Our entire lives are built around electricity, and we take it for granted that it will always be available. Whether through a natural or a manmade disaster, there may come a day where the power source that we count on is gone. One source that you can always count on, though, no matter what happens down here on earth, is the sun.
Harnessing the Sun’s Power
The way to harness the sun’s power is through solar panels, which use photons from the sun to generate electricity. Solar panels are made of semiconducting materials like monocrystalline silicon cells. There are so many solar-powered products out on the market to choose from that will keep you powered-up in a survival situation. You can find portable solar panels, power bank/chargers, and gear with integrated solar panels.
Portable Solar Panels
Portable solar panels allow you to plug directly into the sun and keep your electronics charging wherever you are. They don’t hold a charge, so they need to be exposed to the sun at all times when you’re using them to power or charge your devices. Typically, they have USB ports and DC jacks, which lets you plug in a variety of electronics. Below are two options that I like and shows different ways portable solar panels can be mounted and carried.
Folding Solar Panel Set
As long as you have quality panels like the Folding Solar Panel Set
and the sun is shining, you’ll never be without a source of electricity. The set of five panels are enclosed in a tough, folding nylon case with a Velcro closure and a sturdy TPR and nylon webbing carrying handle. The case also has two metal grommets for conveniently hanging the solar panels. Each of the five monocrystalline solar panels puts out 40-watts of power, giving you a total of 200 watts that you can plug into via one of the two USB ports or a DC jack, which are located inside a pocket on the outside of the case. When folded, the case is 7 1/2”x 11”, weighing-in at just under 2 1/2 lbs, making it easy to carry and store. This folding set of solar panels is going to serve you well whether you’re bugging-out or sheltering-in-place.
M48 OPS Tactical Solar Panel Backpack
When I first saw the M48 OPS Tactical Solar Panel Backpack
, I knew it was coming home with me. Not only does it make the perfect bug-out bag but it’s also great for camping, hiking, daytrips and walking tours. The high-quality solar panel is built into a 600D oxford material frame, which has a mesh, zippered panel on the opposing side that serves to house a USB plug, plus, a smartphone or mini tablet. When you’re out under the sun, just simply plug in your device to the USB port, drop it in the zippered pouch and let it continuously charge while you’re out and about. The panel is attached to the front of the pack with ABS quick-release buckles, so that it can be removed if you want to leave the pack behind or attach it to other gear. Constructed of 600D oxford material, the backpack is extremely durable and has a main compartment with a big mesh pocket to keep items secure, as well as, a zippered pocket. The back of the pack features adjustable, removable cushioned mesh straps and the front of the bag features MOLLE straps and two zippered compartments.
Solar Chargers/Power Banks
There are a variety of solar charger and power bank combinations that will assure you that won’t be without juice whether you’re bugging-out or sheltering-in-place. All of the ones that I’m including are compact enough to just pick up and go with or to keep on a window sill or kitchen counter. Seriously folks, if you don’t have a solar charger and power bank in your home, you really aren’t prepared for a disaster!
Trailblazer Folding Solar Charger And Power Bank
The 10,000 mAh Folding Solar Charger And Power Bank
has four crystalline silicon solar panels and a powerful Li-polymer battery that can also be charged in a non-emergency situation via a USB cable. Blue indicator lights let you know when the heavy-duty power bank is fully charged. Another great feature, especially if you’re bugging-out, is that it has a built-in, super bright emergency LED light so that it can be used as a flashlight. Of course, the most important feature is that it has three USB ports including a micro-USB port so that you have plenty of outlets to charge your electronic devices. No one has to wait their turn! However, if you would rather every family member have their own charger and power bank, you can find some great smaller models like the one below.
BugOut Solar Charger And Power Bank
The BugOut 8,000 mAh Solar Charger And Power Bank
, just like its big brother, can be used to charge anything from iPhones and Androids to iPads and tablets. It has a monocrystalline solar panel built into a water and shock-resistant silica gel and ABS case. Believe me it’s tough! It also has indicator lights to let you know when the Li-polymer batter is fully charged and a built-in, emergency LED flashlight. It has both a standard USB charging port and a USB micro port and, with the included carabiner, it can be conveniently attached anywhere.
Solar-powered gear has an integrated solar panel that’s used as a back-up power source for the item. The most common gear that you’ll find are emergency lights and radios.
Really, one of the first things, even before charging your mobile phone, that you need to think about is having a reliable source of light at night. One, that you don’t have worry about accidentally setting your house on fire with and is safe around children and pets.
