use the heater. You should open a window or door and let fresh air into the tent so that condensation from your body does not accumulate inside the tent.
- Don’t leave the heater on while you’re sleeping or when you’re not in the tent.
- Make sure the cord is not close to anyone or anything that is flammable.
- Make sure that the temperature outside is above freezing before using your battery station and heater. Batteries are more likely to be damaged and malfunction in freezing temperatures.
Understanding Solar Power Technology
What is battery storage capacity?
Battery storage capacity is the total amount of electricity that can be generated and stored within a battery. Batteries with larger capacity are often measured in Watt Hours (Wh). This is one of the most important features of a battery system, as this rating tells you the maximum amount of power your battery can supply.
What are watt hours?
A Watt hour (Wh) is a unit of measurement of power or capacity over an hour. One Watt Hour (1Wh) is equal to one Watt of power over one hour. Ten Watt Hours (10Wh) of power is equal to ten Watt for ten hours. For example, a 1000 Watt light bulb on a 1000 Watt Hour (1000Wh) battery would last for 1,000 hours.
What is battery power output?
Power output is the maximum number of watts an inverter can output continuously or at start-up (called a surge). When choosing a battery system, make sure it can handle both surge and continuous power. Your output wattage shouldn’t exceed the inverter’s continuous wattage rating.
What is solar panel output?
All panels are rated by the DC power they produce under standard sun conditions. Output is measured in watts (W) and determines how much electricity the panel can produce. This feature tells you how long it will take to charge your battery using sunlight alone. The higher the wattage, the faster your battery will recharge.
If you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors this winter, investing in a quality solar camping heater can be one of the best ways to stay warm and safe outside. While there are many high-quality options on the market, finding the best affordable model can be a challenge. That’s why we put together this list of affordable gear that will get the job done safely and efficiently. There are many great options to choose from, so make sure to keep reading to find the best one for you.