Solar Panels

A vendor displays a folding solar panel during the Hershey Show. Credit: Brian Whipky

Imagine going camping in the wilderness, you’re enjoying the sounds of a stream and the singing of nearby birds. Then your gas-powered generator starts up and that’s all you can hear.

When you need electricity for your remote campsite, quieter solar technology is now becoming a popular alternative for campers, according to Go Erie.

Tens of thousands visited America’s Largest RV show last week in Hershey, and solar energy was a hot topic.

The show is organized by the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association to introduce campers to the latest models. “Solar is really popular,” said Heather Leach, executive director. “It’s the up-and-coming thing.”

In recent years, solar panels have become more cost-effective, and lithium batteries provide more storage capability. She said manufacturers are seeing the need for solar power in the camping industry.

Mike Sokol, a writer for RVtravel.com and an RV electrical expert, said some campgrounds that provide electrical connections to RVs became full during last summer’s pandemic. “The campgrounds haven’t been able to keep up,” he said about the space and energy needs of campers.

Solar is a way to power a camper without needing a hook-up to a campsite or an electrical generator. Some RVs now have solar panels installed across their roofs to take advantage of the sun as much as possible.

“People are spending days without (traditional electric) power,” he said. The demands of some air conditioning units are still a little tricky but it’s improving, he said. Appliance manufacturers are learning to make their products, like refrigerators, more efficient, which reduces the burden on stored energy reserves.

“The desire for solar is pushing the whole industry,” he said.

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