Trailblazer LED Solar Hanging Light Bulb
One of my favorites is the Trailblazer LED Solar Emergency Hanging Light Bulb
. The beauty of it is that it works just like a regular 12-watt bulb when screwed into a traditional power source but when the electricity goes out, you can count on it to still be burning bright. Now, just think about that, for a moment. If you replace a couple of your light fixture bulbs in your house with these solar-powered bulbs, you will never be in the dark! The sensor in the battery recognizes that there is no current and will automatically switch over to its emergency mode, putting out the same 500 lumens of light from its bright LEDs. It will run for over eight hours on a full charge when it switches to emergency mode and the battery continually charges with its solar panels and also with the normal current running through your light fixture. I have one in my windowless bathroom because the worst scenario for me is to be caught in the shower in pitch black, which is what my bathroom is when the lights go out. With its tough, water and dust-resistant ABS construction and screw-on hanging hook, this solar powered light bulb is also perfect for hanging in a tent when you’re camping or using it anywhere you need light like when you’re working under the hood of your vehicle. Truly, this is one of the most versatile light bulbs that I’ve ever seen!
Trailblazer Tri-Folding Solar Camping Light
Another great solar-powered light is the Trailblazer Tri-Folding Solar Camping Light
. The propeller-shape and hidden hanger design of the light allows you to either hang it or set it on a table or counter wherever light is needed. So, obviously this light is the perfect choice for camping, but in a black-out scenario, having one of these to put in each room will guarantee that you have a well-lit home. The solar-powered light has three lighting modes including an SOS mode, so that it can even be used as an emergency signal, if need be. The three, 18-LED light panels can be adjusted independently to direct the light towards a specific direction so that it completely conforms to your lighting needs. On the back of each of the panels is a solar grid to continuously charge the lithium battery, which can also be fully charged via the built-in micro USB port with the included cable.
Having an emergency radio is especially important when facing a survival situation. You need to know what the situation is around you whether it’s community news or weather conditions. Most solar-powered radios use the solar panel as a back-up and offer a couple of other ways to keep it powered-up.
Kaito Voyager Max Digital Weather Radio
The Kaito Voyager Max Digital Weather Radio
is the Cadillac of emergency radios. The digital, portable receiver is designed for both everyday use and emergency preparedness applications. It has a flip-up, 180-degree adjustable solar panel that provides power for the radio, along with the hand-crank and USB port. The radio has a wide range of band reception including AM, FM, shortwave and NOAA weather stations. If it’s set at the “alert” mode, it will be automatically activated when it receives the alert signals from the NOAA weather stations. Safety features include a USB mobile phone charger for both iOS and Android devices, an LED flashlight and a 5-LED reading lamp. Now here are the luxury functions. The weather radio is also equipped with the latest Bluetooth technology that allows you to wirelessly stream audio/music from a Bluetooth compatible device like a smart phone. To take fully advantage of the radio’s built-in MP3 player and digital audio equalizer, you can plug an audio device directly into the 3.5mm input jack or insert a micro-SD memory card with up to a 32 GB capacity. With its revolutionary design and versatile functions, it’s not only an ideal choice of a bedside radio but also an indispensable tool for emergency preparedness purposes, traveling, camping, backpacking and other outdoor activities. A micro USB charging cable and an Emergency Preparedness Guidebook is included.
BugOut NOAA Weather Radio
When you need to travel light, the BugOut NOAA Weather Radio
makes an excellent choice. In a SHTF situation, where you have to quickly bug-out, it’s the weather radio that you need. It is powered by a 2,200 mAh rechargeable lithium battery that can be charged via a USB cable, a hand crank or the solar panel on top. It’s very compact and has a tough ABS and rubberized construction with soft pad buttons and an EL backlight LCD display. The radio receives AM/FM stations and seven NOAA weather channels, plus, NOAA weather warning alerts. It also features a digital clock, a bright white LED flashlight, a red alert indicator light, a telescoping antenna, a USB port to charge devices and an audio out port. The wrist lanyard keeps is firmly in your hand when you’re using it as a flashlight and the USB charging cable is included.
Other Solar-Powered Gear
Here are a couple of products that don’t fall into either the radio or light category. Like I said, there are tons of items out there that are solar-powered.
Night Watchman Solar Security Light
One of the things that becomes important if SHTF happens and you’re sheltering-in-place is securing your property, especially at night. Having a perimeter alarm system in place will alert you to intruders that may want to cause you and your family harm. The Night Watchman Solar Security Light
is your best option for adding that extra measure of security to your property. It’s constructed of tough ABS and has 74 COB lights, which are powered by the solar-charged 2,000 mAh battery. The two light panels and the solar panel are fully adjustable from side-to-side and up and down, so that you have light right where you need it. Buy one for each side of your house and you will always be alerted if there is something suspicious going on at night!
Casio Solar Watch
This is really one of the best camping and survival watches that I’ve seen out there and, of course, it’s made by Casio. A self-charging solar power system drives the Casio Solar Watch
, which is an eco-friendly timepiece that graphs tidal movements and moon phases, plus, is up to 100m water resistant. The unique power system eliminates the need for battery changes and is strong enough to power a multitude of additional functions like 48-city world time, 1/100th second chronograph and the five daily alarms. Other features include LED illumination, a full auto-calendar and home city codes.