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Can Portable Solar Panels Get Wet?

BougeRV’s waterproof portable solar panels, portable power station, and portable fridge

Whether you're camping, hiking, or experiencing an emergency power outage, portable solar panels offer a sustainable way to keep your electronics charged. However, with their outdoor applications comes a critical question: Can portable solar panels get wet without being damaged? 

In this post, we dive into the durability and weather resistance of portable solar panels to help you understand how they hold up against the elements.

The Construction of Portable Solar Panels

BougeRV’s 100W fiberglass solar panel construction

Before we tackle the question of water exposure, let's explore what portable solar panels are made of. Most portable solar panels consist of photovoltaic cells encapsulated in a protective layer, typically made from tempered glass, plastic, or other resilient materials. These layers shield the cells from environmental harm while allowing sunlight to pass through efficiently. 

The backing and frame of the solar panel also play a role in its durability. Many high-quality portable solar panels often have a rugged design, featuring a sturdy aluminum frame and a durable backing material that provides additional protection against physical damage.

Water Resistance Ratings: IP Codes Explained

BougeRV’s waterproof 16BB n-type TOPCon solar panel

When evaluating whether your portable solar panels can withstand getting wet, it's essential to check their Ingress Protection (IP) rating. The IP code is an international standard that classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water.

The rating consists of two numbers—the first indicates the level of protection against solids, while the second refers to protection against liquids. For instance, an IP67-rated solar panel is completely protected against dust and can be submerged in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, whereas an IPX4-rated solar panel is protected against splashing water from any direction but isn't necessarily dust-tight. At BougeRV, we offer IP67 and IP68-rated waterproof rigid and foldable solar panels for outdoor use—they can handle getting wet and are ready to brave the weather!

It's important to note that even solar panels with high IP ratings should not be subjected to harsher conditions than they are rated for, as this could potentially lead to damage.

Weatherproof vs. Waterproof Solar Panels: Know the Difference

The terms "weatherproof" and "waterproof" are often used interchangeably, but there's a crucial distinction between them when it comes to portable solar panels. 

Weatherproof solar panels are designed to withstand general outdoor weather conditions, such as light rain or snow. These solar panels can manage moisture to some extent but may not cope well with heavy downpours or submersion in water.

On the other hand, waterproof solar panels can resist water ingress to a higher degree and are safe to use in more extreme wet conditions. This capability is particularly beneficial for marine applications or environments where the solar panels are likely to come into regular contact with water.

Safety Precautions and Maintenance Tips

While many portable solar panels are built to endure a certain amount of water exposure, taking proper care of your solar panels will extend their lifespan and ensure their efficiency:

  1. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions regarding water exposure and adhere to the specified IP rating.

  2. After using your solar panels in wet conditions, wipe them down with a soft, dry cloth to remove any excess moisture.

  3. Check the connectors and ports for water resistance. Most solar panels have waterproof or water-resistant connectors, but double-checking ensures safety.

  4. If your solar panels get soaked, give them time to dry thoroughly before storing or using them again.

  5. Regularly inspect your solar panels for any signs of wear and tear, especially around the seals and edges, to prevent water from infiltrating vulnerable areas.

Using Portable Solar Panels in Wet Conditions

A woman titling portable solar panels on the RV roof

Despite their weather resistance, there are best practices for using portable solar panels in wet conditions:

  • Avoid placing your solar panels on wet ground; instead, use a stand or hang them up to minimize direct contact with water.

  • During a storm or heavy rain, it’s advisable to pack away your solar panels to prevent potential damage from harsh weather conditions.

Can Portable Solar Panels Still Generate Power When Wet?

Portable solar panels can still generate electricity when wet, although their efficiency might be slightly reduced due to water droplets on the surface scattering the sunlight. Furthermore, ensure the connected devices and batteries are kept dry to avoid electrical hazards.

The Future of Portable Solar Panel Technology

Advancements in solar technology continue to improve the water-resistance and overall durability of portable solar panels. Manufacturers are also working on innovative coatings and materials that repel water and dirt, making future solar panels even more resilient in wet conditions.

Together We Make The Journey

Installing BougeRV’s portable solar panels on RVs

Portable solar panels are designed to withstand exposure to moisture and rain. However, they are not invincible. It's crucial to understand the limitations given by their IP ratings and to follow maintenance guidelines to keep them functioning correctly. As the quest for sustainable and convenient power continues, the market is responding with more robust and water-resilient solar solutions that can face Nature's unpredictability head-on.

Whether gearing up for your next adventure or preparing for emergencies, rest assured that modern portable solar panels can handle a splash and still provide you with the clean energy you need. 

Head over to BougeRV to check out our waterproof 9BB/10BB/16BB solar panels, bifacial solar panels, CIGS thin-film solar panels, fiberglass curved solar panels, and foldable solar panels for camping and emergency use! 

Go further, stay longer, and live better with BougeRV. Together we MAKE THE JOURNEY!

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Can Portable Solar Panels Get Wet?