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How to Build a Solar Camping Heater: A Safe and Eco-Friendly Way to Stay Warm Outdoors [Eco Friendly Gear]

A solar camping heater system is a safe, eco-friendly way to stay warm while camping in cold weather. Since they first came out on the market, the lithium battery technology behind solar power generators has improved significantly, prices have gone down, and their charging capacity has gone up.

Lithium battery technology now makes it easier, safer, and quieter to charge devices like electric space heaters using solar powered batteries. This new technology allows campers to avoid using dangerous heat sources like diesel generators, gas heaters or fire pits.

Solar power stations are also a great backup resource for your home during an unexpected power outage and can provide a power source for the entire home, even powering large appliances like a refrigerator, microwave or television.

Why Switch to Solar Power?

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.

What is a Solar Camping Heater System?

Yeti 1500 Solar Camping Heater Power Station

A solar camping heater system is simply 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 power station and solar panels.

How does a solar camping heater system work?

A solar powered heater just means that your electric space heater in the tent is connected to a portable battery that can be charged by sunlight. The battery can recharge even if the sun is not out – the solar rays can penetrate cloud cover. Solar power stations can also be charged by other energy sources like 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. 
  • We recommend using small, energy efficient space heaters that require between 200 – 375 watts of energy.
  • Make sure your power station 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.
  • You will not be able to run your heater constantly throughout the day and night.  Assuming that you are able to recharge your solar power station during the day so that it’s a full capacity, you’ll be able to run your heater for 4 – 8 hours at night, depending on the wattage. 
  • You should only run the electric space heater when you’re awake, and never at night while asleep.
  • 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 tent 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.
  • Use alternative ways to keep warm so that you can retain warmth even after the heater is turned off.
  • For example, use insulated blankets and jackets, make sure you have a winter sleeping bag, wear thermal underwear, place heat generating packs inside your sleeping bag and clothing.
  • Do not expose your power station to freezing temperatures. Batteries tend to malfunction in extreme weather, including sub-zero temperatures.

Our Top Picks for Solar Camping Heater Systems 

Here are our recommendations are for solar camping heater systems that pair a low wattage space heater with a solar portable power station.

A small space heater works well since you’re warming the relatively small area of your tent, and 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 200-250 watt space heater is sufficient to warm a 2 to 4 person tent.
  • A fully charged 1000 to 1500 watt solar power station should run the heater for 5 to 8 hours, depending on your use.

EcoFlow Portable Power Station:
Fastest Recharge Time

Honeywell HeatBud Personal Heater:
250-Watt Usage

EcoFlow Portable Battery Solar Camping Heater

Honeywell Heatbud Heater

Features:

  • 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

Pros:

  • Approx. 7 hours to fully recharge the power station using solar – faster than the Goal Zero Yeti 1500x and Jackery 1000
  • Powers other camping appliances like a portable refrigerator, coffee maker and tea kettle, among others
  • Charges up to 13 devices at one time

Cons:

  • The Delta EcoFlow is heavy at 30 pounds
  • The Delta solar panel must be purchased separately from power station

Who is the EcoFlow Delta + Honeywell Heat Bud 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.

Who is the EcoFlow Delta + Honeywell Heat Bud 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.

About the EcoFlow Delta Portable Power Station

The EcoFlow DELTA is designed for the tech-savvy camper that wants the ability to access power quickly. What is 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. 

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.

The EcoFlow Delta solar panels must be purchased separately here.

About the Honeywell Heat Bud

The Honeywell Heat Bud Portable Heater is an energy efficient heat solution for your camp shelter. This lightweight, 250-watt heater is optimised for small personal spaces like a tent. It weighs less than 2 pounds and can be used on 2 heat settings. An overheat security protection is included to keep you safe while you are camping.

Similar to the Lasko, the HeatBud can be turned on inside the tent to run and accumulate warmth inside the tent.

  • A 1500 watt solar power station can power the HoneyWell HeatBud for about 6 hours if running continuously.

Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Solar Kit:
Most Versatile / Powers Variety of Devices

Vornado Velocity:
375-Watt Space Heater

Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station

Vornado Velocity Space Heaters

Features:

  • 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

Pros:

  • Longer continuous output
  • Integrated surge protector
  • Solar panel is included

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • ~36 hours to fully recharge using solar
  • Heavy at 45 pounds

Who is the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X + Vornado Velocity 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.

Who is the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X + Vornado Velocity 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.

About the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station

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.

About the Vornado Velocity Personal Space Heater

The Vornado Velocity is a more powerful heating device for your camping adventure. It utilizes 375 watts of energy output, but can deliver heat more powerfully and across a wider space.

The Vornado Velocity also has great safety features like auto-shut off when the heater is tipped over, a 4 hour timer and cool-touch surface to prevent burns.

  • The 375 watt Vornado Velacity will run for about 4 hours on a 1,500 watt power station. 

You won’t be able to run the Vornado Velocity for as long with your solar power station. However, you’ll be able to generate more powerful amounts of heat to warm your tent.

Jackery 1000 Portable Power Station:
Most Lightweight / Easy to Transport

Lasko MyHeat:
200-Watt Personal Space Heater

Jackery Solar Camping Heater System

Lasko Space Heater

Features:

  • 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

Pros:

  • One of the most lightweight power stations at 22 pounds
  • Claims to be “near silent” when in operation
  • Solar panel is included

Cons:

  • Small battery capacity
  • 6.5 hours to fully recharge the power station using solar

Who is the Jackery 1000 + Lasko MyHeat 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.

Who is the Jackery 1000 + Lasko MyHeat 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.

About the Jackery 1000 Portable Power Station

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.

About the Lasko MyHeat Electric Space Heater

The Lasko Model 100 MyHeat personal heater is an energy-efficient way to bring warmth to your tent. The MyHeat works well with a solar power station because it only uses 200 watts of electricity to provide targeted heat through fan-powered delivery. The ceramic heat provides direct warmth and is a great way to quickly warm your tent after a day hiking through cold weather.

Even though the Lasko MyHeat is small, you can leave it running continuously over a period of time to build up heat within the tent. It has great safeguards like automatic shut off if the heater is tipped over, and cool-touch exterior to prevent burns.

  • The 250 watt Lasko MyHeat will run for up to 8 hours on a 1500 watt solar power station.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Kristina M.

Kristina M.

Providing shopping recommendations for organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly products.

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