Solar Powered Heater for Camping – Do They Even Exist?

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023

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There are lots of different ways to stay warm while camping whether you’re trying to warm yourself or the space around you. Heating yourself involves wearing warm clothes, packing the right gear like a cold weather sleeping bag, and using some tricks to stay warm like cuddling a Nalgene filled with hot water. The simplest way to heat the space around you is using a campfire, or even a propane heater. But once you get into your chilly tent, what options do you have that are indoor safe?

Where other methods of heating fall short in safety and the accessibility of electricity, solar powered heaters are environmentally friendly and don’t emit any dangerous gasses. So we went on a hunt for the best solar powered heater for camping, and we’re here to share what we found. Below you’ll find the best options for heating your tent while camping using a portable power station and a small electric heater (like this Lasko space heater) to create your own “solar powered heater”. All of these power station options have an optional solar panel add-on if you want to create clean energy in the great outdoors.

Editor’s Choice – Jackery Explorer Power Station 240

The Jackery Explorer 240 Power Station has been voted the “Best Portable Power Station for use in the outdoors” and Jackery is easily the best brand when it comes to quality products for an incredible camping adventure. It’s lightweight, long-lasting, and can be charged by an optional solar panel, or a regular wall outlet or car outlet.

The Jackery Explorer 240 is lightweight (only 6 lbs.) and compact, so it’s a great fit for campers who don’t want to lug around big and heavy gear. With 240 watt-hours of power and several different kinds of output ports, you can charge your devices like a phone, laptop, drone, and a small space heater.

Jackery also has a built in Battery Management System (BMS) that ensures the unit operates within safe parameters. This protects your devices against overcurrent, overvoltage, and overheating issues. A safety feature like this is particularly important when using high-draw devices like a space heater so you don’t have to worry about hurting the device or the battery unit.

We don’t go anywhere without out Jackery Explorer, and now that we have one, it’s hard to imagine life before. We use it while camping to charge our phones, GPS device, camera, and drone, but it can also be used in your day-to-day life to charge devices in your vehicle and while you’re on the go. You could even keep it in your house as a back up power supply in case you lose power unexpectedly.

Note: this power station is great for beginners just starting out, but it won’t run a heater for more than a few hours. If you want something that will run your heater all night long while still having enough power to charge your devices, check out something bigger like the Jackery Explorer 1000.

Specifications

  • Watts: 200 watts
  • Watt Hours: 240
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs.
  • Voltage: 110 Volts
  • Charge Time (Wall Outlet): 3.5 hours
  • Charge Time: (Car): 5 hours
  • Charge Time (100W panel): 5.5 hours
  • Cycle Life: 500 cycles to 80%+ capcaity
  • Max Output: 200W

Pros

  • Zero emissions
  • Comes in different wattage levels and can be upgraded to include a matching solar panel
  • 2 year warranty
  • Operates from 14-104 ℉

Cons

  • Slower recharge time

Highest Quality – ECOFLOW Delta 2 Portable Power Station 1024Wh

The ECOFLOW Delta 2 Portable Power Station was voted the “best medium capacity solar generator” by CNN and it’s well worth the slightly higher price tag compared to the Jackery above. Not only does it have a significantly higher capacity, but it also charges remarkably quickly and has a 5 year warranty.

Perhaps the best feature of the ECOFLOW Delta 2 is the super fast recharge rate, which is only 50 minutes in a wall outlet compared to 5-6+ hours of the other power stations on this list. This means it takes a minimal amount of time to charge between adventures, so you can stay on the go for longer periods of time.

The second best part of the Delta 2 is the long life cycle, which is 3,000+ charges up to 80% capacity. This is 4-5x longer than other popular power stations, so you can be sure this unit will last you years and years to come.

However, all these features do come with an increased price. It’s more expensive, but it’s well worth the investment for something such high quality. Plus, this unit has a whopping 1,024 watt hours, so it can run for hours and hours on end, recharging your devices over and over again over the course of a longer camping trip. You could even run a small space heater for several hours on end when the Jackery above can only run it for a couple of hours.

Plus, because the ECOFLOW has a higher output volume, you can run a space heater and charge multiple devices at the same time. That means this unit a bit more versatile, making it a great option for a wide range of outdoor scenarios, including extended camping trips where you need more juice to power your devices.

Specifications

  • Watts: 1,024 watts
  • Weight: 27 lbs.
  • Voltage: 120
  • Charge Time (Wall Outlet): 50 minutes
  • Charge Time (solar): 3-6 hours
  • Cycle Life: 3,000 to 80% capacity
  • Max Output: 2200W

Pros

  • Quick charge in as little as 50 minutes to 80%
  • Longer life cycle
  • 5 year warranty
  • Sophisticated Battery Management System keeps your devices safe

Cons

  • Higher price tag but it’s worth it

Most Affordable – GRECELL Portable Power Station 500W

The GRECELL 500W Portable Power Station is perfect for the budget-conscious camper who wants a reliable and affordable option. While it may not boast the quality of the Jackery or the quick charge time of the Ecoflow, it’s the perfect price range for a beginner camper who prioritizes cost over other features.

Despite it’s budget-friendly price, the GRECELL doesn’t skimp on charge capabilities. It has a max output of 500 watts, meaning it can charge and run multiple devices at the same time easily.

Plus, the GRECELL is super easy to use, so there’s no learning curve to figuring it out. It has a reasonable recharge time and battery life that offers a great balance of power and efficiency.

It’s the perfect choice for campers who need a basic, reliable, and affordable power supply for weekends away in nature. Its ample capacity, user-friendly interface, and cost-effectiveness make it a sensible choice for those who don’t require the bells and whistles of higher-end models.

Specifications

  • Watts: 500
  • Weight: 14.1 lbs.
  • Voltage: 22.2 V
  • Charge Time (Wall Outlet): 6-7 hours
  • Charge Time: (Car): 7-8 hours
  • Charge Time (100W solar): 6-9 hours
  • Max Output: 500W

Pros

  • Best price on this list
  • 500W output charges multiple devices at once
  • 2 year warranty
  • Operating temperature range 14 to 113℉

Cons

  • Longer recharge time

Pros of a Solar Powered Tent Heater

There are several pros of using solar powered tent heaters over electric or propane, the main one being the clean energy it provides. Electric heaters aren’t always accessible or usable, especially if you don’t camp with electrical hookups or generators. Propane heaters have a bad rep with their risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, even though there are many options labeled as “safe for indoor use” like the Mr. Buddy Heater. If you’re not looking to make either of those work, the idea of a solar powered tent heater looks even better.

A Solar Heater For Camping

While actual ‘solar heaters’ don’t exist, we can create our own using a solar panel and a portable power station paired with an electric tent heater. The panels can draw power from the sun during the day, while storing the energy in a battery station with plugs. You could even charge the power station ahead of time to give yourself a head start, and this will allow you to use the power any time of day for things like an electric tent heater, heated blanket, or even just charging your phone. This will essential take a battery powered heater and charge your battery with a solar panel.

That being said, you do have to consider the watts of the space heater compared to the watts stored by the battery and the solar panel. If a battery is called the “Battery 500” that means it’s maximum wattage or power output is 500W. That means it could run a 500W heater for one hour at it’s maximum. Since most space heaters require a large amount of watts, you have to decrease your space heater size and increase your battery size.

Other Uses for a Portable Battery

best solar powered tent heater

If you find that the battery and portable solar panel setup from above is a little pricey, you’re not alone. But know that it’s actually a great price for the quality you’re getting, and you wouldn’t be over paying (based on current market prices for similar products). Jackery is consistently rated as the top manufacturer of units like the one above, so you can be sure you’re getting a product that’s worth your time and money.

In order to make the most of your panels and portable battery, it’s worth knowing what else you can use it for. The obvious ideas are charging small electronics like phones, tablets, and laptops, but there’s so much more.

The particular Jackery battery above can also be used to power a car fridge, TV, blender, coffee maker, and/or more electronics that you could use while camping.

You can also have it charged at all times in your home, and use it as a backup in case you lose power. It can provide enough energy for run things like your fridge, a CPAP, TV, microwave, or a coffee maker.

A Field Test

Adventures with Spackmann on YouTube brought us a field test from the Adirondacks where he entertained the idea of using a solar panel set up with a battery paired with an electric heater. While he ran into a couple of issues, he was able to work things out and get his tent to a whopping 72°F while it was only 13°F outside!

FAQ’s

Is there such thing as a solar powered heater for camping?

Solar powered heaters for camping are simply a combination of a solar panel, portable power station, and a small electric tent heater. The battery can hold the power accumulated during the day by the solar panel(s) and the electric heater can heat your tent at night.

How long does it take for a solar powered heater to heat up a tent?

This depends completely on the size solar panels and the watts used by your heater. Because it’s not a completely efficient process, it could take some time.

What kinds of heaters are safe for tents?

You could use a “indoor safe” propane heater to heat your tent, as well as an electric heater that’s powered by either a hookup or power station.

Conclusion

A solar heater setup could be a great addition to your camping gear, especially if you’re looking for ways to use clean energy while heating the inside of your tent and running other electronics. Pair your new Jackery setup with quality gear and warm clothes, and you’ll be golden. If you’re interested in more ways to stay warm in cold camping weather, you could also read up on candles, battery operated heated blankets, heated camping gear, and more!

Related Post: How to Heat a Tent

Our #1 Recommendation: Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro

The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 is the best way to heat your tent with solar power. The solar panels charge fast so you can keep you tent warm and cozy all night long.

With more than 6,000 5-star reviews across the internet, this unit is easily the best solar heater for camping!

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Since 2017, Know Nothing Nomads has cemented itself as the “approachable experts” in everything camping, hiking, climbing, and adventuring in the Great Outdoors.

With over 60 years of experience in the outdoors, we don’t just talk about outdoor gear or recommend a good hiking trail.

We USE the gear we talk about. We’ve hiked 1000’s of miles. We have camped 1000’s of nights in the wilderness. We have sent hundreds of boulders and projects.

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We are not journalists from a magazine telling someone else’s stories from behind a computer. We are the ACTUAL outdoorsmen that those people write about. 

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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