Perhaps you’re not really into solar, but are a survivalist or into preparedness, prepping etc.
I would argue that everyone should own at least one (or two +) 100 Watt 12 Volt solar panels as part of their survival and preparedness kit. They are truly a high tech Swiss army knife. Plus a 100 Watt solar panel is very portable and can be taken with you anywhere.
Here are just a few of the things a solar panel can do:
A solar panel is a nearly infinite energy source. Unlike a battery that can run down, a solar panel will always make power as long as it is in one piece. Storing the solar panel in some kind of hard case would be smart. They are vulnerable to damage on both sides.
Charge your car’s dead battery
If your car battery is dead, a 100 Watt solar panel can easily charge the battery with zero electronics. You can literally attach the solar panel straight to the battery (mind the polarity, positive and negative) and place it in the sun. If you want to get fancy, add a diode in series.
Run power tools
Believe it or not, some 18V power tools can run directly off of a solar panel , if the voltage is high enough. The performance may not be as good as a battery, but in an austere situation, it might help. Examples include hot glue gun, soldering iron, cordless drill, dremel, etc. Here is a video of me demonstrating this concept with a power drill, glue gun and dremel and a 100W solar panel attached. Higher power tools don’t work this way without extra components, an example would be an impact driver.
Here is yet another demonstration: my Ryobi 18V soldering iron running directly off a 100W solar panel.
Also it’s possible to charge 18V power tool batteries off of a solar panel, but the voltage may not be high enough for a full charge. I tackled this problem by placing a boost circuit inside a Ryobi 18V One+ battery charger. The page about my Ryobi solar charger is here. To this day that charger remains one of my favorite possessions and serves me well.
Believe it or not, there are many small DC water pumps that can run straight off of a solar panel. All you have to do is put the pump in the water, connect the solar panel, and pump water into your tank or bucket. A huge convenience indeed.
Heat up or cook small amounts of food
Calorie management is on the top shelf of survival. Your body needs to keep the internal temperature up, this requires burning calories. Eating hot food is a way to help the body maintain heat while supplying calories.
But smoke is a target signature that can be seen for miles, and building a fire means finding kindling, wood and a source of ignition. A solar panel just needs the sun and the only concern is managing reflections of the sun off the solar panel, which could also be seen for miles.
Believe it or not, a 100 Watt solar panel has barely enough power to heat up tea, coffee or even soup (and beans, rice etc.). The proof is in yet another video here, where I made Tea with a 100 Watt solar panel and my DC heated cup. Keep in mind Tea is pretty easy, anything could be placed in the cup and heated. With the right conditions, it’s also possible to boil a small amount of water.
Charge nearly any device or battery
It goes without saying – with the right equipment, a solar panel can charge nearly any battery or device. Phones, flashlights, radios, solar generators, you name it.
There is no end to what a solar panel can do. This is just a sample. I hope to make more videos and blog posts on it later. If you’re interested, some of my videos about this topic are posted below. Thanks for reading! DD
Making Hibiscus tea with a 100 Watt solar panel
Running power tools straight off of a solar panel:
My Solar Powered 18V Ryobi Soldering Iron: