Camping Electricity

From a portable battery pack to a gas generator, thermoelectric generator, car battery, portable solar generator, or solar panel, there are many ways to generate electricity while you are out camping. But when you consider factors like eco-friendliness, efficiency, safety, and operating costs, all possible sources of camping power supply offer different experiences.

Generally, gas generators have high operating costs. On the other hand, solar power sources and battery packs are virtually free to run. They are also eco-friendly, efficient, and safe, but they offer limited power output.

How Do You Get Electricity When Camping?

Solar Generators

While they are called generators, solar-powered generators do not necessarily generate electricity. Instead, they collect and store the electricity from PV panels.

Solar-powered generators are limited by the maximum power they can give off. Therefore, they may be unable to power appliances with high power needs. So, if you are going camping with appliances like heaters, toasters, and coffee makers, you will need a high-capacity power source. Still, in such situations, having a backup solar generator for your mobile devices would be nice.

Solar Panel

You may also decide to get a PV panel/solar charger as your electricity source while camping. PV panels basically collect photons from the sun and convert them into electricity.

With PV panels, the maximum amount of solar power you can get depends, in part, on the number of modules. But like most people, you certainly would not want to go camping with a super large area of PV panels. So, you are left with the option of going to camp with a solar charger that can power mobile devices, lamps, laptops, and other similar appliances.

Two good things about PV panel electricity are the noiselessness and eco-friendliness. But the bad thing is they need the sun to function. Without the sun, a PV panel is pretty much functionless. But you can get around this by storing up some energy for later using devices like a power bank.

Besides not being able to function without the sun, another downside to PV panels is the initial high cost of getting one.

Portable Battery Pack

Battery packs (also portable power banks) are basically battery storage devices. They come with lithium-ion batteries that store electricity for later use. They are typically used to charge mobile devices, and they come with USB ports for this purpose. Considering how lightweight they are, a portable battery pack is one of the best options if you need a mobile power source.

Battery banks are available in different capacities, and these capacities are rated in Ah, mAh, or Wh. The higher the capacity, the more electrical energy they can store, and the longer they can power your devices.

Besides being small enough to carry around, portable power banks are noiseless and inexpensive. Plus, they do not rely on sunlight. However, they offer limited power; you may only be able to use them for cell phones, tablets, cameras, and similar small appliances.

Car Battery

Car batteries can also serve as the source of your electricity while in camp. But to convert the power they produce into a form you can use, you need a power inverter.

The power inverter is connected to the cigarette lighter port in the car to convert DC to AC.

Instead of using the battery attached to your car, you could opt for a 12-volt portable power pack. These power packs offer similar power as car batteries. However, they come with USB ports and an inbuilt inverter. So, all you have to do is just connect your device directly to them.

The upside of using car batteries is that you never have to worry about carrying something extra since batteries are already a part of cars. They automatically come with you when you take your car to the camping spot or go car camping.

Sadly, you can only use these batteries for some small devices. Then again, if you drain the battery excessively, it may not start the vehicle.

Gas Generators

When thinking of camping electricity, one of the first options people consider is gasoline generators. But while a gas generator generates sufficient electricity to power most appliances, its downsides are highly undesirable. In fact, some campsites have forbidden the use of gasoline generators.

One of the shortcomings of gasoline generators is that they are not eco-friendly. They give off fumes, which are harmful to the environment. Besides that, they are noisy, and their operating costs are pretty steep. You may be paying for up to 0.75 gallons of gasoline for every hour the generator runs. – over $1.5 per hour. Compared to solar electricity, this is pretty high.

Thermoelectric Generators

Electricity from a thermoelectric generator is created by the thermal difference between charge carriers in a material. The average thermoelectric generator will offer between 6-12 watts of electricity.

Compared to a gasoline generator, a thermoelectric generator is more expensive and less efficient. Plus, the emissions from the heat source are usually detrimental to the environment. Besides that, a thermoelectric generator is a potential fire hazard since it typically involves setting the source of heat on fire.

What Is the Best Portable Power Pack for Camping?

Goal Zero Sherpa 100 AC

The Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Ac Portable Power Bank is one of the best deals you can get on portable power banks for camping. It offers a high battery capacity, multiple ports, multiple charging options, and high power output.

With the Goal Zero Sherpa 100 AC, you get 100 Wh of energy storage – enough to charge your phone 7 times. It comes with 2 USB-A outlets, 2 USB-C ports, and a 110v AC port, and it has a spot for wireless charging. You can choose to recharge this device using an AC wall outlet, a 12v car adapter, or a 20W PV panel. But one thing you cannot do with it is power appliances with power needs higher than 100 watts.

Do I Need Electricity When Camping?

This depends on what you want. You may choose to go on your camping trips without electricity if you plan to fully immerse yourself in nature. But if you are not planning a no-electricity camping trip, then you will need electricity.


As you may have noticed, the options we discussed in this article balance each other out. So, for the best experience, you may have to combine two or more options when you go camping.

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