Because these panels are portable, they are often used by campers, travelers, or anyone who needs a supply of electricity when unable to access grid electricity. But because they come in so many different sizes and costs, there are a variety of other uses as well.
Camping and hiking are perhaps the most common uses of camping solar panels. You can fasten larger panels to the top of your van or RV to provide an alternative to a portable generator. Unlike a noisy, smelly generator burning fossil fuels, a battery charged by solar panels is clean, quiet, and odorless. Since even the larger panels are portable, you can place them in the sun while your tent, camper, or RV stays cool in the shade.
If you're on a week-long hiking trip into the back country and want to keep your phone charged for GPS or emergency purposes, a small solar panel that slips into your backpack can keep you in contact with civilization. Larger panels can weigh 25 pounds or more, so they are better suited for car camping than hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail.
Place solar panels on the deck or other flat surface of your boat and you can run an electric motor with the power stored in a battery. The panel can also act as a canopy to protect you from the sun when you are out at sea. When paired with a solar battery, solar panels allow you to sail without the the need for wind or the noise and smell of a gas-powered motor. And as long as the sun shines, you can sail nearly infinitely without needing to make refueling stops.
Special portable marine solar panels are available for solar boating, since they need to withstand corrosive salt water and fiercer weather conditions than a camper may experience.
If you live in an apartment and your landlord isn't willing to install solar panels on the roof, you can either consider a community solar farm or set up camping solar panels on a balcony to generate your own electricity. When you move out, you can take your panels with you.
If you get your electricity from a grid that doesn't run on 100% clean, renewable electricity, you can reduce your carbon footprint by using your solar panels to run some of things in your home that require electricity. You can cut down on your electricity bill and assure yourself that you are using carbon-free energy.