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Things to consider when buying solar.

Equip yourself for success in utilizing solar energy. Here are some tips to help you decide on solar that’s right for you.

Think about how you want to use solar.

Solar power is useful for so many applications. Brands like Goal Zero, Renogy and BioLite offer starter kits and individual pieces for customized solar setups. Keep in mind:

Pick a battery, then a solar panel.

To get started, it can be best to choose your battery first. That way, you can find a compatible solar panel to effectively charge that battery. If you choose a smaller solar panel and later pair it with a large battery, you may need significantly more time to recharge the battery.

Get a good sense of how much power your devices will use.

When you’re choosing a solar battery, it’s important to know how much power you will need. Some devices and appliances can surprise you: Did you know that a standard 12-cup coffee maker can draw 600 watts?

Add up the maximum wattage or voltage of each device you plan to charge simultaneously (like phones or a portable speaker), then check the battery’s product specifications to ensure it has enough wattage to meet your needs. Most batteries have different ports for connecting devices (USB, AC, 12V, etc.), so check the product specs to ensure the battery has the port you need.

Know how long it’ll take to power your devices.

Most batteries give a range of recharge times for commonly-used devices. For example, a 400-watt battery can typically recharge a laptop battery three to five times per charge. Most solar batteries have grids that show popular products that you can charge, and their recharge time, and we provide these on the product page (when they’re available).

Understand how much time is required to recharge the battery.

Once your battery is out of power, it could take up to 12 hours to fully recharge, so it’s important to think ahead. You can recharge your battery by using a wall charger, a solar panel or your vehicle. These charge times will vary due to the electric current available. Make sure you have the necessary equipment, like a good panel or a vehicle charging cable.

Once you pick a battery, choose the right solar panel to go with it.

The larger the battery you have, the larger the solar panel you will need. If you have a 200-watt battery, a 20-watt panel will work just fine. If you have a 1,000-watt battery, a 100-watt panel is more appropriate.

Think about portability and its importance to you.

Solar panels and batteries can vary greatly in weight. Some are built to be carried with you, while others are designed as permanent solutions that hold a lot of energy. Once you know how you plan to use solar energy, you can start to plan for the weight of the panel and battery.

Most solar panels and batteries are weatherproof and durable, but you should refer to the product’s information page for more information. If you are considering a heavier battery, battery carrying cases with straps and battery carts can make transport easier.

Whether you already have a solar-power system or you’re just starting out, there are plenty of options.

If you are ready to build your first solar system, pre-made kits can provide everything you need. Different kits are available for common uses like hiking, outdoor gatherings, permanent set-ups for your small structure or vehicle, and car camping.

Solar panels can be connected to each other to increase the power they produce. If you want to add an extra solar panel, please check with the manufacturer of your current product to ensure it is compatible with the panel you are thinking of buying. Also, make sure you have the right adapters to simplify the installation of your new panel or battery.