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How Do You Get Electricity When Camping? A Beginner’s Camp Guide 

generator camping

Having a reliable supply of electricity when camping is super important if you’re going to rely on it to power your electronics, lighting, and cooking appliances. But what is the best way to get your leccy when you’re out in the great outdoors? 

Well, there are a few ways – from simple portable chargers to big generators –  depending on what your camping setup looks like and how much power you need.

We’re going to take you through the different options available, as well as some tips on how to make the most of your electricity while camping.

Knowing Your Electricity Needs While Camping 

Before deciding on the best way to access electricity during your camping trip, it’s crucial to assess your specific needs. This will help you determine the most suitable and efficient solution. 

Assess Your Camping Devices & Appliances   

Camping electricity requirements can vary widely depending on the devices and appliances you plan to use. 

Start by making a list of all the items you’ll need to power, such as lanterns, torches, portable fans, phones, tablets, cameras, and even small camping stoves or coffee makers

Estimate the power consumption of each device and calculate the total energy requirements. 

Consider the Duration of Your Camping Trip  

The length of your camping trip is another key factor to consider. 

A short weekend getaway may only require a minimal amount of electricity, whereas an extended stay could necessitate more substantial power solutions. 

Solar panels tent
How Do You Get Electricity When Camping? A Beginner's Camp Guide 

The Best Options for Accessing Electricity When Camping

As for the options for accessing electricity, there are a few different routes you can take.

You might even want to consider opting for more than one of these sources to ensure you have enough power for your entire trip, or to power your different devices and appliances separately.

#1 Portable Power Stations  

Portable power stations are essentially large battery packs designed to provide electricity on the go. 

These devices can store a significant amount of energy and typically feature multiple outlets and USB ports for charging various devices. 

They’re compact and relatively lightweight, and they can be recharged using solar panels or wall outlets before your trip. 

However, they can be expensive, and their battery capacity may be limited for extended trips or high-energy needs. 

Portable power station
How Do You Get Electricity When Camping? A Beginner's Camp Guide 

#2 Solar Panels  

Harnessing the power of the sun is an environmentally friendly and renewable way to access electricity while camping. 

Solar panels come in various sizes and styles, from compact foldable models to larger rigid panels

The efficiency of solar panels can vary, with more expensive options typically performing better in low-light conditions. 

To optimise solar panel performance, position them in direct sunlight and adjust their angle throughout the day. 

Keep in mind that cloudy weather or shaded areas can significantly reduce their output.

Camping solar panel
How Do You Get Electricity When Camping? A Beginner's Camp Guide 

#3 Battery Banks  

For powering smaller devices like phones, tablets, or cameras, high-capacity battery banks can be a convenient solution. 

These portable chargers are lightweight and easy to carry, making them ideal for shorter camping trips or as a backup power source

When selecting a battery bank, consider the total capacity (measured in milliamp-hours or mAh) and the number of available ports for simultaneous charging.

Battery bank
How Do You Get Electricity When Camping? A Beginner's Camp Guide 

#4 Generators  

Petrol or propane-powered generators offer a more robust and reliable source of electricity for camping, particularly for powering larger appliances or running multiple devices simultaneously. 

However, they can be noisy, require fuel, and produce emissions, which may not be ideal in pristine natural environments. 

These may not be permitted in certain campsites, so it is important to check regulations before bringing a generator.
Camping generator 1
How Do You Get Electricity When Camping? A Beginner's Camp Guide 

Practical Tips for Managing Electricity Usage on Your Trip

When it comes to managing electricity on a camping trip, there are a few key factors you should consider to ensure that you have enough electricity to last you through your trip while also being mindful of the environment and those around you.

#1 Consider Energy Conservation Strategies  

Conserving energy is not only environmentally friendly but can also extend the life of your power sources. 

Simple habits like turning off devices when not in use, dimming or reducing the number of lights, and unplugging chargers from power sources when not charging can go a long way in minimising energy waste. 

Additionally, prioritise your electricity needs and focus on powering essential devices first, such as lighting or communication devices. 

Whenever possible, opt for energy-efficient options or manually powered alternatives for tasks like cooking or lighting. 

#2 Plan & Prepare for Your Camping Electricity Needs  

Proper planning and preparation are key to ensuring a smooth and stress-free camping experience when it comes to electricity usage. 

Before your trip, create a checklist of camping gear you’ll need, including power sources, cables, adapters, and any necessary backup equipment. 

Charge all your devices and power sources fully before departure, and consider bringing spare batteries or an extra portable charger. 

It’s also a good idea to test your equipment beforehand to ensure everything is working correctly. 

#3 Carry Out Safety & Maintenance Checks

Handling electrical devices in an outdoor setting requires extra precautions. 

Keep your equipment dry and protected from the elements, and avoid using devices or charging cables in wet conditions. 

If you’re camping in a high-risk area for lightning storms, take appropriate safety measures and unplug devices during storms. 

Regular maintenance of your power sources, such as cleaning solar panels or checking generator oil levels, can help ensure optimal performance and longevity. 

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper care and storage of your equipment. 

Generator check
How Do You Get Electricity When Camping? A Beginner's Camp Guide 

Summary: The Best Electricity Sources When Camping

There are plenty of ways you can get your electricity when camping, from traditional generators to solar panels. However, it’s important to handle these devices with care and take proper precautions to ensure safe and reliable use in an outdoor environment.

For more camping tips and advice, we recommend heading over to our full blog, where you’ll find guides on planning and prepping for a smooth, safe, and enjoyable camping trip.

FAQs

Can I Use a Regular Extension Cord to Power Devices From My Car’s Battery?

It’s not recommended that you use regular extension cords as they can drain your car’s battery quickly. 

Instead, invest in a dedicated power inverter designed for automotive use, which will safely and efficiently convert your battery’s DC power to AC power for devices.

How Do I Calculate the Power Requirements For My Camping Gear?

Check the wattage or amperage rating on each device and add them up. 

As a general rule, multiply watts by hours of usage to estimate the battery capacity needed in watt-hours (Wh) or amp-hours (Ah).

Are Gas-Powered Generators Allowed In All Campsites?

No, many campgrounds restrict or prohibit the use of noisy generators, especially in quiet hours. 

Always check the campground rules beforehand and prioritise clean, quiet power sources like solar or battery packs when possible.

How Can I Maximise Solar Panel Efficiency While Camping?

Position panels in direct sunlight, angling them perpendicularly to the sun’s rays. Use a sun tracker or reposition panels periodically.

Keep panels clean, unobstructed by trees/buildings, and avoid shaded areas which reduce output significantly.

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