12 Volt solar panels: Uses and applications

Solar panels come in a variety of sizes, storage capacities and power outputs. Some are large and can be used for operations that require substantial power generation. Others are small and portable. They can be valuable for those who have limited power needs. Each type of solar paneling system has a price that reflects its capacity, output and durability. The brand name is also a factor in the pricing of solar panels. Below, we'll discuss some of the benefits of using 12-volt solar panels (amongst the smallest panels available). You'll also learn about their applications as well as cost considerations.

Benefits of using 12 volt solar panels

The primary benefit of using 12 volt solar panels is their portability. Because of their size, they can easily be transported for use in different locations. Some of these panels are bigger than others, given their wattage and storage capacity. Their weight can range anywhere between 1 lb. and 25 lbs. The panels' portability means that they can be used to generate power for small operations with little forward planning. Small-scale applications (which we'll discuss in a moment) can take advantage of these solar panels without sacrificing flexibility. While many larger paneling systems are installed and rooted down to a central location, these smaller solutions can be easily stored and transported in the back seat of a car.

Applications for 12 volt solar panels

While you can use 12 volt solar panels exclusively at home, you'll be missing out on their portability (one of their strongest features). If you're open to transporting them, you'll be able to leverage their power for a variety of applications. Some owners use these solar panels to generate power for their laptops. Others use them to generate outside lighting during camping trips. Still, others have found that the panels are perfect for taking with them when traveling in their RVs or watercraft.

Some people have even reported using them to generate sufficient power to maintain their car battery. These small solar panels may have limited output and storage capacity, but their functionality offers flexible use over a broad range of applications.

Cost considerations

As mentioned above, the price you'll pay for 12 volt solar panels is dependent upon a number of factors. Some, like the PowerUp BSP10 can be purchased for under $150. Others, like the Mitsubishi Electric MF125UE5N retail for over $600. Models that are priced higher tend to be more durable and efficient. For example, the MF125UE5N uses solder-free cells. That eliminates the use of lead in the solar panels' construction. Kyocera's KD135GX-LP (which retails at nearly $650) offers a cell construction that boasts a conversion efficiency of over 16%. There are dozens of options available across a range of prices.

Are 12 volt solar panels a good solution?

For some people, this type of solar paneling system is perfect. For example, camping enthusiasts can use a smaller 12 volt panel to provide lighting during the evening, power a portable television or radio and even telephones. Engineers who need to remain at a site after the sun sets can use these solar panels to provide the light they need to finish their job. Vacationers who are traveling in their RVs can use them to provide electricity for fans and other appliances.

12 volt solar panels have hundreds of uses. While they're not the best solution for every circumstance, their portability and relatively low price make them an attractive option for those who have limited energy needs.