Few terms are as vague as "solar battery system." To some, a solar battery system is a tiny little 0.5W solar panel married to a 1000mah battery, a device that barely charges a cell phone. To others, a solar battery system is a dedicated bank of 40 lead acid batteries designed to store and provide power to a cabin or home nearly year round.
While the ArkPak isn't the perfect solar battery system for every need, it's a good option for anyone looking for a solar battery system that's powerful enough to run basic 12V appliances, affordable, and small enough to be portable.
Use Case #1 - A Solar Storage System For A Long Camping Trip
If you're camping out for 2 days you probably don't need a solar power system. But if you're going to be camping out for 2 weeks, a solar power storage system is a great idea. In addition to providing your campsite with light (via energy efficient LED camplights), an ArkPak connected to a moderate-sized solar panel (60W) can:
- Keep multiple cell phones, tablets, and laptops charged via the built-in USB charging port and standard 110VAC outlet
- Keep an efficient portable refrigerator (like a 37qt ARB fridge freezer) running, with all the stuff inside nice and cold
- Provide power to jumpstart a dead battery
All you need to do is connect your 60W+ solar panel(s) to the ArkPak via the side-mounted connections or the Anderson plug, and then make sure you get 8 or so hours of decent sunlight each day. While Ark offers some very convenient (and efficient) 60W amorphous foldable panels with a built-in charge controller, 100W monocrystalline panels are very affordable and convenient enough for a semi-permanent camp site (only folding panels are a lot easier to manage, just to be clear).
Use Case #2 - A Small Footprint Power System For a Tiny House or Remote Cabin
Photo Credit: RowdyKittens
If you own the proverbial "small cabin in the woods," your power options usually aren't too good:
- You can spend thousands of dollars on a propane generator system, and then pay a pretty penny to have the propane tanks filled (the more remote the more you pay), and then hope you don't run out of propane when you really need it.
- You can purchase a high quality gas or diesel generator for a couple thousand dollars (or more), then keep it fueled by either paying for fuel deliveries or ferrying fuel to the cabin yourself. Of course, this system gets expensive, as gasoline and diesel are pricey. These systems also pump out nasty exhaust fumes, require periodic maintenance, and pollute the atmosphere.
- You can install a solar system on your cabin for thousands (or tens of thousands of dollars), and then periodically maintain the battery system (depending on the type of batteries you have).
While the ArkPak doesn't offer the maximum power output of any of the above systems, the ArkPak is small, portable, affordable, and easy to manage. If you install a zero maintenance battery in the ArkPak, and then keep the ArkPak connected to a solar panel (or charge controller), it will be capable of powering a small camping fridge, LED lights for you cabin or home, and smaller electronics (tablets, laptops, and even smaller LCD TVs) almost indefinitely. If you can use a wood-burning stove to provide heat, your tiny home or cabin might just be able to get by with an ArkPak and a solar panel.
Whether you use the ArkPak to make camping more enjoyable or to power a handful of electrical appliances in your cabin, it's a small, affordable, and portable solar battery system that travels very nicely. While the ArkPak certainly can't store or produce the power you need to run a full residential electrical system, a lot of people find it sufficient for running a small fridge, some electronics, and some LED lighting in their cabin or campsite.
We hope this review has helped illustrate how the ArkPak can be useful for you. You can check out the ArkPak here.