Now that it’s summer and the sun swings high above our heads, we’ve been finding it quite easy to soak up the sunlight and keep our batteries fully charged. Our off-grid solar setup is a combination of PowerFilm Solar products for capturing the sun’s energy and a Goal Zero battery for power storage.
Overview of Our Solar Panel Setup
We have two PowerFilm solar panels: a 120W F-120 Foldable Solar Panel and a 60W R-60 Rollable Solar Panel. A daisy chain connects these two panels, which then feed into a Goal Zero Yeti 400 battery. In direct sunlight the two panels combined capture around 80–90W and can charge the battery from zero to 100% in just around five hours. We use the battery to charge laptops and phones, run LED lights (here’s our post on the lights we use), and even, more recently in the summer heat, a small air circulating fan. We highly recommend the 120W foldable panel.
Review of Our PowerFilm Solar Setup
The 60W Rollable Solar Panel. We started with just this one but found ultimately that it didn’t meet our energy needs on its own, particularly because in the winter our direct sunlight is minimal (just a couple of hours a day) and our hours of LED light usage are obviously increased with the shorter, darker days. If you have a lot of exposure to sunlight (i.e., aren’t tucked away in the woods like us), this could very well meet your needs if you’re only charging phones and laptops.
Pros: Waterproof. Rollable/easily transportable. Good for small energy needs like camping.
Cons: We were unrealistic in expecting this to give us all the energy we need for a home. Much better suited to camping or overlanding.
The 120W Foldable Solar Panel. This is the one. This panel folds up into a cute little briefcase-sized package—and once opened up it drinks up the sunlight like that’s its job. Good thing, because that is its job. Since adding this panel, we’re able to keep our Yeti battery topped off every day. Even with a couple of overcast days in a row, we don’t run dry. Like I said above, having this panel enables us to keep our laptops and phones charged, as well as run two strings of LED lights and an occasional fan.
Pros: Foldable/easily transportable. Meets all our energy needs for the yurt life.
Cons: Literally the only con is that this panel is water resistant, rather than fully waterproof. When we’re expecting a big rainstorm, we fold it up (easy enough) and bring it inside. This is not a big deal, since it wouldn’t be capturing sunlight in a rainstorm anyway.