Lately companies have been getting smart and combining solar energy generation with outdoor gear to create both consumer and military products. Here’s some interesting products where the power of the sun has been harnessed for use in shelters and tents and also some tips on how to make your own solar tent!
Orange Chill ‘N’ Charge Tent
“Orange” a British-based branch of the France Telecom Group, displayed its new solar concept tent called the “Chill ‘N’ Charge” at the 2012 Glastonbury, UK music festival.
This innovative tent features adjustable fabric panels, made from a combination of coated photovoltaic threads weaved with conventional fabric to capture the sun’s energy. Unlike the rigid solar panels that exist in industry today, the weaved fabric allowed for the creation of flexible panels. The designers then took these flexible panels and mounted them on sliding glides which allows the user point the panels towards the direction of the sun for maximum efficiency.
The benefits of harnessing the power of the sun in this tent result in not only the ability to provide lighting, but the tent can also provide heat and a charging point for wireless phones and other portable devices.
The heating in the tent is accomplished via an internal heating element embedded in the tent’s groundsheet. Using a simple automated control scheme, the heating element turns on when the interior temperature of the tent falls below the user setpoint.
The wireless control hub and integrated LCD touchscreen inside the tent are perfect for the casual camper or festival goer to charge their phones, connect wirelessly to the internet and monitor the performance of the tent. The screen itself displays energy generated and consumed to the user, allows the user to control the heating element and displays the status of the broadcasted wireless internet signal. The control hub also contains a wireless charging pouch that you can directly drop your cell phone into to power it up.
Another neat feature is that you can connect with the tent via your cell phone (called Glo-cation technology) to remotely trigger the lights to turn on so you can locate it in the dark. Overall a great innovative product and I’m excited for more developments from these guys.
Tactical Solar Tents and Shelters
Energy Technologies Inc. makes a variety of highly durable military oriented integrated flexible solar panel shelters and tents. Their products, called Tactical Solar Panels, offer an output power ranging from 190W in their 8′x9.5′ sheet to 2KW in their 40′x22′ panel sheet.
Essentially these panels are made from thin film, flexible solar panels which are sewn into a highly durable pvc fabric sheet. In these designs the sheet is mounted on posts as a simple shelter or wrapped atop a traditional large tent similar to a standard tent fly. The smaller sheets can also be thrown over a variety of simple shelters, on the ground or used in a variety of ways for a quick power source.
Tactical solar offers a wide variety of integration options for your outdoor adventure including the ability to purchase individual foldable or flexible sheets of panels, battery packs, lighting systems and even all in one briefcase packages. If you’re planning an expedition, upgrading your remote research center, venturing into the outdoors for a large period of time, going on a humanitarian mission or any other similar ventures, checking out the products offered by Tactical Solar would be a great idea.
FTL Solar Flexible Sheets
Although not popping up in a quick search for solar tents specifically, FTL Solar manufactures a wide range of solar panel sheets similar to the Tactical Solar panel sheets in design and intended use. They offer power outputs ranging from 190W in a 9′ x 5′ flexible sheet to 1000W in a 18′x18′ sheet. Like Tactical Solar the intended customer is military in nature but these solutions can also be implemented for a wide variety of expedition and commercial uses as well.
V-Plus Emergency Tent
The V-Plus Shelter tent, developed at Jiangnan Univerisity, is an innovative, sleek design geared towards disaster relief situations with many other practical applications. The outside fabric of the tent is made from flexible solar panels and the energy generated by the panels is used to power LED’s mounted inside the tent on the top of the support pole.
The excess energy created by the panels can be stored within the batteries located inside the pole. The support pole itself is also extendable and has a two plug outlet near the base.
The most interesting feature of this tent is the triangular design which provides the capability to mount multiple shelters next to each other to accommodate both small and large groups of people when needed.
Solar Panel/Lighting Tent Add-Ons
For a non-integrated or large solar panel sheet solution, there are several companies out there including ASG out of China, that make a prewired set-up of LED lighting and a smaller sized solar panel that easily attaches to a tent to make lighting up your tent via solar power a quick and easy job.
Overall there is a lot of opportunity in the industry for designers and manufacturers to bridge the gap between temporary shelters, tents and cutting edge alternative energy technologies. We can’t wait to see what the future holds here!