The great outdoors offers so many benefits. Camping trips provide a level of calm and mindfulness and allow us to forget the busy streets and tall buildings for a while and just relax and be centered. Outdoor activities can serve as a bonding experience for friends, families, or lovers, and allow them to connect not only to one another but also to nature.
The colors of the leaves, the rustling of the wind, and the calming sound of running water can easily transform a stressful day into a delightful one. We cannot deny, however, there are some downsides to such trips. Aside from insects, darkness, and hot tents, we cannot deny how uncomfortable the lack of a proper restroom in outdoor facilities can be. Even if there’s an available water source, it can be difficult to bathe if the weather’s cold.
This is where solar showers could really come in handy. They can provide a solution to this uncomfortable situation through the power of the sun. But how exactly do they work? This article will look into the mechanism of this sun-powered accessory, provide tips on how to choose the best one for your trip, list 5 of the best brands out there, and explain the pros and cons of using it during your outdoor activities.
How Does Solar Shower Work?
How exactly does a solar shower work? As you may have already guessed, a solar shower will have a showerhead, a hose, and a water container. It seems to be a pretty simple mechanism, except that it does something wonderful – it produces heated water, so you can have a nice, warm shower. But how exactly does it do it? The secret is through solar panels.
Solar panels, or photovoltaic cells, are capable of absorbing photons, or light energy, from the sun. This silicon-crystal based component harnessed the power of sunlight for electricity generation. This electricity allows the water inside the bag to be heated, so you’ll have instant warm water anytime, anywhere. Aside from this, the bag itself is made of heat-absorbent materials.
However, it is well-insulated, so you don’t run the risk of electrocution. Because of this mechanism, it works well during high-heat hours like afternoons. Some brands have an attached thermometer, so you can easily check if the heat level is going to be comfortable and you can prevent scalding. Once ready, you can hang the equipment on a nearby tree, and you’ve got your portable shower. Most brands also have a handle, so it is very portable, and you can take it pretty much anywhere without too much of a hassle.
Now that you know how a solar-powered shower works, let’s look at the recommended parameters to look for when selecting one for your next trip.
How to Choose Solar Powered Shower
Are you ready for your camping trip? Do you want to get your own portable shower? Here are some of the sure-fire ways that will help you get the right one for you.
Various household brands manufacture these shower types. Coleman, for example, has its own take on this outdoor tool; While the brand doesn’t always translate to quality, it is good to look for known and well-reviewed brands, so you’ll know what to expect. Consumer reviews are often a reliable way to ensure a brand’s quality, and popular brands do not fall short on consumer reviews.
Of course, you don’t want your water supply to suddenly run out while you’ve got shampoo in your hair, right? So, look for showers with at least a 5-gallon capacity. This is just enough for you to get all cleaned up in one go. RuiMeer, for example, has a 20-liter capacity, which is perfect to clean you up after an active day outdoors.
Design affects functionality in so many ways. Aside from aesthetic value, you want to look for brands made with absorbing design technology. This will ensure that the water inside the packet is heated to a desirable level. You also want to check out additional features, like shampoo and soap slots, so you don’t have to bring too many things while taking a bath.
Portability and versatility
You don’t want to have a hard time hanging the thing just to get it to the desired height. Therefore, look for brands that have a good hanger feature that can handle the weight of the tank at full capacity. You also want to look for products that can easily be folded and stored when not in use, so it won’t take up much of your backpack space.
Is it hard to hang the thing to a tree? Can you do it on your own or would you need another person’s help? If you’re on your own, you may want to opt for light brands, so you won’t have trouble mounting the solar shower up on that tree branch.
The showers can be made of various materials, but since you are relying on the material to carry gallons of weight, you want to make sure that it is durable. Aluminum water bags or PVC-based materials are great for this function, so you want to check out brands, such as Advanced Elements and Intex, that are made of these long-lasting components.
While the shower’s heating levels depend on the current light conditions, you want to make sure that they can heat well and fast. You don’t want to wait until nighttime before you can take a shower, so look for ones that can heat up to 113 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can take a nice, warm shower even during winter days.
Top 5 Best Solar Showers
5. Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower
Coleman is a household name, but it is not only a producer of lunchboxes and jugs but also of a 5-gallon, 0.2 kg solar outdoor shower that almost completes your camping kit. After about three hours of solar exposure, it can heat the water in the bag up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the optimum temperature to give you a nice, warm shower through its installed solar panels.
It’s got a strong handle that’s perfect for hanging on tree branches to get the shower up to a good height. Its hose is connected to the bag with a convenient on/off valve, for easy adjustment. Made of PVC, its heat absorption capability ensures that you can have that warm shower that you needed. This portable device is composed of durable materials, and it can get you all cleaned up anytime, anywhere.
- Can handle up to 5 gallons of water
- Made with durable materials
- Has an on/off valve
- Has a simple, yet elegant design
- Does not have a big shower head
- The handle alone may not support the full weight of the bag for a long period
4. RISEPRO Solar Shower Bag
Risepro’s take on the solar camp shower is a hit. Made of top quality materials like PVC, this piece of kit should work for years without leaking or ripping easily. With the help of the installed solar panel, it can provide heated water at up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit from at least 3 hours of sun exposure to charge it up. You can also quickly tell if the bag is heated to the desired level because of the temperature checker installed in the bag.
You can also easily control the water flow through the adjustable shower head that lets you move from low to high or easily turn the shower on and off as desired. What makes it more awesome is the front pocket, which is awesome for keeping your soap and shampoo in for convenient access during the shower.
- Has a good capacity of 5L
- Has an installed temperature indicator
- Has a shower head that’s adjustable and easy to turn on and off
- Features a toiletry slot for convenient safekeeping and access
- The hose may be a bit short
3. VIGLT Portable Shower Bag for Camping 5 Gallons/20L Solar Shower
Another 5-gallon sun-powered shower that could help you in your trip is Ruimeer’s 20-liter shower bag. It’s navy green in color. It’s got a rotating shower head that you can adjust depending on the desired water flow, and it’s got an on/off valve for convenient control of the device. The bag also has a mesh toiletry slot and a non-slip handle for easy hanging on tree branches.
It’s not prone to leakage, and it’s made of durable PVC, so you can use it for a long time. Priced under $20, it’s also a cheap, yet a wise investment because of its structure and functionality. Its heating time is about three hours, and it can reach up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. With its built-thermometer, you won’t need to worry about it overly heating your shower water.
- Economically priced
- Has a toiletry slot and a non-slip handle
- Comes with a thermometer
- Water intensity is adjustable and an on/off switch
- The showerhead may not be as long-lasting
2. Intex Solar Shower
Are you looking for a solar charger that can recharge and keep your mobile phone’s battery full for at least five to seven charges? Then this one is what you need. With 25000mAh capacity, you won’t have to worry about missing that important phone call. Its dimensions are 7 by 3.8 by 1.1 inches and it weighs 1.18 pounds.
This solar powerbank is perfect for people who enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, mountain climbing, and many other activities. This is not only because of its high capacity, but also because the ABS material used on this product is both sturdy and environmental-friendly. Another great feature of this device is that it has 36 built-in LED lights that one can use as a night light or flashlight. How cool is that?
- Very affordable
- Has great customer reviews
- Has an on/ off valve
- Doesn’t have a mesh slot
- Doesn’t have a built-in temperature indicator
1. ADVANCED ELEMENTS 5 Gallon Summer Shower/Solar Shower
Topping our list as the best solar shower is Advanced Element’s 5-gallon bag. Made with PVC, it’s got a 2-layer design to ensure optimized heat absorption and retention. All in all, it’s got a 4-ply design, adding a reflector and an insulator panel to the mix. Its mesh slot, aside from keeping bath essentials handy, also has a mirror. Its twist-off cap makes it resistant to leakage and its big diameter makes it easy to fill.
The showerhead is equipped with a Velcro strap to stop the water flow almost instantly. You can also use the Velcro straps to hold your washcloths. The bag also has a thermometer, so you can easily monitor the temperature levels. By exposing the bag to 2-3 hours of direct sunlight, the water can reach between 100-190 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to its efficient solar panel.
- Has a temperature indicator and mesh slot
- Made with a 4-layer design
- Has an efficient heating system
- Sturdy and practical to use
- Shower head’s water level can’t be adjusted
Pros and Cons of Solar Showers
Now that you understand what these portable showers are and how they work and you have a list of the best brands out there, let’s next look at the advantages and disadvantages of using these sun-powered bath equipment. Let’s start with the benefits:
- You can reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet cut down on carbon emissions because you are not using a grid electricity-powered or gas-fueled machine.
- You can control your water usage and prevent water waste.
- You can take the shower anywhere because it’s easy to carry, fold, hang, and keep in your backpack; therefore, you have a nice, warm bath, wherever you please.
- You can use it indoors as an alternative to an electricity-heated shower or outdoors as your personal carry-on shower. You can also use it to clean your car or rinse your feet after a hike.
- It’s easy to install anywhere with its handle.
- It doesn’t need cleaning, so you can save time and effort.
- It is not harsh to your skin or hair since it’s sun-heated and isn’t too hot. Some brands also have a temperature indicator, so you can control how hot you want the water to be.
- They are cheap. You can get good brands for less than $20, which is so much cheaper than a water heater attached to your shower.
- They are not as durable as a home shower. The PVC can lose quality after a few years.
- It takes a long period to heat the water inside the bag. It can take up to 3 hours to heat the water in a 5-gallon bag, so it won’t work if you’re in a rush.
- It has limited capacity. You will need to refill it if it runs out of water and if you aren’t used to economical water use, this may be a challenge.
- It relies on the sun to heat the water. So, if you want a nice warm, shower at night, it may not be possible if you haven’t exposed the bag enough under the sun prior.
Obviously, the pros of the solar-powered shower outweigh its cons. Therefore, it is a wise choice.
The outdoors offers a lot of excitement and fun. You can go for a hike and see the astounding view at the top of a mountain. You can camp by the lake and have a barbecue party with friends. Solar showers offer you relief after a long day outdoors by providing you a nice, warm shower after a tiring day. Since it’s solar-powered, you won’t have to worry about electrical sockets or electric heaters even in cold weather, as you just need to expose the bag to the sun for a couple of hours, and you’ve got a heated water supply ready for your use.
Some showers even have toiletry slots and temperature indicators, which make your shower comfortable and convenient. After using up 5 gallons of water during the bath, you just have to wipe it clean, roll it, and put it back in your backpack. More importantly, you’re helping to protect the environment by reducing your carbon footprint if you use it even at home. This will also reduce utility costs while still allowing you to enjoy a warm shower. Select from the brands we’ve provided above, and you can start enjoying warm water baths anytime, anywhere.